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.
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)
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.
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.
“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.
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 »
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.”
- “Second Circuit Declares NSA’s Telephone Dragnet Unlawful,” by Julian Sanchez
- “In Holding NSA Spying Illegal, the Second Circuit Treats Data as Property,” by Jim Harper
Dana Hedgpeth, Sari Horwitz and Ellen Nakashima report: One person was killed and at least one other was injured Monday when shots were fired after two people in a vehicle tried to ram a gate at Fort Meade, a military installation in Anne Arundel County that houses the National Security Agency, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation.
“The shooting scene is contained, and we do not believe it is related to terrorism.”
— Amy J. Thoreson, a spokeswoman for the FBI
Authorities did not release any details of exactly what happened, but law enforcement officials said police officers with the National Security Agency shot at the two people in the vehicle. One of them was killed, the officials said. There were no details immediately available on the condition of the second person.
Two U.S. officials said the men in the vehicle were dressed as women, but they both cautioned that the information is preliminary.
Just before 11 a.m., NSA officials said they had no further information.
In a statement, issued around 11:30 a.m., the FBI Baltimore office said it was investigating a shooting at a gate at Fort Meade.
“The shooting scene is contained, and we do not believe it is related to terrorism,” said Amy J. Thoreson, a spokeswoman for the FBI. She said the incident is being investigated by the FBI with NSA Police and other law enforcement agencies.
FBI crews from its evidence response team are processing the scene and agents are interviewing witnesses, she said. Deputy White House press secretary Eric Schultz said President Obama has been briefed on the incident. Read the rest of this entry »
“I think the ‘conservatarian’ term is not a linguistic trick, it is a substantive attempt to describe a certain coterie on the right,” explains Charles C. W. Cooke, a writer for National Review and author of The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future“. “These are the people who say when they are around libertarians they feel conservative, and when they are around conservatives they feel libertarian…(read more)
[Check out Charles C. W. Cooke‘s new book: “The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future” at Amazon.com]
THE PANTSUIT REPORT: State Dept: ‘We have reviewed Secretary Clinton’s official personnel file and administrative files and do not have any record of her signing…’Posted: March 17, 2015
This agonizing pretense finally ended on Tuesday, as State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki finally admitted there seems to be no record of Clinton following the OF-109 requirements
John Hayward reports: Another piece of the puzzle fell into place in Hillary Clinton’s ever-deepening email scandal, as the State Department – following days of absolutely absurd foot-dragging – finally admitted it can’t seem to find any record of her signed Form OF-109.
“It’s not clear that this form is used as a part of a standard part of checkout across the federal government or even at the State Department…”
This is a crucial document signed by departing State Department employees, testifying that all official records have been turned over, including – but not limited to – classified materials and emails. Since it is manifestly obvious that Hillary Clinton didn’t turn over all such materials, her signature on the OF-109 would have constituted perjury.
:…We’re looking into how standard this is across the federal government and certainly at the State Department… I don’t want to characterize how common practice it is.”
Ever since lawyers familiar with this document began describing it, the State Department has been asked to produce the exit paperwork for Clinton (and her top aides Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Philippe Reines, who also had accounts on Clinton’s secret email server.) The Republican National Committee filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents. Even Clinton-friendly reporters have been asking about it.
Somehow our titanic $3.5 trillion mega government – the same government that just took over the Internet, the brilliant bureaucratic machine that understands health care better than any doctor and investment better than any capitalist – couldn’t seem to find that important piece of paper. Excuses that the government wouldn’t accept from the smallest private enterprise in America were proffered for State’s golly-gee-whiz-aw-shucks inability to produce a crucial form. The same people who love to bury citizens beneath towering piles of paperwork, demanding requests in triplicate for permission to do virtually anything, claimed they had no idea what happened to the Secretary of State’s termination papers. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Meet the Department of the Internet! We’ll be Handling the Internet You Love, but at the Speed of GovernmentPosted: February 24, 2015
Meet the Department of the Internet! We’ll be handling the Internet you love, but at the speed of government. https://t.co/xDIjKdpete
— Dept. Of Internet (@Dept_Internet) February 23, 2015
Since the facility was built, Utah government has had up to 300 million attempted attacks a day
Five years ago, Utah government computer systems faced 25,000 to 30,000 attempted cyberattacks every day.
At the time, Utah Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires thought that was massive. “But this last year we have had spikes of over 300 million attacks against the state databases” each day: a 10,000-fold increase.
