privacy laws

Nov. 18, 2013 6:53 PM EST

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is paying $17 million to 37 states and the District of Columbia to make amends for the Internet search leader’s snooping on millions of people using Safari Web browsers in 2011 and 2012.

The settlement announced Monday stems from a technological loophole that enabled Google’s DoubleClick advertising network to shadow unwitting Safari users, even though the browser’s maker, Apple Inc., prohibited the tracking without obtaining a person’s permission. By following what Safari users were doing online, DoubleClick could gain more insights about what types of ads were most likely to appeal to different Safari users.


We’re getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.
We believe this stuff matters, so please take a few minutes to read our updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Service at http://www.google.com/policies. These changes will take effect on March 1, 2012.
Got questions?
We’ve got answers.
Visit our FAQ at http://www.google.com/policies/faq to read more about the changes. (We figured our users might have a question or twenty-two.)

States Move on Privacy Law

By
Published: October 30, 2013
Over two dozen privacy laws have passed this year in more than 10 states, in places as different as Oklahoma and California. 
For Internet companies, the patchwork of rules across the country means keeping a close eye on evolving laws to avoid overstepping. 

For companies, it helps that state measures are limited in their scope by a federal law that prevents states from interfering with interstate commerce.
Some of the bills extend to surveillance beyond the web. Eight states, for example, have passed laws this year limiting the use of drones, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which has advocated such privacy laws. In Florida, a lawmaker has drafted a bill that would prohibit schools from collecting biometric data to verify who gets free lunches and who gets off at which bus stop. Vermont has limited the use of data collected by license plate readers, which are used mostly by police to record images of license plates.
California, long a pioneer on digital privacy laws, has passed three online privacy bills this year. One gives children the right to erase social media posts, another makes it a misdemeanor to publish identifiable nude pictures online without the subject’s permission, and a third requires companies to tell consumers whether they abide by “do not track” signals on web browsers.
But stiff lobbying efforts were able to stop a so-called right to know bill proposed in California this year that stood to hurt the online industry. The bill would have required any business that “retains a customer’s personal information” to share a copy of that information at the customer’s request, as well as disclose which third parties have received the information. The practice of sharing customer data is central to digital advertising and to the large Internet companies that rely on advertising revenue.
“ ‘Right to know’ is an example of something that’s not workable,” said Jim Halpert, a lawyer with the national firm DLA Piper, who leads an industry coalition that includes Amazon, Facebook and Verizon. “It covers such a broad range of disclosures. We advocated against it.”

According to a survey conducted in July by the Pew Internet Center, most Americans said they believed that existing laws were inadequate to protect their privacy online, and a clear majority reported making great efforts to mask their identities online. Some of those surveyed said they cleared browsing histories, deleted social media posts or used virtual networks to conceal their Internet Protocol addresses — and a few even said they used encryption tools.
Many states have already responded to those opinions. In the last couple of years, about 10 states have passed laws restricting employers from demanding access to their employees’ social media accounts.
California set the stage on digital privacy 10 years ago with a law that required organizations, whether public or private, to inform consumers if their personal data had been breached or stolen. Several states followed, and today, nearly every state has a data breach notification law.
A version of this article appears in print on October 31, 2013, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: No U.S. Action, So States Move On Privacy Law.
Nov. 18, 2013 6:53 PM EST

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is paying $17 million to 37 states and the District of Columbia to make amends for the Internet search leader's snooping on millions of people using Safari Web browsers in 2011 and 2012.

The settlement announced Monday stems from a technological loophole that enabled Google's DoubleClick advertising network to shadow unwitting Safari users, even though the browser's maker, Apple Inc., prohibited the tracking without obtaining a person's permission. By following what Safari users were doing online, DoubleClick could gain more insights about what types of ads were most likely to appeal to different Safari users.





We're getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that's a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.
We believe this stuff matters, so please take a few minutes to read our updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Service at http://www.google.com/policies. These changes will take effect on March 1, 2012.
Got questions?
We've got answers.
Visit our FAQ at http://www.google.com/policies/faq to read more about the changes. (We figured our users might have a question or twenty-two.)

States Move on Privacy Law


Over two dozen privacy laws have passed this year in more than 10 states, in places as different as Oklahoma and California. 

For Internet companies, the patchwork of rules across the country means keeping a close eye on evolving laws to avoid overstepping. 


For companies, it helps that state measures are limited in their scope by a federal law that prevents states from interfering with interstate commerce.
Some of the bills extend to surveillance beyond the web. Eight states, for example, have passed laws this year limiting the use of drones, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which has advocated such privacy laws. In Florida, a lawmaker has drafted a bill that would prohibit schools from collecting biometric data to verify who gets free lunches and who gets off at which bus stop. Vermont has limited the use of data collected by license plate readers, which are used mostly by police to record images of license plates.
California, long a pioneer on digital privacy laws, has passed three online privacy bills this year. One gives children the right to erase social media posts, another makes it a misdemeanor to publish identifiable nude pictures online without the subject’s permission, and a third requires companies to tell consumers whether they abide by “do not track” signals on web browsers.
But stiff lobbying efforts were able to stop a so-called right to know bill proposed in California this year that stood to hurt the online industry. The bill would have required any business that “retains a customer’s personal information” to share a copy of that information at the customer’s request, as well as disclose which third parties have received the information. The practice of sharing customer data is central to digital advertising and to the large Internet companies that rely on advertising revenue.
“ ‘Right to know’ is an example of something that’s not workable,” said Jim Halpert, a lawyer with the national firm DLA Piper, who leads an industry coalition that includes Amazon, Facebook and Verizon. “It covers such a broad range of disclosures. We advocated against it.”

According to a survey conducted in July by the Pew Internet Center, most Americans said they believed that existing laws were inadequate to protect their privacy online, and a clear majority reported making great efforts to mask their identities online. Some of those surveyed said they cleared browsing histories, deleted social media posts or used virtual networks to conceal their Internet Protocol addresses — and a few even said they used encryption tools.
Many states have already responded to those opinions. In the last couple of years, about 10 states have passed laws restricting employers from demanding access to their employees’ social media accounts.
California set the stage on digital privacy 10 years ago with a law that required organizations, whether public or private, to inform consumers if their personal data had been breached or stolen. Several states followed, and today, nearly every state has a data breach notification law.

NSA spying

Paul Mason Culture and Digital Editor  
 
20 November 2013

Between 2004 and 2007 the Labour government gave the US National Security Agency permission to use information on innocent British people collected in the process of spying on actual targets.
According to a top secret memo I have seen, from within the NSA and dated June 2007, Britain agreed the Americans could «unminimise» British landline numbers as early as 2004. That means they were not obliged to delete them, and could now use their systems to analyse them.

By 2004 the Americans had clear reasons to be concerned about UK citizens and terror. Shoe bomber Richard Reid was in a US jail; there were nine Brits in Guantanamo.

These two documents are the first proof in black and white that an agreement exists between Britain and the USA on the targeting of each other’s citizens (on the assumption, not confirmed, that Britain gained the reciprocal right to use data collected on Americans in the 2007 agreement).


Edited time: July 26, 2013 05:49

The US House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to reject an attempt to reign in domestic spying by the National Security Agency following a storm of lobbying by the White House against the measure.

In a 205-217 vote the House defeated an amendment introduced by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan) which would have prevented the NSA from collecting the phone data of individuals not currently under investigation.

Amash aimed to challenge the NSA’s program of widespread collection of phone records, specifically information known as ‘metadata,’ the details of which were revealed by The Guardian in June.

That newspaper was able to acquire and publish a copy of a top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion which required the mobile carrier Verizon to provide the NSA with the phone numbers of both parties involved in calls, along with the time and duration of the calls as well as calling card numbers used, and the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number for mobile carriers.

Since that information was revealed, officials have both confirmed the authenticity of the leak and justified its actions, as well as suggested that many more telecom companies are involved.

Surveillance of phone communications was itself eclipsed by revelations then made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on an unimagined level of online surveillance being conducted by the intelligence agency in conjunction with a long list of major American companies, including Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Facebook.

According to various experts on the matter, including analysis provided by Wired Magazine, the NSA’s indiscriminate collection of such data would thereby allow the government to build a massive database to map connections and relationships between callers.


Published time: October 31, 2013 07:55

EU leaders are calling for the suspension of a trade pact with the US worth billions of dollars over NSA spying. The 28-nation bloc suspects the so-called ‘Safe Harbor’ deal is being undermined by US espionage and has demanded safeguards for EU citizens.

The EU’s top politicians have slammed Washington for a “breakdown of trust” and seek guarantees for the safety of EU customer data.

“For ambitious and complex negotiations to succeed there needs to be trust among the negotiating partners,” EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said Wednesday in a speech at Yale University.

The Safe Harbor agreement has been in place for 13 years and it allows over 4,300 American companies to collect and process sales, emails and photos from EU customers. In order for firms to be able to collate this information they have to comply with seven directives to prevent data loss and disclosure.

However, EU officials believe the system is flawed and can be manipulated by the NSA.

“If you look at the US legal environment, there is no adequate legal protection for EU citizens,” said the European Parliament’s leading data protection lawmaker Jan Philipp Albrecht after talks with officials in Washington.

In the light of the spy scandal the EU has threatened to suspend the treaty pending stipulated changes that would sure up security. EU leaders are expected to urge the US to strengthen its privacy laws to allow European citizen more control over how their private data is used.

If the ‘Safe Harbor’ pact is suspended it could have a massive knock-on effect, costing the US and EU billions of dollars in trade. Moreover, the pact allows US companies to get around the lengthy approval procedure by the European data protection authorities, without it some US firms would be forced to stop doing business in the EU.

“I don’t think the US government can be convinced by arguments or outrage alone, but by making it clear that American interests will suffer if this global surveillance is simply continued,” said Peter Schaar, the head of Germany’s data protection watchdog.

Free trade deal

If Washington fails to comply with the EU’s demands then it could further endanger a free trade deal which could add an estimated $138 billion a year to each economy’s gross domestic product.

Reding warned that if changes were not made to US privacy regulations, negotiations for the free trade agreement could easily be “derailed.”

Negotiations on the conditions of the transatlantic agreement are due to resume in December and a decision is likely to be reached by the end of the year.

The revelations of the NSA’s spying activities in Europe scandalized the 28-nation bloc. Security leaks released by former CIA worker Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA taps millions of phone calls across the continent and stores the collected information in its data banks.

Furthermore, the security disclosures indicate the NSA not only monitors citizens it suspects are involved in terrorism, but also businessmen and high-profile politicians.


By Gregor Waschinski october 31, 2013

Washington (United States) (AFP) – Europe and Washington traded spying accusations, as envoys met to seek ways to rebuild trust after shock revelations about the scale and scope of US surveillance of its allies.

A German intelligence delegation and a separate group of EU lawmakers were in the US capital to confront their American allies about the alleged bugging of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.

And the visit coincided with the latest in a series of newspaper reports based on leaked National Security Agency files, this one alleging US agents hacked into cables used by Google and Yahoo.

President Barack Obama’s spy chiefs are on the defensive over the reports, which have riled America’s allies and exposed the vast scale of the NSA’s snooping on telephone calls and Internet traffic.

The head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, repeated the administration’s argument that all countries spy on one another, and said that the allies should discuss a new working relationship.

«I think this partnership with Europe is absolutely important,» he said. «But it has to do with everybody coming to the table and let’s put off all the sensationalism and say: ‘Is there a better way for our countries to work together?'»

US intelligence chiefs have said these reports are based on a misinterpretation of an NSA slide leaked to the media by fugitive former intelligence technician Edward Snowden.

Rather than siphoning off the records of tens of millions of calls in Europe, as the slide seems to suggest, they argue that the data was in many cases gathered and shared by European agencies.

‘Foreign nations spying on US’

«The perception that NSA is collecting 70 million phone calls in France or Spain or Italy is factually incorrect,» Alexander said at a conference organized by Bloomberg media group.

«This is actually countries working together to support military operations, collecting what they need to protect our forces in areas where we work together as nations.»

This argument, which Alexander and overall US spy chief James Clapper made on Tuesday before a Congressional committee, had already raised eyebrows in Europe.

French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, speaking after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Francois Hollande, said: «The NSA director’s denials don’t seem likely.»

Germany, angered by the revelation that the NSA tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, also issued a stern response, denying US claims that the European allies spy on US targets in turn.

Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament’s committee on foreign affairs, told reporters that Alexander had admitted to an EU delegation that America had targeted Merkel.

The spy had shown the envoys evidence that much of the data from France, Spain and Germany referenced in the latest leaked slide had indeed been European intelligence shared with the NSA.

«This was given to the US by the French, Spanish or German authorities not spying on Germany, France or Spain, but on what was known in Afghanistan or Yemen,» Brok said.

But Brok also noted that Alexander had confirmed at the same time that the NSA and other US intelligence services also «work unilaterally» in Europe, without the knowledge of their local partners.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said German officials and intelligence officers were in Washington to discuss «a new basis of trust and new regulation for our cooperation in this area.»

«We are in a process of intensive contacts with US partners both at the intelligence as well as the political level,» he said.

Meanwhile, a new report in the Washington Post alleged that NSA technicians had tapped into Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, winning access to vast amounts of private data.

The report said a program dubbed MUSCULAR, operated with the NSA’s British counterpart GCHQ, can intercept data directly from the fiber-optic cables used by the US Internet giants.

The Post reported this is a secret program that is unlike PRISM, another NSA tool revealed by Snowden’s leaks, which relies on secret court orders to obtain data from technology firms.

According to a document cited by the newspaper dated January 9, 2013, some 181 million records were collected in the prior 30 days, ranging from email metadata to text, audio and video content.

Alexander protested «to my knowledge, this never happened.»

But a statement released later Wednesday by the NSA was somewhat more guarded and did not deny that foreign citizens’ data is targeted.

«NSA has multiple authorities that it uses to accomplish its mission, which is centered on defending the nation,» the statement said.»NSA is…focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only.»

And, in another embarrassing chapter for Washington, the United Nations said it had received an assurance that US agencies would not bug its secret communications in the future.

Conspicuously, the United States could not promise the world body it had not been spied upon in the past.


The NSA has far too much power to spy on innocent Americans without any meaningful oversight.
It’s gotten so bad that even one of the original ultra-conservative authors of the Patriot Act, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, joined with progressive stalwart Rep. John Conyers and Senator Patrick Leahy in introducing a bipartisan NSA reform bill.
This bill, which they named the USA Freedom Act, would end the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records and provide a modest measure of needed transparency to the use of National Security Letters and other forms of warrantless wiretapping.
It’s a good first step, and we need to show the House and the Senate that there’s popular support for Congress starting the process of restoring our constitutional rights.


Let’s be clear. We support the full repeal of the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act. The only legislative vehicle for that is Rep. Rush Holt’s Surveillance State Repeal Act, which we will continue to fight for.
But until we succeed in repealing the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act, we should support anything that will start the process of reining in the NSA without making anything worse.
The Sensenbrenner-Leahy bill is a good move in that direction. It will at the very least stop the kind of bulk surveillance dragnets that allows the government to spy on millions of Americans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. And it will take a minor step toward transparency by allowing companies to disclose the number of requests they get from the government that force them to turn over the private information of their users and customers without a court order and under a gag.
It’s important to note that this is far less than what we truly need to rein in the NSA. But it’s a good start. The bill preserves much of the status quo. Let’s remember, the problem of overbroad and unconstitutionally intrusive government surveillance is so vast that even the president didn’t know that the U.S. was tapping the phones of allied world leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
But while the Sensenbrenner-Leahy bill is a good first step, the same cannot be said for the bill proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein, which in the name of reform would simply codify the ability of the government to spy on innocent Americans without doing anything to prevent the rampant abuses that have become routine practices of a rogue NSA and other intelligence agencies.
That’s why we’re asking Congress to support Rep. Sensenbrenner and Sen. Leahy’s USA Freedom Act, and oppose Senator Feinstein’s sham bill which is meant to make the public think oversight is being strengthened over the NSA when there will be no meaningful reform established in the legislation.
Tell Congress: Rein in the NSA to stop its unconstitutional spying. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:
http://act.credoaction.com/go/2449?t=5&akid=9309.5084505.aOO89Q
Thank you for taking a stand against unconstitutional government spying.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager


October 28, 2013

BERLIN (Reuters) – A German newspaper said on Sunday that U.S. President Barack Obama knew his intelligence service was eavesdropping on Angela Merkel as long ago as 2010, contradicting reports that he had told the German leader he did not know.

Germany received information this week that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had bugged Merkel’s mobile phone, prompting Berlin to summon the U.S. ambassador, a move unprecedented in post-war relations between the close allies.

Reuters was unable to confirm Sunday’s news report. The NSA denied that Obama had been informed about the operation by the NSA chief in 2010, as reported by the German newspaper. But the agency did not comment directly on whether Obama knew about the bugging of Merkel’s phone.

Both the White House and the German government declined comment.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the NSA ended the program that involved Merkel after the operation was uncovered in an Obama administration review that began this summer. The program also involved as many as 35 other world leaders, some of whom were still being monitored, according to the report, which was attributed to U.S. officials.

In response to the WSJ report, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden noted in a statement that Obama had ordered a review of U.S. surveillance capabilities.

«Through this review, led by the White House, the United States is reviewing the way that we gather intelligence to ensure that we properly account for the security concerns of our citizens and allies and the privacy concerns that all people share,» Hayden said, adding that she was not in a position to discuss the details.

Citing a source in Merkel’s office, some German media have reported that Obama apologized to Merkel when she called him on Wednesday, and told her that he would have stopped the bugging happening had he known about it.

But Bild am Sonntag, citing a «U.S. intelligence worker involved in the NSA operation against Merkel», said NSA chief General Keith Alexander informed Obama in person about it in 2010.

«Obama didn’t stop the operation back then but let it continue,» the mass-market paper quoted the source as saying.

The NSA said, however, that Alexander had never discussed any intelligence operations involving Merkel with Obama.

«(General) Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel», NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said in an emailed statement.

«News reports claiming otherwise are not true.»

Bild am Sonntag said Obama in fact wanted more material on Merkel, and ordered the NSA to compile a «comprehensive dossier» on her. «Obama, according to the NSA man, did not trust Merkel and wanted to know everything about the German,» the paper said.

White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to comment and reiterated the standard policy line that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.

Bild said the NSA had increased its surveillance, including the contents of Merkel’s text messages and phone calls, on Obama’s initiative and had started tapping a new, supposedly bug-proof mobile she acquired this summer, a sign the spying continued into the «recent past».

The NSA first eavesdropped on Merkel’s predecessor Gerhard Schroeder after he refused to support President George W. Bush’s war in Iraq and was extended when Merkel took over in 2005, the paper said.

Eighteen NSA staff working in the U.S. embassy, some 800 meters (yards) from Merkel’s office, sent their findings straight to the White House, rather than to NSA headquarters, the paper said. Only Merkel’s encrypted landline in her office in the Chancellery had not been tapped, it added.

Bild said some NSA officials were becoming annoyed with the White House for creating the impression that U.S. spies had gone beyond what they had been ordered to do.

BREACH OF TRUST

Merkel has said she uses one mobile phone and that all state-related calls are made from encrypted lines.

The rift over U.S. surveillance activities first emerged this year with reports that Washington had bugged European Union offices and tapped half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month.

Merkel’s government said in August – just weeks before a German election – that the United States had given sufficient assurances it was complying with German law.

This week’s news has reignited criticism of the U.S. surveillance. Volker Kauder, head of Merkel’s party in parliament, called it a «grave breach of trust» and said the United States should drop its «global power demeanor».

Kauder said, however, that he was against halting negotiations on a European free trade agreement with the United States, a call made by Social Democrats and some of Merkel’s Bavarian allies.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told Bild am Sonntag: «Bugging is a crime and those responsible for it must be held to account.»

The Social Democrats, with whom Merkel is holding talks to form a new government, have joined calls from two smaller opposition parties for a parliamentary investigation into the U.S. surveillance, but Kauder has rejected the idea.

SPD parliamentary whip Thomas Oppermann said former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked many of the sensitive documents, could be called as a witness. Snowden is living in Russia, out of reach of U.S. attempts to arrest him.

(Reporting by Annika Breidthardt; Additional reporting by Anna Yukhananov in Washington; Editing by Robin Pomeroy, Alistair Lyon, Christopher Wilson and Paul Simao)


By John O’Donnell and Luke Baker
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded on Thursday that the United States strike a «no-spying» agreement with Berlin and Paris by the end of the year, saying alleged espionage against two of Washington’s closest EU allies had to be stopped.

Speaking after talks with EU leaders that were dominated by allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency had accessed tens of thousands of French phone records and monitored Merkel’s private mobile phone, the chancellor said she wanted action from President Barack Obama, not just apologetic words.
Germany and France would seek a «mutual understanding» with the United States on cooperation between their intelligence agencies, and other EU member states could eventually take part.
«That means a framework for cooperation between the relevant (intelligence) services. Germany and France have taken the initiative and other member states will join,» she said.
In a statement issued after the first day of the summit, the EU’s 28 leaders said they supported the Franco-German plan.
Merkel first raised the possibility of a «no-spying» agreement with Obama during a visit to Berlin in June this year, but nothing came of it. The latest revelations, part of the vast leaks made by former U.S. data analyst Edward Snowden, would appear to have renewed her determination for a pact.
The United States has a «no-spying» deal with Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, an alliance known as «Five Eyes» that was struck in the aftermath of World War Two.
But there has traditionally been a reluctance to make similar arrangements with other allies, despite the close relations that the United States and Germany now enjoy.
Merkel said an accord with Washington was long overdue, given the shared experiences the countries face.
«We are in Afghanistan together. Our soldiers experience life threatening situations. They sometimes die in the same battles,» she said.
«The friendship and partnership between the European member states, including Germany, and the United States is not a one-way street. We depend on it. But there are good reasons that the United States also needs friends in the world.»
COLLECTIVE ANGER
As EU leaders arrived for the two-day summit there was near-universal condemnation of the alleged activities by the NSA, particularly the monitoring of Merkel’s mobile phone, a sensitive issue for a woman who grew up in East Germany, living under the Stasi police force and its feared eavesdropping.
Some senior German officials, and the German president of the European Parliament, have called for talks between the EU and United States on a free-trade agreement, which began in July, to be suspended because of the spying allegations.
Merkel, whose country is one of the world’s leading exporters and stands to gain from any trade deal with Washington, said that was not the right path to take, saying the best way forward was to rebuild trust.
The series of Snowden-based leaks over the past three months have left Washington at odds with a host of important allies, from Brazil to Saudi Arabia, and there are few signs that the revelations are going to dry up anytime soon.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday that one NSA contact, a U.S. official, had provided the telephone numbers of 35 world leaders that had then been monitored.
As well as raising questions about the EU-US trade negotiations, the spying furor could also have an impact on data-privacy legislation working its way through the EU.
The European Parliament this week backed legislation, proposed by the European Commission in early 2012, that would greatly toughen EU data protection rules dating from 1995.
The new rules would restrict how data collected in Europe by firms such as Google and Facebook is shared with non-EU countries, introduce the right of EU citizens to request that their digital traces be erased, and impose fines of 100 million euros ($138 million) or more on rule breakers.
The United States is concerned the regulations, if they enter into law, will raise the cost of handling data in Europe. Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and others have lobbied hard against the proposals.
Given the spying accusations, France and Germany – the two most influential countries in EU policy – may succeed in getting member states to push ahead on negotiations with the parliament to complete the new data regulations by 2015.
For the United States, it could substantially change how data privacy rules are implemented globally.
(Additional reporting by Madeline Chambers and Noah Barkin in Berlin, Julien Ponthus, Robin Emmott and John O’Donnell in Brussels and Alexandria Sage in Paris; Editing by Will Waterman)


NSA revelations made Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner reach out to Brazil to improve their cyber defense. Countries in the region are now paying attention to this project in order to develop their own email systems: specifically designed for those who don’t want Google and Yahoo accounts which allow US intelligence in. That is open retaliation, but much more might happen behind closed doors. American presence is still important; but now that China’s star is rising rapidly as Latin America’s trade partner, the pressure is on the US.

