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Republicans & Democrats Agree: Give Vast Snooping Powers to the U.S. Government

REPUBLICANS & DEMOCRATS AGREE: GIVE VAST SNOOPING POWERS TO THE U.S. GOVERNMENT

Even in our polarized and right vs. left political paradigm, there is one thing both republicans and democrats can agree on: The federal government should have vast snooping powers and conduct mass surveillance on everyone. They simply disagree over who should be in charge of abusing those excessive powers.

The impeachment circus did one thing successfully. It took attention from the government’s mass surveillance programs that are constantly expanded. As Reasonproposed: If Democrats really feared Donald Trump’s exercise of the powers of the presidency, why would they propose extending the surveillance powers of the controversial Patriot Act?

House Democrats have successfully slipped an unqualified renewal of the draconian PATRIOT Act into an emergency funding bill – voting near-unanimously for sweeping surveillance carte blanche that was the basis for the notorious NSA program.
Buried on the next-to-last page of the Continuing Appropriations Act, meant to keep the government’s lights on and dated yesterday, is the following language:

Section  102(b)(1)  of  the  USA  PATRIOT  Improvement  and  Reauthorization  Act  of  2005  (50  U.S.C.  101805  note)  is  amended  by  striking  “December  15,  2019”  and inserting “March 15, 2020”.

This relatively innocuous language pushes back the sunset provision of the Patriot Act by three months, leaving its vast powers in the hands of a president who Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden charges with “failure to uphold basic democratic principles,” who House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused of “alarming connections and conduct with Russia” and, joined by Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, says is making an attempt to “shred the Constitution.” –Reason

If democrats honestly believed that Trump was all of the things he’s being accused of, why trust him with the Patriot Act?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Four-Wheeled Patriot Act

The Four-Wheeled Patriot Act

Whenever Congress does something unanimously (or nearly so) you can rest assured it’s in their interests, not ours.

The USA Patriot Act comes to mind.

Another is the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution Act – aka the SELF DRIVE Act – which was rubber stamped through Congress the other day. This is the law that exempts automated cars from the safety requirements that apply to autonomous cars – that is, the cars which are independent of government control and controlled by us.

Just as the Patriot Act was written, not to “fight terrorism,” but to make it easier for government to terrorize us, by circumventing or simply ignoring the Bill of Rights.

Same operating principle behind both.

There is irony – and malevolence – here.

Irony, because the same government that endlessly croons about “safety” – when it suits – is willing to back burner safety when it suits. If a car company dared to even suggest that it might be a good idea to install air bag Off switches in new cars (and it would be a very good idea, if safety is a concern, given how dangerous air bags are; not can be, but are) that company would be the focus of great abuse if not threatened prosecution.

Meanwhile, the SELF DRIVE Act will exempt automated cars from the necessity – under laws that apply to autonomous cars – of having things like steering wheels and brake pedals and other controls by which a human might intervene to save himself in the event the automated car makes a mistake.

It is presumed automated cars will never make a mistake, that their systems and technology are immune to defects, wear and tear and so forth.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A European PATRIOT Act Will Not Keep People Safe

A European PATRIOT Act Will Not Keep People Safe

Likewise, European governments have been very active in the five-year, US-led effort to overthrow the Assad government in Syria. This foolish move has boosted both ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria to the point where they nearly over-ran the country late last year. It has also led millions to flee their war-torn country for a Europe that has opened its doors with the promise of generous benefits to anyone who can make it there.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

CISA Is Now The Law: How Congress Quietly Passed The Second Patriot Act

CISA Is Now The Law: How Congress Quietly Passed The Second Patriot Act

Back in 2014, civil liberties and privacy advocates were up in arms when the government tried to quietly push through the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, a law which would allow federal agencies – including the NSA – to share cybersecurity, and really any information with private corporations “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” The most vocal complaint involved CISA’s information-sharing channel, which was ostensibly created for responding quickly to hacks and breaches, and which provided a loophole in privacy laws that enabled intelligence and law enforcement surveillance without a warrant.

Ironically, in its earlier version, CISA had drawn the opposition of tech firms including Apple, Twitter, Reddit, as well as the Business Software Alliance, the Computer and Communications Industry Association and many others including countless politicians and, most amusingly, the White House itself.

