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Gender: Male
Current location: Potlandia
Member since: Fri Sep 28, 2007, 04:39 PM
Number of posts: 9,403

Journal Archives

The GUARDIAN: We destroyed hard drives of leaked NSA files under threat of legal action & closure

NSA files: why the Guardian in London destroyed hard drives of leaked files
A threat of legal action by the government that could have stopped reporting on the files leaked by Edward Snowden led to a symbolic act at the Guardian's offices in London
Julian Borger * The Guardian * Tuesday 20 August 2013

Guardian editors on Tuesday revealed why and how the newspaper destroyed computer hard drives containing copies of some of the NSA and GCHQ secret files leaked by Edward Snowden.

The decision was taken after a threat of legal action by the government that could have stopped reporting on the extent of American and British government surveillance revealed by the documents.

It resulted in one of the stranger episodes in the history of digital-age journalism. On Saturday 20 July, in a deserted basement of the Guardian's King's Cross offices, a senior editor and a Guardian computer expert used angle grinders and other household tools to pulverise the hard drives and memory chips on which the encrypted files had been stored.

As they worked, they were watched intently by technicians from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) who took notes and photographs, but who left empty-handed.

The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, had earlier informed government officials that other copies of the files existed outside the country and that the Guardian was neither the sole recipient nor steward of the files leaked by Snowden, a former NSA contractor. But the government insisted that the material be either destroyed or surrendered.

Twelve days after the destruction of the files, the Guardian reported on US funding of GCHQ eavesdropping operations and published a portrait of working life in the British agency's huge "doughnut" building in Cheltenham. Guardian US, based and edited in New York, has also continued to report on evidence of NSA co-operation with American telecommunications corporations to maximise the collection of data on internet and telephone users around the world.


Also see: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10023495525

The Guardian is being threatened with censorship & closure over Edward Snowden revelations

With The Guardian itself now under direct attack like this, I think things just a lot stranger. I mean WTF?
One of the bastions of real journalism is being openly bullied by the surveillance & security state thugs.

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Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger says paper was threatened with censorship over Edward Snowden revelations
ABC News - The World Today * By Will Ockenden * August 20, 2013

Guardian newspaper editor Alan Rusbridger has revealed that British authorities threatened to censor his team's reporting on surveillance by the state.

Rusbridger says British officials told him that documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden should be destroyed or handed back and that they would use the courts to enforce their position.

The British government is already facing questions over why the partner of a Guardian journalist was held at Heathrow Airport for nine hours under anti-terrorism laws.

Rusbridger wrote on the Guardian website that UK officials have asked him to stop reporting news of government internet surveillance systems.

"During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian's reporting through a legal route - by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working," he said in a statement.

He says two months ago he was contacted by a senior government official who said he represented the views of prime minister David Cameron.

Rusbridger says during a "steely" yet "cordial" meeting, the official demanded the return or destruction of documents obtained from Mr Snowden. "The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government's intention," Rusbridger said.

"Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK."


Security experts 'oversaw destruction of hard drives'
Rusbridger says that about a month ago, a UK official, referring to the Snowden documents, told him: "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." He says there were further meetings with "shadowy Whitehall figures" who again demanded the return of the Snowden material....

Guardian vows to keep pursuing story
Rusbridger confirmed that the Guardian will keep reporting the story, likely via backups of the documents, just not from London.
The Guardian's decision to publicise the threats is the latest step in an escalating battle between some media companies and western governments....


BREAKING: Glenn Greenwald's partner detained at Heathrow airport for nine hours

Glenn Greenwald's partner detained at Heathrow airport for nine hours
David Miranda, partner of Guardian interviewer of whistleblower Edward Snowden, questioned under Terrorism Act
Guardian staff * The Guardian * Sunday 18 August 2013

The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London's Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.

David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.30am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.

The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows
before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last under an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.

Miranda was then released without charge, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.


5 Companies That Make Money By Keeping Americans Terrified of Terror Attacks

5 Companies That Make Money By Keeping Americans Terrified of Terror Attacks
A massive industry profits off the government-induced fear of terrorism.
AlterNet * By Alex Kane * August 16, 2013

Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency, has invaded America’s television sets in recent weeks to warn about Edward Snowden’s leaks and the continuing terrorist threat to America.

But what often goes unmentioned, as the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald pointed out, is that Hayden has a financial stake in keeping Americans scared and on a permanent war footing against Islamist militants. And the private firm he works for, called the Chertoff Group, is not the only one making money by scaring Americans.

Post-9/11 America has witnessed a boom in private firms dedicated to the hyped-up threat of terrorism. The drive to privatize America's national security apparatus accelerated in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, and it’s gotten to the point where 70 percent of the national intelligence budget is now spent on private contractors, as author Tim Shorrock reported. The private intelligence contractors have profited to the tune of at least $6 billion a year. In 2010, the Washington Post revealed that there are 1,931 private firms across the country dedicated to fighting terrorism.

What it all adds up to is a massive industry profiting off government-induced fear of terrorism, even though Americans are more likely to be killed by a car crash or their own furniture than a terror attack.