Paul Mason Culture and Digital Editor  
 
20 November 2013

Between 2004 and 2007 the Labour government gave the US National Security Agency permission to use information on innocent British people collected in the process of spying on actual targets.
According to a top secret memo I have seen, from within the NSA and dated June 2007, Britain agreed the Americans could "unminimise" British landline numbers as early as 2004. That means they were not obliged to delete them, and could now use their systems to analyse them.

By 2004 the Americans had clear reasons to be concerned about UK citizens and terror. Shoe bomber Richard Reid was in a US jail; there were nine Brits in Guantanamo.

These two documents are the first proof in black and white that an agreement exists between Britain and the USA on the targeting of each other's citizens (on the assumption, not confirmed, that Britain gained the reciprocal right to use data collected on Americans in the 2007 agreement).





Edited time: July 26, 2013 05:49

The US House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to reject an attempt to reign in domestic spying by the National Security Agency following a storm of lobbying by the White House against the measure.

In a 205-217 vote the House defeated an amendment introduced by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan) which would have prevented the NSA from collecting the phone data of individuals not currently under investigation.

Amash aimed to challenge the NSA’s program of widespread collection of phone records, specifically information known as 'metadata,' the details of which were revealed by The Guardian in June.

That newspaper was able to acquire and publish a copy of a top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion which required the mobile carrier Verizon to provide the NSA with the phone numbers of both parties involved in calls, along with the time and duration of the calls as well as calling card numbers used, and the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number for mobile carriers.




Since that information was revealed, officials have both confirmed the authenticity of the leak and justified its actions, as well as suggested that many more telecom companies are involved.

Surveillance of phone communications was itself eclipsed by revelations then made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on an unimagined level of online surveillance being conducted by the intelligence agency in conjunction with a long list of major American companies, including Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Facebook.


According to various experts on the matter, including analysis provided by Wired Magazine, the NSA’s indiscriminate collection of such data would thereby allow the government to build a massive database to map connections and relationships between callers.



Published time: October 31, 2013 07:55

EU leaders are calling for the suspension of a trade pact with the US worth billions of dollars over NSA spying. The 28-nation bloc suspects the so-called ‘Safe Harbor’ deal is being undermined by US espionage and has demanded safeguards for EU citizens.

The EU’s top politicians have slammed Washington for a “breakdown of trust” and seek guarantees for the safety of EU customer data.

“For ambitious and complex negotiations to succeed there needs to be trust among the negotiating partners,” EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said Wednesday in a speech at Yale University.

The Safe Harbor agreement has been in place for 13 years and it allows over 4,300 American companies to collect and process sales, emails and photos from EU customers. In order for firms to be able to collate this information they have to comply with seven directives to prevent data loss and disclosure.

However, EU officials believe the system is flawed and can be manipulated by the NSA.

“If you look at the US legal environment, there is no adequate legal protection for EU citizens,” said the European Parliament’s leading data protection lawmaker Jan Philipp Albrecht after talks with officials in Washington.

In the light of the spy scandal the EU has threatened to suspend the treaty pending stipulated changes that would sure up security. EU leaders are expected to urge the US to strengthen its privacy laws to allow European citizen more control over how their private data is used.

If the ‘Safe Harbor’ pact is suspended it could have a massive knock-on effect, costing the US and EU billions of dollars in trade. Moreover, the pact allows US companies to get around the lengthy approval procedure by the European data protection authorities, without it some US firms would be forced to stop doing business in the EU.

“I don’t think the US government can be convinced by arguments or outrage alone, but by making it clear that American interests will suffer if this global surveillance is simply continued,” said Peter Schaar, the head of Germany’s data protection watchdog.



Free trade deal



If Washington fails to comply with the EU’s demands then it could further endanger a free trade deal which could add an estimated $138 billion a year to each economy’s gross domestic product.

Reding warned that if changes were not made to US privacy regulations, negotiations for the free trade agreement could easily be “derailed.”

Negotiations on the conditions of the transatlantic agreement are due to resume in December and a decision is likely to be reached by the end of the year.

The revelations of the NSA’s spying activities in Europe scandalized the 28-nation bloc. Security leaks released by former CIA worker Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA taps millions of phone calls across the continent and stores the collected information in its data banks.

Furthermore, the security disclosures indicate the NSA not only monitors citizens it suspects are involved in terrorism, but also businessmen and high-profile politicians.




By Gregor Waschinski october 31, 2013

Washington (United States) (AFP) - Europe and Washington traded spying accusations, as envoys met to seek ways to rebuild trust after shock revelations about the scale and scope of US surveillance of its allies.

A German intelligence delegation and a separate group of EU lawmakers were in the US capital to confront their American allies about the alleged bugging of Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.

And the visit coincided with the latest in a series of newspaper reports based on leaked National Security Agency files, this one alleging US agents hacked into cables used by Google and Yahoo.

President Barack Obama's spy chiefs are on the defensive over the reports, which have riled America's allies and exposed the vast scale of the NSA's snooping on telephone calls and Internet traffic.

The head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, repeated the administration's argument that all countries spy on one another, and said that the allies should discuss a new working relationship.

"I think this partnership with Europe is absolutely important," he said. "But it has to do with everybody coming to the table and let's put off all the sensationalism and say: 'Is there a better way for our countries to work together?'"

US intelligence chiefs have said these reports are based on a misinterpretation of an NSA slide leaked to the media by fugitive former intelligence technician Edward Snowden.

Rather than siphoning off the records of tens of millions of calls in Europe, as the slide seems to suggest, they argue that the data was in many cases gathered and shared by European agencies.

'Foreign nations spying on US'


"The perception that NSA is collecting 70 million phone calls in France or Spain or Italy is factually incorrect," Alexander said at a conference organized by Bloomberg media group.

"This is actually countries working together to support military operations, collecting what they need to protect our forces in areas where we work together as nations."


This argument, which Alexander and overall US spy chief James Clapper made on Tuesday before a Congressional committee, had already raised eyebrows in Europe.

French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, speaking after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Francois Hollande, said: "The NSA director's denials don't seem likely."

Germany, angered by the revelation that the NSA tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone, also issued a stern response, denying US claims that the European allies spy on US targets in turn.

Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament's committee on foreign affairs, told reporters that Alexander had admitted to an EU delegation that America had targeted Merkel.

The spy had shown the envoys evidence that much of the data from France, Spain and Germany referenced in the latest leaked slide had indeed been European intelligence shared with the NSA.

"This was given to the US by the French, Spanish or German authorities not spying on Germany, France or Spain, but on what was known in Afghanistan or Yemen," Brok said.


But Brok also noted that Alexander had confirmed at the same time that the NSA and other US intelligence services also "work unilaterally" in Europe, without the knowledge of their local partners.

Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said German officials and intelligence officers were in Washington to discuss "a new basis of trust and new regulation for our cooperation in this area."

"We are in a process of intensive contacts with US partners both at the intelligence as well as the political level," he said.

Meanwhile, a new report in the Washington Post alleged that NSA technicians had tapped into Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, winning access to vast amounts of private data.

The report said a program dubbed MUSCULAR, operated with the NSA's British counterpart GCHQ, can intercept data directly from the fiber-optic cables used by the US Internet giants.

The Post reported this is a secret program that is unlike PRISM, another NSA tool revealed by Snowden's leaks, which relies on secret court orders to obtain data from technology firms.


According to a document cited by the newspaper dated January 9, 2013, some 181 million records were collected in the prior 30 days, ranging from email metadata to text, audio and video content.

Alexander protested "to my knowledge, this never happened."

But a statement released later Wednesday by the NSA was somewhat more guarded and did not deny that foreign citizens' data is targeted.

"NSA has multiple authorities that it uses to accomplish its mission, which is centered on defending the nation," the statement said."NSA is...focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only."

And, in another embarrassing chapter for Washington, the United Nations said it had received an assurance that US agencies would not bug its secret communications in the future.

Conspicuously, the United States could not promise the world body it had not been spied upon in the past.





The NSA has far too much power to spy on innocent Americans without any meaningful oversight.
It's gotten so bad that even one of the original ultra-conservative authors of the Patriot Act, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, joined with progressive stalwart Rep. John Conyers and Senator Patrick Leahy in introducing a bipartisan NSA reform bill.
This bill, which they named the USA Freedom Act, would end the bulk collection of Americans' telephone records and provide a modest measure of needed transparency to the use of National Security Letters and other forms of warrantless wiretapping.
It's a good first step, and we need to show the House and the Senate that there’s popular support for Congress starting the process of restoring our constitutional rights.


Let's be clear. We support the full repeal of the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act. The only legislative vehicle for that is Rep. Rush Holt’s Surveillance State Repeal Act, which we will continue to fight for.
But until we succeed in repealing the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act, we should support anything that will start the process of reining in the NSA without making anything worse.
The Sensenbrenner-Leahy bill is a good move in that direction. It will at the very least stop the kind of bulk surveillance dragnets that allows the government to spy on millions of Americans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. And it will take a minor step toward transparency by allowing companies to disclose the number of requests they get from the government that force them to turn over the private information of their users and customers without a court order and under a gag.
It's important to note that this is far less than what we truly need to rein in the NSA. But it's a good start. The bill preserves much of the status quo. Let's remember, the problem of overbroad and unconstitutionally intrusive government surveillance is so vast that even the president didn't know that the U.S. was tapping the phones of allied world leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
But while the Sensenbrenner-Leahy bill is a good first step, the same cannot be said for the bill proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein, which in the name of reform would simply codify the ability of the government to spy on innocent Americans without doing anything to prevent the rampant abuses that have become routine practices of a rogue NSA and other intelligence agencies.
That's why we’re asking Congress to support Rep. Sensenbrenner and Sen. Leahy’s USA Freedom Act, and oppose Senator Feinstein’s sham bill which is meant to make the public think oversight is being strengthened over the NSA when there will be no meaningful reform established in the legislation.
Tell Congress: Rein in the NSA to stop its unconstitutional spying. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:
http://act.credoaction.com/go/2449?t=5&akid=9309.5084505.aOO89Q
Thank you for taking a stand against unconstitutional government spying.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager


October 28, 2013

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German newspaper said on Sunday that U.S. President Barack Obama knew his intelligence service was eavesdropping on Angela Merkel as long ago as 2010, contradicting reports that he had told the German leader he did not know.



Germany received information this week that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had bugged Merkel's mobile phone, prompting Berlin to summon the U.S. ambassador, a move unprecedented in post-war relations between the close allies.

Reuters was unable to confirm Sunday's news report. The NSA denied that Obama had been informed about the operation by the NSA chief in 2010, as reported by the German newspaper. But the agency did not comment directly on whether Obama knew about the bugging of Merkel's phone.

Both the White House and the German government declined comment.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the NSA ended the program that involved Merkel after the operation was uncovered in an Obama administration review that began this summer. The program also involved as many as 35 other world leaders, some of whom were still being monitored, according to the report, which was attributed to U.S. officials.

In response to the WSJ report, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden noted in a statement that Obama had ordered a review of U.S. surveillance capabilities.

"Through this review, led by the White House, the United States is reviewing the way that we gather intelligence to ensure that we properly account for the security concerns of our citizens and allies and the privacy concerns that all people share," Hayden said, adding that she was not in a position to discuss the details.

Citing a source in Merkel's office, some German media have reported that Obama apologized to Merkel when she called him on Wednesday, and told her that he would have stopped the bugging happening had he known about it.

But Bild am Sonntag, citing a "U.S. intelligence worker involved in the NSA operation against Merkel", said NSA chief General Keith Alexander informed Obama in person about it in 2010.

"Obama didn't stop the operation back then but let it continue," the mass-market paper quoted the source as saying.

The NSA said, however, that Alexander had never discussed any intelligence operations involving Merkel with Obama.

"(General) Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel", NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said in an emailed statement.

"News reports claiming otherwise are not true."

Bild am Sonntag said Obama in fact wanted more material on Merkel, and ordered the NSA to compile a "comprehensive dossier" on her. "Obama, according to the NSA man, did not trust Merkel and wanted to know everything about the German," the paper said.

White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to comment and reiterated the standard policy line that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.

Bild said the NSA had increased its surveillance, including the contents of Merkel's text messages and phone calls, on Obama's initiative and had started tapping a new, supposedly bug-proof mobile she acquired this summer, a sign the spying continued into the "recent past".

The NSA first eavesdropped on Merkel's predecessor Gerhard Schroeder after he refused to support President George W. Bush's war in Iraq and was extended when Merkel took over in 2005, the paper said.

Eighteen NSA staff working in the U.S. embassy, some 800 meters (yards) from Merkel's office, sent their findings straight to the White House, rather than to NSA headquarters, the paper said. Only Merkel's encrypted landline in her office in the Chancellery had not been tapped, it added.

Bild said some NSA officials were becoming annoyed with the White House for creating the impression that U.S. spies had gone beyond what they had been ordered to do.

BREACH OF TRUST

Merkel has said she uses one mobile phone and that all state-related calls are made from encrypted lines.

The rift over U.S. surveillance activities first emerged this year with reports that Washington had bugged European Union offices and tapped half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month.

Merkel's government said in August - just weeks before a German election - that the United States had given sufficient assurances it was complying with German law.

This week's news has reignited criticism of the U.S. surveillance. Volker Kauder, head of Merkel's party in parliament, called it a "grave breach of trust" and said the United States should drop its "global power demeanor".

Kauder said, however, that he was against halting negotiations on a European free trade agreement with the United States, a call made by Social Democrats and some of Merkel's Bavarian allies.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told Bild am Sonntag: "Bugging is a crime and those responsible for it must be held to account."

The Social Democrats, with whom Merkel is holding talks to form a new government, have joined calls from two smaller opposition parties for a parliamentary investigation into the U.S. surveillance, but Kauder has rejected the idea.

SPD parliamentary whip Thomas Oppermann said former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked many of the sensitive documents, could be called as a witness. Snowden is living in Russia, out of reach of U.S. attempts to arrest him.

(Reporting by Annika Breidthardt; Additional reporting by Anna Yukhananov in Washington; Editing by Robin Pomeroy, Alistair Lyon, Christopher Wilson and Paul Simao)


By John O'Donnell and Luke Baker
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded on Thursday that the United States strike a "no-spying" agreement with Berlin and Paris by the end of the year, saying alleged espionage against two of Washington's closest EU allies had to be stopped.


Speaking after talks with EU leaders that were dominated by allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency had accessed tens of thousands of French phone records and monitored Merkel's private mobile phone, the chancellor said she wanted action from President Barack Obama, not just apologetic words.
Germany and France would seek a "mutual understanding" with the United States on cooperation between their intelligence agencies, and other EU member states could eventually take part.
"That means a framework for cooperation between the relevant (intelligence) services. Germany and France have taken the initiative and other member states will join," she said.
In a statement issued after the first day of the summit, the EU's 28 leaders said they supported the Franco-German plan.
Merkel first raised the possibility of a "no-spying" agreement with Obama during a visit to Berlin in June this year, but nothing came of it. The latest revelations, part of the vast leaks made by former U.S. data analyst Edward Snowden, would appear to have renewed her determination for a pact.
The United States has a "no-spying" deal with Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, an alliance known as "Five Eyes" that was struck in the aftermath of World War Two.
But there has traditionally been a reluctance to make similar arrangements with other allies, despite the close relations that the United States and Germany now enjoy.
Merkel said an accord with Washington was long overdue, given the shared experiences the countries face.
"We are in Afghanistan together. Our soldiers experience life threatening situations. They sometimes die in the same battles," she said.
"The friendship and partnership between the European member states, including Germany, and the United States is not a one-way street. We depend on it. But there are good reasons that the United States also needs friends in the world."
COLLECTIVE ANGER
As EU leaders arrived for the two-day summit there was near-universal condemnation of the alleged activities by the NSA, particularly the monitoring of Merkel's mobile phone, a sensitive issue for a woman who grew up in East Germany, living under the Stasi police force and its feared eavesdropping.
Some senior German officials, and the German president of the European Parliament, have called for talks between the EU and United States on a free-trade agreement, which began in July, to be suspended because of the spying allegations.
Merkel, whose country is one of the world's leading exporters and stands to gain from any trade deal with Washington, said that was not the right path to take, saying the best way forward was to rebuild trust.
The series of Snowden-based leaks over the past three months have left Washington at odds with a host of important allies, from Brazil to Saudi Arabia, and there are few signs that the revelations are going to dry up anytime soon.
Britain's Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday that one NSA contact, a U.S. official, had provided the telephone numbers of 35 world leaders that had then been monitored.
As well as raising questions about the EU-US trade negotiations, the spying furor could also have an impact on data-privacy legislation working its way through the EU.
The European Parliament this week backed legislation, proposed by the European Commission in early 2012, that would greatly toughen EU data protection rules dating from 1995.
The new rules would restrict how data collected in Europe by firms such as Google and Facebook is shared with non-EU countries, introduce the right of EU citizens to request that their digital traces be erased, and impose fines of 100 million euros ($138 million) or more on rule breakers.
The United States is concerned the regulations, if they enter into law, will raise the cost of handling data in Europe. Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and others have lobbied hard against the proposals.
Given the spying accusations, France and Germany - the two most influential countries in EU policy - may succeed in getting member states to push ahead on negotiations with the parliament to complete the new data regulations by 2015.
For the United States, it could substantially change how data privacy rules are implemented globally.
(Additional reporting by Madeline Chambers and Noah Barkin in Berlin, Julien Ponthus, Robin Emmott and John O'Donnell in Brussels and Alexandria Sage in Paris; Editing by Will Waterman)



NSA revelations made Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner reach out to Brazil to improve their cyber defense. Countries in the region are now paying attention to this project in order to develop their own email systems: specifically designed for those who don’t want Google and Yahoo accounts which allow US intelligence in. That is open retaliation, but much more might happen behind closed doors. American presence is still important; but now that China’s star is rising rapidly as Latin America’s trade partner, the pressure is on the US.

NSA Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Office

Published time: November 18, 2013 17:37

The number of Freedom of Information Act requests filed with the National Security Agency has increased by 888 percent this fiscal year, according to USA Today, indicating an even broader interest exists in the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs.

The newspaper reported on Monday that the amount of FOIA requests received by the NSA has surged exponentially in recent months, particularly after former contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden began releasing classified internal documents in June detailing the agency’s lesser-known intelligence gathering operations.

“Fueled by the Edward Snowden scandal, more Americans than ever are asking the National Security Agency if their personal life is being spied on,” Yamiche Alcindor wrote for USA Today.

Indeed, the thousands of FOIA requests filed by Americans since June far outnumber the mere hundreds that it received annually in previous years.

According to Alcindor, the NSA only received 257 FOIA requests during the last fiscal year. Shortly after the first Snowden leak appeared on June 6, however, the agency became flooded with 1,302 requests almost immediately. During the following three months, the paper reported, the NSA received 2,538 requests, the likes of which have inundated the government staffers tasked with responding for the open records requests.

Pamela Phillips, the chief of the NSA Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Office, told the paper that «This was the largest spike we’ve ever had.»

«We’ve had requests from individuals who want any records we have on their phone calls, their phone numbers, their e-mail addresses, their IP addresses, anything like that,” Phillips said.

Unfortunately for those thousands of Americans, however, the NSA isn’t being all that helpful. Even though the NSA is experiencing thousands of similar requests from Americans wanting to know if and how they’ve been targeted, the agency has been responding by refusing to admit what kind of intelligence, if any, it’s collected.

Thirty-five-year-old Joel Watts of West Virginia told the paper that he sent a request but was told in response that the NSA couldn’t say if they had any information on him.

«It’s a sign of disrespect to American citizens and the democratic process,” Watts, a health and safety administrator, told the paper. «I should have the right to know if I’m being surveyed if there’s no criminal procedures in process.»

That isn’t to say that the NSA is only now refusing to honor those requests, however. In August, Kevin Collier wrote for The Daily Dot that he filed a FOIA request with the agency for information on himself and was given a nearly identical response. Collier was quick to file a request shortly after Mr. Snowden first revealed proof of the NSA’s ever-expanding spy apparatus in June, only to be told by the NSA several weeks later that details about the agency’s programs cannot be discussed publically in order “to prevent harm to the national security of the United States.»

«[Y]our request is denied because the fact of the existence or non-existence of responsive records is a currently and properly classified matter,» the agency wrote him.

«Our adversaries are likely to evaluate all public responses related to these programs,» the NSA said at the time to Collier. «Were we to provide positive or negative responses to requests such as yours, our adversaries’ compilation of the information provided would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.»

Months later, the NSA is apparently still giving concerned Americans the same runaround.

«We know we’re dealing with frustrated people and people who are upset by what they’re hearing,» Phillips explained to USA Today, «But that’s the only response that we’re able to provide them on that topic.»

«People are legitimately troubled by the idea that the government is monitoring and collecting information about their e-mail traffic, phone calls and who knows what else,» chimed in Anne Weismann, a chief counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. «There is a growing sense of horror every time there is a new report about the data.»


It’s outrageous and profoundly chilling. British authorities detained the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the NSA spying scandal by publishing documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden in the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
David Miranda was flying to the home he shares in Brazil with journalist Glenn Greenwald after visiting Laura Poitras in Berlin. Poitras, an American filmmaker, has been working with Greenwald to produce reporting on the NSA’s secret domestic spying programs. He was carrying flash drives containing documents that were part of the investigative reporting by Greenwald and Poitras.1
Normally British authorities need probable cause to detain someone for hours at Heathrow airport in London, deny them access to an attorney and confiscate their belongings. But not if they say you are suspected of being involved in terrorism.
That’s just what happened to Miranda. He was detained under Schedule 7 of the British Terrorism Act and held for nearly nine hours — the maximum allowed without levying charges. When anti-terrorism powers are invoked, Schedule 7 allows British authorities to stop and search anyone without warrant or reasonable suspicion. Miranda was eventually released but his cellphone, flash drives and computers were confiscated.
Tell the UK: Journalists are not terrorists. Detaining their family members is unacceptable. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
Said Greenwald in reaction, «This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It’s bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It’s worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic.»2
The New York Times reports that Miranda was carrying as of yet unpublished documents from the Snowden trove of NSA evidence from Poitras back to Greenwald. He was clearly not targeted because he was a suspected terrorist — but rather because he was linked to investigative journalists working to expose the unconstitutional spying programs at NSA. But he was detained under a law intended to stop terrorism — a law that permits authorities to deny him access to a lawyer and take his possessions without a court order.
In the wake of the incident, Amnesty International charged, «It is utterly improbable that David Michael Miranda, a Brazilian national transiting through London, was detained at random, given the role his partner has played in revealing the truth about the unlawful nature of NSA surveillance… The only possible intent behind this detention was to harass him and his partner, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for his role in analyzing the data released by Edward Snowden.»3
Tell the UK: Journalists are not terrorists. Stop the war on journalists. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
This is not an isolated incident. There is an escalating war on journalists and whistleblowers in the U.S. who are increasingly threatened with prosecution by the current administration for investigating the executive branch. 4 And now the British authorities are taking a leading role by using anti-terror laws to suppress the exercise of a free press.
The uncovering of a far-reaching domestic spy operation only underscores the need for a strong and independent press to help expose abuses of power at the highest levels of our government and give the public the information we need to hold our government accountable to the Constitution.
It should never be allowed in a democracy to use the security apparatus to intimidate and harass a journalist investigating government abuse. And the UK’s targeting of a journalist’s spouse under the guise of an anti-terrorism investigation is clearly an escalation of the security state’s war on journalism.
Americans need to send a direct message to British officials who may be acting in coordination with U.S. military and intelligence agencies that this is unacceptable. We’ll deliver your signatures directly to Sir Peter Westmacott, the British Ambassador to the U.S., Philip Barton, Deputy Head of Mission to the U.S., and Major General Buster Howes, the Defence Attache to the U.S. at the British embassy in Washington, DC.
Thank you for standing up for a free and independent press.
Becky Bond, Politcal Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets


Edward Snowden, 29, is described by the paper as an ex-CIA technical assistant, currently employed by defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

The Guardian said his identity was being revealed at his own request.

The recent revelations are that US agencies gathered millions of phone records and monitored internet data.

A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the matter had now been referred to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.

In a statement, Booz Allen Hamilton confirmed Mr Snowden had been an employee for less than three months.

«If accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm,» the statement said.


The US National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The newspaper published what it said was a secret court order directing the Verizon company to hand over data on its customers on an «ongoing» basis.