In April, a coalition of 55 civil liberties groups and security experts signed onto an open letter opposing it. In July, the Department of Homeland Security itself warned that the bill could overwhelm the agency with data of “dubious value” at the same time as it “sweep[s] away privacy protections.” Most notably, the biggest aggregator of online private content, Facebook, vehemently opposed the legislation however a month ago it was “surprisingly” revealed that Zuckerberg had been quietly on the side of the NSA all along as we reported in “Facebook Caught Secretly Lobbying For Privacy-Destroying “Cyber-Security” Bill.”  

Even Snowden chimed in:


Shameful: @Facebook secretly backing Senate’s zombie surveillance bill while publicly pretending to oppose it. https://boingboing.net/2015/10/24/petition-facebook-betrayed-us.html 

“France Is At War”: Hollande Unleashes 2nd Day Of ISIS Strikes, Mobilizes 115,000, Moves To Change Constitution

“France Is At War”: Hollande Unleashes 2nd Day Of ISIS Strikes, Mobilizes 115,000, Moves To Change Constitution

France, still reeling from the carnage that unfolded in the streets of Paris last Friday, conducted dozens upon dozens of police raids on Tuesday, after more than 160 similar operations carried out on Monday led to the discovery of numerous weapons including a rocket launcher, Kalashnikov, and a bulletproof vest.

French authorities are still largely in the dark regarding how many people were ultimately involved in the attack and with suspected “mastermind” Abdelhamid Abaaoud out of reach in Syria, police are focused on locating Salah Abdeslam who allegedly helped with logistics and rented a black Volkswagen Polo used by the gunmen who stormed the Bataclan concert hall.

Of course really, the raids are a frantic attempt to track down and neutralize anything and everything before something else bad happens. As Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on France Inter radio, “we don’t know if there are accomplices in Belgium and in France… we still don’t know the number of people involved in the attacks.”

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says more than 100 people have been placed under house arrest and dozens have been arrested in the sweeping crackdown. “Under a state of emergency – which has been in place since the attacks on Friday – security services, police have extra powers and freedom to make arrests, search houses and confiscate weapons without judicial oversight,” The Sydney Morning Herald notes.

President Hollande told a joint session of the French parliament on Monday that “France is at war” and that he wants the state of emergency extended by three months. Hollande also proposed constitutional changes. As The Herald put it on Tuesday, Hollande wants “to create a new version of ‘exceptional measures’, giving the government some emergency powers available under martial law.” Here’s Le Monde (translated), noting that Hollande’s proposals mirror George Bush’s Patriot Act:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Are You Ready for the e-PATRIOT Act?

Are You Ready for the e-PATRIOT Act?

Are You Ready for the e-PATRIOT Act?

On June 4, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) revealed that hackers had penetrated its networks, possibly for many months. The data thieves stole personal information of up to 18 million current and former federal government applicants and employees.

There’s a good chance the attack is even worse than what you’ve read about. The OPM hack included a database holding security clearance information on hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors. This database contains details of applicants’ financial and investment records, family members, and even names of neighbors and close friends.

Another database that may have been breached includes criminal history, psychological records, and information about past drug use. The hackers might even have acquired detailed personal and sexual profiles obtained through lie detector tests.

With all the talk of Edward Snowden and the supposed “irreparable” damage he did to US interests, this theft is a lot worse. While OPM doesn’t hold personnel records for the CIA, it does for other US intelligence agencies. The hackers now know the identity of hundreds of thousands of federal employees with security clearances. Not only that, they also have sensitive background information on each of them, which they could easily use for blackmail.

Oh, and get this – the breach wasn’t actually discovered by the OPM. It was only uncovered during a sales demonstration by a security company named CyTech Services.

So what does the Obama administration want to do to solve the problem?

For starters, it’s proposed “economic sanctions” against China, which it holds responsible for the attack. We’ve seen how effective those were against Russia after the US imposed them last year in the wake of its takeover of Crimea. There’s no reason to think that sanctions against China will be any more effective.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Bulk Phone Surveillance Lives Again, To Die in a More Orderly Fashion in Five Months

A federal judge with the top-secret surveillance court on Monday breezily reinstated the NSA bulk domestic surveillance program that was temporarily halted a month ago, allowing the agency to go back to hoovering up telephone metadata for five months while it unwinds the program for good.

