Author of Benghazi Book Mitchell Zuckoff Stands by Pivotal ‘Stand-Down’ Scene

Bay

Jocelyn Noveck reports: “Stand down,” says the actor playing the CIA station chief in Michael Bay‘s new film, “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.” He’s speaking to the security team that wants to go help Americans under siege less than a mile away in a U.S. diplomatic compound under fierce attack. His order keeps the team from leaving for a crucial 20 minutes, before they decide to ignore him and go anyway.

“We worked very hard to get the facts right from the research of the book that Mitch did to the amazing access I have from working 20 years with the military, from the boots on the ground, the people who were in country to the CIA, at a high-level meeting to get just the facts right, the recently released emails. We just had to get it right.”

— Director Michael Bay

It’s the pivotal — and most controversial — scene in the new film, a movie that Bay insists steers clear of politics, but which is bound to spark much political discussion nonetheless. On Friday — the movie’s opening day — the Washington Post quoted the now-retired CIA station chief, identified only as Bob, as strongly denying he ever issued such an order or anything like it.

“There never was a stand-down order,” the base chief was quoted by the Post as saying. “At no time did I ever second-guess that the team would depart.”

The author of the book upon which the film is based, Mitchell Zuckoff, stood by his depiction of the scene on Friday, saying in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he’d based it on several firsthand accounts. Zuckoff collaborated on his book, “13 Hours,” with some of the surviving security contractors.

[Read the full story here, at US News]

“It’s not credible what he’s claiming,” Zuckoff said of the station chief, whom he said he had tried to interview when writing the book, but his request was denied.

Four Americans died in the attacks, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Read the rest of this entry »


The Making of Asian America: A History

mochida-family-japan-history

The Making of Asian America: A History, by Erika Lee, 528 pages, Simon & Schuster, Nonfiction. 

Nicolas Gattig reports: In 1922, a Japanese immigrant to the United States named Takao Ozawa applied for citizenship with the U.S. Supreme Court. Having lived in America for almost 30 years, Ozawa was fluent in English and an active Christian, assuring the court that his skin was “white in color” and that he wished to “return the kindness which our Uncle Sam has extended me.” Still, his appeal was denied — naturalization at the time was exclusive to Caucasians.

“Asian-Americans have experienced both the promise of America as well as the racism of America. As we debate what kind of America we want to be in the 21st century — with concerns about immigration policy, racial equality and our ties to the rest of the world — Asian Americans and their long history in the U.S. can inform on these issues.”

— Author Erika Lee

A recurring theme in Erika Lee’s new book “The Making of Asian America: A History” is the humiliations of immigrant life — the “collective burden” of people who have to keep proving they are worthy. With a keen eye for telling quotes, Lee shows the human dimensions of Asian immigration to the U.S., which now spans 23 different groups and makes up 6 percent of the total population. Incidentally, she tells of a nation expanding its identity, of the inclusion of people once vilified.

japaneseInternment

From the start, Japanese sojourners feature prominently in this history, as the second largest group of Asian immigrants —the bulk being Chinese — during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hailing mostly from 41ko6B1RfoL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Okinawa, Kumamoto, Fukuoka and Hiroshima prefectures, they were mainly young men dodging military service or farmers fleeing the taxation of the Meiji Era (1868-1912) government.

[Order Erika Lee‘s book “The Making of Asian America: A History” from Amazon.com]

The immigrant dream was soon interrupted. The “gentlemen’s agreement” between the U.S. and Japan was signed in 1908, barring all Japanese laborers from entering the U.S. This spurred illegal immigration via Mexico, and in a quirky aside Lee quotes a letter by a stateside contact named Nakagawa, who advised border-crossers laconically: “Some people go to Nogales. But sometimes they are killed by the natives. So you had better not go that way.”

The book reminds us how hedging the “Yellow Peril” was a part of U.S. immigration policy, culminating in 1924, when “immigration from Asia was banned completely, with the establishment of an ‘Asiatic Barred Zone.’”

“There is widespread condemnation. But there is also a lot of amnesia about WWII incarceration, a lot of misinformation and misremembering. So the lesson still needs to be learned by many, and with great urgency.”

Fitting this theme, two whole chapters here are devoted to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Imperial Army, the “military necessity” allowed for the U.S. government to round up all persons of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast, without due process or proof of wrongdoing. In fact, the measure was unwarranted: reports by the FBI and other offices showed that second-generation Japanese Americans were “pathetically eager” to show their loyalty to the U.S.

