Liberty in the Breach

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Liberty 07/04/2013 (a.m.)

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  • Here’s hoping that the Senate has the sense to reject James Comey as the new FBI Director. The FBI needs a Director and Comey’s active assistance  in unconstitutional NSA surveillance, even if not an absolute disqualifier, cannot possibly be sorted out  during the foreseeable future.  

    Hey, Mr. President, how about a real civil libertarian instead?

    Tags: surveillance state, NSA, FBI, Comey, Obama, confirmation

    • James Comey famously threatened to resign from the Justice Department in 2004 over the warrantless surveillance of Americans’ internet records. But once Justice Department and National Security Agency lawyers found a novel legal theory to cover the surveillance, the man Barack Obama tapped last week to lead the FBI stayed on as deputy attorney general for another year as the monitoring continued.

      Comey was the acting attorney general in March 2004, when long-simmering legal tensions over the online “metadata” surveillance pitted the Justice Department and FBI against the Bush White House and NSA. That incident, dramatically recounted by Comey to the Senate in May 2007, earned the 6ft 8in former federal prosecutor a reputation for integrity that has become central to his persona.

    • President Obama directly referred to that reputation when he nominated Comey to take over the FBI on June 21. Hovering over the announcement were the Guardian and Washington Post’s revelations of wide-ranging surveillance efforts.

      “To know Jim Comey is also to know his fierce independence and his deep integrity,” Obama said. “He was prepared to give up a job he loved rather than be part of something he felt was fundamentally wrong.”

      Except that a classified report recounting the incident, acquired by the Guardian, complicates that view. Comey threatened to resign over the perceived illegality of one aspect of the surveillance. But he remained at the Justice Department for another year as that effort, operating under a new legal theory, continued nearly unchanged.

    • Comey would later testify to the Senate that the episode was “the most difficult of my professional career.”

      But “immediately,” the NSA IG report shows, lawyers from the NSA and Comey’s Justice Department “began efforts to recreate this authority.” They found it in what the document nebulously refers to as a Pen Register/Trap and Trace Order – a reference to devices traditionally used by surveillance officials to record the incoming and outgoing calls made and received by a telephone.

      The Fisa court, the secret court that oversees NSA surveillance, approved the first such order for NSA to again collect and analyze large volumes of internet records from Americans on July 14 2004, barely three months after Comey’s rebellion.

    • “Although NSA lost access to the bulk metadata from 26 March 2004 until the order was signed, the order essentially gave NSA the same authority to collect bulk internet metadata that it had” previously, the NSA IG report reads, “except that it specified the datalinks from which NSA could collect, and it limited the number of people that could access the data.”

      The surveillance Comey and his colleagues – including Mueller, the FBI director he is nominated to replace – objected to had merely been paused and rerouted under a new legal basis. Comey remained at the Justice Department as deputy attorney general until August 15, 2005.

  • A concise and convincing case that technological limitations have ruled what surveillance practices the government employs and that as technology advances, so do the surveillance practices. 

    Do we as a society continue to tell government that it is free to employ advanced surveillance technologies until caught and outlawed, or do we outlaw all surveillance techniques except for a defined list of methods with defined restrictions?  

    Tags: surveillance state, issues

    • Recent revelations about the extent of surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency come as no surprise to those with a technical background in the workings of digital communications. The leaked documents show how the NSA has taken advantage of the increased use of digital communications and cloud services, coupled with outdated privacy laws, to expand and streamline their surveillance programs. This is a predictable response to the shrinking cost and growing efficiency of surveillance brought about by new technology. The extent to which technology has reduced the time and cost necessary to conduct surveillance should play an important role in our national discussion of this issue.
    • What we have learned about the NSA’s capabilities suggests a move toward programmatic, automated surveillance previously unfathomable due to limitations of computing speed, scale, and cost. Technical advances have both reduced the barriers to surveillance and increased the NSA’s capacity for it. We need to remember that this is a trend with a firm lower bound. Once the cost of surveillance reaches zero we will be left with our outdated laws as the only protection. Whatever policy actions are taken as a result of the recent leaks should address the fact that technical barriers such as cost and speed offer dwindling protection from unwarranted government surveillance domestically and abroad.
  • Tags: surveillance, Ecuador, embassy, Wikileaks

    • Ecuador has found a hidden microphone inside its London embassy, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is living, and will disclose on Wednesday who controls the device, its foreign minister said.
  • In excess of a million Egyptians have been demonstrating for days seeking the ouster of the Morsi government and its attempt to impose Sharia law on Egypt. Once again, the Egyptian military chooses to side with the people rather than the current government. 