Why? Squires says it is probably because Utah is home to the new, secretive National Security Agency computer center, and hackers believe they can somehow get to it through state computer systems. Read the rest of this entry »
The system, referred to as Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air, or NIFC-CA, uses Aegis radar, and airborne sensor and SM-6 missile to find, track and destroy approaching threats such as cruise missiles at ranges well beyond the typical radar horizon, Navy officials said.
Alongside Aegis radar and an SM-6 missile, NIFC-CA uses an E-2D Hawkeye aircraft as an airborne sensor to help relay threat information to the ship from beyond its normal radar range.
“We are looking at alternative airborne sensors,” the executive said.
The idea with a demonstration, sources indicate, would be to use the F-35 as an airborne relay node or sensor in place of the E-2D Hawkeye. This could allow NIFC-CA to operate against an increasingly complex set of targets such as stealthy targets, the Lockheed executive explained. Read the rest of this entry »
“We cover what we are allowed to cover. And when policy decisions and presidents are inaccessible and don’t take questions from the press on a regular basis, I think they reap what they sow.”
The journalist, who retired in August after a 40-year career, revealed to C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb: “I have seen in the last year Barack Obama really angry twice. Both were off-the-record times. One, profanity-laced where he thought the press was making too much of scandals that he did not think were scandals.” [MP3 audio here.]
She explained, “And I don’t find him apologetic. But I find him willing to stand up to the press and look them in the eye, even though it was off the record and just give us hell.”
“Before I walked out the door on September 10, I was a strong voice for complaining that this particular administration has been more opaque than any I have covered about what the President does in the Oval Office everyday…”
After Lamb wondered if the President had a point, she chided, “We cover what we are allowed to cover. And when policy decisions and presidents are inaccessible and don’t take questions from the press on a regular basis, I think they reap what they sow.”
Despite Obama’s apparent rage against the press, he hasn’t had much to complain about. The Media Research Center documented how journalists covered-up his failures and scandals.
Earlier in the hour-long C-SPAN interview, which aired on Sunday night, but was recorded in October, Compton slammed the “opaque” administration:
ANN COMPTON: Before I walked out the door on September 10, I was a strong voice for complaining that this particular administration has been more opaque than any I have covered about what the President does in the Oval Office everyday. He is far less accessible on photo-ops with meetings. Even some meetings on the record, meeting in the Roosevelt room with financial leaders from, from Wall Street or on issues with environmental groups, or with issues with environmental groups, with public opinion leaders, I think most presidents have been far more forthcoming than the second Obama term, in terms of what the President is doing every day and we almost never get photo-ops.
She added that it’s fine for the White House to take its own photographs, but “those same elements should not be blocked from the White House press corps.”
Interestingly, on Compton’s last day in August, the President called on her for a final question. She chose to ask about the police shooting in Ferguson, not the concerns she expressed to C-SPAN. Read the rest of this entry »
Fake Cellphone Towers on Planes Used to Target Criminals, but Also Sift Through Thousands of Other Phones
WASHINGTON—Devlin Barrett reports: The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of cellphones through fake communications towers deployed on airplanes, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.
“The program cuts out phone companies as an intermediary in searching for suspects. Rather than asking a company for cell-tower information to help locate a suspect, which law enforcement has criticized as slow and inaccurate, the government can now get that information itself.”
The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.
“Similar devices are used by U.S. military and intelligence officials operating in other countries, including in war zones, where they are sometimes used to locate terrorist suspects, according to people familiar with the work. In the U.S., these people said, the technology has been effective in catching suspected drug dealers and killers. They wouldn’t say which suspects were caught through this method.”
Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information. Read the rest of this entry »
First Apple and then Google announced that they would use encryption on new phones that wouldn’t permit them to help police execute warrants to examine data on a cell phone or other device.
For City Journal, Judith Miller writes: Law enforcement officials in New York and Washington criticized technology superpowers Google and Apple this week for selling cell phones and other devices that cannot be accessed by the government, warning that such technology jeopardizes public safety.
In his first major policy address, FBI director James B. Comey called on Congress and the Obama administration to counter the expanding use of such devices, which he and other law enforcement officials assert endanger efforts to prevent terrorism and fight crime. Without lawful government access to cell phones and Internet devices, Comey warned, “homicide cases could be stalled, suspects could walk free, and child exploitation victims might not be identified or recovered.”
“Law enforcement officials many legitimate ways to obtain the data stored on our devices. Weakening the security of smartphones and trusted communications infrastructure should not be one of them.”
— Nuala O’Connor, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology
Comey, who became FBI director last year, said that he understood Americans’ “justifiable surprise” at former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. government surveillance practices. Read the rest of this entry »
The Washington Post reports: Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.
