RSSCategory: Orwellian

I have nothing to hide . . .

August 9, 2013 | By | 2 Replies More

You hear this so often: I have nothing to hide (so it’s OK for the NSA to read my email). Really?

What if they spy on you without any probable cause, find out that you possess drugs, then they turn this information over to the DEA, which pretends it didn’t get this information from the NSA, then recreates the path necessary to put you in prison? Far fetched?

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.

What else could happen to those of you who have never committed a crime? How about identity theft? How about some NSA contractor stealing your passwords to your financial institutions? This is an agency with no accountability, with hundreds of thousands of employees with the technical ability to read all of your most private information. How about screwing up your computer as they search through it with the viruses they manufacture? Far Fetched?

Why should we be concerned? Check out this video. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/05/dea-surveillance-cover-up_n_3706207.html

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U.S. forces encrypted email server to shut down – gags owner

August 8, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

George Orwell must truly be tired of spinning in his grave by now.

From Raw Story, the U.S. government has apparently forced the man running a secure email server to shut down. It is thought that this server, Lavabit, was the service Edward Snowden was using will holed up in the Moscow airport. This story also reports that the owner of Lavabit, Ladar Levison, has been barred, apparently by the U.S. from discussing this coercive action by the U.S.:

An encrypted email service believed to have been used by US leaker Edward Snowden shut down on Thursday apparently as a result of pressure from US authorities. Lavabit owner Ladar Levison posted a message at the website telling users that the he was pulling the plug on the secure email service launched in Texas nearly a decade ago. “I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit,” Levison said.

Addendum August 9, 2013:

How can this be happening, that in our beloved United States of America, “our” government can try to force a company to trample on treasured constitutional rights in a secret appeals court proceeding? This is pure insanity. Here’s where we’re headed: None of us will be allowed to communicate in any way with each other unless our BIG Nanny government is able to monitor the conversation. That’s what they are after, and they are going to get it, because most of us rely on the government’s war-cheering stenographer journalists for most of their information. Thus, organized resistance will be virtually impossible, even if 90% of the people favor massive change. This rampant spying has already killed off investigative journalism aimed at government corruption and abuses (who’s willing to call or email a reporter any more?). The situation has already become stunningly Orwellian. Along with the thorough corruption of our government with money, this government spying is turning the U.S. into a Third World fascist state, and I don’t use that term loosely. Jimmy Carter has it right: ‘America no longer has a functioning democracy.”

Here’s the latest disturbing news, from Glenn Greenwald:

What is particularly creepy about the Lavabit self-shutdown is that the company is gagged by law even from discussing the legal challenges it has mounted and the court proceeding it has engaged. In other words, the American owner of the company believes his Constitutional rights and those of his customers are being violated by the US Government, but he is not allowed to talk about it. Just as is true for people who receive National Security Letters under the Patriot Act, Lavabit has been told that they would face serious criminal sanctions if they publicly discuss what is being done to their company. Thus we get hostage-message-sounding missives like this:

I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on – the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.

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NSA appears to be planting spyware

August 6, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

Fascinating article at Slate makes the argument that the NSA is planting spyware in order to ship private information to one of its contractors. I wasn’t sold in the first few sentences, but then the article kept disclosing more and more evidence.

Intriguingly, the malware that had apparently been placed on some of the Freedom Hosting websites Sunday may have turned up evidence showing how the feds are attempting to infiltrate Tor networks in order to track down suspects. According to an analysis by security researcher Vlad Tsrklevic, the malware in question collects identifying information about the person visiting the page and sends it back to an IP address near Reston, Va. Because the malware does not infiltrate the computer like criminal malware and instead merely collects identifying information, according to Tsrklevich, “it’s very likely that this is being operated by a law enforcement agency.”

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Why Bradley Manning is a hero.

August 2, 2013 | By | Reply More

In this ten-minute video, Cenk Uyguy discusses the verdict against Bradley Manning, declaring him to be a true hero.

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Alan Grayson urges that we focus on known violations of our Constitution

August 1, 2013 | By | Reply More

On C-Span, Alan Grayson shoots straight on recent NSA and FISA court violations, urging that we focus on the many civil rights violations that are already clear:

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Lee Camp discusses hegemony.

August 1, 2013 | By | Reply More

This is from Lee Camp’s Moment of Clarity #200: “Hegemony.”

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Six recent NSA false statements documented

July 30, 2013 | By | 2 Replies More

Propublica has organized and analyzed six recent government statements regarding the NSA that all appear to be lies.

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The most transparent administration strikes again

July 25, 2013 | By | 4 Replies More
The most transparent administration strikes again

In regards to the Amash amendment which would have de-funded the portion of the NSA earmarked to spying on American citizens (which was narrowly voted down last night), the office of the President’s Press Secretary :

In light of the recent unauthorized disclosures, the President has said that he welcomes a debate about how best to simultaneously safeguard both our national security and the privacy of our citizens…we oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools. This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.

My irony alarm was so overloaded by this statement that I had to turn it off because all the neighbors were complaining.

To show just how much the President values an informed, open, process, he sent the head of the NSA to brief members of Congress:

NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander scheduled a last-minute, members-only briefing in response to the amendment, according to an invitation distributed to members of Congress this morning ...The invitation warned members that they could not share what they learned with their constituents or others. “The briefing will be held at the Top Secret/SCI level and will be strictly Members-Only,” reads the invite.

Ha! How’s that for open and informed?

[More . . . ]

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Why the trial of Bradley Manning is about democracy

July 21, 2013 | By | Reply More

At the U.K. Guardian, Yochai Benkler writes that the trial of Bradley Manning is about much more than Manning’s freedom. And it’s about much more than Wikileaks.

[T]his case is about national security journalism, not WikiLeaks. At Monday’s argument in preparation for Thursday’s ruling, the judge asked the prosecution to confirm: does it make any difference if it’s WikiLeaks or any other news organization: New York Times, Washington Post, or Wall Street Journal? The prosecution answered: “No, it would not. It would not potentially make a difference.”

There are a lot of Americans who immediately write off Manning as a criminal because he leaked “secret” information (many of those people have never bothered to watch “Collateral Murder,” a small but vivid and highly disturbing part of Manning’s leak.

How typical is this of the “fight for freedom” that has been waged in our names? We wouldn’t know, because the information that has come from Iraq over the years is carefully filtered by the American military American press. In woeful ignorance, many Americans fail to see that Manning’s trial is about the right of Americans’s to be informed about what goes on in their name, informed enough to engage in meaningful discussion and informed enough to vote intelligently.

Leak-based journalism is not the be-all-and-end-all of journalism. But ever since the Pentagon Papers, it has been a fraught but critical part of our constitutional checks in national defense. Nothing makes this clearer than the emerging bipartisan coalition of legislators seeking a basic reassessment of NSA surveillance and Fisa oversight following Edward Snowden’s leaks. National defense is special in both the need for, and dangers of, secrecy. As Justice Stewart wrote in the Pentagon Papers case, the press is particularly important in national defense because it is there that the executive is most powerful, and the other branches weakest and most deferential:

In the absence of the governmental checks and balances present in other areas of our national life, the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in the areas of national defense and international affairs may lie in an enlightened citizenry – in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government. For this reason, it is perhaps here that a press that is alert, aware, and free most vitally serves the basic purpose of the first amendment. For without an informed and free press, there cannot be an enlightened people.

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