    Tags: Egypt, Arab Spring, Morsi

    • CAIRO — Egypt’s military on Wednesday ousted Mohamed Morsi, the nation’s first freely elected president, suspending the Constitution, installing an interim government and insisting it was responding to the millions of Egyptians who had opposed the Islamist agenda of Mr. Morsi and his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood.
    • Under a “road map” for a post-Morsi government devised by a meeting of civilian political and religious leaders, the general said, the Constitution would be suspended, the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court would become acting president and plans would be expedited for new elections while an interim government was in charge.

      The general, who had issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Mr. Morsi on Monday to respond to what he called widespread anger over the administration’s troubled one-year-old tenure, said the president’s defiant response in a televised address on Tuesday had failed “to meet the demands of the masses of the people.”

    • Security officials said the military’s intelligence service had banned any travel by Mr. Morsi and senior Islamist aides, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, and his influential deputy, Khairat el-Shater.
  • As we approach July 4, 2013, is America in a pre-revolutionary state? Are we headed for a Tahrir Square of our own with the attendant mammoth social turmoil, possibly even violence.

    Could it happen here?

    We are two-thirds of the way into the most incompetent presidency in our history. People everywhere are fed up. Even many of the so-called liberals who propelled Barack Obama into office have stopped defending him in the face of an unprecedented number of scandals coming at us one after the other like hideous monsters in some non-stop computer game.

    And now looming is the monster of monsters, ObamaCare, the healthcare reform almost no one wanted and fewer understood.

    It will be administered by the Internal Revenue Service, an organization that has been revealed to be a kind of post-modern American Gestapo, asking not just to examine our accounting books but the books we read . What could be more totalitarian than that?

    Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal warns the costs of ObamaCare are close to tripling what were promised , and the number of doctors in our country is rapidly diminishing. No more “My son, the doctor!” It doesn’t pay.

    And young people most of all will not be able to afford escalating health insurance costs and will end up paying the fine to the IRS, simultaneously bankrupting the health system and enhancing the brutal power of the IRS — all this while unemployment numbers remain near historical highs.

    No one knows how many have given up looking for work while crony capitalist friends of the administration enrich themselves on mythological clean-energy projects.

    In fact, everywhere we look on this July Fourth sees a great civilization in decline. And much of that decline can be laid at the foot of the incumbent. Especially his own people, African Americans, have suffered.  Their unemployment numbers are catastrophic, their real needs ignored while hustlers like Sharpton, Jackson, and, sadly, even the president fan the flames of non-existent racism.

    Tahrir Square anyone?

    Ironically, if our society enters a revolutionary phase, liberals will find themselves in the role of the Islamists, defending a shopworn and reactionary ideology on religious grounds, because it is only their faith that holds their ideas together at this point.

    The facts of the American decline tell us otherwise. We don’t need the contempt of Vladimir Putin to remind us how bad things are and that the seeming result of the end of the Cold War is that American presidents are now mocked by the second coming of the KGB (not that it was ever gone).

    We all know the famous Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times!

    We certainly are, and I am of two minds about it. Like so many Americans, I have lived a comfortable, privileged life, vastly so compared to most of human history.

    But I am filled with foreboding about what’s to come, indeed about what is already here. When I look at the masses swarming in Tahrir Square , I am at once repelled and attracted, repelled because, to be honest, I find their culture more than a bit crazy, but attracted because I know something is seriously wrong, not just in Egypt but in the USA.

    July 2nd, 2013 – 12:23 am

    Tags: July-4th, Roger-Simon, American-Revolution, Arab-Spring, freedom-liberty

  • “This just released by WikiLeaks: July 1st Statement from Super Patriot & NSA Whistleblower extraordinaire, Edward Snowden ……….

    One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat from my government for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.

    On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic “wheeling and dealing” over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.

    This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.

    For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.

    In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.

    I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.

    Edward Joseph Snowden

    Monday 1st July 2013

    In response to news that Snowden has applied for asylum in Russia, among at least a dozen other countries, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called on the Kremlin to hand over the NSA leaker.

    “Edward Snowden should return to the United States on his own volition or be returned home to face espionage charges,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). “His alleged actions are of the utmost sensitivity to our national security and hiding out in Russia would be highly inconsistent with the principles he claims to defend by seeking asylum in a country that stifles the opinions of its own people. I call on President Putin to work with the Obama Administration to assist in his return to the United States.”

    At a press conference in Tanzania today, Obama said “we have gone through regular law enforcement channels in enforcing the extradition request that we’ve made with respect to Mr. Snowden.”

    “And that’s been true with all the countries that have been involved, including Russia. And so, there have been high-level discussions with the Russians about trying to find a solution to the problem,” he continued.

    “We don’t have an extradition treaty with Russia. On the other hand, Mr. Snowden, we understand, has traveled there without a valid passport, without legal papers. And we are hopeful that the Russian government makes decisions based on the normal procedures regarding international travel and the normal interactions that law enforcement have. So I can confirm that.””

