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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 12,774

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NYT to Obama: A Weak Agenda on Spying Reform

A Weak Agenda on Spying Reform
Published: August 9, 2013 76 Comments

President Obama, who seems to think the American people simply need some reassurance that their privacy rights are intact, proposed a series of measures on Friday that only tinker around the edges of the nation’s abusive surveillance programs.


Fundamentally, Mr. Obama does not seem to understand that the nation needs to hear more than soothing words about the government’s spying enterprise. He suggested that if ordinary people trusted the government not to abuse their privacy, they wouldn’t mind the vast collection of phone and e-mail data.

Bizarrely, he compared the need for transparency to showing his wife that he had done the dishes, rather than just telling her he had done so. Out-of-control surveillance is a bit more serious than kitchen chores. It is the existence of these programs that is the problem, not whether they are modestly transparent. As long as the N.S.A. believes it has the right to collect records of every phone call — and the administration released a white paper Friday that explained, unconvincingly, why it is perfectly legal — then none of the promises to stay within the law will mean a thing.

If all Mr. Obama is inclined to do is tweak these programs, then Congress will have to step in to curb these abuses, a path many lawmakers of both parties are already pursuing. There are bills pending that would stop the bulk collection of communications data, restricting it to those under suspicion of terrorism. Other measures would require the surveillance court to make public far more of its work. If the president is truly concerned about public anxiety, he can vocally support legislation to make meaningful changes, rather than urging people to trust him that the dishes are clean.


And this comment from reader Karen Garcia sums it up:

That kitchen analogy not only fell flat, it reeked of the desperation of a demagogue who feels his control slipping away. The president essentially compared the Surveillance State to a henpecked husband (himself.) And we, the victims of government overreach, are the hysterical overbearing Lucy Ricardos with our silly concerns and demands for proof of his divine benevolence.

We won't be invited to the show or get a seat at the table, but he'll put up a webpage, maybe have another Google+ Hangout, invite a bunch of Villagers to meet behind closed doors, order a few more drone strikes, croon out a few more love songs, and proclaim that all is well in Happy Land, all the while reminding God to bless America.

This must be what Hannah Arendt meant by the banality of evil.

NSA paid British spy agency $100 mln in secret funds – new leak

NSA paid British spy agency $100 mln in secret funds – new leak
Published time: August 01, 2013 15:17

The NSA has made hush-hush payments of at least $100 million to Britain’s GCHQ spying agency over the past three years to influence British intelligence gathering operations. The payouts were revealed in new Snowden leaks published by The Guardian.

The documents illustrate that the NSA expects the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ, to act in its interest, expecting a return on the investment, The Guardian said Thursday.

Redevelopments at GCHQ’s site at Bude in southwest England, which alone cost over $20 million, were paid for by the US National Security Agency. The facility intercepts information from transatlantic cables carrying Internet and communications information.

The revelations appear to contradict previous denials from British government ministers that GCHQ does the NSA’s “dirty work.” In addition, the latest Snowden dossier details how British surveillance operations could be a “selling point” for the US.


More at:


Adding original source: The Guardian

Your tax dollars at work!

NYT Ed Board calls BS on the NSA: "More Fog From the Spy Agencies"

The New York Times Editorial Board is calling bullsh*t on the the NSA's effort at "limited hangout" yesterday.

More Fog From the Spy Agencies
Published: July 31, 2013

The Obama administration released narrowly selected and heavily censored documents and sent more officials to testify before Congress on Wednesday in an effort to defend the legality and value of the surveillance of all Americans’ telephone calls. The effort was a failure.

The documents clarified nothing of importance, and the hearing raised major new questions about whether the intelligence agencies had been misleading Congress and the public about the electronic dragnet. At the end of the day, we were more convinced than ever that the government had yet to come clean on the legal arguments and court orders underlying the surveillance.


The administration released three documents. One was an April order by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which operates in secret, approving the collection of “all call detail records” from a company that was not named but was a Verizon subsidiary. The order resolved nothing about the fundamental question of why the program was needed and authorized in the first place.


The two other documents released Wednesday were letters to Congress saying the N.S.A. had really analyzed only a tiny fraction of the data it was collecting but failed to say why the enormous collection was necessary, legal or wise. Those legal arguments remain classified. The declassified letters said the collection efforts “significantly strengthen” the discovery of terrorists and their plots; the agency has previously claimed that 54 plots were disrupted by the collection of phone records and a separate, targeted collection of Internet data.

But those claims seemed to fade away on Wednesday. In his testimony, the best that John Inglis, deputy N.S.A. director, could come up with was that “there is an example” that “comes close to a ‘but for’ example.” Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden, who have been arguing for the termination of the bulk collection of telephone data, were joined by Mr. Leahy and Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, in criticizing the N.S.A. director, James Clapper Jr., for falsely telling Congress that the agency was not collecting large volumes of data on Americans’ phone calls.

