Carnivore,  Einstein,  Tempest,  and  Echelon

Carnivore and Echelon were apparently developed and implemented in the 1990s, long before 9/11/2001 and long before the current debate over wiretaps and domestic surveillance.

Much of the information on this page is obsolete by now, and the technology that was used has most likely been replaced by something more effective, with another name.  But it is interesting to know that the federal government has been working on the idea of monitoring every electronic communication -- nationwide if not worldwide -- for at least 20 years.

Subsections:
Einstein
Carnivore
Tempest
Echelon
Fusion centers
TrapWire
Heartbleed
Domestic surveillance
The U.S. spies on its allies
Edward Snowden
Snowden II
Other government threats to your privacy

On other nearby pages:
Carnivore / Echelon Trigger Words
The local police have been given too much authority
Commercial and Industrial Threats to Privacy
License plate readers and toll tag readers



Einstein

Einstein is a more recent development than either Carnivore or Echelon, but like the other two, Einstein has stayed out of the mainstream press.  Among other things, the system will monitor visits from Americans — and foreigners — visiting .gov Web sites.

I think I can tell already where Einstein is headed:  it will make it more difficult -- if not hazardous -- for someone to compile a list like this, just to explore and document the width and depth of the overgrown federal government.

Snort
Einstein sounds a lot like a program called Snort, which is available at no cost.  So whatever amount Uncle Sam spent on Einstein was probably a complete waste of money.

Every day, we have to prove we have 'nothing to hide'.  For this writer, the political effect of 9/11 was immediate, personal and direct.  Six days before the towers came down, the European Parliament had passed 25 recommendations for securing domestic and international satellite communications from the Anglo-American surveillance system known as Echelon.  I had uncovered and first reported on the Echelon network in 1988.  It took a decade more for its significance to become widely known, mainly because of further investigation and revelations by New Zealand investigator Nicky Hager in his book Secret Power.  Although now widely mis-described in web chat as a generalised surveillance octopus, Echelon's purpose and hardware was quite specific.

FBI wants widespread monitoring of 'illegal' Internet activity.  The FBI on Wednesday [4/23/2008] called for new legislation that would allow federal police to monitor the Internet for "illegal activity."  The suggestion from FBI Director Robert Mueller, which came during a House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing, appears to go beyond a current plan to monitor traffic on federal-government networks.  Mueller seemed to suggest that the bureau should have a broad "omnibus" authority to conduct monitoring and surveillance of private-sector networks as well.  The surveillance should include all Internet traffic, Mueller said, "whether it be .mil, .gov, .com — whichever network you're talking about."

Einstein  is the network monitoring tool used by the United States federal government's Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  Einstein is used to automatically monitor and analyze Internet traffic when it moves in and out of federal computer networks, filtering packets at the perimeter. … Participating agencies have used Einstein in network gateways since 2004.  In conjunction with the Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) initiative launch in 2008, DHS mandated that all federal agencies must use Einstein.

Congress worries that .gov monitoring will spy on Americans.  A new Bush administration plan to capture and analyze traffic on all federal government networks in real time is generating privacy worries from congressional Democrats and Republicans alike.  At a hearing convened here Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, politicians directed pointed questions to Department of Homeland Security officials about their plans to expand an existing "intrusion detection" system known as Einstein.

Doubletalk alert:
Visiting a web site is not an intrusion.

Einstein keeps an eye on agency networks.  DHS officials named the program Einstein because they think their monitoring program is smart.  Since 2004, Einstein has monitored participating agencies' network gateways for traffic patterns that indicate the presence of computer worms or other unwanted traffic.  By collecting traffic information summaries at agency gateways, Einstein gives US-CERT analysts and participating agencies a big-picture view of bad activity on federal networks.

Einstein and U.S. cybersecurity.  At a hearing last week on Capitol Hill, officials faced close, skeptical questioning about the program, an intrusion detection system that will automatically monitor and analyze Internet traffic into and out of federal computer networks in real time — allowing officials at the Department of Homeland Security to scan for anomalies that might represent hackers or other intruders trying to gain access or steal data.

House legislators rip Bush's Cyber Initiative plan.  The initiative is a long-range plan to upgrade the security of the federal government's networks and comprises a number of separate proposals, most notably an overhaul and expansion of the government's intrusion detection system, known as Einstein.  Currently, Einstein is simply a passive traffic-monitoring system that records basic data such as the originating IP address of a packet, its size and where the packet came from and where it is headed.



Carnivore

Carnivore is an e-mail wiretap system being developed and used by the FBI to read messages being circulated amongst suspected criminals and terrorists... and everybody else.  There is a great deal of concern being expressed nationwide, and not just by privacy fanatics, because it is likely that such eavesdropping occurs before there is any other evidence that the affected individuals have done anything illegal.  It would be much less of an issue were it not for a little technicality called the Fourth Amendment.  The FBI is relying on the public (and the mainstream news media) to ignore charges such as the ACLU's statement that Carnivore represents "an unprecedented power grab that threatens the privacy of all Americans."

There is good news about Carnivore, however.  Recently I attended a meeting of local computer security experts (legitimate professionals, really, not the guys at the 2600 meeting) and the moderator of the program offered his opinion that "Carnivore is not very effective."

Don't be fooled:  DCS1000 is still a "Carnivore" at heart.  After a flurry of controversy over the FBI's Carnivore system for intercepting e-mail, the feds have moved promptly to address concerns -- by renaming it "DCS1000".

DCS1000:  The Device Formerly Known as Carnivore:  Despite some reports indicating that the name is an acronym for "data collection system," an FBI spokesperson told Reuters that it "doesn't stand for anything."

Carnivore changes name, enters witness protection program:  Carnivore, the FBI's controversial Internet communications monitoring system, is undergoing a makeover.  First, the FBI is going to pull out its teeth, and re-christen Carnivore DCS1000, which, in our esteem, is just a little too close to HAL2000…

FBI axes Carnivore, eats investment.  The FBI has abandoned its custom-built Internet surveillance technology, dubbed Carnivore, and is now using commercial software to eavesdrop on computer network traffic during investigations of suspected criminals, terrorists and spies.  In addition, it's asking Internet service providers to conducting wiretaps on targeted customers, when necessary. … The FBI didn't disclose how much it had spent on Carnivore, but outside experts estimate expenditures at somewhere between $6 illion and $15 million.

Carnivore  was an Internet surveillance system developed for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) so that they could monitor the electronic transmissions of criminal suspects.  Critics, however, charged that Carnivore did not include appropriate safeguards to prevent misuse and might violate the constitutional rights of the individual.  The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) reported in early 2005 that the FBI had replaced Carnivore with other, unspecified surveillance software from commercial sources.  Such software usually includes a packet sniffer.

FBI retires its Carnivore.  FBI surveillance experts have put their once-controversial Carnivore Internet surveillance tool out to pasture, preferring instead to use commercial products to eavesdrop on network traffic, according to documents released Friday [1/14/2005].

FBI Abandons Web Surveillance Technology.  The FBI has effectively abandoned its custom-built Internet surveillance technology, once known as Carnivore, designed to read e-mails and other online communications among suspected criminals, terrorists and spies, according to bureau oversight reports submitted to Congress.

[That's a misleading headline.  The FBI hasn't abandoned their web surveillance technology, they have just changed to another make and model of software.]

 Read this:   Feds raid orchid-grower's home:  George Norris said he believes his troubles may stem from the US Fish and Wildlife Service's use of CARNIVORE, a government system that can tap into computer e-mails.  "They showed me page three of a five-page e-mail from several years ago where I was being offered smuggled plants," he said.  "They did not show me pages four and five, which were my answer to this fellow, telling him we would not buy any such plants that were undocumented.  This was so old that I don't even remember this e-mail.

 Editor's Note:   Please see the George Norris subsection on this page for more details on this case.

Inside DCSNet, the FBI's Nationwide Eavesdropping Network.  The $10 million DCS-3000 client, also known as Red Hook, handles pen-registers and trap-and-traces, a type of surveillance that collects signaling information — primarily the numbers dialed from a telephone — but no communications content.  DCS-6000, known as Digital Storm, captures and collects the content of phone calls and text messages for full wiretap orders.  A third, classified system, called DCS-5000, is used for wiretaps targeting spies or terrorists.

FBI turns to broad new wiretap method.  Instead of recording only what a particular suspect is doing, agents conducting investigations appear to be assembling the activities of thousands of Internet users at a time into massive databases, according to current and former officials.  That database can subsequently be queried for names, e-mail addresses or keywords. … "What they're doing is even worse than Carnivore," said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who attended the Stanford event.  "What they're doing is intercepting everyone and then choosing their targets."

FBI's Carnivore-lies may have blown bin Laden inquiry.  Fundamental design flaws in the FBI's infamous Carnivore packet sniffer have led to the destruction of evidence related to a suspect possibly involved in Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network which had been obtained legally under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant, the watchdog group EPIC has learned.

Carnivore  is a surveillance tool for data networks.  At the heart of the project is CarnivorePE, a software application that listens to all Internet traffic (email, web surfing, etc.) on a specific local network.  Next, CarnivorePE serves this data stream to interfaces called "clients."  These clients are designed to animate, diagnose, or interpret the network traffic in various ways.  Use CarnivorePE to run Carnivore clients from your own desktop, or use it to make your own clients.

Echelon:  The US government has long conducted extensive eavesdropping overseas, as part of the National Security Agency's foreign intelligence collection activities.  This foreign surveillance occurs outside the normal limitations of the Constitution.  With the globalization of communications, the overseas snooping activities of the US and its allies have attracted renewed attention and concern.

Congress Passes "Roving Wiretaps," Expands Surveillance Authority.  Oct 1998, in a closed-door manuever, controversial "roving wiretap" provisions were added to the Intelligence authorization bill and passed by the Congress.  Prevoiusly, wiretapping law allowed tapping of a particular person's phones.  The new provisions dramatically expanded current authority by allowing taps on any phone used by, or "proximate" to, the person being tapped — no matter whose phone it is.  Such a broad law invites abuse.  In 1996, the full House of Representatives had rejected these provisions after an open and vigorous debate.  But in 1998, behind closed doors, a conference committee added the provisions to the important Intelligence Authorization Conference Report.

Does Technology Threaten Our Privacy, Morality and Freedom of Religious Expression?  Two new powerful multi-billion dollar eavesdropping tools originally invented to spy on the Russians have now been turned on the American people.  [They're talking about Echelon and Tempest, although Carnivore is also discussed.]

Carnivore page at COTSE dot net,  which is apparently a privacy-enhanced email service.

Carnivore, Altivore, Echelon:  In terms of privacy concerns as well as raw technological power, Carnivore looks like a toy compared to Echelon.  Echelon is almost certainly the world's most sophisticated network monitoring system and, if rumors are to be believed, anyone who feels uncomfortable with the secrecy surrounding Carnivore should feel downright paranoid where Echelon is concerned.

Where Carnivore Lives:  The FBI has already employed Carnivore in a number of cases.  By law, the details of these investigations have generally not been released publicly.  The only ISP positively identified as cooperating with such an investigation, in fact, is Earthlink.

Independent Technical Review of the Carnivore System:  Carnivore is a software-based Internet Protocol (IP) packet sniffer that can select and record a defined subset of the traffic on the network to which it is attached.  Packets can be selected based on IP address, protocol, or, in the case of email, on the user names in the TO and FROM fields.  In limited cases, packets can be selected based on their content.  Packets can be recorded 'in their entirety (full mode) or recording can be limited to addressing information (pen mode), i.e., IP addresses and usermames.

Why Carnivore Is Bad For You:  The FBI can hardly be trusted to conduct their investigations with proper handling and precision, but even if they could, Carnivore/DCS1000 will end up hurting innocent people.  The amount of guesswork involved in a sweeping search like the type Carnivore/DCS1000 does insures that many "dead ends" and "bad leads" will be pursued.  What this means is that the FBI will inevitably end up investigating (including search, seizure, intimidation, prosecution, etc.) innocent people.

Confounding Carnivore:  How to Protect Your Online Privacy.  Ever since the FBI confirmed the existence of their Internet wiretapping device — a device which they named Carnivore — cyberprivacy activists have been up in arms.  Carnivore promised to be their worst nightmare:  a technology that could track and record every email sent, every Web page browsed, every chat room visited.

Carnivore, Altivore, Echelon:  Three big names in the world of network monitoring.  In terms of privacy concerns as well as raw technological power, Carnivore looks like a toy compared to Echelon.  Echelon is almost certainly the world's most sophisticated network monitoring system and, if rumors are to be believed, anyone who feels uncomfortable with the secrecy surrounding Carnivore should feel downright paranoid where Echelon is concerned.

Carnivore, Sniffers, and You:  The Carnivore network diagnostic tool (sniffer) may be peeking at your email.  This article offers the scoop on the FBI's latest crime-fighting tool.

Sniffer — A Definition:  Network sniffers monitor data without altering its content.  Sniffers are now commonly used by governments, corporations, by hackers, and by students.

FBI's Carnivore hunts in a pack.  Carnivore, the FBI's controversial e-mail snooping program, is part of covert surveillance triad known inside the bureau as the "DragonWare Suite," according to recently declassified documents.  The documents also outline how the DragonWare Suite is more than simply an e-mail snooping program:  It's capable of reconstructing the Web surfing trail of someone under investigation.

FBI Statement for the Record on the Carnivore Diagnostic Tool

The Backdoor, the Rogue Agent, and the Mishap:  the Hidden Dangers of Carnivore.  This paper is intended to provide convincing reasons, beyond the 4th Amendment argument, why Carnivore is a law enforcement tool that we all should reject.

The preceding article appears at a web site called Stop Carnivore Now.

Carnivore FAQ  (Sample:  It is important to note that Carnivore is a passive wiretap.  It does not interfere with communication.  Some news reports falsely claim that Carnivore interposes itself into the stream, first grabbing data, then passing it along.

The Legal Authorities of the National Security Agency:  U.S. Representative Bob Barr asserts, "While Americans remain solidly in support of a strong foreign intelligence gathering capability, they are not willing to do so at the expense of their domestic civil liberties."

Colleges Protest Call to Upgrade Online Systems.  The federal government, vastly extending the reach of an 11-year-old law, is requiring hundreds of universities, online communications companies and cities to overhaul their Internet computer networks to make it easier for law enforcement authorities to monitor e-mail and other online communications.

Carnivore and Reno:  Janet Reno's answers to questions about Carnivore in her weekly press conferences at the Justice Department.

Clinton Favors Computer Snooping:  The Clinton administration wants to be able to send federal agents armed with search warrants into homes to copy encryption keys and implant secret back doors onto computers.

Congress, Privacy Rights Activists Blast Carnivore:  Fears that the FBI is going too far with its technological invasions of communications systems were hardly soothed when Dr. Donald M. Kerr, the director of the FBI's laboratory division revealed what the bureau plans for the future.

FBI Shows Off Carnivore:  FBI officials defended Carnivore by telling hand-picked media representatives that the system is necessary "because some smaller ISPs do not have the capability to provide the data that law enforcement needs quickly," the Washington Post reported.

Feds Deny Asking ISPs to Watch E-mails:  Last month, the European Union passed a resolution that would require all ISPs to store for up to seven years e-mail message headers, Web-surfing histories, chat logs, pager records, phone and fax connections, passwords, and more.  Already, Germany, France, Belgium, and Spain have drafted laws that comply with the directive.  Technology experts say the U.S. federal government may try to do the same thing using the vast law enforcement allowances provided under the USA Patriot Act.

Carnivore:  Interview with Rep. Bob Barr (R - Ga.):  When the FBI launched its latest crime-fighting project, known by the name Carnivore, a lot of people worried that this new system could be dangerous - not for crooks, but for innocent people.

Outside Review of Carnivore Planned:  The Justice Department is moving swiftly to get an independent evaluation of the FBI's Carnivore e-mail intercept system, even as the system is denounced by congressional Republicans and civil libertarians as a threat to privacy on the Internet.

 Excellent!   The Fourth Amendment and Carnivore:  The Carnivore system appears to exacerbate the over collection of personal information by collecting more information than it is legally entitled to collect under traditional pen register and trap and trace laws.

Now It's Carnivore 2.0 ... Even 3.0:  The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now describing its Carnivore software that peeks into e-mail accounts without individual computer users' being aware as just "the tip of the iceberg."

White House Wants Cyber-Snoop Rules:  The Clinton-Gore administration will propose legislation putting e-mail surveillance on legal footing akin to phone taps — but leaving the FBI's "Carnivore" spying intact.

FBI: Federal Bureau of Intrusion?  "Carnivore" sifts through all online communications, such as e-mail or website traffic looking for illegal activity.  The problem is that it collects all communications, legal and illegal, thus violating the privacy of citizens who are just innocently and legally conversing online with family or friends or who happen to be surfing the Net.

More DOJ Delays in Carnivore Investigation

Carnivore FOIA: A Justice Department Joke

EPIC Carnivore FOIA Documents

GOP Wants to Pull Carnivore's Teeth:  What has upset so many people who use the Internet to communicate is the new high-tech FBI device — called "Carnivore" because it finds the "meat" of e-mail messages.  It enables law enforcement officials to sort through every bit of everybody's e-mail messages to find those of questionable legality.

Testimony of Robert Corn-Revere, April 6, 2000:  "I believe it is vital for Congress now to examine the Fourth Amendment implications of electronic surveillance on the Internet and the World Wide Web.  As the United States Supreme Court explained in 1997, the Internet is a unique and wholly new medium of worldwide human communication."

Some of the technical aspects of Carnivore:  Recent press reports have disclosed the existence of an FBI Internet wiretap device, known as "Carnivore".  This is troubling for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is unclear just what the software and hardware does or how it works.  In the U.S., there are serious legal restrictions on the use of wiretaps by police agencies.  The Supreme Court has consistently held that wiretaps qualify as searches under the Fourth Amendment.

Government Privacy Violators:  These days it's hard to find a politician without some plan to impose new privacy regulations on business.  The physicians should first try to heal themselves.  Our various levels of government have a long and undistinguished record of disrespecting our personal privacy.

Report Says Carnivore Is Tame; Critics Skeptical:  The FBI developed Carnivore in 1997 to monitor the activities of suspects who communicate using e-mail, much the way the agency uses wiretaps and pen registers to monitor telephone calls and capture caller information.  Privacy advocates have expressed concern the tool is too powerful, too invasive and a potential danger to civil liberties.

Carnivore - E-mail Invasion "I hope that you will research this subject more.  Contact your ISP and urge them to refuse to accept Carnivore on their system.  It is not a question of whether you have anything to hide.  Your right to privacy is at stake.  If this is allowed it can only snowball."

Help Kill the Carnivore!:  Carnivore is a hardware-software device that the FBI secretly developed at its lab in Quantico, Va. Almost immediately after the existence of this project was disclosed in a July 11 Wall Street Journal article, public outrage began to mount.

Ashcroft to Chew On Carnivore:  John Ashcroft, President Bush's pick for attorney general, says he'll take a long, hard look at Carnivore if he gets the job.  [January 2001]

FBI Drags its Heels on Carnivore Papers:  Get a court order to monitor a specific POP mailbox -- but don't skim all the messages hoping to find something interesting.

Putting a Leash on Carnivore:  House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, says Internet surveillance can undermine "the minimum expectation that individuals have that their personal electronic communications will not be examined by law enforcement devices unless a specific court warrant has been issued.'

Why Carnivore/DCS1000 Is Bad For You:  Here are some reasons why Carnivore/DCS1000 is bad for America, and, more specifically, bad for you.  [For example,] it's Unconstitutional.

ACLU Slams Biased Review Team Thumbs-Up for Carnivore

EPIC Sues to See Carnivore Code:  The Electronic Privacy Information Center has accused the FBI of sandbagging its requests for documents pertaining to the FBI's Carnivore e-mail snooping system.

Congress Isn't Swallowing Carnivore:  Officials from the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice faced a skeptical -- and at times downright hostile -- House Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing on the constitutional issues raised by the FBI's Carnivore electronic monitoring program.

A kinder, gentler Carnivore?  Any organization agreeing to review Carnivore is forbidden from publishing any independent comments about the program.

Armey of One Takes on Carnivore:  One year after hearings in which the Clinton Administration vigorously defended the FBI's email-tapping Carnivore surveillance system, Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas, is asking the new attorney general to reopen the debate.

Carnivore Panel Called Insiders' Stacked Deck:  "This Department of Justice proposal has confirmed my fears," Armey said.  "This important issue deserves a truly independent review, not a whitewash."

FBI Gives a Little on Carnivore:  The FBI says it will conduct a privacy audit of a controversial surveillance system, but the agency won't release key information about how Carnivore works.

Privacy Eaten Away by Carnivore:  It seems that we, the American public should trust the FBI to look at only those email messages that directly have a bearing on a particular investigation and completely ignore all other email messages, no matter how inflammatory they may seem.

Will Crypto Feast on Carnivore?  Do you encrypt your email before you send it?  Probably not.  Most electronic mail traverses the Internet as unscrambled, easy-to-read packets of text.

ACLU: Law Needs Carnivore Fix:  An FBI spokesman said the notion that it would look at more emails than the agency is entitled to under the law is a misunderstanding of the system's purpose and operation.

U.S. to Track Crypto Trails:  Over 2,450,000 telephone conversations were legally intercepted in 1999, according to government statistics.

Carnivore Eats Your Privacy:  critics say the practice of intercepting the network traffic of all users, even for a brief period of time, could run afoul of federal privacy laws and even the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizure.

Carnivore Can Read Everything.  "We've been led to believe that the purpose of Carnivore is to filter and pinpoint the particular communications that the FBI is authorized to obtain.  If that's true, then why are they testing the system's ability to store and archive everything?"

Letter to Reps. Canady and Watt:  The ACLU urges the heads of the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee to take action on Carnivore.

Invasion of Your Privacy Has Just Begun:  'Carnivore, the most recent example of FBI snooping software, is reported to be able to scoop up all of targeted individuals' Internet traffic, including e-mail.  Carnivore is only one project aimed at destroying America's privacy.  In fact, the FBI under the Clinton administration developed an entire series of hardware and software devices intended to monitor U.S. citizens.'

New documents disclose extent of FBI's Web surveillance: The FBI records show the agency used its controversial Carnivore system 13 times between October 1999 and August 2000 to monitor Internet communications, and a similar device, Etherpeek, another 11 times."

Numerous other Carnivore links

Feds Fail to Protect Privacy of E-mail:  The federal government has yet to implement a Supreme Court decision protecting your e-mail privacy.  That has prompted House Majority Leader Dick Armey to fire off a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft urging that the court be obeyed and that your privacy be protected.  Zeroing in on the FBI's 'Carnivore' program, the high court said devices that allow police technology to erode the privacy guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment is unconstitutional.

Urge Congress to Stop the FBI's Use of Privacy-Invading Software:  In traditional wiretaps, the government is required to minimize its interception of non-incriminating - or innocent - communications. But Carnivore does just the opposite by scanning through tens of millions of emails and other communications from innocent Internet users as well as the targeted suspect.

Mueller Noncommittal on Carnivore:  FBI Director Robert Mueller has refused to commit to an independent review of the agency's Carnivore surveillance system.

House leader wants investigation of 'Carnivore':  A powerful house lawmaker asked the FBI to re-examine the extent to which its e-mail sniffing tool, "Carnivore," infringes on privacy.

Feds Fail to Protect Privacy of E-mail:  The federal government has yet to implement a Supreme Court decision protecting your e-mail privacy.  That has prompted House Majority Leader Dick Armey to fire off a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft urging that the court be obeyed and that your privacy be protected.  Zeroing in on the FBI's "Carnivore' program, the high court said devices that allow police technology to erode the privacy guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment is unconstitutional.

Invasion of Your Privacy Has Just Begun Carnivore, the most recent example of FBI snooping software, is reported to be able to scoop up all of targeted individuals' Internet traffic, including e-mail.  Carnivore is only one project aimed at destroying America's privacy.  In fact, the FBI under the Clinton administration developed an entire series of hardware and software devices intended to monitor U.S. citizens.

The trouble with 'deep packet inspection'.  The data is already dismal when it comes to people peeking at your Internet travels.  Twenty percent of U.S. companies hire employees specifically to snoop at employee e-mail and 41 percent perform some kind of e-mail monitoring, according to a survey published earlier this year by Proofpoint.  Two-thirds of companies monitor Web surfing, and 12 percent even monitor outside blog activity.  Even if your company doesn't watch you as a matter of policy, employees might be sneaking a peek anyway.

Spooks told to get used to encrypted VoIP.  A British security firm has urged the government not to impose heavy-handed interception regulations on VoIP providers, ahead of the forthcoming consultation on communications data.  Cellcrypt, based in London, develops and sells a smartphone application that allows companies to make encrypted VoIP calls internationally.  The software can be pushed to handsets over the air, offering near-instant voice security for workers in the field.

Senate Panel to Probe Allegations NSA Illegally Wiretapped American Phone Calls, E-Mails.  Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein says she will investigate indications of new wiretap violations by the National Security Agency.  The Justice Department confirmed Wednesday [4/15/2009] that it had reined in the NSA's wiretapping activities in the United States after finding out the agency had improperly accessed American phone calls and e-mails.

N.S.A.'s Intercepts Exceed Limits Set by Congress.  The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews.

This was written in 1999:
The Echelon attack.  Internet activists last week tried to overwhelm National Security Agency eavesdroppers by flooding the Echelon spy system with fabricated messages about terrorist plots and bombs.  The idea never posed a real threat to the NSA, but the electronic protest helped raise awareness of the fact that the government is snooping on every man, woman and child in the country through this system.



Tempest

Electronic voting machines vs Tempest technology.  Tempest is a code word for electromagnetic snooping.  It's usual for military electronics to be "Tempest hardened" in order to shield them from high-tech spying, disruptive interference, and EMPs.  It isn't an exaggeration these days to consider an election to be a military target.  In any case, a non-Tempest-hardened voting machine is likely to leak emissions that give a suitably-equipped passer-by the details of each voter's preferences.

The Complete, Unofficial TEMPEST Information Page:  One-stop shopping for TEMPEST information.

Cell phones as TEMPEST analyzers.  Professor Yuval Elovici, head of Ben Gurion University's Cyber Security Lab, has demonstrated software that allows a cell phone to spy on the activities of a nearby computer even though there is no connection between the phone and the computer.

Soft Tempest:  Hidden Data Transmission Using Electromagnetic Emanations.  It is well known that eavesdroppers can reconstruct video screen content from radio frequency emanations.  The authors discuss techniques that enable the software on a computer to control the electromagnetic radiation it transmits.  This can be used for both attack and defense.

Tempest  was the name of a classified (secret) U.S. government project to study (probably for the purpose of both exploiting and guarding against) the susceptibility of some computer and telecommunications devices to emit electromagnetic radiation (EMR) in a manner that can be used to reconstruct intelligible data.  Tempest's name is believed to have been a code name used during development by the U. S. government in the late 1960s, but at a somewhat later stage, it became an acronym for Telecommunications Electronics Material Protected from Emanating Spurious Transmissions.

The Complete, Unofficial TEMPEST Information Page.  The general principle is that computer monitors and other devices give off electromagnetic radiation.  With the right antenna and receiver, these emanations can be intercepted from a remote location, and then be redisplayed (in the case of a monitor screen) or recorded and replayed (such as with a printer or keyboard).

Compromising emanations:  eavesdropping risks of computer displays.  (8 Megabyte PDF)

The Complete, Unofficial TEMPEST Information Page


Echelon

This section is about Project Echelon, [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] which is a government eavesdropping system along the lines of Carnivore, but on a world-wide scale.

What is Echelon?  "Only in a 'police state' is the unrestricted interception of communications permitted by government authorities."

Skype Users Beware:  Big Brother May Be Listening.  [Scroll down]  Immediately after the bust, the European Commission opened an investigation.  Alain Brun, the head of data protection at the Commission, told reporters, "The suspect [i.e., Clinton staffer] worked at the U.S. National Security Agency, where he learned of an agreement between Skype and Echelon to enable a 'spy' mode on all Skype products."  What has yet to be explained is:  What did Hillary Clinton's staffer need this information for?  And where has this former Clinton staffer gone?

Inside Echelon:  During the 1980s, the NSA developed a "fast data finder" microprocessor that was optimally designed for this purpose.  It was later commercially marketed, with claims that it "the most comprehensive character-string comparison functions of any text retrieval system in the world".  A single unit could work with "trillions of bytes of textual archive and thousands of online users, or gigabytes of live data stream per day that are filtered against tens of thousands of complex interest profiles."

ECHELON:  America's Secret Global Surveillance Network.  In the greatest surveillance effort ever established, the US National Security Agency has created a global spy system, codename ECHELON, which captures and analyzes virtually every phone call, fax, email and telex message sent anywhere in the world.

Echelon  is an officially unacknowledged U.S.-led global spy network that operates an automated system for the interception and relay of electronic communications.  Monitored transmissions are said to include up to 3 billion communications daily, including all the telephone calls, e-mail messages, faxes, satellite transmissions, and Internet downloads of both public and private organizations and citizens worldwide.

Echelon  is a term associated with a global network of computers that automatically search through millions of intercepted messages for pre-programmed keywords or fax, telex and e-mail addresses.  Every word of every message in the frequencies and channels selected at a station is automatically searched.

Echelon:  Someone Is Listening.  Every phone call you make, every email or fax you send may be monitored — and probably is.  Surprise!  It's our own government.

ECHELON  is a term associated with a global network of computers that automatically search through millions of intercepted messages for pre-programmed keywords or fax, telex and e-mail addresses.  Every word of every message in the frequencies and channels selected at a station is automatically searched.

Echelon Exists, and You're Busted.  Don your tinfoil hats, folks, because the hush-hush NSA project ECHELON just had a little light shined on it.

A Most Unusual Collection Agency.  During the Cold War there were hundreds of secret remote listening posts spread around the globe.  From large stations in the moors of Scotland and mountains of Turkey that were complete with golf ball-like structures called "radomes" to singly operated stations in the barren wilderness of Saint Lawrence Island between Alaska and Siberia that had only a few antennae, these stations constituted the ground-based portion of the United States Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) System or "USSS."

Carnivore, Altivore, Echelon:  In terms of privacy concerns as well as raw technological power, Carnivore looks like a toy compared to Echelon.  Echelon is almost certainly the world's most sophisticated network monitoring system and, if rumors are to be believed, anyone who feels uncomfortable with the secrecy surrounding Carnivore should feel downright paranoid where Echelon is concerned.

Somebody's listening.  American, British and Allied intelligence agencies are soon to embark on a massive, billion-dollar expansion of their global electronic surveillance system.  According to information given recently in secret to the US Congress, the surveillance system will enable the agencies to monitor and analyse civilian communications into the 21st century.  Identified for the moment as Project P415, the system will be run by the US National Security Agency.

Echelon's Architect:  Echelon now has a big brother.  Meet Bruce McIndoe, lead architect for Echelon II, the 'most productive intelligence program' in history.

The Echelon attack.  Internet activists [in October 1999] tried to overwhelm National Security Agency eavesdroppers by flooding the Echelon spy system with fabricated messages about terrorist plots and bombs.  The idea never posed a real threat to the NSA, but the electronic protest helped raise awareness of the fact that the government is snooping on every man, woman and child in the country through this system.

Exposing The Global Surveillance System.  Designed and coordinated by NSA, the ECHELON system is used to intercept ordinary e-mail, fax, telex, and telephone communications carried over the world's telecommunications networks.  Unlike many of the electronic spy systems developed during the Cold War, ECHELON is designed primarily for non-military targets:  governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals in virtually every country.  It potentially affects every person communicating between (and sometimes within) countries anywhere in the world.

My parents were spies.  I grew up just outside RAF Chicksand (at the time an American base, despite the "RAF").  It's most distinctive feature was a giant double circle antenna we used to call "The Elephants Cage" which didn't appear on any maps.  It was common local knowledge amongst kids that it was part of a global spy network and if you ever said "bomb" on the phone it would start taping you.  Hence whenever using the phone we used to say "bomb" a lot.  Don't ask me where we got this from, but it looks like it's turned out to be at least partially true.

Echelon:  Someone is Listening:  A huge information resource on Echelon.

Somebody's listening:  This network of monitoring stations is able to tap all international and some domestic communications circuits, and sift out messages which sound interesting.

Echelon Watch:  The goal of EchelonWatch is not to disband legitimate intelligence operations but to insist that they be subject to proper oversight.

Echelon Research Resources: Huge collection of articles and links.

Echelon — Rights Violation in the Information Age:  Now that the cold war is over, covert agencies around the world are increasingly turning their SIGINT assets, most notably a vast global electronic spy system known as Echelon, against civilian targets.  It’s enough to give any decent rights-respecting individual nightmares.

Echelon:  Big brother without a cause?  Critics accuse the United States' intelligence community and its English-speaking partners of waging what is in effect a new Cold War.  At stake are international contracts worth billions of dollars, and at the disposal of the spymasters is an intelligence gathering system of immense power.

Report Downplays Echelon Effect.  A global surveillance system known as Echelon does exist and has the ability to eavesdrop on telephone calls, faxes and e-mail messages, a European Parliament committee has concluded.

Q&A:  What you need to know about Echelon.  Civil rights groups who monitor Echelon say it can be used to intercept almost any electronic communication, be it a phone conversation, mobile phone call, e-mail message, fax transmission, net browsing history, or satellite transmission.  The wildest estimates of its capabilities report that it can sift through up to 90% of all internet traffic.

Echelon Panel Calls It a Day:  "I think it's very good that the report states clearly that Echelon exists, so the work we've done is not in vain."

Echelon excesses:  There is a strong belief in intelligence circles that Brian Regan may have been the first spy nabbed by "Echelon," the highly classified information gathering and dissemination network operated by the U.S. National Security Agency and its global partners.