“Since the 1980s, American media have been praising the ‘rise of Asian America,’ pointing to Chinese and Indian Americans who enjoy better schooling and salaries than many whites. Still, it is misleading to speak of a ‘model minority.’ A wildly disparate community, Asian Americans also grapple with lower income and high crime rates.”

More than 120,000 Japanese Americans spent the war in camps, many losing their homes and livelihood. About 5,500 internees renounced their U.S. citizenship — becoming “Native American Aliens” — and some of them were deported to Japan. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Hillary Clinton’s Big Lie About Edward Snowden & Whistleblowers

What was Hillary Clinton’s biggest lie during the first Democratic debate?

That NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden could have gone through official channels.

“He broke the laws,” said Clinton. “He could have been a whistleblower, he could have gotten all the protections of being a whistleblower.”

Snowden’s lawyer, Jesselyn Radack of ExposeFacts.org, begs to differ. “For the people out there shouting that Edward Snowden should have gone through proper channels,” she tells Reason TV, “there are not that many channels for national security and intelligence whistleblowers. They are excluded from most avenues available to other whistleblowers.”

More important is the experience of NSA and intelligence whistleblowers who came before Snowden.
“Tom Drake, Bill Binney, Kirk Wiebe, and Ed Loomis DID go through the proper channels,” says Radack. “ALL of them fell under criminal investigations for having done so.” Read the rest of this entry »


Ed Snowden Signed Up for Twitter, Follows One Account: the NSA

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Edward Snowden, the world’s most famous whistleblower, has joined Twitter, announcing his presence on the social media platform with a reference to a once ubiquitous Verizon Wireless advertising campaign. In the aftermath of his disclosures, it’s a not so subtle dig at American intelligence collection.

Can you hear me now?

— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 29, 2015

After providing a group of journalists with a trove of classified NSA documents in 2013, Snowden initially tried to stay out of the public eye, maintaining a fairly low profile in Moscow. He granted hardly any interviews and kept himself out of the news in an apparent effort to keep public attention focused on the substance of his disclosures.

But in the last year or so, Snowden has taken on a more public profile, appearing frequently at conferences and granting occasional interviews….(read more)

Source: Foreign Policy


OH YES SHE DID: Hillary Intentionally Originated, Distributed Classified Material

 reports: A review of recently released e-mails shows that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly originated and distributed highly classified national security information. Clinton’s classified e-mail missives were not constrained to State PANTSUIT-REPORTDepartment staff, either. She also sent classified information to Sidney Blumenthal, a former Clinton White House operative banned by the Obama White House.

An analysis by The Federalist of e-mails released by the State Department late Monday shows that scores of e-mails sent by Clinton contained highly confidential national security information from the beginning, even if they weren’t marked by a classification authority until later.

The original date of classification of Hillary’s e-mails can be discerned by noting the declassification dates noted next to redactions in the e-mails. Under a 2009 executive order signed by President Barack Obama, classified material in most circumstances is to be automatically declassified after 10 years. In some instances, that duration may be extended up to 25 years. In certain circumstances, classification authorities may adjust the classification duration based on the nature of the underlying information.

[Read the full story here, at thefederalist.com]

In this July 2010 e-mail, for example, the entirety of Hillary Clinton’s message was redacted prior to its public release under the federal FOIA law. The redactions of the material were provided pursuant to a provision of law protecting national security information. The printed redaction code “1.4(D),” cited next to the redaction and at the top of the document next to the official classification date, pertains to information on “[f]oreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources[.]” At the top of the document, a declassification date of July 1, 2025 is clearly noted:

Hillary-Classified-1

That declassification date is highly significant because it is precisely 15 years after the date on which the e-mail was sent, rather than the date on which it was marked. Read the rest of this entry »


The End of the Internet Dream?

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In 20 years, the Web might complete its shift from liberator to oppressor. It’s up to us to prevent that.

Earlier this month Jennifer Granick was the keynote speaker at Black Hat 2015. This is a modified version of the speech she delivered. A video of the speech is also available.