-edit -

More at:


Posted by chimpymustgo | Thu Aug 1, 2013, 10:13 AM (1 replies)

Bradley Manning trial: Military Fails to Link Leaks With Any Deaths

Military Fails to Link Leaks With Any Deaths

FT. MEADE, Md. (CN) - The largest intelligence leak in U.S. history, disclosed by Pfc. Bradley Manning to WikiLeaks, did not lead to the deaths of any military sources, the government's first sentencing witness testified Wednesday.

Manning has long admitted to sending WikiLeaks more than 700,000 confidential files, including U.S. embassy cables, Guantanamo detainee profiles, and footage of airstrikes that killed civilians.

The battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan are known as the war logs. WikiLeaks calls its Afghan War Diary "an extraordinary secret compendium of over 91,000 reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010."

In 2011, then-Army Chief of Staff Mike Mullen had said that Manning and WikiLeaks "might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family" named in the leaked documents as a source of intelligence to the United States.

But Manning has insisted that he sent WikiLeaks only low-sensitivity categories of files that he believed would shed light on U.S. war fighting and statecraft. Three years of journalistic scrutiny into the effects of the leaks could not uncover a case of an intelligence source who was killed or injured because of the disclosures.

The military's position took another hit Wednesday, as the former brigadier general who headed the Information Review Task Force investigating the leaks said that he had never heard that a source named in the Afghan war logs was killed.


More details from the sentencing hearing:


Posted by chimpymustgo | Thu Aug 1, 2013, 08:11 AM (2 replies)

In honor of Bradley Manning: "Revealers of government secrets share how their lives have changed"

Yesterday's Washington Post featured a long piece looking at the lives of recent whistle-blowers. Unlike Manning, they didn't spend time behind bars. But their livelihoods, sometimes their families - sometimes their lives - were destroyed.

Many names will be familiar: Thomas Drake, Sibel Edmonds - people who were heroes here at DU for exposing government wrongdoing.

May we honor the whistle-blowers - and their courage in the face of the huge price they pay - risking it all to reveal what the government is doing in our name - the secrets, the lies, the wrongdoing that threaten the very fabric of our democracy.


After the whistle: Revealers of government secrets share how their lives have changed

By Emily Wax, Published: July 28


Peter Van Buren, a veteran Foreign Service officer who blew the whistle on waste and mismanagement of the Iraq reconstruction program, most recently found himself working at a local arts and crafts store and learned a lot about “glitter and the American art of scrapbooking.”

“What happens when you are thrown out of the government and blacklisted is that you lose your security clearance and it’s very difficult to find a grown-up job in Washington,” said Van Buren, who lives in Falls Church and wrote the book “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.” “Then, you have to step down a few levels to find a place where they don’t care enough about your background to even look into why you washed up there.”


“Let’s sit in the back,” Thomas Drake says when choosing a booth at Parker’s Classic American Restaurant in downtown Bethesda during his lunch break from Apple. “I have a lot to say. I was a public servant. That’s a very high honor. It’s supposed to mean something.”

Drake was prosecuted under the World War I-era Espionage Act for mishandling national defense information. His alleged crime: voicing concernsto superiors after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks about violations of Americans’ privacy by the nation’s largest intelligence organization (the NSA) and later, in frustration, speaking to a reporter about waste and fraud in the NSA intelligence program. (He says he revealed no classified information.)

He lost his $155,000-a-year job and pension, even though in 2011 the criminal case against him fell apart. The former top spokesman for the Justice Department, Matthew Miller, later said the case against Drake may have been an “ill-considered choice for prosecution.”


Sibel Edmonds was once described by the American Civil Liberties Union as “the most gagged person in the history of the United States.” And she was a regular on Washington’s protest circuit.

She was fired from her work as a translator at the FBI for trying to expose security breaches and cover-ups that she thought presented a danger to U.S. security. Her allegations were supported and confirmed by the Justice Department’s inspector general office and bipartisan congressional investigations, but she was not offered her job back.


Much more at:


Glenn Greenwald: Low-Level NSA Analysts Have ‘Powerful and Invasive’ Search Tool (ABC This Week)


Today on “This Week,” Glenn Greenwald – the reporter who broke the story about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs – claimed that those NSA programs allowed even low-level analysts to search the private emails and phone calls of Americans.

“The NSA has trillions of telephone calls and emails in their databases that they’ve collected over the last several years,” Greenwald told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “And what these programs are, are very simple screens, like the ones that supermarket clerks or shipping and receiving clerks use, where all an analyst has to do is enter an email address or an IP address, and it does two things. It searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you’ve entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future.”

Greenwald explained that while there are “legal constraints” on surveillance that require approval by the FISA court, these programs still allow analysts to search through data with little court approval or supervision.

