Sep 20

Supreme Court to rule on legality of wiretapping through FISA (RT, Sep 19, 2012):

The fight to stop the government’s sweeping surveillance of emails and phone calls will go all the way to the Supreme Court. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the warrantless wiretapping provisions included under the FISA Amendment Acts.

The US House of Representative voted last week to reauthorize the 2008 amendments added to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, that allow for blanketing surveillance and eavesdropping of any communication suspected to be sent outside of the United States. Under the FISA Amendment Act (FAA), the government is granted the power to peer into the inboxes of any American and listen in on long-distance calls without ever requiring a judge’s approval. Pending approval from the Senate, the FAA will be renewed this year and be left on the books for another five years. The American Civil Liberties Union is adamantly opposed, however, and has asked the highest court in America to intervene.

On Monday, attorneys with the ACLU filed a brief (.pdf) with the Supreme Court challenging FISA and the FAA in hopes of keeping the feds from further snooping on message assumed to be private but made open to the National Security Agency with little oversight into their endeavors. The claim was filed on behalf of plaintiffs composed of human rights activists, attorneys, journalists and others opposed to the act “whose work requires them to engage in sensitive and sometimes privileged telephone and e-mail communications with people located outside the U.S,” the ACLU explains.

“Under the FAA, the government can target anyone — human rights researchers, academics, attorneys, political activists, journalists — simply because they are foreigners outside the United States, and in the course of its surveillance it can collect Americans’ communications with those individuals,” the ACLU writes in the brief.

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Mar 19

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The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in Virginia. the NCTC has elements of the FBI and CIA where terrorism-related information is
shared on a real-time basis.

Christopher Morris / VII for TIME

 

Pity America’s poor civil libertarians. In recent weeks, the papers have been full of stories about the warehousing of information on Americans by the National Security Agency, the interception of financial information by the CIA, the stripping of authority from a civilian intelligence oversight board by the White House, and the compilation of suspicious activity reports from banks by the Treasury Department. On Thursday, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine released a report documenting continuing misuse of Patriot Act powers by the FBI. And to judge from the reaction in the country, nobody cares. Continue reading »

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Mar 14

The National Security Agency was once known for its skill in eavesdropping on the world’s telephone calls through radio dishes in out-of-the-way places like England’s Menwith Hill, Australia’s Pine Gap, and Washington state’s Yakima Training Center.

Today those massive installations, which listened in on phone conversations beamed over microwave links, are becoming something akin to relics of the Cold War. As more communications traffic travels through fiber links, and as e-mail and text messaging supplant phone calls, the spy agency that once intercepted telegrams is adapting yet again. Continue reading »

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Mar 14

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House of Representatives abruptly postponed a vote on a spy bill on Thursday after Democrats agreed to a Republican request to hold a rare secret session to discuss classified security matters.

The vote was reset for Friday.

The bill would revamp a 1978 surveillance law and reject President George W. Bush’s demand that phone companies that participated in his warrantless domestic spy program begun after the September 11 attacks be immunized from lawsuits. Continue reading »

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