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News Roundup: Privacy, Surveillance, and Assassination

Posted in News Roundup at 9:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Another set of new links (from yesterday’s and today’s news) covering a very disturbing trend that exploits technology for imposition of power

  • American Petroleum Institute kept tabs on enviros

    In 2010 the American Petroleum Institute (API) paid the global intelligence firm Stratfor more than $13,000 a month for weekly intelligence bulletins profiling activist organizations and their campaigns on everything from energy and climate change to tax policy and human rights, according to documents published by WikiLeaks in 2012.

    The weekly reports provided details on a wide range of environmental organizations including Greenpeace, NRDC, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. API was interested in anticipating which groups might be out to “attack” them.

  • Utah Legislator Vows to Fight NSA by Cutting Off Its Water Supply

    Step aside, Rand Paul: the NSA has a new enemy. While the Kentucky senator announced his own class-action lawsuit against the NSA on Wednesday, Marc Roberts, a first-term Republican lawmaker in Utah, is planning to introduce legislation that will choke the water supply at the NSA data center under construction in the state.

  • Protest outside Federal Building in Providence urges limits on NSA surveillance

    Local protesters joined the National Day of Action against government surveillance by rallying outside the Federal Building on Exchange Street in Kennedy Plaza.

    About 20 people held up signs and a large banner that said: “Dear U.S. Government: Stop Spying On Us!!” Organized jointly by Rhode Island MoveOn.org and the R.I. Coalition to Defend Human and Civil Rights, the protest was part of a national effort called The Day We Fight Back.

  • Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US Courts

    It is instructive to note that all of this will be done by the same government that operates under an explicit constitutional directive purportedly protecting people from “unreasonable searches and seizures” and specifying that “… no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause … and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”[3] Indeed, one of the most instructive aspects of the NSA scandal is the way the agency has succeeded, for an extensive period of time, in warding off legal challenges to the constitutionality of its surveillance programs. This is instructive from the point of view of libertarian theory, since it illustrates the degree to which the much-vaunted “checks and balances” within the State apparatus, highlighted in the recent Obama speech, are really illusory. In practice, the judicial and executive branches of government tend to act as a legitimizing mechanism for the actions of government agencies, with rare “checks and balances” and“reforms” coming only when the legitimacy of the system is under potent attack from some outside source.

  • Edward Snowden asylum demand dropped by European parliament

    The European parliament is to ditch demands on Wednesday that EU governments give guarantees of asylum and security to Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower.

  • Protest to Stop NSA Surveillance Generates 85,000 Calls to Congress

    Never underestimate the newfound digital power of advocacy groups to lobby lawmakers. Tuesday’s protest against government surveillance, dubbed The Day We Fight Back, generated more than 85,000 phone calls and 175,000 emails to members of Congress, thanks to more than 6,000 websites that agreed to host a banner to direct voters to act.

  • Privacy board testifies to Congress on report rebuking NSA surveillance– live

    Panel says program is illegal and ineffective

  • White House’s NSA snooping violates separation of powers, congressmen say

    Deputy Attorney General James Cole may have misled Congress earlier this month when he said the National Security Agency doesn’t look at phone data it collects from members of Congress, three lawmakers wrote in a letter on Wednesday.

    Because the NSA could track even phone numbers only distantly related to a suspected source believed to be involved in terrorism, it’s entirely possible that a member of Congress‘ records were tracked, said Wisconsin Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Republican author of the Patriot Act, and two other congressmen, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York.

  • Reps.: Obama’s NSA Is Lying About Spying on Congress

    And it looks like they’re going to remain convinced of that no matter what.

  • Congressional trio criticise James Cole’s NSA testimony as misleading

    Sensenbrenner, Issa and Nadler wrote to Cole on Wednesday for a public clarification of the statement, which they described as “not entirely accurate” – and in doing so drew attention to a little-noticed procedure used by the NSA.

  • EU calls for US to have less control of the internet following NSA revelations

    The EC called for reform today in the way which the internet is run, saying it needs to be more transparent and accountable. Specifically, the EC wants to ensure that one country, specifically the US, doesn’t maintain a dominating influence.