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Michael W. Mosman wrote in his ruling, using the French phrase that means “the more things change, the more they stay the same” to summarize the legislative and judicial back-and-forth that led to the temporary reinstatement.

By failing to agree on how to reauthorize certain sections of the Patriot Act, the Senate on May 31 engaged in a rare act of rebellion against the surveillance state, forcing the National Security Agency to shutter the program that had collected telephone metadata — information about who called who, and for how long — for more than a decade, until NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden disclosed its existence in 2013.

Two days later, however, the Senate passed a milquetoast surveillance reform bill that ordered the bulk collection program phased out by November 29, to be replaced by one in which the NSA has to request specific records, and explain why.

That led to Monday’s paradoxical decision to revive bulk collection so it can die again, theoretically in a more orderly fashion.

In his decision, Mosman also flippantly dismissed a major appellate court ruling in May that the program was illegal. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which was the government’s legal cover for bulk collection, didn’t authorize any such thing. The decision hinged on the common-sense conclusion that when the Patriot Act gave the government power to obtain phone records “relevant to an authorized investigation,” that wasn’t power to collect all phone records everywhere.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How a Department of Homeland Security Fusion Center in Texas Targeted Animal Rights Activists

How a Department of Homeland Security Fusion Center in Texas Targeted Animal Rights Activists

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Last September, a Facebook event caught the eye of a counterrorism specialist within the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The email was among those released by the Austin Regional Intelligence Center (ARIC) last month. This same release revealed that ARIC took stock of potential anti-circus demonstrators in 2012.

Given the overall tame tenor, it’s unclear how such a post came across a counterterrorism specialist’s desk, or why it merited sharing. 

The privacy policy for ARIC similarly limits collection of information on individuals and organizations. Collected information must relate to terrorism, criminal activism or a threat to public safety.

– Fromt the Muckrock article: Vegan Potlucks, Anime Screenings on the Counterterrorism Unit’s Calendar

In the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001, the American public morphed into a collective of spineless jellyfish and basically let Congress and the intelligence agencies to do whatever they wanted in order to “protect them.” Never mind that convincing a naive and fearful populace to hand over authoritarian powers to the government has been the playbook of tyrants for millennia, it still worked brilliantly on the dumbed down American public.

One of the most hideous creations to emerge from the post 9/11 societal lapse in sanity was the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As far as I can tell, this organization has done nothing but harass and threaten ordinary Americans for completely normal activities. Let’s revisit a few examples from the DHS highlight reel:

The “War on Terror” Turns Inward – DHS Report Warns of Right Wing Terror Threat

Navy Veteran is Fired from Hotel Job and Called a “Terrorist” for Posting Pictures of DHS Vehicles on Facebook

“War on Terror” Targets Underwear – Department of Homeland Security Raids Maker of Unlicensed World Series Panties

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

 

 

 

USA FREEDOM Act: Just Another Word for Lost Liberty

USA FREEDOM Act: Just Another Word for Lost Liberty

Apologists for the National Security Agency (NSA) point to the arrest of David Coleman Headley as an example of how warrantless mass surveillance is necessary to catch terrorists. Headley played a major role in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack that killed 166 people.

While few would argue that bringing someone like Headley to justice is not a good thing, Headley’s case in no way justifies mass surveillance. For one thing, there is no “terrorist” exception in the Fourth Amendment. Saying a good end (capturing terrorists) justifies a bad means (mass surveillance) gives the government a blank check to violate our liberties.

Even if the Headley case somehow justified overturning the Fourth Amendment, it still would not justify mass surveillance and bulk data collection. This is because, according to an investigation by ProPublica, NSA surveillance played an insignificant role in catching Headley. One former counter-terrorism official said when he heard that NSA surveillance was responsible for Headley’s capture he “was trying to figure out how NSA played a role.”

The Headley case is not the only evidence that the PATRIOT Act and other post-9/11 sacrifices of our liberty have not increased our security. For example, the NSA’s claim that its surveillance programs thwarted 54 terrorist attacks has been widely discredited. Even the president’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies found that mass surveillance and bulk data collection was “not essential to preventing attacks.”