Jennifer Stisa Granick1*1a9jKrvPw4_bJRN-nafmWw writes: Twenty years ago I attended my first Def Con. I believed in a free, open, reliable, interoperable Internet: a place where anyone can say anything, and anyone who wants to hear it can listen and respond. I believed in the Hacker Ethic: that information should be freely accessible and that computer technology was going to make the world a better place. I wanted to be a part of making these dreams — the Dream of Internet Freedom — come true. As an attorney, I wanted to protect hackers and coders from the predations of law so that they could do this important work. Many of the people in this room have spent their lives doing that work.

“What does it mean for companies to know everything about us, and for computer algorithms to make life and death decisions? Should we worry more about another terrorist attack in New York, or the ability of journalists and human rights workers around the world to keep working? How much free speech does a free society really need?”

For better or for worse, we’ve prioritized things like security, online civility, user interface, and intellectual property interests above freedom and openness. The Internet is less open and more centralized. It’s more regulated. And increasingly it’s less global, and more divided. These trends: centralization, regulation, and globalization are accelerating. And they will define the future of our communications network, unless something dramatic changes.

Twenty years from now,

• You won’t necessarily know anything about the decisions that affect your rights, like whether you get a loan, a job, or if a car runs over you. Things will get decided by data-crunching computer algorithms and no human will really be able to understand why.

• The Internet will become a lot more like TV and a lot less like the global conversation we envisioned 20 years ago.

• Rather than being overturned, existing power structures will be reinforced and replicated, and this will be particularly true for security.

•Internet technology design increasingly facilitates rather than defeats censorship and control.

It doesn’t have to be this way. But to change course, we need to ask some hard questions and make some difficult decisions.

medium-internet

What does it mean for companies to know everything about us, and for computer algorithms to make life and death decisions? Should we worry more about another terrorist attack in New York, or the ability of journalists and human rights workers around the world to keep working? How much free speech does a free society really need?

[Read the full text here, at Medium]

How can we stop being afraid and start being sensible about risk? Technology has evolved into a Golden Age for Surveillance. Can technology now establish a balance of power between governments and the governed that would guard against social and political oppression? Given that decisions by private companies define individual rights and security, how can we act on that understanding in a way that protects the public interest and doesn’t squelch innovation? Whose responsibility is digital security? What is the future of the Dream of Internet Freedom?

internet-freedom-medium

For me, the Dream of Internet Freedom started in 1984 with Steven Levy’s book “Hackers, Heroes of the Computer Revolution.” Levy told the story of old school coders and engineers who believed that all information should be freely accessible. They imagined that computers would empower people to make our own decisions about what was right and wrong. Empowering people depended on the design principle of decentralization. Decentralization was built into the very DNA of the early Internet, smart endpoints, but dumb pipes, that would carry whatever brilliant glories the human mind and heart could create to whomever wanted to listen. Read the rest of this entry »


Better Informed Than Congress: China’s Cyber Spies Reading Emails of Senior Obama Administration Officials Since 2010

President Barack Obama reflects during a meeting with his full Cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The email grab — first codenamed ‘Dancing Panda’ by U.S. officials, and then ‘Legion Amethyst’ — was detected in April 2010, according to a top secret NSA briefing from 2014. The intrusion into personal emails was still active at the time of the briefing and, according to the senior official, is still going on. 

Robert Windrem reports: China’s cyber spies have accessed the private emails of “many” top Obama administration officials, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official and a top secret document obtained by NBC News, and have been doing so since at least April 2010.

chinese hackers

The email grab — first codenamed “Dancing Panda” by U.S. officials, and then “Legion Amethyst” — was detected in April 2010, according to a top secret NSA briefing from 2014. The intrusion into personal emails was still active at the time of the briefing and, according to the senior official, is still going on.

In 2011, Google disclosed that the private gmail accounts of some U.S. officials had been compromised, but the briefing shows that private email accounts from other providers were compromised as well.

An NSA slide shows the organization of the Chinese government’s hacking units, with separate operations run by the Chinese military and by state security. NBC News

An NSA slide shows the organization of the Chinese government’s hacking units, with separate operations run by the Chinese military and by state security. NBC News

The government email accounts assigned to the officials, however, were not hacked because they are more secure, says the senior U.S. intelligence official.

The senior official says the private emails of “all top national security and trade officials” were targeted.

[Read the full text here, at NBC News]

The Chinese also harvested the email address books of targeted officials, according to the document, reconstructing and then “exploiting the(ir) social networks” by sending malware to their friends and colleagues.