  • Steelie Neelie: ICANN think of more ‘credible’ rules for internet. (Cough *NSA* cough)

    EU vice president Neelie Kroes wants the US to slacken its grip on how the internet is managed in the aftermath of revelations about mass surveillance of innocent citizens.

    She said today that reform was needed to make internet governance more inclusive, transparent and accountable around the globe, with particular emphasis unsurprisingly placed on the role the European Union could play in reshaping that control.

  • NSA actions pose ‘direct threat to journalism’ leading watchdog warns

    Agency’s dragnet of communications data threatens to destroy the confidence between reporter and source on which most investigations depend, Committee to Protect Journalists said

  • Who’s watching?

    DUTCH houses are famous for having large front parlour windows that look directly onto the pavement, affording passersby a clear view of everything happening inside. It is commonplace to associate these windows with the Calvinist Dutch enthusiasm for transparency, a moral imperative to display that one has nothing to hide. One might think that such a compulsively transparent nation would be less upset than others to learn that its electronic communications were being monitored, but in fact Dutch citizens reacted with fury last August to documents released by Edward Snowden, showing that America’s National Security Agency had apparently collected huge amounts of information on Dutch phone calls and other communications—1.8m of them in December 2012 alone. The interior minister, Ronald Plasterk, issued a report in October denying any Dutch government complicity, and in television appearances accused the Americans of carrying out unauthorised surveillance in the Netherlands and promised to call them to account.

  • US Congressman aims to cut water supply to NSA datacentre
  • NSA Surveillance Proponent Unsure if Program Will Continue

    A vocal proponent among US Senate liberals for controversial National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance efforts says the program could be shut down, and experts are unsure how many Americans’ phone numbers have been gathered.

    Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, one of the few proponents of the NSA data-collection programs among Democratic progressives, said Wednesday he is “not assuming” that lawmakers will opt to “keep the bulk collection.”

  • Reforms won’t hamper NSA’s efforts, official says

    Many of the new privacy protections and surveillance reforms ordered by President Obama will probably not harm the National Security Agency’s ability to do its job, the agency’s deputy said.

    “They’re not putting us out of business,” Deputy Director Rick Ledgett said in a recent interview at the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. “They’re not putting an unbearable burden on us. There is a cost to implementing those procedures. But the cost is reasonable, and the effects are not hurting our mission in a significant way.”

  • US plunges in World Press Freedom index after NSA leaks, attacks on whistleblowers

    Press freedom in the United States has suffered “one of the most significant declines” in the last year after sacrificing information to national security, with the NSA surveillance scandal topping the list of wrongdoing.

    That’s according to The World Press Freedom Index for 2014 from Reporters Without Borders (RWB), which put the US in 46th place out of 180 countries, a 13-place drop from last year.

  • Obama’s Kill List

    Obama heads an administration Murder, Inc. agenda. He appointed himself judge, jury and executioner.

  • How Obama Officials Cried ‘Terrorism’ to Cover Up a Paperwork Error

    After seven years of litigation, two trips to a federal appeals court and $3.8 million worth of lawyer time, the public has finally learned why a wheelchair-bound Stanford University scholar was cuffed, detained and denied a flight from San Francisco to Hawaii: FBI human error.

    FBI agent Kevin Kelley was investigating Muslims in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004 when he checked the wrong box on a terrorism form, erroneously placing Rahinah Ibrahim on the no-fly list.

    What happened next was the real shame.

  • Karim Khan, Anti-Drone Activist Who Lost Family Members to U.S. Strike, Goes Missing in Pakistan

    An anti-drone activist and journalist has gone missing in Pakistan just days before he was due to travel to Europe to speak with Parliament members about the impact of the U.S. drone wars. The legal charity Reprieve says Karim Khan was seized in the early hours of February 5 by up to 20 men, some wearing police uniforms. He has not been seen since. Khan’s brother and son were both killed in a drone strike. In addition to public activism, Khan was also engaged in legal proceedings against the Pakistani government for their failure to investigate the killings of his loved ones. We are joined by filmmaker Madiha Tahir, who interviewed Khan for her documentary, “Wounds of Waziristan.”