According to the congressional Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 and the 9/11 Commission, the powers granted the NSA by the PATRIOT Act would not have prevented the 9/11 attacks. Many intelligence experts have pointed out that, by increasing the size of the haystack government agencies must look through, mass surveillance makes it harder to find the needle of legitimate threats. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

GOP Establishment Queen Mitch McConnell Introduces Patriot Act Reauthorization with Zero NSA Reforms

GOP Establishment Queen Mitch McConnell Introduces Patriot Act Reauthorization with Zero NSA Reforms

Late last week, I published a post about Patriot Act reauthorization that turned out to be extremely popular. It was titled, Congress is Attempting to Reauthorize Key Patriot Act Provisions by Sneaking it Into “USA Freedom Act. Here’s an excerpt:

June 1, 2015 is a very important day for American civil liberties and the Constitution. On that day, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, one of the most egregious pieces of legislation passed in U.S. history, will expire automatically without reauthorization from Congress. Naturally, this is causing a panic attack within the heart of the NSA, FBI and all the authoritarian lackey legislators in Washington D.C. With the chances of a clean reauthorization next to none, these crafty “representatives” and their puppeteers need to figure out a way to sneak it into another piece of legislation. What better way to do this than making it a part of something that ostensibly appears to be reining in surveillance powers. Enter the USA Freedom Act.

As mentioned, it is widely believed that there isn’t enough support for straight reauthorization unaccompanied by some sort of NSA reform, but that won’t stop GOP establishment queen Mitch McConnell from trying.

McConnell is amongst the most freedom hating, constitution trampling Republican members in the Senate, sharing this distinction with John McCain and Lindsey Graham. What makes McConnell far more dangerous is his position as Senate Majority Leader. Today, the Washington Post informed us how he’s wielding such power:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill Tuesday night to extend through 2020 a controversial surveillance authority under the Patriot Act.

The move comes as a bipartisan group of lawmakers in both chambers is preparing legislation to scale back the government’s spying powers under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

HEAD of the FBI’s Anthrax Investigation Says the Whole Thing Was a SHAM

HEAD of the FBI’s Anthrax Investigation Says the Whole Thing Was a SHAM

Agent In Charge of Amerithrax Investigation Blows the Whistle

The FBI head agent in charge of the anthrax investigation – Richard Lambert – has just filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit calling the entire FBI investigation bullsh!t:

In the fall of 2001, following the 9/11 attacks, a series of anthrax mailings occurred which killed five Americans and sickened 17 others. Four anthrax-laden envelopes were recovered which were addressed to two news media outlets in New York City (the New York Post and Tom Brokaw at NBC) and two senators in Washington D.C. (Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle). The anthrax letters addressed to New York were mailed on September 18, 2001, just seven days after the 9/11 attacks. The letters addressed to the senators were mailed 21 days later on October 9, 2001. A fifth mailing of anthrax is believed to have been directed to American Media, Inc. (AMI) in Boca Raton, Florida based upon the death of one AMI employee from anthrax poisoning and heavy spore contamination in the building.

Executive management at FBI Headquarters assigned responsibility for the anthrax investigation (code named “AMERITHRAX”) to the Washington Field Office (WFO), dubbing it the single most important case in the FBI at that time. In October 2002, in the wake of surging media criticism, White House impatience with a seeming lack of investigative progress by WFO, and a concerned Congress that was considering revoking the FBI’s charter to investigate terrorism cases, Defendant FBI Director Mueller reassigned Plaintiff from the FBI’s San Diego Field Office to the Inspection Division at FBI Headquarters and placed Plaintiff in charge of the AMERITHRAX case as an “Inspector.” While leading the investigation for the next four years, Plaintiff’s efforts to advance the case met with intransigence from WFO’s executive management, apathy and error from the FBI Laboratory, politically motivated communication embargos from FBI Headquarters, and yet another preceding and equally erroneous legal opinion from Defendant Kelley – all of which greatly obstructed and impeded the investigation.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Anthrax Coverup Exposed

The Anthrax Coverup Exposed

Update: Both Senator Leahy and Senator Daschle were in positions capable of blocking
the neo-Nazi PATRIOT Act. Both senators had negotiated with the Bush regime changes in the act that made it less tyrannical. However, the changes were not in the final draft of the act sent to Congress. Consequently, Leahy and Daschle were resisting the rush to passage. I have often wondered if Leahy and Daschle understood the anthrax letters to be Washington’s warning: “Get out of the way of Tyranny or we will kill you.”