Civil liberties groups said the details of the report were «stunning».

The White House broadly defended the practice as a «critical» security tool but did not confirm the report.

US authorities need the information to protect the nation from terrorist threats, a senior Obama administration official told the BBC.



Published time: November 18, 2013 17:37
The number of Freedom of Information Act requests filed with the National Security Agency has increased by 888 percent this fiscal year, according to USA Today, indicating an even broader interest exists in the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs.



The newspaper reported on Monday that the amount of FOIA requests received by the NSA has surged exponentially in recent months, particularly after former contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden began releasing classified internal documents in June detailing the agency’s lesser-known intelligence gathering operations.

“Fueled by the Edward Snowden scandal, more Americans than ever are asking the National Security Agency if their personal life is being spied on,” Yamiche Alcindor wrote for USA Today.

Indeed, the thousands of FOIA requests filed by Americans since June far outnumber the mere hundreds that it received annually in previous years.

According to Alcindor, the NSA only received 257 FOIA requests during the last fiscal year. Shortly after the first Snowden leak appeared on June 6, however, the agency became flooded with 1,302 requests almost immediately. During the following three months, the paper reported, the NSA received 2,538 requests, the likes of which have inundated the government staffers tasked with responding for the open records requests.

Pamela Phillips, the chief of the NSA Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Office, told the paper that "This was the largest spike we've ever had."

"We've had requests from individuals who want any records we have on their phone calls, their phone numbers, their e-mail addresses, their IP addresses, anything like that,” Phillips said.

Unfortunately for those thousands of Americans, however, the NSA isn’t being all that helpful. Even though the NSA is experiencing thousands of similar requests from Americans wanting to know if and how they’ve been targeted, the agency has been responding by refusing to admit what kind of intelligence, if any, it’s collected.

Thirty-five-year-old Joel Watts of West Virginia told the paper that he sent a request but was told in response that the NSA couldn’t say if they had any information on him.

"It's a sign of disrespect to American citizens and the democratic process,” Watts, a health and safety administrator, told the paper. "I should have the right to know if I'm being surveyed if there's no criminal procedures in process."

That isn’t to say that the NSA is only now refusing to honor those requests, however. In August, Kevin Collier wrote for The Daily Dot that he filed a FOIA request with the agency for information on himself and was given a nearly identical response. Collier was quick to file a request shortly after Mr. Snowden first revealed proof of the NSA’s ever-expanding spy apparatus in June, only to be told by the NSA several weeks later that details about the agency’s programs cannot be discussed publically in order “to prevent harm to the national security of the United States."

"[Y]our request is denied because the fact of the existence or non-existence of responsive records is a currently and properly classified matter," the agency wrote him.

"Our adversaries are likely to evaluate all public responses related to these programs," the NSA said at the time to Collier. "Were we to provide positive or negative responses to requests such as yours, our adversaries' compilation of the information provided would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security."

Months later, the NSA is apparently still giving concerned Americans the same runaround.

"We know we're dealing with frustrated people and people who are upset by what they're hearing," Phillips explained to USA Today, "But that's the only response that we're able to provide them on that topic."

"People are legitimately troubled by the idea that the government is monitoring and collecting information about their e-mail traffic, phone calls and who knows what else," chimed in Anne Weismann, a chief counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "There is a growing sense of horror every time there is a new report about the data."


It's outrageous and profoundly chilling. British authorities detained the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the NSA spying scandal by publishing documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden in the UK's Guardian newspaper.
David Miranda was flying to the home he shares in Brazil with journalist Glenn Greenwald after visiting Laura Poitras in Berlin. Poitras, an American filmmaker, has been working with Greenwald to produce reporting on the NSA's secret domestic spying programs. He was carrying flash drives containing documents that were part of the investigative reporting by Greenwald and Poitras.1
Normally British authorities need probable cause to detain someone for hours at Heathrow airport in London, deny them access to an attorney and confiscate their belongings. But not if they say you are suspected of being involved in terrorism.
That's just what happened to Miranda. He was detained under Schedule 7 of the British Terrorism Act and held for nearly nine hours -- the maximum allowed without levying charges. When anti-terrorism powers are invoked, Schedule 7 allows British authorities to stop and search anyone without warrant or reasonable suspicion. Miranda was eventually released but his cellphone, flash drives and computers were confiscated.
Tell the UK: Journalists are not terrorists. Detaining their family members is unacceptable. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
Said Greenwald in reaction, "This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It's bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It's worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic."2
The New York Times reports that Miranda was carrying as of yet unpublished documents from the Snowden trove of NSA evidence from Poitras back to Greenwald. He was clearly not targeted because he was a suspected terrorist -- but rather because he was linked to investigative journalists working to expose the unconstitutional spying programs at NSA. But he was detained under a law intended to stop terrorism -- a law that permits authorities to deny him access to a lawyer and take his possessions without a court order.
In the wake of the incident, Amnesty International charged, "It is utterly improbable that David Michael Miranda, a Brazilian national transiting through London, was detained at random, given the role his partner has played in revealing the truth about the unlawful nature of NSA surveillance… The only possible intent behind this detention was to harass him and his partner, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for his role in analyzing the data released by Edward Snowden."3
Tell the UK: Journalists are not terrorists. Stop the war on journalists. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
This is not an isolated incident. There is an escalating war on journalists and whistleblowers in the U.S. who are increasingly threatened with prosecution by the current administration for investigating the executive branch. 4 And now the British authorities are taking a leading role by using anti-terror laws to suppress the exercise of a free press.
The uncovering of a far-reaching domestic spy operation only underscores the need for a strong and independent press to help expose abuses of power at the highest levels of our government and give the public the information we need to hold our government accountable to the Constitution.
It should never be allowed in a democracy to use the security apparatus to intimidate and harass a journalist investigating government abuse. And the UK's targeting of a journalist's spouse under the guise of an anti-terrorism investigation is clearly an escalation of the security state's war on journalism.
Americans need to send a direct message to British officials who may be acting in coordination with U.S. military and intelligence agencies that this is unacceptable. We'll deliver your signatures directly to Sir Peter Westmacott, the British Ambassador to the U.S., Philip Barton, Deputy Head of Mission to the U.S., and Major General Buster Howes, the Defence Attache to the U.S. at the British embassy in Washington, DC.
Thank you for standing up for a free and independent press.
Becky Bond, Politcal Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets





Edward Snowden, 29, is described by the paper as an ex-CIA technical assistant, currently employed by defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

The Guardian said his identity was being revealed at his own request.

The recent revelations are that US agencies gathered millions of phone records and monitored internet data.

A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the matter had now been referred to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.

In a statement, Booz Allen Hamilton confirmed Mr Snowden had been an employee for less than three months.
"If accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm," the statement said.




The US National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The newspaper published what it said was a secret court order directing the Verizon company to hand over data on its customers on an "ongoing" basis.

Civil liberties groups said the details of the report were "stunning".

The White House broadly defended the practice as a "critical" security tool but did not confirm the report.

US authorities need the information to protect the nation from terrorist threats, a senior Obama administration official told the BBC.

Berners Lee warns against abuse of privacy

Published on Nov 22, 2013 The inventor of the world wide web -Sir Tim Berners Lee – has revealed his league table of how different countries use and abuse the internet around the world

Published on Nov 22, 2013

The inventor of the world wide web -Sir Tim Berners Lee – has revealed his league table of how different countries use and abuse the internet around the world

Google Privacy Policy

We’re getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google. We believe this stuff matters, so please take a few […]

We’re getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.
We believe this stuff matters, so please take a few minutes to read our updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Service at http://www.google.com/policies. These changes will take effect on March 1, 2012.
Got questions?
We’ve got answers.
Visit our FAQ at http://www.google.com/policies/faq to read more about the changes. (We figured our users might have a question or twenty-two.)

States Move on Privacy Law

Over two dozen privacy laws have passed this year in more than 10 states, in places as different as Oklahoma and California.
For Internet companies, the patchwork of rules across the country means keeping a close eye on evolving laws to avoid overstepping.

For companies, it helps that state measures are limited in their scope by a federal law that prevents states from interfering with interstate commerce.
Some of the bills extend to surveillance beyond the web. Eight states, for example, have passed laws this year limiting the use of drones, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which has advocated such privacy laws. In Florida, a lawmaker has drafted a bill that would prohibit schools from collecting biometric data to verify who gets free lunches and who gets off at which bus stop. Vermont has limited the use of data collected by license plate readers, which are used mostly by police to record images of license plates.
California, long a pioneer on digital privacy laws, has passed three online privacy bills this year. One gives children the right to erase social media posts, another makes it a misdemeanor to publish identifiable nude pictures online without the subject’s permission, and a third requires companies to tell consumers whether they abide by “do not track” signals on web browsers.
But stiff lobbying efforts were able to stop a so-called right to know bill proposed in California this year that stood to hurt the online industry. The bill would have required any business that “retains a customer’s personal information” to share a copy of that information at the customer’s request, as well as disclose which third parties have received the information. The practice of sharing customer data is central to digital advertising and to the large Internet companies that rely on advertising revenue.
“ ‘Right to know’ is an example of something that’s not workable,” said Jim Halpert, a lawyer with the national firm DLA Piper, who leads an industry coalition that includes Amazon, Facebook and Verizon. “It covers such a broad range of disclosures. We advocated against it.”
According to a survey conducted in July by the Pew Internet Center, most Americans said they believed that existing laws were inadequate to protect their privacy online, and a clear majority reported making great efforts to mask their identities online. Some of those surveyed said they cleared browsing histories, deleted social media posts or used virtual networks to conceal their Internet Protocol addresses — and a few even said they used encryption tools.
Many states have already responded to those opinions. In the last couple of years, about 10 states have passed laws restricting employers from demanding access to their employees’ social media accounts.
California set the stage on digital privacy 10 years ago with a law that required organizations, whether public or private, to inform consumers if their personal data had been breached or stolen. Several states followed, and today, nearly every state has a data breach notification law.

Social Media Surveillance

Published time: October 04, 2013 00:47

Improved surveillance, takedown of opposition websites for “illegal content” and paid pro-government commentators are among the increasingly sophisticated tools used by authorities to restrict internet freedom, a new report claims.
The 2013 Freedom on the Net report, compiled by non-profit Freedom House, says that 34 out of the 60 countries it surveyed suffered a falloff in internet freedom over the past year.

Iran, Cuba, China and Syria were ranked as countries with the greatest restrictions. China, which blocks millions of websites and employs thousands-strong armies of censors, “led the way in expanding an elaborate technological apparatus for system internet censorship, while further increasing offline coercion and arrests to deter freedom of expression online.”

Iceland, Estonia and Germany took the podium places in the ranking, followed by the United States.

Nonetheless, the US was castigated for a “troubling decline” in internet freedom, largely as a result of wide-ranging surveillance practices revealed through Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks.

Critics have raised concern that the secret NSA programs may violate the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects people inside the US (citizens and non-citizens alike) from unreasonable search and seizure, as well as human rights enshrined in international agreements,” stated the report.
In 35 of the 60 countries examined, the government has “either obtained more sophisticated surveillance technology, increased the scope of people monitored, or passed a new law giving it greater monitoring authority.”


Researchers from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands have condemned the United States for allowing the controversial Patriot Act to bypass foreign laws and let Americans intercept data from persons internationally.

In a just published study, Cloud Computing in Higher Education and Research Institutions and the USA Patriot Act, researchers from the school’s Institute for Information Law say that legislation enacted to allegedly protect the security of US citizens has in the process eroded privacy protections on a global scale.
As more and more companies and individuals across the world begin relying on cloud computing to store information digitally on remote servers, the Dutch researchers warn that the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allow for those files to be fed into the US intelligence community, disregarding privacy safeguards in place for others around the globe.


Britain’s so-called «snooper’s charter» bill is heating up debates among MPs as parliamentary reports on it are being prepared. The bill’s initiator has just released an emotional verbal offensive against the opponents, equaling them to criminals. READ MORE


The FBI has got tired of monitoring social media sites manually and wants to reinvent the process. So, soon your posts may instantly light up on a map as a big red dot if considered suspicious, marking the location of the ‘bad actor.’

­»Social media has become a primary source of intelligence because it has become the premier first response to key events and the primal alert to possible developing situations,» says the Request for Information published by FBI on January 19.

The FBI’s ‘market research’ shows that the bureau is planning to monitor all ‘publicly available’ data on social media sites through a new game-changing system.

The bureau is looking for a company which is interested in and capable of building such a system and has published a list of requirements for it.

The enquiry says that the system should provide an automated search and scrape capability of both social networking sites and open source news sites for breaking events, crises, and threats that meet the search parameters defined by the FBI.

It should also be capable of automated filtering of the data and of providing the operator with instant notification of breaking events and emerging threats.

The FBI places strong emphasis on the fact that the system should access only ‘publicly available’ data, taking every occurrence of this phrase in quotes throughout the whole document.

But most people do not realize that the data they are sharing with their friends on social networking sites is in fact publicly available.

The average user believes that only a narrow circle of close friends and relatives are reading his or her blog, and this gives them «the sense of freedom to say what they want without worrying too much about recourse,» says Jennifer Lynch at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as cited by newscientist.com. «But these tools that mine open source data and presumably store it for a very long time do away with that kind of privacy. I worry about the effect of that on free speech in the US.»

All the collected data will be stored in the FBI database and conveniently displayed on a map upon request (by the way, FBI prefers Google, ESRI, and Yahoo maps to any other service). Of course the functionality of the map will be increased beyond the limits set for the common user.

The interactive map will have additional layers, such as US domestic and worldwide terror data, US embassies and military installations around the world, weather conditions and forecasts, and video feeds from surveillance and traffic cameras.

The revelation of the FBI’s ‘market research’ raises even more concerns about the aspects of private data safety on the Internet, as more and more data about the users is being collected and stored – for different reasons – in numerous databases around the globe.

Collecting the information in not a challenge anymore, but analyzing the data is. But there are companies, for example Google, which can crack such a problem.

Recently Google announced plans to bring all data collected from users’ separate accounts on its sites into a combined profile. Google is seeking ways of creating a simpler product experience and providing better services to its clients. But that move has triggered a lot of outrage and raised more questions about privacy on the Internet.

Published time: October 04, 2013 00:47


Improved surveillance, takedown of opposition websites for “illegal content” and paid pro-government commentators are among the increasingly sophisticated tools used by authorities to restrict internet freedom, a new report claims.
The 2013 Freedom on the Net report, compiled by non-profit Freedom House, says that 34 out of the 60 countries it surveyed suffered a falloff in internet freedom over the past year.

Iran, Cuba, China and Syria were ranked as countries with the greatest restrictions. China, which blocks millions of websites and employs thousands-strong armies of censors, “led the way in expanding an elaborate technological apparatus for system internet censorship, while further increasing offline coercion and arrests to deter freedom of expression online.”

Iceland, Estonia and Germany took the podium places in the ranking, followed by the United States.

Nonetheless, the US was castigated for a “troubling decline” in internet freedom, largely as a result of wide-ranging surveillance practices revealed through Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks.

Critics have raised concern that the secret NSA programs may violate the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects people inside the US (citizens and non-citizens alike) from unreasonable search and seizure, as well as human rights enshrined in international agreements,” stated the report.
In 35 of the 60 countries examined, the government has “either obtained more sophisticated surveillance technology, increased the scope of people monitored, or passed a new law giving it greater monitoring authority.”




Researchers from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands have condemned the United States for allowing the controversial Patriot Act to bypass foreign laws and let Americans intercept data from persons internationally.


In a just published study, Cloud Computing in Higher Education and Research Institutions and the USA Patriot Act, researchers from the school’s Institute for Information Law say that legislation enacted to allegedly protect the security of US citizens has in the process eroded privacy protections on a global scale.
As more and more companies and individuals across the world begin relying on cloud computing to store information digitally on remote servers, the Dutch researchers warn that the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allow for those files to be fed into the US intelligence community, disregarding privacy safeguards in place for others around the globe.





Britain's so-called "snooper's charter" bill is heating up debates among MPs as parliamentary reports on it are being prepared. The bill's initiator has just released an emotional verbal offensive against the opponents, equaling them to criminals. READ MORE





The FBI has got tired of monitoring social media sites manually and wants to reinvent the process. So, soon your posts may instantly light up on a map as a big red dot if considered suspicious, marking the location of the ‘bad actor.’

­"Social media has become a primary source of intelligence because it has become the premier first response to key events and the primal alert to possible developing situations," says the Request for Information published by FBI on January 19.

The FBI’s ‘market research’ shows that the bureau is planning to monitor all ‘publicly available’ data on social media sites through a new game-changing system.

The bureau is looking for a company which is interested in and capable of building such a system and has published a list of requirements for it.

The enquiry says that the system should provide an automated search and scrape capability of both social networking sites and open source news sites for breaking events, crises, and threats that meet the search parameters defined by the FBI.

It should also be capable of automated filtering of the data and of providing the operator with instant notification of breaking events and emerging threats.

The FBI places strong emphasis on the fact that the system should access only ‘publicly available’ data, taking every occurrence of this phrase in quotes throughout the whole document.

But most people do not realize that the data they are sharing with their friends on social networking sites is in fact publicly available.

The average user believes that only a narrow circle of close friends and relatives are reading his or her blog, and this gives them "the sense of freedom to say what they want without worrying too much about recourse," says Jennifer Lynch at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as cited by newscientist.com. "But these tools that mine open source data and presumably store it for a very long time do away with that kind of privacy. I worry about the effect of that on free speech in the US."

All the collected data will be stored in the FBI database and conveniently displayed on a map upon request (by the way, FBI prefers Google, ESRI, and Yahoo maps to any other service). Of course the functionality of the map will be increased beyond the limits set for the common user.

The interactive map will have additional layers, such as US domestic and worldwide terror data, US embassies and military installations around the world, weather conditions and forecasts, and video feeds from surveillance and traffic cameras.

The revelation of the FBI’s ‘market research’ raises even more concerns about the aspects of private data safety on the Internet, as more and more data about the users is being collected and stored – for different reasons – in numerous databases around the globe.

Collecting the information in not a challenge anymore, but analyzing the data is. But there are companies, for example Google, which can crack such a problem.

Recently Google announced plans to bring all data collected from users’ separate accounts on its sites into a combined profile. Google is seeking ways of creating a simpler product experience and providing better services to its clients. But that move has triggered a lot of outrage and raised more questions about privacy on the Internet.

David Petraeus

The email accounts of Generals David Petraeus and John Allen aren’t the only ones being targeted by the feds. Google has released its bi-annual transparency report and says that the government’s demands for personal data is at an all-time high.

Internet giant Google published statistics from their latest analysis of requests from governments around the globe this week, and the findings show that it is hardly just the inboxes of the Pentagon’s top-brass that are being put under the microscope. Details pertaining to nearly 8,000 Google and Gmail accounts have been ordered by Uncle Sam during just the first six months of the year, and figures from the periods before suggest that things aren’t about to get any better for those wishing to protect their privacy.

“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise,” Google acknowledges in a blog post published Tuesday, November 13.

From January through June, the US government filed more than 16,000 requests for user data from Google on as many as 7,969 individual accounts, the report shows.

The Silicon Valley company notes that “The number of requests we receive for user account information as part of criminal investigations has increased year after year,” but says that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the government that’s ramping up the acceleration into a full-blown surveillance state. According to Google’s take, “The increase isn’t surprising, since each year we offer more products and services, and we have a larger number of users.”

For all of those requests in the US, Google says they complied with the government’s demands 90 percent of the time; but while it seems like a high number, that figure actually constitutes the smallest success rate the feds have had since Google began tracking these numbers in 2010. In a separate report published earlier this year by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the San Francisco-based advocacy group awarded Google high praise for doing more than other industry titans in terms of letting feds force them into handing over information without good reason, citing specifically their efforts — albeit unsuccessfully — in handing over user info to the Justice Department during the start of its ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks.

Of the 20,938 user data request sent from governments around the globe, the United States came in first with the number of demands at 7,969, with India at a distant second with 2,319 requests. The US government’s success rate in terms of getting that information trumps most every other country, however, with full or partial compliance on the part of Google rarely exceeding 70 percent.

Elsewhere in the report, Google says it’s more than just surveillance of individual users that is on the rise. The US has also been adamant with censoring the Web, writing Google five times between January and June to take down YouTube videos critical of government, law enforcement or public officials. In regards to the five pleas to delete seven offending videos, Google says, “We did not remove content in response to these requests.”

The company was more willing to side with authorities in other cases, though, admitting to taking down 1,664 posts from a Google Groups community after a court order asked for the removal of 1,754 on the basis of “a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family.” Google also followed through with around one-third of the requests to remove search results that linked to websites that allegedly defamed organizations and individuals (223 of the 641 pleas) and say “the number of content removal requests we received increased by 46% compared to the previous reporting period.”

According to the report, Google only received one request from the US government to remove a video from YouTube on the grounds of ensuring “national security” but does not disclose the results of that plea. No further information is available in the report as to what the government demanded removed, but in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi originally blamed by many on an anti-Islamic video clip linked to a California man, Google rejected demands from the US to delete the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ from YouTube.

That isn’t to say that Washington is responsible for the bulk of the demands that end up on the desks of Google’s administrators. The report notes Google has received requests to remove search results that link to sites that host alleged copyright-infringing content more than 8 million times in just the last month, with more than 32,000 websites being singled out by the materials’ respective owners. Taking into account the last year and a half, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) — the largest trade-group representing the US music industry — asked Google to stop linking to roughly 4.5 million URLs that they say hosted illegal content.

Last month, the Supreme Court heard arguments to decide whether or not a case can go forth that will challenge the FISA Amendment Act of 2008, an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that allows the government to eavesdrop on emails sent as long as one of the persons involved is suspected of being out of the country. When asked earlier in the year to give an estimate of how many Americans have their electronic communications wiretapped by the National Security Administration, the inspector general of the NSA declined to issue a response, even to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

According to statements made by NSA whistleblower Bill Binney at the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference in New York this year, the US government is “pulling together all the data about virtually every US citizen in the country and assembling that information, building communities that you have relationships with, and knowledge about you; what your activities are; what you’re doing.»


US President Barack Obama has backed a senior general, despite reports that he exchanged «flirtatious» emails with Florida socialite Jill Kelley.

Spokesman Jay Carney said Mr Obama had «faith» in Gen John Allen, chosen to be the next Nato commander in Europe.

Harassment allegations by Mrs Kelley helped unmask an affair between CIA Director David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell.

Gen Petraeus resigned on Friday. Gen Allen says he has done nothing wrong.

«I can tell you that the president thinks very highly of Gen Allen and his service to his country, as well as the job he has done in Afghanistan,» spokesman Jay Carney said, in the first White House reaction since Gen Petraeus quit.

He has great confidence in the acting CIA director, the secretary of defence and the defence department to carry out the missions he has asked of them”

He added that President Barack Obama was «very happy» with Gen Allen’s service and record.

Mr Carney also asked reporters «not to extrapolate too broadly» about whether the cases involving Gen Petraeus and Gen Allen suggested a wider cultural problem within the US military.

«He has great confidence in the acting CIA director, the secretary of defence and the defence department to carry out the missions he has asked of them,» Mr Carney added.

Nomination on hold

The Pentagon says 20-30,000 pages of Gen Allen’s documents are being examined, with officials saying they contain «potentially inappropriate» emails between the general and Mrs Kelley over the past two years.

An anonymous senior US official who has read the emails told the Associated Press that the exchanges were relatively innocuous, even though they might be construed as unprofessional and flirty.

The official said the emails included pet names such as «sweetheart» and «dear», but did not suggest an affair or the exchange of classified information.

Gen Allen, 58, took over command of coalition forces in Afghanistan after David Petraeus moved to the CIA in 2011.

Currently commanding 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan, Gen Allen was due to face a confirmation hearing in the US Senate on Thursday for his new role as supreme commander of Nato forces in Europe.

That hearing has now been suspended at the request of Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.


Michael Hastings, the journalist behind the Rolling Stone article which resulted in McChrystal’s ouster, recently wrote for Buzzfeed that spin was crucial to the Iraqi surge: “he [Petraeus] pulled off what is perhaps the most impressive con job in recent American history. He convinced the entire Washington establishment that we won the war.”

