Archive for invasion of privacy – Page 2

BuzzFlash: "Mainstream Corp. Media More Interested in Capturing Snowden Than Condemning Abuses He Exposed"

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H/t: @Knishette for video link

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Chris Hayes:

"I do feel conflicted..."

Me too. But not about outsourcing to private contractors.

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

The basic premise is the same: Snowden is a traitor who has done the US grievous harm.

But what about what Snowden has revealed, along with former NSA and other intelligence agency whistleblowers, that basically every US citizen is a target or potential target for spying, without sufficient oversight of America's vast infrastructure of spying agencies?  Isn't this a fundamental constitutional issue?

If you look at the government DC "conventional wisdom" that Snowden gave the Guardian UK, through Glenn Greenwald, information that harmed the national security of the United States, what exactly is it that makes us more vulnerable that he revealed?

If you haven't seen "Zero Dark Thirty," rent it.  It's worth noting that what is detailed in the film about the CIA and NSA tracking down Osama bin Laden through his most trusted courier provides enormous information to "our enemies" about the operations and methods used to locate terrorists.  And the script, as we reported yesterday was written with the full cooperation of the CIA and its affiliated agencies, as well as the Pentagon.

Then you have the book written by a member of the SEALs team that killed Osama bin Laden.  Was that soldier in any way threatened with prosecution?

But the mere notion, whatever Snowden's motivations, that revealing a spying apparatus that is the intelligence gathering version of a permanent war on the privacy of Americans and citizens abroad is worthy of debate apparently has escaped the attention of the Washington Post. [...]

[W]ho can possibly think that it won't be long, if is not currently happening, that other nations (think of China's advance computer hacking and encryption capabilities) will be ferreting out the NSA's "secret" information on Americans and others? [...]

How long does one think any of this massive database of information and phone recordings are going to remain secret with widely dispersed access...? I read the other day -- whether 100 percent accurate or not it indicates the enormity of the challenge of keeping widespread secrets secret -- that more than a million government employees and private consultants have high-level security clearance.

Please read the entire post here.

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Your ever-vigilant friends at the NSA: "What could be more democratic than spying on everybody?"

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NSA

Source: ACLU

Today’s guest post by the one, the only, Will Durst:

YOUR EVER- VIGILANT FRIENDS AT THE NSA

Dear US Citizen.

Please accept our most egregiously sincere apologies for the difficulties and inconveniences the secret monitoring of your phone records and email and GPS units and foreign travel and bank accounts and yes, even your snail mail has evidently caused.

We here at the NSA strive for the perfection of our services, which depend on the chronic obliviousness of you, our valued customers. Unfortunately, due to one disgruntled deadbeat (who escaped to China to avoid government persecution- which is like joining the Army because you’re tired of people telling you what to do) you now know of our continuing efforts to keep you safe. That was never our intention.

When you are even tangentially aware of the absurd lengths the National Security Agency will go to keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way, our mission has failed. If you knew half the crap we have to slog through here, your hair would curl, but that’s another story altogether.

Yes, we’re pretty much keeping tabs on everything everyone says and does, all the time, which we understand upsets a few of you. Folks. Don’t worry. Nobody’s actually listening to any of this stuff. We’re just used to collecting it. If it makes you feel any better, think of this whole enterprise as an exceedingly long, government- subsidized episode of “Hoarders.” You can trust us.

And seriously, anybody who didn’t suspect this kind of snooping was going on is not to be trusted with knives in the kitchen without a fencing mask. Privacy is soooo 20th Century. You share the regularity of your bowel movements on Facebook, but we check around to find out who’s making coded phone calls to al Qaeda and suddenly everybody’s nose is out of joint? You kidding me?

Unfortunately, one of our representatives testified in front of Congress, “no, we aren’t collecting data on Americans,” when what he meant to say is, “yes, we ARE collecting data on Americans.” James Clapper simply gave the “least untruthful answer possible.” Then again, Congress knows that getting a straight answer from us is harder than bending a wire coat hanger into a number representing pi to the sixth digit with your teeth. All for your protection.

See, the problem is, nobody knows who the enemy is anymore. Narrowing suspicion is much too time consuming. Lot easier to wiretap the entire nation than try to pick out the one or two most devious of you. Besides, what could be more democratic than spying on everybody?

We call the process data mining. And you, the soft quarry, are producing up to a billion records a day. Which is real similar to pulverizing Everest, then sifting through the rubble for a blue pebble. It ain’t easy people. Lot of haystacks, not so many needles.

To ensure this glitch never occurs again, we are rectifying the glitcher in order to return our service to the high-level quality that you, the citizens of America, have come to expect. For the inconvenience we have caused, each household in America will receive 3 free months of HBO.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this matter, please contact your Congressperson. Thanks for your understanding, and please, don’t bother looking for us. You can be sure, we’ll be looking after you.

Sincerely.
Your ever- vigilant friends at the NSA.

PS. Don’t forget to “like us” on Facebook.

Recipient of 7 consecutive nominations for Stand Up of the Year, Will Durst’s new one- man show “BoomerAging: From LSD to OMG” is presented every Tuesday, at the Marsh, San Francisco. Go to… themarsh.org for info. Or willdurst.com.

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

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stfu lights camera

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.

Kelly:

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?

King:

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...

Kelly:

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

King:

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.

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

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democrats' fault smaller

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.

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

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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.

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

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edward snowden NSA PRISM whistleblower

Getting this wasn't easy. After several bouts with "BoozAllen.com 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."

Wiki:

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.

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

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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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Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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.

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