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Current location: Potlandia
Member since: Fri Sep 28, 2007, 04:39 PM
Number of posts: 11,129

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Let's Be Clear, say Legal Experts, What NSA Is Doing Is 'Criminal'

Let's Be Clear, say Legal Experts, What NSA Is Doing Is 'Criminal'
In plainly worded NYT op-ed, a retort to claims that NSA programs pass Constitutional muster
Published on Friday, June 28, 2013 by Common Dreams * by Jon Queally, staff writer

Despite a vast selection of elected US officials from both parties and an outsized portion of the US media who have accepted the assurances from the Obama administration and the National Security Agency that the domestic spying programs revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden are someone "legal" under US statute, two legal scholars penned a sharply worded New York Times op-ed on Friday demanding better attention must be paid to the reality of what the disclosures truly show and that the programs be described as what they are: "criminal."

Jennifer Stisa Granick, director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, and law professor Christopher Jon Sprigman from the University of Virginia contend in their article, The Criminal NSA, that those supportive of government claims are simply "wrong" and that what we know about the programs is that they betray both "the letter and the spirit of federal law" designed to protect US citizens from government snooping of their private communications.

"No statute explicitly authorizes mass surveillance," they write.

"Through a series of legal contortions, the Obama administration has argued that Congress, since 9/11, intended to implicitly authorize mass surveillance. But this strategy mostly consists of wordplay, fear-mongering and a highly selective reading of the law. Americans deserve better from the White House — and from President Obama, who has seemingly forgotten the constitutional law he once taught."

Looking specifically at the two most damning revelations reported on by the Guardian newspaper so far—the vast collection of cell phone "metadata" from nearly all US citizens and the Prism program, which allows for vast collection of internet communication data from some of the online platforms most used by Americans—the two legal experts say that in both cases the NSA has employed "shockingly flimsy" legal arguments to defend their practices.

TO READ REMAINDER OF ARTICLE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/28-5

The NYTimes article referenced here can be seen at this link:

I posted this NYTimes article yesterday, here:

NYTimes Op-Ed: "The Criminal N.S.A."

The Criminal N.S.A.
Published: June 27, 2013

THE twin revelations that telecom carriers have been secretly giving the National Security Agency information about Americans’ phone calls, and that the N.S.A. has been capturing e-mail and other private communications from Internet companies as part of a secret program called Prism, have not enraged most Americans. Lulled, perhaps, by the Obama administration’s claims that these “modest encroachments on privacy” were approved by Congress and by federal judges, public opinion quickly migrated from shock to “meh.”

It didn’t help that Congressional watchdogs — with a few exceptions, like Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky — have accepted the White House’s claims of legality. The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, have called the surveillance legal. So have liberal-leaning commentators like Hendrik Hertzberg and David Ignatius.

This view is wrong — and not only, or even mainly, because of the privacy issues raised by the American Civil Liberties Union and other critics. The two programs violate both the letter and the spirit of federal law. No statute explicitly authorizes mass surveillance. Through a series of legal contortions, the Obama administration has argued that Congress, since 9/11, intended to implicitly authorize mass surveillance. But this strategy mostly consists of wordplay, fear-mongering and a highly selective reading of the law. Americans deserve better from the White House — and from President Obama, who has seemingly forgotten the constitutional law he once taught.


Even in the fearful time when the Patriot Act was enacted, in October 2001, lawmakers never contemplated that Section 215 would be used for phone metadata, or for mass surveillance of any sort. Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Wisconsin Republican and one of the architects of the Patriot Act, and a man not known as a civil libertarian, has said that “Congress intended to allow the intelligence communities to access targeted information for specific investigations.” The N.S.A.’s demand for information about every American’s phone calls isn’t “targeted” at all — it’s a dragnet. “How can every call that every American makes or receives be relevant to a specific investigation?” Mr. Sensenbrenner has asked. The answer is simple: It’s not.

The government claims that under Section 215 it may seize all of our phone call information now because it might conceivably be relevant to an investigation at some later date, even if there is no particular reason to believe that any but a tiny fraction of the data collected might possibly be suspicious. That is a shockingly flimsy argument — any data might be “relevant” to an investigation eventually, if by “eventually” you mean “sometime before the end of time.” If all data is “relevant,” it makes a mockery of the already shaky concept of relevance.

~snip ~

Like the Patriot Act, the FISA Amendments Act gives the government very broad surveillance authority. And yet the Prism program appears to outstrip that authority. In particular, the government “may not intentionally acquire any communication as to which the sender and all intended recipients are known at the time of the acquisition to be located in the United States.”

Much More Here> http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/28/opinion/the-criminal-nsa.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&ref=opinion

a very good read imho.

Snowden M$M Coverage: If US Mass Media Were State-Controlled, Would They Look Any Different?

Snowden Coverage: If US Mass Media Were State-Controlled, Would They Look Any Different?
Published on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 by Common Dreams * authored by Jeff Cohen

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.

While an independent journalism system would be dissecting the impacts of NSA surveillance on privacy rights, and separating fact from fiction, U.S. news networks have obsessed on questions like: How much damage has Snowden caused? How can he be brought to justice?

Unfazed by polls showing that half of the American rabble—I mean, public—believe Snowden did a good thing by leaking documentation of NSA spying, TV news panels have usually excluded anyone who speaks for these millions of Americans. Although TV hosts and most panelists are not government officials, some have a penchant for speaking of the government with the pronoun “We.”

more: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/26-0

Open Letter to Snowden/Greenwald demonizers. Please make up your mind. Which is it?

Would you please make up your mind which of your two claims
is true, and which isn't; because they can't BOTH be true.

1) Oh, not this again. There's absolutely "nothing new" here, it's just
Greenwald getting his panties in a wad about nothing again.