White-House-Jarret-Axelrod-Oval-Office

The time period overlaps with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account while Secretary of State from Jan. 21, 2009 to Feb. 1, 2013. The names and ranks of the officials whose emails were actually grabbed, however, were not disclosed in the NSA briefing nor by the intelligence official. Read the rest of this entry »


Richard Whittle : Military Exercise ‘Black Dart’ to Combat Nightmare Drone Scenario

Three images here of Outlaw G2 made by Griffon Aerospace. Photos provided by JIAMDO. For Sunday PostScript story on drones.

Richard Whittle writes: Sweat the small stuff.

A nuclear power station in France. In October and November, French security officials were investigation a wave of drones that illegally flew over more than a dozen nuclear plants across France.Photo: Reuters

That’s the unofficial motto for this year’s edition of the military exercise Black Dart, a two-week test of tactics and technologies to combat hostile drones that begins Monday on the Point Mugu range at Naval Base Ventura County in California.

Steam rises at night from the cooling towers of the Electricite de France (EDF) nuclear power station in Dampierre-en-Burly, France in this March 8, 2015 file photo. French power utility EDF is expected to hold its AGM this week.   REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/Files   GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD PACKAGE - SEARCH "BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD MAY 18" FOR ALL IMAGES

The military categorizes Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) by size and capability, from Group 5 drones that weigh more than 1,320 pounds and can fly above 18,000 feet like the Reaper, down to Group 1, mini- and micro-drones less than 20 pounds that fly lower than 1,200 feet. Previous Black 51pQLTbdHvL._SL250_Darts have covered threats to troops overseas and targets at home posed by drones of all sizes.

Order Richard Whittle’s book “Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution” from Amazon.com

But small drones are this year’s focus, said the director of this 14th edition of Black Dart, Air Force Maj. Scott Gregg, because of worrisome incidents since the last exercise.

Gregg cited the quadcopter that a drunk crashed onto the White House lawn in the wee hours of Jan. 26 and sightings of unidentified small drones flying over nuclear reactors in France. In the wake of those events, he said, “Even though we’ve been looking at [the small drone threat], it’s taken on a new sense of urgency.”

Gregg also could have mentioned how, to protest government surveillance, the Pirate Party of Germany flew a small drone right up to the podium as Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke in Dresden two years ago. Or how in Japan last April, a nuclear-energy foe landed a drone carrying radioactive sand on the roof of the prime minister’s residence. And there was a report last week that British officials are worried ISIS may try to bomb festival crowds using small drones.

Target practice

The drones that Black Dart participants will attempt to shoot down.Photo: Post Illustration

The drones that Black Dart participants will attempt to shoot down.Photo: Post Illustration

The United States enjoyed a near-monopoly on armed drones for much of the past 15 years, but with more than 80 countries now buying or building drones of their own, and with terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and ISIS known to have used unarmed drones in the Middle East, that advantage has evaporated.

[Read the full story here, at the New York Post]

Few countries and no terrorist groups are likely to emulate the complex and costly US system of undersea fiber-optic cables and satellite earth terminals in Europe that allows crews in the United States to fly drones carrying missiles and bombs over Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

The 30-kilowatt Laser Weapon System was successful at Black Dart 2011.Photo: U.S. Navy

The 30-kilowatt Laser Weapon System was successful at Black Dart 2011.Photo: U.S. Navy

But anyone can buy a Group 1 drone for a couple of hundred dollars and put it to nefarious use. Arm it with plastic explosives, radioactive material, biological or chemical agents, and it can be crashed, kamikaze-style, into a target.

“I’d say for the Department of Homeland Security, it’s one of the biggest concerns,” Gregg said.

The threat isn’t imaginary. Former Northeastern University student Rezwan Ferdaus is now serving 17 years in prison for plotting to pack C-4 plastic explosives into 1/10 scale radio controlled models of F-4 and F-86 fighter jets and fly them into the Capitol and Pentagon. Ferdaus also supplied cellphone detonators for IEDs to people he thought were agents of al Qaeda but turned out to be working for the FBI….(read more)

What’s worked

 Innovations that have previously found success at Black Dart.Photo: Post Illustration

Innovations that have previously found success at Black Dart.Photo: Post Illustration

This year the surrogate threats will include three Group 1 drones — a Hawkeye 400 hexacopter, a Flanker and a Scout II — and one Twin Hawk drone from the Group 2 category (21 to 55 lbs., slower than 250 knots, lower than 3,500 feet). Six Group 3 drones, all of them 13.5-foot wingspan Outlaw G2s made by Griffon Aerospace, also will be targets. Read the rest of this entry »


Pentagon Rushing to Open Space-War Center To Counter China, Russia

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The Pentagon and intelligence community are developing war plans and an operations center to fend off Chinese and Russian attacks on U.S.military and government satellites

The ops center, to be opened within six months, will receive data from satellites belonging to all government agencies, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said Tuesday at the GEOINT symposium, an annual intelligence conference sponsored by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation.

