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Links: Surveillance, Intervention, Torture and Drones

Posted in News Roundup at 8:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Snowden and Journalists


  • Silicon Valley could force NSA reform, tomorrow. What’s taking so long?

    With Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras triumphantly returning to the US to accept the Polk Award with Barton Gellman and Ewan MacAskill yesterday, maybe it’s time we revisit one of their first and most important stories: how much are internet companies like Facebook and Google helping the National Security Agency, and why aren’t they doing more to stop it?

  • Behind Closed Doors, Google and Facebook Are Fighting Efforts to Stop NSA Spying

    Revelations about the National Security Agency’s most controversial surveillance program, which centers on the bulk collection of hundreds of billions of records of Americans’ phone conversations, were quickly greeted with calls for reform by major internet powerhouses like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo last year. But all four companies, along with dozens of other major tech firms, are actively opposing an initiative to prevent NSA spying known as the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, leaning on secretive industry lobbying groups while they profess outrage in official statements.

  • NSA will still be involved

    The recent ruling by the Obama administration that telecom carriers, rather than the National Security Agency, would be responsible for warehousing telephone metadata is a complete joke.

  • The Fourth Amendment Shell Game

    One of Obama’s NSA reforms just makes the problem worse.


  • Obama Lets N.S.A. Exploit Some Internet Flaws, Officials Say

    But Mr. Obama carved a broad exception for “a clear national security or law enforcement need,” the officials said, a loophole that is likely to allow the N.S.A. to continue to exploit security flaws both to crack encryption on the Internet and to design cyberweapons.

  • NSA allowed to keep secret some Internet security flaws, officials say

    Stepping into a heated debate within the nation’s intelligence agencies, President Barack Obama has decided that when the National Security Agency discovers major flaws in Internet security, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage or cyberattacks, senior administration officials said Saturday.

Cost Analysis

  • Exploring the Effect of NSA Disclosures on the U.S. Technology Industry

    This past Monday, I had the honor of moderating a panel organized by students at the American University Washington College of Law’s National Security Law Brief, on Understanding the Global Implications of the NSA Disclosures on the U.S. Technology Industry. The panel (Elizabeth Banker (ZwillGen), David Fagan (Covington), Joseph Moreno (Cadwalader), Gerard Stegmaier (Wilson Sonsoni) and Lawrence Greenberg (Motley Fool)) was stacked with practitioners who are navigating, on a daily basis, issues related to data privacy, transparency, and cooperation with law enforcement/government requests, among other related issues. As we explored during the discussion, there are a number of recent media and other reports describing the “fallout” for U.S. industry as a result of the disclosures. So, at least two questions arise: first, are the reports to be believed, and second, if so, will there be a lasting impact, or is this only temporary?


  • Abe’s NSA? The Japanese Government Embraces Secrecy

    Last December the ruling Liberal Democratic Party rammed one of the most controversial bills in Japan’s postwar history through the Diet, or parliament, with an uncharacteristic lack of debate. The “Protection of Specially Designated Secrets Act” passed even as opposition politicians knocked over desks, chairs, and one another while trying to reach the podium to block it. Outside, nearly 10,000 protesters formed a human chain around the government building and chanted, “No Return to Fascism!”



  • NSA Blows Its Own Top Secret Program in Order to Propagandize

    The NSA engages in this fear-mongering not only publicly but also privately. As part of its efforts to persuade news organizations not to publish newsworthy stories from Snowden materials, its representatives constantly say the same thing: If you publish what we’re doing, it will endanger lives, including NSA personnel, by making people angry about what we’re doing in their countries and want to attack us.

  • NSA general warrants are a crime

    Last week, National Intelligence Director Gen. James R. Clapper sent a brief letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in which he admitted that agents of the National Security Agency (NSA) have been reading innocent Americans’ emails and text messages and listening to digital recordings of their telephone conversations that have been stored in NSA computers, without warrants obtained pursuant to the Constitution. That the NSA is doing this is not newsworthy — Edward Snowden has told the world of this during the past 10 months. What is newsworthy is that the NSA has admitted this, and those admissions have far-reaching consequences.

    Since the Snowden revelations first came to light last June, the NSA has steadfastly denied them. Clapper has denied them. The recently retired head of the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander, has denied them. Even President Obama has stated repeatedly words to the effect that “no one is reading your emails or listening to your phone calls.”