Hastings characterized the policy as playing both sides in a civil war,
a policy which resulted in the death of 800 American soldiers and exponentially more Iraqis.

The sectarian fault lines resulting from this policy have left Iraq a powder keg waiting to go off. But it doesn’t matter as far as the target audience is concerned.

Quoting Petraeus’ 1987 Princeton dissertation, Hastings summed up the general’s professional philosophy:

«What policymakers believe to have taken place in any particular case is what matters — more than what actually occurred.»

In that light, the fall of Petraeus coincides with the one tragedy he managed where the perception and what actually occurred intersected: Benghazi.

During the Vice Presidential Debate in October, Joe Biden was accused of throwing the CIA under the bus by insinuating the agency had provided faulty intelligence regarding the 9/11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi which resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three members of his diplomatic mission.

The defrocking of Petraeus came one step closer on November 1, when it was revealed that Hillary Clinton called Petraeus the night of the attack asking for help that never came. While the “State Department believed it had a formal agreement with the CIA to provide backup security,»»the CIA didn’t have the same understanding about its security responsibilities,» the Wall Street Journal reported.

The writing was on the wall. Petraeus was set to testify in closed-door sessions before the intelligence committees of the Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday, and with the White House’s less than glowing review of his performance, he would have had a venue to vindicate himself.

That “one of the greatest generals in a generation” resigned five days before speaking out has only spurred speculation that he is a patsy for a White House cover-up. His resignation coincidentally came a mere three days after Obama was re-elected, raising speculation regarding the timing of the general’s less than fortunate affair.

And misery loves company, as the current head of ISAF forces in Afghanistan might soon learn.
The nomination of US General John Allen as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe was suspended over the probe into CIA Director David Petraeus. Allen was accused of exchanging “inappropriate” emails with a woman linked to Petraeus, though defense officials say the investigation will exonerate him.

There is no definite answer as to why Petraeus was exposed when he was, or who might go down with him. It might have simply been bad timing. Maybe Petraeus would have taken the hit for Benghazi and stayed on like a good soldier. Whatever the case, a few questions must be asked:

  • How long did the White House know about the affair?
  • Did the Obama Administration ask the FBI to suppress information regarding the case until after Election Day and if so, why?

­

Live by the media, die by the media

­The final cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan (and by extension Pakistan) could run as high as $4.4 trillion when it is all said and done. There have been over 3000 coalition deaths in Afghanistan and 4,486 US troop deaths in Iraq. Civilian casualties run into the six digits. But affairs, off-color comments in Music magazines and being more interested in the war one is prosecuting than “fawning” over visiting lawmakers and the Washington elite are the sins that end military careers.


The White House said Tuesday that it was «up to Congress» whether to call former CIA Director David Petraeus to testify about the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

«Congress [makes] decisions about who is called to testify,» press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing.

The Intelligence Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives had been set to hear from Petraeus about the attack on the American compound in separate closed-door hearings on Thursday. But aides to both panels indicated that the retired Army general would be replaced by Mike Morrell, the acting CIA director.

«The president is confident that Acting Director Morrell is fully informed and capable of representing the CIA in a hearing about the incidents in Benghazi,» Carney said.

Still, key senators have made it clear that Petraeus, whose shocking resignation came after the public disclosure of an extramarital affair, will ultimately need to be heard. The attack claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, told MSNBC on Monday that her panel «should go ahead with Mike Morell and the way it is now set up.»

«But I also think that the community should know that this is not sufficient,» she continued. «And I have no doubt now that we will need to talk with David Petraeus. And we will likely do that in closed session, but it will be done one way or the other.» Feinstein also said the Senate would fight, if necessary, to obtain a report from a Petraeus trip to Libya in late October.
«We have asked to see the trip report. One person tells me he has read it, and then we tried to get it and they tell me it hasn’t been done. That’s unacceptable,» she said. «We are entitled to this trip report, and if we have to go to the floor of the Senate on a subpoena, we will do just that.»


How a cyber-harassment complaint triggered a dragnet that toppled a CIA director

By

It’s hard to stay focused on what really matters in the unfolding David Petraeus story, but there’s one issue that every juicy new tidbit only underscores: the way a strange complaint to a lone FBI agent led to an electronic dragnet that toppled the CIA director and may yet bring down the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen.

I’ll admit to rubbernecking at each crazy new detail that emerges – the unnamed FBI agent who trigged the Petraeus probe had earlier sent shirtless photos of himself to Jill Kelley, the woman who asked for his help with anonymous harassing emails? Petraeus and Allen intervened in a child custody case on behalf of Kelley’s sister? Kelley, who is of Lebanese Catholic descent, is “a self-appointed go between” with Lebanese and other Mideastern officials? She once cooked alligator on the Food Network?
But the real scandal is the way a complaint about cyber-stalking from a Tampa socialite unleashed the power of the modern surveillance state on Petraeus’ biographer and paramour, Paula Broadwell – and ultimately, ironically or not, on the top spook himself.

Defenders of the surveillance state may point to national security questions about whether Petraeus was a victim of some kind of cyber-attack as a justification for the intrusion into Broadwell’s privacy, and then Petraeus’, and then the complaining Jill Kelley herself, and then Gen. John Allen. And who knows, by the end, maybe they’ll get to the bottom of something that might arguably raise national security concerns. (Marcy Wheeler raises the possibility that Kelley herself had intelligence ties, which might help explain why the FBI took her cyberstalking complaint seriously.) But none of that seems to have been on the table when the FBI decided to open its investigation of Kelley’s complaint.

The fact that Kelley’s FBI acquaintance eventually went to House Majority Whip Eric Cantor when he felt the FBI wasn’t taking the investigation seriously enough just adds another layer of grime to the story. The New York Times reported that the agent “suspected a politically motivated cover-up to protect President Obama.” Cantor admits he took the “whistleblower’s” concerns to FBI director Robert Mueller – as though Mueller wouldn’t know of his own agency’s investigation – just 10 days before the Nov. 6 election. While we can’t be sure Cantor’s motives were political – perhaps an embarrassing White House secret could become an October surprise? – we can’t be sure they weren’t.

So far there’s no evidence that politics drove the Petraeus investigation, from either direction, but the fact that politics was involved should remind us how easily the surveillance state can be used to advance political agendas or settle political scores. Just today Google revealed that it has received more than 16,000 U.S. government requests for user data in the first six months of this year alone (it complies with about 90 percent of requests, the report said.)


The F.B.I. investigation that toppled the director of the C.I.A. and now threatens to tarnish the reputation of the top American commander in Afghanistan underscores a danger that government investigators will unavoidably invade the private lives of Americans.


FBI’s abuse of the surveillance state

The Petraeus scandal is receiving intense media scrutiny obviously due to its salacious aspects, leaving one, as always, to fantasize about what a stellar press corps we would have if they devoted a tiny fraction of this energy to dissecting non-sex political scandals (this unintentionally amusing New York Times headline from this morning – «Concern Grows Over Top Military Officers’ Ethics» – illustrates that point: with all the crimes committed by the US military over the last decade and long before, it’s only adultery that causes «concern» over their «ethics»). Nonetheless, several of the emerging revelations are genuinely valuable, particularly those involving the conduct of the FBI and the reach of the US surveillance state.

As is now widely reported, the FBI investigation began when Jill Kelley – a Tampa socialite friendly with Petraeus (and apparently very friendly with Gen. John Allen, the four-star U.S. commander of the war in Afghanistan) – received a half-dozen or so anonymous emails that she found vaguely threatening. She then informed a friend of hers who was an FBI agent, and a major FBI investigation was then launched that set out to determine the identity of the anonymous emailer.

That is the first disturbing fact: it appears that the FBI not only devoted substantial resources, but also engaged in highly invasive surveillance, for no reason other than to do a personal favor for a friend of one of its agents, to find out who was very mildly harassing her by email. The emails Kelley received were, as the Daily Beast reports, quite banal and clearly not an event that warranted an FBI investigation:

«The emails that Jill Kelley showed an FBI friend near the start of last summer were not jealous lover warnings like ‘stay away from my man’, a knowledgeable source tells The Daily Beast. . . .
«‘More like, ‘Who do you think you are? . . .You parade around the base . . . You need to take it down a notch,'» according to the source, who was until recently at the highest levels of the intelligence community and prefers not to be identified by name.
«The source reports that the emails did make one reference to Gen. David Petraeus, but it was oblique and offered no manifest suggestion of a personal relationship or even that he was central to the sender’s spite. . . .
«When the FBI friend showed the emails to the cyber squad in the Tampa field office, her fellow agents noted the absence of any overt threats.
«No, ‘I’ll kill you’ or ‘I’ll burn your house down,» the source says. ‘It doesn’t seem really that bad.’
«The squad was not even sure the case was worth pursuing, the source says.
«‘What does this mean? There’s no threat there. This is against the law?’ the agents asked themselves by the source’s account.
«At most the messages were harassing. The cyber squad had to consult the statute books in its effort to determine whether there was adequate legal cause to open a case.
«‘It was a close call,’ the source says.
«What tipped it may have been Kelley’s friendship with the agent.»

That this deeply personal motive was what spawned the FBI investigation is bolstered by the fact that the initial investigating agent «was barred from taking part in the case over the summer due to superiors’ concerns that he was personally involved in the case» – indeed, «supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter» – and was found to have «allegedly sent shirtless photos» to Kelley, and «is now under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the internal-affairs arm of the FBI».

[The New York Times this morning reports that the FBI claims the emails contained references to parts of Petraeus’ schedule that were not publicly disclosed, though as Marcy Wheeler documents, the way the investigation proceeded strongly suggests that at least the initial impetus behind it was a desire to settle personal scores.]

What is most striking is how sweeping, probing and invasive the FBI’s investigation then became, all without any evidence of any actual crime – or the need for any search warrant:

«Because the sender’s account had been registered anonymously, investigators had to use forensic techniques – including a check of what other e-mail accounts had been accessed from the same computer address – to identify who was writing the e-mails.
«Eventually they identified Ms. Broadwell as a prime suspect and obtained access to her regular e-mail account. In its in-box, they discovered intimate and sexually explicit e-mails from another account that also was not immediately identifiable. Investigators eventually ascertained that it belonged to Mr. Petraeus and studied the possibility that someone had hacked into Mr. Petraeus’s account or was posing as him to send the explicit messages.»

So all based on a handful of rather unremarkable emails sent to a woman fortunate enough to have a friend at the FBI, the FBI traced all of Broadwell’s physical locations, learned of all the accounts she uses, ended up reading all of her emails, investigated the identity of her anonymous lover (who turned out to be Petraeus), and then possibly read his emails as well. They dug around in all of this without any evidence of any real crime – at most, they had a case of «cyber-harassment» more benign than what regularly appears in my email inbox and that of countless of other people – and, in large part, without the need for any warrant from a court.
But that isn’t all the FBI learned. It was revealed this morning that they also discovered «alleged inappropriate communication» to Kelley from Gen. Allen, who is not only the top commander in Afghanistan but was also just nominated by President Obama to be the Commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (a nomination now «on hold»). Here, according to Reuters, is what the snooping FBI agents obtained about that [emphasis added]:

«The U.S. official said the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of communications – mostly emails spanning from 2010 to 2012 – between Allen and Jill Kelley . . . .
«Asked whether there was concern about the disclosure of classified information, the official said, on condition of anonymity: ‘We are concerned about inappropriate communications. We are not going to speculate as to what is contained in these documents.'»

So not only did the FBI – again, all without any real evidence of a crime – trace the locations and identity of Broadwell and Petreaus, and read through Broadwell’s emails (and possibly Petraeus’), but they also got their hands on and read through 20,000-30,000 pages of emails between Gen. Allen and Kelley.


Since 2008, the NSA has had the legal power to intercept all phone calls, emails and text messages sent by American citizens without probable cause. However, although long suspected, the agency has never admitted that it is analyzing the content of such messages, conceding only that persons, dates and locations are part of the snooping process. However, in a recent sworn declaration to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Binney, a former NSA employee with the signals intelligence agency within the DoD, divulges that the federal agency, has the capability to do individualized searches, similar to Google, for particular electronic communications in real time through such criteria as target addresses, locations, countries and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords, and phrases in email. Using as many as twenty data intercept centers throughout the United States which can each store an almost unimaginable quantity of information, Binney notes that, The sheer size of that capacity indicates that the NSA is not filtering personal electronic communications such as email before storage but is, in fact, storing all that they are collecting.

http://www.infowars.com/whistleblower-nsa-analyzing-conversations-in-real-time/


The dramatic downfall of CIA chief David Petraeus has given rise to political intrigue in Washington as a drip-feed of details concerning his clandestine affair mixes with serious questions over the timing of the resignation.

Over the weekend it emerged that his relationship with biographer Paula Broadwell was discovered by FBI agents while they investigated harassing emails she allegedly sent to a second woman, who was named on Sunday by the Associated Press as Jill Kelley, a state department military liaison.

The scandal comes at a particularly sensitive time. Petraeus had been due to give evidence before a Congressional body this coming Thursday concerning the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which four Americans were killed, including America’s ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.

It is now thought that Petraeus will not attend the session, robbing politicians of the opportunity to question an «absolutely necessary witness», according to Peter King, chairman of the House homeland security committee.

White House and intelligence officials have suggested that there is no connection between the timing of Petraeus’s resignation and the evidence session on the Benghazi attack.

But in Washington, questions are being asked as to why the FBI appeared to have sat on the information it uncovered regarding the affair before handing it on to other authorities some time later.

Intelligence officials have suggested that Petraeus was first questioned over the nature of his relationship with Broadwell two weeks ago.

But it was only on the night of the presidential election that national intelligence director James Clapper was notified of the affair. It is thought that Clapper then advised the CIA chief to resign.

Even then, it was not until the next day that the White House was informed of the situation. It then took a further day before newly re-elected President Barack Obama was told that his intelligence chief was to tender his resignation.

Meanwhile, the Senate intelligence committee only heard about the matter on Friday, just hours before the CIA director announced he was to step down.

Further confusing the timeline of events were reports on Sunday that leading House Republican Eric Cantor had been informed by an FBI whistleblower of the brewing Petraeus scandal two weeks ago.

If true, it would raise the prospect that the affair was known in Washington circles before Friday’s resignation.

House Republican King said on Sunday that the account of who knew what and when «doesn’t add up», saying that there were a lot of unanswered questions.

The FBI had an «obligation» to tell the president as soon as they had identified a possible security breach, he told CNN’s State of the Union.

Meanwhile, other politicians said that Petraeus may still be compelled to give evidence concerning the 11 September attack in Benghazi.

«We may well ask him,» senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Fox News Sunday.

Congress is keen to question the former four-star general over what the CIA knew in advance of the assault, and importantly, what it had told the White House in regards to the nature of the terrorist threat.

In the run-up to last week’s election, senior Republicans accused the White House of misleading Americans over claims that it was not made aware of requests to bolster security in advance of the assault.

It is on this point that Petraeus was expected to be questioned at Thursday’s Congressional hearing. Following his resignation, it is thought that his former deputy, Michael Morell, will testify before Washington in his place as acting director of the CIA.

Morell is slated to meet with Congressional figures on Wednesday to discuss the Petraeus affair in a bid to curtail lingering suspicions over the timing of the resignation.

The political fallout from Friday’s resignation comes amid a personal crisis for a man often referred to as the leading American military mind of his generation.

In the days following his announcement to step down, a steady flow of leaks to the US media have given more detail to the affair that cost Petraeus his job.

The makings of his downfall were in a series of apparently vicious emails sent by his lover – a 40-year-old former army reservist who co-authored All In, a fawning biography of the CIA chief – to Kelley, a state department liaison to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command.

It is thought that the threatening nature of the missives led the Florida-based recipient to seek the protection of the FBI.

An investigation of Broadwell’s personal email account uncovered letters of an explicit nature between her and Petraeus, who has been married for the past 38 years to his wife Holly.

It was then that agents approached the CIA chief directly. Having eliminated the threat of a security breach, it was decided that no further action would be taken by the FBI.

But the damage to Petraeus’s reputation was clear, and having consulted with Clapper, the decision to resign was made.

In a letter to staff explaining his move, the now outgoing CIA boss said: «Such behaviour is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organisation such as ours.»

Others close to Petraeus had an even more blunt assessment of the scandal. «He screwed up, he knows he screwed up,» said Steve Boylan, a retired army officer and Petraeus’s former spokesman.


Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned as CIA director last week after admitting an extramarital relationship, could possibly face military prosecution for adultery if officials turn up any evidence to counter his apparent claims that the affair began after he left the military.

The affair between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, both of whom are married, began several months after his retirement from the Army in August 2011 and ended four months ago, retired U.S. Army Col. Steve Boylan, a former Petraeus spokesman, told ABC News.

Broadwell, 40, had extraordinary access to the 60-year-old general during six trips she took to Afghanistan as his official biographer, a plum assignment for a novice writer.

«For him to allow the very first biography to be written about him, to be written by someone who had never written a book before, seemed very odd to me,» former Petraeus aide Peter Mansoor told ABC News.

The timeline of the relationship, according to Patraeus, would mean that he was carrying on the affair for the majority of his tenure at the CIA, where he began as director Sept. 6, 2011. If he carried on the affair while serving in the Army, however, Patraeus could face charges, according to Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which reprimands conduct «of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.»
Whether the military would pursue such action, whatever evidence it accumulates, is unclear.

As the details of the investigation launched by the FBI unraveled this weekend, it became clear that the woman at the heart of the inquiry that led to Petraeus’ downfall had been identified as Jill Kelley, a Florida woman who volunteers to help the military. She is a family friend of Petraeus, who Broadwell apparently felt threatened by.

Kelley and her husband are longtime supporters of the military, and six months ago she was named «Honorary Ambassador to Central Command» for her volunteer work with the military. Officials say Kelley is not romantically linked to Petraeus, but befriended the general and his wife when he was stationed in Florida.

The Kelleys spent Christmases in group settings with the Petraeuses and visited them in Washington D.C., where Kelley’s sister and her son live.

«We and our family have been friends with Gen. Petraeus and his family for over five years.» Kelley said in a statement Sunday. «We respect his and his family’s privacy and want the same for us and our three children.»
Earlier this year, around the time that Petraeus and Broadwell were breaking off their affair, Kelly began receiving anonymous emails, which she found so threatening she went to authorities. The FBI traced the messages to Broadwell’s computer, where they found other salacious and explicit emails between Broadwell and Petraeus that made it clear to officials that the two were carrying on an affair.

Investigators uncovered no compromising of classified information or criminal activity, sources familiar with the probe said, adding that all that was found was a lot of «human drama.»

Broadwell, a married mother of two, had access to Petraeus while she was with him in Afghanistan as his official biographer. People close to the general had previously suspected Broadwell’s feelings for him had crossed a professional line.

They found Broadwell, who spent a year embedded with Petraeus in Afghanistan, to be embarrassing and far too «gushy» about him. They said to one another they thought Broadwell «was in love with him,» sources told ABC News.

Petraeus is said to have been the one to have broken off the extramarital affair.

His storied career, first as the public face of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and later as director of the CIA, came crashing down Friday when he announced his resignation from the intelligence agency, citing the indiscretion.

«After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours,» Petraeus said in a statement Friday.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was made aware of the Petraeus situation Tuesday evening around 5 p.m. by the FBI, according to a senior intelligence source.

After having several conversations with Petraeus that evening and the next day, Clapper advised Petraeus that the best thing to do would be for him to resign, the source said.

Clapper notified the White House the next afternoon that Petraeus was considering resigning, according to the source. Petraeus then went to the White House Thursday and told the president he thought he should resign, and Obama accepted his resignation the next day, the source said.

Despite the lengthy investigation into Broadwell by the FBI, the White House says it was not made aware of it until Wednesday, the day after the election, a revelation that surprised many.

«It just doesn’t add up. That the FBI would be carrying on this type of investigation without, again, bringing it to the president or the highest levels of the White House,» Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said.

Petraeus and his wife, Holly, who have been married for 38 years, are said to be staying in their Arlington Home and are doing «OK.»

«Knowing the family, I suspect it will be hard work, but given the effort, they will get through it,» Boylan, the former Petraeus spokesman, said.

Numerous questions still remain about the investigation, and some on Capitol Hill are also frustrated because Petraeus was schedule to testify to the House and Senate intelligence committees about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September.

The timing of Petraeus’ resignation «was what it was,» an official told ABC News, adding that the time had come to tie up any loose ends in the investigation and confront the general.


One of America’s best known military leaders, and CIA head David Petraeus, has abruptly announced his resignation. Stepping down, Petraeus admitted to an extramarital affair, saying he was guilty of «unacceptable» behavior. Ex-military intelligence officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Tony Shaffer told RT there’s more behind the resignation than just moral issues.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – David Petraeus was a star on the battlefield, commanding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but was undone by «poor judgment» in engaging in an extramarital affair that led to his downfall as CIA director.

Petraeus, who was widely celebrated as a military commander and even occasionally mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, was sworn in as head of the CIA in September 2011 – and had kept a low profile since. Now speculation is sure to proliferate over whether that low profile resulted from Petraeus focusing on America’s intelligence gathering or on personal matters.

In particular, members of Congress and other officials demanding answers about the Benghazi attack on the US consulate that resulted in the deaths of four Americans – including the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stephens, and two CIA agents – will want to know if there was any link between Petraeus’s extramarital activities and what has been increasingly criticized as the CIA’s weak performance on the night of the Benghazi attack.

More broadly, the reason for Petraeus’s departure will raise questions about any compromising of US covert operations and intelligence. The potential for blackmail of intelligence officers is always a concern about the spy corps, but the involvement of the nation’s top spy in an extramarital affair takes the concern to a new level.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been probing Petraeus and the potential security risks posed by his affair, CNN reported late Friday afternoon.

In the weeks since the Benghazi attack, officials have leaked information, including how Petraeus kept information on the CIA’s role in Benghazi so private that even Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was left to call Petraeus as the attack unfolded to try to get intelligence information from him.

Last week, CIA officials revealed that in fact, the intelligence agency’s operations in Benghazi dwarfed diplomatic operations at the consulate and that the CIA maintained what was described as an “annex,” about a mile from the diplomatic mission.

State Department officials have said there was an informal understanding that the annex and its agents would come to the assistance of the consulate (which had private contractors providing security) if a need arose. CIA officials insist their agents responded to the consulate’s distress calls within a half-hour.

Just two days after his 60th birthday, Petraeus stepped down from the spy agency where he had held the top office since September 6, 2011.

«After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation,» Petraeus told the shadow warriors he commanded at CIA.

It was a stunning downfall for a revered military man who was seen as one of the top American leaders of his generation and was once considered a potential contender for the White House.

Petraeus was credited with pulling Iraq from the brink of all-out civil war and for battlefield successes in Afghanistan after overseeing a surge of 30,000 troops ordered by President Barack Obama in late 2009. He became known for counter-insurgency strategies that were seen as gaining ground against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

«I don’t think he was professionally overrated. His were genuine accomplishments,» said James Carafano, a war historian with the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.

At the time of his nomination to the CIA post, some Washington insiders had said the White House wanted to find a prominent position for Petraeus to ensure he would not be recruited by Republicans as a challenger to the 2012 Obama-Biden ticket.

When he was nominated to lead the CIA there were some concerns in intelligence circles that the high-profile four-star Army general might not be able to lead from the shadows as appropriate for a spy chief.

But once he took over the head office at the U.S. spy agency, Petraeus kept a decidedly low public profile.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, expressed regret about the resignation of «one of America’s best and brightest» and said it was an «enormous loss» for the country.
«At CIA, Director Petraeus gave the agency leadership, stature, prestige and credibility both at home and abroad. On a personal level, I found his command of intelligence issues second to none,» she said.

RESIGNATION ACCEPTED

After accepting his resignation about a year-and-a-half after nominating Petraeus to the CIA post, Obama said: «By any measure, he was one of the outstanding General officers of his generation, helping our military adapt to new challenges, and leading our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he helped our nation put those wars on a path to a responsible end.»

Earlier this week, in a Newsweek article entitled «General David Petraeus’s Rules for Living,» he listed 12 lessons for leadership. Number 5 was: «We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear­ view mirrors – drive on and avoid making them again.»