“We want to be able to establish patterns of life from space. We want to know what the unusual looks like. If, all of a sudden, a lot of cars show up in a parking lot of an adversary’s missile plant, we want to know about it and we want to know about it quickly. If, suddenly, small boats are swarming in the Gulf or pirates are starting to congregate off Aden, we want to know.”

“[W]e are going to develop the tactics, techniques, procedures, rules of the road that would allow us … to fight the architecture and protect it while it’s under attack,” Work said. “The ugly reality that we must now all face is that if an adversary were able to take space away from us, our ability to project decisive power across transoceanic distances and overmatch adversaries in theaters once we get there … would be critically weakened.”

“If Russian soldiers are snapping pictures of themselves in war zones and posting them in social media sites, we want to know exactly where those pictures were taken.”

Work also said that Air Force Secretary Deborah James would soon be named the “principal space advisor” to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, where she will to provide “independent advice separate from the consensus process of the department.”

Senior officials at the Pentagon and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are still finalizing details of the new center, which will back up the military’s Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The center will help the military and government coordinate their preparations for and responses to any attack, said Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson, a spokeswoman for Work. Read the rest of this entry »


OPM IT Outsourced to Foreigner Contractors, with Root Access, Working from their Home Country. In this Case, Oh Yeah, China

opm-it

Encryption ‘would not have helped’ at OPM, says DHS official: Attackers had valid user credentials and run of network, bypassing security

 reports: During testimony today in a grueling two-hour hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta claimed that she had recognized huge problems with the agency’s computer security when she assumed her post 18 months ago. But when pressed on why systems had not been protected with encryption prior to the recent discovery of an intrusion that gave attackers access to sensitive data on millions of government employees and government contractorsNON-STOP-PANIC-EX, she said, “It is not feasible to implement on networks that are too old.” She added that the agency is now working to encrypt data within its networks.

But even if the systems had been encrypted, it likely wouldn’t have mattered. Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Dr. Andy Ozment testified that encryption would “not have helped in this case” because the attackers had gained valid user credentials to the systems that they attacked—likely through social engineering. And because of the lack of multifactor authentication on these systems, the attackers would have been able to use those credentials at will to access systems from within and potentially even from outside the network.

House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told Archuleta and OPM Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour, “You failed utterly and totally.” He referred to OPM’s own inspector general reports and hammered Seymour in particular for the 11 major systems out of 47 that had not been properly certified as secure—which were not contractor systems but systems operated by OPM’s own IT department. “They were in your office, which is a horrible example to be setting,” Chaffetz told Seymour. In total, 65 percent of OPM’s data was stored on those uncertified systems.

chinese hackers

Chaffetz pointed out in his opening statement that for the past eight years, according to OPM’s own Inspector General reports, “OPM’s data security posture was akin to leaving all your doors and windows unlocked and hoping nobody would walk in and take the information.”

[Read the full text here, at Ars Technica]

When Chaffetz asked Archuleta directly about the number of people who had been affected by the breach of OPM’s systems panic-manand whether it included contractor information as well as that of federal employees, Archuleta replied repeatedly, “I would be glad to discuss that in a classified setting.” That was Archuleta’s response to nearly all of the committee members’ questions over the course of the hearing this morning.

At least we found it

Archuleta told the committee that the breach was found only because she had been pushing forward with an aggressive plan to update OPM’s security, centralizing the oversight of IT security under the chief information officer and implementing “numerous tools and capabilities.” She claimed that it was during the process of updating tools that the breach was discovered. “But for the fact that OPM implemented new, more stringent security tools in its environment, we would have never known that malicious activity had previously existed on the network and would not have been able to share that information for the protection of the rest of the federal government,” she read from her prepared statement. Read the rest of this entry »


Britain Pulls Spies from Russia, China, as Moscow Cracks Snowden Files

Russ-Hack

London (AFP) – Britain has been forced to move some of its spies after Russia and China accessed the top-secret raft of documents taken by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, British media reported.

