Archive for category NSA Surveillance

Jill Stein: Pardon Edward Snowden, Now

Jill Stein advocates an immediate presidential pardon of Edward Snowden, American hero.

Pardon Edward Snowden, now

Snowden’s whistleblowing was among the most important in US history. It showed us that the relationship between the people of the United States and the government has gone off track and needs a major course correction.

The fourth amendment of the constitution provides that a court must find probable cause that an individual has committed a crime before issuing a warrant, and forbids systematic spying on the American people. The requirement of individualized suspicion should prohibit this type of dragnet surveillance. Spying on whole populations is not necessary, and is actually counterproductive.

If elected president I will immediately pardon Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou for their important work in exposing the massive, systematic violation of our constitutional rights. I would invite them to the White House to publicly acknowledge their heroism, and create a role for them in the Stein-Baraka Green party administration to help us create a modern framework that protects personal privacy while still conducting effective investigations where warranted.

The American people have a right to privacy. My hope is that Obama uses his power to pardon Snowden now. The debate he began must be continued so we find a resolution that protects the freedom of press, association, religion and speech as well as the privacy of people in the United States and around the world.

More info:
The Guardian: Edward Snowden makes ‘moral’ case for presidential pardon


What’s really at stake here


There is a saying from Benjamin Franklin that tends to get quoted a lot by just about everyone. “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” While many people on the right relate this to gun rights, there is no other subject where Franklin’s saying is more true and that is cyber security. John Mcafee recently said that the biggest issue the United States faces is cyberterrorism and cyber crime. If you have ever seen The Net, a really good movie by the way, you could see the damage that could be done when someone has control of the internet and they did so because they had a monopoly on security software. This movie was shrugged off as preposterous and unrealistic yet reality is much more terrifying than the movie portrayed. In the case of Apple, the FBI wants a back door key to all encryption and I say that Apple should refuse to comply even if they are held in contempt of court. Nothing and I mean nothing is worth making a back door key because not only does this mean that that the government can spy on you, but it also means that this key can end up in the wrong hands, meaning that someone with that key has access to every Apple device and if they forced Linux to do that which the NSA tried to do, then that means anyone can have access to everything. We are talking traffic lights, nuclear plants, military installations, data collection centers, nuclear missile silos, you name it. This is terrifying and it shows that Mcafee was right. Even if you make the argument that the government can have an unbreakable encryption key that doesn’t have a back door, then that simply means that the populace is at risk. Banks, airlines, corporations, doctors offices, weapons contractors. All once secure are now vulnerable. Apple cannot allow this because we face unimaginable horrors if they cave in, especially in an age where everyone is connected all the time. Yeah this would make it easier to go after criminals, but it would make it easier for criminals to go after us.


Is Apple Going To Make Utah’s Spy Center Useless?

Oh well...

Oh well…

If all the other corporations that produce phones which provide a detailed log of the owner’s account numbers, passwords and all manner of other private information are not providing a firewall from the FBI, and Apple is, you’d have to be pretty dumb not to choose an iPhone if you had something to hide from the government.

It’s a scary new place we live in today. We don’t want somebody who wishes to harm America to plan things behind our back, but it’s just as likely they’d get hold of the secret code the FBI plans to use to unlock the whole, wide world. Besides, they can still find a way to do things behind our back.

I don’t have an iPhone, but I hope this battle results in safer world for me and my data. I don’t worry much about terrorists, environmental or otherwise anyway, but the big government snooping infrastructure, put in place during the George W. Bush administration creeps me out. I would have just as soon known my water was safe, and I’m sure Flint Michigan feels the same. And besides, James Comey reminds me of John Ashcroft.

We probably can’t have the money back that we and the rest of the nation spent on this giant Bluffdale, public works peepshow, but we can sure save the water it takes to cool it. It looks like we’re going to need it.

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Edward Snowden Shows Up In Park City, Utah

edward snowden
Well, only virtually, but it is one of the most interesting interviews I’ve ever heard. The obvious weight of the event makes the audience eerily silent through the first part. In fact I wasn’t even aware there was an audience until Snowden gets applause for the first of many statements that are undeniably illumining of our times, in ways you haven’t thought of before.

