In May filing, Justice Department and FBI officials admit stopping US and other citizens from travelling is based on what the government believes they might do
The Obama administration’s no-fly lists and broader watchlisting system is based on predicting crimes rather than relying on records of demonstrated offenses, the government has been forced to admit in court.
In a little-noticed filing before an Oregon federal judge, the US Justice Department and the FBI conceded that stopping US and other citizens from travelling on airplanes is a matter of “predictive assessments about potential threats”, the government asserted in May. Continue reading »
The U.S. Department of Justice is putting devices that emulate cellphone towers in Cessna aircraft and flying them around the country to track the locations of cell phones, a practice that targets criminal suspects but may also affect thousands of U.S. citizens, according to a news report Thursday.The program is run by the Department of Justice’s U.S. Marshals Service and has been in operation since at least 2007, according to the report in the Wall Street Journal, which cited two unnamed sources. The aircraft are flown out of at least five metropolitan-area airports and can cover most of the U.S. population, it said.
Cell phones are programmed to connect to whichever nearby cell tower has the strongest signal. The fake cell towers trick phones into thinking they have the strongest signal, then read the devices’ unique registration numbers when they connect, the Journal report says. Continue reading »
“As Far As People Who Ran The Show, It Was The Highest Levels of NATO, the U.S., MI6, CIA And The Pentagon”
Sibel Edmonds has just released her fantastic spy thriller, The Lone Gladio. Here’s our review, comparing it to the best of Clancy or Ludlum … but with a twist.
In the real world, Edmonds is a former FBI translator who translated terror-related communications for the FBI right after 9/11. In that capacity, she read communications between terrorists and other radicals.
The most gagged person in the history of the United States of America.
Famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg says that Edmonds possesses information “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers”. He also says that the White House has ordered the press not to cover Edmonds: Continue reading »
New report on terrorism “blacklists” suggests it won’t be easier the next time.
A hearing in federal court Tuesday has apparently marked the conclusion of a drawn-out, costly, and, to use the judge’s own term, “Kafkaesque” legal battle over the government no-fly list. Malaysian college professor Rahinah Ibrahim sued the government back in 2006, after Dr. Ibrahim’s name mistakenly ended up on a federal government no-fly list.
The U.S. government’s “massive” watchlist database risks stigmatizing hundreds of thousands of people as known or suspected terrorists – including some its own citizens, a leading civil liberties group has warned.
Around 875,000 names are believed to be on the list, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said. Many are included “based on information that is often stale, poorly reviewed, or of questionable reliability,” it added in a report published Friday. Moreover people are being put onto the watch list based on secret evidence and secret standards, with no meaningful process to challenge mistakes, the ACLU warned.
Obama is draping the banner of change over the NSA status quo. Bulk surveillance that caused such outrage will remain in place
In response to political scandal and public outrage, official Washington repeatedly uses the same well-worn tactic. It is the one that has been hauled out over decades in response to many of America’s most significant political scandals. Predictably, it is the same one that shaped President Obama’s much-heralded Friday speech to announce his proposals for “reforming” the National Security Agency in the wake of seven months of intense worldwide controversy.
The crux of this tactic is that US political leaders pretend to validate and even channel public anger by acknowledging that there are “serious questions that have been raised”. They vow changes to fix the system and ensure these problems never happen again. And they then set out, with their actions, to do exactly the opposite: to make the system prettier and more politically palatable with empty, cosmetic “reforms” so as to placate public anger while leaving the system fundamentally unchanged, even more immune than before to serious challenge.
We now know that the NSA is collecting location information en masse. As we’ve long said, location data is an extremely powerful set of information about people. To flesh out why that is true, here is the kind of future memo that we fear may someday soon be uncovered:
The names of nearly three-quarters of a million individuals have been secretly added to watch lists administered by the United States government, but federal officials are adamant about keeping information about these rosters under wraps.
