Archive for invasion of privacy – Page 2

VIDEO- Rep. Peter King wants Glenn Greenwald prosecuted for NSA leaks + "Republicans, conservatives becoming Michael Moores"


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Fox's Megyn Kelly:

To take it another step and to say the journalists who published the information, the guys who published what he leaked, that they should face prosecution, that is news. Do you believe that? Do you stand by that, both Greenwald and the Washington Post reporter?

Rep. Peter King (R-NY):

I’m talking about Greenwald. Greenwald, not only did he disclose this information he has said that he has the names of CIA agents and assets around the world and they’re threatening to disclose that. The last time that was done in this country, we saw a CIA station chief murdered in Greece. No right is absolute. And even the press has certain restrictions. I think it should be very targeted and very selective and certainly a very rare exception. But in this case, when you have someone who has disclosed secrets like this and threatened to release more, then to me yes, there has to be legal action should be taken against him. This is a very unusual case with life and death implications for Americans.


What is the difference between Glenn Greenwald, who broke this story in the Guardian who is an American citizen but he’s living abroad, and James Rosen, and the Associated Press?


James Rosen never said he was going to release information that was going to kill Americans. He was never going to disclose the names of CIA agents and operatives around the world the way Greenwald is saying he is threatening to do...


Do you think that Glenn Greenwald should be prosecuted for what’s been released so far? ...


It certainly should be considered and the reason I say that is because he’s putting American lives at risk. This was clearly done I believe to hurt Americans...

King also said "Too many Republicans and conservatives are becoming Michael Moores" because they refer to "spying and snooping."

I'm sure he didn't mean that as a compliment, which is how I took it.

Ahem. Note to Pete, via Think Progress:

While Greenwald has said that he will report on more newsworthy secret information that was allegedly provided to him by a former NSA contractor, he has never said he plans to expose or out any CIA agents. And as this blog has previously noted, there is no known example of a U.S. official prosecuting a journalist for their own reporting or publication of material. Doing so would be an unprecedented expansion of government invasion into the free press, and would prompt an immediate deluge of constitutional challenges as a violation of the First Amendment.


VIDEO: "It's not some Orwellian abstraction. It's America's history & recent history; & left unchecked... America's future."


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As I wrote previously, I’m less interested in spending time blaming or lauding people (Edward Snowden, President Obama, et al) and more interested in concentrating on the topic at hand. And that topic is not whether Snowden is a traitor or hero, or whether anyone else is, but whether what he reported is true. Attacking Snowden may feel good or serve as an emotional outlet, but it also diverts our attention away from the bigger picture.

And that is exactly the point that Robin Abcarian makes in her L.A. Times column:

Please. Let’s stop focusing on the overpaid, tormented young man who last week revealed the National Security Administration’s Power Point Plan for Total Electronic World Domination.

Let’s focus instead on what our nation’s wiretapping agency has actually been up to, whether America’s technology giants have been complicit in an unprecedented and sweeping electronic intrusion and, most important, whether we think allowing the government access to our phone calls, email, video and voice chats, photos and file transfers is the price we must pay for security in the post 9/11 world.

The issue is not whether Edward Snowden is a “traitor,” as Republican House Speaker John Boehner pronounced him Tuesday. The issue is whether the his claims are true. [...]

If a well-meaning rogue can reveal secrets, can’t a rogue with ill intentions just as easily misuse them? [...]

As shocking as that is, it’s even more shocking that most Americans seem to be just fine with [being watched and recorded].

Another point I tried to make on the Nicole Sandler Show yesterday is that over time, the story changes. When a huge newsflash first breaks, everyone scrambles to make sense of it. Then as more details are revealed, many who jumped on the original bandwagon o' the day do a 180 and jump on a new one. And then another one. And another. Sometimes the first bandwagon starts to look pretty outdated and silly, embarrassing even. Remember when the New York Post misidentified the wrong people as the Boston Bombing Suspects?

More facts and information are eventually revealed which allow us to draw more accurate conclusions and have a clearer perspective, possibly even changing our attitudes about what we thought we already knew.