They're Listening to Your Calls:  Echelon monitors phones, E-mail, and radio signals.

E-mail users warned over spy network:  Computer users across Europe should encrypt all their e-mails, to avoid being spied on by a UK-US eavesdropping network, say Euro-MPs.

US spy system under attack:  The Echelon system, originally set up during the Cold War, is known to be capable of intercepting private telephone conversations, faxes and e-mails worldwide.

Louder Call for Echelon Probe:  Fresh outrage in Japan over alleged U.S. satellite-based spying, coupled with European pressure on the same subject, could add urgency to calls for Congress to engage in a serious investigation of the so-called Echelon system.



England leads the way

DARPA to begin mysterious 'Project GANDALF'.  The Gandalf program is an advanced technology and development and demonstration program that is seeking solutions to … radio frequency (RF) geolocation and emitter identification using specific emitter identification (SEI) for specific signals of interest.  The ultimate goal of the Gandalf program is to enable a set of handheld devices to be utilized to perform RF geolocation and SEI on RF signals of interest to the Gandalf program.  The specific goals and performance objectives associated with RF geolocation and SEI for the Gandalf system are classified.

Big British Brother:  [The National Post's] editorial board traditionally has argued that, in the post-9/11 age, law-enforcement and security services should enjoy broad powers to investigate and apprehend terrorists.  But even we are appalled by a British proposal, revealed over the weekend, to monitor the telephone, cellphone, text message, e-mail and Web surfing activity of every citizen in the U. K. in the name of homeland security.

'Black box' will store all traffic on Net.  Fears were growing today over government plans to store details of all internet traffic in the UK using new "black box" technology.  Home Office officials have told senior telecommunications figures of proposals to use the Interception Modernisation Programme to retain raw data of every phonecall, email and internet visit, which would be transferred to a database controlled by the Government.  The information would be used to fight terrorism and serious crime.

Every phone call, email or website visit 'to be monitored'.  The proposals will give police and security services the power to snoop on every single communication made by the public with the data then likely to be stored in an enormous national database.  The precise content of calls and other communications would not be accessible but even text messages and visits to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter would be tracked.



Fusion Centers

13 Ways The American Police State Squanders Your Tax Dollars.  [#13]  $1.4 billion for fusion centers.  These fusion centers, which represent the combined surveillance and intelligence efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement, have proven to be exercises in incompetence, often producing irrelevant, useless, or inappropriate intelligence, while spending millions of dollars on "flat-screen televisions, sport utility vehicles, hidden cameras, and other gadgets."

Has the Dept. of Homeland Security become America's standing army?  Data collecting agencies spread throughout the country, aided by the National Security Agency, fusions centers — of which there are at least 78 scattered around the U.S. — constantly monitor our communications, collecting and cataloguing everything from our internet activity and web searches to text messages, phone calls and emails.  This data is then fed to government agencies, which are now interconnected:  the CIA to the FBI, the FBI to local police.  Despite a budget estimated to be somewhere between $289 million and $1.4 billion, these fusion centers have proven to be exercises in incompetence, often producing irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence, while spending millions of dollars on "flat-screen televisions, sport utility vehicles, hidden cameras and other gadgets."

NSA Utah data center
We know the whereabouts of the "lost" IRS emails.  Access to any of those records can be had with a simple directive from the President of the United States.  The facility where the records are stored, along with the private emails, text messages, google searches and 20 trillion domestic phone calls since 2001 is owned and operated by America's National Security Agency which, among other things, is responsible for the monitoring of American citizens and storing any and all digital interactions captured on private and public telecommunications lines.  The NSA's most advanced intelligence monitoring facility is located at Camp Williams and is called the "Utah Data Center."  If the emails ever existed, whether they were deliberately wiped or accidentally lost, the National Security Agency undoubtedly has a digital record of them.

More about Lois Lerner's very convenient computer crash.

Fusion Centers: Expensive and Dangerous to Our Liberty.  A domestic surveillance system established after the terrorist attacks of September 11 collects and shares intelligence on a mass scale about "the everyday activities of law-abiding Americans, even in the absence of reasonable suspicion," according to a new report. [...] "Until 9/11, police departments had limited authority to gather information on innocent activity, such as what people say in their houses of worship or at political meetings," the report explains.  "Police could only examine this type of First Amendment-protected activity if there was a direct link to a suspected crime.  But the attacks of 9/11 led law enforcement to turn this rule on its head."

New NSA data center reported plagued by meltdowns.  A huge new data-storage facility for U.S. spying is plagued by chronic electrical surges that have prevented the center's opening, documents and officials say.

NSA hunger demands 29 petabytes of data a day.  As the National Security Agency (NSA) spying furore rumbles on, the agency has claimed to be looking at only 0.00004 percent of the world's total internet traffic.  In a document on the nsa.gov website, the agency said that the internet carries 1,826 Petabytes of information per day, and that its activity "touches" 1.6 percent of that data — approximately 29 petabytes, or 29 million gigabytes, of data each day.  Of that number, the agency says 0.025 percent is selected for review.

Information Fusion Centers and Privacy.  Fusion Centers are intelligence databases that collect information on ordinary citizens.

America Under Barack Obama.  [Scroll down slowly]  McCarthy's regime was ended by Senators who realized that he had gone too far.  What we have now may be more insidious.  What we have now in America is a surveillance society.  We have no idea how much the government knows and how much the CIA even knows about average citizens.  The government is not supposed to be doing this in this country.  They listen in on our phone calls.  I am not exaggerating because I have studied this a long time.  You have to be careful about what you do, about what you say, and that is more dangerous than what was happening with McCarthy, but the technology the government now possesses is so much more insidious.

Information Sharing and Fusion Centers:  Many State and major urban areas have established information fusion centers to coordinate the gathering, analysis, and dissemination of law enforcement, homeland security, public-safety, and terrorism information.  As of September 1, 2007, over 66 of these centers are operating or are being established in States and localities across the country.

Federal Support For and Involvement In State and Local Fusion Centers.  The Subcommittee investigation found that DHS-assigned detailees to the fusion centers forwarded "intelligence" of uneven quality — oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.  The Subcommittee investigation also found that DHS officials' public claims about fusion centers were not always accurate.  For instance, DHS officials asserted that some fusion centers existed when they did not.

Explosive findings about DHS operations in congressional report.  An explosive 141-page investigative report was quietly released just after midnight by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is an indictment of the practices and procedures of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. [...] Of the 386 unclassified reports reviewed during this investigation, only 94 were found to relate "in some way" to potential terrorist activity, or the activities of a known or suspected terrorist.  Of those 94 reports, the usefulness of those reports were deemed as "questionable."

DHS Fusion Centers Spend Much, Learn Little, Mislead a Lot.  A network of 77 "fusion" intelligence centers, set up around the country under the auspices of the federal Department of Homeland Security, has over the past decade uncovered little information that could be useful in defending the nation against terrorism.  It also created numerous reports on the legal, everyday of activities of ordinary Americans, according to a Senate report released Tuesday.

Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Federal Support for Fusion Centers Report.  The Subcommittee investigation found that DHS-assigned detailees to the fusion centers forwarded "intelligence" of uneven quality — oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.

Report: Napolitano misled Congress on terrorism 'fusion' centers.  Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano repeatedly misled lawmakers about one of her department's signature initiatives, the special centers where state and local police share information about terrorism with their federal counterparts, a key lawmaker who helped author a damning report on the project said in an interview Thursday [10/4/2012].  A bipartisan report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations states that Ms. Napolitano and her department failed to report to Congress serious problems with the so-called "fusion center" program.

Nothing is Private Under the False Flag of Terrorism.  In a possible preparation for the ability of the CIA to spy on American citizens with their household items, the NSA's Utah Data Center is located in the Utah desert in the foot hills of the Wasatch mountain range.  This is the centerpiece of the Global Information Grid; a military project that collects yottabytes of data.  They are listening to every conversation, reading every post, intercepting every text message under the false flag of terrorism.  The facility has the technological ability to record and analyze every communication in the world.  From emails to phone calls to text messages to chats; nothing is private anymore.

This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2014 by Andrew K. Dart



TrapWire

TrapWire Training Courses Reveal Possible Purpose for its Creation.  TrapWire is a massive and technologically advanced surveillance system that has the capacity to keep nearly the entire population of this country under the watchful eye of government 24 hours a day.  Using this network of cameras and other surveillance tools, the federal government is rapidly constructing an impenetrable, inescapable theater of surveillance, most of which is going unnoticed by Americans and unreported by the mainstream media.

Stratfor emails reveal secret, widespread TrapWire surveillance system.  Every few seconds, data picked up at surveillance points in major cities and landmarks across the United States are recorded digitally on the spot, then encrypted and instantaneously delivered to a fortified central database center at an undisclosed location to be aggregated with other intelligence.  It's part of a program called TrapWire and it's the brainchild of the Abraxas, a Northern Virginia company staffed with elite from America's intelligence community.

Everything You Need to Know About TrapWire.  [Scroll down]  There is certainly something to worry about in the pervasive post-9/11 mentality that TrapWire represents:  The obsession with preventing terrorist attacks through constitutionally dubious profiling and surveillance.  But TrapWire on its own doesn't seem to be anywhere near the level of, say, the NSA's warantless wiretapping program.

Unravelling TrapWire.  [Scroll down]  One thing that makes TrapWire a particularly interesting company is that its president, chief of operations and director of business development are all former employees of the Central Intelligence Agency. [...] Abraxas Corporation, the company that originally created TrapWire under its subsidiary Abraxas Applications, also has significant ties to the CIA.  The company was founded by Richard "Hollis" Helms in 2001, two years after he left the CIA where he had worked for nearly 30 years.

Trapwire: It's Not the Surveillance, It's the Sleaze.  Ever since WikiLeaks began releasing a series of documents about the surveillance system Trapwire, there's been a panicked outcry over this supposedly all-seeing, revolutionary spy network.  In fact, there are any number of companies that say they comb through video feeds or suspicious activity reports in largely the same way that Trapwire claims to do.  What's truly extraordinary about Trapwire was how it was marketed by the private intelligence firm Stratfor, whose internal e-mails WikiLeaks exposed.

Trapwire: Big Brother Now Monitors Your Every Move.  The latest Wikileaks data-dump reveals that the government now has the ability to grab video from far-flung surveillance cameras located in stores, casinos and other businesses around the country.  It uses sophisticated facial recognition software to identify people of interest captured by the ubiquitous cameras numbering in the millions.  The software, Trapwire, is a significant breakthrough for the surveillance state.

Wikileaks reveals "TrapWire," a government spy network that uses ordinary surveillance cameras.  According to documents leaked on Wikileaks, a company run by ex-CIA agents has created a piece of technology, called TrapWire, that siphons data from surveillance cameras in stores, casinos, and other businesses around the country.  TrapWire then analyzes this data for, well, people of interest.  Are we living in a total surveillance state without even realizing it?



Heartbleed:
Is it a bug or a feature?

Stories on this subject are all over the map.  The government denies knowing about it until just recently.  Others say the government has been using it as a tool and a weapon for years.  If even half of the material on this page is true, I'm inclined to believe the non-government sources.

Obama administration denies knowing about Heartbleed before this month.  The Obama administration is denying that the National Security Agency or any other part of the government knew about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, known as the Heartbleed bug, before it was discovered earlier this month.

The NSA denies it knew of the Heartbleed bug.  The NSA is disavowing its knowledge of the Heartbleed security vulnerability after a Bloomberg report suggested that the spy agency had exploited it for at least two years.  "NSA was not aware of the recently identified vulnerability in OpenSSL, the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability, until it was made public in a private-sector cybersecurity report," NSA spokesperson Vanee Vines told The [Washington] Post.  "Reports that say otherwise are wrong."  The White House and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence echoed that statement Friday, saying neither the NSA nor any other part of the U.S. government knew about Heartbleed before April 2014.

Obama Lets N.S.A. Exploit Some Internet Flaws, Officials Say.  Stepping into a heated debate within the nation's intelligence agencies, President Obama has decided that when the National Security Agency discovers major flaws in Internet security, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage or cyberattacks, senior administration officials said Saturday.  But Mr. Obama carved a broad exception for "a clear national security or law enforcement need," the officials said, a loophole that is likely to allow the N.S.A. to continue to exploit security flaws both to crack encryption on the Internet and to design cyberweapons.

NSA Said to Exploit Heartbleed Bug for Intelligence for Years.  The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.  The agency's reported decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government's top computer experts.

How the NSA shot itself in the foot by denying prior knowledge of Heartbleed vulnerability.  The National Security Agency has eyes and ears everywhere.  At least, so we thought.  In 2012, during a classified but widely-known operation at Fort Meade, MD, government crypotographers and developers downloaded the OpenSSL source code, as it does with dozens of other software published on the Web.  The operation's objective was to find weaknesses in the library and exploit those vulnerabilities as part of wider efforts by the intelligence agency to conduct mass-scale surveillance.  After the code was downloaded and compiled, the developers were soon able to pinpoint a programming flaw in the code, which would have allowed the agency to collect usernames and passwords far quicker, more efficiently, and at a lower cost than its bulk data collection programs, notably its fiber cable tapping operation named Upstream.



Domestic surveillance

It is amazing to me that the people who seem to be most outraged by "domestic spying" are the same people who want the government to keep getting bigger and more powerful every year.

It is naïve to expect complete privacy when talking on the phone.  The chances are pretty good that your phone conversations are just between you and the person you called, but there are no guarantees.  When you use a cordless phone or a cell phone, you are talking on a two-way radio, and your expectations should be appropriately lower.

But a list of the phone numbers you have called is a long way from a wiretap.  Long-distance phone carriers have been keeping lists like that for years.  And if it will help catch and convict dangerous criminals, why not let the three-letter agencies sift through the records?  And the answer is simple:  When the feds have put away all the mass-murderers and terrorists, they'll keep looking for smaller and smaller fish in the sea of phone records, especially with people like Hillary Clinton and Janet Reno at the highest levels of the government.  For example, if your brother-in-law is arrested for selling marijuana, and then the police discover that you have called his house about a hundred times (for various reasons), you could have a big problem.

Incidentally, if you are really concerned about "domestic spying", you should think twice about putting a toll road access tag on your car.

There was a flurry of new information about domestic surveillance in June, 2013, related to an information leak by a young man named Edward Snowden.  He now has his own subsection, located here.  In the section immediately below, there are still several excerpts that mention Mr. Snowden, but the focus is not specifically on him.

Related topics:
Commercial and Industrial Threats to Privacy
License plate readers and toll tag readers



Advisor: Obama, NSA use internet to silence critics like Tea Party.  The Obama administration is expanding its online data search of Americans to find potential civil unrest — like the 2010 Tea Party movement — and squash it before they take root, a prominent financial advisor has warned clients.  David John Marotta compared the administration's efforts to those used by former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover against his critics and 1960s activists.  Targeting activists isn't anything new.  J. Edgar Hoover made it his life's work.  What has changed is the vigor with which the government has assumed its own activism against certain groups, he said.

50 Things Barack Obama Has Done Wrong:  [#15]  The NSA has spied on Americans under Obama.  [#16]  Under Obama, the CIA spied on the Senate.

Google Chairman: 'We're Going to End Up Breaking the Internet'.  Google Chairman Eric Schmidt warned Wednesday that the Internet will soon undergo massive upheaval if governments refuse to alter the way they spy on other countries.  Speaking at an event in California hosted by Sen. Ron Wyden, Schmidt said the Internet will splinter into walled-off fragments unless digital surveillance practices of the National Security Agency and foreign intelligence agencies are reformed.

FBI Chief: Citizens Should Be 'Deeply Skeptical' of Government.  [James] Comey, 53, who became FBI chief in September 2013, cautioned that courts must grant law-enforcement agencies permission to telephones if the information is deemed to be critical to a criminal case or national security.  His comments come in light of numerous leaks since last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealing that agency's extensive telephone and Internet surveillance programs and cell phones introduced last month by Apple Inc. that were designed to avoid surveillance by law enforcement.

Child-porn conviction is tossed: Navy surveillance is blamed.  Navy criminal investigators repeatedly and routinely peeked into the computers of private citizens in Washington state and elsewhere, a violation of the law so "massive" and egregious that an appeals court says it has no choice but to throw out the evidence against an Algona man sentenced to 18 years in prison for distribution of child pornography.

NSA/GCHQ/CSEC Infecting Innocent Computers Worldwide.  HACIENDA is a GCHQ program to port-scan entire countries, looking for vulnerable computers to attack.  According to the GCHQ slide from 2009, they've completed port scans of 27 different countries and are prepared to do more.  The point of this is to create ORBs, or Operational Relay Boxes.  Basically, these are computers that sit between the attacker and the target, and are designed to obscure the true origins of an attack.

The NSA and GCHQ Campaign Against German Satellite Companies.  Treasure Map is a vast NSA campaign to map the global internet.  The program doesn't just seek to chart data flows in large traffic channels, such as telecommunications cables.  Rather, it seeks to identify and locate every single device that is connected to the internet somewhere in the world — every smartphone, tablet, and computer — "anywhere, all the time," according to NSA documents.

The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google.  The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a "Google-like" search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.

Should Businesses Be Concerned about NSA Snooping?  After news hit the wires regarding the PRISM surveillance program, multiple companies spoke up, insisting that they refused to comply with NSA requests for customer data. [...] In a world that is run increasingly by data, how do everyday business owners face the idea that the government might request private consumer information?  Business leaders must come to terms with whether they'll comply and risk being exposed during whistleblowing operations, or refuse compliance protect consumer trust.

DEA paid Amtrak $854,460 for passenger lists it could have gotten for free.  The Drug Enforcement Administration paid an Amtrak secretary $854,460 over nearly 20 years to obtain confidential information about train passengers, which the DEA could have lawfully obtained for free through a law enforcement network, The Associated Press has learned.

Yahoo Is Making It Harder for the NSA to Read Your Emails.  Yahoo announced Thursday [8/7/2014] it will encrypt its email service by early next year, joining Google and Microsoft in an effort to create an email system that prevents government officials and hackers from reading users' messages.  It's a major step for Yahoo in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks, and it reflects the commitment of the major technology companies to securing users' data.

Visit the Wrong Website, and the FBI Could End Up in Your Computer.  Security experts call it a "drive-by download": a hacker infiltrates a high-traffic website and then subverts it to deliver malware to every single visitor.  It's one of the most powerful tools in the black hat arsenal, capable of delivering thousands of fresh victims into a hackers' clutches within minutes.  Now the technique is being adopted by a different kind of a hacker — the kind with a badge.  For the last two years, the FBI has been quietly experimenting with drive-by hacks as a solution to one of law enforcement's knottiest Internet problems:  how to identify and prosecute users of criminal websites hiding behind the powerful Tor anonymity system.

CIA Director Brennan Should Resign.  CIA director John Brennan did the right thing Thursday in apologizing to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) for CIA monitoring of computers being used by the committee's staff for an investigation of the Bush-era enhanced-interrogation program.  Nevertheless, heads must roll at the CIA over this scandal, including Brennan's.  While what the CIA did was not illegal, its actions were the result of reckless decisions by agency officials in response to misconduct by SSCI staff members.  The CIA should have handled this matter by raising it quietly with SSCI chairwoman Dianne Feinstein.  The agency didn't need another scandal at a time when all U.S. intelligence agencies were under fire in the aftermath of the Snowden leaks.

Public servants acting as public masters.  "Nothing could be further from the truth.  I mean, we wouldn't do that."  That was CIA Director John Brennan's answer in March when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., charged the CIA with breaking into computers used by Senate investigators looking into CIA misconduct.  It turns out that the CIA would do that — and, in fact, had done so.  Brennan's reassurances were false, and CIA spooks had been hacking into the committee investigators' computers looking for documents they thought the investigators shouldn't have, violating a promise not to.  So, first Brennan broke a promise.  Then, he either lied, or showed that he doesn't control his own agency, which in many ways would be worse.

Obama remains confident in CIA head John Brennan despite Senate spying.  President Obama remains confident in CIA Director John Brennan's leadership despite an independent investigation that concluded that the agency had overreached its authority by spying on Senate staffers.  White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the findings had not diminished Brennan's standing in the administration.  When asked whether it damaged his authority or credibility in any way, Earnest said:  "Absolutely not."

CIA confesses: Yeah, we hacked the Senate's computers.  In March, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) revealed that CIA Director John Brennan told her that the intelligence agency he leads had improperly accessed Senate computers and secretly removed classified documents while the agency's War on Terror interrogation tactics were under investigation.  Feinstein alleged that Brennan told her the CIA took that action because the agency believed the Senate might have accessed documents that they were not authorized to see.  In a statement, Brennan said the Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman had leveled "spurious allegations about CIA actions that were wholly unsupported by the facts."  While he confessed that the agency had made mistakes, the CIA director insisted that there was no merit to the charge that the agency had spied on members of Congress.

Despite Brennan's Lying and Usurpation of Law, President Obama Gives Strong Vote of Confidence In CIA Director John Brennan.  President Obama issued a strong defense of CIA Director John Brennan on Friday in the face of revelations that his agency spied on congressional staffers' computers.  "I have full confidence in John Brennan," Obama said in a White House press conference.

Why Obama Should Roll Heads at the CIA.  Heads should roll at the CIA, but not for the obvious reasons.  Let's review the cacophony of issues raised by the brutal post-911 interrogation program, including the CIA's lies, cover-ups, and a Constitution-bending spying operation against Senate staffers.

The government wants to wiretap online communications — or in some cases hack them.  In 1994, the government passed the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which mandated that phone companies make their systems wiretap-ready.  Richard "Dickie" George, a former NSA technical director until he retired in September 2011, recalled how in the mid-1990s, "in the early days of CALEA," the NSA tested several commercial phone systems with intercept capabilities and "we found problems in every one."  Making the systems hack-proof, he said, "is really, really hard."

A Government Feared and Distrusted.  Deep in the desert of Utah is a government data center.  The center, comprised of long, low buildings spanning 1.5 million square feet, is filled with super­powered computers storing unbelievably massive amounts of information gathered secretly.  What information is being collected?  Information about you, Joe Average citizen.  Your phone calls and emails are being stored, all in the name of protecting our country from potential terrorists #8212; terrorists like you, even though your call or email is as banal as, "Honey I’ll be home in 30 minutes."

Every iPad and iPhone on the planet has a secret back-door allowing unknown parties to take control.  I wonder who could be behind this?

Meet Executive Order 12333: The Reagan rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans.  Even after all the reforms President Obama has announced, some intelligence practices remain so secret, even from members of Congress, that there is no opportunity for our democracy to change them.  Public debate about the bulk collection of U.S. citizens' data by the NSA has focused largely on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, through which the government obtains court orders to compel American telecommunications companies to turn over phone data.  But Section 215 is a small part of the picture and does not include the universe of collection and storage of communications by U.S. persons authorized under Executive Order 12333.

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are.  Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.  Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

Most online accounts investigated by NSA belong to ordinary Internet users, report claims.  Conversations intercepted by the National Security Agency are far more likely to have taken place between ordinary Internet users than legally targeted terror suspects, according to a published report.  The Washington Post reported late Saturday [7/5/2014] that while some intercepted messages were a source of valuable intelligence, many more missives contained nothing more than intensely personal details of people's lives, including more than 5,000 private photos.  In most cases, the information was retained despite being marked as useless by NSA analysts.

Senator: FISA snares American communications.  The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which began operating just last year, said the intelligence the government collects under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is valuable in the fight against terrorism and, at its root, the government uses it properly to go after foreign nationals outside the U.S.  But at the edges, the program is scooping up data about Americans, the board said in a nearly 200-page report that recommended some changes to get a handle on how often the program strays across constitutional boundaries.

NSA Internet spying program an 'effective tool,' bipartisan privacy board says.  Under a provision of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act known as Section 702, the NSA uses court orders and taps on fiberoptic lines to target the data of foreigners living abroad when their emails, web chats, text messages and other communications traverse U.S. telecommunications systems.

The Editor says...
Nobody objects, as far as I know, to the feds listening to phone calls in other countries, or setting up wiretaps in the Middle East.  The problem here is that wiretaps in this country can easily be used against Americans.  And really, how many other countries make their telephone and internet connections through the United States?

Cellphone operator reveals scale of gov't snooping.  Government snooping into phone networks is extensive worldwide, one of the world's largest cellphone companies revealed Friday [6/6/2014], saying that several countries demand direct access to its networks without warrant or prior notice.  The detailed report from Vodafone, which covers the 29 countries in which it operates in Europe, Africa and Asia, provides the most comprehensive look to date at how governments monitor mobile phone communications.  It amounts to a call for a debate on the issue as businesses increasingly worry about being seen as worthy of trust.

British Spy Agencies Are Said to Assert Power to Intercept Web Traffic.  In a broad legal rationale for collecting information from Internet use by its citizens, the British government has reportedly asserted the right to intercept communications that go through services like Facebook, Google and Twitter that are based in the United States or other foreign nations, even if they are between people in Britain.

5 Obama Officials Who Lied, Then Lied About Lying.  Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.  Clapper testified before Congress in 2012 that the NSA was not collecting "any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans."  Clapper later said he had misspoken, after information from Edward Snowden proved that he had been lying.

Judge Orders NSA To Stop Destroying Evidence — For The Third Time.  U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White's ruling came at the request of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is in the midst of a case challenging NSA's ability to surveil foreign citizen's U.S.-based email and social media accounts.  According to the EFF, the signals intelligence agency and the Department of Justice were knowingly destroying key evidence in the case by purposefully misinterpreting earlier preservation orders by multiple courts, multiple times.

Internet Giants Erect Barriers to Spy Agencies.  Just down the road from Google's main campus here, engineers for the company are accelerating what has become the newest arms race in modern technology:  They are making it far more difficult — and far more expensive — for the National Security Agency and the intelligence arms of other governments around the world to pierce their systems.  As fast as it can, Google is sealing up cracks in its systems that Edward J. Snowden revealed the N.S.A. had brilliantly exploited.

Cellphone operator reveals scale of gov't snooping.  Government snooping into phone networks is extensive worldwide, one of the world's largest cellphone companies revealed Friday [6/6/2014], saying that several countries demand direct access to its networks without warrant or prior notice.

How the NSA's Secret Elite Hacking Unit Works.  Snowden documents leaked to Der Spiegel in December 2013 describe a different type of NSA program from the sort that is usually publicized.  Rather than revealing software developed by the agency in order to access computers, these revelations describe a secret elite hacking unit, dubbed Tailored Access Operations, or TAO.

How the NSA Can Get Onto Your Computer.  Many of the NSA's programs revealed in the Snowden leaks describe the agency's ability to target specific pieces of software.  But as The New York Times and others reported earlier this year, there is a suite of programs, codenamed QUANTUM, which allows the NSA access to a much wider variety of computers.

Your Selfie Is A Mugshot For The NSA.  The selfie phenomenon is undoubtedly making the NSA's job easier by producing a mountain of tagged online data to feed its facial recognition algorithms.  A report in The New York Times, based on documents from 2011 obtained by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, reveals that the US security agency's reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly under the Obama administration — coinciding with a rise in popularity of taking and tagging self portraits on online social networks.  The newspaper reports that the agency has turned to new software to process the flood of images being included in digital communication including social media, email, messaging, videoconferencing and other types of online comms.

NSA is 'creating huge facial recognition database by taking millions of images off the internet'.  The NSA is building a comprehensive facial recognition database through the intercepting of millions of photographs posted online everyday, according to a report from the New York Times published Saturday [5/31/2014].  According to the report, which cites top-secret documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the NSA intercepts 'millions of images per day', which translates into approximately 55,000 'facial recognition quality images.'  According to a 2011 document cited in the report, this is regarded by the agency as 'tremendous untapped potential'.

New federal database will track Americans' credit ratings, other financial information.  As many as 227 million Americans may be compelled to disclose intimate details of their families and financial lives — including their Social Security numbers — in a new national database being assembled by two federal agencies.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau posted an April 16 Federal Register notice of an expansion of their joint National Mortgage Database Program to include personally identifiable information that reveals actual users, a reversal of previously stated policy.  FHFA will manage the database and share it with CFPB.  A CFPB internal planning document for 2013-17 describes the bureau as monitoring 95 percent of all mortgage transactions.

"Original" NSA Whistleblower Says Home Raid Was Retribution.  "We were a clear demonstration that official channels didn't work," said William Binney, one of a trio of National Security Agency employees who tired to "blow the whistle" on the NSA's domestic surveillance activities more than a decade before Edward Snowden delivered classified documents from the agency's files to The Guardian.  Binney, now retired, resigned from the NSA in 2001.  A year later he and two of his former colleagues asked Congress and the Department of Defense for an investigation of the agency for wasting money and violating privacy rights with a massive data collection program called "Trailblazer," the successor to an earlier program dubbed "Stellar Wind."  Binney believes that's the reason why the FBI five years later staged an armed raid of his home.

Afghan anger at US monitoring 'nearly all' phone calls.  Afghanistan on Sunday expressed anger at the United States for allegedly monitoring almost all the country's telephone conversations after revelations by the Wikileaks website.  Wikileaks editor Julian Assange said on Friday that Afghanistan was one of at least two countries where the US National Security Agency "has been recording and storing nearly all the domestic (and international) phone calls".

Glenn Greenwald to publish list of U.S. citizens that NSA spied on.  Glenn Greenwald, one of the reporters who chronicled the document dump by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden via the U.K. press, now said he's set to publish his most dramatic piece yet:  The names of those in the United States targeted by the NSA.  "One of the big questions when is comes to domestic spying is, 'Who have been the NSA's specific targets?'  Are they political critics and dissidents and activists?  Are they genuinely people we'd regard as terrorists?  What are the metrics and calculations that go into choosing those targets and what is done with the surveillance that is conducted?  Those are the kinds of questions that I want to still answer," Mr. Greenwald told The Sunday Times of London.

Guilty until proven innocent in the age of ubiquitous electronic surveillance.  Upon taking office, President Obama issued a memorandum on the subject of transparency:  "My Administration," he said, "is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.  Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government."  Apparently, though, in spite of this stated goal, the Obama administration has been doing quite the opposite.  Instead of sharing information openly with the American people, they've been collecting information, in secret, about the American people, building the largest domestic spying infrastructure known to man.

This is slightly off-topic — I hope.
Facebook App Soon to Record All Sounds Entering User Smartphones.  A recent "improvement" to the Facebook mobile app is being praised by tech bloggers, but it seems the bigger, more sinister side of the upgrade is being ignored.  In the "coming weeks," the social media behemoth will roll out a service that, according to an announcement on its blog, will give users: ["]the option to use your phone's microphone to identify what song is playing or what show or movie is on TV.["]

Bill ending NSA bulk data collection clears U.S. House.  The measure, which passed 303-121, would end the National Security Agency's practice of gathering in bulk information on calls made by millions of Americans and storing them for at least five years.  It would instead leave such records in the custody of telephone companies and they could search those databases at the NSA's request.

The NSA records EVERY cell phone call in the Bahamas.  The NSA is listening in on every cell phone call made within or to the Bahamas, according to revelations contained with the documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.  As part of a program codenamed SOMALGET, the National Security Agency is recording millions of communications in the nation of 370,000 and they're even able to replay a given conversation for a month after it happens.

Cisco CEO asks Obama to curtail surveillance, according to reports.  Cisco chief executive John Chambers has sent a letter to President Obama calling for rules ensuring that both the needs of national security and his IT firm's product integrity are met, according to reports.  The Financial Times and Re/code are reporting that Chambers sent a letter dated May 15 to Obama, warning that confidence in an open Internet is being "eroded by revelations of governments' surveillance" and asking him to create new standards of conduct about how the government collects data.  Ars Technica reported last week that a document included in National Security Agency files released with Glenn Greenwald's new book "No Place to Hide" describes how the NSA intercepts servers and networking gear and covertly installs firmware on them before they are shipped out. There is a photo purporting to show NSA employees opening Cisco boxes.

Internet Subversion.  In addition to turning the Internet into a worldwide surveillance platform, the NSA has surreptitiously weakened the products, protocols, and standards we all use to protect ourselves.  By doing so, it has destroyed the trust that underlies the Internet.  We need that trust back.

NSA Metadata Snooping Challenged.  Metadata is transmission and billing information about whom you called, from what phone number, when, and for how long.  This can include your location, because billing records note which cell tower your mobile phone is connecting through.  George Orwell's book 1984 was meant as a warning.  But it is shocking how many people view 1984 as a "how to" manual or blueprint for expanding their power and influence over the country.  The book projects into the future how society has been heading towards a totalitarian society governed by pervasive government surveillance.

Attkisson to Beck: I was warned that I was 'probably being monitored'.  In an interview today [4/30/2014] with Glenn Beck, former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson again addressed the issue of her compromised computers, saying she was "outraged" that someone would attempt to hack them.  She also noted that she'd been warned that she was "probably being monitored" and that this particular tip came before the revelations from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and the news that the Associated Press's phone records had been seized.

A Phone Company Fought the NSA — And the NSA Won.  An unnamed phone company recently resisted a National Security Agency demand for access to its subscribers' data, according to court documents declassified Friday [4/25/2014].  But on March 20, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rejected the company's motion and ordered it to continue turning the records over to the NSA.  The government redacted the name of the company and other information from the documents.  It was apparently the first time any phone company tried to fight the NSA's controversial mass-surveillance program.  A federal judge wrote last year that no phone company had resisted the program, which the NSA claims is authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Shocking details of rampant racism, sexism prompt Rep. Sean Duffy to ask if it's time for CFPB's Richard Cordray to resign.  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray's agency has been slammed in recent months for refusing to divulge to Congress details of its lavish spending on a new headquarters.  The CFPB has also been exposed by the Washington Examiner for running an NSA-like surveillance program that compromises the privacy of hundreds of millions of Americans' most intimate financial dealings.  Cordray's agency has even been taken to court by the Examiner in conjunction with the nonprofit group Judicial Watch for chronically refusing to make public even the most basic details of its spending of tax dollars.

