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Links: Civil Rights Abuses, Secrecy, Surveillance and Assassination Without Oversight

Posted in News Roundup at 7:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Civil Rights

  • Books for prisoners – A novel approach

    New rules that stop UK prisoners receiving parcels have led to a political row over prisoners’ access to books being restricted. Justice secretary Chris Grayling sees books as a privilege that must be earned through prisoner cooperation rather than as a basic right for everyone. While prisoners will still have access to prison libraries, the new rule clearly greatly reduces prisoners’ access to the wide range of reading opportunities that they might like. Whether prisoners are reading for pleasure or education (or both), easy access to a wide range of books should be non-negotiable in a decent society, even for the most notorious or uncooperative prisoners. People are more than just flesh and blood; we need to feed our minds as well as our bodies.

  • Global Guantánamo

    The state continues to deny people of color the ability to self-govern.

  • Using Flags to Focus on Veteran Suicides
  • After seven years, exactly one person gets off the gov’t no-fly list

    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.

  • If You Don’t Want a SWAT Team at Your Door, You Shouldn’t Be Drinking Tea
  • US Takes a Break From Condemning Tyranny to Celebrate Obama’s Visit to Saudi Arabia

    Selecting the year’s single most brazen example of political self-delusion is never easy, but if forced to choose for 2013, I’d pick British Prime Minister David Cameron’s public condemnation of George Galloway. The Scottish MP had stood to question Cameron about the UK’s military support for Syrian rebels. As is typical for Western discourse, criticizing western government militarism was immediately equated with support for whatever tyrants those governments happened to be opposing at the time: “Some things come and go,” proclaimed the Prime Minister, “but there is one thing that is certain: wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world, he will have the support of [Galloway].”

    What made Cameron’s statement so notable wasn’t the trite tactic of depicting opposition to western intervention as tantamount to support for dictators. That’s far too common to be noteworthy (if you oppose the war in Iraq, you are pro-Saddam; if you oppose intervention in Libya, you love Ghaddafi, if you oppose US involvement in Ukraine, you’re a shill for Putin, etc. etc.). What was so remarkable is that David Cameron – the person accusing Galloway of supporting every “brutal Arab dictator” he can find – is easily one of the world’s most loyal, constant, and generous supporters of the most brutal Arab despots. He has continuously lavished money, diplomatic support, arms and all sorts of obsequious praise on intensely repressive regimes in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, and Egypt. That this steadfast supporter of the worst Arab dictators could parade around accusing others of supporting bad Arab regimes was about as stunning a display of western self-delusion as I could have imagined . . .



  • Lookout’s Open Source Privacy Policy Could Change the Game on Mobile App Transparency

    It’s taken as a truism that “no one understands the privacy policy.” Lookout, a startup that focuses on mobile privacy and security, wants to change that with its new open source privacy policy toolkit. The project seeks to improve the current poor state of mobile app transparency. It grew out of the Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s recent multistakeholder process, which CDT participated in, aimed at creating a set of best practices to promote mobile app transparency.

  • On The Use of Computer Monitoring Software

    First off I would like to argue that I don’t consider these private monitoring practices to be in any way morally hazardous, and thus I would not put them in the same category as government surveillance or “privacy violations” The simple fact is that if a company employs a person to work on building company value, especially when this is clear from the contract, then the company has a right to hold the employee accountable to this, and monitoring their activities then is one way of doing this.

  • Pentagon plans three-fold cybersecurity staff increase to counter attacks

    The Pentagon plans to triple its cybersecurity personal over the next several years to bolster US national security, said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

  • There Is No Oversight: The NSA Withheld Documents From Intelligence Committee Heads

    There has never been effective oversight of the NSA’s bulk collections programs, or indeed, intelligence agencies in general. There’s been a lot of noise made about this vaunted oversight in defense of programs revealed by leaked documents, but this is nothing more than a talking point.

    The NSA (along with the CIA) has no interest in real oversight or accountability, not even to the final arbiter of its domestic surveillance, the FISA court. Judge Walton threatened to end the Section 215 collection back in 2008 after uncovering widespread abuse of the collections and the NSA’s constant misrepresentation of how it was handling the data it collected.