A report by the New York Times’ Susan Stellin published over the weekend attempted to shine much-deserved light on an otherwise largely unexposed program of federal watch lists, but details about these directories — including the names of individuals on them and what they did to get there — remain as elusive as ever.
Abby Martin remarks on a recent ACLU report highlighting the shockingly high number of people serving life sentences without parole for non-violent crime, calling out state laws that leave judges without options when setting these mandatory sentences.
A book authored by an agent at the center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ “Fast and Furious” gun running debacle has been rejected and barred from being published by the agency, citing concerns for morale.
Special Agent John Dodson, who became a whistleblower in 2011 when he approached Republican lawmakers in Congress with details of a botched attempt by the ATF to allow sales of firearms in order to build a case against Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa cartel, has already penned a book on the saga, though it was unclear on Monday whether it will ever see the light of day.
“This would have a negative impact on morale in the Phoenix [field division] and would have a detremental [sic] effect on our relationships with [the Drug Enforcement Administration] and FBI,” the ATF’s rejection letter stated.
Current restrictions prevent federal employees from profiting from “any source other than the government for teaching, speaking or writing that relates to the employee’s official duties,” ruling out the possibility for Dodson to cash in on any book deal. Continue reading »
Is this the beginning of the end for the federal government’s no-fly list? Just weeks after federal Judge Anna J. Brown of Portland, Oregon, refused to dismiss an ACLU suit against the list because there is “a constitutionally-protected liberty interest in traveling internationally by air which is affected by being placed on the list,” a separate lawsuit alleges that the FBI has been placing Muslims on the list “in retaliation for their refusal to work as informants against their communities and submit to questioning.”
Instituted shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and maintained by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the no-fly list contains the names of about 20,000 people who are not permitted to board aircraft for travel in or out of the U.S. because the government has a “reasonable suspicion” they are connected to terrorism. The names on the list are a secret, and if denied boarding a traveler’s only recourse is to submit a “Traveler Redress Inquiry Procedure” form to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and wait for a reply. Even then, however, DHS neither confirms nor denies that one is on the list, and the only way of knowing for sure is to buy an airline ticket and try to board a plane.
You know that the rule of law has essentially vanished when the Attorney General himself feels compelled to state: “America’s legal system, we must face the reality that, as it stands, our system is in too many respects broken.” That is precisely what Eric Holder stated earlier this week, while seemingly taking no responsibility for that fact despite being the top lawyer in the nation. Guess he was too busy protecting his banker masters from prosecution to notice.
In any event, the broken criminal justice system really took center stage earlier this year when the federal prosector Carmen Ortiz drove child prodigy Aaron Swartz to his death by piling on overzealous charges in an attempt to advance her career. Instead she drove a gentle genius to an untimely death. Kudos Ortiz.
When we as a species use language to communicate and engage with one another, we have a certain understanding that certain words mean certain things. That is the entire purpose of language, effective communication between human beings that can be easily understood. As a result, we should be able to assume that when government bureaucrats utilize words that are commonplace within society, that these words represent specific commonly understood meanings. That would be a huge mistake.
Jameel Jaffer and Brett Max Kaufman of the ACLU have compiled an excellent list of some commonplace words used by the NSA to mislead us into thinking they aren’t doing the bad things that they are actually doing. Words such as “surveillance,” “collect,” and “relevant.”
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, has been harshly criticized for having misled Congress earlier this year about the scope of the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities. The criticism is entirely justified. An equally insidious threat to the integrity of our national debate, however, comes not from officials’ outright lies but from the language they use to tell the truth. When it comes to discussing government surveillance, U.S. intelligence officials have been using a vocabulary of misdirection—a language that allows them to say one thing while meaning quite another. Continue reading »
This week’sinformal congressional hearing on the National Security Agency’s surveillance program has been canceled, according to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, who was expected to testify via satellite.
Democratic congressman Alan Grayson and a bipartisan group of congressman were expected to hear from Greenwald and other critics of the NSA’s surveillance practices on Wednesday, according to a Guardian report from last week. The meeting was not meant to be a formal committee hearing, but would take place on the Hill before a dozen members of Congress from both parties.