He’s had a lot of time to think about what he did, by breaking the law with the knowlege his life would be changing, forever. Personally, I think the guy is brilliant, obviously brave, and very hard to refute, even considering the stunning scope of his actions.

He points out that fewer of our leaders have been calling for his head since his revelations first came out, and that’s not really an exaggeration. There’s still one man, James Woolsey, who very recently called for him to be hung and even blames him for the terrorist attack in France.

In a presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was not much more forgiving then Woolsey. Bernie Sanders said he should pay a price for what he did, but also acknowledged that his actions have had positive effects. Surprisingly, Snowden agrees with Sanders and has even said he would stand trial, and be willing to go to prison, providing he gets a fair and transparent trial. Humorously, he has documents that state the only thing our government has guaranteed, is that he won’t be tortured.

Interviewer Doug Fabrizio, tests him pretty hard on his insistence that handing the top secret NSA documents to the media for careful release to the public was a safe way to go, and, indeed, top officials testifying have admitted that nobody has been put in danger. Pretty amazing.

Be sure to carfully listen to the whole show. The points Snowden makes at the end are compelling and irrefutable.

Radio West, 11-07-2015


Call Your Congressman and Tell Him You’re Not a Coward

If you’re like me, you’re so tired of being kept safe by “The Patriot Act”, you just want to die and get it over with. But you know you don’t really want to die, so here’s something you can do, and you don’t even need to get off your ass!

There’s a handy little website called “Sunset the Patriot Act” that will even dial the numbers of your congressmen for you automatically and provides a couple of details about section 215 of “The Patriot Act”, which should not be reauthorized next month. A really nice person will answer the phone, so you should be nice too.

This can’t possibly take you more then two minutes.


If you decide you DO want to get off your ass, you can do that tomorrow. Find out where.

Thank you!


Christmas Eve Document Dump Reveals US Spy Agencies Broke The Law And Violated Privacy

NSA surveillance

So far, nothing about this on cable TV news. Not even from MSNBC. Via Think Progress:

Around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the National Security Agency released hundreds of pages of heavily-redacted reports detailing numerous instances over the past decade in which agents intentionally or unintentionally violated the law and improperly collected private data. The revelations, triggered by a Freedom of Information Act request from the American Civil Liberties Union, still fail to disclose how many violations occurred and how many were unlawful.

…Jesselyn Radack with the Government Accountability Project, who has been working on Edward Snowden’s legal team, emphasized that these revelations would never have been possible without her fugitive client. “The ACLU only knew what to ask for because of the Snowden leaks,” she said. “There’s been semantics games with the NSA not using regular definitions for words like ‘collection’ and ‘analysis,’ which makes it very difficult to find the documents we’re looking for. Now, at least we have a road map and we know names of specific programs to ask about.”

Radack also told ThinkProgress that she suspects the release of the documents intentionally came at a time few would be paying attention. “It was an extremely conspicuous and shameless move to release this on Christmas Eve, but it’s entirely in keeping with the fact that the Director of National Intelligence has done similar kinds of document dumps on Friday afternoons in order to avoid the media cycle,” she said.

Of course, ALL the programs of widespread warrantless surveillance of Americans in their entirety violate the law because they are prohibited by the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.


the UN, NATO, and the trip-wire

I’m so sorry to write this missive as a lead article (for 15 minutes) but I don’t remember how to find the comments and respond to them. The lonely little side-bar response to my article I’ve not seen, except for half a sentence. It seemed to be saying that the old days are gone now, and so we need NATO and the JN. I agree. With NATO, it is the trip-wire provision that we go to war, automatically if any NATO nation is attacked, regardless of who the attacker is. This takes not only the United States Congress, but the president, as Commander in Chief, from the decision to go to war. I support both the UN and, if handled correctly, NATO. But President J. Reuben Clark and I oppose the automatic going to war. Just like the fools, the ancient general staffs of all sides in WW I. No one wanted that war. There was no Adolph Hitler in that war that destroyed the entire 20th century. Better to have shot the general staffs, who came to deserve exactly that. What President Clark called for, and I, are what the United States has always done, before NATO. That is, to have treaties of peace and friendship with our allies and then, should hostilities commence, such treaties would call for all parties to go to war, or not, as their constitutions provide. In this way, we don’t declare war against a nation, and surely all the people, have not yet been born. How, pray tell, do we justify going to war against, and for, people not, or no longer, live on earth. With a few caveats, ditto for the UN. No provision of law allows the UN to overreach Congress in the decision for war or peace. For anyone interested, read my book with the late Francis Wormuth, To Cain the Dog of War. It is by odds the best book ever written on the way we go to war. Every single war we’ve ever fought, including our wars against the Indian tribes, is there analyzed. Francis did not live to see this book in print. I worked two years after his death to finish it. And I updated it 4 or 5 times, alone. I still put my dear friend’s name first, because I am honored to be linked, now, forever. Something like Mormon marriage through time and eternity. ed firmage xoxo