As of right now, we just don't know all that much. We may never know enough. But at least now we're talking about it.

As Abacarian writes, "Obviously, you can’t have a debate if there is no issue on the table. Snowden’s leak took care of that."

Last night, Chris Hayes also made some great points on "All In":

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Chris Hayes:

If you ask me, in the abstract, do you think it's okay for the government to be able to access millions of Americans' phone records and Internet activity as long as those tools are just for catching terrorists and they're never, ever abused, I would be tempted to say, yes, that's totally okay.

But there's a pretty major sticking point, and that is the "as long as it's not abused" part. Because history tells us that is not actually a thing. A non-abused massive government surveillance apparatus. That is not what Dr. Martin Luther King tells us....

Just last month, NBC's Michael Ksikoff flagged reports that a special Homeland Security-funded Boston intelligence unit was closely monitoring anti-Wall Street demonstrations, including tracking the Facebook pages and websites of the protesters and writing reports on the potential impact on commercial and financial sector assets in downtown areas, right around the time the U.S. government received the second of two warnings from the Russian government about the radical Islamic ties of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

When you construct a massive surveillance apparatus, history tells us that it will be brought to bear not just on, quote, the enemy, but on the people who threaten society's power structure. On whoever exists at the political margins, whether it's Martin Luther King, Jr. or some Occupy Boston protesters. It's not some Orwellian abstraction. It's America's history and America's recent history; and left unchecked, I fear, America's future.


A.C.L.U. Sues Obama Administration Over Collection of Phone Logs


obama i welcome this debate NSA

As I said today on the Nicole Sandler Show, I'm less interested in spending time blaming or lauding people (Edward Snowden, President Obama, et al) and more interested in concentrating on the topic at hand. The hysteria on both sides around me is not making me more inclined to engage, but less. As I said on the show, I get quieter when those around me get louder.

The story is still unfolding, and I prefer to wait for more facts to roll in before getting too passionate about who the heroes and villains really are. Rather than demonize or cheerlead, I will only say that I'm glad we're talking about this. We should have years ago.

IMHO, the name-calling and labeling aren't helping the situation, but thoughtful discussions can. I am none too thrilled with the new reports about the lack of privacy and transparency, and as I said in a previous post:

Some of the reactions are head-scratchers. Just because a program has been around for several years does not make it okay. Just because a Democratic president is in charge, instead of the Bush/Cheney Torture Team of Horrors, does not make it okay either (plus, one day Republicans will be in power again). Nor does the “what did you expect?” response. Nor does the “I have nothing to hide” response. Nor is the “corporations already use our data” line.

And this:

I’m queasy about this NSA stuff, feeling vulnerable, especially thinking about a future that includes Republicans getting back in the White House. President Christie? President Paul? Would you trust them with (expanding) powers like these? Many of us may have more trust in President Obama, but what about someone more extreme, more power hungry?

The most constructive response to these recent revelations that I can think of is my usual: Make our voices heard. Inform others and be informed. Get involved. Run for office, or make sure the right people do, from the bottom up. We need to fix a broken system, but we can't do that if we're all running in different directions screaming our heads off.

That said, this just popped into my inbox:

A.C.L.U. Sues Obama Administration Over Collection of Phone Logs

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its “dragnet” collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program — whose existence was exposed by a former National Security Agency contractor last week — is illegal and asking a judge to both stop it and order the records purged.

The lawsuit, filed in New York, could set up an eventual Supreme Court test. It could also focus attention on this disclosure amid the larger heap of top secret surveillance matters that were disclosed by Edward J. Snowden, a former N.S.A. contractor who came forward on Sunday to say he was the source of a series of disclosures by The Guardian and The Washington Post.

It's no coincidence that in my L.A. Times today, I noticed this op-ed by Hector Villagra is executive director of the ACLU of Southern California:

President Obama's response to the troubling news of indiscriminate government collection of communication information was meant to be reassuring: The NSA is operating under supervision by all three branches of government, he assured us.

Even if this were true — and it is not — this purported defense should make us more nervous, not less, because it suggests that Washington has become entirely comfortable with keeping basic information from the American public about what powers of surveillance the government claims it can lawfully use.