“We know Russia and China have access to Snowden’s material and will be going through it for years to come, searching for clues to identify potential targets.”

— Intelligence source, to the Sunday Times

The BBC and the Sunday Times cited senior government and intelligence officials as saying agents had been pulled, with the newspaper saying the move came after Russia was able to decrypt more than one million files.

“It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information,” a Downing Street source said, according to the newspaper.

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“It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information.”

— Downing Street source

Downing Street told AFP on Sunday that they “don’t comment on intelligence matters” while the Foreign Office said: “We can neither confirm or deny these reports”.

The BBC said on its website, meanwhile, that a government source said the two countries “have information” that spurred intelligence agents being moved, but said there was “no evidence” any spies were harmed.

Report: Snowden impersonated NSA officials to access some files

Snowden fled to Russia after leaking the documents to the press in 2013 to expose the extent of US online surveillance programmes and to protect “privacy and basic liberties”.

The Sunday Times said other government sources claimed China had also accessed the documents, which reveal US and British intelligence techniques, leading to fears that their spies could be identified. Read the rest of this entry »


Congress Passes NSA Phone-Records Bill

 

Rand Paul

The final vote divided Senate Republicans, with 23 voting ‘yes’ and 30 voting ‘no,’ and senators seeking re-election in 2016 split on the issue

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress approved sweeping changes Tuesday to surveillance laws enacted after the Sept. 11 attacks, eliminating the National Security Agency’s disputed bulk phone-records collection program and replacing it with a more restrictive measure to keep the records in phone companies’ hands.

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“This is a step in the wrong direction…does not enhance the privacy protections of American citizens. And it surely undermines American security by taking one more tool form our warfighters at exactly the wrong time.”

— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Two days after Congress let the phone-records and several other anti-terror programs expire, the Senate’s 67-32 vote sent the legislation to President Barack Obama, who said he would sign it promptly.

“This legislation will strengthen civil liberty safeguards and provide greater public confidence in these programs,” Obama said in a statement. The bill signing could happen late Tuesday or early Wednesday, but officials said it could take at least several days to restart the collection.

drudge-watching-you-nsa

The legislation will revive most of the programs the Senate had allowed to lapse in a dizzying collision of presidential politics and national security policy. But the authorization will undergo major changes, the legacy of agency contractor Edward Snowden‘s explosive revelations two years ago about domestic spying by the government.panic-betty

“I applaud the Senate for renewing our nation’s foreign intelligence capabilities, and I’m pleased this measure will now head to the president’s desk for his signature.”

— House Speaker John Boehner

In an unusual shifting of alliances, the legislation passed with the support of Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, but over the strong opposition of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell failed to persuade the Senate to extend the current law unchanged, and came up short in a last-ditch effort Tuesday to amend the House version, as nearly a dozen of his own Republicans abandoned him in a series of votes.

Big-Brother

“This is a step in the wrong direction,” a frustrated McConnell said on the Senate floor ahead of the Senate’s final vote to approve the House version, dubbed the USA Freedom Act. He said the legislation “does not enhance the privacy protections of American citizens. And it surely undermines American security by taking obamaorwellone more tool form our warfighters at exactly the wrong time.”

“Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”

— George Orwell

The legislation remakes the most controversial aspect of the USA Patriot Act — the once-secret bulk collection program that allows the National Security Agency to sweep up Americans’ phone records and comb through them for ties to international terrorists. Over six months the NSA would lose the power to collect and store those records, but the government still could gain court orders to obtain data connected to specific numbers from the phone companies, which typically store them for 18 months.

viv-light-nsa

It would also continue other post-9/11 surveillance provisions that lapsed Sunday night, and which are considered more effective than the phone-data collection program. These include the FBI’s authority to gather business records in terrorism and espionage investigations and to more easily eavesdrop on suspects who are discarding cellphones to avoid surveillance.

In order to restart collection of phone records, the Justice Department will need to obtain a new order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Read the rest of this entry »


THE SLIMY HAND: Zombie Patriot Act Will Keep U.S. Spying—Even if the Original Dies

zombie-nsa-db-Emil-Lendof

Forget the White House’s doomsday talk about American intelligence going blind. Thanks to backdoor provisions and alternate collection schemes, U.S. spies will keep on snooping.