Clapper: Yeah, we've checked out Americans' e-mail content, phone calls without warrants.  In a letter to NSA-skeptic Sen. Ron Wyden this week, DNI head James Clapper seems to confirm searches of the content of American citizens' communication the administration had previously suggested was off-limits.

U.S. confirms warrantless searches of Americans.  The Obama administration has conducted warrantless searches of Americans' communications as part of the National Security Agency's surveillance operations that target foreigners located outside of the U.S., the administration's top intelligence official confirmed in a letter to Congress disclosed Tuesday [4/1/2014].

Obama's NSA overhaul may require phone carriers to store more data.  President Barack Obama's plan for overhauling the National Security Agency's phone surveillance program could force carriers to collect and store customer data that they are not now legally obliged to keep, according to U.S. officials.

NSA still wants to collect records without probable cause.  Except for the definition and mechanism of proving treason, no area of the Constitution addressing the rights of all persons when the government is pursuing them is more specific than the Fourth Amendment.  The linchpin of that specificity is the requirement that the government demonstrate probable cause to a judge as a precondition to the judge issuing a search warrant.  The other specific requirement is identity:  The government must identify whose property it wishes to search or whose behavior it wishes to monitor, because the Fourth Amendment requires that all warrants specifically describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized. [...] The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court has been issuing general warrants to the National Security Agency (NSA) since 1978, but it was not until last June that we learned that these general warrants have been executed upon the telephone calls, text messages, emails, bank records, utility bills and credit card bills of all persons in America since 2009.

The Surveillance State Is Well Protected and Winning.  The New York Times reported today [3/25/2014] that the White House will ask Congress to end the National Security Agency's open-ended collection of data about Americans' calling habits.  Under the proposal, the bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would.  The NSA could seize specific records only with a judge's permission.

Navy database tracks civilians' parking tickets, fender-benders, raising fears of domestic spying.  A parking ticket, traffic citation or involvement in a minor fender-bender are enough to get a person's name and other personal information logged into a massive, obscure federal database run by the U.S. military. [...] LinX is a national information-sharing hub for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  It is run by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, raising concerns among some military law experts that putting such detailed data about ordinary citizens in the hands of military officials crosses the line that generally prohibits the armed forces from conducting civilian law enforcement operations.

Gates Foundation Lobbies For Feds To Collect Data On College Graduates Lives.  A study released by the Gates Foundation is promoting a system that would track the careers of college graduates long after they receive their degrees, attacking the National Association for Independent Colleges and Universities for promoting laws that prevent up-close surveillance of students by the government.

Rand Paul gets standing ovation at Berkeley: 'Your right to privacy is under assault'.  Delivering a rare speech for a Republican at this bastion of liberalism, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday was given multiple standing ovations by the left-wing audience after railing against government surveillance and warning the students:  "Your right to privacy is under assault."  "I am here to tell you that if you own a cell phone, you're under surveillance," he told the crowd. Paul's address at the Berkeley Forum on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley focused on the National Security Agency's collection of telephone metadata and the debate over privacy.

NSA surveillance program reaches 'into the past' to retrieve, replay phone calls.  The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording "100 percent" of a foreign country's telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden.  A senior manager for the program compares it to a time machine — one that can replay the voices from any call without requiring that a person be identified in advance for surveillance.  The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009.

NRA: Federal surveillance policies could lead to gun registry.  The National Rifle Association has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case in federal court in New York challenging the federal government's data surveillance techniques, arguing the data collection violates the First Amendment and could undermine federal privacy laws that prohibit the formation of a registry of firearms or gun owners.

Lies, Spies, Leaks and DiFi.  These days it's a commonplace to diagnose a clash between two parts of our government and conclude that both are wrong.  The case at bar this week is the uncharacteristically rancorous fight between the CIA and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal).

Privacy advocates call Feinstein's rant on CIA spying hypocritical.  Those who have long complained that neither Congress nor the intelligence community have done enough to safeguard the rights of private citizens find it ironic that, for months, the spy agency and the Intelligence Committee charged with its oversight have waged a behind-the-scenes battle accusing each other of improper snooping.  The Justice Department is weighing whether to investigate CIA claims that Intelligence Committee staffers accessed material they shouldn't have seen while reviewing millions of documents at a Virginia facility.  Those same advocates find the complaints of Feinstein, who has been one of the intelligence community's staunchest supporters, as especially disingenuous.

Sen. Feinstein's Awakening.  Here again is the problem of surveillance professionals operating within a highly technologized surveillance state:  If they can do it they will do it.  If they are able to take an action they will sooner or later take it, whether or not it's a good thing, even whether or not it is legal.  Defenders of the surveillance state as it is currently organized and constituted blithely argue that laws, rules, traditions and long-held assumptions will control or put a damper on the actions of those with the power to invade the privacy of groups or individuals.  They are very trusting people!  But they are wrong.

Issa Rips CIA Over Feinstein Spying Allegations: 'Treason'.  House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said he is incensed about allegations the CIA spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee, calling it "treason."  "I think Senator Feinstein is as outraged as anyone and I share her outrage.  I think the violation of the Constitutional separation of powers should be an offense of the highest level — virtually treason," Issa told Breitbart News on Tuesday [3/11/2014].  "Spying on the executive branch — spying on Congress or violating the separation of powers as to the Supreme Court or as to Congress is effectively treason.

New study shows NSA phone metadata can reveal everything about your life.  New research published by Stanford Univeristy Wednesday reveal phone and Internet metadata collected by the NSA can expose far more information about an individual than the agency admits, including, "medical conditions, financial and legal connections, and even whether they own a gun."  Two of the school's computer science graduate students were able to uncover the sensitive personal details of individuals from phone data details, like the numbers of callers and recipients, the location of callers, phone serial numbers and the length of conversations — all of which are data the signals intelligence agency collects in bulk both domestically and internationally.  Of the 33,688 unique numbers called by the study's 546 study volunteers, students were able to positively identify a specific individual in 18 percent of those calls.

'Heads Should Roll!': Lawmakers Irate Over Alleged CIA Spying.  Tempers are flaring in Washington as one branch of government appears irate with another.  Amidst allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been spying on Congressional staffers, a spat between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch appears to be brewing.  California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein is leading the charge as she ranted on Tuesday [3/11/2014] about the 2010 removal of documents from secure machines used by Senate Intelligence Committee staff.

CIA says it doesn't spy on the Senate.  The most serious fight between the Central Intelligence Agency and Congress to erupt during the Obama administration went very public on Tuesday as the Senate's top overseer of the CIA accused the agency of blocking an investigation into interrogation practices and possibly violating the Constitution.  In an extraordinary speech on the Senate floor, Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said CIA personnel illicitly snooped on Senate staffers by examining computers they used as part of a long-running review of the agency's treatment of terrorism suspects under President George W. Bush.

Feinstein publicly accuses CIA of spying on Senate computers.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, escalated a behind-the-scenes dispute with the CIA by publicly accusing the spy agency of secretly searching a Senate computer system, an act she said undermines congressional intelligence oversight and may have violated the law.

Senator: CIA improperly searched computer network.  The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday the CIA improperly searched a stand-alone computer network established for Congress in its investigation of allegations of CIA abuse in a Bush-era detention and interrogation program and the agency's own inspector general has referred the matter to the Justice Department for possible legal action.

Destructive Missions, Partially Accomplished.  First, there are the ongoing revelations about the government's accumulation of digital mountains of personal information on citizens' daily lives.  If there's a positive result from this, it would be that many Americans have become a bit more careful about their data trail.  But the good news ends there.  Our emails, Facebook posts, text messages and other communications are subject to easy scrutiny by government minders and anyone else to whom those apparatchiks might feel like conveying information.  The chilling effect on everyday speech, expression and interactions is a statist's dream come true.  Just wait until they integrate the Obamacare and Common Core data.

White House co-hosts MIT workshop as part of project on 'collecting, analyzing, and using' big data.  The Obama White House is co-hosting a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) workshop on "big data" as part of an administration effort to analyze how to collect and use complex data for public policy.  It comes as little surprise that the White House is analyzing "big data" collection considering the effectiveness of the 2012 Obama campaign's personality-tracking voter targeting database created through its "Project Dreamcatcher."  The information from that database is now held by Obama's nonprofit advocacy group Organizing for Action.

Judge Rules NYPD Spying on Muslims Didn't Hurt While It Was Secret.  A federal judge in Newark has tossed a lawsuit brought by eight Muslims who claimed the NYPD's post-9/11 surveillance of their mosques, schools, and other community locations violated their civil rights.  Instead, U.S. District Judge William Martini ruled that there was no harm done until the Associated Press reported on the program (earning itself a Pulitzer Prize along the way).  "The Associated Press covertly obtained the materials and published them without authorization," he wrote.

DHS cancels national license plate tracking plan.  Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday [2/19/2014] ordered the cancellation of a plan by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to develop a national license-plate tracking system after privacy advocates raised concern about the initiative.  The order came just days after ICE solicited proposals from companies to compile a database of license-plate information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers.  Officials said the database was intended to help apprehend fugitive illegal immigrants, but the plan raised concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized.

The Editor says...
The system is only there to catch illegal immigrants!  How could you possibly object to that?  Think ahead:  Suppose the system works perfectly and every illegal immigrant is captured and deported (Ha!).  Their surveillance system will still be in place, and the bureaucrats will need to think of something to do with it — probably hunting for "deadbeat dads," and people with outstanding warrants.

HHS Seeking Access to 'Full Twitter Historical Data'.  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking a "social media analytic tool" that will give the government access to "full Twitter historical data," according to a solicitation released on Tuesday [2/18/2014].  The agency is seeking feedback for a "possible future acquisition to provide near real time social media analysis."  HHS said it wants to use the tool for "ongoing monitoring" of public health issues.  HHS provides a long list of requirements, including "access to real-time social media posts," and "access to full Twitter firehose."

DNI: Phone surveillance would not have been 'shocking' if the NSA had come clean with the public soon after 9/11.  The White House's director of national intelligence admitted on Monday [2/17/2014] that the National Security Agency and other federal government departments should have been transparent with the American people when it first began collecting a broad swath of phone records.  James Clapper mused openly about how the PRISM program, authorized by Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, was received by global media and the American public, conceding that the scandalous outcome would likely have been different if the government had been less secretive.

At Newark Airport, the Lights Are On, and They're Watching You.  Visitors to Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport may notice the bright, clean lighting that now blankets the cavernous interior, courtesy of 171 recently installed LED fixtures.  But they probably will not realize that the light fixtures are the backbone of a system that is watching them.  Using an array of sensors and eight video cameras around the terminal, the light fixtures are part of a new wireless network that collects and feeds data into software that can spot long lines, recognize license plates and even identify suspicious activity, sending alerts to the appropriate staff.

DHS Building National License Plate Reader Database.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking to build a national license plate reader database, according to a recent job posting for government contractors.  The posting, first reported by Ars Technica, seeks a contractor to build a national license plate recognition database for DHS and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.  Automated license plate recognition (ALPR) technology uses cameras to identify cars, alert police departments if they match a license plate on a "hot list," and track their movements.

The Editor says...
This sounds like a cover story planted in the malleable news media, to announce the formation of something that already exists.  I would be very surprised if such a system hasn't been in place for several years already.

Spy Chief: We Should've Told You We Track Your Calls.  Even the head of the U.S. intelligence community now believes that its collection and storage of millions of call records was kept too secret for too long.  The American public and most members of Congress were kept in the dark for years about a secret U.S. program to collect and store such records of American citizens on a massive scale.  The government's legal interpretation of section 215 of the Patriot Act that granted the authority for this dragnet collection was itself a state secret.

NSA spying undermines separation of powers.  [M]ost Americans figure, probably rightly, that the NSA isn't likely to be interested in their stuff.  (Anyone who hacks my e-mail is automatically punished, by having to read it.)  There is, however, a class of people who can't take that disinterest for granted:  members of Congress and the judiciary.  What they have to say is likely to be pretty interesting to anyone with a political ax to grind.  And the ability of the executive branch to snoop on the phone calls of people in the other branches isn't just a threat to privacy, but a threat to the separation of powers and the Constitution.

'Rand Paul v. Barack Obama' lawsuit hits federal court with 350,000 plaintiffs.  Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is making good on his promise to sue the Obama administration over what he calls 'precisely the kind of overreach we fought a revolution over.'  His targets are the National Security Agency, the FBI and other federal government offices that snoop on private communications at home and abroad.

Rand Paul Suing President Obama.  Rand Paul's political action committee just announced that the Kentucky senator is suing President Obama. [...] "I am filing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama because he has publicly refused to stop a clear and continuing violation of the 4th Amendment," Paul said in a statement.  "The Bill of Rights protects all citizens from general warrants.  I expect this case to go all the way to the Supreme Court and I predict the American people will win."

Secret court approves phone surveillance changes.  National intelligence chief James R. Clapper said Thursday [2/6/2014] that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had approved two limits on how the government can use huge volumes of data it collects about Americans' phone use.  The new restrictions were among reforms promised last month by President Barack Obama to the controversial anti-terror surveillance program of the National Security Agency.

The Editor says...
How can any of us verify what the secret court really said?  And why is there a secret court in an ostensibly free country?

NSA Defender Explains How Even Though NSA Spies On Americans, It's OK To Say They Don't.  Benjamin Wittes of the Brooking Institution has become the go-to non-government NSA apologist.  One of his most recent articles is a true work of rhetorical artistry, in which he tries to explain why saying "the NSA doesn't spy on Americans" is acceptable shorthand for the fact that the NSA spies on pretty much every American.  It's a master class in political doubletalk.  First, it's the law's fault.  The law, you see, is too complicated for mere mortals not working for the NSA to understand, so that makes it okay to lie.

Federal consumer bureau data-mining hundreds of millions of consumer credit card accounts, mortgages.  Officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are conducting a massive, NSA-esque data-mining project collecting account information on an estimated 991 million American credit card accounts.  It was also learned at a Congressional hearing Tuesday [1/28/2014] that CFPB officials are working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency on a second data-mining effort, this one focused on the 53 million residential mortgages taken out by Americans since 1998.

Obama Team Stonewalls Democrat on Spying Questions.  Ron Wyden wanted direct answers on government spying programs during Wednesday's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.  He didn't get many.  Director of Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, and FBI Director James Comey largely avoided giving details on the agencies' spying activities, instead promising to provide more information as soon as possible.  In several cases, Wyden gave deadlines for them to answer his questions.  Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, is a vocal critic of the National Security Agency's program of gathering the phone data of millions of Americans.

US privacy watchdog advises NSA spying is 'illegal'.  The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board advised by a 3-2 majority that the programme should end.  In a major speech last week, President Barack Obama said he was ordering curbs on the use of such mass data.  But he said the US must continue collecting data to prevent attacks.

Independent review board says NSA phone data program is illegal and should end.  An independent executive branch board has concluded that the National Security Agency's long-running program to collect billions of Americans' phone records is illegal and should end.  In a strongly worded report to be issued Thursday [1/23/2014], the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) said that the statute upon which the program was based, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, "does not provide an adequate basis to support this program."

White House Rejects Gov't Report that NSA Bulk Data Grab Is Illegal and Useless.  The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) has released a scathing report listing off the various ways that the National Security Administration's meta data sweeps are illegal. [...] The board also rejected the notion that the NSA's data mining program is somehow "necessary" to fix the supposed intelligence gap that occurred from a failure to detect Al Qaeda in the U.S. prior to 9/11 — something that has been claimed many times to necessitate the program [...]

Four Questionable Claims Obama Has Made on NSA Surveillance.  [#1] There have been no abuses. [...] At press conferences in June, August and December, Obama made assurances that two types of bulk surveillance had not been misused.  In fact, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has reprimanded the NSA for abuses both in warrantless surveillance targeting people abroad, and in bulk domestic phone records collection.  In 2011, the FISA Court found that for three years, the NSA had been collecting tens of thousands of domestic emails and other communications in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

What would Patrick Henry do with the NSA?  In his speech of Friday last, President Obama laid out some nifty new review processes to see to it that the NSA behaves — our "reviewers" will now have "reviewers."  And therein lies the problem: government cannot be the judge of the extent of its own powers, that is what has led to this moment.

A new 'crypto-war' breaks out, as citizens and criminals learn to hide from government.  [Scroll down]  Smari McCarthy — whose eclectic activities include working with Julian Assange in the early days of Wikileaks and keeping the internet going in remote parts of Afghanistan — is part of a small group of developers building a free, user-friendly email service that has PGP encryption built in by default.  I interviewed McCarthy recently for my forthcoming book.  He calculated that it currently costs 13 cents per day to spy on every internet user in the world.  His plan is to push that to $10,000 by getting more people to use PGP. "

Rand Paul Mocks Obama's NSA Speech: 'If You Like Your Privacy, You Can Keep it'.  Sen. Rand Paul responded today [1/17/2014] to Obama's NSA speech in which Obama announced plans to reform the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program, which has been unconstitutionally spying on Americans, in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.  Senator Paul, in a statement reiterated that he will continue to fight for his Fourth Amendment Restoration Act as well as his lawsuit against the Obama NSA.

Data Spying in the States: Public Safety or Invasion of Privacy?  Last month, USA Today reported that at least 125 police agencies in 33 states have used a variety of spy-worthy tactics and technologies to obtain information about thousands of cell phones and their users.  The newspaper's investigation found that one in four law enforcement agencies use a tactic known as a "tower dump" to get the identity, activity and location information of any cell phone that connects with a particular cell tower in a specific timespan.  Additionally, 25 law enforcement agencies used federal grants to purchase a piece of equipment developed for military and intelligence gathering purposes known as a "Stingray," which mimics a cell tower, allows police to track the movements of a specific cell phone and captures data from a cell phone, such as the phone numbers dialed and text messages received.

NSA can't say if it collected data on lawmakers, officials.  The National Security Agency said it is lawfully unable to search its database to determine if it has swept up phone records from members of Congress or other elected officials.  NSA Director Keith Alexander said, however, nothing the agency does can be fairly described as "spying on Members of Congress" or U.S. politicians, according to a letter dated Jan. 10.

The Editor says...
If the NSA "is lawfully unable to search its database," then why does the database exist?

NSA collects millions of text messages daily in 'untargeted' global sweep.  The National Security Agency has collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe, using them to extract data including location, contact networks and credit card details, according to top-secret documents.

Obama Picks Soros Crony to Lead NSA Probe.  When President Obama needs help, he can always turn to one of the Soros inner circle.  In a speech on Jan. 17, Obama announced that his new Presidential Counsel John Podesta will lead a "comprehensive review of Big Data and privacy," following the NSA privacy scandal that has dogged his administration.  What he didn't mention was that Podesta is the founder of the liberal Center for American Progress.  CAP has gotten $7.3 million from liberal billionaire George Soros since 2000 and was one of the keystone liberal think tanks founded after the Democrats lost the 2004 election.

Apple, Cisco, Dell unhappy over alleged NSA back doors in their gear.  Germany's Der Spiegel reports that the NSA has compromised a wide range of hardware for years to enable its spying.

The Real Purpose of Oakland's Surveillance Center.  City leaders have argued that Oakland needs a massive surveillance system to combat violent crime, but internal documents reveal that city staffers are also focused on tracking political protesters.

Cruz: Why didn't NSA spying stop Boston and Ft. Hood terror attacks?  In Tuesday's "Hearing on the Report of the President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies" Texas Senator Ted Cruz grilled Obama NSA witnesses as to the effectiveness of the massive spying operation, which failed to stop the tragic terrorist attacks at both Fort Hood and the bombings in Boston.  Richard A. Clarke, Michael J. Morell, Professor Geoffrey R. Stone, Cass R. Sunstein and Professor Peter Swire were asked by Cruz if government surveillance programs have focused too much on gathering information on law-abiding citizens and too little on the actual "bad guys."

Obama's NSA Speech: More mush from the proto-tyrant.  Obama is behaving like a tyrant, but doing it sneakily, with the connivance of a mainstream media that refuses to present to their audience the alarming stories of what is really going on.  The low information majority is blissfully unaware that the organs of state power are being mobilized to suppress Obama's political opponents.  In this context, the NSA domestic spying apparatus is and remains a grave threat.

N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers.  The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks.  While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials.

NSA has hacked into 100,000 computers around the world some of which are not connected to the internet.  The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world — but not in the United States — that allows the U.S. to conduct surveillance on those machines, The New York Times reported Tuesday [1/14/2014].  The Times cited NSA documents, computer experts and U.S. officials in its report about the use of secret technology using radio waves to gain access to computers that other countries have tried to protect from spying or cyberattacks.

The Editor says...
That sounds like the kind of leakage that Tempest was supposed to prevent.

The NSA Even Spies on Congress.  Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wrote to Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Administration (NSA), and asked plainly whether the NSA has been or is now spying on members of Congress or other public officials.  The senator's letter was no doubt prompted by the revelations of Edward Snowden to the effect that the federal government's lust for personal private data about all Americans and many foreigners knows no bounds, and its respect for the constitutionally protected and statutorily enforced right to privacy is nonexistent.

The Danger of NSA Spying on Members of Congress.  An executive-branch agency has been empowered to store revealing information about the communications of everyone in the legislature.

NSA statement does not deny 'spying' on members of Congress.  The National Security Agency on Saturday released a statement in answer to questions from a senator about whether it "has spied, or is ... currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials", in which it did not deny collecting communications from legislators of the US Congress to whom it says it is accountable.

Rand Paul to Lead Class-Action Lawsuit Against Obama over NSA Spying.  Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is leading a class-action lawsuit with hundreds of thousands of Americans against President Barack Obama's National Security Agency (NSA) over its spying on the American people, Breitbart News has learned.

White House appeals ruling on constitutionality of NSA program.  The Justice Department asked a U.S. appeals court Friday [1/3/2014] to toss out a judge's ruling the National Security Agency surveillance is likely unconstitutional.

Secret spy court says NSA can keep collecting every American's phone records.  A secretive U.S. spy court has ruled again that the National Security Agency can keep collecting every American's telephone records every day, in the midst of conflicting decisions in two other federal courts about whether the surveillance program is constitutional.

This is how the NSA gets unrestricted access to your iPhone.  The National Security Agency has already demonstrated that it is willing to go to great lengths to swipe information from unsuspecting targets, from bulk-tapping phone records to more absurd stuff like monitoring potential threats in World of Warcraft.  The latest revelations, however, paint an increasingly troubling portrait of the NSA's surveillance capabilities, particularly if you're an iPhone owner.  Back in September, German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported that the NSA had gained access to BlackBerrys, Androids, and iPhones.  And now we have a better idea of how backdoor access is unlocked.

Apple denies knowledge of NSA's 'complete' access to iPhone.  Apple on Tuesday [12/31/2013] vehemently denied suggestions from a security analyst that the company may have helped the NSA to develop backdoor access to the iPhone.  The statement came from security research Jacob Appelbaum, who revealed the existence of a secret program code-named DROPOUTJEEP by which the National Security Agency (NSA) appears to have nearly total access to the Apple iPhone.

The NSA Intercepts Laptops Purchased Online to Install Malware.  According to a new report from Der Spiegel on the National Security Agency's top team of hackers, the agency intercept electronics purchased online before delivery to install malware and other spying tools.

NSA's elite hacking unit intercepted computers ordered online and installed Spyware.  NSA spies have intercepted computer deliveries, exploited hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijacked Microsoft's internal reporting system all in the name of stealing data from some of their toughest targets.  These latest revelations to emerge about the undercover work of the National Security Agency focus on the work carried out by an elite team of hackers known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO).

NY judge rules NSA phone surveillance is legal.  A federal judge on Friday [12/27/2013] found that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records is legal and a valuable part of the nation's arsenal to counter the threat of terrorism.

The Black Chamber.  Terrorism has made it necessary to the surveil persons communicating with, or commingled with US persons.  Hampering intelligence is not so nearly as important as ensuring pre-crime never becomes crime.  [Cass] Sunstein's recommendations have charted out a process that will cost billions yet do nothing to improve the situation for US persons, though they will be a tremendous boon to foreign agents.  The main structural problems that need to be fixed are the incentive structure among US intelligence agencies.  What really matters is the commingling to the intelligence function with the criminal system.  Intelligence should be permitted relatively unfettered access if the criminal justice system is not its de facto handmaiden.

Into Year 6, Obama admits he's clueless.  [Scroll down]  And that ever-lowering standard seems to apply to everything, including the U.S. government spying on Americans.  Asked about how he can justify a program that a federal judge said "had failed to cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA's bulk metadata actually stopped an imminent attack," he countered:  "There have not been actual instances where it's been alleged that the NSA in some ways acted inappropriately in the use of this data."  Well, perfect.  No one has yet proven the clandestine program that no one knew about has trampled on Americans' constitutional rights.  Good enough!

The Air of Unreality in NSA Reform.  Grope through the Styrofoam pellets of rhetoric that surround the 46 recommendations in the report issued last week by the president's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, and you will discover that the authors "have not uncovered any official efforts to suppress dissent or any intent to intrude into people's private lives without legal justification."  The panel's investigation of the National Security Agency found — as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found before them — that the occasional unintentional violations of guidelines were stopped once they were detected.

Susan Rice Defends James Clapper And The Indefensible.  The diplomat who blamed four American deaths in Benghazi on a video claims the denials by the director of national intelligence of blanket surveillance of Americans were inadvertent false representations.

Obama can't point to a single time the NSA call records program prevented a terrorist attack.  National Security Agency defenders, including President Obama, continue to cite the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001 when defending the program that scoops up domestic call records in bulk.  But asked specifically, on Friday [12/20/2013], if he could identify a time when that program stopped a similar attack, President Obama couldn't.  That's because the program hasn't prevented a second 9/11.

Susan Rice: NSA Officials Didn't Lie, They 'Inadvertently Made False Representations'.  National Security Advisor Susan Rice appeared on Sunday night's 60 Minutes with Lesley Stahl, and one of the issues she addressed was the continued fallout from the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.  Rice argued that NSA officials didn't lie about intel dragnets, they just "inadvertently made false representations."  This statement comes as House Republicans are demanding a criminal probe for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for his flat-out denial in March, three months before the Snowden leaks began, that the NSA collects data on hundreds of millions of Americans (a denial that Clapper later categorized as the "least untruthful" answer he could have provided).

When '60 Minutes' Checks Its Journalistic Skepticism at the Door.  [V]iewers expect the show to bring its A game, and deserve it, when it takes on a huge issue like the N.S.A., to serve as a stand-in for the American people and ask the uncomfortable questions.

White House Tries to Prevent Judge From Ruling on Surveillance Efforts.  The Obama administration moved late Friday [12/20/2013] to prevent a federal judge in California from ruling on the constitutionality of warrantless surveillance programs authorized during the Bush administration, telling a court that recent disclosures about National Security Agency spying were not enough to undermine its claim that litigating the case would jeopardize state secrets.

Feds declassify Bush-era surveillance docs.  Federal intelligence officials are declassifying eight documents about the origins of controversial surveillance systems created under former President George W. Bush.  The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced on Saturday [12/21/2013] that it had declassified the court documents dating from 2007 to this year, which the federal government had used to justify keeping the surveillance program secret.

Mr. Obama's Disappointing Response.  By the time President Obama gave his news conference on Friday, there was really only one course to take on surveillance policy from an ethical, moral, constitutional and even political point of view.  And that was to embrace the recommendations of his handpicked panel on government spying — and bills pending in Congress — to end the obvious excesses.  He could have started by suspending the constitutionally questionable (and evidently pointless) collection of data on every phone call and email that Americans make.  He did not do any of that.

No greater act of loyalty to the Constitution.  Some government officials have taken cover in the 1979 Supreme Court decision Smith v. Maryland, which held that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in non-content information held by a third party.  Yet others contend that current technology can use phone data to reveal everything about a person's life — from religious activities to personal health information.  This being so, is it possible that the Supreme Court could overturn precedent?

How much did NSA pay to put backdoors in RSA crypto? Try $10m — report.  The mystery of why RSA would use a flawed, NSA-championed algorithm as the default random number generator for several of its encryption products appears to be solved, and the answer is utterly banal, if true:  the NSA paid it to.  Reuters reports that RSA received $10m from the NSA in exchange for making the agency-backed Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator (Dual EC DRBG) its preferred random number algorithm, according to newly disclosed documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Officials' defenses of NSA phone program may be unraveling.  From the moment the government's massive database of citizens' call records was exposed this year, U.S. officials have clung to two main lines of defense:  The secret surveillance program was constitutional and critical to keeping the nation safe.  But six months into the controversy triggered by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the viability of those claims is no longer clear.  In a three-day span, those rationales were upended by a federal judge who declared that the program was probably unconstitutional and the release of a report by a White House panel utterly unconvinced that stockpiling such data had played any meaningful role in preventing terrorist attacks.

Obama's own review of the NSA is a victory for libertarians — and maybe terrorists.  Try as it might, the White House just cannot put the Edward Snowden story to rest:  the leaks keep on dribbling out and this week the US District Court in Washington ruled that the bulk collection of phone records is "Orwellian" and likely to be unconstitutional.  That (slightly histrionic) opinion will certainly be subject to appeal and review — ultimately by the Supreme Court — but whatever the eventual result, it means that the White House no longer has any hope of parking this story, as it might have hoped when it first broke.

Judge smacks Obama secrecy in unique FOIA case.  In a Freedom of Information Act victory, a federal judge has slapped the Obama administration for its secretive ways and ordered officials to turn over a bland-sounding foreign policy document.  Chastising what she called "the government's unwarranted expansion of the presidential communications privilege at the expense of the public's interest in disclosure," U.S. District Judge Ellen Seal Huvelle ruled the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development is not exempt from FOIA.

NSA shouldn't keep phone database, review board recommends.  A panel appointed by President Obama to review the government's surveillance activities has recommended significant new limits on the nation's intelligence apparatus that include ending the National Security Agency's collection of virtually all Americans' phone records.  It urged that phone companies or a private third party maintain the data instead, with access granted only by a court order.

NSA Lawsuit Attorney: Ignore White House Panel.  The five-member panel released a 303-page report Dec. 18 containing 46 recommended changes to intelligence practices.  "It's a ruse," Klayman tells U.S. News.  "This is an age-old government practice:  When caught with their hand in the cookie jar, they come up with a 'solution.'"  The practice is somewhat similar to advocating a law outlawing murder after killing someone, he says.

White House task force recommends curbs to NSA surveillance.  America's spy chiefs should hand control of the country's sweeping telephone data record collection to private telecommunications companies, according to a task force set up by President Barack Obama to review the controversial surveillance programme.  The panel of five experts also recommended that future eavesdropping of foreign leaders should only be approved by a president, not intelligence officials, if "rigorous" tests were passed.

Merkel compared NSA to Stasi in heated encounter with Obama.  In an angry exchange with Barack Obama, Angela Merkel has compared the snooping practices of the US with those of the Stasi, the ubiquitous and all-powerful secret police of the communist dictatorship in East Germany, where she grew up.  The German chancellor also told the US president that America's National Security Agency cannot be trusted because of the volume of material it had allowed to leak to the whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to the New York Times.

A Powerful Rebuke of Mass Surveillance.  For the first time since the revelation of the National Security Agency's vast dragnet of all Americans' telephone records, a federal court has ruled that such surveillance is "significantly likely" to be unconstitutional.  In a scathing 68-page opinion peppered with exclamations of incredulity, United States District Judge Richard Leon, of the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia, found that the seven-year-old phone-data collection program — which was established under the Patriot Act and has been repeatedly reauthorized by a secret intelligence court — "almost certainly" violates the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches.

Why Did 60 Minutes Let the Head of the NSA Fool Its Audience?  [Scroll down]  This is a classic technically-accurate-but-wildly-misleading NSA answer.  As best as I can understand the thought process behind Alexander's evasions, it's something like this:  No, the NSA isn't "tunneling" or "going into a facility."  It is copying data flows as they pass between facilities.  No, the NSA isn't "targeting Google" or Yahoo "as an entity."  Its "targets" — per the highly particular NSA meaning of that word — are users who communicate via Google and Yahoo.

Judge: NSA phone program likely unconstitutional.  A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency program which collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from or within the United States is likely unconstitutional.  U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found that the program appears to violate the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.  He also said the Justice Department had failed to demonstrate that collecting the information had helped to head off terrorist attacks.

Court Finds Administration Trampled Fourth Amendment.  A federal court condemns the government's "collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen."  This time it's the Fourth Amendment the president is violating.

Larry Klayman crows on NSA win: 'We hit the mother lode'.  [Larry] Klayman, the conservative legal activist well-known in Washington political circles a decade ago for his no-holds-barred court battles against the Clinton administration, was thrust back into the spotlight Monday after he obtained the first major ruling from a federal judge that the National Security Agency's surveillance program was constitutionally flawed.

Rand Paul Plots NSA Class-Action Lawsuit Options.  After months of consideration, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is moving closer to filing a lawsuit in federal court against National Security Agency surveillance programs.  A senior Paul staffer says U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon's Monday [12/16/2013] decision that NSA opponents have standing to sue over the bulk collection of phone records makes Paul "much more likely" to file his own lawsuit.

U.S. Judge Slams Surveillance of Phones.  A federal judge ruled that the National Security Agency's collection of phone records "almost certainly" violates the U.S. Constitution, setting up a larger legal battle over long-secret counterterrorism programs.  U.S. District Judge Richard Leon's sharply worded opinion Monday labeled as "almost Orwellian" the NSA's bulk phone-surveillance program, one of several shots the judge took at the spying and its legal justifications.