“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said on its Web site. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”
As the new operating system becomes widely deployed over the next several weeks, the number of iPhones and iPads that Apple is capable of breaking into for police will steadily dwindle to the point where only devices several years old — and incapable of running iOS 8 — can be unlocked by Apple.
Apple will still have the ability — and the legal responsibility — to turn over user data stored elsewhere, such as in its iCloud service, which typically includes backups of photos, videos, e-mail communications, music collections and more. Users who want to prevent all forms of police access to their information will have to adjust settings in a way that blocks data from flowing to iCloud. Read the rest of this entry »
Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.
Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.
The Post reviewed roughly 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.
Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.
The material spans President Obama’s first term, from 2009 to 2012, a period of exponential growth for the NSA’s domestic collection.
The surveillance files highlight a policy dilemma that has been aired only abstractly in public. There are discoveries of considerable intelligence value in the intercepted messages — and collateral harm to privacy on a scale that the Obama administration has not been willing to address.
Among the most valuable contents — which The Post will not describe in detail, to avoid interfering with ongoing operations — are fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks. Read the rest of this entry »
Investigators found an encrypted communication application hidden on his computer
BERLIN – For the Telegraph, Justin Huggler reports: A suspected double agent under arrest in Germany has been spying for the CIA for two years, German intelligence officials investigating the case now believe.
“All the evidence suggests that he was working for the Americans,” an unnamed senior security official has told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.
The country’s top security official has demanded a full American response to German investigations. “I expect everyone now to assist quickly in clearing up the accusations – and quick and clear statements, from the USA too,” Thomas de Maiziere, the Interior minister said.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry summoned the America ambassador on Friday but German authorities have confirmed only that a 31-year-old man is under arrest.
The first indications that investigators believe a confession by the arrested man is true. If the suspicions against him are confirmed, the case could cause grave damage to US-German relations.
Perceived Widespread Corruption in U.S. Government on the Rise, Americans Less Satisfied With Freedom
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For Gallup.com, Jon Clifton reports: Fewer Americans are satisfied with the freedom to choose what they do with their lives compared with seven years ago — dropping 12 percentage points from 91% in 2006 to 79% in 2013. In that same period, the percentage of Americans dissatisfied with the freedom to choose what they do with their lives more than doubled, from 9% to 21%.
Gallup asks people in more than 120 countries each year whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with the freedom to choose what they do with their lives. In 2006, the U.S. ranked among the highest in the world for people reporting satisfaction with their level of freedom. After seven years and a 12-point decline, the U.S. no longer makes the top quartile worldwide.
Of the countries where Gallup asked residents about satisfaction with their freedom in 2006 and 2013 (108 in total), only 10 countries had declines as large or larger than the decrease seen in the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »
For National Review Online, Joel Gehrke reports: President Obama extended the National Security Agency program until September by convincing a judge to reauthorize the existing program as his administration promises to work with Congress to pass legislation that would circumscribe the bulk collection of American phone records.
“We’re doing something unnecessary and unpredictable here, which might make the public feel better, but would not be good for national security, which is what our job is.”
— Senator Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va.), a former Intelligence Committee chairman
The request that the program be reauthorized was approved Thursday. “[G]iven the importance of maintaining the capabilities of the Section 215 telephony metadata program, the government has sought a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program, as modified by the changes the president announced earlier this year,” a statement released by the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed late Friday. Read the rest of this entry »
For Washington Free Beacon, Bill Gertz reports: Federal prosecutors recently held discussions with representatives of renegade National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden on a possible deal involving his return to the United States to face charges of stealing more than a million secret NSA documents, according to U.S. officials.
“It remains our position that Mr. Snowden should return to the United States and face the charges filed against him…”
Snowden is currently in Moscow under Russian government protection after fleeing Hawaii, where he worked in NSA’s Kunia facility, for Hong Kong in May 2013. U.S. officials have charged him with stealing an estimated 1.7 million documents from NSA Net and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) and providing some materials to news outlets.
“…If he does, he will be accorded full due process and protections.”
— D.O.J. Spokesman Marc Raimondi
Discussions on Snowden’s return were held in the past several weeks between prosecutors in the Justice Department’s National Security Division and Plato Cacheris, a long-time Washington defense lawyer who in the past represented several U.S. spies, including some who reached plea bargains rather than go to trial. Read the rest of this entry »
Ex-CIA Agent Bitch-Slaps Snowden’s Spy Fantasies: ‘Computer Technician with a Walter Mitty Complex’…’Lacking Common Sense’Posted: May 31, 2014
Former CIA Agent: Snowden probably in contact with Russia Since 2007
For The Daily Caller, Giuseppe Macri writes: Distinguished former CIA officer and author Robert Baer said on the BBC’s “Today” radio program Thursday morning that ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden has been in contact with the Russian government for the last seven years.