The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox


Veterans Hospitals..the Truth

The yammerings of the Republicans, and even some Democrats, about VA hospitals, show no trace, not even a trickle of a trace, of institutional and personal memory, let alone history. This is always true, for most people and all institutions. None have historical perspective beyond that of a Snail Darter. Remember, dear friends, that George Bush the Less, and Dick Cheney, the Dark Lord; and Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz, started two wars of choice that will fill up to overflowing for at least fifty and likely a hundred years, all our hospitals. The impact of wars, so easy for stupid, venal, misinformed people to start and , in a sense, impossible, ever, to stop , is obvious. World War One is still very much alive, after destroying the twentieth Century, the Century of Total War. And the Bush administration severely cut the funding for our VA hospitals. All hospitals are effected by this avoidable tragedy, the greatest of our time. Our jails, our mental homes, our suicide prevention systems; our broken families and children without mothers and fathers, shooting crime statistics up into the stratosphere, ripple on forever.

The entire world, out into and through the cosmos, suffer from this violation of all that is decent and good, not to mention the laws of war. If the Nuremberg principle were applied to us and not just Nazi Germany, this dark band of brothers would all be in jail, or executed for the hundreds of thousands of murders that they accomplished. George W. Bush placed us squack in the middle of a civil war in Islam, which has been going on time out of mind.(we had our civil wars of religion that followed 400 years of Crusades from the 10th to the 14th centuries, the Renaissance and Reformation and the Enlightenment which gave us a rule of law community not shared by any state in the Middle East, except Israel; and no secular state in the Middle East except Turkey, thanks to Ataturk. The Treaties of Westphalia and Utrecht ended religious-based states in Europe and North America, and in their place we have had, with never a backward step, secular states, thank God (and I’m not being ironic), territorial nation states without any church in charge. (Utah is another matter.) Islamic civil war is not our business. It took us many centuries to build these rule of law communities throughout Europe and North America. Do you really think that Afghanistan will somehow, willy nilly, become democratic? Really? or Iraq?

Now, a huge portion of the Middle East, very understandably, see us as their premiere enemy. And much of Africa. And most other Islamic nations. Add to that what the Dulles brothers did in Iran, in deposing an popularly appointed tradition, conservative ruler, Mohammed Mossadeq, to put the Shah back on his throne and his bloodthirsty killers over the military and the police (the CIA’s war; just like Laos; just as we now do in Pakistan, way way before the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Pakistan is the most dangerous nation in the world, because it is the Islamic nuclear missile state and George Bush’s wars threaten always to bring any reasonable government down. I’ll bet World War Three starts there); and what we did in murdering an African head of state (both CIA assassins); and one Latin American democratically elected president assassinated under Nixon’s orders,why not see America as the Great Satan? There is blood on the hands of this dark band of brothers, and Karma, dark amoral Karma, that has nothing to do with God.

Of course we should do more for our veterans. But these tragic events play out, literally, forever. Remember: the Great Depression of our time began under Bush the Less. It had been building ever since Ronald Reagan created street people by refusing to fund mental homes and hospitals and put these people in jails and on the streets, so he could raise the military budget three and a half times over. He ran deficits like no Democrats before him. Then came the crash that remains very much with us still. So many millions of unemployed we don’t even count, because they’ve given up, and have taken themselves out of the workforce. How can the Republicans do this with a straight face? Well, they now are consummate liars, after decades of practice. Some in the Democratic Party do this too. Neither party has a monopoly on lying. BUT this is not to say there is equivalence. With the Tea Party, now absorbed within the Republican Party, truly inexperienced and terribly undereducated people rule the day. I believe the Republicans will gain seats in the House and narrowly take the Senate. All because most people and all institutions lack any trace of historical memory. ed firmage xoxo


Paranoid about the NSA?