The Judge and the NSA.  Federal Judge Richard Leon has become a sudden political celebrity after his remarkable opinion holding that antiterror surveillance is unconstitutional and, even more remarkably, enjoining the entire program.  If only his legal reasoning were as compelling as his new repute.

NSA Ruling Marks Larry Klayman's Biggest Legal Success.  Deciding on a lawsuit brought by Mr. Klayman, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the NSA program "almost certainly" violated constitutional protections against unreasonable searches, setting the stage for a higher-court fight over the issue and giving new momentum to efforts in Congress to rein in such surveillance.

Second Federal Judge 'Skeptical' About Legal Case for NSA Phone-Record Collection.  Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union appeared in U.S. District Court Friday [12/13/2013] to argue for a preliminary injunction that would halt the National Security Agency's collection of all Americans' phone records.  Judge William Pauley did not set a time frame for when he might announce his decision — but as he reviews the case, NSA opponents may have cause for optimism.  ACLU legal fellow Brett Max Kaufman, one of the attorneys in court for the hearing, said Pauley seemed skeptical of the government's reliance on the Supreme Court's 1979 Smith v. Maryland decision.

Disarming Surveillance.  [Scroll down]  One of the worst proposals would effectively cripple the NSA's ability to collect, store and analyze telephony records, or the time, duration and originating and terminating numbers for phone calls.  This program was authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act and collects a vast amount of information, even if the database is only searched narrowly on the basis of specific facts as approved by judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC.  The minimization procedures are strict enough that the NSA only used the 215 program to make 300 queries in 2012.

The Editor says...
As I've said many times, I don't care if the federal government reads emails to and from Islamic terrorists anywhere in the world.  The objection that we sensible people have to the NSA's technique is that they scoop up all the metadata in the country in order to sift through it looking for "terrorists" — a term with a flexible definition:  Today that term refers to Islamic towel-heads with pressure cookers and dynamite, and tomorrow it could include well-armed patriots who just want to overthrow a tyrant and get out from under tyranny.

'NSA uses Google cookies to track targets,' reveals latest Snowden leak.  The National Security Agency has been accused of using Google cookies to pinpoint targets the government wants to hack.  In a NSA presentation slide released by Edward Snowden and seen by the Washington Post, the agency appeared to be using internet tracking techniques usually used by advertisers.

By cracking cellphone code, NSA has capacity for decoding private conversations.  The cellphone encryption technology used most widely across the world can be easily defeated by the National Security Agency, an internal document shows, giving the agency the means to decode most of the billions of calls and texts that travel over public airwaves every day.  While the military and law enforcement agencies long have been able to hack into individual cellphones, the NSA's capability appears to be far more sweeping because of the agency's global signals collection operation.

The Editor says...
They aren't "the public airwaves" any more.  The FCC sells RF bandwidth to cell phone companies.

Spooks off the Leash.  Apparently having decided to embark upon a course of self-parody, the National Reconnaissance Office [...] sent out a press release sharing the logo for its new spy-satellite program, NROL-39.  The image is that of an evil-looking giant octopus with its tentacles encircling the entire planet over the motto:  Nothing Is beyond Our Reach.

Cellphone data spying: It's not just the NSA.  Local police are increasingly able to scoop up large amounts of cellphone data using new technologies, including cell tower dumps and secret mobile devices known as Stingrays.

Tech companies call for an end to NSA online snooping.  Eight U.S. technology firms called for an end to online mass snooping by U.S. intelligence agencies Monday [12/9/2013] as new revelations emerged that the National Security Agency has even monitored Americans playing online computer games like "World of Warcraft."  Citing concerns about civil liberties, top executives from AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo said in an open letter to President Obama and Congress that the bulk collection of online communications by intelligence agencies should cease.

What has a shadowy US government spy agency just shot into space?  Despite ongoing anger about how the U.S. government is snooping on people around the world, one agency is still keen to boast about its spying — with a creepy cartoon octopus and an alarming logo.  A top-secret rocket carrying spy satellites for the National Reconnaissance Office launched from the central California coast late on Thursday [12/5/2013], and it had a large badge emblazoned on the side[.]  The new logo features a huge and sinister octopus, with just one angry eye visible, as it wraps its tentacles round the globe.  Written underneath is:  'Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach.'

Patriot Act author: Obama's intel czar should be prosecuted.  Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the original author of the Patriot Act, says Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should be prosecuted for lying to Congress.  "Lying to Congress is a federal offense, and Clapper ought to be fired and prosecuted for it," the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview with The Hill.

NSA 'tracks mobile phones around the world'.  America's National Security Agency is tracking mobile phones around the world, according to the latest leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden.  Almost five billion records a day are being gathered which allow intelligence officials to track individuals and map their relationships in ways previously unimaginable, the classified documents suggest.  The records and interviews with US officials, seen by the Washington Post, are said to show that the information feeds into a vast database which stores information on hundreds of millions of devices, providing agents with a mass surveillance tool.

Administration to review facial recognition technology.  The Obama administration on Tuesday said it plans to review the privacy implications of facial recognition technology.  Lawmakers and privacy advocates have expressed fears that tech companies and government agencies are using facial recognition technologies to track people, often without their knowledge.  The Commerce Department said it recognizes those concerns and will work with tech groups, privacy advocates and online advertising trade associations to identify them.

NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show.  The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.  The records feed a vast database that stores information about the locations of at least hundreds of millions of devices, according to the officials and the documents, which were provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.  New projects created to analyze that data have provided the intelligence community with what amounts to a mass surveillance tool.

'Thousands of NSA Analysts Can Listen to Domestic Phone Calls,' Read Emails, Texts, IMs.  The NSA claims "it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls."  The Fourth Amendment begs to differ.

With Tens of Millions of Phone Records Grabbed — It's the Government, Stupid.  The National Security Administration (NSA) has been forcing Verizon to turn over phone record data on millions of Americans.  Will the federal government use this unbelievably massive data grab against the American people they are supposed to serve — but instead increasingly lord over?

Latest Big Government Data Grab: Justice Sues to Get It Without Warrant.  Do You Want the Government Buying Your Data From Corporations?  Our government collects a lot of information about us.  Tax records, legal records, license records, records of government services received — it's all in databases that are increasingly linked and correlated.  Still, there's a lot of personal information the government can't collect.  Either they're prohibited by law from asking without probable cause and a judicial order, or they simply have no cost-effective way to collect it.  But the government has figured out how to get around the laws, and collect personal data that has been historically denied to them:  ask corporate America for it.

Google's Faux Outrage over NSA Spying.  Google Inc. clearly does not have the coercive sovereign power that the NSA has.  However, the evidence shows that it has a similar spying habits, legal positions, and attitudes; and that it also has had a decade-long record of cooperation with U.S. intelligence services.

N.S.A. May Have Hit Internet Companies at a Weak Spot.  The recent revelation that the National Security Agency was able to eavesdrop on the communications of Google and Yahoo users without breaking into either company's data centers sounded like something pulled from a Robert Ludlum spy thriller.  How on earth, the companies asked, did the N.S.A. get their data without their knowing about it?  The most likely answer is a modern spin on a century-old eavesdropping tradition.

Official releasing what appears to be original court file authorizing NSA to conduct sweeps.  The director of national intelligence on Monday night released what appeared to be the original court document authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct sweeping collections of Americans' communications records for counterterrorism purposes. [...] The documents also describe the NSA's failure to abide by court-imposed rules to protect Americans' privacy, and show that the agency was more interested in collecting cell site location data than it had previously acknowledged.

Americans' personal data shared with CIA, IRS, others in security probe.  U.S. agencies collected and shared the personal information of thousands of Americans in an attempt to root out untrustworthy federal workers that ended up scrutinizing people who had no direct ties to the U.S. government and simply had purchased certain books.  Federal officials gathered the information from the customer records of two men who were under criminal investigation for purportedly teaching people how to pass lie detector tests.  The officials then distributed a list of 4,904 people — along with many of their Social Security numbers, addresses and professions — to nearly 30 federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

C.I.A. Is Said to Pay AT&T for Call Data.  The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company's vast database of phone records, which includes Americans' international calls, according to government officials.  The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate, according to the officials.

The Hemisphere Project.  [Scroll down]  Smaller government agencies got into the spy game as well.  The New York Times reported recently that for at least six years, law enforcement officials had been working on a counter-narcotics program called the Hemisphere Project, a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T, which gives the government routine access to an enormous database containing the records of decades of Americans' phone calls — the scale and longevity of which is unequalled, even by the NSA's collection.  The program apparently began in 2007 and has been carried out in great secrecy.  While the NSA stores the data for nearly all calls in the United States for five years, AT&T supplies law enforcement with phone data from as far back as 1987.  Approximately four billion call records are added to the database every day.  And unlike the NSA data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers.

Obama's 1984.  [Edward] Snowden was charged by federal prosecutors for violating the Espionage Act of 1917, while Obama went on national television to claim that "we don't have a domestic spying program" and "there is no spying on Americans."  However, the many thousands of documents that Snowden leaked revealed a complex web of spy programs which intercepted Internet and telephone conversations from over a billion users in dozens of countries.  The intrusive secret data-mining didn't end there.  A top-secret communications surveillance program called PRISM enabled the U.S. intelligence community to access the servers of nine Internet behemoths such as Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype and Facebook for a wide range of digital data.  That NSA service grew exponentially under Obama at the same time he was trumpeting the end of Bush's War on Terror.

How the Government Spied on Me.  More recent revelations of National Security Agency spying suggest that the government's invasion of citizens' privacy is increasingly common.  Millions of innocent Americans should be very concerned about Washington's massive surveillance apparatus, which seems to know no bounds.

Government 'Mining' Social Media for Information on Health Behavior.  The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is "mining" Facebook and Twitter to improve its social media footprint and to assess how Tweets can be used as "change-agents" for health behaviors.  The NLM, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will have software installed on government computers that will store data from social media as part of a $30,000 project announced last week.

Rep. Joe Wilson Vindicated.  [A]s we look back on 5 years of Barack Obama, we see that Obama and his Administration do lie.  And they lie a lot. [...] The President and the National Director of Intelligence reassured the American people time and time again that the phone calls and emails of Americans were not being monitored and recorded as part of our intelligence programs.  We know that to be false and, further, we now know that our electronic spying is international in scope and technologically sophisticated.

Thousands march on Capitol Hill to protest NSA monitoring .  Protesters marched Saturday in Washington, D.C., to protest government surveillance programs revealed this year by Edward Snowden on the 12th anniversary of the law that made them legal.  Carrying signs reading:  'Stop Mass Spying,' 'Thank you, Edward Snowden' and 'Unplug Big Brother,' people gathered at the foot of the Capitol to demonstrate against the online surveillance by the National Security Agency.

NSA spied on 124.8 billion phone calls in just one month: watchdog.  The National Security Agency monitored nearly 125 billion phone calls in just one month, according to a number of new reports.  And while the majority of calls reportedly originated in the Middle East, an estimated 3 billion of the calls originated in the U.S.

Stop Watching You? Why?  Congress should indeed provide transparency, accountability and reform of the NSA's mass domestic surveillance that collects and stores the phone records and Internet activity of people in the United States.  There is no reason for the NSA to be conducting surveillance on such a massive basis; it is a symptom of the pervasive refusal to face the reality and magnitude of the jihad threat.  Because the NSA cannot admit that there is a particular threat coming from people who would be likely to frequent mosques and Islamic centers, it has to conduct surveillance on virtually everyone.

State Department Will Not Answer If The NSA Spied On Obama.  Following yesterday's [10/23/2013] allegation that the NSA had been spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, State Department Deputy Press Secretary Marie Harf was asked if the NSA had tapped President Obama's phone.  Harf seemed to find the question rather amusing, but was unable to give the reporter a definitive yes or no answer on the matter.

Reining in the snoops.  The Obama administration is doing all it can, short of dispatching a squad of park rangers to barricade the justices' parking spaces, to prevent the Supreme Court from reviewing the National Security Agency's domestic spying enterprise.  The administration's lawyers insist that lower courts can deal with the spy program, since the issue is too new to bother the high court with it.  This is an argument too clever by half, since the administration further argues that lower courts have no jurisdiction in the first place.  At issue is the government collusion with telephone companies in gathering the "metadata" for every telephone call placed in the United States.

Your life, under constant surveillance.  Historically, surveillance was difficult and expensive.  Over the decades, as technology advanced, surveillance became easier and easier.  Today, we find ourselves in a world of ubiquitous surveillance, where everything is collected, saved, searched, correlated and analyzed. [...] The result of all this is we're now living in a world where both corporations and governments have us all under pretty much constant surveillance.

Why the NSA's Defense of Mass Data Collection Makes No Sense.  The U.S. intelligence community claims it's not spying on citizens until someone actually looks at the data it collects.  That argument is deeply flawed.

Turns out, the NSA is also collecting all your Contacts, IM lists and group-chat pals.  Last June when Edward Snowden had just begun releasing his IED's, Intelligence Exposing Devices, Americans were shocked to learn that Obama's National Security Agency was collecting the telephone numbers of pretty much every single call made by any American.  Of course, being Americans and federal employees with top secret clearances, it would never occur to anyone to abuse that authority, except for the guys who tracked their exes and new loves.  But that's an exception, you understand.  Then we learn that the NSA is also collecting pretty much every single email sent by pretty much any American.  All in the interests of triangulating terrorists and any domestic connections, you understand.

I'm From the Government and I'm Here to Spy on You.  The big portals showing the masses what the government is really up to all came last April, and until Obama's gone from the White House, civilian life will never be the same.  It was last April when a judge in Texas denied a request by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for what he described as a warrant to remotely "hack a computer suspected of criminal use", raising questions about the legal requirement for the government to use computer hacking techniques in investigations.  (Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2013).  "By "surreptitiously installing software" — a technique typically associated with computer hackers — investigators are able to infiltrate computers and gather extensive information, according to a document in the case.

NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally.  The National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, according to senior intelligence officials and top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.  The collection program, which has not been disclosed before, intercepts e-mail address books and "buddy lists" from instant messaging services as they move across global data links.

NSA Collects Online Address Books and Buddy Lists.  Senior intelligence officers and leaked documents from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA is amassing millions of contacts via online address books and instant-messaging buddy lists.  The program, under NSA's Special Source Operations branch, collects more than 250 million contacts in its database per year.  A single day's data found that the agency accumulated 444,743 email address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from miscellaneous providers, the Washington Post reports.

Growing Backlash to Government Surveillance.  From Silicon Valley to the South Pacific, counterattacks to revelations of widespread National Security Agency surveillance are taking shape, from a surge of new encrypted email programs to technology that sprinkles the Internet with red flag terms to confuse would-be snoops.

Obamacare Marketplace: Personal Data Can Be Used For 'Law Enforcement and Audit Activities'.  Maryland's Health Connection, the state's Obamacare marketplace, has been plagued by delays in the first days of open enrollment.  If users are able to endure long page-loading delays, they are presented with the website's privacy policy, a ubiquitous fine-print feature on websites that often go unread.  Nevertheless, users are asked to check off a box that they agree to the terms.

Congress now is expected to revise NSA, FISA court operations.  Twenty-two standalone bills have surfaced on Capitol Hill since Snowden's leaks in June, ranging from minor changes to massive policy overhauls for the NSA and its metadata collection programs.  The sheer number signals a collective agreement from lawmakers that some kind of legislative response is needed to curb growing public concern over the nation's intelligence practices.

NSA director admits to misleading public on terror plots.  In so many words, NSA director Keith Alexander admitted Wednesday [10/2/2013] that the Obama administration had issued misleading information about terror plots and their foiling to bolster support for the government's vast surveillance apparatus.  During Wednesday's [10/2/2013] hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy pushed Alexander to admit that plot numbers had been fudged in a revealing interchange: [...]

Secret NSA documents show campaign against Tor encrypted network.  On Nov. 1, 2007, the National Security Agency hosted a talk by Roger Dingledine, principal designer of one of the world's leading Internet privacy tools. [...] According to a top-secret NSA summary of the meeting, Dingledine told the assembled NSA staff that his service, called Tor, offered anonymity to people who needed it badly — to keep business secrets, protect their identities from oppressive political regimes or conduct research without revealing themselves.  In the minds of NSA officials, Tor was offering protection to terrorists and other intelligence targets.

NSA using Firefox flaw to snoop on Tor users.  An NSA presentation released by Edward Snowden contains mixed news for Tor users.  The anonymizing service itself appears to have foxed US and UK government snoops, but instead they are using a zero-day flaw in the Firefox browser bundled with Tor to track users.  "These documents give Tor a huge pat on the back," security guru Bruce Schneier told The Register.  "If I was a Tor developer, I'd be really smiling after reading this stuff."

NSA and GCHQ target Tor network that protects anonymity of web users.  Top-secret NSA documents, disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, reveal that the agency's current successes against Tor rely on identifying users and then attacking vulnerable software on their computers.  One technique developed by the agency targeted the Firefox web browser used with Tor, giving the agency full control over targets' computers, including access to files, all keystrokes and all online activity.

NSA director admits agency trawls Twitter and Facebook.  The director of the National Security Agency admitted today [10/2/2013] that the agency collects data from social networks and other private databases to hunt terror suspects but is not using the information to build dossiers, or personal files, on Americans.  NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander testified during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday that not all social network searches are authorized by a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, but the agency's actions are proper and audited internally.

The NSA has been creating maps of American citizens' social networks.  The NSA has been graphing American's social networks and plotting them as they do organized crime since at least 2010, according to the latest published Edward Snowden leak.  The highly secretive intelligence agency has been mapping out American citizens' social connections — identifying associates, determining locations, and logging who they talk to — by taking advantage of loosened rules previously meant to restrict surveillance actions.

N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens.  Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans' social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked if NSA ever collected or planned to collect cellphone data.
Official sidesteps questions on NSA and cellphones.  The head of the National Security Agency sidestepped questions Thursday [9/26/2013] from a senator about whether the NSA has ever used Americans cellphone signals to collect information on their whereabouts that would allow tracking of the movements of individual callers.

Declassified documents show NSA listened in on MLK, Muhammad Ali and Art Buchwald.  Amid raging anti-Vietnam War protests that bedeviled two presidential administrations, snoops at the National Security Agency tapped the overseas communications of war critics including Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), and even Washington Post humor columnist Art Buchwald, according to newly declassified NSA documents released Wednesday [9/25/2013].

The Many Ways the Government Is Spying On Us.  For example, the government is photographing the outside information on every piece of snail mail.  The government is spying on you through your phone ... and may even remotely turn on your camera and microphone when your phone is off.  As one example, the NSA has inserted its code into Android's operating system ... bugging three-quarters of the world's smartphones.  Google — or the NSA — can remotely turn on your phone's camera and recorder at any time.

Why NSA Surveillance Will Never Foil Mass Murders.  In July, NSA director Keith Alexander claimed that the wholesale surveillance of American electronic communications had "disrupted" 54 terrorist plots.  Later, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Alexander's deputy, John Inglis, admitted that in reality only one such "plot" was thwarted thanks to the bulk collection of phone records.  Given their pathological habit of lying — even under oath — it is impossible to know how many, if any, planned attacks on the United States have been avoided.

NSA disguised itself as Google to spy, say reports.  If a recently leaked document is any indication, the US National Security Agency — or its UK counterpart — appears to have put on a Google suit to gather intelligence.

Independent Review of NSA Surveillance Not Exactly 'Independent'.  A panel of so-called independent experts appointed by President Obama to review the federal government's surveillance programs "has effectively been operating as an arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA and all other U.S. spy efforts," according to a report from the Associated Press.

The Man In Charge Of The NSA Modeled His Office After The Bridge Of The Starship Enterprise.  These are the voyages of the NSA, as it enters every computer and pries whatever data can be stolen and recorded in perpetuity.  Its ongoing mission:  to explore the internet and all TCP/IP packets, to seek out new emails, phone records, backdoors, webcams and bank accounts, to boldly go where no man with or without a search warrant has gone before.

Close ties between White House, NSA spying review.  [W]ith just weeks remaining before its first deadline to report back to the White House, the review panel has effectively been operating as an arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA and all other U.S. spy efforts.

NSA Spying Is Lawless and Destructive.  Not to worry, the government's apologists offered, this is only telephone macro-metadata, meaning information about who spoke to whom, when they talked and for how long, and where they were when they talked, but not what they actually said to each other.  When Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, stated under oath at a House hearing that his spies lack the authority to capture content, he avoided addressing whether they have the ability to do so, because he knows they do.

Four Washington Scandals That Still Matter Despite the Distractions.  [E]ver since the first Edward Snowden disclosures back in May, Obama has been on the defensive on the issue of domestic surveillance.  Often, the president's statements have turned out to be untrue or deceptive when new revelations come out.  And four months after the first ones, they continue, with effects both domestically and abroad.  In July, the House voted on an effort to defund the NSA's illegal domestic activities, the Amash Amendment.  It failed by a remarkably small margin of seven votes.

Justice Dept. watchdog never probed judges' NSA concerns.  The Justice Department's internal ethics watchdog says it never investigated repeated complaints by federal judges that the government had misled them about the NSA's secret surveillance of Americans' phone calls and Internet communications.  Two judges on the court that oversees the spying programs separately rebuked federal officials in top-secret court orders for misrepresenting how the NSA was harvesting and analyzing communication records.

Phone companies remain silent over legality of NSA data collection.  America's top telecommunications companies are refusing to say whether they accept that the bulk collection of their customers' phone records by the National Security Agency is lawful.  The phone companies are continuing to guard their silence over the controversial gathering of metadata by the NSA, despite the increasingly open approach by those at the center of the bulk surveillance programme.  On Tuesday [9/17/2013] the secretive foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court declassified its legal reasoning for approving the NSA telephone metadata program periodically over the past six years.

IRS spied on tea party after granting tax-exempt status.  Republicans investigating the IRS targeting scandal said Wednesday [9/18/2013] that the agency continued to conduct secret surveillance on tea party groups even after approving them for tax-exempt status.  Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said he shut down the monitoring program after he found out about it, and said he has halted all audits of tax-exempt organizations based on political activity as he tries to get a handle on the embattled agency.

The Editor says...
Foot-dragging and extra scrutiny for one group, while giving another group speedy service and sure approval, is one thing.  Spying on people is an entirely different matter.  It's bad enough that the IRS is being used as a weapon for political purposes, but now it appears it is just another domestic surveillance agency — motivated by left-wing politics, and lacking the usual "national security" candy coating.

Is there a con man in the Oval Office?  The media headlines should be about the NSA scandal aimed at violating the civil rights and invading the privacy of every American citizen.  But with Syria hogging the media spotlight, we have all forgotten that Obama listens to every phone call, watches every email.  Big Brother rules our lives.  Obama has turned out to be worse than Bush when it comes to civil liberties, but with Syria in the headlines, we don't hear a word about the NSA scandal anymore.

NSA Needs To Give Its Rank-and-File New Talking Points Defending Surveillance.  It would appear that the NSA's latest PR trick is to get out beyond the top brass — James Clapper, Keith Alexander, Michael Hayden and Robert Litt haven't exactly been doing the NSA any favors on the PR front lately — and get some commentary from "the rank and file."  ZDNet apparently agreed to publish a piece from NSA mathemetician/cryptanalyst Roger Barkan in which he defends the NSA using a bunch of already debunked talking points.

Senators Wyden & Udall Ask...
If The NSA Is So Confused About Its Own Capabilities, Why Do We Trust Them With All That Data?  As you may remember, one of the points made by the NSA in its defense was that its surveillance systems were so complex that no one person actually understood them all.  That leads to a rather obvious question... If the NSA can't even keep track of how its systems work, how can we trust them to know that the system isn't being abused (or that it's accurately doing what the NSA claims)[?]

FISA Court Pretends Every Member Of Congress Was Told Details Of Bulk Surveillance, Even Though They Weren't.  Part of the FISC's explanation is that Congress explicitly approved this type of activity.  The FISC notes that Congress reauthorized this program in 2011, even knowing specifically that it was used to justify bulk metadata collection on all phone calls.  The FISC points out that while national security programs may have details kept secret from Congress, that wasn't the case here.

The NSA Is Also Grabbing Millions Of Credit Card Records.  In addition to everything else it's collecting, the NSA also has millions of international credit card transactions stashed away in its databases, according to documents viewed by Spiegel.

NSA Spies on International Payments.  The United States' NSA intelligence agency is interested in international payments processed by companies including Visa, SPIEGEL has learned.  It has even set up its own financial database to track money flows through a "tailored access operations" division.

MN State Rep Joins 17 Others In Suing State For Illegally Accessing Drivers License Data.  You know you've gone too far in abusing access to the public's data when you've got a local politician doing something more than yelling about it on the campaign trail.  Earlier this year, a report by state auditors discovered that more than half of Minnesota's 11,000 law enforcement agents had misused the Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) database.

Freedom of the Press is now an Entitlement?  Diane Feinstein and a few other well meaning Senators are in the process of defining who qualifies for 1st Amendment rights, or privileges as she put it, as the Senate Judiciary Committee attempts to iron out a "shield law for reporters or journalists" from having to divulge their sources.  This rush for an immediate fix regarding the press has nothing to do with a recent scandal in which the NSA ran rough shod over individual rights or private records and which the Justice Department claimed to have no knowledge; no there's no connection, move along.

E-ZPasses Get Read All Over New York — Not Just At Toll Booths.  After spotting a police car with two huge boxes on its trunk — that turned out to be license-plate-reading cameras — a man in New Jersey became obsessed with the loss of privacy for vehicles on American roads.  The man, who goes by the Internet handle "Puking Monkey," did an analysis of the many ways his car could be tracked and stumbled upon something rather interesting:  his E-ZPass, which he obtained for the purpose of paying tolls, was being used to track his car in unexpected places, far away from any toll booths.

How NSA's cyber sabotage puts us all at risk.  [J]ust last week, the New York Times, Guardian and ProPublica revealed that the National Security Agency has leveraged its "cooperative relationships with specific industry partners" to insert vulnerabilities into Internet security products.

You Are Being Tracked: How License Plate Readers Are Being Used to Record Americans' Movements.  A little noticed surveillance technology, designed to track the movements of every passing driver, is fast proliferating on America's streets.  Automatic license plate readers, mounted on police cars or on objects like road signs and bridges, use small, high-speed cameras to photograph thousands of plates per minute.  The information captured by the readers — including the license plate number, and the date, time, and location of every scan — is being collected and sometimes pooled into regional sharing systems.

NSA Leak Leaves Crypto-Math Intact but Highlights Known Workarounds.  When a New York Times report appeared Thursday [9/5/2013] saying the National Security Agency had "circumvented or cracked much of the encryption" protecting online transactions, computer security professionals braced for news of breakthroughs undermining the fundamentals of their field.  However, cryptography experts tell MIT Technology Review that a close reading of last week's report suggests the NSA has not broken the underlying mathematical operations that are used to cloak online banking or e-mail.

Texas law gets tough on public, private drone use.  More than 40 state legislatures have debated the increasing presence of unmanned aircraft in civilian airspace, with most of the proposals focused on protecting people from overly intrusive surveillance by law enforcement.

More about cops and drones.

NSA surveillance program almost shut down by judge in 2009.  A federal judge who oversaw a secret U.S. spy court almost shut down the government's domestic surveillance program designed to fight terrorism after he "lost confidence" in officials' ability to operate it, documents released Tuesday show.  U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton issued a blistering opinion in March 2009 after discovering government officials had been accessing domestic phone records for nearly three years without "reasonable, articulate suspicion" that they were connected to terrorism.

Declassified court documents highlight NSA violations.  The National Security Agency for almost three years searched a massive database of Americans' phone call records attempting to identify potential terrorists in violation of court-approved privacy rules, and the problem went unfixed because no one at the agency had a full technical understanding of how its system worked, according to new documents and senior government officials.  Moreover, it was Justice Department officials who discovered the problem and reported it to the court that oversees surveillance programs, the documents show, undermining assertions by the NSA that self-reporting is part of its culture.

Five Revelations From New NSA Documents.  Ever since Edward Snowden hit the front pages in early June with his leaks to the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper and other media outlets, it's been known that the National Security Agency had a huge surveillance program collecting data about nearly every American's phone calls.  And officials have conceded that the operation of that program wasn't always perfect.  Documents released Tuesday [9/10/2013] fill in some of the blanks.

The NSA Machine: Too Big for Anyone to Understand.  The National Security Agency set it in motion in 2006 and the vast network of supercomputers, switches and wiretaps began gathering Americans' phone and Internet records by the millions, looking for signs of terrorism.  But every day, NSA analysts snooped on more American phone records than they were allowed to.

Johns Hopkins University Falls Victim to the NSA Chilling Effect.  What does a DIY t-shirt with a dumb joke on it have in common with a thoughtful article written by a noted researcher at Johns Hopkins University?  Both were pulled offline out of fear that they crossed the government's hazy lines demarcating acceptable behavior.  The researcher's name is Matthew Green. [...] The news outlet asked Green to speculate on how and if the NSA might be able to decrypt network data.  The ensuing reports, Green writes, indicate that "the worst possible hypothetical I discussed appear to be true."

A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering.  If you haven't read the ProPublica/NYT or Guardian stories, you probably should.  The TL;DR is that the NSA has been doing some very bad things.  At a combined cost of $250 million per year, they include:
  1.  Tampering with national standards (NIST is specifically mentioned) to promote weak, or otherwise vulnerable cryptography.
  2.  Influencing standards committees to weaken protocols.
  3.  Working with hardware and software vendors to weaken encryption and random number generators.
  4.  Attacking the encryption used by 'the next generation of 4G phones'.
  5.  Obtaining cleartext access to 'a major internet peer-to-peer voice and text communications system' (Skype?)
  6.  Identifying and cracking vulnerable keys.
  7.  Establishing a Human Intelligence division to infiltrate the global telecommunications industry.
  8.  And worst of all (to me):  somehow decrypting SSL connections.

The NSA Is Breaking Most Encryption on the Internet.  The new Snowden revelations are explosive.  Basically, the NSA is able to decrypt most of the Internet.  They're doing it primarily by cheating, not by mathematics. [...] Remember this:  The math is good, but math has no agency.  Code has agency, and the code has been subverted.

iSpy: How the NSA Accesses Smartphone Data.  The US intelligence agency NSA has been taking advantage of the smartphone boom.  It has developed the ability to hack into iPhones, android devices and even the BlackBerry, previously believed to be particularly secure.

Internet experts want security revamp after NSA revelations.  Internet security experts are calling for a campaign to rewrite Web security in the wake of disclosures that the U.S. National Security Agency has developed the capability to break encryption protecting millions of sites.

Obama administration had restrictions on NSA reversed in 2011.  The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency's use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans' communications in its massive databases, according to interviews with government officials and recently declassified material.

Surveillance and Arrogance.  President Obama has said that he welcomes a debate over the proper place of surveillance in a digital society.  Perhaps such a debate would be fruitful and informative, and both sides would contribute toward some kind of mutually acceptable compromise.  The president has also claimed, essentially, that the government should be able to decide unilaterally what information is available to facilitate that debate.  When someone like Edward Snowden makes information available independently, the administration has argued, we are all less safe.  Those two arguments seem contradictory, since for a debate to be meaningful, everyone needs to be able to adduce evidence.

Patriot Act author says NSA's bulk data collection is "unbounded in its scope".  In one of the most prominent legal challenges to government intelligence gathering since the Edward Snowden disclosures, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against four top Obama Administration officials.  The case, known as ACLU v. Clapper, asks a federal judge to declare the entire metadata sharing program unlawful, halt it, and purge all related records.

US won't let Microsoft, Google reveal more data on FISA orders.  Microsoft and Google have not been able to convince the Department of Justice (DOJ) to let the tech companies reveal how many Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders they must comply with.

Is the collection of metadata really as harmless as Big Brother claims?
In ACLU lawsuit, scientist demolishes NSA's "It's just metadata" excuse.  Unlike the actual contents of calls and e-mails, the metadata about those calls often can't be hidden.  And it can be incredibly revealing — sometimes moreso than the actual content.  Knowing who you're calling reveals information that isn't supposed to be public.  Inspectors general at nearly every federal agency, including the NSA, "have hotlines through which misconduct, waste, and fraud can be reported."  Hotlines exist for people who suffer from addictions to alcohol, drugs, or gambling; for victims of rape and domestic violence; and for people considering suicide.  Text messages can measure donations to churches, to Planned Parenthood, or to a particular political candidate.  [Professor Edward] Felten points out what should be obvious to those arguing "it's just metadata" — the mostimportant piece of information in these situations is the recipient of the call.

Google argues for right to continue scanning Gmail.  Google's attorneys say their long-running practice of electronically scanning the contents of people's Gmail accounts to help sell ads is legal, and have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to stop the practice.

NSA and GCHQ unlock privacy and security on the internet.  The agencies, the documents reveal, have adopted a battery of methods in their systematic and ongoing assault on what they see as one of the biggest threats to their ability to access huge swathes of internet traffic — "the use of ubiquitous encryption across the internet".  Those methods include covert measures to ensure NSA control over setting of international encryption standards, the use of supercomputers to break encryption with "brute force", and — the most closely guarded secret of all — collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers themselves.  Through these covert partnerships, the agencies have inserted secret vulnerabilities — known as backdoors or trapdoors — into commercial encryption software.

N.S.A. Foils Much Internet Encryption.  The agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world, the documents show.  Many users assume -- or have been assured by Internet companies -- that their data is safe from prying eyes, including those of the government, and the N.S.A. wants to keep it that way.  The agency treats its recent successes in deciphering protected information as among its most closely guarded secrets, [...]