  • Former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio Tells Story of Fight Against NSA, SEC

    According to Nacchio, his troubles can be traced back to a meeting at the NSA’s Fort Meade…

  • Big Brother vs. Wall Street

    The industry regulator gathers vast amounts of data about brokerage accounts and charges. But some observers say it’s overdone.

  • Want to see the NSA’s public relations press kit?

    This is a page from the National Security Agency’s press kit mailed earlier this month to news organizations.



NSA’s Lust for Back Doors

  • How Huawei became the NSA’s worst nightmare

    An unfamiliar name to American consumers, Huawei produces products that are swiftly being installed in the internet backbone in many regions of the world, displacing some of the western-built equipment that the NSA knows — and presumably knows how to exploit — so well.

  • NSA stole Huawei’s source code, could have added back doors

    Internally Huawei routed all of its emails through one server in Shenzhen where the NSA managed to siphon off the data and gain access to a large portion of the internal communications including messages from company CEO Ren Zhengfei and Chairwoman Sun Yafang. Since the company employs some 150,000 people, the amount of data coming out of Huawei was more than the NSA could handle. According to Der Spiegel an internal NSA document stated that, “we currently have good access and so much data that we don’t know what to do with it.”

  • Huawei on NSA: If foreign spies attacked a US firm, there’d be “outrage”

    Chinese tech company still trying to track down NSA infiltration.


Federal Government’s Lust for Back Doors


  • Circumventing the Panopticon, Transmediale Berlin

    Last month I was on a panel dis­cus­sion at the Ber­lin Trans­me­diale con­fer­ence with NSA whis­tleblower Bill Bin­ney, Chelsea Man­ning rap­por­teur Alexa O’Brian, and act­iv­ist Diani Bar­reto.

  • Oxford Union Society Debate

    The cham­ber was full and I am happy to report that we won the debate by 212 votes to 171, and that Oxford stu­dents do indeed see Edward Snowden as a hero.



  • Hacker Weev’s attorney: The FBI is intercepting my client’s mail

    The FBI is intercepting the prison correspondence of infamous Internet troll Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, including letters from his defense team, according to his attorney.

    “He’s sent me between 10 and 20 letters in the last month or two. I’ve received one,” Tor Ekeland, who had just returned from visiting Auernheimer at the federal corrections institute in Allenwood, Pa., told the Daily Dot in a video interview.


  • Shares Your Data Far and Wide

    The Android version of Angry Birds available on Google Play, last updated March 4, shares personal information such as age, gender and address along with device information with multiple parties, according to a blog post by FireEye researchers Jimmy Su, Jinjian Zhai, and Tao Wei. Users who play the game without a Rovio account are also sharing information about their devices without realizing it, the post said.

  • Google Chrome Taking on New Music and Voice Features

    Meanwhile, both Chrome and Chrome OS are getting voice search features. To use the feature, you open a new tab or visit Google.com in Chrome, say “Ok Google,” and then start speaking your search. This is being rolled out progressively to users on Windows, Mac and Linux.

  • ​Facebook plans to spread web access with ‘drones, satellites and lasers’

    Facebook has announced an ambitious plan to use drone, satellite and laser technology “to deliver the internet to everyone” via the preeminent social media site’s Connectivity Lab project.


  • Come Clean on Deadly Drone Activities

    Three years ago last week, a U.S. drone strike hit the small town of Datta Khel in Pakistan. Local business owners and leaders were in the midst of a two-day tribal council meeting, called to address a dispute regarding a chromite mine in the area. Local authorities had been notified about the meeting, which is a traditional forum employed to resolve community conflicts.

  • Medals for drone pilots?
  • Soapbox: Let’s not be known for dirty wars and drone executions

    On a warm October night in 2011, an American teenager was sitting outdoors with several friends and cousins, about to begin his dinner. The boy was mourning the loss of his father, who had been killed just two weeks earlier. His family had been encouraging him to get out of the house, spend time with friends and enjoy the fresh air to begin the healing process. But there was to be no healing for Abdulrahman Awlaki. A missile fired from a U.S. drone ended his life and those of several of his companions that night. They were buried in a common grave, because the missile tore them into unrecognizable fragments — except for the back of Abdulrahman’s head, which was still covered by his long, curly hair.