  • Jail time, fines in drone protest

    A judge in Onondaga County found 13 anti-drone-aircraft activists guilty of disorderly conduct for protesting at a Syracuse-area military base where airmen with the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing remotely fire missiles from unmanned aircraft flying in Afghanistan.

    DeWitt Town Judge David Gideon on Friday sentenced 12 of the 13 peace activists for blocking entrances to the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on Oct. 25, 2012, according to a De Witt court clerk. The dozen protesters each received 15 days in jail, $375 fines and two-year restraining orders prohibiting them from being near Col. Earl A. Evans, a commander at the base, the clerk said. Gideon is expected to sentence the remaining activist, Vietnam veteran Elliott Adams, on Feb. 25. The 67-year-old from Sharon Springs, Schoharie County, received permission from the judge to miss Friday’s court appearance because he was out of the state.

  • Will Obama kill unknown American with secret memo?

    Every time you think the war on terror can’t get any weirder, it does.


    All this helps explain why the Obama administration apparently feels it cannot kill an American citizen without first taking the political temperature in the U.S. When a government program has the odor of illegality, no one wants to use it unless the use will not be heavily criticized. That’s no way to run national security and it’s no way to run a constitutional democracy, either.

  • Obama is first ‘war god’ in history – journalist

    - Looking at the way the White House has handled requests from (ACLU) America’s Civil Liberties Union and other rights activist groups demanding more clarification and more transparency on the drone program, what do you think the White House is afraid of if the information comes out in the open?

  • The very public growth of The Intercept

    The Intercept, the new startup title funded handsomely by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, debuted Monday and created buzz both for simply showing up and for its content: An article examining the use of drones to kill government-selected targets abroad, plus a collection of aerial images of the United States’ national security campuses.

  • Blog digest February 13: ‘DNI admits CIA’s not-really-secret drone program’
  • JPMorgan Vice President’s Death Shines Light on Bank’s Close Ties to the CIA

    Just last month, JPMorgan Chase acknowledged that it facilitated the largest Ponzi scheme in history, looking the other way as Bernie Madoff brazenly turned his business bank account at JPMorgan Chase into an unprecedented money laundering operation that would have set off bells, whistles and sirens at any other bank.

    The U.S. Justice Department allowed JPMorgan to pay $1.7 billion and sign a deferred prosecution agreement, meaning no one goes to jail at JPMorgan — again. The largest question that no one can or will answer is how the compliance, legal and anti-money laundering personnel at JPMorgan ignored for years hundreds of transfers and billions of dollars in round trip maneuvers between Madoff and the account of Norman Levy. Even one such maneuver should set off an investigation. (Levy is now deceased and the Trustee for Madoff’s victims has settled with his estate.)

  • If Obama Orders the CIA to Kill a U.S. Citizen, Amazon Will Be a Partner in Assassination

    President Obama is now considering whether to order the Central Intelligence Agency to kill a U.S. citizen in Pakistan. That’s big news this week. But hidden in plain sight is the fact that Amazon would be an accessory to the assassination.

    Amazon has a $600 million contract with the CIA to provide the agency with “cloud” computing services. After final confirmation of the deal several months ago, Amazon declared: “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA.”

  • Did the CIA Use Methods Developed by the Nazis?

    The program, writes Jacobsen, evolved into Project MKUltra, a secret US program studying mind and behavior control techniques, complete with experiments on human subjects. MKUltra also enjoyed the help of ex-Nazi scientists.

  • Sen. Levin’s bid to boost drone oversight falters in Congress

    An effort by a powerful U.S. senator to broaden congressional oversight of lethal drone strikes overseas fell apart last week after the White House refused to expand the number of lawmakers briefed on covert CIA operations, according to senior U.S. officials.

    Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who chairs the Armed Services Committee, held a joint classified hearing Thursday with the Senate Intelligence Committee on CIA and military drone strikes against suspected terrorists.

    But the White House did not allow CIA officials to attend, so military counter-terrorism commanders testified on their own.

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