The Editor says...
You might as well concede and stipulate that the NSA can crack your encrypted email messages, unless you are using an encryption scheme of your own design — and even then, in almost every case, because your computer is no match for theirs.  In order to exchange encrypted email with someone else, you must use a well-known off-the-shelf method of encryption like PGP.  (Otherwise you would have to distribute your proprietary home-brewed encryption system to all your correspondents.)  Eventually, the government will crack your password, if they think it's worth the trouble to discover the contents of your messages, so the encryption only delays the inevitable.  If that delay amounts to several years, it might be long enough to justify the use of encryption.

The only thing that would keep the government from reading everybody's email would be the universal encryption of all email messages, no matter how routine, and an option in every email program (application) to send out encrypted dummy messages (containing strings of random numbers and letters), to some dead-end destination, every day.  Even that wouldn't last long, because encryption would then be outlawed, and the most stubborn and persistent users of encrypted email would get a visit from the local SWAT team, a show trial, and a prison sentence.

NRA Signs On to ACLU Lawsuit, Claims NSA Starting 'National Gun Registry'.  The National Rifle Association (NRA) joined the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) Wednesday, claiming the federal agency's "database of phone numbers amounts to 'a national gun registry.'"  According to The Hill, the NSA "acknowledged that it collects records on virtually all U.S. phone calls."  The NRA and ACLU see tyranny in this.

Fears of gun registry prompt NRA to back lawsuit against surveillance.  The National Rifle Association said on Wednesday [9/4/2013] it supports a lawsuit brought by civil rights groups to strike down the U.S. government's broad telephone surveillance program, citing potential violations of gun owners' privacy rights.

Obama defends NSA's surveillance.  President Obama on Wednesday defended the National Security Agency's surveillance at home, responding to a question from a reporter in Sweden, where the public has voiced concerns about the program.  "I can give assurances to the publics in Europe and around the world that we're not going around snooping at people's e-mails or listening to their phone calls," he said at a press conference in Stockholm.

The Editor says...
That would be easier to believe if Mr. Obama had a reputation as an honest man, which he does not.  And once again, there is no way to verify such a statement because it involves a secret(ive) government agency. You and I would never get inside the NSA building (maybe not even the parking lot), and probing for evidence to support Mr. Obama's rash pronouncement would lead to nothing but trouble.

Judge undoes key ruling on expanded surveillance.  A federal judge in a Chicago terrorism case has undone a key ruling where she found the government need not divulge whether its investigation relied on expanded phone and Internet surveillance programs — opening the sensitive issue back up to debate.

Drug Agents Use Vast Phone Trove, Eclipsing N.S.A.'s.  For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans' phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency's hotly disputed collection of phone call logs. [...] Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.  Hacked off at the South Carolina Department of Revenue?  You should be.  The DOR's stunning incompetence allowed our financial records — and Social Security numbers — to be stolen in the murky cyber realm last year.  Creeped out by the National Security Agency?  You should be.  The NSA's "counter-terror" pretense grabs huge volumes of personal email and phone records.  What's worse?  The clueless DOR's failure to protect tax data or the overzealous NSA's mission to invade privacy?

Clapper to Publish Numbers of Secret Spying Orders.  The nation's top intelligence official said Thursday [8/29/2013] that he'll now release figures every year on how many new top secret court orders and national security letters are issued and how many people are targeted because of them.

The Editor says...
Who is going to verify General Clapper's figures?

The Staggering Power of NSA Systems Administrators.  If NBC's reporting is accurate, Alexander's assurance that "we can audit the actions of our people 100 percent, and we do that," is a lie.  To be more precise:  We've long known that the NSA doesn't audit all its employees 100 percent, since what Edward Snowden took is still unknown.  NBC suggests that the NSA isn't even capable of fully auditing systems administrators.

Maybe I Do Have Something to Hide.  Were the representatives of the American colonies at the First Continental Congress wrong to meet in secret to discuss a response to the Intolerable Acts?  Should they have allowed representatives of the British government to attend the meetings, take notes, and collect the names and correspondence of all those in attendance?  After all, "One who hasn't done anything wrong has nothing to hide."

NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies.  The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency's activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian.

NSA Pays for Data.  Google Among Those Reimbursed for Data Info The National Security Agency has paid millions of dollars to reimburse technology firms for complying with requests for user data, according to documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden shared with the Guardian newspaper.

NSA employees spied on their lovers using eavesdropping programme.  The employees even had a code name for the practice — "Love-int" — meaning the gathering of intelligence on their partners.  Dianne Feinstein, a senator who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, said the NSA told her committee about a set of "isolated cases" that have occurred about once a year for the last 10 years.  The spying was not within the US, and was carried out when one of the lovers was abroad.  One employee was disciplined for using the NSA's resources to track a former spouse, the Associated Press said.

NSA analysts knowingly broke surveillance rules.  The National Security Agency acknowledged Friday that some of its analysts knowingly violated the agency's rules, after the incidents were included in an inspector general report.  "Over the past decade, very rare instances of willful violations of NSA's authorities have been found, but none under FISA or the Patriot Act," the NSA said in a statement.

NSA Staffers Have Spied on Lovers.  National Security Agency officers on several occasions have channeled their agency's enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests, U.S. officials said.  The practice isn't frequent — one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade — but it's common enough to garner its own spycraft label:  LOVEINT.

NSA Analysts Knowingly Broke Rules.  The National Security Agency acknowledged Friday that some of its analysts knowingly violated the agency's rules, after the incidents were included in an inspector general report.  "Over the past decade, very rare instances of willful violations of NSA's authorities have been found, but none under FISA or the Patriot Act," the NSA said in a statement.

Is America Inching Toward a Police State?  [In his new book, John W. Whitehead] talks about the often criticized "fusion centers" — data collection agencies created after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 that fall under DHS supervision.  These centers, with help from the NSA, monitor everything from web searches to text messages, emails, and phone calls.  This data is then passed on to government agencies like the CIA and the FBI.  As of 2009, the government has admitted to having at least 72 fusion centers.  Shortly following the creation of fusion centers, their focus shifted from this exclusive interest in the dissemination of terrorism-related intelligence to one of "all hazards" to the public — a broad term used to describe virtually anything that may be deemed a threat to the public.

NSA Critics, Right All Along.  Barton Gellman's explosive story in last Thursday's Washington Post revealed an unnerving audit of the National Security Agency that showed, among other things, that the federal government "broke privacy rules thousands of times per year" in conducting extensive and "unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order."  Thus was put convincingly to bed the now-obselete notion that the NSA's claim on the privacy of the righteous was merely declaratory.

NSA collected thousands of US communications.  One of the documents that intelligence officials released Wednesday came because a court ordered the National Security Agency to do so.

Secret Court Rebuked N.S.A. on Surveillance.  A federal judge sharply rebuked the National Security Agency in 2011 for repeatedly misleading the court that oversees its surveillance on domestic soil, including a program that is collecting tens of thousands of domestic e-mails and other Internet communications of Americans each year, according to a secret ruling made public on Wednesday [8/21/2013].

FISA Court: An NSA email program that went on for years found unconstitutional.  I will ask the question again; if there is oversight, who has been disciplined for this outrageous breach of American liberties?  Who's been fired?  Who's been suspended?  Did anyone even get a sternly worded letter placed in their permanent file?  The simple reason the NSA pulls this [nonsense] is that they can get away with it.

EPA critic to NSA: Hey, want to share?  A conservative gadfly who has made a crusade of uncovering embarrassing emails at the Environmental Protection Agency wants to tap a new potential evidence trove: the National Security Agency's electronic snooping program.  Attorney Chris Horner has filed a Freedom of Information Act request, asking the NSA to turn over any information it might have gleaned from former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's personal Verizon email account.

What You Need to Know on New Details of NSA Spying.  Although the system is focused on collecting foreign communications, it includes content of Americans' emails and other electronic communications, as well as "metadata," which involves information such as the "to" or "from" lines of emails, or the IP addresses people are using.  At key points along the U.S. Internet infrastructure, the NSA has worked with telecommunications providers to install equipment that copies, scans and filters large amounts of the traffic that passes through.

NSA collected 56,000 emails that had nothing to do with terror.  The nation's top intelligence official is declassifying three secret U.S. court opinions that reveal yet more details about how the National Security Agency has spied on Americans, it was announced on Wednesday [8/21/2013].  The shocking documents show how the NSA inadvertently scooped up as many as 56,000 emails annually over three years, even though they were written by people with no connection to terrorism.

Obama Asks SCOTUS for Warrantless Cellphone Searches.  Last week, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to rule that the Fourth Amendment allows for warrant-less cell phone searches.  The administration filed a petition asking the SCOTUS to hear a 2007 case in which information was retrieved from a cell phone that was used to obtain evidence against the defendant.

Scandals costing us American exceptionalism.  Meanwhile, new revelations of NSA lawbreaking have come out.  As the Washington Post reported, the NSA violated privacy rules thousands of times per year.  It appears that despite assurances that there was no domestic spying program, the NSA was, in fact, hoovering up vast numbers of phone calls, emails, etc. in order to spy on Americans.  (New White House talking point:  Hey, it's not a domestic spying program, it's just a program that does a lot of domestic spying!)

Report: NSA Can Review 75 percent of US Domestic Web Traffic.  More details on "filtering" capabilities and processes.  Note well the bits about content interception and data storage.

New Details Show Broader NSA Surveillance Reach.  The National Security Agency — which possesses only limited legal authority to spy on U.S. citizens — has built a surveillance network that covers more Americans' Internet communications than officials have publicly disclosed, current and former officials say. [...] In some cases, it retains the written content of emails sent between citizens within the U.S. and also filters domestic phone calls made with Internet technology, these people say.

Time for Answers from the NSA.  The Washington Post opened a can of worms last Friday when it reported that, in 2012, an internal NSA audit found that the agency had violated privacy rules 2,776 times within just one year.  The audit counted only violations at NSA's Washington facilities — nearly 20 other NSA facilities were not included.

Next Up: Privacy Moms.  As for the National Security Agency, I suspect it is probably gathering huge amounts of data and doing very little useful work with it.  See Mark Steyn's "Idiot Big Brother."  But we've learned from the IRS scandals that bureaucrats sitting around with nothing to do can easily be conscripted into harassing and spying on the administration's opponents, particularly if the opponents are Republicans.  So let's junk the NSA.  Next time we need an NSA we'll get the Big Data boys from Silicon Valley to mash up something overnight, just like they did for the Obama campaign.

The NSA leaks ended the power of Obama officials to ration access.  No self-respecting journalist believes what they say.
The White House credibility deficit.  In his address about Egypt's military coup — or whatever bowdlerizing euphemism is permitted this week in Washington — Obama condemned the notion that "security trumps individual freedom."  Really?  After his press conference announcing an oversight commission for the NSA, it emerged that the NSA's truth-challenged director of national intelligence, James Clapper, would apparently oversee the oversight.  The White House had to explain the joke, and then said Clapper would merely facilitate. [...] That is the punchline of the Snowden affair:  when we can't trust what government tells us, we come to trust those whom government doesn't trust.  Thus, we no longer necessarily care what the official line is and who delivers it.

What We Lose if We Give Up Privacy.  They log your calls here, they can listen in, they can read your emails.  They keep the data in mammoth machines that contain a huge collection of information about you and yours.  This of course is in pursuit of a laudable goal, security in the age of terror.  Is it excessive?  It certainly appears to be.  Does that matter?  Yes.  Among other reasons:  The end of the expectation that citizens' communications are and will remain private will probably change us as a people, and a country.

Dems Warn NSA Violations Just 'Tip of a Larger Iceberg'.  A pair of civil-liberties Democrats whom the White House tried to appease in a closed-door meeting warned today that fresh reports of thousands of privacy violations by the National Security Agency are just the "tip of a larger iceberg."  On Thursday [8/15/2013], the Washington Post published its report of a May 2012 audit leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden that found 2,776 violations over the previous year of executive orders and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provisions governing spying on Americans or foreign targets in the U.S.  These included both computer and operator errors.

Lavabit Founder Says He Had 'Obligation' to Shut Service.  Ladar Levison was not yet 20 years old when Congress passed the Patriot Act after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.  It gave him a start-up idea:  an e-mail service for what he thought of as "a tech-savvy crowd" that cared about privacy.  "I've always sort of believed it's important for Americans to have private conversations with other Americans," Mr. Levison said in a telephone interview Monday, "and not fear that their conversations were being monitored by the government."  His start-up thrived for nearly 10 years until Thursday [8/15/2013], when he abruptly shut it down, leaving little more than an ominous note on the site.

What if the president lied to us?  With the latest major revelation about National Security Agency surveillance, there's a huge taboo question that needs to be put out on the table:  Has President Obama been deliberately lying about the NSA, or have his statements just been repeatedly "wrong"?

NSA abuses contradict Obama and congressional claims of oversight.  Since the public learned in June about sweeping National Security Agency programs, government officials from President Obama on down have insisted the nation's surveillance programs are subject to layers of oversight. [...] However, the latest revelation that the NSA violated privacy rules thousands of times, as documented in an internal report — an internal report withheld from at least one leader in Congress responsible for oversight — proves the president and several others in Washington were wrong.

Just before Snowden Leaks, Obama fired most of his intel advisers.  Remember last week's press conference, where President Obama insisted that he had already kicked off the process of a major review of the way we do intelligence and surveillance in this country -- and about how he was going to set up an "outside" review group to look all this over?  The same review group that will be set up by and report to James Clapper (but, the White House assures us, not run by him)?  Right, so a few people pointed out that President Obama already has an independent group that's supposed to do that thing: called the President's Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB).

NSA oversight overstated, overrated.  On Thursday [8/15/2013], the Washington Post's revelation of thousands upon thousands of National Security Agency violations of both the law and supposed privacy protections included this fascinating detail:  A "large number" of Americans had their telephone calls accidentally intercepted by the NSA when a top-secret order to eavesdrop on multiple phone lines for reasons of national security confused the international code for Egypt (20) with the area code for Washington (202).

Sen. Feinstein Threatens Press Freedom.  The NSA's indiscriminate collection of telephone metadata is of dubious utility and faces dubious oversight from the hamstrung Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.  Yet [Senator Dianne] Feinstein, a senior member of the judiciary committee as well, insists the agency does nothing illegal.  They have nothing to hide, so please stop asking what they are hiding.  Now, after taking shots at the Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, she has set her sights on the First.

New NSA Revelations Stir Congressional Concern.  New revelations from leaker Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency has overstepped its authority thousands of times since 2008 are stirring renewed calls on Capitol Hill for serious changes to NSA spy programs, undermining White House hopes that President Barack Obama had quieted the controversy with his assurances of oversight.

What is really going on at the NSA?  The [Washington] Post reported, "The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents." [...] [B]ut the hysteria is disproportionate to what we know.  That is the NSA's fault because it has tried to get by with generalities and platitudes.  However, an internal audit is a sign that there were efforts to reduce or eliminate the error rate.

Court: Ability to police U.S. spying program limited.  The leader of the secret court that is supposed to provide critical oversight of the government's vast spying programs said that its ability to do so is limited and that it must trust the government to report when it improperly spies on Americans.  The chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said the court lacks the tools to independently verify how often the government's surveillance breaks the court's rules that aim to protect Americans' privacy.

WH Tried to Interfere with WaPo's NSA StoryThe Washington Post's article detailing the fourth amendment abuses by the NSA got some push back from the administration who attempted to "edit" the article before publication.  The internal audit referenced in the article was obtained by the WaPo from Edward Snowden.  The details of the audit indicated repeated and growing privacy violations by the NSA, violations which included obtaining thousands of American citizen's communications records and using methods of information collection that were later deemed unconstitutional by a court.

Senate to hold hearings on NSA privacy violations.  The Senate's most senior lawmaker said Friday that the intelligence community is still not being truthful about its snooping activities and how they may be picking up communications from Americans, and vowed to hold hearings when Congress returns from its summer vacation.  "The American people rely on the intelligence community to provide forthright and complete information so that Congress and the courts can properly conduct oversight," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said.  "I remain concerned that we are still not getting straightforward answers from the NSA."

Lawbreaking at the NSA: Bring On a New Church Committee.  Under cover of secrecy, government agents will commit abuses with impunity for years on end, and only intrusive Congressional snooping can stop them.  Why is another Church Committee needed now?  For more than a decade, the NSA has repeatedly engaged in activity that violated the law and the Constitutional rights of many thousands or perhaps millions of Americans.

With Tens of Millions of Phone Records Grabbed — It's the Government, Stupid.  We're all James Rosens, now.  The National Security Administration (NSA) has been forcing Verizon to turn over phone record data on millions of Americans.  Will the federal government use this unbelievably massive data grab against the American people they are supposed to serve — but instead increasingly lord over?

Latest Big Government Data Grab: Justice Sues to Get It Without Warrant.  [A] Secret lawsuit in Manhattan filed last month asks judge to force Google to cough up user data without a search warrant.  A different court has already ruled that the process is unconstitutional.  When the Obama Administration wants information on We the Peasants, they keep kicking down doors until they get it.

Obama faces Dem backlash over latest NSA revelations.  The Obama administration faced a backlash from congressional Democrats on Friday [8/16/2013] following revelations that the National Security Agency broke privacy rules and overstepped its authority thousands of times since 2008.

Yes, the NSA Violated Surveillance Privacy Rules — at Least 2,776 Times.  We may now also know a little more detail about the one incident where the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court discovered the NSA violating the rules.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued to get this information, which is scheduled to be released next week.

The NSA is Commandeering the Internet.  It turns out that the NSA's domestic and world-wide surveillance apparatus is even more extensive than we thought.  Bluntly:  The government has commandeered the Internet.  Most of the largest Internet companies provide information to the NSA, betraying their users.  Some, as we've learned, fight and lose.  Others cooperate, either out of patriotism or because they believe it's easier that way.  I have one message to the executives of those companies:  fight.

Report: NSA spying broke privacy rules many times.  The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, The Washington Post reported Thursday [8/15/2013].

NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds.  Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order.  They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

Insider's View Of The Administration's Response To NSA Surveillance Leaks.  [General] Hayden's remark goes to the heart of what I continue to find most offensive about the Administration's handling of the NSA surveillance programs, which is their repeated insinuation that anyone who raises concerns about national security programs doesn't care about national security.

How the president uses language as a cover for the abuse of power.  On Aug. 9, with his approval rating at a near all-time low of 41 percent, facing sharp scrutiny over the National Security Agency's dragnet data-collection plan, Obama held a press conference where he insisted:  "I want to make clear once again that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people."  At the same time, Obama's Justice Department released a white paper defending the proposition that the PATRIOT Act allowed the covert collection of all Americans' phone records for a period of seven years because, under the language of Section 215, they're "relevant to an authorized investigation" of international terrorism.

The Debate Obama Never Wanted.  Edward Snowden has put words in President Obama's mouth.  Words like transparency, reform, openness, and debate.  This is not necessarily cause for celebration or condemnation.  It is, however, a fact.  That the White House refuses to acknowledge this is testament to the policy-altering effect of Snowden's leaks of classified documents about the National Security Agency's wide-ranging Internet and phone surveillance programs.

Obama privately derides controversy over NSA surveillance.  President Barack Obama privately derided the controversy over the blockbuster June 6 revelation of the National Security Agency's far-reaching capabilities as "noise rather than something that's real and meaningful," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.  Duncan revealed Obama's dismissive attitude to the dramatic claims by a former defense contractor, Edward Snowden, in a Washington Post report on a White House program to increase Internet use in schools.

The Lies Aren't What Makes Obama's NSA Stance So Awful.  President Obama's repeated comments that "there is no spying on Americans" and that "we don't have a domestic spying program," as he told Jay Leno, were contradicted by two revelations at the end of last week.  On Thursday, the New York Times reported that the NSA is "searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans' e-mail and text communications into and out of the country," looking not only for Americans who communicate with foreigners under surveillance but also for those who mention information about them.

Former Ron Wyden aide challenges Obama's surveillance claims.  A former senior aide to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore,. in a searingly critical essay has called out the Obama administration and the president himself for saying Friday that he welcomed a public debate on the government's surveillance programs and the privacy concerns they provoke.

Senate intelligence panel could seek to declassify documents; it just doesn't.  Outspoken members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have said frequently that they wanted to warn the public about the National Security Agency's sweeping collection of telephone records but the program's highly classified nature prevented them from making public reference to the programs.  That, however, is not the full story.  Buried in the pages of Senate Resolution 400, which established the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1976, is a provision that allows them to try.  Across those nearly 40 years, it's never been used.

Double talk from the spymasters.  Since Mr. Snowden's June 6 revelations about massive NSA spying, we have learned that all Americans who communicate via telephone or the Internet (and who doesn't?) have had all of their communications swept up by the federal government for two-plus years.  The government initially claimed that the NSA has gathered only telephone numbers and billing data.  Now we know that the NSA has captured and stored the content of trillions of telephone conversations, texts and emails, and can access that content at the press of a few computer keys.

What NSA reforms?  President Obama's message about the government's massive electronic surveillance programs came through loud and clear:  Get over it.  The president used more soothing words in his pre-vacation news conference Friday, but that was the gist.  With perhaps the application of a fig leaf here and a sheen of legalistic mumbo jumbo there, the snooping will continue.

Classic Obama charade: Appoint a crony to investigate himself.  James Clapper, Obama's Director of National Intelligence, will digest his groups' findings on what national intelligence has been doing under James Clapper and James Clapper will report them to his boss Obama, who's already said publicly there are no abuses.  We're going way out on a mid-summer limb today to predict that Clapper will absolve Clapper and his community of any abuses and Obama will agree.  Completely.  Probably sometime during the holiday season when, like now, fewer people are paying attention.

The NSA-DEA police state tango.  In the latest post-Snowden bombshell about the extent and consequences of government spying, we learned from Reuters reporters this week that a secret branch of the DEA called the Special Operations Division — so secret that nearly everything about it is classified, including the size of its budget and the location of its office — has been using the immense pools of data collected by the NSA, CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies to go after American citizens for ordinary drug crimes.  Law enforcement agencies, meanwhile, have been coached to conceal the existence of the program and the source of the information by creating what's called a "parallel construction," a fake or misleading trail of evidence.  So no one in the court system — not the defendant or the defense attorney, not even the prosecutor or the judge — can ever trace the case back to its true origins.

Double talk from the spymasters.  The government initially claimed that the NSA has gathered only telephone numbers and billing data.  Now we know that the NSA has captured and stored the content of trillions of telephone conversations, texts and emails, and can access that content at the press of a few computer keys.  All of this happened in the dark, with the permission of President Obama, with the knowledge and consent of fewer than 20 members of Congress who were forbidden from doing anything about it by the laws they themselves had written, and based on secret legal arguments accepted by a secret court that keeps its records secret even from the judges who sit on the court.

NSA snooping far more intense than previously thought.  As each revelation about NSA snooping is published, you have to wonder where the bottom is on this scandal.  In truth, we're nowhere near it yet.  The New York Times is reporting that the NSA is vacuuming up huge amounts of data collected from Americans who send emails overseas and Americans overseas who send emails back home.  No warrant, of course, and that 2008 FISA "reform" statute, where the NSA says they get the authority, is looking worse all the time.

Obama doesn't understand distrust of government surveillance, but vows to address it.  Before taking another week off on Martha's Vineyard, President Obama held a news conference, announcing preemptive moves to restore public trust shattered by the recent stream of revelations about broad government surveillance of civil society and its myriad communications.  Obama again assured the country there were ample checks in place to prevent official abuse, but said the sensational manner in which these classified secrets have leaked out piece by piece has unnecessarily raised fears and caused many to ask questions.

Barack Obama pledges greater surveillance transparency.  President Barack Obama has promised "appropriate reforms" to guarantee greater oversight of controversial US surveillance programmes.  At a White House news conference, he proposed "safeguards against abuse", including amending legislation on the collection of telephone data.  Mr Obama also urged appointing a lawyer to challenge the government at the nation's secretive surveillance court.  He has been defending the programmes since they were leaked in June.

Documents shed light on U.S. surveillance programs.  The Obama administration released two documents on Friday describing the scope of National Security Agency data collection programs, a bid to quiet criticism they violate privacy rights.  An NSA memorandum describes the beginnings of the agency's collection of so-called telephone metadata of nearly every American under a provision of the Patriot Act, and the agency's monitoring of foreign Internet traffic.

The Mother of All Scandals.  No one knows much about the NSA mess.  But already there are some disturbing developments.  How can Director of National Intelligence James Clapper outright lie under oath without consequences after he assured the Congress that the agency did not monitor the communications of American citizens?  After the president's press conference last week, an embarrassing paradox arose:  the president promised all sorts of new NSA reforms.  But why now, and for what reason the sudden worry?

Obama's Bill Clinton Moment: 'We Don't Have a Domestic Spying Program'.  Like Clinton's famous sidestep [...] this is clever.  It's not false if you use the words in a certain way and only in that way:  If spying is narrowly construed to mean, say, warrantless wiretaps on Americans, then it's apparently true that there's no domestic spying program.  But it's also not really true, and it suggests a sort of smirking contempt on the president's part for his interlocutors, and citizens.

Put On a Smiley Face.  Nidal Hasan — the Fort Hood mass murderer now on trial — began his court martial defense with the statement that the evidence will show he is guilty.  What the evidence will also show, by omission, is how our government institutions ignored the sort of evidence the NSA is supposedly looking for in its global search of telephone data, emails, and other electronic communication.

Breaking Through Limits on Spying.  It was bad enough in 2008 when Congress allowed the agency to spy without a warrant on e-mails and text messages between Americans and foreign targets of an investigation.  That already strained the Fourth Amendment's protections against illegal searches, but lawmakers decided it was justified as part of a terror investigation.  It turns out, as Charlie Savage revealed in The [New York] Times on Thursday [8/8/2013], that the N.S.A. went far beyond those boundaries.  Instead, it copies virtually all overseas messages that Americans send or receive, then scans them to see if they contain any references to people or subjects the agency thinks might have a link to terrorists.

Local cops operate in collusion with Big Brother:
NSA tips off law enforcement, asks them to keep the practice secret.  Just days after the NYT wrote about the NSA denying other federal intelligence agencies access to their surveillance tools comes the disclosure that a US Drug Enforcement Administration unit called Special Operations Division (SOD) has been channeling information collected by the NSA to law enforcement agencies in order to help them start investigations of suspected criminals.  The SOD, whose existence is little known to the greater public, is a sort of middleman that receives information regarding traditional criminal activities and suspected perpetrators gathered by the NSA via wiretaps, informants, intelligence intercepts, and decides how much of it to share with which field offices and agents.

NEW Spying Scandal — Is This One the Last Straw?  The NSA is spying on you and sharing this information with the DEA.  The DEA is then sharing this information with local law enforcement.  If you get arrested because of this, abandon all hope because [#1] Law enforcement is hiding where the evidence came from[, and #2] This means you cannot effectively challenge the evidence in court.  But it gets worse... The DEA unit responsible for this program — the ominous sounding Special Operations Division — is a secret organization.  It cannot be investigated by defense attorneys or called into court.  Even the location of the Special Operations Division is classified.

This was also filed under Abuse of power by ordinary cops.

Government Police Raise Issues on Liberty.  Earlier this year, agents from the Department of Homeland Security, presenting themselves as national "police," were deployed across the country to "monitor" Tea Party activists who were peacefully protesting the Obama administration regarding the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS.  From California to Florida, armed DHS functionaries, according to protesters in attendance, were turned out to intimidate and spy on them.  These DHS agents arrived in large Homeland Security vehicles that were emblazoned with large letters reading "police" and were dressed in "police" uniforms.  Exactly who are these DHS "police?"  They are part of the Federal Protection Service (FPS), a division of the National Protection and Programs Directorate of the DHS.

ObamaCare Poses a Massive Privacy Risk.  As far back as December 2012, Obama administration officials were insisting that the data hub at the center of the ObamaCare exchanges was nearly finished.  Yet all the while, they were pushing back deadlines or missing them altogether, to the point where, unless ObamaCare's launch is delayed, millions of people's privacy will be at risk.  Obama officials may, in fact, have flat-out lied to lawmakers about the data hub's progress.

N.S.A. Said to Search Content of Messages to and From U.S.  The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans' e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials.  The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged.  It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.

NYT: No spying on Americans? Au contraire.  On Tuesday, Barack Obama insisted that the US government isn't spying on Americans by surveilling the contents of their communications.  Less than two days later, the New York Times makes hash of that claim.  The NSA, reports Charlie Savage, sifts through the content of "vast amounts" of electronic communications between Americans and people abroad in their search for links to terrorism, and not just the metadata.

Obama: 'We Don't Have a Domestic Spying Program'.  President Obama tells comedian Jay Leno that "We don't have a domestic spying program."  He made the comment during a taping of Leno's TV show.  Obama also says the U.S. is not overreacting by closing some U.S. embassies for a week.  The president tells Leno, "The odds of dying in a terrorist attack are a lot lower than they are of dying in a car accident, unfortunately."

Made-up Threat Rehabilitates the Big Brother.  The U.S. State Department issued a global alert about the terrorist threat allegedly posed by Al-Qaeda in Yemen.  The USA announced the closure of its missions in the Middle East and Africa, and their example was followed by France, Britain, and Germany. However, this was only an attempt to justify the activities of the National Security Agency.

Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans.  A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Report: NSA info withheld from members of Congress.  The House Intel Committee is stonewalling Congress's efforts to access information about the National Security Agency's bulk data collection program affecting millions of Americans, the Guardian reports.  Both Virginia Republican Representative Morgan Griffith and Democratic Florida Representative Alan Grayson have tried to obtain information about the NSA's phone and Internet surveillance programs first disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

DEA Surveillance: Turning Citizens Into Criminals.  The government says spying on U.S. citizens is acceptable since it's merely a means of fighting foreign terrorists.  But what if the government used espionage in investigations of common criminals?  It seems that's really happening.  According to a Reuters exclusive, "A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans."

Other Agencies Clamor for Data N.S.A. Compiles.  The National Security Agency's dominant role as the nation's spy warehouse has spurred frequent tensions and turf fights with other federal intelligence agencies that want to use its surveillance tools for their own investigations, officials say.  Agencies working to curb drug trafficking, cyberattacks, money laundering, counterfeiting and even copyright infringement complain that their attempts to exploit the security agency's vast resources have often been turned down because their own investigations are not considered a high enough priority, current and former government officials say.

Recovering lost freedom.  The government's ability to track 316 million Americans without a warrant rests on a flimsy premise upheld Tuesday [7/30/2013] by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  The judges, intentionally or not, move us into the shadow of the total surveillance society.  Throughout history, totalitarian regimes dreamed of tracking at will the exact whereabouts of enemies of the state.  This power is now reality; police officers and bureaucrats can tap into the GPS-style location technology built into every cellphone, with no warrant required.

We're living '1984' today.  It appears that the police now have a device that can read license plates and check if a car is unregistered, uninsured or stolen.  We already know that the National Security Agency can dip into your Facebook page and Google searches.  And it seems that almost every store we go into these days wants your home phone number and ZIP code as part of any transaction.

Laws Are Not Enough.  [Scroll down]  Is there more to the story?  Does the NSA apply other barriers to abuse?  The agency hints that it does.  Responding to the report on XKeyscore, the NSA assures us that "there are multiple technical, manual and supervisory checks and balances within the system to prevent deliberate misuse."  That's nice, but hints won't do.  None of the topics we're asking about — storage, access, justification, audits — poses any threat to national security.  Tell us exactly how you're protecting us.  We'll be the ones who decide what's enough.

FBI Taps Hacker Tactics to Spy on Suspects.  Law-enforcement officials in the U.S. are expanding the use of tools routinely used by computer hackers to gather information on suspects, bringing the criminal wiretap into the cyber age.  Federal agencies have largely kept quiet about these capabilities, but court documents and interviews with people involved in the programs provide new details about the hacking tools, including spyware delivered to computers and phones through email or Web links — techniques more commonly associated with attacks by criminals.

Google Pressure Cookers and Backpacks, Get a Visit from the Feds.  Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers.  Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks.  Wednesday morning [7/31/2013], six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists.  Which prompts the question:  How'd the government know what they were Googling?

With 3 'Hops', NSA Gets Millions of Phone Records.  Exactly how many phone records of Americans does the National Security Agency collect in its massive surveillance program?

Big Transparency for the NSA.  'Big data" is one name for the insight that collecting all the information in a massive database will uncover facts that collecting only some of the information cannot.  This is not news to Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency.  Gen. Alexander is a zealous advocate of getting it all whenever practically and legally possible.  He sees increased agility in uncovering terrorist connections by acquiring vast databases of telephone records, including those of American citizens.

NSA training guide shows how analysts like Snowden read American email exchanges and chatroom history without a warrant.  With only thin justifications, NSA agents have been spying on Americans online without a warrant — reading emails, chats and browsing histories.  Today, The Guardian broke down the process by which NSA analysts tap internet activity by publishing a training guide used to introduce new analysts to X-Keyscore.  Described as the 'widest-ranging' database, X-Keyscore allows analysts to wiretap basically anyone.

XKeyscore: NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'.  A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.  The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its "widest-reaching" system for developing intelligence from the internet.

Warrantless Cellphone Tracking Is Upheld.  In a significant victory for law enforcement, a federal appeals court on Tuesday said that government authorities could extract historical location data directly from telecommunications carriers without a search warrant.  The closely watched case, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, is the first ruling that squarely addresses the constitutionality of warrantless searches of historical location data stored by cellphone service providers.

U.S. Outlines N.S.A.'s Culling of Data for All Domestic Calls.  Senators of both parties on Wednesday sharply challenged the National Security Agency's collection of records of all domestic phone calls, even as the latest leaked N.S.A. document provided new details on the way the agency monitors Web browsing around the world.

Momentum Builds Against N.S.A. Surveillance.  Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, and Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, have begun work on legislation in the House Judiciary Committee to significantly rein in N.S.A. telephone surveillance.