Here are five private companies cashing in on keeping you afraid.
1. The Chertoff Group
2. Booz Allen Hamilton
3. Science Applications International Corporation
4. Center for Counterintelligence and Security Studies
5. Security Solutions International

Many interesting details about each company at:

4 Cases of the U.S. Sheltering Vicious Criminals that Reveal Total Hypocrisy on Snowden

4 Cases of the U.S. Sheltering Vicious Criminals that Reveal Total Hypocrisy on Snowden
From a CIA agent to a Cuban terrorist, the U.S. shelters people who are accused of heinous crimes.
August 14, 2013 * By Alex Kane * Alternet

Russia’s decision early this month to grant National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden temporary asylum in the country has led to a chorus of U.S. officials and media personalities denouncing Vladimir Putin.

“Russia has stabbed us in the back, and each day that Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on August 2. “Putin is acting like a schoolyard bully.” David Satter of the conservative publication National Review used the occasion to write that “ Russia, unlike the U.S., has no rule of law.”

But the cries for Russia to grant the request to extradite Snowden to face certain imprisonment and potential harsh punishment has exposed U.S. hypocrisy. There have been a number of cases in recent years where countries asked the U.S. to extradite suspected criminals back to their countries. But when it comes to those who committed crimes in the service of U.S. policy, America refuses those requests.

As the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald pointed out in a recent column, the U.S. shelters a number of people who are accused of crimes more heinous than Snowden's—even if the country making the request has an extradition treaty with America, which Russia does not have.

Here are four egregious cases where the U.S. has refused extradition requests.

MoJo: There is No Such Thing As NSA-Proof Email - Just ask ultra-secure email providers.

There is No Such Thing As NSA-Proof Email - Just ask ultra-secure email providers.
August 17, 2013 * Mother Jones via Alternet * By Mariah Blake, Gavin Aronsen, Dana Liebelson

Since last June, when Edward Snowden tore the veil off the National Security Agency's vast data dragnet, Americans have been flocking to ultrasecure email services in the hopes of keeping the government out of their private business. Use of the most popular email encryption software, PGP, tripled between June and July, while revenue for the data-encryption company Silent Circle has shot up 400 percent.

But even these services may not be able to protect your email from government prying. That fact came into stark relief last Thursday, when Lavabit, the secure email service used by Snowden, abruptly shut down. Lavabit's 32-year-old founder, Ladar Levison, issued a statement saying he pulled the plug because he didn't want to be "complicit in crimes against the American people." He has since given up using email entirely, and he urges others to consider doing the same. "I would strongly recommend against entrusting your privacy to a company with physical ties to the United States," he told Mother Jones. "I honestly don't think it's possible to provide a secure service in this country."

Levison, who is reportedly under federal gag order, declined to elaborate (though he opined, based on his experience, that we're a "whisper's breath away" from becoming a society where all electronic communications are recorded and scrutinized by the government). But according to other industry insiders and cybersecurity experts, there's good reason to be wary of transmitting sensitive information via email—even if your provider claims to have iron-clad safeguards.

Tech giants, such as the Microsoft subsidiary Hotmail, regularly hand over data to the government. In fact, in the last eight months of 2012 (the most recent period for which data is available), Hotmail, Google, Facebook, and Twitter provided law enforcement authorities with information on more than 64,000 users. And that doesn't include responses to secret national security letters ordered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, or FISA.


Transparency? The word games behind the defense of NSA surveillance

Here's a handy guide to understanding the dodgy language used by NSA apologists.

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Transparency? The word games behind the defense of NSA surveillance
byJoan McCarterFollow * Daily Kos * August 15, 2013

Trevor Timm at the indispensable Electronic Frontier Foundation has your guide to understanding when the government is lying to you about NSA surveillance. Which is pretty much most of the time. Some of his examples:

What does "bulk collection" mean? An intelligence official says it's "when we collect and retain for some period of time that lets us do retrospective analysis." We've seen this in action before, when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was trying to twist his way out of admitting that he lied to Congress. The actual act of hoovering up of millions of communications from Americans, without a warrant, isn't "collecting," according to the administration.

Then there's the word "target." When government officials can’t directly answer a question with a secret definition, officials will often answer a different question than they were asked. For example, if asked, “can you read Americans’ email without a warrant,” officials will answer: “we cannot target Americans’ email without a warrant.” As we explained last week, the NSA’s warped definition of word “target” is full of so many holes that it allows the NSA to reach into untold number of Americans’ emails, some which can be purely domestic.

Here's another favorite: the "not under this program" dodge. Another tried and true technique in the NSA obfuscation playbook is to deny it does one invasive thing or another “under this program.” When it’s later revealed the NSA actually doesdo the spying it said it didn’t, officials can claim it was just part of another program not referred to in the initial answer. Now we’re likely seeing it as part of the telephone records collection debate when administration officials repeat over and over that they aren’t collecting location data “under this program.” Sen. Ron Wyden has strongly suggested this might not be the whole story.