The Anthrax Coverup Exposed

Paul Craig Roberts

Graeme MacQueen’s 2014 book, The 2001 Anthrax Deception: The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy, has been vindicated by the head of the FBI’s Anthrax Investigation.

Four and one-half months ago I posted a review of MacQueen’s book.http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/12/02/2001-anthrax-deception-case-domestic-conspiracy/The hired government apologists, the despicable presstitute media, and the usual gullible patriots greeted the book with screams of “conspiracy theory.” In fact, MacQueen’s book was a carefully researched project that established that there indeed was a conspiracy–a conspiracy inside the government.

MacQueen’s conclusion stands vindicated by Richard Lambert, the agent in charge of the FBI anthrax investigation who has turned whistleblower.http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/04/head-fbis-anthrax-investigation-calls-b-s.html

It was obvious to any person familiar with the techniques that governments use to erode liberty by destroying the protection given to citizens by law that the purpose of the anthrax letters, especially the letters to senators Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle, was to raise the fear level in order to guarantee the passage of the tyrannical PATRIOT Act.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Congress is Attempting to Reauthorize Key Patriot Act Provisions by Sneaking it Into “USA Freedom Act”

Congress is Attempting to Reauthorize Key Patriot Act Provisions by Sneaking it Into “USA Freedom Act”

Yet with Section 215’s lifespan now stretching to a matter of weeks, supporters of broad surveillance powers have yet to put forth a bill for their preservation – evidence, opponents believe, that the votes for reauthorization do not exist, particularly not in the House of Representatives. 

More likely, according to a multiple Hill sources, is a different option under consideration: making the major NSA reform bill of the last Congress the point of departure for reauthorizing 215 in the current one. 

The bill would not abridge NSA collection of Americans’ international communications, nor prevent the NSA or the FBI from warrantlessly searching through its troves of them for Americans’ identifying information. Nor would it restrict a constellation of surveillance efforts authorized by a Reagan-era executive order. Even a recently disclosed bulk domestic phone records collection dragnet by the Drug Enforcement Agency would be untouched.

“We should be demanding more reforms than the intelligence agencies are gladly willing to offer us,” said David Segal of the activist group Demand Progress.

– From the Guardian article: NSA and FBI Fight to Retain Spy Powers as Surveillance Law Nears Expiration

June 1, 2015 is a very important day for American civil liberties and the Constitution. On that day, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, one of the most egregious pieces of legislation passed in U.S. history, will expire automatically without reauthorization from Congress. Naturally, this is causing a panic attack within the heart of the NSA, FBI and all the authoritarian lackey legislators in Washington D.C. With the chances of a clean reauthorization next to none, these crafty “representatives” and their puppeteers need to figure out a way to sneak it into another piece of legislation. What better way to do this than making it a part of something that ostensibly appears to be reining in surveillance powers. Enter the USA Freedom Act.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Canadian Patriot Act Arrives: Ottawa To Give Security Agencies More “Detention And Surveillance” Powers | Zero Hedge

The Canadian Patriot Act Arrives: Ottawa To Give Security Agencies More “Detention And Surveillance” Powers | Zero Hedge.

Stop us when the flashbacks to September 11, and its Patriot Act aftermath, become too close for comfort.

s Reuters reported moments ago, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday the government will expedite plans to give more powers of detention and surveillance to security agencies in the wake of an attack on Parliament.

“They need to be much strengthened, and I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that work which is already under way will be expedited,” he told the House of Commons, one day after a gunman launched an attack on Parliament and was shot dead.

On the other hand, instead of giving the government even more authoritarian power to do with civilian liberties as it sees fit and appropriate, perhaps the government’s agencies could have simply done their work better under the existing laws and regulations, especially after the Sky News report that the Ottawa shooter, Canadian born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was already on a terror watch list.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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