The NSA's two new spying facilities storing your data is seven times the size of the Pentagon.  The NSA is now building a facility that will make it more than seven times the size of the Pentagon, making the secretive compounds the biggest in the country.  In addition to building a $1.9 billion data center in Utah, crews also started construction on a computing center that is expected to cost $792 million near Baltimore.

Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords.  The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users' stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.  If the government is able to determine a person's password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user.

Blinded by the war on terrorism.  "This is a great time to be a white-collar criminal."  An assistant U.S. attorney I know startled me with this remark in 2002.  The bulk of her FBI investigators, she explained, had been pulled off to work on terrorism, which left traditional crime investigations sorely understaffed.  Little has changed since then.  For more than a decade, the U.S. government has been focused on one type of threat above all others:  terrorism.  This obsession has not only been used to justify an erosion of Americans' privacy, it has opened them to other dangers and, paradoxically, made it easier for terrorists to achieve success.

White House attacks plans to curb NSA data collection.  With a key vote coming up, President Barack Obama's spokesman said curbs on the NSA would "hastily dismantle" a vital counter-terrorism tool.  NSA chief Gen Keith Alexander spent Tuesday lobbying Congressmen to vote against the proposed measure.  Critics say NSA phone data collection is an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

Your Place in the Database.  Regarding the American surveillance state, it seems that the truth comes out a little at a time.  We learned about the FBI's Carnivore in the 1990s, which the copied internet data of people whom the agency deemed "reasonably suspicious." [...] We found out about NSA domestic wiretapping from a brave AT&T whistleblower in 2006. [...] For me, the most stomach-churning signpost on our nation's road to tyranny has been the completion of the Utah Data Center.  The center holds data on the scale of yottabytes.  One yottabyte could account for 30 million gigabytes per U.S. man, woman, and child.  It's a staggering capacity.

The Dangerous ObamaCare Data Hub.  Under the guise of expanding Americans' access to healthcare, "the federal government is planning to quietly enact what could be the largest consolidation of personal data in the history of the republic," Stephen T. Parente and Paul Howard asserted in a USA Today column.  That consolidation is called the Federal Data Services Hub, and it is being assembled as part of ObamaCare's insurance exchange implementation.

Obamacare data hub a 'honey pot' for ID thieves, warn critics.  The data hub President Obama's health care team is creating to exchange personal health and financial information on Obamacare users will be a ripe target for computer hackers and identity thieves, charge critics who claim it hasn't been tested for security flaws.  "It's the greatest collection of private identification information ever assembled on Americans that will be put into one place," said Rep. Patrick Meehan, who chairs a House cybersecurity subcommittee.  "It is every bit of sensitive information one would need to know to completely take over the identification of a person," said the Pennsylvania lawmaker.

Secret U.S. Court Extends NSA Authority to Collect Phone Metadata.  A chief U.S. intelligence official affirmed Friday [7/19/2013] that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been granted authority to continue collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers.  The verdict from the court, authorized by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), renewed the controversial data-collection campaign that has posed serious threats to Americans' right to privacy and, in turn, the U.S. Constitution.  In an action propelled by a disclosure in June of the NSA's collection of Verizon metadata, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a statement asserting that the program has been renewed.

Should 3rd Amendment prevent government spying?  If the government places a surveillance device in your home, is that sufficiently like quartering troops there to trigger Third Amendment scrutiny?  What if it installs spyware on your computer or your cable modem?  What if it requires "smart meters" that allow moment-to-moment monitoring of your thermostat settings or toilet flushes?

Obamacare's Branch of the NSA.  President Obama has had a poor record of job creation, but at least one small economic sector is doing well: community organizing.  The Department of Health and Human Services is about to hire an army of "patient navigators" to inform Americans about the subsidized insurance promised by Obamacare and assist them in enrolling.  These organizers will be guided by the new Federal Data Hub, which will give them access to reams of personal information compiled by federal agencies ranging from the IRS to the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration.

Cops usually need warrant to get cellphone locations, NJ Supreme Court rules in Middletown case.  The state Supreme Court has ruled that police need a warrant to get cellphone location data in most cases.  With Thursday's [7/18/2013] ruling, the court overturned an appellate decision, which said that a defendant in a Middletown burglary case did not have an expectation that the location information would be private.

A Government of Voyeurs.  The news this week that governments across America have tracked and scanned tens of millions of license plates into databases shocks only in that it doesn't shock.  During the summer that we discovered PRISM, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, and that the attorney general believes reporter James Rosen a "flight risk," one comes to expect as much.  Call it, in the words of the president who launched many of the surveillance state's most intrusive programs, "the soft bigotry of low expectations."  His successor who pledged to undo that overreach has instead doubled down on it.

Court Sides With Yahoo in Data Collection Case.  Yahoo has won a court fight that could help the public learn more about the government's efforts to obtain data from Internet users.

A Parody of Liberal Faith in Bureaucrats.  Rest easy, America. Before, federal bureaucrats weren't focusing on the marital status of their coworkers.  Now they've been instructed to monitor all of them constantly.

Lies and the Lying Spiers Who Tell Them.  Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have consistently contradicted the bureaucratic line, forcing revisions that reliably conflict with subsequent revelations.  And these are lies, as surely as the sky is blue.  No amount of tortured rhetoric or blatant falsehood can change the fact that, on a daily basis, the NSA archives the location of every domestic person who uses a phone, or that it reads innumerable citizens' private Internet communications without intervening judicial review.  The documents that reveal this were published weeks ago, but intelligence leaders are essentially betting the public will not fully grasp them.

The NSA slide you haven't seen.  The overall heading of the slide is "FAA 702 Operations" — a reference to a 2008 law that enabled collection on U.S. soil of communications of foreigners thought to be overseas without an individual warrant from a court, including when the foreigners are communicating with someone in the United States.  The law says the collection may be for a foreign intelligence purpose, which includes terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation or cyber-security.  The slide also shows a crude map of the undersea cable network that carries data from either side of North America and onto the rest of the world.  As a story in Sunday's Post made clear, these undersea cables are essential to worldwide data flows — and to the surveillance capabilities of the U.S. government and its allies.

The price of surveillance: Gov't pays to snoop.  How much are your private conversations worth to the government?

Security-Enhanced Android: NSA Edition.  Tech giants listed as part of the National Security Agency's Prism spying program have gone to some lengths to convince the world they aren't in bed with the U.S. government.  Google has filed a request with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court asking permission to disclose more information about the government's data requests.  So there's a certain irony that NSA programmers are now refining code that Google has approved for the company's mobile operating system, Android.

DNI Clapper Won't Resign Over Misleading Congress on NSA Surveillance.  Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has no plans to resign following disclosures to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he misled Congress on widespread National Security Agency electronic surveillance of Americans.

They're up in arms of the NSA database, but what about ObamaCare and health records?  Self-proclaimed civil libertarians are up in arms over the National Security Agency's massive database containing information about whom we call and what we do on the Web.  Defenders of the program say, "So what?"  Unless you're a terrorist, no one in the government will ever bother to access that information.  That's not good enough, say civil libertarians.

Is FISA Out of Line?  The American surveillance apparatus has come under more scrutiny than ever before in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.  On Saturday [7/6/2013], the New York Times expanded on this theme with a new piece arguing that the FISA courts, which review the constitutionality of the government's data collection programs, have effectively become a "parallel Supreme Court" with little oversight from the public or the rest of the legal system.

How to Change One-Party Bifurcation into a Two-Party System.  Most of us don't like being spied on — and any "spy" who reveals universal, systematic spying by a government on its citizenry is a hero to us.  Upon reflection, we don't really buy the "but government only wants to keep us safe" argument.  The chances that highly dangerous terrorists have already slipped across our southern border in large numbers are immensely greater than the chances that vital intel will be lost if NSA doesn't monitor our email.  Our security officers were warned by Russian intelligence about the Tsarnaevs and did absolutely nothing preemptive.

NSA recruitment drive goes horribly wrong.  On Tuesday, the National Security Agency called at the University of Wisconsin on a recruitment drive.  Attending the session was Madiha R Tahir, a journalist studying a language course at the university.  She asked the squirming recruiters a few uncomfortable questions about the activities of NSA:  which countries the agency considers to be "adversaries", and if being a good liar is a qualification for getting a job at the NSA.

Privacy group to petition Supreme Court to kill NSA spy program.  The Electronic Privacy Information Center said Thursday [7/4/2013] it will petition the U.S. Supreme Court to abolish the law that lets the National Security Agency collect data on Americans' telephone calls.  The Domestic Surveillance Project, an arm of the EPIC, will file the petition on Monday, Raw Story reported.  Domestic Surveillance Project Director Amie Stepanovich said, "EPIC truly believes that this Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court exceeded its authority, is not acting in accordance with the law and needs to be overturned — and cannot be allowed to continue conducting this surveillance," Raw Story reported.

Data Mining and Elections.  The Obama administration has been collecting enormous amounts of communications and other data on Americans.  The justification which is offered (and which is being accepted on both sides of the aisle) is the need to monitor this information to protect us in the age of modern terrorism.  The most credible complaint we hear is that they're gathering data on their political opposition.  The IRS scandal gives weight to this thought.  But an overlooked motive will play a pivotal role in 2014:  this data-mining effort, in significant part, is a vehicle for getting votes.

Trust Your Government, Lose Your Liberties.  It sounded like a well-crafted conspiracy theory.  "The National Security Agency developed a pilot program in the late 1990s that would have enabled it to gather and analyze massive amounts of communications data ... The mass collection of relatively unsorted data, combined with system flaws that sources say erroneously flag people as suspect."  The excerpt above is from a Baltimore Sun article published on May 18, 2006.  Accusations that our government engaged in unconstitutional searches and seizures were dismissed by many, especially on the right, as an attack on the administration of George W. Bush by anti-war, lefty crackpots.

An opposing viewpoint:
The NSA Program in Real-World Perspective.  The Supreme Court has long held constitutional the disclosure by phone companies to law enforcement of to-and-from numbers on phone calls.  In 1979, the Court upheld police installation of a pen register that recorded all phone numbers called from a suspected robber's home — without search warrant.  The reasoning:  the Fourth Amendment does not protect a person's right to keep private information that person has voluntarily conveyed to a third party.  When a person makes a call, it is known the number being called, as well as the caller's number, is necessarily conveyed to the phone company and its employees.

The Editor retorts...
Every time you use a cell phone, your approximate location is known to the cell phone provider.  With a little effort, your exact location can be determined by comparing signals from multiple cell phone receiver sites.  But that doesn't mean you've given the provider permission to reveal your current location (or the number you called) to anyone who asks for it.  Similarly, the telephone company that administers a land-line (POTS) telephone can listen in on it at any time, but — for almost a century — the customers have had a reasonable expectation that the telephone company would not do so en masse, nor would they disclose the contents of private conversations for a fee.

France 'runs vast electronic spying operation using NSA-style methods'.  An investigation by the French daily [Le Monde] found that the DGSE, France's external intelligence agency, had spied on the French public's phone calls, emails and internet activity.  The agency intercepted signals from computers and phones in France as well as between France and other countries, looking not so much at content but to create a map of "who is talking to whom", the paper said.  Le Monde said data from emails, text messages, phone records, accessing of Facebook and Twitter, and internet activity going through sites such as Google, Microsoft or Yahoo! was stocked for years on vast servers on three different floors in the basement of the DGSE headquarters.

Government tracking all snail-mail, no warrant required.  The United States Postal Service photographs every piece of mail it processes under a program that started after the anthrax attacks of 2001, according to a report Wednesday in the New York Times.  That's 160 billion purchases, letters, bills, gifts — everything you've ever mailed or had mailed to you in the past decade or more is on record somewhere with the government under the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, The Times reports.

European firms 'could quit US internet providers over NSA scandal'.  European businesses are likely to abandon the services of American internet providers because of the National Security Agency surveillance scandal, the European commission has warned.  Neelie Kroes, the commission vice-president who speaks on digital affairs, predicted that providers of cloud services, which allow users to store and access data on remote servers, could suffer significant loss of business if clients fear the security of their material is under threat.

Gov't Collects Logs Of Every Piece Of Mail Sent in The United States, NYT Reports.  If the government collecting tons of metadata on phone and online communications has made you consider sticking with the Postal Service, then you may want to read this first.  The New York Times reports today [7/3/2013] on how government law enforcement agencies are collecting logs on every single piece of mail sent within the United States.  USPS computers take photos of the outside of every piece of mail (they need a warrant to actually read the contents) and send them to the agencies that request the information.

U.S. government tracks your snail mail, too.  The United States Postal Service photographs and records the information on the outside of every piece of mail sent in America — 160 billion every year — the New York Times reported Wednesday [7/3/2013].  Under the auspices of a program called Mail Isolation Control and Tracking, the USPS stores the details of physical correspondences in a way that some have characterized as analogous to the National Security Agency's collection of telephone "metadata."  Unlike the details of the much-publicized NSA program, however, many aspects of the USPS system, called "mail covers," remain unclear.

France operates spy network like PRISM, report says.  According to Le Monde, data on "all emails, SMSs, telephone calls, Facebook and Twitter posts" are collected and stored in a massive three-floor underground bunker at the DGSE's headquarters in Paris.

The 'Privacy vs. Security' Canard.  One of the standard claims of those who would defend "well-intentioned" police-state practices such as the NSA's universal secret monitoring of telephone and e-mail data is that the enhancement of "security" provided by these programs warrants the sacrifice of "some privacy."  That argument is being worked to a frazzle of late, as the Obama administration and others seek to justify the ever-growing litany of revelations about the levels of surveillance to which the U.S. federal government is subjecting everyone.  This framing of the issue as "privacy vs. security" is a canard which loads the dice in tyranny's favor.

U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement.  Leslie James Pickering noticed something odd in his mail last September:  a handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions for postal workers to pay special attention to the letters and packages sent to his home.  "Show all mail to supv" — supervisor — "for copying prior to going out on the street," read the card.  It included Mr. Pickering's name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored.  The word "confidential" was highlighted in green.

Spying Scandal: Obama Owes Us an Explanation.  Americans tend to be more open-minded than Germans about Big Data — at least for now.  The kind of mass data collection being conducted around the world by the NSA could eventually backfire for President Obama at home, however.

DNI chief Clapper apologizes for 'erroneous' answer on NSA surveillance.  Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has apologized for telling Congress the National Security Agency doesn't gather data on millions of Americans.  The apology comes after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden gave top-secret information to newspapers that last month published stories about the federal government collecting the data from phone calls and such Internet communications as emails.  Clapper apologized in a letter to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein that was posted Tuesday [7/2/2013] on the website of Clapper's office.

Does the US think that only Americans have a right to privacy?  The whole American political class — not just the Obama administration — is tying itself into self-contradictory knots over the Snowden affair.  And it is a great misfortune that this has now become "the Snowden affair":  i.e., about the man himself, rather than the shocking information that he has disclosed.  But this is where we are, so let's look closely at what seems set to be the latest Ugly American chapter of US diplomatic relations with the world.

Clapper under pressure despite apology for 'erroneous' statements to Congress.  The US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has attempted to head off criticism that he lied to Congress over the extent of government surveillance on American citizens, with a letter to senators in which he apologised for giving "erroneous" information.  Two weeks after telling NBC news that he gave the "least untruthful answer possible" at a hearing in March, Clapper wrote to the Senate intelligence committee to correct his response to a question about whether the National Security Agency "collected data on millions of Americans".

Germans Loved Obama. Now We Don't Trust Him.  [Scroll down]  Germans have experienced firsthand what happens when the government knows too much about someone.  In the past 80 years, Germans have felt the betrayal of neighbors who informed for the Gestapo and the fear that best friends might be potential informants for the Stasi.  Homes were tapped.  Millions were monitored.  Although these two dictatorships, Nazi and Communist, are gone and we now live in a unified and stable democracy, we have not forgotten what happens when secret police or intelligence agencies disregard privacy.

How the NSA is still harvesting your online data.  A review of top-secret NSA documents suggests that the surveillance agency still collects and sifts through large quantities of Americans' online data — despite the Obama administration's insistence that the program that began under Bush ended in 2011.  Shawn Turner, the Obama administration's director of communications for National Intelligence, told the Guardian that "the internet metadata collection program authorized by the Fisa court was discontinued in 2011 for operational and resource reasons and has not been restarted."

Senators Ask if NSA Collected Gun Data.  Senators are questioning whether the National Security Agency collected bulk data on more than just Americans' phone records, such as firearm and book purchases.  A bipartisan group of 26 senators, led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to detail the scope and limits of the National Security Agency's surveillance activities in a letter released Friday [6/28/2013].  "We are concerned that by depending on secret interpretations of the PATRIOT Act that differed from an intuitive reading of the statute, this program essentially relied for years on a secret body of law," the senators wrote in the letter.  The NSA's surveillance program has come under intense scrutiny following a leak revealing the agency harvested the phone metadata of millions of American citizens.

Verizon Was Ordered To Turn Over Millions of Americans' Phone Records To NSA.  Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian has an incredible scoop:  a court order from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court instructing Verizon to turn over metadata from all calls originating in the U.S. over a three-month period (ending July 19, 2013) to the National Security Agency (NSA) on a daily basis.

Declassified gov't report details decades of NSA computer spying.  The clandestine National Security Agency is partly responsible for the modern PC era, a newly declassified document reveals, thanks to decades of custom computers built for one thing:  espionage.  Declassified by the NSA on May 29 and posted online on Monday, the 344-page report "It Wasn't All Magic: The Early Struggle to Automate Cryptanalysis, 1930s-1960s," details the unknown high-tech history of computers so secretive even their code names were kept confidential.  Until now.  It's a never-before seen history of code-breaking, spying and its role in the birth of the computer.

NSA collected US email records in bulk for more than two years under Obama.  The Obama administration for more than two years permitted the National Security Agency to continue collecting vast amounts of records detailing the email and internet usage of Americans, according to secret documents obtained by the Guardian.  The documents indicate that under the program, launched in 2001, a federal judge sitting on the secret surveillance panel called the Fisa court would approve a bulk collection order for internet metadata "every 90 days".  A senior administration official confirmed the program, stating that it ended in 2011.  The collection of these records began under the Bush administration's wide-ranging warrantless surveillance program, collectively known by the NSA codename Stellar Wind.

An everyman's guide for going invisible on the internet.  Let's get this out of the way first:  It's impossible to go 100 percent invisible online if you use the internet in any capacity.  We still don't completely understand the scope and power of the NSA's surveillance capabilities, and it's highly unlikely that any single individual, no matter how resilient their encryption protocols, could withstand a rigorous investigation by the U.S. government.  Still, there are ways ordinary users can better protect their privacy online.

Feds collecting personal, confidential data on consumer's credit cards, bank transactions.  The Obama administration, already under fire for the IRS scandal and National Security Agency snooping of the computers and cellphones of Americans, is also spending millions to have private contractors conduct a dragnet for confidential and personal credit and bank transactions without a warrant.  Newly obtained documents from the Obama-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reveal that the administration has OK'd a project to accumulate the personal financial data of some 5 million and share it with other agencies to build a "nationally representative panel of credit information on consumers for use in a wide range of policy research projects."  The documents obtained by public watchdog group Judicial Watch and provided to Secrets also indicate that those picked in the dragnet will be chosen randomly, meaning every American is subject to the raid on their information.

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

The IRS, the NSA, and Obama's Dirty Tricks.  [Scroll down]  The NSA — the National Security Agency — admitted that it has been involved in spying on Americans.  Their huge Utah data center is a storage house of personal information on almost all Americans.  This information can be used to attack political opponents, and Barack Obama has not been reluctant to attack opponents for their personal behavior, even when the information is illegally/improperly obtained.

Is it Really about Surveillance or is it About the Government?  You need to keep in mind that the government is collecting or has access to about everything you do.  A short list is DNA, retinal scans, facial recognition, finger prints, phone calls, emails, internet cookies and the like.  Do you trust your government with all this information?  When you log on to the internet browser or the server there is always a footprint as to where you have been.

How much damage has Prism done to US tech giants?  The fallout from the Prism leak continues.  As people digest what the leaks mean, ripples are going out into the business community.  Firms were moving towards free, American, reliable cloud-based services; now things are screeching to a halt, as they think "do we want the NSA having access to this?"  It's more than just idle fear.

ACLU to Obama: 'We are tired of living in a nation governed by fear'.  Under President Obama, the United States is "a nation governed by fear," the American Civil Liberties Union says in an open letter that echoes the criticisms Obama has made of George W. Bush's national security policies.

Email snooping corralled in Texas; other states may follow.  Texas has become the first state in the nation to require law enforcement to obtain a warrant to read people's email, and privacy advocates are hoping the move will help quicken the passage of a similar proposal in Congress.  Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed the privacy bill last week.

For secretive surveillance court, rare scrutiny in wake of NSA leaks.  Wedged into a secure, windowless basement room deep below the Capitol Visitors Center, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates appeared before dozens of senators earlier this month for a highly unusual, top-secret briefing.  The lawmakers pressed Bates, according to people familiar with the session, to discuss the inner workings of the United States' clandestine terrorism surveillance tribunal, which Bates oversaw from 2006 until earlier this year.

Obama Moved For Broad Domestic Surveillance Early.  President Obama, who campaigned against George W. Bush's surveillance policies, bolstered the National Security Agency's domestic spying powers astoundingly early in his presidency.  Was it really to protect us?

How Skype developed a secret program called 'Project Chess'.  The web-based calling service Skype allegedly developed a secret program called 'Project Chess' to make it easier for the government to spy on its users.  The program, set up about five years ago, studied the legal and technical issues in making Skype's calls available to law enforcement officials, according to the New York Times.  Skype has also reportedly been involved in the Prism program since February 2011.

Mysterious privacy board touted by Obama has deep government ties.  The body charged by President Obama with protecting the civil liberties and privacy of the American people exists in shadows almost as dark as the intelligence agencies it is designed to oversee.  The Privacy & Civil Liberties Board (PCLOB) was due to meet Obama at the White House on Friday afternoon [6/21/2013] at 3pm in the situation room to discuss growing concerns over US surveillance of phone and internet records — or, at least, that's what unnamed "senior administration officials" said would happen.

Obama meets with privacy watchdog panel — in private.  President Obama's Friday meeting with a newly reformed privacy watchdog panel will take place behind the closed doors of the White House Situation Room, according to administration officials.  It's the president's first sit-down with the recently constituted and little-known Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created nearly a decade ago but dormant for the entirety of the Obama presidency.

Napolitano: NSA Testimony on Surveillance Programs 'Bogus'.  Former state court Judge Andrew Napolitano said on Tuesday [6/18/2013] that officials from the National Security Agency "answered questions professionally" in their testimony before Congress — "but I still think it's bogus."  "There was none of this as we got from Attorney General [Eric] Holder and FBI Director [Robert] Mueller," Napolitano told Neil Cavuto on Fox News.

Bombshell: Fmr. Intelligence Agent Accuses NSA, Obama Of Lying, Alleges Broader Spying Programs.  On Friday [6/21/2013], MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin interviewed former U.S. Air Force intelligence Agent Russell Tice about the revelations surrounding the National Security Agency's monitoring of Americans' digital and electronic communications.  Tice accused a variety of administration officials, including President Barack Obama, of disseminating outright falsehoods in their efforts to explain those programs.  He added that those programs are far broader than any government official has said up to this point.

Meet the 16 People Responsible for Protecting Your Privacy.  There are two groups specifically appointed with the task of ensuring that the government doesn't exceed its mandate in its push to fight terror activity and other crime.  The first is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court comprised of judges with heavy background in prosecution.  The second is a civilian panel which the president is meeting with for the first time today [6/21/2013].  Feel better?

Bush-Era NSA Whistleblower Makes Most Explosive Allegations Yet About True Extent of Gov't Surveillance.  Russ Tice, a former intelligence analyst and Bush-era NSA whistleblower, claimed Wednesday [6/19/2013] that the intelligence community has ordered surveillance on a wide range of groups and individuals, including high-ranking military officials, lawmakers and diplomats.  He also made another stunning allegation.  He says the NSA had ordered wiretaps on phones connected to then-Senate candidate Barack Obama back in 2004.

Revealed: the top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant.  Top secret documents submitted to the court that oversees surveillance by US intelligence agencies show the judges have signed off on broad orders which allow the NSA to make use of information "inadvertently" collected from domestic US communications without a warrant.  The Guardian is publishing in full two documents submitted to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (known as the Fisa court), signed by Attorney General Eric Holder and stamped 29 July 2009.

Lawyers eye NSA data as treasure trove for evidence in murder, divorce cases.  The National Security Agency has spent years demanding that companies turn over their data.  Now, the spy agency finds the shoe is on the other foot.  A defendant in a Florida murder trial says telephone records collected by the NSA as part of its surveillance programs hold evidence that would help prove his innocence, and his lawyer has demanded that prosecutors produce those records.

FBI under pressure to explain drone use, as Obama names new director.  As President Obama nominates a new FBI director, the bureau is coming under rising pressure from lawmakers to explain the limits of its recently disclosed drone fleet.  Civil liberties-minded senators on both sides of the aisle have fired off sharply worded letters and statements in recent days criticizing the FBI for deploying surveillance drones without clear guidance on how to protect privacy rights.

The Truth Behind the Spying.  [Scroll down]  There may be those who still think that the government spy program, PRISM, is actually about seeking out terrorists but I'm not that naïve nor is it even about seeking out criminal activity.  Why does the government want our telephone data?  Criminals and terrorists communicate via untraceable prepaid cell phones.  They do not sign up for cell service,; ordinary law abiding citizens do.  The miscreants are under the radar always.

Rand Paul: DNI Clapper 'Just Decided to Lie'.  Appearing on The Mike Church Show on Sirius XM Patriot 125, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had lost all credibility on the National Security Agency's snooping on American citizens.

No Cones of Silence in the Surveillance State.  Originally designed to spy on foreigners and track the foreign correspondence of suspected terrorists, today the National Security Agency digitally frisks U.S. citizens, capturing and storing their communications data for as long as five years.  Under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the post-9/11 Patriot Act, the NSA now claims the authority to systematically — and without warrants or court orders — sweep "metadata" into its dragnet, sourced from private telecom and server companies that enjoy immunity from civil liability or criminal prosecution.

We're all potential suspects and should be treated as such, apparently.  Earlier today [6/19/2013], a Washington Examiner editorial warned that "if phone records are useful now in stopping terrorist attacks, how long before politicians and bureaucrats decide archiving the entire phone call would be even more useful?  How long before the limitations and safeguards now in place are set aside?"  Within a few hours, King provided an illustration of precisely what the [Washington] Examiner editors fear.  Responding to a question by Fox News' Bill Hemmer about why the government needs everyone's phone numbers and not just suspects', King said, "Because if you don't have all of them, the system is incomplete."

Have there been any prosecutions if the NSA detected and stopped 50 terrorist plots?  You know the answer.
Will the Real Traitor Please Stand Up?  [Scroll down]  Gen. [Keith B.] Alexander swore to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. Gen. Alexander shredded the Constitution and then deceived the U.S. Congress and the public about it on June 18.  On June 18, the NSA Director told us that "these programs" stopped specific threats of terrorism.  Approximately 50 acts of terrorism were prevented.  Whoa, there, cowboy!  Yellow penalty flag on the field!  We're not talking about "these programs" — but about one program in particular.

Living in Fear: Welcome to Fascist America.  I don't want to admit it, but it's true.  Every phone call I make, every email I send, every text I message, every article I write including this one, I imagine being bugged or recorded. [...] Just today I was going to follow up on some information about the wretched prevarications surrounding Benghazi and hesitated.  Should I email the source?  Telephone?  Send a letter?  Snail mail would take too long.  What about buying one of those throwaway phones at Radio Shack?  But then I would be compromising the recipients of my calls.  I would be implicating them.

The NSA state of secrecy must end.  The "war on terrorism" has gone on for 12 years, and while President Obama says it must end sometime, there is no end in sight.  Secret bureaucracies armed with secret powers and emboldened by the claim of defending the nation have proliferated and expanded.  The surprise of legislators at the scope of NSA surveillance shows that checks and balances have broken down.

Liberty, Security, Privacy, Big Brother, and the Concept of the Common Good.  The once mocked conspiracy theory of the all-knowing Big Brother state has shown itself to be far more of an ugly reality than a silly fantasy.  He who has called the War on Terror basically over has now been forced to admit that his administration has vastly expanded the concept of the security state in the name of 'public safety.'  The 'trust us' stance of government is no longer a working defense for such actions as this administration, and the federal agencies under its control, have shown that they simply cannot be trusted.

Government Secrets and the Need for Whistleblowers.  We don't know a lot about how the government spies on us, but we know some things.  We know the FBI has issued tens of thousands of ultra-secret National Security Letters to collect all sorts of data on people — we believe on millions of people — and has been abusing them to spy on cloud-computer users.  We know it can collect a wide array of personal data from the Internet without a warrant.  We also know that the FBI has been intercepting cell-phone data, all but voice content, for the past 20 years without a warrant, and can use the microphone on some powered-off cell phones as a room bug — presumably only with a warrant.

Big Brother is Listening: Granting DHS Domestic Spying Capabilities Will Open Citizens to Arrest.  [F]ar from apologizing for the betrayals of the public's trust, the Obama Administration has thrown another log onto the fire of public outrage.  According to a Reuters report, the Obama Administration is considering granting the Department of Homeland Security the same kind of powers the NSA has used to monitor the phone usage of millions of Americans who have done nothing more to arouse suspicion than use a cell phone.

Why you should worry about the NSA.  My concerns are twofold.  First, the law under which President George W. Bush and now President Obama have acted was not intended to give the government records of all telephone calls.  If that had been the intent, the law would have said that.  It didn't.  Rather, the law envisioned the administration coming to a special court on a case-by-case basis to explain why it needed to have specific records.  I am troubled by the precedent of stretching a law on domestic surveillance almost to the breaking point.  On issues so fundamental to our civil liberties, elected leaders should not be so needlessly secretive.

Witch Hunting, 2013: NSA, IRS, Justice.  The NSA gathers data on hundreds of millions of US citizens, without a warrant, through the corporate bend-over by Verizon (and who knows which other companies?), and then says that "surveillance has led to the thwarting of terrorist plots in the US and 20 other countries" as some kind of justification.  The NSA hasn't made any kind of case for the efficacy of these dragnets in the supposed thwart-ings.  There is no cause and effect; only a logically-unsupportable post hoc argument is offered.

Growing Distrust Of Obama Makes It Tough To Judge NSA Scandal.  The belated recognition of this administration's contempt for the truth, for the American people and for the Constitution of the United States, has been long overdue.  But what if the NSA program has in fact thwarted terrorists and saved many American lives in ways that cannot be revealed publicly?

The Editor says...
If that were indeed the case, there would be a long trail of arrests and trials resulting from the government's successful investigations -- unless the secrecy of the wholesale data collection was more valuable than the prosecution of several dozen known (low-level?) terrorists.  This brings up another question:  If the FBI uncovered a plot to commit a violent act of terrorism and intercepted (arrested) the people involved, something would happen to those would-be terrorists.  The captured criminals would now be accumulating in "indefinite detention" somewhere.  (And it would have to be some place where they couldn't get together and deduce the common reason for their capture, i.e., cell phone tracking.)  Is that happening, or is the claim of dozens of preempted terrorist attacks simply untrue?

Government compromises our trust.  It looked bad last week, but it looks much, much worse now.  The federal government has been spying and lying.  The only comfort is that, apparently, it's been largely incompetent at both:  Nobody believes the lies, and the spying wasn't even able to catch the Tsarnaev brothers.

Exposure of NSA surveillance draws attention to Mueller remark about real time email tracking.  With the growing scrutiny of government databases and the extent of domestic surveillance, new questions are being raised about a program FBI Director Robert Mueller once said could pull in emails from U.S. citizens on domestic soil "as they come in."  Mueller's comments came during a routine Senate Judiciary Oversight Committee hearing in March 2011.  He said "technological improvements" to an existing database meant the agency would not miss important investigative leads found in email traffic.

Surveillance programs divide Democrats.  Revelations about the Obama administration's expansive domestic surveillance programs have opened a chasm between Democratic elected officials and their progressive base — one that could be tricky for the party's future presidential hopefuls to bridge.

"Officials" never lie.
Officials: NSA Doesn't Collect Cellphone-Location Records.  The National Security Agency sweeps up data on millions of cellphones and Internet communications under secret court orders.  But as it mounts a rigorous defense of its surveillance, the agency has disclosed new details that portray its efforts as tightly controlled and limited in scope, while successful in thwarting potential plots.  On Sunday [6/16/2013], officials said that though the NSA is authorized to collect "geolocational" information that can pinpoint the location of callers, it chooses not to.

The Editor says...
I find it difficult to believe that the NSA walks right up to an imaginary line, but never crosses it.  Of course they deny pinpointing specific cell phones' locations, but denial is what the NSA does best.  Until recently they probably denied the existence of the agency itself.

President Obama: NSA Spying Programs 'Transparent'.  President Obama said that two National Security Agency programs recently revealed through leaked secret documents were "transparent" and, in an interview with PBS's Charlie Rose on Sunday [6/16/2013], he dismissed concerns that the programs were vulnerable to abuse by government officials.

The False Excuse of National Security.  Does the Obama Administration actually want to fight terrorism all that much?  Or are they primarily interested in gathering vast amounts of information about American citizens?  Do their actions tell us where their attention is focused?  The proof, they say, is in the notorious pudding.  The government is being highly successful in invading the privacy of Americans and increasing control and surveillance.  The government is not doing so well fighting terrorism.  The actual behavior of the government points to development of a 'Big Brother" surveillance state and exposes national security as a phony excuse.