  • NSA TAO: What Tailored Access Operations unit means for enterprises

    It was recently revealed that the NSA’s top-secret offensive security unit, a specially designed hacking group, can infiltrate systems at the speed of light through everything from satellite and fiber-optic connections

Data ‘Leaks’



  • Google wants to trademark ‘Glass’ but bid stalled

    Google is trying hard to register ‘Glass’ as a trademark for its wearable computer glasses. However, the search giant hasn’t been able to get through its bid with the US trademark office.

  • Anyone in the US can purchase Glass for one day
  • For one day, Google will let anyone in the US buy Glass

    Google is about to make its biggest push yet to get Glass in the hands of as many people as possible. The Verge has obtained documents indicating that the company will open up its “Explorer Program” and make Glass available to anyone who wants to purchase a pair, possibly as soon as next week. It’ll be a limited-time offer, only available for about a day, and only US residents will be eligible to purchase the $1,500 device. Google will also include a free sunglass shade or one of its newly-introduced prescription glasses frames along with any purchase. An internal Google slide shows that the promotion may be announced on April 15th, though all the details of this program have yet to be finalized.


  • Ukraine fails to break stalemate with pro-Russian protesters in east

    Arseniy Yatsenyuk promises devolution to local government in hope of staving off demands for their independence from Kiev

  • The hypocrisy of some nations

    World attention has focused on Ukraine recently. With President Victor Yanukovych making his exit and a new government formed, events shifted to Crimea, with accusations that the Russian military took over the region.


    The US has also come under attack from human rights groups for its use of drones against suspected terrorists but which has also killed many civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
    Recently, the UN Human Rights Council published a Special Rapporteur’s report which detailed the deaths of civilians caused by US drone attacks, and raised many questions of possible violations of international human rights law.



  • How Many People Did Drones Kill Last Year? This Congressman Wants to Know.

    Schiff is co-sponsoring the drones report bill with an unlikely ally, Rep. Walter Jones. The North Carolina Republican is a mostly staunch conservative and Schiff a reliable Democratic vote on contentious issues. But Jones has broken with Republicans sharply in recent years over civil liberties issues and foreign policy generally.

  • Amy Bennett: Congress should fix Freedom of Information Act

    The Freedom of Information Act is a critical law for making sure the public has a fighting chance to get copies of records the government might not want it to see. For more than 40 years, people have used the FOIA to uncover evidence of government waste, fraud, abuse and illegality. More benignly, FOIA has been used to better understand the development and effects — positive and negative — of the federal government’s policies.

  • CIA profiling reminds US Arabs of the Mukhabarat

    Because Arab Americans and American Muslims have been waiting to see when the Obama administration would finally act to end Bush-era ethnic and religious profiling guidelines and practices, I was troubled to read press ­accounts this week indicating that US ­attorney general Eric Holder may be proposing to keep in place many of the programmes that have so compromised our rights. American Arabs have been waiting for five years for the administration to end these practices. Now we fear that they may not.

  • “Off With His Head:” Court Upholds Obama’s Power to Kill
  • Al-Aulaqi lawsuit dismissal gives U.S. government total authority
  • From Drone Strikes To Lost Luggage, How International Law Affects Global Decision-Making

    …United States’ earliest days, the country tried to win the respect of the world by faithfully adhering to international law.

  • Britain increasingly stripping its people of citizenship

    Mohamed Sakr and Bilal al-Berjawi had been friends since childhood, and they were both stripped of their citizenship within months of each other. After losing their citizenship, both were targeted for drone strikes. It took two separate attempts to kill al-Berjawi, while Sakr was successfully killed with one bombing. American officials, who supplied the drones, and British officials have denied the accusation that the governments are attempting to skirt due process laws by removing citizenship prior to assassination, though they did admit that the same intelligence may have led to both actions.

  • Federal Court: Drone Killing of U.S. Citizens Is Constitutional

    On April 4, a federal court dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s killing of three American citizens in two drone strikes in 2011.

    The complaint was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of the families of Anwar al-Awlaki, Samir Khan, and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Anwar al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son.

  • Victims of US drones in Yemen demand justice

    Relatives of victims of US drone strikes in Yemen have come together and formed the National Organisation for Drones Victims aimed at crusading against the controversial US programme and bringing justice to victims.


    Al Gawili said that he lost two of his relatives in a drone strikes in Khawalan, northern Yemen in January last year. He said that his relatives had nothing to do with Al Qaida and were hit by drones when they were dropping unidentified passengers off another area”.

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