2) Snowden is a traitor to his country for exposing uber-important classified
information that he should not have had access to in the first place. This is
causing huge repercussions "in the field" for intelligence agencies, etc. etc.

Greenwald discusses frenzied attempts to smear & discredit him since NSA stories began

The Personal Side of Taking on the NSA: Emerging Smears
Distractions about my past and personal life have emerged – an inevitable side
effect for those who challenge the US government by Glenn Greenwald
Published on Thursday, June 27, 2013 by The Guardian/UK

When I made the choice to report aggressively on top-secret NSA programs, I knew that I would inevitably be the target of all sorts of personal attacks and smears. You don't challenge the most powerful state on earth and expect to do so without being attacked. As a superb Guardian editorial noted today: "Those who leak official information will often be denounced, prosecuted or smeared. The more serious the leak, the fiercer the pursuit and the greater the punishment."

One of the greatest honors I've had in my years of writing about politics is the opportunity to work with and befriend my long-time political hero, Daniel Ellsberg. I never quite understood why the Nixon administration, in response to his release of the Pentagon Papers, would want to break into the office of Ellsberg's psychoanalyst and steal his files. That always seemed like a non sequitur to me: how would disclosing Ellsberg's most private thoughts and psychosexual assessments discredit the revelations of the Pentagon Papers?

When I asked Ellsberg about that several years ago, he explained that the state uses those tactics against anyone who dissents from or challenges it simply to distract from the revelations and personally smear the person with whatever they can find to make people uncomfortable with the disclosures.

So I've been fully expecting those kinds of attacks since I began my work on these NSA leaks. The recent journalist-led "debate" about whether I should be prosecuted for my reporting on these stories was precisely the sort of thing I knew was coming.

MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/27-0


In the remainder of the article, Mr. G goes into some detail about the most recent attempts to smear him for alleged "tax evasion" (IRS back payments actually) and for his "2002-04 participation in a multi-member LLC that had an interest in numerous businesses, including the distribution of adult videos" somehow related to hotel chains, all of which happened a decade ago.

I find it laughable that THIS IS ALL THEY COULD FIND to "discredit" Greenwald??

Also, it couldn't be clearer that this kind of aggressive smear campaign happens. Remember the demonization of Valarie Plame? Now it's Assange, Manning and Greenwald who are being demonized and smeared, for simply revealing some "inconvenient" truths to We The People.

Things in Portlandia just got a lot weirder: The FBI Asks for 'Portlandia' Sketch for Training


Obama's 'Insider Threat' Program a 'Sweeping' Crackdown on Leakers

As if this isn't already happening. I guess we haven't seen anything yet?


Obama's 'Insider Threat' Program a 'Sweeping' Crackdown on Leakers
Friday, June 21, 2013 * Common Dreams * Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer
McClatchy: 'Leaks to the media are equated with espionage'

A program being implemented by the Obama administration titled "Insider Threat" requires millions of federal employees to keep a close watch on each other—a "sweeping" effort to crackdown on whistleblowers and leakers across the U.S. government, McClatchy reports Friday after obtaining a series of government documents.

The program, which has largely gone unmentioned in the media, spans all government agencies and mandates that employees and their superiors seek out “high-risk persons or behaviors” tied to someone who might expose government wrongdoing. Those who fail to expose someone they belief to be a leaker face penalties that include criminal charges.

As McClatchy reports Friday, the program creates a "sweeping" government-wide crackdown on federal employees who may find certain harmful actions or policies of their employer worthy of public knowledge.

The program was launched in October 2011 directly after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning leaked military documents that exposed U.S. war crimes to the website WikiLeaks.

“Hammer this fact home . . . leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States,” says one of the documents—a June 1, 2012 Defense Department strategy written for the program.

As the documents reveal, any "leaks to the media" are officially "equated with espionage," through the administration's eyes.

As McClatchy reports:

President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material.
The McClatchy piece goes on to detail the individualized implementations of the program within differing government agencies—all with their own tactics for identifying the "spy in our midst," as The Defense Department puts it.


So whoever hates Ron/Rand Paul the most, "wins" every DU argument?

Is this really a rational position to take, from which to hurl "guilt-by-association"
insults and derision at people who are simply scrambling to salvage some shred
of constitutional democracy in the US, as it's being dismantled in broad daylight
now, right before our very eyes?

If Ron or Rand want to join with true Democrats and other Progressives (which
the Pauls assuredly are not) to help save America from tyrannical rule by the 1%
elite, then more power to them in that regard, and for their support to legalize
pot as well.

I am a Democrat. I have always been a Democrat, except when I went Green
for a little while. I want the Democratic Wing of our party back at the helm, like
Howard Dean talked about.

Ouch! Someone at Daily Kos just took off the gloves with Obama.


Pelosi booed at Netroots while defending espionage charges against Snowden

Pelosi booed at Netroots while defending espionage charges against Snowden
By Arturo Garcia * Raw Story
Saturday, June 22, 2013 20:01 EDT

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) drew boos and heckling from members of the crowd at a progressive conference on Saturday while defending President Barack Obama’s administration and the recently-discovered surveillance policies by the National Security Agency (NSA).

About 47 minutes into Pelosi’s speech at Netroots in San Jose, California, a growing commotion can be heard coming from the audience. While moderator and MSNBC contributor Zerlina Maxwell urged the audience to submit questions online instead of shouting, Pelosi continued, saying, “I think it’s really important to subject all of this to the transparent and harshest scrutiny, to say, ‘We want a balance between privacy and security.’”

At that point, a man identified by Politico as 57-year-old Marc Perkel can be heard shouting, “It’s not a balance. It’s not constitutional! No more secret laws!”

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