    Tags: Edward-Snowden, NSA-Patriot-Act-NDAA, freedom-liberty, American-Revolution

  • Tags: surveillance state, postal-service, mail

    • As the world focuses on the high-tech spying of the National Security Agency, the misplaced card offers a rare glimpse inside the seemingly low-tech but prevalent snooping of the United States Postal Service.

      Mr. Pickering was targeted by a longtime surveillance system called mail covers, but that is only a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images.

      Together, the two programs show that snail mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail.

      The mail covers program, used to monitor Mr. Pickering, is more than a century old but is still considered a powerful tool. At the request of law enforcement officials, postal workers record information from the outside of letters and parcels before they are delivered. (Actually opening the mail requires a warrant.) The information is sent to whatever law enforcement agency asked for it. Tens of thousands of pieces of mail each year undergo this scrutiny.

      The Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program was created after the anthrax attacks in late 2001 that killed five people, including two postal workers. Highly secret, it seeped into public view last month when the F.B.I. cited it in its investigation of ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. It enables the Postal Service to retroactively track mail correspondence at the request of law enforcement. No one disputes that it is sweeping.

    • “In the past, mail covers were used when you had a reason to suspect someone of a crime,” said Mark D. Rasch, who started a computer crimes unit in the criminal division’s fraud section of the Justice Department and worked on several fraud cases using mail covers. “Now it seems to be ‘Let’s record everyone’s mail so in the future we might go back and see who you were communicating with.’ Essentially you’ve added mail covers on millions of Americans.”

      Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert and an author, said whether it was a postal worker taking down information or a computer taking images, the program was still an invasion of privacy.

      “Basically they are doing the same thing as the other programs, collecting the information on the outside of your mail, the metadata, if you will, of names, addresses, return addresses and postmark locations, which gives the government a pretty good map of your contacts, even if they aren’t reading the contents,” he said.

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA, future-disclosures

    • A House Democrat said information revealed about the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programs are “the tip of the iceberg,” Daniel Strauss of The Hill reports.

      “I think it’s just broader than most people even realize, and I think that’s, in one way, what astounded most of us, too,” Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) told C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” after a classified briefing with national security officials.

      Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), who also attended the meeting, said that the NSA “violated the spirit of the law when it started collecting data from everyone in the country just because technology now makes that possible.”

      Barton added that “in America … You don’t target everyone and violate their 4th Amendment rights just because of a handful of threats. But that is exactly what is happening at the NSA … it is wrong and it needs to stop now.

      More from Sanchez: “I don’t know if there are other leaks, if there’s more information somewhere, if somebody else is going to step up, but I will tell you that I believe it’s the tip of the iceberg.”

    • A House Democrat said information revealed about the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programs are “the tip of the iceberg,” Daniel Strauss of The Hill reports.

      “I think it’s just broader than most people even realize, and I think that’s, in one way, what astounded most of us, too,” Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) told C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” after a classified briefing with national security officials.

      Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), who also attended the meeting, said that the NSA “violated the spirit of the law when it started collecting data from everyone in the country just because technology now makes that possible.”

      Barton added that “in America … You don’t target everyone and violate their 4th Amendment rights just because of a handful of threats. But that is exactly what is happening at the NSA … it is wrong and it needs to stop now.

    • Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian, who has served as a conduit for Snowden’s leaks, recently said that there will me many more “significant revelations that have not yet been heard.”

      Greenwald told The New York Times that he received “thousands” of classified documents — “dozens” of which are newsworthy — from the the 29-year-old ex-Booz Allen employee who was contracted by the NSA.

      Sanchez said that what lawmakers learned “is significantly more than what is out in the media today,” which is interesting when considering previous reports by journalists and whistleblowers.

        • A classified program called Prism, leaked by Snowden, appears to acquire information from the servers of nine of the biggest internet companies. The Washington Post reported that the government’s orders “serve as one-time blanket approvals for data acquisition and surveillance on selected foreign targets for periods of as long as a year.”
        • NSA Whistleblower William Binney that the NSA began using the program he built (i.e. ThinThread) to use communications data for creating, in real time, profiles of nearly all Americans so that the government is “able to monitor what people are doing” and who they are doing it with.
        • In July the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), established to “hear applications for and grant orders approving electronic surveillance,” found that the NSA violated the Fourth Amendment‘s restriction against unreasonable searches and seizures “on at least one occasion.”
        • BONUS: In March CIA Chief Technology Officer Ira “Gus” Hunt said: “It is really very nearly within our grasp to be able to compute on all human generated information.”

        If there is “significantly more” to the NSA’s domestic snooping, then we’re all ears and eyes.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Socialism and the End of the American Dream group favorite links are here.

Written by garylyn

July 4, 2013 at 12:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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