“There are legal constraints for how you can spy on Americans,” Greenwald said. “You can’t target them without going to the FISA court. But these systems allow analysts to listen to whatever emails they want, whatever telephone calls, browsing histories, Microsoft Word documents.”

“And it’s all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst,” he added.

But the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee told Stephanopoulos he would be shocked if such programs existed.

“It wouldn’t just surprise me, it would shock me,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, said on “This Week” Sunday.


“It’s an incredibly powerful and invasive tool, exactly of the type that Mr. Snowden described,” Greenwald said.

More at:

Greenwald, said: I defy the NSA to DENY this.

Who do you believe: vile Saxby Chambliss who defiled war-hero, paraplegic Max Cleland, or a reporter who is trying to reveal a secret program that government officials continue to lie about?

NYT: Paula Deen’s Cook Tells of Slights, Steeped in History




For 22 years, Mrs. Charles was the queen of the Deen kitchens. She helped open the Lady & Sons, the restaurant here that made Ms. Deen’s career. She developed recipes, trained other cooks and made sure everything down to the collard greens tasted right.

“If it’s a Southern dish,” Ms. Deen once said, “you better not put it out unless it passes this woman’s tongue.”

The money was not great. Mrs. Charles spent years making less than $10 an hour, even after Ms. Deen became a Food Network star. And there were tough moments. She said Ms. Deen used racial slurs. Once she wanted Mrs. Charles to ring a dinner bell in front of the restaurant, hollering for people to come and get it.


Now, Ms. Deen, 66, is fighting empire-crushing accusations of racism, and Mrs. Charles, 59 and nursing a bad shoulder, lives in an aging trailer home on the outskirts of Savannah.


In 2010, Lisa T. Jackson, a white manager working at Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, the restaurant Ms. Deen set up for her brother, Earl Hiers, known as Bubba, voiced claims of racism and sexual harassment in the Deen empire.


Ms. Jackson told Mrs. Charles that she was paid less than others who helped run the kitchen and who had not been there as long. Those people were white. Ms. Jackson introduced her to S. Wesley Woolf, the Savannah lawyer who would go on to file the suit.


Much more at:

Paula Deen needs to make restition to her employees. What a racist, selfish piece of work.

What's up with Carl Devin (D?-MI). NO on military assault change. NO on fillibuster change. WTF?

Rand Paul, Ted Cruz join Kirsten Gillibrand push on military sexual assault (No Levin, McCaskill)


But the New York Democrat’s climb remains steep: She’s facing down the full force of the Pentagon’s lobbying machine, a Republican-controlled House cool to her idea and a rival bill backed by fellow Democratic Sens. Carl Levin and Claire McCaskill that aims to stamp out military sexual assault without disrupting the chain of command.


Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/kirsten-gillibrand-military-sexual-assault-94241.html#ixzz2ZDdNPbBA

And then there's:

WASHINGTON — Sen. Carl Levin Tuesday said he will oppose Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to end filibusters of President Obama’s nominees, saying he cannot support an effort by the majority to change the Senate’s rules by “fiat.”

Angered by Republican filibusters, Reid is threatening to use an end-run around the chamber’s arcane debate rules to use a simple majority to change those same rules: something that has been dubbed the “nuclear option.”


Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/johnstanton/key-democratic-senator-will-oppose-efforts-to-end-filibuster

Does anyone have any thoughts or insights as to what's going on here? Is this just a coincidence, or a trend? Appreciate thoughts here.

edited to correct state!

K &R! Can we get this out of "conspiracy theory"? People really need to broaden their minds!

Think, read, believe what you see...

Statement by Edward Snowden to human rights groups at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport

Edited to include Snowden's entire statement, which includes damning information about how our government is spying on us. The entire statement should be read.


Statement by Edward Snowden to human rights groups at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport
Friday July 12, 15:00 UTC

Edward Joseph Snowden delivered a statement to human rights organizations and individuals at Sheremetyevo airport at 5pm Moscow time today, Friday 12th July. The meeting lasted 45 minutes. The human rights organizations included Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and were given the opportunity afterwards to ask Mr Snowden questions. The Human Rights Watch representative used this opportunity to tell Mr Snowden that on her way to the airport she had received a call from the US Ambassador to Russia, who asked her to relay to Mr Snowden that the US Government does not categorise Mr Snowden as a whistleblower and that he has broken United States law. This further proves the United States Government’s persecution of Mr Snowden and therefore that his right to seek and accept asylum should be upheld. Seated to the left of Mr. Snowden was Sarah Harrison, a legal advisor in this matter from WikiLeaks and to Mr. Snowden’s right, a translator.

Transcript of Edward Joseph Snowden statement, given at 5pm Moscow time on Friday 12th July 2013. (Transcript corrected to delivery)

Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.

It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.

I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."

Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.

That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.

Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president’s plane in search for a political refugee. These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.

Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.

I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.

This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.

If you have any questions, I will answer what I can.

Thank you.

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