Archive for category Wiretapping

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

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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.

SUNSET THE PATRIOT ACT

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

Thank you!

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NSA Bulk Data Collection Illegal, U.S. Appeals Court Says

Stop spying on Americans

NEW YORK, May 7 (Reuters) – A U.S. spying program that collects data about millions of Americans’ phone calls is illegal, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday…

Thank you to Russ Tice, Edward Snowden, James Risen, and the ACLU. They are American heroes.

It should not have taken so long to reverse the ugly policies of the Bush administration. We are finally making some progress. Congress ought to allow Section 215 of the so-called USA PATRIOT Act to expire next month.

UPDATES:
Newly-confirmed U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch not a fan of the Constitution. Apparently.

Utah Senator Mike Lee says he agrees with the court decision. Lee is co-sponsoring Senator Patrick Leahy’s “USA Freedom Act” that would tighten the rules for domestic surveillance.


Obama And Clinton Endorse USA Freedom Act After Court Ruling

In the aftermath of yesterday’s court ruling and the looming June 1st deadline to reauthorize the section of the PATRIOT Act the court ruled illegal, the Democratic Party establishment appears to have shifted somewhat on domestic spying.

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The Problems in Iraq are Just More of Bush’s Toxic Legacy

Ed Kilgore has a good rant on Bush’s Toxic Legacy:

The mess in Iraq right now, along with the remarkably limited options for any constructive U.S. action to avoid humanitarian and political disaster, and the hostility of American public opinion to doing anything at all, provide fresh reminders that Barack Obama will leave office as he entered it: dealing with the unfinished business and toxic legacy of the George W. Bush administration. From Iraq, to Gitmo, to the NSA, to the housing sector, to the banking sector, to a completely fouled up non-system of campaign finance, to an out-of-control fossil fuel industry, to a long-range structural budget deficit, to a politicized judiciary, and to a radicalized Republican Party: the trouble never ends, and all created by a swaggering crew that inherited peace and prosperity and a budget surplus after the most dubious ascension to power in American history.

It’s worth pondering isn’t it?

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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

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Paranoid about the NSA?

Target-Logo
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.

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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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Utah Republicans Vote to De-Fund NSA Domestic Spy Program

Reps. Bishop, Chaffetz, and Stewart all voted in favor of H R 2397, the Amash Amendment. Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) voted no.

Glenn Greenwald:

The amendment was simple. It would de-fund one single NSA program: the agency’s bulk collection of the telephone records of all Americans that we first revealed in this space, back on June 6. It accomplished this “by requiring the FISA court under Sec. 215 [of the Patriot Act] to order the production of records that pertain only to a person under investigation.”

The amendment yesterday was defeated. But it lost by only 12 votes: 205-217. Given that the amendment sought to de-fund a major domestic surveillance program of the NSA, the very close vote was nothing short of shocking. In fact, in the post-9/11 world, amendments like this, which directly challenge the Surveillance and National Security States, almost never get votes at all. That the GOP House Leadership was forced to allow it to reach the floor was a sign of how much things have changed over the last seven weeks.

More significant than the closeness of the vote was its breakdown. A majority of House Democrats supported the Amash/Conyers amendment, while a majority of Republicans voted against it.

Kudos to Utah’s Republicans for voting in favor of our Constitutional rights — and shame on Jim Matheson and President Obama.

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Microsoft: ‘Your Privacy Is Our Priority’ Except When It’s Not

Least credible ad campaign ever!

Glenn Greenwald: How Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages

In brief: The NSA PRISM surveillance program has complete access to:

  • Outlook.com, including Hotmail
  • The Microsoft cloud storage service SkyDrive
  • All Skype calls

Information from PRISM is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA.

Microsoft says it’s not true, but they can’t offer any evidence because they don’t want to violate the NSA’s privacy.

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David Gregory vs. Journalism

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

Edward Snowden has been called a “traitor” by politicians, and he’s been formally charged with violating the Espionage Act. But that’s not enough for David Gregory of NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Witness this incredible exchange from yesterday’s show, as Gregory in effect accuses Glenn Greenwald of espionage:

GREGORY: Final question for you…. To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?

GREENWALD: I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies. The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence, the idea that I’ve aided and abetted him in any way. The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and phone records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory that you just embraced, being a co-conspirator in felonies, for working with sources.

If you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information, is a criminal. And it’s precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States. It’s why The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer said, “Investigative reporting has come to a standstill,” her word, as a result of the theories that you just referenced.

GREGORY: Well, the question of who’s a journalist may be up to a debate with regards to what you’re doing. And of course anybody who’s watching this understands I was asking a question; that question has been raised by lawmakers, as well. I’m not embracing anything. But obviously, I take your point.

Later, Greenwald tweeted, “Who needs the government to try to criminalize journalism when you have David Gregory to do it?” and, “Has David Gregory ever publicly wondered if powerful DC officials should be prosecuted for things like illegal spying & lying to Congress?”

Jane Stillwater:

An American spy agency that currently has all of its greedy tentacles tightly wrapped all around every single household in the entire world — and not in a good way — has just accused EDWARD SNOWDEN of being a spy. How ironic is that!

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald HuffPo interview:

“My critique of the D.C. media has long been that instead of being adversaries to government power — to the government and political power — they’re servants to it and mouthpieces for it.”

Greenwald said that Gregory was doing the work of the Justice Department by putting “together a theory in public about why I, as a journalist, should be prosecuted,” along with or “call[ing] into question that I’m a journalist at all.” That interview, he said, exemplified the “critique that they’re so in bed with the circles of political power over which they’re supposed to acting as watchdogs — that they really have become nothing more than just appendages.”

UPDATE: 10 Questions for NBC Host Who Shamelessly Suggested Greenwald Be Arrested for NSA Leaks

UPDATE: (Almost too funny for words) Head Of NSA Claims He Doesn’t Know “Who Wikileaks Are” – If I know something the NSA doesn’t, maybe we need better spies?

UPDATE:
Snowden Coverage: If U.S. Mass Media Were State-Controlled, Would They Look Any Different?

The Edward Snowden leaks have revealed a U.S. corporate media system at war with independent journalism. Many of the same outlets — especially TV news — that missed the Wall Street meltdown and cheer-led the Iraq invasion have come to resemble state-controlled media outlets in their near-total identification with the government as it pursues the now 30-year-old whistleblower.

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Sean Hannity Suddenly Concerned About The Constitution

Via Media Matters, the funniest thing I’ve seen today. I don’t watch the Faux News Channel, but sometimes it can be very entertaining.

Sean Hannity is warning that data mining and surveillance are “very clear violation[s] of the Fourth Amendment,” a drastic change for the Fox News host, who was a loud defender of National Security Agency surveillance during the Bush administration.

To be fair, some Democrats have also switched positions out of pure partisanship: Mika Brzezinski: ‘I’m Probably Guilty’ Of Hypocrisy Over NSA.

Seriously, every President takes an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Doesn’t matter who the President is — the job is the same. Some have claimed that widespread surveillance of Americans is OK now under President Obama because the FISA Court issued a warrant. But the Fourth Amendment does not allow a blanket warrant to search everybody for everything.

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