In 2010 Petraeus stepped into the breach as the new commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to replace General Stanley McChrystal who was fired by Obama in a scandal over an article in which McChrystal and his aides made mocking comments about the president and some of his top advisers.

In 2009 Petraeus was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer and underwent radiation treatment. The media-friendly general joked at that time at a Washington event that reporters were only gathered «to see if the guy is still alive.»

Petraeus, born in Cornwall, New York, lives in Virginia with his wife Holly. They have two grown children, a son who was an Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan, and a daughter.

Petraeus’s wife, Holly, is an activist and volunteer who champions military families, and she continued that work after her husband retired from the military and moved to the CIA.

She currently is assistant director of the office of servicemember affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where she tries to keep unscrupulous lenders from taking advantage of military personnel. The bureau was championed by Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, who was elected to the Senate from Massachusetts this week.

Holly Petraeus is the daughter of four-star General William Knowlton, who was superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point when Petraeus was a cadet.

She briefed the press at the Pentagon on her efforts recently and was introduced by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who called her «a true friend of the Department of Defense and a dedicated member of our military family.»

Petraeus has four Defense Distinguished Service Medal awards, three Distinguished Service Medal awards, the Bronze Star Medal for valor, and the State Department Distinguished Service Award.

He has a doctorate in international relations from Princeton University.

(Additional reporting by David Alexander, Matt Spetalnick and Diane Bartz; Editing by Warren Strobel and Jackie Frank)

The email accounts of Generals David Petraeus and John Allen aren’t the only ones being targeted by the feds. Google has released its bi-annual transparency report and says that the government's demands for personal data is at an all-time high.



Internet giant Google published statistics from their latest analysis of requests from governments around the globe this week, and the findings show that it is hardly just the inboxes of the Pentagon’s top-brass that are being put under the microscope. Details pertaining to nearly 8,000 Google and Gmail accounts have been ordered by Uncle Sam during just the first six months of the year, and figures from the periods before suggest that things aren’t about to get any better for those wishing to protect their privacy.

“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise,” Google acknowledges in a blog post published Tuesday, November 13.

From January through June, the US government filed more than 16,000 requests for user data from Google on as many as 7,969 individual accounts, the report shows.

The Silicon Valley company notes that “The number of requests we receive for user account information as part of criminal investigations has increased year after year,” but says that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the government that’s ramping up the acceleration into a full-blown surveillance state. According to Google’s take, “The increase isn’t surprising, since each year we offer more products and services, and we have a larger number of users.”

For all of those requests in the US, Google says they complied with the government’s demands 90 percent of the time; but while it seems like a high number, that figure actually constitutes the smallest success rate the feds have had since Google began tracking these numbers in 2010. In a separate report published earlier this year by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the San Francisco-based advocacy group awarded Google high praise for doing more than other industry titans in terms of letting feds force them into handing over information without good reason, citing specifically their efforts — albeit unsuccessfully — in handing over user info to the Justice Department during the start of its ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks.

Of the 20,938 user data request sent from governments around the globe, the United States came in first with the number of demands at 7,969, with India at a distant second with 2,319 requests. The US government’s success rate in terms of getting that information trumps most every other country, however, with full or partial compliance on the part of Google rarely exceeding 70 percent.

Elsewhere in the report, Google says it’s more than just surveillance of individual users that is on the rise. The US has also been adamant with censoring the Web, writing Google five times between January and June to take down YouTube videos critical of government, law enforcement or public officials. In regards to the five pleas to delete seven offending videos, Google says, “We did not remove content in response to these requests.”

The company was more willing to side with authorities in other cases, though, admitting to taking down 1,664 posts from a Google Groups community after a court order asked for the removal of 1,754 on the basis of “a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family.” Google also followed through with around one-third of the requests to remove search results that linked to websites that allegedly defamed organizations and individuals (223 of the 641 pleas) and say “the number of content removal requests we received increased by 46% compared to the previous reporting period.”

According to the report, Google only received one request from the US government to remove a video from YouTube on the grounds of ensuring “national security” but does not disclose the results of that plea. No further information is available in the report as to what the government demanded removed, but in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi originally blamed by many on an anti-Islamic video clip linked to a California man, Google rejected demands from the US to delete the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ from YouTube.

That isn’t to say that Washington is responsible for the bulk of the demands that end up on the desks of Google’s administrators. The report notes Google has received requests to remove search results that link to sites that host alleged copyright-infringing content more than 8 million times in just the last month, with more than 32,000 websites being singled out by the materials’ respective owners. Taking into account the last year and a half, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) — the largest trade-group representing the US music industry — asked Google to stop linking to roughly 4.5 million URLs that they say hosted illegal content.

Last month, the Supreme Court heard arguments to decide whether or not a case can go forth that will challenge the FISA Amendment Act of 2008, an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that allows the government to eavesdrop on emails sent as long as one of the persons involved is suspected of being out of the country. When asked earlier in the year to give an estimate of how many Americans have their electronic communications wiretapped by the National Security Administration, the inspector general of the NSA declined to issue a response, even to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

According to statements made by NSA whistleblower Bill Binney at the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference in New York this year, the US government is “pulling together all the data about virtually every US citizen in the country and assembling that information, building communities that you have relationships with, and knowledge about you; what your activities are; what you're doing."



US President Barack Obama has backed a senior general, despite reports that he exchanged "flirtatious" emails with Florida socialite Jill Kelley.

Spokesman Jay Carney said Mr Obama had "faith" in Gen John Allen, chosen to be the next Nato commander in Europe.

Harassment allegations by Mrs Kelley helped unmask an affair between CIA Director David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell.

Gen Petraeus resigned on Friday. Gen Allen says he has done nothing wrong.

"I can tell you that the president thinks very highly of Gen Allen and his service to his country, as well as the job he has done in Afghanistan," spokesman Jay Carney said, in the first White House reaction since Gen Petraeus quit.

He has great confidence in the acting CIA director, the secretary of defence and the defence department to carry out the missions he has asked of them”

He added that President Barack Obama was "very happy" with Gen Allen's service and record.

Mr Carney also asked reporters "not to extrapolate too broadly" about whether the cases involving Gen Petraeus and Gen Allen suggested a wider cultural problem within the US military.

"He has great confidence in the acting CIA director, the secretary of defence and the defence department to carry out the missions he has asked of them," Mr Carney added.

Nomination on hold

The Pentagon says 20-30,000 pages of Gen Allen's documents are being examined, with officials saying they contain "potentially inappropriate" emails between the general and Mrs Kelley over the past two years.

An anonymous senior US official who has read the emails told the Associated Press that the exchanges were relatively innocuous, even though they might be construed as unprofessional and flirty.

The official said the emails included pet names such as "sweetheart" and "dear", but did not suggest an affair or the exchange of classified information.

Gen Allen, 58, took over command of coalition forces in Afghanistan after David Petraeus moved to the CIA in 2011.

Currently commanding 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan, Gen Allen was due to face a confirmation hearing in the US Senate on Thursday for his new role as supreme commander of Nato forces in Europe.

That hearing has now been suspended at the request of Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.




Michael Hastings, the journalist behind the Rolling Stone article which resulted in McChrystal’s ouster, recently wrote for Buzzfeed that spin was crucial to the Iraqi surge: “he [Petraeus] pulled off what is perhaps the most impressive con job in recent American history. He convinced the entire Washington establishment that we won the war.”

Hastings characterized the policy as playing both sides in a civil war,
a policy which resulted in the death of 800 American soldiers and exponentially more Iraqis.

The sectarian fault lines resulting from this policy have left Iraq a powder keg waiting to go off. But it doesn’t matter as far as the target audience is concerned.

Quoting Petraeus’ 1987 Princeton dissertation, Hastings summed up the general’s professional philosophy:
"What policymakers believe to have taken place in any particular case is what matters — more than what actually occurred."
In that light, the fall of Petraeus coincides with the one tragedy he managed where the perception and what actually occurred intersected: Benghazi.


During the Vice Presidential Debate in October, Joe Biden was accused of throwing the CIA under the bus by insinuating the agency had provided faulty intelligence regarding the 9/11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi which resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three members of his diplomatic mission.

The defrocking of Petraeus came one step closer on November 1, when it was revealed that Hillary Clinton called Petraeus the night of the attack asking for help that never came. While the “State Department believed it had a formal agreement with the CIA to provide backup security,""the CIA didn't have the same understanding about its security responsibilities," the Wall Street Journal reported.

The writing was on the wall. Petraeus was set to testify in closed-door sessions before the intelligence committees of the Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday, and with the White House’s less than glowing review of his performance, he would have had a venue to vindicate himself.

That “one of the greatest generals in a generation” resigned five days before speaking out has only spurred speculation that he is a patsy for a White House cover-up. His resignation coincidentally came a mere three days after Obama was re-elected, raising speculation regarding the timing of the general’s less than fortunate affair.


And misery loves company, as the current head of ISAF forces in Afghanistan might soon learn.
The nomination of US General John Allen as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe was suspended over the probe into CIA Director David Petraeus. Allen was accused of exchanging “inappropriate” emails with a woman linked to Petraeus, though defense officials say the investigation will exonerate him.

There is no definite answer as to why Petraeus was exposed when he was, or who might go down with him. It might have simply been bad timing. Maybe Petraeus would have taken the hit for Benghazi and stayed on like a good soldier. Whatever the case, a few questions must be asked:

  • How long did the White House know about the affair?
  • Did the Obama Administration ask the FBI to suppress information regarding the case until after Election Day and if so, why?

­

Live by the media, die by the media


­The final cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan (and by extension Pakistan) could run as high as $4.4 trillion when it is all said and done. There have been over 3000 coalition deaths in Afghanistan and 4,486 US troop deaths in Iraq. Civilian casualties run into the six digits. But affairs, off-color comments in Music magazines and being more interested in the war one is prosecuting than “fawning” over visiting lawmakers and the Washington elite are the sins that end military careers.



The White House said Tuesday that it was "up to Congress" whether to call former CIA Director David Petraeus to testify about the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

"Congress [makes] decisions about who is called to testify," press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing.


The Intelligence Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives had been set to hear from Petraeus about the attack on the American compound in separate closed-door hearings on Thursday. But aides to both panels indicated that the retired Army general would be replaced by Mike Morrell, the acting CIA director.

"The president is confident that Acting Director Morrell is fully informed and capable of representing the CIA in a hearing about the incidents in Benghazi," Carney said.
Still, key senators have made it clear that Petraeus, whose shocking resignation came after the public disclosure of an extramarital affair, will ultimately need to be heard. The attack claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, told MSNBC on Monday that her panel "should go ahead with Mike Morell and the way it is now set up."

"But I also think that the community should know that this is not sufficient," she continued. "And I have no doubt now that we will need to talk with David Petraeus. And we will likely do that in closed session, but it will be done one way or the other." Feinstein also said the Senate would fight, if necessary, to obtain a report from a Petraeus trip to Libya in late October.
"We have asked to see the trip report. One person tells me he has read it, and then we tried to get it and they tell me it hasn't been done. That's unacceptable," she said. "We are entitled to this trip report, and if we have to go to the floor of the Senate on a subpoena, we will do just that."



How a cyber-harassment complaint triggered a dragnet that toppled a CIA director



It’s hard to stay focused on what really matters in the unfolding David Petraeus story, but there’s one issue that every juicy new tidbit only underscores: the way a strange complaint to a lone FBI agent led to an electronic dragnet that toppled the CIA director and may yet bring down the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen.

I’ll admit to rubbernecking at each crazy new detail that emerges – the unnamed FBI agent who trigged the Petraeus probe had earlier sent shirtless photos of himself to Jill Kelley, the woman who asked for his help with anonymous harassing emails? Petraeus and Allen intervened in a child custody case on behalf of Kelley’s sister? Kelley, who is of Lebanese Catholic descent, is “a self-appointed go between” with Lebanese and other Mideastern officials? She once cooked alligator on the Food Network?
But the real scandal is the way a complaint about cyber-stalking from a Tampa socialite unleashed the power of the modern surveillance state on Petraeus’ biographer and paramour, Paula Broadwell – and ultimately, ironically or not, on the top spook himself.


Defenders of the surveillance state may point to national security questions about whether Petraeus was a victim of some kind of cyber-attack as a justification for the intrusion into Broadwell’s privacy, and then Petraeus’, and then the complaining Jill Kelley herself, and then Gen. John Allen. And who knows, by the end, maybe they’ll get to the bottom of something that might arguably raise national security concerns. (Marcy Wheeler raises the possibility that Kelley herself had intelligence ties, which might help explain why the FBI took her cyberstalking complaint seriously.) But none of that seems to have been on the table when the FBI decided to open its investigation of Kelley’s complaint.

The fact that Kelley’s FBI acquaintance eventually went to House Majority Whip Eric Cantor when he felt the FBI wasn’t taking the investigation seriously enough just adds another layer of grime to the story. The New York Times reported that the agent “suspected a politically motivated cover-up to protect President Obama.” Cantor admits he took the “whistleblower’s” concerns to FBI director Robert Mueller – as though Mueller wouldn’t know of his own agency’s investigation – just 10 days before the Nov. 6 election. While we can’t be sure Cantor’s motives were political – perhaps an embarrassing White House secret could become an October surprise? – we can’t be sure they weren’t.

So far there’s no evidence that politics drove the Petraeus investigation, from either direction, but the fact that politics was involved should remind us how easily the surveillance state can be used to advance political agendas or settle political scores. Just today Google revealed that it has received more than 16,000 U.S. government requests for user data in the first six months of this year alone (it complies with about 90 percent of requests, the report said.)





The F.B.I. investigation that toppled the director of the C.I.A. and now threatens to tarnish the reputation of the top American commander in Afghanistan underscores a danger that government investigators will unavoidably invade the private lives of Americans.





FBI's abuse of the surveillance state



The Petraeus scandal is receiving intense media scrutiny obviously due to its salacious aspects, leaving one, as always, to fantasize about what a stellar press corps we would have if they devoted a tiny fraction of this energy to dissecting non-sex political scandals (this unintentionally amusing New York Times headline from this morning - "Concern Grows Over Top Military Officers' Ethics" - illustrates that point: with all the crimes committed by the US military over the last decade and long before, it's only adultery that causes "concern" over their "ethics"). Nonetheless, several of the emerging revelations are genuinely valuable, particularly those involving the conduct of the FBI and the reach of the US surveillance state.

As is now widely reported, the FBI investigation began when Jill Kelley - a Tampa socialite friendly with Petraeus (and apparently very friendly with Gen. John Allen, the four-star U.S. commander of the war in Afghanistan) - received a half-dozen or so anonymous emails that she found vaguely threatening. She then informed a friend of hers who was an FBI agent, and a major FBI investigation was then launched that set out to determine the identity of the anonymous emailer.

That is the first disturbing fact: it appears that the FBI not only devoted substantial resources, but also engaged in highly invasive surveillance, for no reason other than to do a personal favor for a friend of one of its agents, to find out who was very mildly harassing her by email. The emails Kelley received were, as the Daily Beast reports, quite banal and clearly not an event that warranted an FBI investigation:
"The emails that Jill Kelley showed an FBI friend near the start of last summer were not jealous lover warnings like 'stay away from my man', a knowledgeable source tells The Daily Beast. . . .
"'More like, 'Who do you think you are? . . .You parade around the base . . . You need to take it down a notch,'" according to the source, who was until recently at the highest levels of the intelligence community and prefers not to be identified by name.
"The source reports that the emails did make one reference to Gen. David Petraeus, but it was oblique and offered no manifest suggestion of a personal relationship or even that he was central to the sender's spite. . . .
"When the FBI friend showed the emails to the cyber squad in the Tampa field office, her fellow agents noted the absence of any overt threats.
"No, 'I'll kill you' or 'I'll burn your house down,'' the source says. 'It doesn't seem really that bad.'
"The squad was not even sure the case was worth pursuing, the source says.
"'What does this mean? There's no threat there. This is against the law?' the agents asked themselves by the source's account.
"At most the messages were harassing. The cyber squad had to consult the statute books in its effort to determine whether there was adequate legal cause to open a case.
"'It was a close call,' the source says.
"What tipped it may have been Kelley's friendship with the agent."
That this deeply personal motive was what spawned the FBI investigation is bolstered by the fact that the initial investigating agent "was barred from taking part in the case over the summer due to superiors' concerns that he was personally involved in the case" - indeed, "supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter" - and was found to have "allegedly sent shirtless photos" to Kelley, and "is now under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the internal-affairs arm of the FBI".

[The New York Times this morning reports that the FBI claims the emails contained references to parts of Petraeus' schedule that were not publicly disclosed, though as Marcy Wheeler documents, the way the investigation proceeded strongly suggests that at least the initial impetus behind it was a desire to settle personal scores.]

What is most striking is how sweeping, probing and invasive the FBI's investigation then became, all without any evidence of any actual crime - or the need for any search warrant:
"Because the sender's account had been registered anonymously, investigators had to use forensic techniques - including a check of what other e-mail accounts had been accessed from the same computer address - to identify who was writing the e-mails.
"Eventually they identified Ms. Broadwell as a prime suspect and obtained access to her regular e-mail account. In its in-box, they discovered intimate and sexually explicit e-mails from another account that also was not immediately identifiable. Investigators eventually ascertained that it belonged to Mr. Petraeus and studied the possibility that someone had hacked into Mr. Petraeus's account or was posing as him to send the explicit messages."
So all based on a handful of rather unremarkable emails sent to a woman fortunate enough to have a friend at the FBI, the FBI traced all of Broadwell's physical locations, learned of all the accounts she uses, ended up reading all of her emails, investigated the identity of her anonymous lover (who turned out to be Petraeus), and then possibly read his emails as well. They dug around in all of this without any evidence of any real crime - at most, they had a case of "cyber-harassment" more benign than what regularly appears in my email inbox and that of countless of other people - and, in large part, without the need for any warrant from a court.
But that isn't all the FBI learned. It was revealed this morning that they also discovered "alleged inappropriate communication" to Kelley from Gen. Allen, who is not only the top commander in Afghanistan but was also just nominated by President Obama to be the Commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (a nomination now "on hold"). Here, according to Reuters, is what the snooping FBI agents obtained about that [emphasis added]:

"The U.S. official said the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of communications - mostly emails spanning from 2010 to 2012 - between Allen and Jill Kelley . . . .
"Asked whether there was concern about the disclosure of classified information, the official said, on condition of anonymity: 'We are concerned about inappropriate communications. We are not going to speculate as to what is contained in these documents.'"
So not only did the FBI - again, all without any real evidence of a crime - trace the locations and identity of Broadwell and Petreaus, and read through Broadwell's emails (and possibly Petraeus'), but they also got their hands on and read through 20,000-30,000 pages of emails between Gen. Allen and Kelley.





Since 2008, the NSA has had the legal power to intercept all phone calls, emails and text messages sent by American citizens without probable cause. However, although long suspected, the agency has never admitted that it is analyzing the content of such messages, conceding only that persons, dates and locations are part of the snooping process. However, in a recent sworn declaration to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Binney, a former NSA employee with the signals intelligence agency within the DoD, divulges that the federal agency, has the capability to do individualized searches, similar to Google, for particular electronic communications in real time through such criteria as target addresses, locations, countries and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords, and phrases in email. Using as many as twenty data intercept centers throughout the United States which can each store an almost unimaginable quantity of information, Binney notes that, The sheer size of that capacity indicates that the NSA is not filtering personal electronic communications such as email before storage but is, in fact, storing all that they are collecting.

http://www.infowars.com/whistleblower-nsa-analyzing-conversations-in-real-time/




The dramatic downfall of CIA chief David Petraeus has given rise to political intrigue in Washington as a drip-feed of details concerning his clandestine affair mixes with serious questions over the timing of the resignation.

Over the weekend it emerged that his relationship with biographer Paula Broadwell was discovered by FBI agents while they investigated harassing emails she allegedly sent to a second woman, who was named on Sunday by the Associated Press as Jill Kelley, a state department military liaison.

The scandal comes at a particularly sensitive time. Petraeus had been due to give evidence before a Congressional body this coming Thursday concerning the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which four Americans were killed, including America's ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.

It is now thought that Petraeus will not attend the session, robbing politicians of the opportunity to question an "absolutely necessary witness", according to Peter King, chairman of the House homeland security committee.

White House and intelligence officials have suggested that there is no connection between the timing of Petraeus's resignation and the evidence session on the Benghazi attack.

But in Washington, questions are being asked as to why the FBI appeared to have sat on the information it uncovered regarding the affair before handing it on to other authorities some time later.

Intelligence officials have suggested that Petraeus was first questioned over the nature of his relationship with Broadwell two weeks ago.

But it was only on the night of the presidential election that national intelligence director James Clapper was notified of the affair. It is thought that Clapper then advised the CIA chief to resign.

Even then, it was not until the next day that the White House was informed of the situation. It then took a further day before newly re-elected President Barack Obama was told that his intelligence chief was to tender his resignation.

Meanwhile, the Senate intelligence committee only heard about the matter on Friday, just hours before the CIA director announced he was to step down.

Further confusing the timeline of events were reports on Sunday that leading House Republican Eric Cantor had been informed by an FBI whistleblower of the brewing Petraeus scandal two weeks ago.

If true, it would raise the prospect that the affair was known in Washington circles before Friday's resignation.

House Republican King said on Sunday that the account of who knew what and when "doesn't add up", saying that there were a lot of unanswered questions.

The FBI had an "obligation" to tell the president as soon as they had identified a possible security breach, he told CNN's State of the Union.

Meanwhile, other politicians said that Petraeus may still be compelled to give evidence concerning the 11 September attack in Benghazi.

"We may well ask him," senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Fox News Sunday.

Congress is keen to question the former four-star general over what the CIA knew in advance of the assault, and importantly, what it had told the White House in regards to the nature of the terrorist threat.

In the run-up to last week's election, senior Republicans accused the White House of misleading Americans over claims that it was not made aware of requests to bolster security in advance of the assault.

It is on this point that Petraeus was expected to be questioned at Thursday's Congressional hearing. Following his resignation, it is thought that his former deputy, Michael Morell, will testify before Washington in his place as acting director of the CIA.

Morell is slated to meet with Congressional figures on Wednesday to discuss the Petraeus affair in a bid to curtail lingering suspicions over the timing of the resignation.

The political fallout from Friday's resignation comes amid a personal crisis for a man often referred to as the leading American military mind of his generation.

In the days following his announcement to step down, a steady flow of leaks to the US media have given more detail to the affair that cost Petraeus his job.

The makings of his downfall were in a series of apparently vicious emails sent by his lover – a 40-year-old former army reservist who co-authored All In, a fawning biography of the CIA chief – to Kelley, a state department liaison to the military's Joint Special Operations Command.

It is thought that the threatening nature of the missives led the Florida-based recipient to seek the protection of the FBI.

An investigation of Broadwell's personal email account uncovered letters of an explicit nature between her and Petraeus, who has been married for the past 38 years to his wife Holly.

It was then that agents approached the CIA chief directly. Having eliminated the threat of a security breach, it was decided that no further action would be taken by the FBI.

But the damage to Petraeus's reputation was clear, and having consulted with Clapper, the decision to resign was made.

In a letter to staff explaining his move, the now outgoing CIA boss said: "Such behaviour is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organisation such as ours."

Others close to Petraeus had an even more blunt assessment of the scandal. "He screwed up, he knows he screwed up," said Steve Boylan, a retired army officer and Petraeus's former spokesman.




Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned as CIA director last week after admitting an extramarital relationship, could possibly face military prosecution for adultery if officials turn up any evidence to counter his apparent claims that the affair began after he left the military.

The affair between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, both of whom are married, began several months after his retirement from the Army in August 2011 and ended four months ago, retired U.S. Army Col. Steve Boylan, a former Petraeus spokesman, told ABC News.

Broadwell, 40, had extraordinary access to the 60-year-old general during six trips she took to Afghanistan as his official biographer, a plum assignment for a novice writer.

"For him to allow the very first biography to be written about him, to be written by someone who had never written a book before, seemed very odd to me," former Petraeus aide Peter Mansoor told ABC News.

The timeline of the relationship, according to Patraeus, would mean that he was carrying on the affair for the majority of his tenure at the CIA, where he began as director Sept. 6, 2011. If he carried on the affair while serving in the Army, however, Patraeus could face charges, according to Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which reprimands conduct "of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces."
Whether the military would pursue such action, whatever evidence it accumulates, is unclear.