But Greenwald now tells POLITICO that the hearing has been canceled due to Obama’s decision to meet with House Democrats.
“Obama developed a sudden and newfound interest in House Democrats and scheduled a meeting with them for that same time,” he wrote in an email, adding that the committee was trying to re-schedule the meeting to take place before congress goes on recess.
Representatives from both the American Civil Liberties Union and the conservative Cato Institute were expected to testify, Grayson told The Guardian.
Attorneys for the Electronic Frontier Foundation have sued the Obama administration and are demanding the White House stop the dragnet surveillance programs operated by the National Security Agency.
Both the White House and Congress have weighed in on the case of Edward Snowden and the revelations he’s made by leaking National Security Agency documents. Now the courts are having their turn to opine, and with opportunities aplenty.
Day by day, new lawsuits waged against the United States government are being filed in federal court, and with the same regularity President Barack Obama and the preceding administration are being charged with vast constitutional violations alleged to have occurred through the NSA spy programs exposed by Mr. Snowden.
In a unanimous ruling, the United States Supreme Court ruled today that human genes cannot be patented. The ruling invalidates the thousands of patents that have already been granted on human genes, including the patent by Myriad Genetics on the BRCA breast cancer genes which the company says no one else can research or even detect without paying it a royalty. Click here to read the complete ruling.
“Myriad did not create anything,” said Justice Clarence Thomas. “To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention.”
Well, exactly. This point should have been obvious to the lower courts, too, but in today’s world of corporate domination over seemingly everything, gene industry lawyers were able to argue that patent protection would somehow inspire more innovation and research. “The biotechnology industry had warned that an expansive ruling against Myriad could threaten billions of dollars of investment,” wrote Reuters.
If the constitutional scholar was hoping he would quietly avoid a major showdown over the constitutionality of the biggest spying scandal since Nixon (whether legal or not remains to be determined) and which would likely have led to an early POTUS retirement if current president was republican, the ACLU just slammed the door shut on the possibility. Moments ago, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its “dragnet” collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program is illegal and asking a judge to both stop it and order the records purged. And, as the NYT reports, “the lawsuit, filed in New York, could set up an eventual Supreme Court test.” Only once that happens it will be too bad that InTrade is no longer available, to take the other side of a trade that believes the SCOTUS will for once do the right thing and preserve the constitution when everyone knows the decision to formally enact a Big Brother state will pass along political party lines and America will officially become the country that for 5 decades, at least superficially, it was waging “cold war” against.
The program began as part of the Bush administration’s post-9/11 programs of surveillance without warrants, and, it is now known, it has continued since 2006 with the blessing of a national security court, which has ruled in still-secret legal opinions that such bulk surveillance was authorized by a section of the Patriot Act that allows the F.B.I. to obtain “business records” if they are relevant to a counterterrorism investigation.
Classified information obtained by the Washington Post and The Guardian has revealed a massive, warrantless online surveillance system in use by a US military intelligence agency, giving access to Americans’ search history, emails, live chats and more.
The 41-page PowerPoint presentation, which has been verified by both papers and published almost concurrently on Thursday evening, outlines details of a previously undisclosed program known as PRISM, which allows the fabled military intelligence agency to harvest massive amounts of data on everything from electronic correspondence to file transfers.
The slides were meant to be declassified in 2036.
According to the documents, the program currently boasts access to some of the largest Internet companies in the world, with Microsoft thought to be the first corporation to sign onto the surveillance arrangement in 2007.
That company’s participation was followed by Yahoo in 2008, Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009, YouTube in 2010, Skype and AOL in 2011, and Apple joining in 2012. Meanwhile, cloud storage company Dropbox is described as “coming soon.”
With the participation of those companies, PRISM and thereby Washington intelligence workers have access to the bulk of Americans’ email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype) chats, file transfers, social networking details and more. Continue reading »