The secret court that apparently authorized this program operates nothing like the judicial branch... Its decisions are made in secret and not generally subject to appellate review. And there is no role built into the system for someone to counter the government's arguments. [...]

The debate we are now having about government surveillance ... has become possible only because of "unauthorized disclosures" to the media. 

And then there was this L.A. Times editorial:

[I]t was widely known that the government was using a loosely worded provision of the Patriot Act to acquire so-called business records, including information about the sources, destinations and duration of telephone calls. But it was unclear how indiscriminate that dragnet was. Two years ago, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) warned that "the American people will also be extremely surprised when they learn how the Patriot Act is secretly being interpreted." The next time Congress considers an extension of that law, those who support narrowing its scope need not rely on Wyden's tantalizing but vague warning.

From the government's point of view, it's certainly not ideal if every twentysomething with a security clearance is making his own free-lance decisions about what secrets deserve to be protected and which should be leaked. On the other hand, President Obama himself said of the controversy over the surveillance programs that "I welcome this debate, and I think it's healthy for our democracy." Without the leaks that Obama decried (and may prosecute), that debate wouldn't be taking place.

Please read all of the above in full. Just follow the links. I'm still trying to digest everything. As Rachel Maddow always says, watch this space.


Booz Allen's statement on Edward Snowden and "Reports of Leaked Information"


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Getting this wasn't easy. After several bouts with " Is Undergoing Maintenance" during an apparently crashing-under-the-weight-of-inquiring-people-want-to-know moment, I finally made it through to their press release (bolding mine):

Booz Allen Statement on Reports of Leaked Information

June 9, 2013

Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, has been an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.

Here is Glenn Greenwald's interview at The Guardian: Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations, where there is also video:

The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA's history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadows [...]

"I don't want public attention because I don't want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing."


Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. (Booz Allen) is an American consulting firm headquartered in Tysons Corner, Fairfax County, Virginia, with 80 other offices throughout the United States. It is recognized as one of the most prestigious technology consulting firms in the world[3] and one of the best consulting firms to work for by Consulting Magazine.[4]Bloomberg Government ranked Booz Allen as 16th in its listing of industry leaders in the government sector in 2013. [5] Founded in 1914 by Edwin G. Booz, the company is one of the oldest management consulting firms in the world.

Booz Allen Hamilton is engaged in providing management and technology consulting services to the United States government and commercial services. Booz Allen’s services include strategic planning, human capital and learning, communications, operational improvement, information technology work, systems engineering, organizational change efforts, modeling and simulation, program management, assurance and resilience, and economic business analysis. [...]

Another controversy, related to some of the senior staff of Booz Allen (past and present) and related to its performance on some specific U.S. intelligence agency contracts, was brought to light on January 12, 2007 in an interview conducted by Democracy Now! with Tim Shorrock,[70] an independent investigative journalist, and separately in an article he wrote for the Salon online magazine. Through investigation of Booz Allen employees, Shorrock asserts that there is a sort of revolving-door conflict of interest between Booz Allen and the U.S. government, and between multiple other contractors and the U.S. government in general. Regarding Booz Allen, Shorrock referred to such people as John M. McConnell, R. James Woolsey, Jr., and James R. Clapper, all of whom have gone back and forth between government and industry (Booz Allen in particular), and who may present the appearance that certain government contractors receive undue or unlawful business from the government, and that certain government contractors may exert undue or unlawful influence on government. Shorrock further relates that Booz Allen was a sub-contractor with two programs at the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), called Trailblazer and Pioneer Groundbreaker.

More at the link.


"The more we accept perpetual government and corporate surveillance as the norm..."


obama chris hayes debate NSA

Think Progress has a thoughtful, and disturbing, post up in response to the NSA PRISM program. Please read the whole thing, but meanwhile, here are a couple of snippets:

The reaction to the National Security Agency (NSA)’s secret online spying program, PRISM, has been polarized between seething outrage and some variant on “what did you expect?” Some have gone so far as to say this program helps open the door to fascism, while others have downplayed it as in line with the way that we already let corporations get ahold of our personal data.