“He was a systems administrator. When he worked for the CIA in Geneva he was a communicator. That means he sits in an office and relays messages. That’s not a spy.”
“My suspicion is that the Russians were probably in touch with him in Geneva,” Baer said, speculating they first made contact in 2007 while Snowden was stationed in Switzerland with the CIA. “I can’t prove it. But this was such a brilliant operation. And his landing in Moscow just makes old Cold War warriors like me very suspicious.”
“Secondly, the NSA doesn’t have spies overseas. It’s got technicians who sit in American embassies. They are not even analysts.”
Baer also dismissed Snowden’s assertion on his first U.S. television network interview with NBC’s Brian Williams Wednesday that he “was trained as a spy,” and described him as little more than a computer technician with a “Walter Mitty complex” lacking “common sense.” Read the rest of this entry »
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) May 29, 2014
On Thursday, NSA released the email they said Snowden appeared to be referring to, which the agency says is the only communication from Snowden it could find raising any concerns. It was dated April 8, 2013, three months after Snowden first reached out to journalists anonymously.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Edward Snowden says he repeatedly raised constitutional concerns about National Security Agency surveillance internally, but an NSA search turned up a single email in which Snowden gently asks for “clarification” on a technical legal question about training materials, agency officials said Thursday.
Snowden, a former NSA systems administrator whose leaks have exposed some of the agency’s most sensitive spying operations, called himself a patriot in an interview this week with NBC News‘ Brian Williams. He said he felt he had no choice but to expose what he considered illegal NSA surveillance by leaking secret details to journalists.
NSA officials have said he gained access to some 1.7 million classified documents, though it’s not clear how many he removed from the Hawaii facility where he worked as a contractor.
Asked by Williams whether he first raised his qualms with his bosses, he said, “I reported that there were real problems with the way the NSA was interpreting its legal authorities.” Read the rest of this entry »
[Glenn Greenwald‘s book: No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State is available from Amazon.com]
Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, posted a pair of photos to Facebook — including a selfie of Greenwald, Snowden, Miranda, and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, who was also involved in the early disclosures. Read the rest of this entry »
Big Brother is not only watching, but gathering more power
For The Freeman, Wendy McElroy writes: The modern surveillance state is referred to as an electronic police state because it uses technology to monitor people in order to detect and punish dissent. The authorities exert social control through spying, harsh law enforcement, and by regulating “privileges” such as the ability to travel. But all of this starts with surveillance.
“The stated purpose of fusion centers is to prevent terrorist acts. But, for years, investigations have revealed that the monitoring has been used to exert social control and punish political opposition”
Information is power. Imagine if agents of the State didn’t know where you live. How could it collect property taxes, arrest you, conscript you or your children, or record phone calls? Imagine if the State did not know your finances. How could it snatch your money, garnish your wages, freeze accounts, or confiscate gold? Total information is total power. That’s why the surveillance state views privacy itself as an indication of crime—not as one of violence, but as a crime against the State.
Beyond the NSA
The National Security Agency (NSA) keeps making headlines as the quintessential force behind the American surveillance state. Civil rights advocates should be equally concerned about a quieter but no less insidious manifestation: the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). Read the rest of this entry »
“One of the most encouraging aspects of the story has been that there has been a complete breakdown in the traditional, standard divisions between left and right or conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat…”
Glenn Greenwald appeared on Meet the Press, things ended poorly for David Gregory. On Sunday morning, Greenwald appeared on the show for the first time since the contretemps, though NBC put two layers between Greenwald and Gregory, having justice correspondent Pete Williams conduct the interview and fielding the questions from social media.
“…There has been this extremely inspiring bipartisan coalition that has emerged that has demanded that there be constraints imposed on the NSA.”
[Glenn Greenwald‘s book: No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State is available from Amazon.com]
The most pointed question asked how Greenweld reconciled his comparison of NSA leaker Edward Snowden to Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, given that Ellsberg stayed to face trial while Snowden fled the U.S. and eventually defected to Russia. He quoted Ellsberg’s op-ed arguing that the justice system had become considerably harsher toward whistleblowers. “If Edward Snowden were to go on trial, he would be rendered incommunicado, he would not be released on bail, he couldn’t argue his case to the public,” Greenwald said. Read the rest of this entry »