As the details of the investigation launched by the FBI unraveled this weekend, it became clear that the woman at the heart of the inquiry that led to Petraeus' downfall had been identified as Jill Kelley, a Florida woman who volunteers to help the military. She is a family friend of Petraeus, who Broadwell apparently felt threatened by.

Kelley and her husband are longtime supporters of the military, and six months ago she was named "Honorary Ambassador to Central Command" for her volunteer work with the military. Officials say Kelley is not romantically linked to Petraeus, but befriended the general and his wife when he was stationed in Florida.

The Kelleys spent Christmases in group settings with the Petraeuses and visited them in Washington D.C., where Kelley's sister and her son live.

"We and our family have been friends with Gen. Petraeus and his family for over five years." Kelley said in a statement Sunday. "We respect his and his family's privacy and want the same for us and our three children."
Earlier this year, around the time that Petraeus and Broadwell were breaking off their affair, Kelly began receiving anonymous emails, which she found so threatening she went to authorities. The FBI traced the messages to Broadwell's computer, where they found other salacious and explicit emails between Broadwell and Petraeus that made it clear to officials that the two were carrying on an affair.

Investigators uncovered no compromising of classified information or criminal activity, sources familiar with the probe said, adding that all that was found was a lot of "human drama."

Broadwell, a married mother of two, had access to Petraeus while she was with him in Afghanistan as his official biographer. People close to the general had previously suspected Broadwell's feelings for him had crossed a professional line.

They found Broadwell, who spent a year embedded with Petraeus in Afghanistan, to be embarrassing and far too "gushy" about him. They said to one another they thought Broadwell "was in love with him," sources told ABC News.

Petraeus is said to have been the one to have broken off the extramarital affair.

His storied career, first as the public face of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and later as director of the CIA, came crashing down Friday when he announced his resignation from the intelligence agency, citing the indiscretion.
"After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours," Petraeus said in a statement Friday.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was made aware of the Petraeus situation Tuesday evening around 5 p.m. by the FBI, according to a senior intelligence source.

After having several conversations with Petraeus that evening and the next day, Clapper advised Petraeus that the best thing to do would be for him to resign, the source said.

Clapper notified the White House the next afternoon that Petraeus was considering resigning, according to the source. Petraeus then went to the White House Thursday and told the president he thought he should resign, and Obama accepted his resignation the next day, the source said.

Despite the lengthy investigation into Broadwell by the FBI, the White House says it was not made aware of it until Wednesday, the day after the election, a revelation that surprised many.

"It just doesn't add up. That the FBI would be carrying on this type of investigation without, again, bringing it to the president or the highest levels of the White House," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said.

Petraeus and his wife, Holly, who have been married for 38 years, are said to be staying in their Arlington Home and are doing "OK."

"Knowing the family, I suspect it will be hard work, but given the effort, they will get through it," Boylan, the former Petraeus spokesman, said.

Numerous questions still remain about the investigation, and some on Capitol Hill are also frustrated because Petraeus was schedule to testify to the House and Senate intelligence committees about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September.

The timing of Petraeus' resignation "was what it was," an official told ABC News, adding that the time had come to tie up any loose ends in the investigation and confront the general.



One of America's best known military leaders, and CIA head David Petraeus, has abruptly announced his resignation. Stepping down, Petraeus admitted to an extramarital affair, saying he was guilty of "unacceptable" behavior. Ex-military intelligence officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Tony Shaffer told RT there's more behind the resignation than just moral issues.



WASHINGTON (Reuters) - David Petraeus was a star on the battlefield, commanding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but was undone by "poor judgment" in engaging in an extramarital affair that led to his downfall as CIA director.

Petraeus, who was widely celebrated as a military commander and even occasionally mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, was sworn in as head of the CIA in September 2011 – and had kept a low profile since. Now speculation is sure to proliferate over whether that low profile resulted from Petraeus focusing on America’s intelligence gathering or on personal matters.

In particular, members of Congress and other officials demanding answers about the Benghazi attack on the US consulate that resulted in the deaths of four Americans – including the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stephens, and two CIA agents – will want to know if there was any link between Petraeus’s extramarital activities and what has been increasingly criticized as the CIA’s weak performance on the night of the Benghazi attack.

More broadly, the reason for Petraeus’s departure will raise questions about any compromising of US covert operations and intelligence. The potential for blackmail of intelligence officers is always a concern about the spy corps, but the involvement of the nation’s top spy in an extramarital affair takes the concern to a new level.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been probing Petraeus and the potential security risks posed by his affair, CNN reported late Friday afternoon.

In the weeks since the Benghazi attack, officials have leaked information, including how Petraeus kept information on the CIA’s role in Benghazi so private that even Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was left to call Petraeus as the attack unfolded to try to get intelligence information from him.

Last week, CIA officials revealed that in fact, the intelligence agency’s operations in Benghazi dwarfed diplomatic operations at the consulate and that the CIA maintained what was described as an “annex,” about a mile from the diplomatic mission.

State Department officials have said there was an informal understanding that the annex and its agents would come to the assistance of the consulate (which had private contractors providing security) if a need arose. CIA officials insist their agents responded to the consulate’s distress calls within a half-hour.

Just two days after his 60th birthday, Petraeus stepped down from the spy agency where he had held the top office since September 6, 2011.
"After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation," Petraeus told the shadow warriors he commanded at CIA.

It was a stunning downfall for a revered military man who was seen as one of the top American leaders of his generation and was once considered a potential contender for the White House.

Petraeus was credited with pulling Iraq from the brink of all-out civil war and for battlefield successes in Afghanistan after overseeing a surge of 30,000 troops ordered by President Barack Obama in late 2009. He became known for counter-insurgency strategies that were seen as gaining ground against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"I don't think he was professionally overrated. His were genuine accomplishments," said James Carafano, a war historian with the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.

At the time of his nomination to the CIA post, some Washington insiders had said the White House wanted to find a prominent position for Petraeus to ensure he would not be recruited by Republicans as a challenger to the 2012 Obama-Biden ticket.


When he was nominated to lead the CIA there were some concerns in intelligence circles that the high-profile four-star Army general might not be able to lead from the shadows as appropriate for a spy chief.

But once he took over the head office at the U.S. spy agency, Petraeus kept a decidedly low public profile.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, expressed regret about the resignation of "one of America's best and brightest" and said it was an "enormous loss" for the country.
"At CIA, Director Petraeus gave the agency leadership, stature, prestige and credibility both at home and abroad. On a personal level, I found his command of intelligence issues second to none," she said.

RESIGNATION ACCEPTED

After accepting his resignation about a year-and-a-half after nominating Petraeus to the CIA post, Obama said: "By any measure, he was one of the outstanding General officers of his generation, helping our military adapt to new challenges, and leading our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he helped our nation put those wars on a path to a responsible end."

Earlier this week, in a Newsweek article entitled "General David Petraeus's Rules for Living," he listed 12 lessons for leadership. Number 5 was: "We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear­ view mirrors - drive on and avoid making them again."

In 2010 Petraeus stepped into the breach as the new commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to replace General Stanley McChrystal who was fired by Obama in a scandal over an article in which McChrystal and his aides made mocking comments about the president and some of his top advisers.

In 2009 Petraeus was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer and underwent radiation treatment. The media-friendly general joked at that time at a Washington event that reporters were only gathered "to see if the guy is still alive."

Petraeus, born in Cornwall, New York, lives in Virginia with his wife Holly. They have two grown children, a son who was an Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan, and a daughter.

Petraeus's wife, Holly, is an activist and volunteer who champions military families, and she continued that work after her husband retired from the military and moved to the CIA.

She currently is assistant director of the office of servicemember affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where she tries to keep unscrupulous lenders from taking advantage of military personnel. The bureau was championed by Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, who was elected to the Senate from Massachusetts this week.

Holly Petraeus is the daughter of four-star General William Knowlton, who was superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point when Petraeus was a cadet.

She briefed the press at the Pentagon on her efforts recently and was introduced by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who called her "a true friend of the Department of Defense and a dedicated member of our military family."

Petraeus has four Defense Distinguished Service Medal awards, three Distinguished Service Medal awards, the Bronze Star Medal for valor, and the State Department Distinguished Service Award.

He has a doctorate in international relations from Princeton University.

(Additional reporting by David Alexander, Matt Spetalnick and Diane Bartz; Editing by Warren Strobel and Jackie Frank)

We are the 99 per cent

WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation used counterterrorism agents to investigate the Occupy Wall Street movement, including its communications and planning, according to newly disclosed agency records.

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The F.B.I. records show that as early as September 2011, an agent from a counterterrorism task force in New York notified officials of two landmarks in Lower Manhattan — Federal Hall and the Museum of American Finance — “that their building was identified as a point of interest for the Occupy Wall Street.”
That was around the time that Occupy Wall Street activists set up a camp in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, spawning a protest movement across the United States that focused the nation’s attention on issues of income inequality.
In the following months, F.B.I. personnel around the country were routinely involved in exchanging information about the movement with businesses, local law-enforcement agencies and universities.
An October 2011 memo from the bureau’s Jacksonville, Fla., field office was titled Domain Program Management Domestic Terrorist.
The memo said agents discussed “past and upcoming meetings” of the movement, and its spread. It said agents should contact Occupy Wall Street activists to ascertain whether people who attended their events had “violent tendencies.”
The memo said that because of high rates of unemployment, “the movement was spreading throughout Florida and there were several Facebook pages dedicated to specific chapters based on geographical areas.”
The F.B.I. was concerned that the movement would provide “an outlet for a lone offender exploiting the movement for reasons associated with general government dissatisfaction.”
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the F.B.I. has come under criticism for deploying counterterrorism agents to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence on organizations active in environmental, animal-cruelty and poverty issues.
The disclosure of the F.B.I. records comes a little more than a year after the police ousted protesters from Zuccotti Park in November 2011. Law-enforcement agencies undertook similar actions around the country against Occupy Wall Street groups.
Occupy Wall Street has lost much of its visibility since then, but questions remain about how local and federal law-enforcement officials monitored and treated the protesters.
The records were obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a civil-rights organization in Washington, through a Freedom of Information request to the F.B.I. Many parts of the documents were redacted by the bureau.
The records provide one of the first glimpses into how deeply involved federal law-enforcement authorities were in monitoring the activities of the movement, which is sometimes described in extreme terms.
For example, according to a memo written by the F.B.I.’s New York field office in August 2011, bureau personnel met with officials from the New York Stock Exchange to discuss “the planned Anarchist protest titled ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ scheduled for September 17, 2011.”
“The protest appears on Anarchist Web sites and social network pages on the Internet,” the memo said.
It added: “Numerous incidents have occurred in the past which show attempts by Anarchist groups to disrupt, influence, and or shut down normal business operations of financial districts.”
A spokesman for the F.B.I. in Washington cautioned against “drawing conclusions from redacted” documents.
“The F.B.I. recognizes the rights of individuals and groups to engage in constitutionally protected activity,” said the spokesman, Paul Bresson. “While the F.B.I. is obligated to thoroughly investigate any serious allegations involving threats of violence, we do not open investigations based solely on First Amendment activity. In fact, the Department of Justice and the F.B.I.’s own internal guidelines on domestic operations strictly forbid that.”
But Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said the documents demonstrated that the F.B.I. had acted improperly by gathering information on Americans involved in lawful activities.
“The collection of information on people’s free-speech actions is being entered into unregulated databases, a vast storehouse of information widely disseminated to a range of law-enforcement and, apparently, private entities,” she said. “This is precisely the threat — people do not know when or how it may be used and in what manner.”
The records show little evidence that the members of the movement planned to commit violence. But they do describe a discussion on the Internet “regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement about when it is okay to shoot a police officer” and a law-enforcement meeting held in Des Moines because “there may potentially be an attempt to stop the Iowa Caucuses by people involved in Occupy Iowa.”
There are no references within the documents to agency personnel covertly infiltrating Occupy branches.
The documents indicate, however, that the F.B.I. obtained information from police departments and other law-enforcement agencies that appear to have been gathered by someone observing the protesters as they planned activities.
The documents do not detail recent activities by the F.B.I. involving Occupy Wall Street.
But one activist, Billy Livsey, 48, said two F.B.I. agents visited him in Brooklyn over the summer to question him about planned protests at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and about plans to celebrate the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street in September.
The agents, Mr. Livsey said, told him they knew he was among a group of people involved in the Occupy Wall Street “direct action” group that distributed information about the movement’s activities.
He said he felt unnerved by the visit.
“It was surprising and troubling to me,” Mr. Livsey said.


Occupy Wall Street activists returned to Zuccotti Park on Thursday to protest trespassing charges against activists who were arrested at New York’s Trinity Church on December 17. The protesters had scaled a fence onto church-owned property after Trinity refused to give them sanctuary following their eviction from Zuccotti at the time. Thursday’s rally was held as part of a campaign to pressure Trinity to drop cooperation with prosecutors ahead of the protesters’ trial next week. A group of New York pastors led a prayer vigil in support.

Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt: «I must take issue with Trinity Church today. I must take issue with their desire to prosecute people for acting in a way that churches and houses of worship [have] acted for centuries. I must take issue with those people, for whatever reason, who have decided that prosecution of free speech and prosecution in the service of human life and human flourishing is a good idea.»

Also speaking at the event on Thursday was the priest, poet and activist, Father Daniel Berrigan.

Father Daniel Berrigan: «Real estate is real when it is in service to the common good. And when people are being served by the real estate, it becomes real once more. We are witnessing, in the case of Trinity, the unreality of real estate out of all control, which is to say, the real estate is growing unreal by playing God, by the way in which it’s trying to be in charge — and failing utterly. One way of putting our project today is to say, we are here to restore the reality to real estate.»


The Occupation of Wall Street, which has successfully and peacefully resisted an eviction attempt by New York police by sheer weight of numbers, has inspired similar occupations across the United States and across the world.

A demonstration which began with a handful of protesters getting pepper-sprayed on the pavements of Manhattan’s financial district has mushroomed into a national phenomenon, with labour unions rushing to offer solidarity and high-profile supporters lending advice and assistance.

After a year of police violence and savage crackdowns on protest across Europe, the injection of energy from across the Atlantic is more than welcome.

There are good reasons to be watching what’s happening in Lower Manhattan right now. The idea of Wall Street as the heart of a global financial system whose collapse threatens the future of human civilisation is as important as the space itself, and while this is no Tahrir Square – the occupiers are hardly storming the skyscrapers above them – the brash symbolism of the protest is hard to ignore.

At the demonstration on London’s Westminster bridge last weekend, I was handed flyers reading «We are the 99 per cent». As Britain gears up for a fresh wave of student demonstrations beginning on November 9, the mantra of the Occupy America movement, somewhere between an cry of rage and a threat, has begun to resonate around the world.

What does it mean?

As a slogan, «We are the 99 per cent» is inclusive to the point of inarticulacy. It is neither a demand nor an ideology, simply a statement of numbers. While intended to set the majority of ordinary citizens against the elite «one per cent» who, it is alleged, own and control most of the world’s wealth, the slogan has been criticised for its formlessness: Does it mean: «We are the 99 per cent, and we’re here to take back the money you stole?» Does it mean: »We are the 99 per cent, and we will be pleased to serve you dinner whilst you confiscate our homes?» Does it simply mean «we are the 99 percent, and we’re screwed?»

It means none of these things: The slogan is a statistic, a simple statement of majority. «We are the 99 per cent,» it says. «Why aren’t we represented?»

At their heart, these protests are about democracy. They are about the crisis of representative democracy taking place across the world, as party politics consistently places the interests of business above the interests of society.

Police in New York have arrested about 70 people, as Occupy Wall Street protesters moved to Times Square.
Forty-five were detained in the square, with another 24 held for alleged trespassing at a branch of Citibank in Washington Square Park.
The protests came on a day of worldwide protests against austerity and what protesters call corporate greed.
At least 70 people were injured after a peaceful rally in the Italian capital Rome descended into street battles.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called the violence a «worrying signal» and said the perpetrators «must be found and punished».
Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno blamed the violence on «a few thousand thugs from all over Italy, and possibly from all over Europe, who infiltrated the demonstration».

Series of rallies

Organisers of the New York march from Zannotti Park in Lower Manhattan to Times Square said about 5,000 people took part.
Police arrest woman in Times Square 15 October 2011Polilce made 45 arrests in Times Square alone
Protesters chanted: «We got sold out, banks got bailed out» and «All day, all week, occupy Wall Street.»
There were also protests in a number of other US cities, including 5,000 people who rallied outside City Hall in Los Angeles and 2,000 who marched in Pittsburgh.
The New York protests began on 17 September with a small group of activists and have swelled to include several thousand people at times, from many walks of life.

Festive

The Rome protests began when tens of thousands of people gathered under anti-austerity banners, close to the ruins of the Colosseum.
However militants dressed in black, some of them wearing balaclavas and crash helmets, soon appeared in the crowd and began attacking property.
Cars were burnt, and cash dispensers, banks and shops were attacked, with windows smashed.
A huge rally in Madrid had a more festive atmosphere.
Tens of thousands of people filled the Puerta del Sol Square on Saturday evening, the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford reports from the Spanish capital.
Rally in Madrid's Puerta del Sol 15 October 2011Madrid was one of several European cities to see large-scale protests on Saturday
People of all ages, from pensioners to children, and many of the young unemployed, filled the square, where the «Indignant» movement was launched in May.
In Portugal, 20,000 marched in Lisbon and a similar number in Oporto.
In Greece, about 2,000 people rallied outside parliament in Athens and a similar number reportedly turned out in the second city, Thessaloniki.
At least 1,000 people demonstrated in London’s financial district but were prevented by police from reaching the Stock Exchange, and five arrests were made.
About 500 protesters spent the night camped outside St Paul’s cathedral
Protests were also held in a number of cities across Asia.

This morning may turn out to be the «Millbank moment» for the «Occupy America» movement. When union activists arrived to swell the numbers defending Liberty Plaza, prompting the city authorities to back down from their planned eviction, reports from the occupation were wild with triumphant energy, and the chanting of: «All day, all week, occupy Wall Street!» is probably still going on right now. What I saw and heard in Liberty Plaza when I visited was the same shocked excitement I saw in London almost a year ago, when student demonstrators smashed into the headquarters of the party in government at Millbank: It was young people who have spent their entire lives feeling powerless and alienated suddenly realising that, with enough numbers and enough courage, they can be unstoppable, that they can take on the edifices of power and win, at least for a little while. The difference is that New Yorkers have achieved this without breaking a single window. The scrupulous non-violence of the Occupy America movement leaves the right-wing press unable to tell a simple story about «feral kids kicking off against the cops»: Instead, the images that have been broadcast around the world are of New York police pepper-spraying young women in the face and peaceful protesters being beaten away from Wall Street while chanting the First Amendment in chorus. On the morning of Friday, October 14, hundreds of thousands watched online as the authorities failed to remove the ordinary, indignant people of the United States from Liberty Plaza. When Americans do symbolic protest, they do it utterly without irony. In one way or another, we are all standing in the shadow of Wall Street. The dignified defiance of the New York occupation has inspired the world, and may yet provide some relief for the weary fighters on the European front of what looks set to be a long and punishing fight against austerity and state repression. The question now, for the occupiers and for everyone else is: What will the 99 per cent do next?

http://www.secaucusnewjersey.org/protesters-marched-to-0ccupy-wall-street-10453.html

Protesters Marched To Wall Street

Protesters of about hundreds of people marched to Wall Street in New York on Saturday to protest greed, corruption and budget cuts. The protesters despite negotiations would still descend to the heart of the global finance to air its grievances. Protesters had planned to stake out Wall Street until their anger over a financial system they say favors the rich and powerful was heard.

Police Blocked Streets But Protesters Went Through

The police blocked all the streets near the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall in LowerManhattan long before the protesters arrived. But the planned protest of Wall Street today was partially thwarted by a police shutdown of nearby streets in New York City. As it turned out, the demonstrators found much of their target off limits on Saturday as the city shut down sections of Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall well before their arrival.

The Aim Of The Protest

According to Bloomberg News, about 1,000 protesters were on site at the start of the protest and a lot more joined in. By noon, many protesters were carrying backpacks and sleeping bags, had gathered near Wall Street to search for a place to camp amid a heavy police presence. The aim of the protest was to get President Obama to establish a commission to end “the influence money has over our represenatives in Washington,” according to the website of Adbusters, a group promoting the event. The protest came as the United States struggles to overcome an economic crisis marked by a huge budget deficit that has triggered cuts in the public service sector while unemployment hovers stubbornly above nine percent.

Protest Was Organized Online & On Twitter

The Next Great Generation blog said the “Occupy Wall Street” protest was “organized online and on Twitter.” “People have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we’ll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sept. 15 at a press conference. “As long as they do it where other people’s rights are respected, this is the place where people can speak their minds, and that’s what makes New York, New York.”

In this article you learned that protesters of about hundreds of people marched to Wall Street in New York on Saturday to protest greed, corruption and budget cuts. The protest came as the United States struggles to overcome an economic crisis marked by a huge budget deficit that has triggered cuts in the public service sector while unemployment hovers stubbornly above nine percent.

WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation used counterterrorism agents to investigate the Occupy Wall Street movement, including its communications and planning, according to newly disclosed agency records.

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The F.B.I. records show that as early as September 2011, an agent from a counterterrorism task force in New York notified officials of two landmarks in Lower Manhattan — Federal Hall and the Museum of American Finance — “that their building was identified as a point of interest for the Occupy Wall Street.”
That was around the time that Occupy Wall Street activists set up a camp in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, spawning a protest movement across the United States that focused the nation’s attention on issues of income inequality.
In the following months, F.B.I. personnel around the country were routinely involved in exchanging information about the movement with businesses, local law-enforcement agencies and universities.
An October 2011 memo from the bureau’s Jacksonville, Fla., field office was titled Domain Program Management Domestic Terrorist.
The memo said agents discussed “past and upcoming meetings” of the movement, and its spread. It said agents should contact Occupy Wall Street activists to ascertain whether people who attended their events had “violent tendencies.”
The memo said that because of high rates of unemployment, “the movement was spreading throughout Florida and there were several Facebook pages dedicated to specific chapters based on geographical areas.”
The F.B.I. was concerned that the movement would provide “an outlet for a lone offender exploiting the movement for reasons associated with general government dissatisfaction.”
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the F.B.I. has come under criticism for deploying counterterrorism agents to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence on organizations active in environmental, animal-cruelty and poverty issues.
The disclosure of the F.B.I. records comes a little more than a year after the police ousted protesters from Zuccotti Park in November 2011. Law-enforcement agencies undertook similar actions around the country against Occupy Wall Street groups.
Occupy Wall Street has lost much of its visibility since then, but questions remain about how local and federal law-enforcement officials monitored and treated the protesters.
The records were obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a civil-rights organization in Washington, through a Freedom of Information request to the F.B.I. Many parts of the documents were redacted by the bureau.
The records provide one of the first glimpses into how deeply involved federal law-enforcement authorities were in monitoring the activities of the movement, which is sometimes described in extreme terms.
For example, according to a memo written by the F.B.I.’s New York field office in August 2011, bureau personnel met with officials from the New York Stock Exchange to discuss “the planned Anarchist protest titled ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ scheduled for September 17, 2011.”
“The protest appears on Anarchist Web sites and social network pages on the Internet,” the memo said.
It added: “Numerous incidents have occurred in the past which show attempts by Anarchist groups to disrupt, influence, and or shut down normal business operations of financial districts.”
A spokesman for the F.B.I. in Washington cautioned against “drawing conclusions from redacted” documents.
“The F.B.I. recognizes the rights of individuals and groups to engage in constitutionally protected activity,” said the spokesman, Paul Bresson. “While the F.B.I. is obligated to thoroughly investigate any serious allegations involving threats of violence, we do not open investigations based solely on First Amendment activity. In fact, the Department of Justice and the F.B.I.’s own internal guidelines on domestic operations strictly forbid that.”
But Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said the documents demonstrated that the F.B.I. had acted improperly by gathering information on Americans involved in lawful activities.
“The collection of information on people’s free-speech actions is being entered into unregulated databases, a vast storehouse of information widely disseminated to a range of law-enforcement and, apparently, private entities,” she said. “This is precisely the threat — people do not know when or how it may be used and in what manner.”
The records show little evidence that the members of the movement planned to commit violence. But they do describe a discussion on the Internet “regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement about when it is okay to shoot a police officer” and a law-enforcement meeting held in Des Moines because “there may potentially be an attempt to stop the Iowa Caucuses by people involved in Occupy Iowa.”
There are no references within the documents to agency personnel covertly infiltrating Occupy branches.
The documents indicate, however, that the F.B.I. obtained information from police departments and other law-enforcement agencies that appear to have been gathered by someone observing the protesters as they planned activities.
The documents do not detail recent activities by the F.B.I. involving Occupy Wall Street.
But one activist, Billy Livsey, 48, said two F.B.I. agents visited him in Brooklyn over the summer to question him about planned protests at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and about plans to celebrate the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street in September.
The agents, Mr. Livsey said, told him they knew he was among a group of people involved in the Occupy Wall Street “direct action” group that distributed information about the movement’s activities.
He said he felt unnerved by the visit.
“It was surprising and troubling to me,” Mr. Livsey said.