  • Govt shy to share drone statistics
  • EU should press Obama on drone secrecy

    Trade and the crisis in Ukraine are likely to dominate the agenda during US President Barack Obama’s first official visit to Brussels on March 26.

  • UK telecoms giant likely bolsters in US secret drones war

    Lord Livingston, ex CEO of famous BT telecoms company, is in the epicenter of a row over the company’s involvement in America’s horrendous military drone war, which has killed hundreds of civilians in Yemen.

  • Use of drones should be under global law

    The United Nations called on all states on Friday to ensure that the use of armed drones complies with international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, backing a proposal from Pakistan.

  • UN rights forum calls for use of drones to comply with law

    The resolution was adopted by a vote of 27 states in favour to six against, with 14 abstentions at the 47-member Geneva forum. The United States, Britain and France voted against

  • Protesters march against drones center in Horsham

    Three Buddhist monks, having walked from Massachusetts, covered their saffron robes with rain parkas, wrapped their drums in plastic bags and joined peace groups on Saturday to trek another 2½ miles to the Horsham Air Guard base to protest the planned ground-control command center for drone operations.

  • Targeting the Humanitarian Side of Drones

    Failure to account and justify lethal drone activity by the United States represents a major violation of international law and international human rights law, a former U.N. rapporteur said Wednesday.

    Since the beginning of drone attacks in 2001, the U.S. has conducted around 450 lethal drone strikes that have raised humanitarian and international legal issues.

  • International consensus emerging against Drones

    Although President Obama promised to make drone programme more transparent in May 2013, the follow up has rather been negligible as no new statement on drone policy or its legal framework has come out as yet. There is a need to ensure transparency of drone programme.

  • Drone strikers say the government is unfairly denying them jury trials

    In a ritual they have followed for nearly four years, they crisscrossed the four-way intersection near the gate, laying out the tools of their trade: anti-war banners, an American flag with a peace symbol instead of 50 white stars, a series of cardboard squares adorned with bright purple, battery-powered LED lights that spelled out the message “No Drones.”


    They have been demonstrating since 2010 against unarmed surveillance drones based and operated at Beale that are used to pinpoint targets for armed killer drones in war zones and elsewhere overseas.


  • Letter: Decommission out-of-control CIA

    Congress recognizes no CIA claims of “privilege.” Congress has complete legal rights to review documents of any government agency. Any claim of “privilege” by any governmental branch is a bold announcement that they will not obey our laws: U.S. Constitution, Speech and Debate clause, and Fourth Amendment, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Executive Order 12333.

  • A Debate on Torture: Legal Architect of CIA Secret Prisons, Rendition vs. Human Rights Attorney

    As the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence feuds with the CIA over the declassification of its 6,000-page report on the agency’s secret detention and interrogation programs, we host a debate between former CIA acting general counsel John Rizzo and human rights attorney Scott Horton. This comes as the United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticized the Obama administration for closing its investigations into the CIA’s actions after Sept. 11. A U.N. report issued Thursday stated, “The Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meager number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives.” Rizzo served as acting general counsel during much of the George W. Bush administration and was a key legal architect of the U.S. interrogation and detention program after the Sept. 11 attacks. He recently published a book titled “Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA.” Attorney Scott Horton is contributing editor at Harper’s magazine and author of the forthcoming book, “Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy.”

  • Opinion: The CIA, running amok for 60 years
  • Guest Column: Government secrets: Too many held too long

    Recent controversies involving the NSA surveillance program and alleged CIA eavesdropping on Congress have dominated the news. This has led to healthy and heated discussions about clandestine activities of intelligence agencies to include the amount of classified information collected and how long it is maintained.

  • U.S. may expand Syrian assistance

    The Obama administration, stung by reversals in Ukraine and Syria, appears to have decided to expand its covert program of training and assistance for the Syrian opposition, deepening U.S. involvement in that brutal and stalemated civil war.

    The White House announced that President Obama discussed “the crisis in Syria” along with other subjects when he met Friday in Riyadh with Saudi King Abdullah, but the statement didn’t mention any details of the stepped-up Syria assistance program.

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