While a bill limiting what the NSA can do with your phone lines is a good thing, maybe the NSA is not the entity you should worry about when it comes to privacy. One thing that many people keep neglecting is what big business does to your privacy. Sure I understand why people are skeptical of government practices, some cynicism is healthy, but when you ignore the bigger problem, then it becomes irrational.

Here is how big business interferes with your privacy. The internet is filled with cookies. Cookies are a file stored in the server of the website and is sent to what is called the “cache” that stores all of your web information. The cookie then communicates back to the host server with information about the computer’s settings. By itself a cookie is morally neutral. Every time you log on to a website and hit the remember me button, a cookie is sent to your computer so that you can log on automatically. Cookies are beneficial; however, they are incredibly vulnerable to abuse and you can visibly see this. For example, let’s say you go to a companies website. It can be anything ranging from a candy bar to a car brand. Once you go to that site, they will send a cookie to your computer and you will start seeing advertisements for whatever website you went to. They can do this without warning you and odds are you get about 2-3 cookies per page click. It adds up and the biggest offender is Google. Type something in there and that search along with all your sites are stored information.

Outside of the internet, the violation of privacy doesn’t stop there. There was a news article once about Target and their algorithm. Just by looking at the orders of their customers, they were able to find out a teenage girl was pregnant, they found the IP address linking her credit card and sent her ads to her email all before her doctor found out she was pregnant. This type of computing puts the NSA to shame. If that lack of privacy doesn’t scare you, then I don’t know what will. There are ways to mitigate these factors and make your web surfing more private, but the fact that we are given no warning about this is alarming.


Federal Judge: ‘Almost-Orwellian’ NSA Abuses Violate 4th Amendment

Fourth amendment

Via Think Progress:

A federal judge has ruled that the “wholesale collection of the phone record metadata” of all U.S. citizens — a program exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — likely violates the 4th Amendment and is unconstitutional.

In his opinion, Judge Richard Leon found that the 1979 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Smith v. Maryland no longer applies:

“[T]he almost-Orwellian technology that enables the Government to store and analyze the phone metadata of every telephone user in the United States is unlike anything that could have been conceived in 1979. In Smith, the Supreme Court was actually considering whether local police could collect one person’s phone records for calls made after the pen register was installed and for the limited purpose of a small-scale investigation of harassing phone calls. The notion that the Government could collect similar data on hundreds of millions of people and retain that data for a five-year period, updating it with new data in perpetuity, was at best, in 1979, the stuff of science fiction.”

The decision was stayed by Judge Leon pending appeal and, therefore, has no immediate effect.

Edward Snowden released the following statement via Glenn Greenwald: “I acted on my belief that the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.”

More Info:
Federal Court Rules Bulk Collection Of Phone Records By NSA Likely Violates Constitution: Founding Fathers ‘Would Be Aghast’
This Is The Most Important Paragraph In The Court Decision Against The NSA

’60 Minutes’ Trashed For NSA Piece (Did anybody else see that? It was a new low for CBS).


A New Proposal to Stop NSA Data Center in Utah

h/t DSWright on FDL

Remember that massive NSA complex being built in Utah? It requires 1.7 million gallons of water a day to keep the servers housing all your stolen data cool. Cut off the water and watch the surveillance state buckle, or at least that’s the thought.

The OffNow Coalition proposes “The 4th Amendment Protection Act,” state-level legislation that would cut off support for NSA’s unconstitutional warrantless surveillance of Americans.

More info:

NSA Gets Sweetheart Water Deal from Utah Town, State Can Shut it Down

“Contracts to engage in illegal activity are not valid contracts. They aren’t upheld in court. Anyone making a blanket claim that NSA is acting legally is just plain nuts. So the Utah legislature can do something about the water in Bluffdale”

OffNow Coalition


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