That second reaction illustrates precisely why this program is so troubling. The more we accept perpetual government and corporate surveillance as the norm, the more we change our actions and behavior to fit that expectation — subtly but inexorably corrupting the liberal ideal that each person should be free to live life as they choose without fear of anyone else interfering with it.

The arguments defending and attacking the monitoring and related secrets-slash-revelations are everywhere, all over the News and Social Media Machines, and at times, both sides make total sense.

But I remain concerned.

Some of the reactions are head-scratchers. Just because a program has been around for several years does not make it okay. Just because a Democratic president is in charge, instead of the Bush/Cheney Torture Team of Horrors, does not make it okay either (plus, one day Republicans will be in power again). Nor does the "what did you expect?" response. Nor does the "I have nothing to hide" response.

Nor is the "corporations already use our data" line. Businesses (supposedly) don't have the power that government does, meaning they use our information to suit their commercial needs, not to put us in prisons or "disappear" us (insert Koch snark here). And if Facebook confuses me with someone else, I'm not dragged out of my house for being a terrorist.

Not that it's preferable to have Big Biz all up in our biz either, but you get the idea.

Chris Hayes asked a lot of good questions and made a lot of good points last night:

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There is a lot to digest here, but there is also so much we just don't know. And that's what bothers a lot of us the most.


NSA whistleblower: “Aggregated metadata can be more revealing than content.”


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Do you feel comfortable with the surveillance techniques in question? Did you feel okay about the monitoring programs when the Bush administration was in charge of them? I don't see how anyone can say no to the second question and yes to the first.

I'm queasy about this NSA stuff, feeling vulnerable, especially thinking about a future that includes Republicans getting back in the White House. President Christie? President Paul? Would you trust them with (expanding) powers like these? Many of us may have more trust in President Obama, but what about someone more extreme, more power hungry?

None of this has surprised me, but it does make me very uneasy. What was that about sacrificing our privacy for security again?

privacy security liberty Ben Franklin

Think Progress:

[T]wo Democrats who have condemned the surveillance — Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO) — say they have been unable to express public outrage over the measures, which are still classified. “I believe that when law-abiding Americans call their friends, who they call, when they call, and where they call from is private information,” Wyden said in a statement on Thursday. “Collecting this data about every single phone call that every American makes every day would be a massive invasion of Americans’ privacy.” Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed outrage over the revelations and pledged to introduce legislation limiting the government’s surveillance capabilities.

An hour after President Obama’s remarks, NSA whistleblower Kirk Wiebe told Fox News that “aggregated metadata can be more revealing than content.” “It’s very important to realize that when an entity collects information about you, that includes locations, transactions, credit card transactions, travel, plans, easy path, on and off toll ways all of that can be used to track you day to day to the point where people can get insight into your intentions and what you are going to do next,” he said. “It is difficult to get that from content unless you exploit every piece and even then a lot of content is worthless.”


VIDEO-- Pres. Obama: "Nobody is listening to your telephone calls."


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UPDATE, here's more:

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As soon as I can find the entire video, I'll add it in.

The president made these remarks defending the NSA in San Jose, California, following remarks on the Affordable Care Act.

Via BreakingNewsTodayy:

President Obama defended what he called long-standing Internet and phone monitoring programs as valuable tools to fight terrorism, saying that congressional lawmakers have been repeatedly briefed on the program and that federal judges oversee the program "throughout."

"Nobody is listening to your telephone calls," Obama said. "That's not what this program is about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at the numbers and durations of calls. They're not looking at names and they're not looking at content, but sifting through this so-called meta data, they may identify potential leads with respect to people that might engage in terrorism."

The president's remarks came one day after the revelation of two secret programs that allow government intelligence agencies to gather information on domestic phone and Internet usage by American citizens.

President Obama and others have defended the these surveillance techniques by reminding us how long the monitoring has gone on, and how elected members of Congress have been aware of it and have approved it over the years. But that does not necessarily make it right. Longevity of a program and too many representatives willing to give up privacy for security don't always spell justification, at least not to me.