Occupy Wall Street activists returned to Zuccotti Park on Thursday to protest trespassing charges against activists who were arrested at New York’s Trinity Church on December 17. The protesters had scaled a fence onto church-owned property after Trinity refused to give them sanctuary following their eviction from Zuccotti at the time. Thursday’s rally was held as part of a campaign to pressure Trinity to drop cooperation with prosecutors ahead of the protesters’ trial next week. A group of New York pastors led a prayer vigil in support.

Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt: "I must take issue with Trinity Church today. I must take issue with their desire to prosecute people for acting in a way that churches and houses of worship [have] acted for centuries. I must take issue with those people, for whatever reason, who have decided that prosecution of free speech and prosecution in the service of human life and human flourishing is a good idea."

Also speaking at the event on Thursday was the priest, poet and activist, Father Daniel Berrigan.

Father Daniel Berrigan: "Real estate is real when it is in service to the common good. And when people are being served by the real estate, it becomes real once more. We are witnessing, in the case of Trinity, the unreality of real estate out of all control, which is to say, the real estate is growing unreal by playing God, by the way in which it’s trying to be in charge — and failing utterly. One way of putting our project today is to say, we are here to restore the reality to real estate."







The Occupation of Wall Street, which has successfully and peacefully resisted an eviction attempt by New York police by sheer weight of numbers, has inspired similar occupations across the United States and across the world.

A demonstration which began with a handful of protesters getting pepper-sprayed on the pavements of Manhattan's financial district has mushroomed into a national phenomenon, with labour unions rushing to offer solidarity and high-profile supporters lending advice and assistance.




After a year of police violence and savage crackdowns on protest across Europe, the injection of energy from across the Atlantic is more than welcome.

There are good reasons to be watching what's happening in Lower Manhattan right now. The idea of Wall Street as the heart of a global financial system whose collapse threatens the future of human civilisation is as important as the space itself, and while this is no Tahrir Square - the occupiers are hardly storming the skyscrapers above them - the brash symbolism of the protest is hard to ignore.

At the demonstration on London's Westminster bridge last weekend, I was handed flyers reading "We are the 99 per cent". As Britain gears up for a fresh wave of student demonstrations beginning on November 9, the mantra of the Occupy America movement, somewhere between an cry of rage and a threat, has begun to resonate around the world.

What does it mean?

As a slogan, "We are the 99 per cent" is inclusive to the point of inarticulacy. It is neither a demand nor an ideology, simply a statement of numbers. While intended to set the majority of ordinary citizens against the elite "one per cent" who, it is alleged, own and control most of the world's wealth, the slogan has been criticised for its formlessness: Does it mean: "We are the 99 per cent, and we're here to take back the money you stole?" Does it mean: ''We are the 99 per cent, and we will be pleased to serve you dinner whilst you confiscate our homes?" Does it simply mean "we are the 99 percent, and we're screwed?"

It means none of these things: The slogan is a statistic, a simple statement of majority. "We are the 99 per cent," it says. "Why aren't we represented?"

At their heart, these protests are about democracy. They are about the crisis of representative democracy taking place across the world, as party politics consistently places the interests of business above the interests of society.



Police in New York have arrested about 70 people, as Occupy Wall Street protesters moved to Times Square.
Forty-five were detained in the square, with another 24 held for alleged trespassing at a branch of Citibank in Washington Square Park.
The protests came on a day of worldwide protests against austerity and what protesters call corporate greed.
At least 70 people were injured after a peaceful rally in the Italian capital Rome descended into street battles.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called the violence a "worrying signal" and said the perpetrators "must be found and punished".
Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno blamed the violence on "a few thousand thugs from all over Italy, and possibly from all over Europe, who infiltrated the demonstration".
Series of rallies
Organisers of the New York march from Zannotti Park in Lower Manhattan to Times Square said about 5,000 people took part.
Police arrest woman in Times Square 15 October 2011Polilce made 45 arrests in Times Square alone
Protesters chanted: "We got sold out, banks got bailed out" and "All day, all week, occupy Wall Street."
There were also protests in a number of other US cities, including 5,000 people who rallied outside City Hall in Los Angeles and 2,000 who marched in Pittsburgh.
The New York protests began on 17 September with a small group of activists and have swelled to include several thousand people at times, from many walks of life.
Festive
The Rome protests began when tens of thousands of people gathered under anti-austerity banners, close to the ruins of the Colosseum.
However militants dressed in black, some of them wearing balaclavas and crash helmets, soon appeared in the crowd and began attacking property.
Cars were burnt, and cash dispensers, banks and shops were attacked, with windows smashed.
A huge rally in Madrid had a more festive atmosphere.
Tens of thousands of people filled the Puerta del Sol Square on Saturday evening, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford reports from the Spanish capital.
Rally in Madrid's Puerta del Sol 15 October 2011Madrid was one of several European cities to see large-scale protests on Saturday
People of all ages, from pensioners to children, and many of the young unemployed, filled the square, where the "Indignant" movement was launched in May.
In Portugal, 20,000 marched in Lisbon and a similar number in Oporto.
In Greece, about 2,000 people rallied outside parliament in Athens and a similar number reportedly turned out in the second city, Thessaloniki.
At least 1,000 people demonstrated in London's financial district but were prevented by police from reaching the Stock Exchange, and five arrests were made.
About 500 protesters spent the night camped outside St Paul's cathedral
Protests were also held in a number of cities across Asia.
This morning may turn out to be the "Millbank moment" for the "Occupy America" movement. When union activists arrived to swell the numbers defending Liberty Plaza, prompting the city authorities to back down from their planned eviction, reports from the occupation were wild with triumphant energy, and the chanting of: "All day, all week, occupy Wall Street!" is probably still going on right now. What I saw and heard in Liberty Plaza when I visited was the same shocked excitement I saw in London almost a year ago, when student demonstrators smashed into the headquarters of the party in government at Millbank: It was young people who have spent their entire lives feeling powerless and alienated suddenly realising that, with enough numbers and enough courage, they can be unstoppable, that they can take on the edifices of power and win, at least for a little while. The difference is that New Yorkers have achieved this without breaking a single window. The scrupulous non-violence of the Occupy America movement leaves the right-wing press unable to tell a simple story about "feral kids kicking off against the cops": Instead, the images that have been broadcast around the world are of New York police pepper-spraying young women in the face and peaceful protesters being beaten away from Wall Street while chanting the First Amendment in chorus. On the morning of Friday, October 14, hundreds of thousands watched online as the authorities failed to remove the ordinary, indignant people of the United States from Liberty Plaza. When Americans do symbolic protest, they do it utterly without irony. In one way or another, we are all standing in the shadow of Wall Street. The dignified defiance of the New York occupation has inspired the world, and may yet provide some relief for the weary fighters on the European front of what looks set to be a long and punishing fight against austerity and state repression. The question now, for the occupiers and for everyone else is: What will the 99 per cent do next?

http://www.secaucusnewjersey.org/protesters-marched-to-0ccupy-wall-street-10453.html

Protesters Marched To Wall Street

Protesters of about hundreds of people marched to Wall Street in New York on Saturday to protest greed, corruption and budget cuts. The protesters despite negotiations would still descend to the heart of the global finance to air its grievances. Protesters had planned to stake out Wall Street until their anger over a financial system they say favors the rich and powerful was heard.

Police Blocked Streets But Protesters Went Through

The police blocked all the streets near the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall in LowerManhattan long before the protesters arrived. But the planned protest of Wall Street today was partially thwarted by a police shutdown of nearby streets in New York City. As it turned out, the demonstrators found much of their target off limits on Saturday as the city shut down sections of Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall well before their arrival.

The Aim Of The Protest

According to Bloomberg News, about 1,000 protesters were on site at the start of the protest and a lot more joined in. By noon, many protesters were carrying backpacks and sleeping bags, had gathered near Wall Street to search for a place to camp amid a heavy police presence. The aim of the protest was to get President Obama to establish a commission to end “the influence money has over our represenatives in Washington,” according to the website of Adbusters, a group promoting the event. The protest came as the United States struggles to overcome an economic crisis marked by a huge budget deficit that has triggered cuts in the public service sector while unemployment hovers stubbornly above nine percent.

Protest Was Organized Online & On Twitter

The Next Great Generation blog said the “Occupy Wall Street” protest was “organized online and on Twitter.” “People have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we’ll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sept. 15 at a press conference. “As long as they do it where other people’s rights are respected, this is the place where people can speak their minds, and that’s what makes New York, New York.”

In this article you learned that protesters of about hundreds of people marched to Wall Street in New York on Saturday to protest greed, corruption and budget cuts. The protest came as the United States struggles to overcome an economic crisis marked by a huge budget deficit that has triggered cuts in the public service sector while unemployment hovers stubbornly above nine percent.

Government surveillance

The National Defense Authorization Act

On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. Along with imposing new sanctions against Iran and allocating $662 billion in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Act authorizes the military to detain, indefinitely and without trial, anyone it deems to be a terrorist or supporter of terrorism, including any U.S. citizen. The Act defines those subject to military detention as anyone who has “substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”
The law’s vague definition of those subject to detention as well as its application to U.S. citizens has fueled widespread concern and condemnation. And while the Act’s sponsors claim the provision merely codifies powers that congress already approved shortly after 9/11 in the joint resolution entitled Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), the provision clearly broadens the definition of those subject to military detention. Where the AUMF allowed only for the detention and rendition of “enemy combatants,” the NDAA now introduces “associated forces” and anyone who has “committed a belligerent act” or “substantially supported” terrorism. Similarly, President Obama dismissed the indefinite detention provision as superfluous and “unnecessary,” yet at the same time the Senate voted to reject an amendment by Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal) that would have specifically excluded U.S. citizens from the provision.
While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he would not personally authorize the military to detain American citizens using the new law, the statement does not apply to subsequent administrations, nor is it legally binding. And given that the Obama administration recently defended the military assassination of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaqi, can Obama’s promise even be trusted?
Also, the NDAA specifically redefines the “battlefield” in the War on Terror to include U.S. soil. Why now? Could the government be preparing the way to use the military to quell social unrest? Former New York Times war correspondent, Chris Hedges, who is suing the Obama administration over the NDAA’s indefinite detention provision, thinks it’s possible. “I suspect the real purpose of the bill is to thwart internal, domestic movements that threaten the corporate state,” he writes. “I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge. I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have ‘disappeared’ into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation.”
The militarization of police, the expansion of the State’s surveillance and security apparatus, and the broadening of the U.S. military’s role to include domestic operations against U.S. citizens will likely accelerate the growth of popular movements of protest and civil disobedience.

References & external links:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-signs-defense-bill…
http://www.aclu.org/national-security/president-obama-signs…
http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/senate-rejects-amendment…
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/01/22/1057336/-Reporter-Chris…


Reuters/Rick Wilking

Six years after the White House first started running amok on the computer networks of its adversaries, US President Barack Obama has signed off on a top-secret order that finally offers blueprints for the Pentagon’s cyberwars.

Pres. Obama has autographed an executive order outlining protocol and procedures for the US military to take in the name of preventing cyberattacks from foreign countries, the Washington Post reports, once and for all providing instructions from the Oval Office on how to manage the hush-hush assaults against opposing nation-states that have all been confirmed by the White House while at the same time defending America from any possible harm from abroad.

According to Post’s sources, namely “officials who have seen the classified document and are not authorized to speak on the record,” Pres. Obama signed the paperwork in mid-October. Those authorities explain to the paper that the initiative in question, Presidential Policy Directive 20, “establishes a broad and strict set of standards to guide the operations of federal agencies in confronting threats in cyberspace.”

Confronting a threat may sound harmless, but begs to introduce a chicken-and-the-egg scenario that could have some very serious implications. The Post describes the directive as being “the most extensive White House effort to date to wrestle with what constitutes an ‘offensive’ and a ‘defensive’ action in the rapidly evolving world of cyberwar and cyberterrorism,” but the ambiguous order may very well allow the US to continue assaulting the networks of other nations, now with a given go-ahead from the commander-in-chief. Next in line, the Post says, will be rules of engagement straight from the Pentagon that will provide guidelines for when to carry out assaults outside the realm of what is considered ‘American’ in terms of cyberspace.

“What it does, really for the first time, is it explicitly talks about how we will use cyber operations,” one senior administration official tells the paper of the policy directive. “Network defense is what you’re doing inside your own networks. . . . Cyber operations is stuff outside that space, and recognizing that you could be doing that for what might be called defensive purposes.”

When The New York Times published an exposé on the White House’s so-called Olympics Games program earlier this year, the world became fully aware for once of America’s involvement in international cyberwar, but much to the chagrin of Washington. Officials including members of Pres. Obama’s national security team spoke on condition of anonymity to tell the Times that his predecessor, then-Pres. George W. Bush, began the program in 2006 to target Iran’s nuclear facilities and then passed it along to the current administration to continue under the leadership of the current commander-in-chief.

“From his first months in office,” David Sanger wrote for the Times, Pres. Obama “secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons.”

Congress has fought tooth-and-nail in the months since to plug any leaks that could potentially spill the beans regarding any further secrets with the potential of effecting national security, but those efforts appear unsuccessful given this week’s Post report on Presidential Police Directive 20.

Now take the example of Iran: according to the Post, Pres. Obama’s signature on last month’s directive means the US now has rules and regulations when it comes to protecting its own infrastructure from cyberattack, and can do so by means of launching what appear to be pre-emptive assaults of their own.

“It should enable people to arrive at more effective decisions,” a second senior administration official tells the Post. “In that sense, it’s an enormous step forward.”

That comment echoes US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s insistence earlier this year that “defense alone is not enough” in terms of keeping the country safe. But what it also seems to do is put on the books a presidential policy that equates an overzealous offense with a solid defense. While the US has cited Iranian hackers as the key players behind a recent attack on the websites of Capital One Financial Corp. and BB&T Corp., two of the biggest names in the American banking industry, the US has done little — on the record — to reveal any similar assaults from abroad. Instead, rather, it’s relied on fear-mongering to try and convince the country to accept a cybersecurity legislation that will assure American’s safety from foreign hackers, all for the small price of sacrificing their digital-age privacy.

While the Obama White House has failed to acknowledge the Olympic Games program or any involvement in the Stuxnet or Flames viruses linked to the initiative, computer researchers in both the US and Russia have tied Washington to the cripplingly malicious coding. Earlier this month, California-based Chevron, one of the world’s leaders in the oil sector, went public with claims that Stuxnet had infected — but not affected — their computers after the virus was unleashed.

The ability to slow down or speed up centrifuges in nuclear facilities from thousands of miles away made Stuxnet a virus that had very substantial powers. Refusing to speak of the Olympic Games program specifically, former CIA chief Michael Hayden told the Times, “This is the first attack of a major nature in which a cyberattack was used to effect physical destruction.”

According to the Post’s latest, though, future assaults by way of Stuxnet or similar worms could be considered by Washington as defense mechanisms to make sure Iran doesn’t retaliate for what America has long-been lashing out with. One source tells the Times that, before last month’s directive, severing any link between a US-computer and an overseas server by any means possible would be an act that would put America on the offensive. Now even a preemptive attack that disconnects other countries could be considered a defensive ploy according to the president.

“That was seen as something that was aggressive…particularly by some at the State Department,” one defense official tells the Post. With the signing of Pres. Obama’s latest order, though, the paper writes that the directive “effectively enables the military to act more aggressively to thwart cyberattacks on the nation’s web of government and private computer networks.”

It is thought that, through the directive, any systems linked even remotely with America’s can be fair game for an assault. Given the expansion of cloud computing and the ever-expanding interconnection of communities across the globe on the Web, though, that could essentially enable Uncle Sam’s cybersquad to get away with a whole new slew of tricks to try and topple adversaries of any kind that threaten the American way of life. When and where those actions are necessary, of course, remains another topic of discussion. Will those orders be signed in secrecy as well, though?


by Andrew P. Napolitano

In a less than reassuring twist, the U.S. government will argue that no one can sue to end one form of intelligence surveillance because nobody is safe from surveillance.

Suppose Big Brother is watching you. You in particular, and all your friends — recording your phone conversations, reading your emails and instant messages — all with the aim of finding something to use against you and your friends.

As my students would say, sucks to be you. It sucks badly enough, in fact, that you might be able to go into federal court and ask a judge to make the government explain why they’re doing it, and maybe force them to get a warrant.

But suppose you find out that Big Brother is watching some other unnamed people. And those other people sound a lot like some of the people you sometimes work with. And if Big Brother really is watching those people, you need to watch what you say, or stop talking to those people altogether. But you don’t know for sure.

It still sucks to be you. But does it suck enough that you can go to court to try to stop it?

That is the issue that will be argued Monday in front of the Supreme Court. The case is called Clapper v. Amnesty International. The underlying question is an important one in post-9/11 America: How extensively can the government eavesdrop on phone calls and emails by foreigners of «interest» to our intelligence agencies? And how much can such government surveillance legally impact American citizens seeking to communicate with people our government may dislike or suspect of unsavory deeds?

That issue, however, won’t be squarely presented Monday. Instead, the case will turn on what courts call «standing to sue.» This abstruse lawyers’ question sometimes turns my con law students’ thoughts to career change. But it is vitally important for understanding how the courts deal with constitutional claims. So let’s try to break it down in non-soporific language.

Article III of the Constitution extends «the judicial power of the United States» to «cases and controversies.» That means, courts have said over the years, that citizens can’t sue just because they think the government has violated the Constitution; they must show that they personally have a remediable quarrel with the government — that it particularly sucks to be them, and that a victory in court will make things better.

The basic questions behind «standing to sue» are twofold. First, how badly does it suck to be you? And, second, what do you expect the government to do about it? If the answer to the first question is «about the same as it sucks to be anybody else,» you’re out of court. Ditto if the answer to the second question is «nothing in particular.»

Here are the facts in Clapper. During the 1960s and 70s, intelligence agencies engaged in widespread electronic eavesdropping on Americans when they decided that what they intercepted related to national security. The Supreme Court held in 1972 that this sort of warrantless spying on Americans violates the Fourth Amendment. The decision led to the enactment in 1978 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That law sharply limited government’s power to eavesdrop on «United States persons,» meaning individuals or organizations lawfully present in the country. At the same time, it set up a secret judicial body — the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) — that can give the government permission to intercept communications that come from foreigners, foreign organizations, or foreign governments, if it can spell out why it needs the information. Even then, the government must undertake «minimization» proceedings to keep from gathering unnecessary information on «United States persons.»

A group of lawyers, human rights groups, news media, and journalists filed suit in federal court, claiming that the surveillance laws impeded their ability to communicate with overseas contacts. The government responded, in essence, that paranoia could not establish standing.

The FISC has virtually never turned a government application down. Nonetheless, after 9/11, the Bush Administration refused to follow the Act’s procedures and began a massive secret program of warrantless surveillance on communications abroad, including some to and from people in the United States. Once that program became public knowledge, the Administration sought Congressional authorization for this kind of spying. In 2008, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA).

As a result, the government no longer needs to specify the targets of its spying; it simply must file with the FISC a declaration that it needs to conduct surveillance, not on a given individual, but on a certain class of communications. The FISC does not review this filing; it simply makes sure the government has filled it out properly, and then issues a surveillance order. Government may still not «intentionally target» persons in the U.S. — but it no longer has to designate a specific target at all, and it does not need to show that it has «probable cause» to spy on anyone in particular. It’s a license for wholesale spying, as long as the communications involve one party in another country.

After FAA passed, a group of lawyers, human rights groups, news media, and journalists (including Pulitzer winner hris Hedges) filed suit in federal court. They are seeking a declaration that the new, looser procedures violate the Fourth Amendment.

After FAA’s passage, they argued, it now really sucked to be them; if the FAA program was stopped, it would suck a lot less. That’s because they had frequent confidential dealings with sources overseas — clients seeking to communicate confidentially with their U.S. lawyers, human rights advocates and witnesses not eager to be known publicly for opposing oppressive regimes, and journalistic sources displeasing to the United States. After FAA, they charged, they had to assume that their phone calls and emails might be intercepted. As a result, they often had to travel abroad to meet with their clients or sources, or, if they could not, forgo communicating at all.

The government responded, in essence, that paranoia could not establish standing. True, intelligence agencies might be listening; but then again, they might be listening to other people entirely. If the plaintiffs got antsy and wanted to spend money to travel abroad rather than call or email, well, that wasn’t an «injury in fact,» just a choice by the plaintiffs themselves.

In a ground-breaking opinion, a panel of the Second Circuit held that the plaintiffs did have «standing to sue.» The plaintiffs had suffered an «injury in fact» — they had to spend money, a quintessential legal injury. The panel ordered the district court to hold a trial on the constitutional issue. But the government petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the panel’s order, and the court has granted review.

It’s hard to believe that it has done so in order to affirm the Second Circuit. In the 1972 case of Laird v. Tatum, the Supreme Court refused to restrain the military from conducting surveillance on civilian groups in the U.S., because the plaintiffs claimed only that the program had a «chilling» effect on their freedom of expression. «Allegations of a subjective ‘chill’ are not an adequate substitute for a claim of specific present objective harm or a threat of specific future harm,» Chief Justice Burger wrote. Laird was a 5-4 decision, but it would be hard to argue that the changing makeup of the court since 1972 has strengthened its commitment to civil liberties.

In addition, almost everyone agrees that federal courts don’t exist in order to review any action the government takes just because someone doesn’t like it. If there were no «standing» rules — rules that prevent relatively frivolous suits — government might be paralyzed, and the courts inundated, with abstract or ideological lawsuits. So some «standing» rule is needed; it’s just hard to draw the line when deciding whether to apply it.

In this case, the government argues not only that the plaintiffs are paranoid, but also that winning the lawsuit wouldn’t help soothe their paranoia. «The government has several alternative means of conducting foreign-intelligence collection targeting non-United States persons abroad and, as respondents describe them, respondents’ contacts could be targets for surveillance by other countries,» the government’s brief explains — meaning that the plaintiffs would (or should) continue to be equally paranoid even if they obtain an order striking down the FAA. The government has ways of finding things out, not to mention friends in other countries who will pass information along.

In other words: You’re right. Big Brother is watching. Whatever the Court decides, Big Brother will still be watching. Big Brother may be watching you right now, and you may never know. Since 9/11, our national life has changed forever. Surveillance is the new normal.

Sucks to be all of us.


The US government insists that Americans don’t have the right to challenge a law that lets the National Security Agency eavesdrop on the intimate communications of anyone in the country, but all of that could now change as early as next week.

The Supreme Court will officially start their second session of the year on Monday, and first on the agenda is a matter that could eventually shatter the government’s ability to order wiretaps on the emails and phones of any US citizen without ever obtaining a warrant.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was put into place in the 1970s to install safeguards to keep Americans safe from unlawful eavesdropping. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, though, the George W. Bush administration ordered amendments to the law that have ever since allowed the NSA to monitor the communications of any US citizen as long as the government suspects that they are corresponding with anyone outside of the country.

Last month, the US House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the 2008 FISA Amendment Act (FAA), but not without attracting criticism from some very concerned parties. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a legal brief warning, “Under the FAA, the government can target anyone — human rights researchers, academics, attorneys, political activists, journalists — simply because they are foreigners outside the United States, and in the course of its surveillance it can collect Americans’ communications with those individuals.”