Shane Harris writes: President Obama and his top national-security officials spent the past few days warning that once intelligence-gathering authorities in the Patriot Act expired just after midnight Sunday, the United States would face a greater risk of a terrorist attack.

“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we’re dark, and heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could’ve prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity.”

— President Obama, to reporters on Friday

That argument is highly debatable—at least, in the short term. Not only does the U.S. government have all sorts of other ways to collect the same kind of intelligence outlined in the Patriot Act, but there’s also a little-noticed back door in the act that allows U.S. spy agencies to gather information in pretty much the same ways they did before.

Zombie-Killing

“It does seem to me at least reckless to not allow at least a temporary continuation of the bill while we have this debate. But that’s not the way it’s working, and unfortunately I think it’s part of the presidential campaign, and I think people have to judge it for themselves.”

— Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

In other words, there’s a zombie Patriot Act—one that lives on, though the existing version is dead.

On Sunday night, senators voted overwhelmingly to end debate on a measure passed in the House, the USA Freedom Act, which will leave most surveillance authorities in the Patriot Act intact. But some of those powers zombiehandwon’t expire at least until Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. Administration officials had warned that even a momentary interruption posed a grave risk.

“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we’re dark, and heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could’ve prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity,” Obama told reporters at the White House on Friday. On Sunday, CIA Director John Brennan said on CBS’s Face the Nation that there’d “been a little too much political grandstanding and crusading for ideological causes that have skewed the debate on this issue,” an apparent reference to Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, and his promise to force the law to expire, “but these tools are important to American lives.”

[Read the full text here, at The Daily Beast]

They may be. But they are far from the only tools in the counterterrorism arsenal, and though they are no longer law as of Monday, the United States still has plenty of authority to collect intelligence on jihadis and foreign spies.

For starters, there will be what’s left of the Patriot Act itself. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Deal to Save NSA Surveillance Programs Senate Deadline Panic FUBAR

no-deal-panic

Key Patriot Act provisions will expire at midnight

In addition to the bulk phone collections provision, the two lesser-known Patriot Act provisions that also lapse at midnight were one, so far unused, to helps track “lone wolf” terrorism suspects unconnected to a foreign power; the second allows the government to eavesdrop on suspects who continually discard their cellphones.

The Senate failed Sunday to strike a deal to extend the NSA’s phone surveillance program before the midnight deadline.

Members of the GOP-controlled chamber returned Sunday to Capitol Hill in a last-ditch effort to extend the National Security Agency’s authority to collect Americans’ phone records in bulk to search for terror connections and to authorize two other programs under the post-9/11 Patriot Act.

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“Heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who is engaged in dangerous activity, but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the Senate.”

— President Obama

The Senate attempted to either pass a House bill that would have altered the collections of the so-called phone call metadata or simply extend the program.

The 100-member chamber passed the first of two procedure hurdles, known as cloture, to proceed with the House bill. The vote was 77 to 17.

“The sky is not going to fall.”

— Anthony Romero, American Civil Liberties Union executive director

But no final action was expected before Sunday’s midnight deadline after Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul served notice that he would assert his prerogatives under Senate rules to delay a final vote for several days.

“The people who argue that the world will come to an end and we will be over by jihadists (by not passing the bill) are using fear,” Paul, a 2016 presidential candidate, said on the Senate floor.

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Still, the program is all but certain to be revived in a matter of days, although it also looks certain to be completely overhauled under the House-passed legislation that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reluctantly blessed in an about-face Sunday evening.

With most senators opposed to extending current law unchanged, even for a short time, McConnell said the House bill was the only option left other than letting the program die off entirely. The Kentucky Republican preferred extending the current law. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Senate Blocks House Bill on NSA Surveillance, 2-Month Extension

NSA headquarters. Image: Wikimedia Commons

BREAKING NEWS –  The Republican-led Senate blocked a House bill early Saturday that would have ended the National Security Agency’s bulk of collection on domestic phone records.

The vote was 57-42, short of the 60-vote threshold to move ahead. It leaves the fate of the key provisions in the Patriot Act in doubt with a June 1 deadline less than two weeks away.

Francisco Seco/AP - In this October 2013 file photo, a man looks at his cellphone as he walks on the street in downtown Madrid. The NSA’s ability to crack cellphone encryption used by the majority of cellphones in the world offers it wide-ranging powers to listen in on private conversations.