A Warped Prism.  [Scroll down]  There's also the problem of self-imposed filters, which we know exist in the NSA as they do in the TSA, Homeland Defense, Justice, and every other branch of government.  Namely, that we're not supposed to look at Muslims, Arabs, or Middle Easterners in search of terrorists.  It's a trap — don't fall for it.  Instead, closely watch evangelicals, Catholics, Tea Party members, and the like — and don't forget the nuns.  This explains how the Tsarnaevs and Nidal Hassan, independent quanta of evil, slipped through the ultimate information system totally undetected.  So the PRISM program is ultimately worth little, the billions spent on it as wasted as if the Manhattan Project had been intent of building a bomb using phlogiston.

NSA snooping: Facebook reveals details of data requests.  Facebook received 9,000-10,000 requests for user data from US government entities in the second half of 2012.  The social-networking site said the requests, relating to between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts, covered issues from local crime to national security.  Microsoft meanwhile said it received 6,000 and 7,000 requests for data from between 31,000 and 32,000 accounts.  Leaks by a former computer technician suggest the US electronic surveillance programme is far larger than was known.

Massive San Antonio NSA Data Center Raises Eyebrows.  Even as reports break about the size and scope of the National Security Agency's vast data storage center in Utah, new details are emerging about a second massive NSA center in San Antonio, Texas. [...] Originally, the NSA was much more transparent about the project, actually holding a job fair to promote their expansion in San Antonio.  But from 2007 on, the news about the site has been nonexistent.

Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks.  Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive US-based surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants.  New Zealand court records suggest that data harvested by the NSA's Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes intelligence alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations?

Keywords:  STELLARWIND, MAINWAY, MARINA, NUCLEON, PRISM.
U.S. surveillance targets Internet, phone metadata.  On March 12, 2004, acting attorney general James B. Comey and the Justice Department's top leadership reached the brink of resignation over electronic surveillance orders that they believed to be illegal.  President George W. Bush backed down, halting secret foreign-intelligence-gathering operations that had crossed into domestic terrain.  That morning marked the beginning of the end of Stellarwind, the cover name for a set of four surveillance programs that brought Americans and American territory within the domain of the National Security Agency for the first time in decades.  It was also a prelude to new legal structures that allowed Bush and then President Obama to reproduce each of those programs and expand their reach.

Obama is Abrading the Social Fabric.  [Scroll down]  In any event, with the FBI having ignored specific warnings from the Russians about the Boston bombers and the administration announcing it will provide military support for the Syrian rebels just as they in turn announce their affiliation with Al Qaeda, the need for this elaborate record-gathering becomes ever less clear.  From the outside it seems as if in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iran, and Egypt we are doing everything in our power to strengthen our enemies.  What's the point then creating this expensive apparatus to permit listening to their communications as if we still regarded them as enemies?

NSA can 'listen to U.S. phone calls' without a warrant, according to congressman.  The National Security Agency can listen to domestic phone calls without a warrant, according to a disclosure by Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, made during a briefing to members of Congress last Thursday [6/13/2013].  Listening to phone calls without a warrant is illegal — but according to Mr Nadler, the NSA does not obtain a warrant to listen to calls.

Nadler Backtracks: NSA Does Need Court Order.  It turns out that the surveillance of Americans may be even more dangerous and unsupervised than had been heretofore acknowledged — but the powers that be aren't willing to admit it.  The National Security Agency (NSA) admitted in a secret briefing that its analysts can decide to listen to Americans' phone calls without legal authorization.  Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, revealed that during the briefing to members of Congress, the NSA allowed that phone calls could be monitored "simply based on an analyst deciding that."  This means low-ranking analysts may be listening to Americans willy-nilly.

NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants.  The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant said.  Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that."

The 'scandalanche' & the data-mining.  The data-mining program first started at least seven years ago, under the authorization of the Patriot Act — after a similar Pentagon-based data-collection program was killed in 2003.  Fact is, the NSA — once so secret that its very existence went officially unacknowledged — has been quietly monitoring Americans for years.  Indeed, domestic monitoring without a warrant was explicity OK'd in the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, so long as the ostensible purpose was to track plots originating outside the country.

How did mainstream media get the NSA PRISM story so hopelessly wrong?  If you don't understand the technical workings of these surveillance programs, you can't understand whether they're working as intended, you can't identify where the government has overstepped its bounds, and you can't intelligently debate the proper response.  The fact that the government has maintained rigid secrecy compounds the problem. [...] The basic facts in that story aren't news.  We've known since at least 2006 that the U.S. security establishment is collecting details of phone calls and mining that data to identify calling patterns consistent with terrorist activity.

Senators skip classified briefing on NSA snooping to catch flights home.  A recent briefing by senior intelligence officials on surveillance programs failed to attract even half of the Senate, showing the lack of enthusiasm in Congress for learning about classified security programs.  Many senators elected to leave Washington early Thursday afternoon [6/13/2013] instead of attending a briefing with James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency (NSA), and other officials.

Surveillance and Its Discontents.  The ObamaCare mandate-tax that commands Americans to buy a private product is far more offensive to the Constitution than NSA reading the emails of terrorists overseas.  The regulatory agencies claim — and use — the power to seize property and control individual conduct.  The very administration of the entitlement state depends on tracking (Social Security numbers), data-processing (Medicare benefits) and individual scrutiny (tax audits).  The IRS knows far more about American citizens than the NSA does, and while there is much speculation about the potential for surveillance abuse, we now have real evidence of corruption at the IRS.  So which is the greater scandal?

Sens. Wyden & Udall: We Have Seen No Evidence NSA Surveillance Has Prevented 'Dozens Of Terrorist Events'.  During yesterday's [6/12/2013] Congressional hearings on the NSA, agency head General Keith Alexander claimed that the NSA's massive surveillance program has successfully prevented "dozens of terrorist events," but did not go into specifics.  Today Democratic senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall called on Alexander to clarify those remarks, saying in a joint statement that neither of them have seen any evidence to support what he said.

Metadata helps find terrorists — and Obama voters.  Great cries of shock and disillusionment are echoing across many precincts of President Obama's political base, particularly among academics, civil libertarians, nonprofit activists and media celebrities.  The howls of distress stem from the chief executive's stunning reversal on the scope and constitutionality of domestic surveillance programs at the National Security Agency and elsewhere in the federal government.  Although he vociferously opposed these programs while campaigning for president in 2008 and before, Obama began singing quite a different tune once he began working in the Oval Office.

The Way They Are.  [Scroll down]  The Obama administration has already engaged in systematic and widespread hiring of left-wing political activists into career government positions at the Department of Justice and presumably elsewhere.  Taking this into account, it is merely logical to assume that over the past four years many of the administration's activist worms have found their way into the woodwork at NSA and its contractors.  Given recent revelations, it is also common sense to suspect that at least some federal and private sector people with "PRISM access" clearance are individuals willing and able to use and abuse their power for political purposes.

Americans who cherish freedom must push back against government surveillance.  On Thursday, I held a news conference announcing my intent to pursue legal action against the federal government for infringing on Americans' Fourth Amendment rights.  The National Security Agency's collection of Verizon's client data probably only scratches the surface.  A court order that allows the government to obtain a billion records a day and does not name an individual target is clearly beyond the scope of the Fourth Amendment, which states clearly that warrants must be specific to the person and the place.

Fearless Fosdick at work.  The Obama administration and its well-meaning defenders, including several Republican members of Congress, argue that just because the government can discover intimate details about everyone's life, beliefs, politics, sexual orientation, health, diseases and sexual infidelities doesn't mean it would, with the click of a computer mouse, ever identify and mark this person for personal attention.  (We trust the IRS, don't we?)  If the snoopery were as innocent as these defenders claim, the government wouldn't have gone to so much trouble — in "the least most untruthful manner" — to hide what it was doing.

U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms.  Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said.  These programs, whose participants are known as trusted partners, extend far beyond what was revealed by Edward Snowden, a computer technician who did work for the National Security Agency.

Privacy Isn't All We're Losing.  The U.S. surveillance state as outlined and explained by Edward Snowden is not worth the price.  Its size, scope and intrusiveness, its ability to target and monitor American citizens, its essential unaccountability — all these things are extreme.  The purpose of the surveillance is enhanced security, a necessary goal to say the least.  The price is a now formal and agreed-upon acceptance of the end of the last vestiges of Americans' sense of individual distance and privacy from the government.

How Yahoo Fought PRISM — And Lost.  Yahoo, one of the companies named as part of the NSA's PRISM data collection program, didn't go quietly, according to a New York Times scoop posted late Thursday [6/13/2013].  The company was behind a 2008 court challenge to fight a court order requiring the company to give them data without a warrant, which they lost.  That, according to the Times, ushered the company into PRISM.

Tea Party on NSA Snooping: We Told You Not to Trust Big Government!  Everyone knows the IRS is a bunch of jerks.  But the NSA combing through people's phone calls and emails?  That's a whole different level of sinister.

Lawmakers tire of playing '20 questions'in surveillance briefings.  Some members of the Congress say that getting straight answers from intelligence agencies about top-secret surveillance is like playing the game "20 Questions," where answers come only if a questioner knows exactly what to ask.

Spying on Americans: the Legal Status of Emails.  This topic has several main issues.  At the top of the list is President Obama's outrageous statement that Americans may need to give up some freedom for security from terrorism.  The president has no right to decide what degree of freedom Americans can have.  The freedom Americans have is defined not by any one elected official but by the Constitution.  The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution has very precise language that directly applies to the NSA's seizure of personal information.

The Founders warned us.  [Scroll down]  I was reminded of this exchange the other day when an author and one of the strongest backers of the Patriot Act, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., reacted angrily to the news that the Obama administration has been secretly monitoring, compiling and analyzing phone records from literally millions of Verizon customers and other cellphone and email user — all in the name of national security.  Even early champions such as Mr. Sensenbrenner never contemplated the broad seizure of data now being justified under laws they passed in the name of national security.

Blame Wyden, not Clapper, for 'lie' to Congress on NSA surveillance.  Outrage is brewing on the Left and Right over charges that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress about NSA data collection.  But the outrage is misdirected.  What is outrageous is not that Clapper tried to protect classified information in an open session, but that Senator Ron Wyden asked him the question in open session the first place.  Wyden, an opponent of the NSA program, asked Clapper in front of television cameras:  "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"  Wyden knew the answer.  He knew the answer was classified.  He knew that Clapper could not answer it in open session.  Yet he asked it anyway.

Lindsey Graham Says He Would Suggest Censoring The Mail, If He 'Thought It Necessary'.  Yahoo's Chris Moody reports that outspoken security hawk Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) would propose censoring American postal mail if he thought it a "necessary" method to protecting the United States from future terror attacks.  The senator compared the hypothetical situation to World War II, in which all Americans had a "mentality" that their way of life was "at risk," and thus surveillance was necessary.

The Editor says...
Brilliant idea, Senator.  The Postal Service can barely deliver the mail, with machines reading the zip codes to sort it all out.  Senator Graham's idea would bring mail delivery to a standstill -- with the exception of unsolicited junk mail.

Intelligence chief Clapper: I gave 'least untruthful' answer on U.S. spying.  Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is really struggling to explain why he told Congress in March (see video above) that the National Security Agency does not intentionally collect any kind of data on millions of Americans.  His latest take:  It's an unfair question, he said, like "When are you going to stop beating your wife?"  And it seems to depend on the meaning of "collect."  "I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying 'no,'" Clapper told NBC News on Sunday [6/9/2013].

Obama administration under pressure as US senators demand end to secrecy.  A bill, to be introduced in the Senate on Tuesday, would force the US government to disclose the opinions of a secretive surveillance court that determines the scope of the eavesdropping on Americans' phone records and internet communications.  Separately, a leading member of the Senate intelligence committee came close to saying that James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, misled him on the scope of government surveillance during a March hearing.

Sharpton: You Can't Blame Obama for Secret Surveillance.  Rev. Al Sharpton said Monday that President Barack Obama is not to blame for the National Security Agency's secret surveillance program — former President George W. Bush is, because laws allowing it were enacted under his administration.  These are laws put into effect under President Bush.  There are plenty of Democrats who are upset about this too.  I do not agree with the Patriot Act, but you can't blame President Obama for it," Sharpton said on MSNBC's "PoliticsNation."

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper jokes about reading people's emails at black-tie dinner.  Foot-in-mouth-prone Director of National Intelligence James Clapper spoke at a black-tie dinner honoring former CIA and National Security Agency chief Michael Hayden on Friday night and — just days after admitting that he'd provided false testimony to Congress in regards to the Prism program — started cracking jokes about reading people's emails.

Yahoo, Google, Facebook and more face fight to salvage reputations over NSA leaks.  Google. Apple. Facebook. Microsoft:  they are the brands that want the world to trust them with personal information, emails, photos, documents — yet they are now facing a battle to maintain that trust after disclosures that the US government was given access to their customers' data online via the Prism programme operated by the NSA.  The companies involved — Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple — vigorously deny giving the Obama administration backdoor access to users' internet information, but the potential damage to their brand reputation has left the companies floundering for a way to respond.

Google wants to tell you more about the info spy agencies are seeking.  Google is asking the Obama administration for permission to disclose more information about requests it gets from national intelligence agencies for its users' emails and other online communications.  The technology giant made the request in a letter to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on Tuesday [6/11/2013].  Google is trying to counteract damaging media reports that the company allows the National Security Agency access to users' online communications.

Liberty vs security.  The row over government surveillance that is convulsing America has inevitably prompted questions about Britain's own online snooping.  That is only natural:  GCHQ is by far the largest (and most secretive) of our intelligence organisations, and its links with the National Security Agency are practically umbilical — central not just to the Special Relationship, but to keeping us safe from terrorists and foreign hackers.

NSA Debate Pits Far Left, Right Against the Middle.  Revelations of massive government collections of Americans' phone and email records have reinvigorated an odd-couple political alliance of the far left and right.

Obama tracking whatever you say and do. You're Americans?  [Scroll down]  Under the court order, "the information is classed as 'metadata,' or transactional information, rather than communications, and so does not require individual warrants to access" ("NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily," Greenwald, The Guardian, June 5).  Furthermore, the Verizon court order is covered by "the so-called 'business records' provision of the Patriot Act ... That is the provision which (Sen. Ron) Wyden and (Sen. Mark) Udall have repeatedly cited when warning the public of what they believe is the Obama administration's extreme interpretation of the law to engage in excessive domestic surveillance."

Let's Rescue Metadata From the Spy Agencies.  Once the civil libertarians have had their say, let's hope the really interesting questions start being asked.  What is surveillance of telecommunications metadata really costing us?  Remember, this is not the same as listening to phone calls and reading emails, but collecting the outward characteristics of various electronic transactions and seeing how they relate to other transactions.  Does it yield actionable warnings?  Is it really a cost-effective contribution to security?  And the most interesting question of all:  If meta-surveillance is worth doing, who says the national-security types who have taken ownership of the technology are the best ones to extract the social gains from it?

What we know about the NSA's secret data data warehouse in Utah.  The long, squat buildings span 1.5 million square feet, and are filled with super-powered computers designed to store massive amounts of information gathered secretly from phone calls and emails.

The Fuse Has Been Lit: Seven Critical Points on Uncle Sam's Spying ProgramFirst, if the PRISM program and all the rest of the government's surveillance programs were so good and necessary, then why didn't the feds catch the Tsarnaev brothers, who earlier this year blew up the Boston Marathon?  Or Major Hassan, the 2009 Fort Hood mass-murderer?  Or the "underwear bomber," also from 2009, who nearly succeeded in blowing up the passenger jet flying into Detroit?  Second, if and when everything is revealed about PRISM and all the rest, it's likely that we will learn of important and inculpating connections between the National Security Agency (NSA), on the one hand, and many civilian agencies, on the other.

How can Google (or anyone) prove something is not happening in the super-secret NSA, or prove that the NSA can't do something extraordinary?
Exclusive: Google to DOJ: Let us prove to users that NSA isn't snooping on them.  There is a "serious misperception" about the National Security Agency's PRISM program, Google chief legal officer David Drummond said in an exclusive interview with Fox News.  On Tuesday [6/11/2013] the company pushed back against the layers of secrecy surrounding the agency's alleged blanket snooping on American citizens.  "We were as shocked about those revelations as anyone," Drummond told Fox News, in an interview with Fox News' Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge.

Obama-knows-best goes bust.  "Trust me" is President Barack Obama's preferred mode of action in times of crisis — and his go-to comment to nervous staffers has always been some version of "Relax, I got this."  But that message is an increasingly hard sell for Obama in his second term, following revelations that the man who once railed against the Bush administration over civil liberties abuses has himself surreptitiously quarterbacked the greatest expansion of electronic surveillance in U.S. history.

CNN's Jake Tapper Dismisses GOP Rep. Peter King's 'Slippery Slope' Demand NSA Journalists Be Prosecuted.  On Tuesday [6/11/2013], Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told CNN host Anderson Cooper that he believed the journalists who broke the story relating to the National Security Agency's communications monitoring programs should be prosecuted.  CNN host Jake Tapper addressed this claim on the network's morning show Starting Point where he dismissed King's claim saying that it was simply not a feasible course for the government to pursue.

Ted Cruz: Obama targeting enemies, can't be trusted.  Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday decried the spread of unaccountable federal agencies like the IRS and National Security Agency caught prying into American lives, charging that President Obama's promise that his administration isn't snooping on citizens can't be trusted.  What's more, Cruz said that by spreading a broad net to include average Americans in its search for terrorists via the NSA, the administration missed catching actual U.S. enemies such as the Boston Marathon bombers and the Fort Hood, Texas killer.

Philadelphia Couple Join Class-Action Lawsuit Against NSA's Verizon Spying.  A Philadelphia couple has joined the first class-action lawsuit against the Obama administration over the National Security Agency's collection of millions of customer phone records from Verizon.  The plaintiffs are calling the domestic spy operation a breach of privacy.  Filed in federal court in Washington, DC on Sunday, the lawsuit names a host of heavy hitters including President Obama, the NSA, and the Department of Justice.

NSA revelations only 'the tip of the iceberg,' says Dem lawmaker.  The federal surveillance programs revealed in media reports are just "the tip of the iceberg," a House Democrat said Wednesday [6/12/2013].  Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) said lawmakers learned "significantly more" about the spy programs at the National Security Agency (NSA) during a briefing on Tuesday with counterterrorism officials.  "What we learned in there," Sanchez said, "is significantly more than what is out in the media today."

White House: If lawmakers didn't know about NSA program, that's their fault.  Congressional ignorance about the National Security Agency's phone record collection exists because lawmakers skipped briefings on the program, according to President Obama's spokesman, who maintained that the program had sufficient congressional oversight.  "I think it's been amply demonstrated that with regards to both sections of the Patriot Act and the programs that exist under those authorities that members of Congress were briefed or had the opportunity to be briefed on them," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters during the gaggle today [6/12/2013].

Sensenbrenner: Obama Administration's NSA Assurances 'a Bunch of Bunk'.  Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, who introduced the PATRIOT Act on the House floor in 2001, has declared that lawmakers' and the executive branch's excuses about recent revelations of NSA activity are "a bunch of bunk."  In an interview on Laura Ingraham's radio show Wednesday morning, [6/12/2013] the Republican congressman from Wisconsin reiterated his concerns that the administration and the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court have gone far beyond what the PATRIOT Act intended.  Specifically, he said that Section 215 of the act "was originally drafted to prevent data mining" on the scale that's occurred.

Did someone mention the Patriot Act?

NSA Built Back Door In All Windows Software by 1999.  In researching the stunning pervasiveness of spying by the government (it's much more wide spread than you've heard even now), we ran across the fact that the FBI wants software programmers to install a backdoor in all software.  Digging a little further, we found a 1999 article by leading European computer publication Heise which noted that the NSA had already built a backdoor into all Windows software.

The domino effect begins:
Atty. In Fla. Robbery Case Seeks NSA Phone Records.  The lawyer for a man on trial in a South Florida armored car robbery is seeking cellphone records possibly produced by a recently revealed National Security Agency surveillance program, according to federal court documents.

Fox's Brit Hume Dismisses NSA Uproar As 'Misplaced Hysteria'.  Appearing on FoxNews.com Tuesday afternoon [6/11/2013], Fox senior political analyst Brit Hume dismissed the uproar over the National Security Agency's snooping revelations as "misplaced hysteria," adding that he sees no "abuse" whatsoever in what has been revealed.  If anything, he said, NSA leaker Edward Snowden is the one who committed an abuse.  "Of the abuses that [Snowden] claims exist in this program," Hume continued, "his explanation has been vague to the point of non-existent."  He then told host Chris Stirewalt he doesn't see anything wrong with what has been revealed about the NSA's surveillance programs.

I suppose we will have to take his word for it because apparently it's all secret.
NSA chief: Surveillance programs thwarted 'dozens of terrorist plots'.  The director of the National Security Agency portrayed the collection of millions of U.S. telephone records each day as a limited program designed to thwart terrorist plots, but made it clear that the NSA needed only a "reasonable suspicion" of a terrorist link to search the vast databank, not a separate court order.

Obama's 2007 Promise: 'No More Illegal Wiretapping of American Citizens'.  His administration would not "spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime, " then-Senator Obama promised in a Woodrow Wilson International Center, Council on Foreign Relations speech on August 1, 2007:  "I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.["]  [Video clip]

It's The U.S. Constitution, Stupid!  The Obama administration has thrown out all the rules, insisting that when you are looking for a needle in a haystack, it's OK to seize the haystack, keep it permanently on record and to look for whatever needle they want at any time they want.  They say they're looking for terrorists but can't find or stop those they have in plain sight.  Such sweeping surveillance did not catch the "underwear" bomber who, thanks to sheer luck and alert passengers, failed to bring down an airliner over Detroit.  It did not catch the Tsarnaev brothers as they freely traveled to the terrorist haven they called home before bombing the Boston Marathon.  It did not stop Maj. Nidal Hasan before he slaughtered U.S. soldiers and civilians at Ft. Hood.  It has not found those responsible for the attack in Benghazi.

Washington's dark secrets.  The secret court that apparently authorized this program operates nothing like the judicial branch contemplated by the Constitution as a check on abuses of governmental power and a neutral evaluator of whether governmental conduct complies with the Constitution.  Its decisions are made in secret and not generally subject to appellate review.  And there is no role built into the system for someone to counter the government's arguments.

ACLU Sues U.S. Over Phone Data Collection.  The National Security Agency's broad collection of U.S. phone customer data received its first significant legal challenge since the disclosure of the program last week.  The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday, alleging that the National Security Agency was violating the ACLU's constitutional rights.  The ACLU said it is a customer of Verizon Communications Inc.'s Verizon Business Network Services and it said metadata from the ACLU's phone calls are being collected.

A.C.L.U. Sues to Bar 'Dragnet' Collection of Phone Records.  The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday [6/11/2013] filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its "dragnet" collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program — whose existence was exposed by a former National Security Agency contractor last week — is illegal and asking a judge to both stop it and order the records purged.

The Editor says...
The Muslim terrorists know the government monitors phone calls and correlates the numbers.  That's why they buy a thousand cell phones at a time and use them only once.

Is the American surveillance state out of control?  This week's Telegram is a highly charged debate about America and security.  Tim Stanley says the information released by Edward Snowden shows an Obama administration exercising "weird and creepy" control over its citizens.  Dan Hodges says the libertarian Left and Right are in an "unholy alliance", trying to scare voters about legitimate security measures.

US allies "stunned" at scope of NSA surveillance.  Who can blame them?  As the scope of the NSA surveillance programs became a little clearer since their exposure last week, the ostensible targets abroad turned out to be a little unhappy with Uncle Big Brother, too.

Hoyer: No comparison between Obama, Bush secret surveillance.  Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday defended the Obama administration's domestic spying programs, arguing that, unlike the secret surveillance under President George W. Bush, the current programs appear legal.

Progressives, Democrats must stand with New York Times against Obama on NSA phone records collection.  The events of the past month — from the Associated Press subpoena to the James Rosen search warrant to the revelation that our government has been indiscriminately collecting phone records data — have forced liberals to make a choice between complacency and outrage, between keeping silent because one of our own is in the White House and calling him out on betraying the principles for which we have fought for so long.

Two times the government used its anti-terrorism powers to target Americans not engaged in terrorism.  The revelations detailing the extent of the National Security Agency's espionage capabilities raises the specter that their powers could be misused to target Americans who have nothing to do with terrorism.  In fact, allegations of such misconduct already exist.  Here are two examples where anti-terrorism powers granted to law enforcement were allegedly used to target American citizens not engaged in terrorism.

Even law-abiding people should oppose surveillance.  [W]hy should law-abiding citizens mind federal surveillance?  The answer begins with this distressing reality:  None of us scrupulously obeys the law.  Technically speaking, we're all criminals.  Federal and state criminal statutes have multiplied like rabbits over the decades, and so now everyone breaks the law, probably every day. [...] Citizens that the federal government wants to indict, the federal government can indict if it monitors them closely enough.  That's why it's so disturbing to learn that the federal government doesn't need to obtain a warrant on us in order to get our emails and phone records.

The Totalitarianism at the Heart of the Obama Scandals.  [Scroll down]  Then of course the National Security Agency was caught recently collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers.  But the intrusive secret data-mining didn't end there.  Through a top-secret communications surveillance program called PRISM, instituted during the War on Terror years of the Bush administration, the U.S. intelligence community can access the servers of nine Internet behemoths such as Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype and Facebook for a wide range of digital data.  That NSA service has grown exponentially under Obama, which is curious since he declared the War on Terror to be over.

Was President Obama the leaker?  [Scroll down]  But the Obama administration didn't release the details on these programs.  In fact, they've pursued an energetic war on the kinds of leaks that have led to details on these programs.  So for Obama to say he "welcomes" this debate is a bit rich.  He did everything in his power to keep it from happening.  He may still try and throw the people who did create this debate in jail.  Unless, of course, he actually was the leaker.

The Patriot Act is merely a fig leaf to cover what tyrants would do anyway.
Document: Sen. Obama Opposed 'Government Fishing Expeditions' Under Patriot Act.  A "Dear Colleague" letter signed by then-Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) in 2005 urged an end to "government fishing expeditions" under Section 215 of the Patriot Act to gather records on American citizens indiscriminately.  The letter was also signed by eight other Senators, including John Kerry (D-MA) and Chuck Hagel (R-ND), who currently serve in President Obama's Cabinet as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, respectively.

Big Brother Really Is Watching Us.  When Americans expressed outrage last week over the seizure and surveillance of Verizon's client data by the National Security Agency, President Obama responded:  "In the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother ... but when you actually look at the details, I think we've struck the right balance."  How many records did the NSA seize from Verizon?  Hundreds of millions.  We are now learning about more potential mass data collections by the government from other communications and online companies.  These are the "details," and few Americans consider this approach "balanced," though many rightly consider it Orwellian.

Verizon's Top Secret Deal With Pentagon Was Made Public in Regular, Annual Filing With SEC.  The Verizon explanation is not in the vague and cryptic memo the company issued last week after the Guardian exposed its program.  It came, instead, in the company's annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, included in Verizon's annual report to shareholders.

What If China Hacks the NSA's Massive Data Trove?  In the wrong hands, it could enable blackmail on a massive scale, widespread manipulation of U.S. politics, industrial espionage against American businesses, and other mischief I can't even imagine.  The plan is apparently to store the data indefinitely, just in case the government needs it for future investigations.  Don't worry, national security officials tell us, we won't ever look at most of it.  Do you trust the government to keep it secure, forever, if others try to look?

Rasmussen: Only 30% of Americans Trust the Government over Surveillance.  According to a new Rasmussen poll, only 30% of Americans trust the government to use the Constitution as a guide for surveillance issues, while 52% of respondents do not.  When asked whether they believed Barack Obama when he said the government was not listening to their phone calls, 68% of those polled said that it was at least somewhat likely that Obama was not telling the truth.

All the Infrastructure a Tyrant Would Need, Courtesy of Bush and Obama.  To an increasing degree, we're counting on having angels in office and making ourselves vulnerable to devils.  Bush and Obama have built infrastructure any devil would lust after.  Behold the items on an aspiring tyrant's checklist that they've provided their successors [...]

Where's the evidence that data mining saves lives?  We know that complete strangers are looking at our Facebook pages.  Should we be surprised that the government is too?  Probably not.  But you might be surprised to find out that all this information the NSA and other agencies are collecting is not very useful for stopping terrorists, which is why it's being collected in the first place.  To date, there have been practically no examples of a terrorist plot being pre-emptively thwarted by data mining these huge electronic caches.

White House Plays Down Data Program.  The Obama administration tried Saturday [6/8/2013] to marshal new evidence in defense of its collection of private Internet and telephone data, arguing that a secret program called Prism is simply an "internal government computer system" designed to sort through court-supervised collection of data, and that Congress has been briefed 13 times on the programs since 2009.

The horses have escaped the barn, and now Big Brother now tries to deny there were any horses.
U.S. Official Releases Details of Prism Program.  A top U.S. intelligence official on Saturday declassified some details about the purpose and operations of an effort that obtains information from U.S. Internet companies as part of foreign-surveillance efforts.  James R. Clapper, director of National Intelligence, issued a statement and fact sheet to correct what he characterized as "significant misimpressions" in articles by the Washington Post and Guardian newspapers, which asserted that the government had direct access to computer systems of nine technology companies.  The papers based their reports on a presentation from the National Security Agency that used a previously undisclosed term Prism.

Total surveillance society: The government claims the right to read everything.  We knew this administration didn't like the Second Amendment.  We knew it has reservations about the First Amendment, and now we learn that it has dispensed with the Fourth Amendment.  The only amendment the administration really likes is the Fifth.  The more we learn about the government's extraordinary ability to read emails, listen to telephone calls and track individual movements, the more frightened everyone should be.  New code names, such as Prism, the National Security Agency program that directly mines all information from Gmail, Facebook and other services, have replaced Echelon and Carnivore as scare words.

It's A Small Step From Obama's Surveillance To Orwell.  President Obama says his domestic surveillance practices are "modest encroachments on privacy."  Sure.  And, as in Orwell's "1984," "Freedom Is Slavery" and "Ignorance Is Strength."  Barack Obama is now not only following George Orwell's model in his newly uncovered domestic spying practices; he's copying one of the most shocking aspects of the dystopian society Orwell conjured:  telling people the exact opposite of the truth with a straight face.  He boasted an executive branch with "the toughest transparency rules of any administration in history."

What the feds can learn from your digital crumbs.  If you've signed into Google and searched, saved a file in your Dropbox folder, made a phone call using Skype, or just woken up in the morning and checked your email, you're leaving a trail of digital crumbs. [...] Raytheon's Rapid Information Overlay Technology (or RIOT) software was built to make some of this searching easier.  Its government customers use it to compile case files of location data scraped from checkins on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and other public social outlets.

The Totalitarian Left is Back.  Nothing in the Patriot Act authorizes the government-wide abuse of power by the IRS, EPA, FBI, DOJ, and other agencies with the coercive powers against Americans and foreigners.  The fault is not in the Patriot Act, but in Obama's Chicago-style one-party machine style of governance.  And rather than defending our freedoms, the leftist media colluded with abuse of power until after the election of 2012.  The New York Times is the biggest gear in the Obama Machine and they know it.

Admitting the NSA is out of control is just the first step.  Members of Congress are expressing their concern and outrage over the latest revelations of widespread data gathering by the NSA.  It is astonishing that they have only just discovered this problem; it has a history going back 50 years, and they voted for much of the legislation which enabled this kind of widespread violation of citizen rights.

The NSA Squirrel!  The NSA snooping revelations create a huge fuss that distracts the press and prevents the public (especially conservatives) from learning the grueseome details of the 1000 page Schumer-Rubio immigration disaster now on the Senate floor — yet doesn't hurt Obama's approval ratings like the IRS scandal does.

The NSA's secret tool to track global surveillance data.  The Guardian has acquired top-secret documents about the NSA datamining tool, called Boundless Informant, that details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks.  The focus of the internal NSA tool is on counting and categorizing the records of communications, known as metadata, rather than the content of an email or instant message.

Obama Ordered List of Foreign Targets for Cyberwar AttackThe Guardian has uncovered a Presidential Policy Directive in which Obama ordered national security and intelligence officials to compile a list of overseas targets for U.S. cyber attacks.  The directive — number 20 — was issued in October 2012 but never published.

It's about to get very ugly.  [Scroll down]  "If anyone thinks that what's going on right now with all of this surveillance of American citizens is to fight some sort of foreign enemy, they're delusional.  If people think that this 'scandal' can't get any worse, it will, hour by hour, day by day. [..."]

Justice Department Fights Release of Secret Court Opinion Finding Unconstitutional Surveillance.  In the midst of revelations that the government has conducted extensive top-secret surveillance operations to collect domestic phone records and internet communications, the Justice Department was due to file a court motion Friday [6/7/2013] in its effort to keep secret an 86-page court opinion that determined that the government had violated the spirit of federal surveillance laws and engaged in unconstitutional spying.

Tech Companies Concede to Surveillance Program.  When government officials came to Silicon Valley to demand easier ways for the world's largest Internet companies to turn over user data as part of a secret surveillance program, the companies bristled.  In the end, though, many cooperated at least a bit.  Twitter declined to make it easier for the government.  But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations.

PRISM Biggest Contributor to Obama Intel Briefings.  The National Security Agency's top-secret slide presentation detailing the PRISM system that collects the contents of emails, video and web chat, and photos states that PRISM is the biggest contributor of information to President Barack Obama's daily intelligence briefing, known officially as the President's Daily Brief (PDB).  In the last year, PRISM data was cited in Obama's PDB 1,477 times.

Prism: first they came for the online extremists.  Why worry when the government isn't ever going to be bothered about what you personally do?  But what you do online, who you choose to email, what you choose to watch, what you read, listen to and comment on, doesn't matter until the day it suddenly does.  You can raise your eyebrows at wholesale surveillance efforts until it's you that ends up wrongly flagged on a watch list or monitored closely because of your political beliefs or those of people you are acquainted with.