Beside from the obvious opposition to the warrantless wiretapping of any American with no explanation, there’s another problem that has put the FAA in the spotlight. The Justice Department has insisted that Americans can’t challenge the eavesdropping provisions because no civilians can say with absolute certainty that they have been targeted by secret surveillance.

The reason Americans can’t prove they’ve been monitored, of course, is because the government won’t give them yes or no answer anytime they’ve been asked.

Each time the question comes up over who has been targeted, the government has defaulted to say that national security prohibits them from disclosing who’s been subjected to NSA spying, claiming state secret privilege to prevent disclosing even the bare bones of their wiretapping program. When two US senators asked the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community earlier this year, “how many people inside the United States have had their communications collected or reviewed under the authorities granted by section 702” of the FAA, the NSA fired back by saying even responding to that inquiry would be against their rules.

A “review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of US persons,” Inspector General I. Charles McCullough wrote, adding that the request would be “beyond the capacity” of his office and that “dedicating sufficient additional resources would likely impede the NSA’s mission.”

“The overwhelming power of the state secrets privilege makes it nearly impossible for any US citizen to show that he or she was the subject of surveillance, while the inability to prove he or she has been spied on prevents any citizen from having standing to challenge the program,” Frank Matt explains the case this week for the Arab American Institute.

But although the NSA won’t come close to offering any details, the texts of the FISA amendments open up literally any American citizen to government surveillance as long as their emails, phone calls or instant messages are sent to someone abroad, whether it’s a cousin in Canada or an employee working overseas.

“Rather than target its surveillance power at a specific person thought to be the agent of a foreign power, the government can target its surveillance power at a group of people, a neighborhood, a country or a geographic region,” the ACLU insists.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) argued on the Hill last month against reauthorizing the FAA, telling his colleagues in Congress, “Everyone becomes suspect when big brother is listening.” Now before any Americans can try to say that the surveillance allowed under those 2008 amendments violate the US Constitution, they need to convince the court that they should be able to bring the matter up.

On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding Clapper v. Amnesty International, a case being fought to show that opponents of the FAA have a right to bring their suit up in Washington. Those that call the warrantless wiretapping illegal will have a hard case to fight, though, given that they can’t prove they’ve been watched.

“Unfortunately, the government has tried to block the courts from ever reaching that constitutionalissue, arguing that unless the plaintiffs can prove they will be monitored (which is impossible, since the list of who is monitored is classified), they cannot sue,” former NSA agents-turned-whistleblowers Bill Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe write in an op-ed published in Politico this week.

The US Second Circuit has already ruled in Clapper that the plaintiffs — attorneys, journalists and activists from human rights organizations — should be able to challenge the constitutionally of those amendments. Because those parties cannot prove that they’ve been personally subjected to the surveillance, though, it has been an uphill battle all the while.

The Brennan Center for Justice out of the New York University Law School notes, “given the nature of their professional work,” the Second Circuit previously ruled that the plaintiffs had “a reasonable fear that they were in fact subject to such surveillance and had to take costly steps to protect the confidentiality of their communications.” That’s enough, they say, to show that the plaintiffs “satisfied the required showing of a concrete injury resulting from the challenged amendments sufficient to establish standing to sue and reversed the contrary finding of the district court.”

“Because the identity of persons subject to surveillance is a government secret, it is highly unlikely that any US persons could ever show that they were in fact the subject of such surveillance. Accordingly, if the plaintiffs-respondents in this case do not have standing, it is likely that serious questions as to whethersurveillance conducted under the 2008 amendments violate the First and Fourth Amendments will escape review altogether,” the center adds.

On their part, the ACLU agrees that the plaintiffs have good reason to believe that they’ve been monitored under the 2008 amendments. “Some plaintiffs communicate with people who have been the targets of surveillance or other US government attention in the past,” the ACLU wrote in last month’s brief, specifically bringing up clients whose jobs require them to, for example, communicate with indigenous rights advocates in Columbia, or corresponds with former CIA detainees for human rights research.

The ACLU adds that an appeals court panel already agreed in 2011 that “plaintiffs have good reason to believe that their communications, in particular, will fall within the scope of the broad surveillance that they can assume the government will conduct,” and the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit later refused the government’s attempts to reverse that decision. Now if the Supreme Court can come to the same conclusion, those plaintiffs — the ones who may or may not have ever been surveilled — can finally challenge the constitutionality of the FISA amendments.

“While it may seem like a minor step in the battle against the abuses of FISA, the outcome of this case could have profound implications for future civil liberties cases,” Frank Matt adds in his article this week. equating the government’s defense of the FAA as “Kafkaesque resistance.”

“Based on our combined six-plus decades of experience working at the NSA, we are sure there is only one just outcome,” Binney and Wiebe write to Politico. “The justices should let this case proceed, giving the courts the opportunity to determine whether the executive and legislative branches have gone too far.”

“The NSA cannot be trusted with this power. No agency should be.”

The National Defense Authorization Act


On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. Along with imposing new sanctions against Iran and allocating $662 billion in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Act authorizes the military to detain, indefinitely and without trial, anyone it deems to be a terrorist or supporter of terrorism, including any U.S. citizen. The Act defines those subject to military detention as anyone who has “substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”
The law’s vague definition of those subject to detention as well as its application to U.S. citizens has fueled widespread concern and condemnation. And while the Act’s sponsors claim the provision merely codifies powers that congress already approved shortly after 9/11 in the joint resolution entitled Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), the provision clearly broadens the definition of those subject to military detention. Where the AUMF allowed only for the detention and rendition of “enemy combatants,” the NDAA now introduces “associated forces” and anyone who has “committed a belligerent act” or “substantially supported” terrorism. Similarly, President Obama dismissed the indefinite detention provision as superfluous and “unnecessary,” yet at the same time the Senate voted to reject an amendment by Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal) that would have specifically excluded U.S. citizens from the provision.
While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he would not personally authorize the military to detain American citizens using the new law, the statement does not apply to subsequent administrations, nor is it legally binding. And given that the Obama administration recently defended the military assassination of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaqi, can Obama’s promise even be trusted?
Also, the NDAA specifically redefines the “battlefield” in the War on Terror to include U.S. soil. Why now? Could the government be preparing the way to use the military to quell social unrest? Former New York Times war correspondent, Chris Hedges, who is suing the Obama administration over the NDAA’s indefinite detention provision, thinks it’s possible. “I suspect the real purpose of the bill is to thwart internal, domestic movements that threaten the corporate state,” he writes. “I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge. I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have ‘disappeared’ into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation.”
The militarization of police, the expansion of the State’s surveillance and security apparatus, and the broadening of the U.S. military’s role to include domestic operations against U.S. citizens will likely accelerate the growth of popular movements of protest and civil disobedience.

References & external links:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-signs-defense-bill…
http://www.aclu.org/national-security/president-obama-signs…
http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/senate-rejects-amendment…
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/01/22/1057336/-Reporter-Chris…



Reuters/Rick Wilking

Six years after the White House first started running amok on the computer networks of its adversaries, US President Barack Obama has signed off on a top-secret order that finally offers blueprints for the Pentagon’s cyberwars.

Pres. Obama has autographed an executive order outlining protocol and procedures for the US military to take in the name of preventing cyberattacks from foreign countries, the Washington Post reports, once and for all providing instructions from the Oval Office on how to manage the hush-hush assaults against opposing nation-states that have all been confirmed by the White House while at the same time defending America from any possible harm from abroad.

According to Post’s sources, namely “officials who have seen the classified document and are not authorized to speak on the record,” Pres. Obama signed the paperwork in mid-October. Those authorities explain to the paper that the initiative in question, Presidential Policy Directive 20, “establishes a broad and strict set of standards to guide the operations of federal agencies in confronting threats in cyberspace.”

Confronting a threat may sound harmless, but begs to introduce a chicken-and-the-egg scenario that could have some very serious implications. The Post describes the directive as being “the most extensive White House effort to date to wrestle with what constitutes an ‘offensive’ and a ‘defensive’ action in the rapidly evolving world of cyberwar and cyberterrorism,” but the ambiguous order may very well allow the US to continue assaulting the networks of other nations, now with a given go-ahead from the commander-in-chief. Next in line, the Post says, will be rules of engagement straight from the Pentagon that will provide guidelines for when to carry out assaults outside the realm of what is considered ‘American’ in terms of cyberspace.

“What it does, really for the first time, is it explicitly talks about how we will use cyber operations,” one senior administration official tells the paper of the policy directive. “Network defense is what you’re doing inside your own networks. .?.?. Cyber operations is stuff outside that space, and recognizing that you could be doing that for what might be called defensive purposes.”

When The New York Times published an exposé on the White House’s so-called Olympics Games program earlier this year, the world became fully aware for once of America’s involvement in international cyberwar, but much to the chagrin of Washington. Officials including members of Pres. Obama’s national security team spoke on condition of anonymity to tell the Times that his predecessor, then-Pres. George W. Bush, began the program in 2006 to target Iran’s nuclear facilities and then passed it along to the current administration to continue under the leadership of the current commander-in-chief.

“From his first months in office,” David Sanger wrote for the Times, Pres. Obama “secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons.”

Congress has fought tooth-and-nail in the months since to plug any leaks that could potentially spill the beans regarding any further secrets with the potential of effecting national security, but those efforts appear unsuccessful given this week’s Post report on Presidential Police Directive 20.

Now take the example of Iran: according to the Post, Pres. Obama’s signature on last month’s directive means the US now has rules and regulations when it comes to protecting its own infrastructure from cyberattack, and can do so by means of launching what appear to be pre-emptive assaults of their own.

“It should enable people to arrive at more effective decisions,” a second senior administration official tells the Post. “In that sense, it’s an enormous step forward.”

That comment echoes US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s insistence earlier this year that “defense alone is not enough” in terms of keeping the country safe. But what it also seems to do is put on the books a presidential policy that equates an overzealous offense with a solid defense. While the US has cited Iranian hackers as the key players behind a recent attack on the websites of Capital One Financial Corp. and BB&T Corp., two of the biggest names in the American banking industry, the US has done little — on the record — to reveal any similar assaults from abroad. Instead, rather, it’s relied on fear-mongering to try and convince the country to accept a cybersecurity legislation that will assure American’s safety from foreign hackers, all for the small price of sacrificing their digital-age privacy.

While the Obama White House has failed to acknowledge the Olympic Games program or any involvement in the Stuxnet or Flames viruses linked to the initiative, computer researchers in both the US and Russia have tied Washington to the cripplingly malicious coding. Earlier this month, California-based Chevron, one of the world’s leaders in the oil sector, went public with claims that Stuxnet had infected — but not affected — their computers after the virus was unleashed.

The ability to slow down or speed up centrifuges in nuclear facilities from thousands of miles away made Stuxnet a virus that had very substantial powers. Refusing to speak of the Olympic Games program specifically, former CIA chief Michael Hayden told the Times, “This is the first attack of a major nature in which a cyberattack was used to effect physical destruction.”

According to the Post’s latest, though, future assaults by way of Stuxnet or similar worms could be considered by Washington as defense mechanisms to make sure Iran doesn’t retaliate for what America has long-been lashing out with. One source tells the Times that, before last month’s directive, severing any link between a US-computer and an overseas server by any means possible would be an act that would put America on the offensive. Now even a preemptive attack that disconnects other countries could be considered a defensive ploy according to the president.

“That was seen as something that was aggressive…particularly by some at the State Department,” one defense official tells the Post. With the signing of Pres. Obama’s latest order, though, the paper writes that the directive “effectively enables the military to act more aggressively to thwart cyberattacks on the nation’s web of government and private computer networks.”

It is thought that, through the directive, any systems linked even remotely with America’s can be fair game for an assault. Given the expansion of cloud computing and the ever-expanding interconnection of communities across the globe on the Web, though, that could essentially enable Uncle Sam’s cybersquad to get away with a whole new slew of tricks to try and topple adversaries of any kind that threaten the American way of life. When and where those actions are necessary, of course, remains another topic of discussion. Will those orders be signed in secrecy as well, though?



by Andrew P. Napolitano

In a less than reassuring twist, the U.S. government will argue that no one can sue to end one form of intelligence surveillance because nobody is safe from surveillance.

Suppose Big Brother is watching you. You in particular, and all your friends -- recording your phone conversations, reading your emails and instant messages -- all with the aim of finding something to use against you and your friends.

As my students would say, sucks to be you. It sucks badly enough, in fact, that you might be able to go into federal court and ask a judge to make the government explain why they're doing it, and maybe force them to get a warrant.

But suppose you find out that Big Brother is watching some other unnamed people. And those other people sound a lot like some of the people you sometimes work with. And if Big Brother really is watching those people, you need to watch what you say, or stop talking to those people altogether. But you don't know for sure.

It still sucks to be you. But does it suck enough that you can go to court to try to stop it?

That is the issue that will be argued Monday in front of the Supreme Court. The case is called Clapper v. Amnesty International. The underlying question is an important one in post-9/11 America: How extensively can the government eavesdrop on phone calls and emails by foreigners of "interest" to our intelligence agencies? And how much can such government surveillance legally impact American citizens seeking to communicate with people our government may dislike or suspect of unsavory deeds?

That issue, however, won't be squarely presented Monday. Instead, the case will turn on what courts call "standing to sue." This abstruse lawyers' question sometimes turns my con law students' thoughts to career change. But it is vitally important for understanding how the courts deal with constitutional claims. So let's try to break it down in non-soporific language.

Article III of the Constitution extends "the judicial power of the United States" to "cases and controversies." That means, courts have said over the years, that citizens can't sue just because they think the government has violated the Constitution; they must show that they personally have a remediable quarrel with the government -- that it particularly sucks to be them, and that a victory in court will make things better.

The basic questions behind "standing to sue" are twofold. First, how badly does it suck to be you? And, second, what do you expect the government to do about it? If the answer to the first question is "about the same as it sucks to be anybody else," you're out of court. Ditto if the answer to the second question is "nothing in particular."

Here are the facts in Clapper. During the 1960s and 70s, intelligence agencies engaged in widespread electronic eavesdropping on Americans when they decided that what they intercepted related to national security. The Supreme Court held in 1972 that this sort of warrantless spying on Americans violates the Fourth Amendment. The decision led to the enactment in 1978 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That law sharply limited government's power to eavesdrop on "United States persons," meaning individuals or organizations lawfully present in the country. At the same time, it set up a secret judicial body -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) -- that can give the government permission to intercept communications that come from foreigners, foreign organizations, or foreign governments, if it can spell out why it needs the information. Even then, the government must undertake "minimization" proceedings to keep from gathering unnecessary information on "United States persons."

A group of lawyers, human rights groups, news media, and journalists filed suit in federal court, claiming that the surveillance laws impeded their ability to communicate with overseas contacts. The government responded, in essence, that paranoia could not establish standing.


The FISC has virtually never turned a government application down. Nonetheless, after 9/11, the Bush Administration refused to follow the Act's procedures and began a massive secret program of warrantless surveillance on communications abroad, including some to and from people in the United States. Once that program became public knowledge, the Administration sought Congressional authorization for this kind of spying. In 2008, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA).

As a result, the government no longer needs to specify the targets of its spying; it simply must file with the FISC a declaration that it needs to conduct surveillance, not on a given individual, but on a certain class of communications. The FISC does not review this filing; it simply makes sure the government has filled it out properly, and then issues a surveillance order. Government may still not "intentionally target" persons in the U.S. -- but it no longer has to designate a specific target at all, and it does not need to show that it has "probable cause" to spy on anyone in particular. It's a license for wholesale spying, as long as the communications involve one party in another country.

After FAA passed, a group of lawyers, human rights groups, news media, and journalists (including Pulitzer winner hris Hedges) filed suit in federal court. They are seeking a declaration that the new, looser procedures violate the Fourth Amendment.

After FAA's passage, they argued, it now really sucked to be them; if the FAA program was stopped, it would suck a lot less. That's because they had frequent confidential dealings with sources overseas -- clients seeking to communicate confidentially with their U.S. lawyers, human rights advocates and witnesses not eager to be known publicly for opposing oppressive regimes, and journalistic sources displeasing to the United States. After FAA, they charged, they had to assume that their phone calls and emails might be intercepted. As a result, they often had to travel abroad to meet with their clients or sources, or, if they could not, forgo communicating at all.

The government responded, in essence, that paranoia could not establish standing. True, intelligence agencies might be listening; but then again, they might be listening to other people entirely. If the plaintiffs got antsy and wanted to spend money to travel abroad rather than call or email, well, that wasn't an "injury in fact," just a choice by the plaintiffs themselves.

In a ground-breaking opinion, a panel of the Second Circuit held that the plaintiffs did have "standing to sue." The plaintiffs had suffered an "injury in fact" -- they had to spend money, a quintessential legal injury. The panel ordered the district court to hold a trial on the constitutional issue. But the government petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the panel's order, and the court has granted review.

It's hard to believe that it has done so in order to affirm the Second Circuit. In the 1972 case of Laird v. Tatum, the Supreme Court refused to restrain the military from conducting surveillance on civilian groups in the U.S., because the plaintiffs claimed only that the program had a "chilling" effect on their freedom of expression. "Allegations of a subjective 'chill' are not an adequate substitute for a claim of specific present objective harm or a threat of specific future harm," Chief Justice Burger wrote. Laird was a 5-4 decision, but it would be hard to argue that the changing makeup of the court since 1972 has strengthened its commitment to civil liberties.

In addition, almost everyone agrees that federal courts don't exist in order to review any action the government takes just because someone doesn't like it. If there were no "standing" rules -- rules that prevent relatively frivolous suits -- government might be paralyzed, and the courts inundated, with abstract or ideological lawsuits. So some "standing" rule is needed; it's just hard to draw the line when deciding whether to apply it.

In this case, the government argues not only that the plaintiffs are paranoid, but also that winning the lawsuit wouldn't help soothe their paranoia. "The government has several alternative means of conducting foreign-intelligence collection targeting non-United States persons abroad and, as respondents describe them, respondents' contacts could be targets for surveillance by other countries," the government's brief explains -- meaning that the plaintiffs would (or should) continue to be equally paranoid even if they obtain an order striking down the FAA. The government has ways of finding things out, not to mention friends in other countries who will pass information along.

In other words: You're right. Big Brother is watching. Whatever the Court decides, Big Brother will still be watching. Big Brother may be watching you right now, and you may never know. Since 9/11, our national life has changed forever. Surveillance is the new normal.

Sucks to be all of us.



The US government insists that Americans don’t have the right to challenge a law that lets the National Security Agency eavesdrop on the intimate communications of anyone in the country, but all of that could now change as early as next week.

The Supreme Court will officially start their second session of the year on Monday, and first on the agenda is a matter that could eventually shatter the government’s ability to order wiretaps on the emails and phones of any US citizen without ever obtaining a warrant.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was put into place in the 1970s to install safeguards to keep Americans safe from unlawful eavesdropping. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, though, the George W. Bush administration ordered amendments to the law that have ever since allowed the NSA to monitor the communications of any US citizen as long as the government suspects that they are corresponding with anyone outside of the country.

Last month, the US House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the 2008 FISA Amendment Act (FAA), but not without attracting criticism from some very concerned parties. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a legal brief warning, “Under the FAA, the government can target anyone — human rights researchers, academics, attorneys, political activists, journalists — simply because they are foreigners outside the United States, and in the course of its surveillance it can collect Americans’ communications with those individuals.”

Beside from the obvious opposition to the warrantless wiretapping of any American with no explanation, there’s another problem that has put the FAA in the spotlight. The Justice Department has insisted that Americans can’t challenge the eavesdropping provisions because no civilians can say with absolute certainty that they have been targeted by secret surveillance.

The reason Americans can’t prove they’ve been monitored, of course, is because the government won’t give them yes or no answer anytime they’ve been asked.

Each time the question comes up over who has been targeted, the government has defaulted to say that national security prohibits them from disclosing who’s been subjected to NSA spying, claiming state secret privilege to prevent disclosing even the bare bones of their wiretapping program. When two US senators asked the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community earlier this year, “how many people inside the United States have had their communications collected or reviewed under the authorities granted by section 702” of the FAA, the NSA fired back by saying even responding to that inquiry would be against their rules.

A “review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of US persons,” Inspector General I. Charles McCullough wrote, adding that the request would be “beyond the capacity” of his office and that “dedicating sufficient additional resources would likely impede the NSA’s mission.”

“The overwhelming power of the state secrets privilege makes it nearly impossible for any US citizen to show that he or she was the subject of surveillance, while the inability to prove he or she has been spied on prevents any citizen from having standing to challenge the program,” Frank Matt explains the case this week for the Arab American Institute.

But although the NSA won’t come close to offering any details, the texts of the FISA amendments open up literally any American citizen to government surveillance as long as their emails, phone calls or instant messages are sent to someone abroad, whether it’s a cousin in Canada or an employee working overseas.

“Rather than target its surveillance power at a specific person thought to be the agent of a foreign power, the government can target its surveillance power at a group of people, a neighborhood, a country or a geographic region,” the ACLU insists.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) argued on the Hill last month against reauthorizing the FAA, telling his colleagues in Congress, “Everyone becomes suspect when big brother is listening.” Now before any Americans can try to say that the surveillance allowed under those 2008 amendments violate the US Constitution, they need to convince the court that they should be able to bring the matter up.

On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding Clapper v. Amnesty International, a case being fought to show that opponents of the FAA have a right to bring their suit up in Washington. Those that call the warrantless wiretapping illegal will have a hard case to fight, though, given that they can’t prove they’ve been watched.

“Unfortunately, the government has tried to block the courts from ever reaching that constitutionalissue, arguing that unless the plaintiffs can prove they will be monitored (which is impossible, since the list of who is monitored is classified), they cannot sue,” former NSA agents-turned-whistleblowers Bill Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe write in an op-ed published in Politico this week.

The US Second Circuit has already ruled in Clapper that the plaintiffs — attorneys, journalists and activists from human rights organizations — should be able to challenge the constitutionally of those amendments. Because those parties cannot prove that they’ve been personally subjected to the surveillance, though, it has been an uphill battle all the while.

The Brennan Center for Justice out of the New York University Law School notes, “given the nature of their professional work,” the Second Circuit previously ruled that the plaintiffs had “a reasonable fear that they were in fact subject to such surveillance and had to take costly steps to protect the confidentiality of their communications.” That’s enough, they say, to show that the plaintiffs “satisfied the required showing of a concrete injury resulting from the challenged amendments sufficient to establish standing to sue and reversed the contrary finding of the district court.”

“Because the identity of persons subject to surveillance is a government secret, it is highly unlikely that any US persons could ever show that they were in fact the subject of such surveillance. Accordingly, if the plaintiffs-respondents in this case do not have standing, it is likely that serious questions as to whethersurveillance conducted under the 2008 amendments violate the First and Fourth Amendments will escape review altogether,” the center adds.

On their part, the ACLU agrees that the plaintiffs have good reason to believe that they’ve been monitored under the 2008 amendments. “Some plaintiffs communicate with people who have been the targets of surveillance or other US government attention in the past,” the ACLU wrote in last month’s brief, specifically bringing up clients whose jobs require them to, for example, communicate with indigenous rights advocates in Columbia, or corresponds with former CIA detainees for human rights research.

The ACLU adds that an appeals court panel already agreed in 2011 that “plaintiffs have good reason to believe that their communications, in particular, will fall within the scope of the broad surveillance that they can assume the government will conduct,” and the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit later refused the government’s attempts to reverse that decision. Now if the Supreme Court can come to the same conclusion, those plaintiffs — the ones who may or may not have ever been surveilled — can finally challenge the constitutionality of the FISA amendments.

“While it may seem like a minor step in the battle against the abuses of FISA, the outcome of this case could have profound implications for future civil liberties cases,” Frank Matt adds in his article this week. equating the government’s defense of the FAA as “Kafkaesque resistance.”

“Based on our combined six-plus decades of experience working at the NSA, we are sure there is only one just outcome,” Binney and Wiebe write to Politico. “The justices should let this case proceed, giving the courts the opportunity to determine whether the executive and legislative branches have gone too far.”

“The NSA cannot be trusted with this power. No agency should be.”