The Senate also failed to advance a two-month extension of NSA programs as well. The vote also needed 60 votes to get to the Senate floor. The vote was defeated 54-45…(read more)

developing…

Fox News

 

 


ANTI-SNOOPER Rand Paul Filibusters Against Patriot Act, Data Collection, NSA Surveillance

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Stephen Dinan reports: Sen. Rand Paul announced Wednesday afternoon he’s attempting to filibuster the extension of the Patriot Act, vowing to use all his letape-recordinggislative powers to try to end the snooping law.

The Kentucky Republican’s speech, which began at 1:18 p.m., is not technically holding up any legislation because the Senate is actually currently debating a trade bill, but Mr. Paul said his move was a filibuster nonetheless, as he vowed to hold the floor until he couldn’t go any longer.

“It’s time to end the NSA spying,” his official Twitter account said in a post at 1:36 p.m., as he was on the floor.

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Mr. Paul is waging a lonely fight, demanding that the government stop snooping without probable cause or a warrant. That’s a step beyond even some of his other erstwhile civil libertarian allies who want to curtail the Patriot Act’s bulk collection, but would still allow government agents to go after the records of individuals without first seeking a warrant…(read more)
Washington Times

DECLASSIFIED: U.S. Releases Motherlode of Books, Letters Seized in Bin Laden Raid

 bin-Ladin-zuma-WSJ

WASHINGTON — Damian Paletta reports: The Obama administration on Wednesday released details on more than 400 letters, books, news articles, research reports and even software manuals it seized during the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden at his secret compound in Pakistan, offering a fresh view into the interests and correspondence of the former head of al Qaeda.

The intelligence agency declassified the names of 39 English-language books seized at bin Laden’s compound. These included books about the Central Intelligence Agency; Christianity and Islam in Spain from 756 until 1031; and Bob Woodward’s 2010 book, ‘Obama’s Wars.'”

The declassified material, which the Office of the Director of National Intelligence labeled “Bin Laden’s Bookshelf,” shows a number of interests—ranging from a Noam Chomsky book on “thought control” to things that could be seen, such as how-to books on terrorist attacks.

“It included, for example, a 2001 document from the U.S. military on ‘instruction on aircraft piracy and destruction of derelict airborne objects’ and numerous records about how to obtain a U.S. passport.”

It included, for example, a 2001 document from the U.S. military on “instruction on aircraft piracy and destruction of derelict airborne objects” and numerous records about how to obtain a U.S. passport. The compound also contained numerous world maps.

The house where Osama bin Laden was finally hunted down. SAEED SHAH — MCT Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/12/20/212378/zero-dark-thirty-leak-investigators.html#storylink=cpy

The house where Osama bin Laden was finally hunted down. SAEED SHAH — MCT

“These are gigantic events that will eventually engulf most of the Muslim world, will free the Muslim land from American hegemony, and is troubling America whose secretary of state declared that they are worried about the armed Muslims controlling the Muslim region.”

Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said “it is in the interest of the American public for citizens, academics, journalists, and historians to have the opportunity to read and understand bin Laden’s documents.”

“All of this indicates that the Western countries are weak and their international role is regressing.”

— Osama bin Laden, in a letter recovered in the raid

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which released the records, said analysts were still reviewing more information seized during the raid and that “hundreds more” records could be declassified in the future.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

The intelligence agency declassified the names of 39 English-language books seized at bin Laden’s compound. These included books about the Central Intelligence Agency; Christianity and Islam in Spain from 756 until 1031; and Bob Woodward’s 2010 book, “Obama’s Wars.”

In addition to the books, the documents seized at bin Laden’s compound included 35 items published by other extremist groups, most of which came from Khalifah Publications. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Declares NSA’s Telephone Dragnet Unlawful

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In a ruling certain to profoundly shape the ongoing debate over surveillance reform in Congress, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that the National Security Agency’s indiscriminate collection of Americans’ telephone calling records exceeds the legal authority granted by the Patriot Act’s controversial section 215, which is set to expire at the end of this month.

Comments Cato scholar Julian Sanchez, “While the court didn’t reach the crucial question of whether the program violates the Fourth Amendment, the ruling gives civil libertarians good reason to hope that a massive and egregious violation of every American’s privacy will finally come to an end.”

[CATO]


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