The Atlantic: "Lawbreaking at the NSA: Bring On a New Church Committee"

Lawbreaking at the NSA: Bring On a New Church Committee
The Washington Post has revealed an audit documenting thousands of abuses per year. An exhaustive investigation is long overdue -- and Ron Wyden should lead it.
CONOR FRIEDERSDORF * The Atlantic * AUG 16 2013, 6:34 AM ET

The time is ripe for a new Church Committee, the surveillance oversight effort named for Senator Frank Church, who oversaw a mid-1970s investigation into decades of jaw-dropping abuses by U.S. intelligence agencies. If recent stories about the NSA don't alarm you, odds are that you've never read the Church Committee findings, which ought to be part of the standard high-school curriculum. Their lesson is clear: Under cover of secrecy, government agents will commit abuses with impunity for years on end, and only intrusive Congressional snooping can stop them.

Why is another Church Committee needed now? For more than a decade, the NSA has repeatedly engaged in activity that violated the law and the Constitutional rights of many thousands or perhaps millions of Americans.

Let's review the NSA's recent history of serial illegality. President George W. Bush presided over the first wave. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, he signed a secret order that triggered a massive program of warrantless wiretapping. NSA analysts believed they possessed the authority to spy on the phone calls and emails of American citizens without a judge's permission. Circa October 2001, 90 NSA employees knew about the illegal program, but the public didn't. Later that month, four members of Congress, including Nancy Pelosi, were told of its existence, and subsequently discredited White House lawyer John Yoo wrote the first analysis of its legality. By 2002, 500 people knew about it, at which point telecom providers were participating.

The public didn't find out about warrantless wiretapping until December 2005, more than four years after it started, when the New York Times published a story that they'd long been holding.

How effective was the illegal spying?


America’s Descent Into Madness

America’s Descent Into Madness
It is crucial that all Americans push back against the coercive forces shaping U.S. culture, before it's too late.
August 12, 2013 * CounterPunch via Alternet * By Henry A. Giroux

America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War. ~ John le Carré

America is descending into madness.

The stories it now tells are filled with cruelty, deceit, lies, and legitimate all manner of corruption and mayhem. The mainstream media spins stories that are largely racist, violent, and irresponsible — stories that celebrate power and demonize victims, all the while camouflaging its pedagogical influence under the cheap veneer of entertainment.

Unethical grammars of violence now offer the only currency with any enduring value for mediating relationships, addressing problems, and offering instant pleasure. A predatory culture celebrates a narcissistic hyper-individualism that radiates a near sociopathic lack of interest in or compassion and responsibility for others. Anti-public intellectuals dominate the screen and aural cultures urging us to shop more, indulge more, and make a virtue out of the pursuit of personal gain, all the while promoting a depoliticizing culture of consumerism.

Undermining life-affirming social solidarities and any viable notion of the public good, right-wing politicians trade in forms of idiocy and superstition that mesmerize the illiterate and render the thoughtful cynical and disengaged. Military forces armed with the latest weapons from Afghanistan play out their hyper-militarized fantasies on the home front by forming robo SWAT teams who willfully beat youthful protesters and raid neighborhood poker games. Congressional lobbyists for the big corporations and defense contractors create conditions in which war zones abroad can be recreated at home in order to provide endless consumer products, such as high tech weapons and surveillance tools for gated communities and for prisons alike.

The issue of who gets to define the future, own the nation’s wealth, shape the reach of state resources, control of the global flows of goods and humans, and invest in institutions that educate an engaged and socially responsible citizens has become largely invisible. And yet these are precisely these issues that offer up new categories for defining how matters of representations, education, economic justice, and politics are to be defined and fought over. The stories told by corporate liars and crooks do serious harm to the body politic, and the damage they cause together with the idiocy they reinforce are becoming more apparent as America descends into authoritarianism, accompanied by the pervasive fear and paranoia that sustains it.


Who knew that Oregon hosts a Romanian Princess who loves to watch cocks fight?

Romanian princess alleged to be part of illegal US cockfighting ring
Irina Walker and her husband arrested with four others over claims they hosted illegal gambling at their Oregon ranch
Associated Press (Grants Pass, Oregon) * The Guardian * Friday 16 August 2013

A Romanian princess and her husband, a former sheriff's deputy, are believed to be among several people who have been arrested in Oregon in connection with an alleged cockfighting ring.

Irina Walker, 60, and her husband, John Wesley Walker, 67, are accused of hosting cockfighting derbies and illegal gambling at their ranch outside Irrigon, Morrow County.

Federal prosecutors are seeking to seize the ranch, which is listed in state records as Stokes Landing Sport Horses. There was no answer to phone calls to the Walker home or the business on Friday.

The Oregonian newspaper identified Irina Walker, also known as Irina Kreuger, as a daughter of the last king of Romania. Records show John Wesley Walker was a sheriff's deputy from 1998 to 2003.

The Walkers and four other people from Irrigon and Hermiston were charged with operating an illegal gambling business. No lawyer for the Walkers or the other defendants have yet been listed in the Portland federal court records.

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