Lawmakers rebut Obama's data defense.  President Barack Obama's chief defense of his administration's wide-ranging data-gathering programs Friday:  Congress authorized them, with "every member" well aware of the details.  Not so, say many members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike.

Dem. Senator disputes Obama's claim that Congress was briefed.  Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Friday disputed a claim President Obama made at a press conference only moments earlier, when the president said that every member of Congress had been briefed on the National Security Agency's (NSA) domestic phone surveillance program.  Merkley said only select members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees had been briefed on the program, and that he was only aware of it because he obtained "special permission" to review the pertinent documents after hearing about it second-hand.

Mystery deepens: Are tech behemoths participating in PRISM voluntarily?  Go look at this post at TechCrunch rounding up reaction from Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.  All of them deny giving the feds "direct access" to their servers; some of them claim never to have even heard of PRISM until WaPo's story yesterday.  "But wait," you say, "what if they're being slippery in their statements and they actually gave the feds indirect access to their servers?"  That's possible.  Other people have noticed that loophole too.

Massive secret surveillance betrays Americans.  By any measure, the government's secret seizure of hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records over the past seven years is outrageous.  But it shouldn't be the least bit surprising.  When a panicked Congress, driven by a panicked electorate, hands the government nearly unlimited power to collect people's records — then makes sure the intrusion will be kept secret — overreach is guaranteed.

President Obama Doesn't Welcome Debate, He Actively Thwarts It.  President Obama kept the data collection in question a highly classified state secret.  If it were up to the White House, we wouldn't know of the program's existence, ever.  As a consequence, there would have been no debate about its appropriateness.  If Obama values debate, he doesn't value it as much as keeping secrets that inevitably make debate impossible.

How to Keep the NSA at Bay: The Tricks From Privacy Experts.  You think because you live in the suburbs and you work at an insurance company that Big Brother will never come for you? [...] What if they transpose a digit or two and mix you up with a suspected terrorist and break down your door in the middle of the night and shoot your dog?

US officials long denied massive data trawling.  For years, top officials of the Bush and Obama administrations dismissed fears about secret government data-mining by reassuring Congress that there were no secret nets trawling for Americans' phone and Internet records.

Now It's Credit Cards and Correspondence; What Next?  The initial revelations about NSA's collection of metadata on telephone calls has triggered an avalanche of stories about previously unknown, or only suspected, surveillance projects.  First the Washington Post reported (maybe inaccurately) on the PRISM project; then the Wall Street Journal reported that the NSA also collects "purchase information from credit-card providers;" today it came out that the post office photographs the front and back of every piece of mail, and preserves the images for criminal/terrorist investigations.  Who knew?

Feds: Postal Service photographs every piece of mail it processes.
Ricin Suspect Was Tracked Via Mail Scanners.  [Scroll down]  According to FBI Agent James Spiropoulos, investigators accessed a Postal Service computer system that incorporates a Mail Isolation Control and Tracking (MICT) program which photographs and captures an image of every mail piece that is processed."  Agents were able to obtain front and back images of about 20 mail pieces that had been processed "immediately before the mail piece addressed to Mayor Bloomberg."

NSA taps in to internet giants' systems to mine user data, secret files reveal.  The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.  The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

U.S. intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program.  The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.

Mark Levin On NSA Tracking: "We Have The Elements Of A Police State Here".  On Thursday's broadcast of Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto," conservative talk show host Mark Levin reacted to recent revelations that the National Security Agency had been collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers.  He said that the NSA news in addition to other openings for intrusion by the federal government are the makings of a "police state."

New Phone Record Seizures Raise Fundamental Issues.  First we learn the federal government is harassing anti-big-government organizations and spying on journalists.  Now we find it collecting all phone records of over 100 million Americans.  Is this "limited government"?

Why the gov't source leaked PRISM.  "They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type," the officer said.

Sources: NSA sucks in data from 50 companies.  In a statement, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that programs collect communications "pursuant to section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act," and "cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S person, or anyone within the United States."  He called the leaks "reprehensible" and said the program "is among the most important" sources of "valuable" intelligence information the government takes in.

Apple, Google Deny Giving NSA 'Back Door' Access To Systems, Claim 'Never Heard Of PRISM'.  In light of revelations about the top secret PRISM program used by the FBI and NSA to mine data from users of nine of the largest American Internet companies, two of those companies are now denying any cooperation with the government on such a program.  Spokespeople for both Apple and Google have released statements that indicate if the government is obtaining data from their systems it is doing it without the companies' involvement.

'Fascism!': The Five's Beckel Explodes At Obama Administration Over 'Deplorable' NSA Phone Records Grab.  "I think it is one of the most outrageous examples of the stepping on the Constitution I've heard," Beckel began.  "They have no right to the phone records...  It is illegal, it is unconstitutional and it is deplorable.  I didn't like it when they did it during the Bush administration and I don't like when they're doing it now."  "They have taken this PATRIOT Act, which I think was the most dangerous act passed, and they have taken it and abused it," Beck added.

US Declassifies Phone Program Details After Uproar.  President Barack Obama declared Friday [6/7/2013] that America is "going to have to make some choices" balancing privacy and security, launching a vigorous defense of formerly secret programs that sweep up an estimated 3 billion phone calls a day and amass Internet data from U.S. providers in an attempt to thwart terror attacks.

'No Such Agency' spies on the communications of the world.  The National Security Agency, nicknamed "No Such Agency" because of its ultra-secrecy, is the government's eavesdropper-in-chief.  Charged primarily with electronic spying around the globe, the NSA collects billions of pieces of intelligence from foreign phone calls, e-mail and other communications.  But in the past two days, the focus has shifted to its role in compiling massive amounts of the same information on millions of ordinary Americans.

U.S. Collects Vast Data Trove.  The National Security Agency's monitoring of Americans includes customer records from the three major phone networks as well as emails and Web searches, and the agency also has cataloged credit-card transactions, said people familiar with the agency's activities.

Phone Record Gathering Story Blown Out of Proportion.  Now, we begin to see the wages of having an administration that abuses its awesome powers, then, as night follows day, stonewalls and misleads Congress and the public.  Crucial national security measures, which operate on the forgiving assumption that government officials will conduct themselves honorably, are put at risk.  The Washington Post publishes a wildly exaggerated report this morning about the government's collection of telephone records for national security purposes.  Mind you, I said collection of telephone records, not wiretapping of telephone conversations, a critical distinction.

Thank You for Data-Mining.  Well, another day, another Washington furor.  This one is over a National Security Agency phone data monitoring program, but unlike the other White House scandals there seems to be little here that is scandalous.  The existence of the program was exposed years ago and such surveillance is a core part of the war on terror, if we can still use that term.

How Outraged Should You Be About the NSA Grabbing Your Phone Logs?  Washington is reeling after a court order was uncovered last night showing Verizon has secretly been handing over reams of customer phone records to the National Security Agency on a daily basis.  The records don't contain the content of phone calls — so, just to be clear, this isn't wiretapping — but they do contain information such as phone numbers, the location and duration of calls, and subscriber and handset ID numbers, all of which fall under the category of "telephony metadata."

The Editor says...
I beg to differ:  To wiretap someone's phone is "to make a connection to a telegraph or telephone wire in order to obtain information secretly."*  If I put a device across my neighbor's phone wires and recorded the numbers they called, without recording the voices on the line, I can assure you the District Attorney would still call it a wiretap.

Dems: Obama admin spying 'un-American, 'alarming'.  Bay State Democrats are slamming the Obama administration's actions as "un-American" for secretly collecting phone records from millions of average citizens, demanding the federal government stop its sweeping spy programs.  "This is absolutely un-American as far as I'm concerned, and I'm a strong supporter of the president," said U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Somerville.

The Editor says...
Well, Mr. Capuano, you voted for the guy, I didn't.  If it is "un-American" and Obama's doing it, and you are "a strong supporter of the president," then you are a strong supporter of that which is un-American.  Unless you'd like to lead the charge for impeachment, you should spare us your outrage.

Scope of phone records seizure causes alarm; data collection goes beyond Verizon.  The Obama administration on Thursday defended its secret seizure of the phone records of millions of U.S. citizens as part of counterterrorism efforts, while privacy advocates blasted the move as illegal and a debate erupted in Congress over the intended scope of a key surveillance law.  In a new development, the National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies in real time, obtaining audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails and other information, various news outlets reported.  The program is code-named PRISM.

Obama administration pushes back on NSA document leaks.  On top of a Guardian newspaper report that revealed how authorities were collecting phone records from millions, a Washington Post report detailed another program that scours major Internet companies including Google and Facebook for data.  A former senior NSA official confirmed to Fox News that the program was started in 2007 by the FBI and NSA and allows them to tap into top U.S. Internet companies to pull audio, video and other data.

Fear the cyber enemy within or without?  What is more troubling — governments that apparently disregard the privacy of our phone calls and online activity in the interests of national security, or governments that seem to put a higher priority on hi-tech inward investment than on protecting national security?  In the past 24 hours, we have had alleged examples of both.

Time to Dial Up Some Healthy Skepticism.  It's important to emphasize that the NSA isn't listening to the content of these calls.  Indeed, it couldn't if it wanted to, given the sheer volume of conversations.  It'd be like one person trying to eavesdrop on every single conversation in a packed football stadium.

The Editor says...
How is anyone outside the government able to state with any certainty that "the NSA isn't listening to the content of these calls"?  A week ago, nobody knew they were keeping track of the phone numbers being called, so if the NSA is recording as many calls as they can, it's obviously still secret, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening.

Report: U.S. Agents Tapping Servers of Leading Internet Companies.  The U.S. government is reportedly mining data from at least nine leading Internet companies through a secret program code-named PRISM that is aimed at sifting through foreign communications traffic to track potential terrorists.  On the heels of a report earlier this week revealing the U.S. is collecting phone records from Verizon (VZ), the news is likely to raise the heat in a renewed debate about the government's surveillance authority.

If Mr. Obama had a closer relationship with the truth, I might give him the benefit of the doubt.
Obama: Surveillance programs involve 'modest encroachments' on privacy, help fight terror.  President Obama defended the government's internet surveillance as a "modest encroachment" on the privacy of Americans, but he maintained that the programs initiated by George W. Bush help keep Americans safe, adding that he increased oversight of the surveillance.

We should be shocked at the American tapping scandal, and shocked that Obama doesn't seem to care.  You know all those bearded survivalist types holed up in places like Idaho with their paranoid anti-government conspiracy theories?  Suddenly they're looking rather less paranoid.  The rest of us, by contrast, are rushing to adjust our world view.  The revelation that the U.S. Government systematically taps online communications challenges the way we think about freedom, the way we think about privacy, the way we think about the Internet and, not least, the way we think about America.

Dem. Senator Contradicts Obama: 'I Had No Idea' About PRISM.  Appearing on MSNBC's Now with Alex Wagner, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said that he was never briefed on the National Security Agency's sweeping PRISM program which databases electronic communications data.  Merkley said that he had no idea about the program and he suspects that a small number of members of the congressional intelligence committees were the only individuals informed of the program.

Your Computer is Bugging Your House.  The computer you are sitting at right now probably has a microphone.  It probably also has a camera looking at you this moment.  Is it sending sound and pictures from inside your house to the PRISM program at NSA?  Who knows?  But one thing is for sure — the technology is sitting there, on your desk.  Welcome to Winston's world.

Obama sponsored bill that would have made Verizon order illegal.  President Obama co-sponsored legislation when he was a member of the Senate that would have banned the mass collection of phone records that his administration is now engaged in.  The SAFE Act, introduced by former Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), would have amended the Patriot Act to require that the government have "specific and articulable facts" to show that a person is an "agent of a foreign power" before seizing their phone records.

Libertarians to Obama: Can You Hear Me Now?  [Scroll down]  First reported [in The Guardian] and then subsequently confirmed by a lack of denial and background confirmations, the Obama administration has been mining the data of America's largest wireless provider, Verizon, which boasts some 115 million mobile subscribers.  The feds also seem to have been combing through phone records of the company's 14 million landlines, mostly in the Mid-Atlantic region.  But the massive cell network is the real data trove for federal agents.

Obama: Phone, Internet data collection not 'Big Brother'.  President Obama, speaking publicly for the first time about his administration's mass collection of phone and Internet data, said Friday that the programs have made a difference in tracking terrorists and are not tantamount to "Big Brother."

The Editor says...
Everybody wants the government to track terrorists, and either lock them up or deport them.  But the rubbery language being used to defend the PRISM program talks about tracking "potential terrorists," which could be anyone who disagrees with the government and its heavy-handed tactics.  The same terrorist-tracking computer systems are probably being used (or soon will be) to find people who cheat on their taxes, grow marijuana in their basements, or don't pay child support.  That's the way law enforcement people are when they get bored:  No offense is too petty to overlook.

Obama: If you can't trust government, we're going to have some problems.  President Obama this afternoon addressed recent reports of the National Security Agency secretly obtaining phone records and private data for surveillance.  During his speech he indicated that Americans needed to trust the system of government set up to thwart abuse.  "If people can't trust not only the executive branch but also don't trust Congress, and don't trust federal judges, to make sure that we're abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we're going to have some problems here."

Is this where your personal information will be stored?  The personal data and private online conversations that the National Security Administration is accused of mining could be stashed in a one million square-foot, $1.9 billion facility in the Utah Valley.  Concerns over what the government will store at the Utah Data Center have been reinvigorated by the revelation that U.S. intelligence agencies have been extracting audio, video, photos, e-mails, documents and other information to track people's movements and contacts.

Obama defends NSA's secret 'data-mining' and tries to dismiss it as 'a modest encroachment'.  President Obama delivered a passionate defense on Friday [6/7/2013] of national security programs that secretly acquire information about Americans' phone calls, saying criticism of them is all 'hype.'  'My assessment and my team's assessment was that [the programs] help us prevent terrorist attacks and that the modest encroachments on privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers or duration [of calls] without a name attached... It was worth us doing.'  Obama made the remarks at a press conference in response to revelations about two separate programs used to spy on American citizens and foreign nationals.

Why PRISM is Different and Scarier Than Other NSA Spying.  The metadata collected by the National Security Agency from Verizon and other phone companies is an aggregation of phone numbers and lengths of calls, and does not harvest the content of the calls.  PRISM, first disclosed Thursday night by The Washington Post and The Guardian, is different.  According to the intelligence official who leaked the information to The Post:  "They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type."

New York Times Editorial Board: 'The Administration Has Now Lost All Credibility'.  Reacting to the news that the administration's National Security Agency has been collecting the phone records of every American customer of at least one telephone service provider, the New York Times minced no words in a scathing editorial criticizing the practice and the lack of forthrightness from the White House.  "The administration has now lost all credibility," the Times editorial read.  "Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it."

Update:
New York Times quietly changes published editorial to make it less [critical] of Obama.  The New York Times edited its damning editorial condemning the Obama administration for collecting phone call data from Americans to make it less stinging shortly after the editorial was published online Thursday afternoon.  The editorial originally declared that the Obama "administration has lost all credibility" as a result of the recently revealed news that the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been secretly collecting call data from American users of Verizon under the authority of the Patriot Act.

If You Think Obama's Defense of NSA Monitoring Is 'Laughable,' You're Not Alone.  Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley told Megyn Kelly he is "astonished" at President Obama's dismissive attitude toward criticism of NSA monitoring.

NSA Whistleblower: 'Metadata' of Phone Call Can Be More Revealing Than Listening In.  Megyn Kelly got some revealing insights today from two NSA whistleblowers. [Video clip]

Obama's agenda scorched in firestorm.  [Scroll down]  In recent weeks, it has fueled outrage over the targeting by the Internal Revenue Service of conservative Tea Party groups seeking non-profit status, and over the use of secret subpoenas and search warrants against the Associated Press and Fox News in Justice Department investigations of news leaks.  Now the headlines are focused on governmental monitoring that touches not just reporters but, apparently, just about anyone who makes a phone call.  Thursday began with explosions over a story in The Guardian in London of a broad secret U.S. warrant for phone records from Verizon.

Mark Levin: 'We have the elements of a police state'.  On Thursday's [6/6/2013] broadcast of Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto," conservative talk show host Mark Levin reacted to recent revelations that the National Security Agency had been collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers.  He said that the NSA news in addition to other openings for intrusion by the federal government are the makings of a "police state."  "I tell you what I make of this — we have the elements of a police state here, and I'm not overstating it," Levin said.

NSA collecting daily phone logs of millions of Verizon customers.  It's beginning to look like the Obama administration is not at all interested in targeting domestic surveillance in any way that might attempt to mitigate its violations of privacy or increase its odds of actually finding people doing something illegal.  Attorney General Eric Holder's Department of Justice cast a wide net in his search of AP phone logs, was the picture of intrusiveness in the James Rosen case, and now NSA is targeting millions of Americans for daily data collection?

Report: NSA is Collecting Phone Records of Verizon Customers.  The U.S. National Security Agency is reportedly collecting millions of Verizon (VZ) phone records after the government obtained a top-secret court order requiring the carrier hand over call data on all phone calls in its systems.  The White House on Thursday didn't back away from the report in the U.K.'s <>i>Guardian, with a senior Obama administration official defending the practice in general terms.

GCHQ 'has been accessing intelligence through internet firms'.  The Guardian newspaper claimed that it had obtained documents that show that GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, has had access to the system since at least June 2010, and generated 197 intelligence reports from it last year.  Intelligence reports from GCHQ are normally shared with Britain's security services MI5 and MI6.

NSA's Verizon Spying Order Specifically Targeted Americans, Not Foreigners.  The National Security Agency has long justified its spying powers by arguing that its charter allows surveillance on those outside of the United States, while avoiding intrusions into the private communications of American citizens.  But the latest revelation of the extent of the NSA's surveillance shows that it has focused specifically on Americans, to the degree that its data collection has in at least one major spying incident explicitly excluded those outside the United States.

President Obama's Dragnet.  [Scroll down]  The administration has now lost all credibility.  Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.  That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the 9/11 attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.  Based on an article in The Guardian published Wednesday night [6/5/2013], we now know the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency used the Patriot Act to obtain a secret warrant to compel Verizon's business services division to turn over data on every single call that went through its system.

Did someone mention the Patriot Act again?

Verizon providing all call records to U.S. under court order.  The National Security Agency appears to be collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of American customers of Verizon, one of the nation's largest phone companies, under a top-secret court order issued in April.  The order appears to require a Verizon subsidiary to provide the NSA with daily information on all telephone calls by its customers within the United States and from foreign locations into the United States.

Verizon scandal: Barack Obama's national security state is now beyond democratic control.  Of course, it isn't the first time that a US administration has spied on its own people.  The origins of this particular order lie first in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and then in Section 215 of the Patriot Act, backed by George W Bush and passed by Congress after 9/11.  Normally, domestic surveillance only targets suspicious individuals, not the entire population, but in 2006 it was discovered that a similarly wide database of cellular records was being collected from customers of Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth.  There was plenty of outrage and plenty of lawsuits, but the National Security Agency never confirmed that the programme had been shut down.

Al Gore calls Obama administration's collection of phone records 'obscenely outrageous'.  Former Vice President Al Gore on Wednesday night leveled some rare and harsh criticism at the Obama administration, attacking its reported collection of phone records for millions of Americans.  The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald reported Wednesday evening that the National Security Agency has used a secret court order issued in April to collect the records of all phone calls made on the Verizon network.

Thank You, Unknown Patriot, for Exposing the Spying on Verizon Customers.  The federal government forced Verizon to turn over information on the phone calls of millions of innocent Americans and forbade them from telling anybody about it, The Guardian reports.  Kudos to Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, and Spencer Ackerman for the impressive scoop, and for posting the evidence here.  Who helped the journalists obtain that "top-secret" court order?  Hopefully, that's going to stay secret for a long time.  As Charlie Savage and Edward Wyatt note in the New York Times, "The order was marked TOP SECRET//SI//NOFORN, referring to communications-related intelligence information that may not be released to noncitizens. [...] In other words, it was likely leaked by someone who took a personal risk exposing it.

Senators: NSA phone sweeping has been going on since 2007.  The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday said senators were informed of the administration's sweeping surveillance practices, which they said have been going on since 2007.  "Everyone's been aware of it for years, every member of the Senate," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Obama administration defends phone record collection.  The Obama administration on Thursday defended its collection of the telephone records of millions of Americans as part of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, re-igniting a fierce debate over privacy even as it called the program critical to warding off an attack.

NSA out of control: We the people at fault.  Today, the front page of every major national news website is featuring reactions to Glenn Greenwald's explosive report on the FISA court order that "requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries."  That means that the government is collecting information on every call made on Verizon's service, regardless of probable cause or any suspicion that the parties have committed a crime.  The Fourth Amendment was written specifically to prohibit this activity by the government.  But they're doing it, unapologetically.

GOP Sen. Graham says he's 'glad' NSA is collecting phone records.  Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday that he is "glad" that the National Security Agency is collecting millions of telephone records — including his own — from one of the nation's largest telecommunications companies in an attempt to combat terrorism.  Mr. Graham said that he is a Verizon customer and has no problem with the company turning over records to the government if it helps it do its job.  The South Carolina Republican said that people who have done nothing wrong have nothing to worry about because the NSA is mining the phone records for people with suspected ties to terrorism.

Sen. Rand Paul slams government phone spying.  Sen. Rand Paul said that it is "an astounding assault on the Constitution" for the National Security Agency to secretly collect telephone records from millions of Verizon customers.  The Kentucky Republican and likely 2016 presidential candidate suggested that the NSA's data collection of Verizon customers, detailed in a report Thursday [6/6/2013] in The Guardian, a British newspaper, violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

From Verizon's 'Can you hear me now' to NSA's "Yes, every eavesdropped word".  When "Big Brother is Watching You" was the cold war mantra of the day, there were no cellphones, no iPads, no satellite communications of any kind in the hands of the unwashed masses.  Today Big Brother is not watching you, he's stalking and harassing you — right in the place you call home.  There's nowhere to hide; nowhere to run to and no one to turn to in a world where a government that has learned how to slip being held accountable has all the tools on its side.

How Extensive is the NSA Domestic Surveillance of U.S. Media? Is it legal?  Just like the Posse Comitatus laws prohibit the use domestically of the military and militarized weapons inside the United States or against U.S. citizens, reserving those authorities and tools to policing agencies, the NSA's tools are restricted domestically from use against U.S. citizens and businesses.  A fact which is apparently lost on the Obama administration, as we already see in Jewel vs. NSA, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation is meticulously documenting.

NSA reportedly collecting phone records of millions, though officials had denied holding 'data' on Americans.  Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was asked at a March hearing whether the National Security Agency collects any data on millions of Americans.  "No sir ... not wittingly," Clapper responded, acknowledging there are cases "where inadvertently, perhaps" the data could be collected.  NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander also told Fox News last year that the agency does not "hold data on U.S. citizens."

The Editor says...
Now that we know the government collects phone records, how is it possible to believe the assurances that the government doesn't listen to the phone calls of ordinary Americans?  More broadly, how many other "internet conspiracy theories" are actually true?

Author of Patriot Act says NSA phone records collection 'never the intent' of law.  The author of the Patriot Act said Thursday [6/6/2013] that a secret program under which the Obama administration was collecting phone records from millions of Americans is "excessive" and beyond the scope of the law.  Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who wrote the 2001 law, was among a host of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who raised alarm over the practice.

The Editor says...
If you can't foresee unintended consequences, you shouldn't write laws.

Revealed: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans daily.  The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.  The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Americans Daily.  Well here's another scandal ready for the Obama administration.  It was revealed today that the National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon.  This top secret order was issued in April.

Privacy of World Citizens Wiped Out by USA.  The ribbon-cutting ceremony invite, sent to a select group of Utah politicians and dignitaries for the massive Utah Data Centre in Bluffdale, Utah, was as mysterious as the facility itself.  Canada Free Press (CFP) could find no pictures, no accounts of the event anywhere on the Internet today even though an earlier media release said reporters would be there.  The bigger-than-the-CIA National Security Agency (NSA) had previously stated that the facility would start operations in September, 2013.

Obama Scandal Brush Fires Spread.  [Quoting Cal Thomas: "]Remember it was conservative President Bush who wrote an executive order authorizing the National Security Agency to intercept the communications of Americans by e-mail and phone without a warrant.  That's worse than the AP phone record intrusion."

The Stasi IRS?  It's often been said the Internal Revenue Service is the most feared bureaucracy in the United States.  Little wonder. [...] Deep in the subterranean bowels of the IRS, there are electronic folders full of deeply personal, private information about nearly every American and every tax exempt organization.  We now know this treasure trove of information is exponentially expanding and has been put to the use for the aims of a corrupt administration interested in crippling political opposition such as the Tea Party movement.  The harassment of the Richmond Tea Party group, which applied for tax exempt status, exemplifies the badgering many conservative groups have received over the last few years.

Your Phone Records May Have Been Seized, Too — But You'll Never Know.  Members of the press and defenders of civil liberties are rightfully outraged over the Justice Department's seizure of phone records from Associated Press reporters.  But for those familiar with the strange new world of digital surveillance, the secret acquisition of phone logs and emails is only an unusually public example of something that is disturbingly widespread, highly secret[Scroll down]  and completely legal.

Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government?  The real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy.  But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are.

DOJ Won't Require Warrants for Email, Chat Seizures.  In blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, the Department of Justice has apparently declared that they do not require warrants for grabbing Americans' emails and Facebook chats.  The ACLU has gotten hold of the documents from the FBI and DOJ that show that a subpoena, which comes from a prosecutor, is all that is necessary to seize emails and chats.

ALL Digital Communications In The United States Are Being "Captured" By Government Surveillance Systems.  You may be reading this article in the privacy of your own home, but somewhere in a National Security Agency control center your every move is being tracked.  What time you logged on this morning, the web site you visited, how long you stayed and even what you said in the comments section — all of it — has been cataloged and possibly even flagged for suspicious activity.

Biometric Database of All Adult Americans Hidden in Immigration Reform.  The immigration reform measure the Senate began debating yesterday would create a national biometric database of virtually every adult in the U.S., in what privacy groups fear could be the first step to a ubiquitous national identification system.  Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named "photo tool," a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver's license or other state-issued photo ID.

Automated License Plate Readers Threaten Our Privacy.  Law enforcement agencies are increasingly using sophisticated cameras, called "automated license plate readers" or ALPR, to scan and record the license plates of millions of cars across the country. [...] Photographing a single license plate one time on a public city street may not seem problematic, but when that data is put into a database, combined with other scans of that same plate on other city streets, and stored forever, it can become very revealing.

CIA, Other Spy Agencies Could Be Snooping on You and Your Bank Accounts.  The Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and other United States government spy agencies could receive full access to huge amounts of financial data on Americans and others who do banking in the United States, according to a report from the Reuters news agency.  Reuters reports its personnel have read a March 4 Treasury Department document that describes a developing plan by the Obama administration to allow government spy agencies to obtain, track and analyze the financial records of anyone with a bank account in the United States.  The CIA and other spy agencies have never been allowed to operate inside the nation's borders except in rare case-by-case instances.

Ruling Protects Bank, Phone, Other Records from FBI 'Security Letters'.  A federal judge in San Francisco has declared "national security letters" from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to banks, phone companies, and other businesses to be unconstitutional.  The March 15 ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared the letters do not "serve the compelling need of national security."  The FBI has been issuing thousands of letters annually on its own authority and with no judicial review to obtain confidential customer information.  The letters also order the companies not to disclose the demands for information to targeted customers or others.  The FBI began issuing the letters after the USA Patriot Act became law in 2011.

Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government?  The real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy.  But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are.

Big Government Mind-Readers.  A massive new NSA data center in Utah is under construction, which will be awfully handy for Big Government or anyone else who seeks the power that comes with control over information and the gateways to the networks it uses — all in one convenient, central location.  So far, many questions about NSA's "spy center" have gone unanswered as "classified" and "secret."

FBI Pursuing Real-Time Gmail Spying Powers as "Top Priority" for 2013.  Despite the pervasiveness of law enforcement surveillance of digital communication, the FBI still has a difficult time monitoring Gmail, Google Voice, and Dropbox in real time.  But that may change soon, because the bureau says it has made gaining more powers to wiretap all forms of Internet conversation and cloud storage a "top priority" this year.

Silly extremist: the government has no designs on your firearms.  See?  No black helicopters here.  Just the innocent sharing of data between states and the federal government.  For the children!

National Databases: Collecting Student-Specific Data is unnecessary and Orwellian.  Home School Legal Defense Association has long opposed the creation of a national database of student-specific data.  We believe that such national databases threaten the privacy of students, could be abused by government officials or business interests that may gain access to the data, threaten the safety of young people if their data is breached, and are not necessary in order to educate young people.

ATF Seeks 'Massive' Database of Personal Info: 'Assets, Relatives, Associates and More'.  A recent solicitation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) reveals that the agency is seeking a "massive" online database capable of pulling up individuals' personal information, connections and associates.

Police Militarization, Abuses of Power, and the Road to Impeachment.  Ironically, while SWAT teams probably got their biggest boost initially from conservatives, many fear law enforcement is becoming a tool to enforce leftist ideology.  University criminal justice programs turn out graduates indoctrinated in liberal theology, which carries into modern law enforcement bureaucratic culture.  Today this trend is reflected in reports coming out of the Department of Homeland Security, the military, and various law enforcement "fusion" centers, that identify gun-owners, patriots, ex-military, Christians, pro-life activists, and tea party members as "potential domestic terrorists."

Why Data Mining Won't Stop Terror.  In the post-9/11 world, there's much focus on connecting the dots.  Many believe data mining is the crystal ball that will enable us to uncover future terrorist plots.  But even in the most wildly optimistic projections, data mining isn't tenable for that purpose.  We're not trading privacy for security; we're giving up privacy and getting no security in return.

US plan calls for more scanning of private Web traffic, email.  The U.S. government is expanding a cybersecurity program that scans Internet traffic headed into and out of defense contractors to include far more of the country's private, civilian-run infrastructure.  As a result, more private sector employees than ever before, including those at big banks, utilities and key transportation companies, will have their emails and Web surfing scanned as a precaution against cyber attacks.

Obama's Tyranny: Petty or Something More Sinister?  We have a Department of Homeland Security that has become one of the largest bureaucracies in the history of our government in the space of 11 years.  There is very little accountability and DHS has extraordinary powers to infringe the constitutional rights of our citizenry.  Drones, computer monitoring, and wiretaps are all allowed under the Obama Administration's overwhelming control of the mechanisms of state.  Just the other day, DHS announced plans to scan even more private e mail traffic.  There is a simple word for all of this; tyranny.

How Many Millions of Cellphones Are Police Watching?  In response to a congressional inquiry, mobile phone companies on Monday finally disclosed just how many times they've handed over users' cellphone data to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.  By the New York Times' count, cellphone companies responded to 1.3 million demands for subscribers' information last year from law enforcement.  Many of the records, such as location data, don't require search warrants or much court oversight.  Both police and cell service providers had long resisted releasing details on the scope of cellphone surveillance.

Judge strikes down federal surveillance law.  A federal judge has ruled unconstitutional national security provisions that permit federal investigators to access customer information from some companies without court approval.  The provisions 'suffer from significant constitutional infirmities,' and violate the First Amendment and separation of powers, Judge Susan Illston of the District Court for the Northern District of California wrote in an order on Thursday [3/14/2013].

Judge rules secret FBI national security letters unconstitutional.  A federal judge has struck down a set of laws allowing the FBI to issue so-called national security letters to banks, phone companies and other businesses demanding customer information.  U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said the laws violate the First Amendment and the separation of powers principles and ordered the government to stop issuing the secretive letters or enforcing their gag orders, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Federal Judge Finds National Security Letters Unconstitutional, Bans Them.  Ultra-secret national security letters that come with a gag order on the recipient are an unconstitutional impingement on free speech, a federal judge in California ruled in a decision released Friday [3/15/2013].  U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered the government to stop issuing so-called NSLs across the board, in a stunning defeat for the Obama administration's surveillance practices.  She also ordered the government to cease enforcing the gag provision in any other cases.  However, she stayed her order for 90 days to give the government a chance to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Homeland Security Releases Binder Detailing Internet Monitoring.  The binder includes an extensive list of key words and search terms carefully watched by analysts in multiple agencies including the Directorate for National Protection and Programs, Directorate for Science and Technology, Office of Health Affairs, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and others.

Congress Has Enough Time to Keep Spying on You, Forever.  You will be utterly unsurprised to learn that the same United States Senate that hasn't passed a (legally required) budget resolution since 2009, that legislates via perpetual self-made crises and lards nearly all laws with brazenly fictitious sunset provisions and distant spending cuts, has managed to fit into its busy schedule of anti-gun press conferences and drunk-driving arrests an "unusual special session" to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 before the law turns into a pumpkin on Jan. 1.

Why Are People More Scared of Facebook Violating Their Privacy than Washington?  The traditional media response to the [FISA] reauthorization battle has been remarkably nonexistent.

Senate Approves Warrantless Phone Tapping for Next Five Years.  In 2007, the Senate voted to grant blanket immunity to companies like AT&T, which conspired with the NSA to monitor American digital conversations without government oversight after 9/11.  Today's vote continues that immunity, and provides further carte blanche for the American intelligence-gathering apparatus.  Phone calls, texts, and emails are all fair game — and a judge doesn't have to give the OK, so long as it's in the name of counterterrorism.  Which is a very easy guise.

Remember When the Left Used to Freak Out About News Like This?  The One campaigned in 2008 under a platform of getting rid of Bush's policies in this area (and almost every other area for that matter), but in fact warrantless wiretaps have skyrocketed under Obama.

Why We Should All Care About Today's Senate Vote on the Warrantless Domestic Spying Bill.  The FISA Amendments Act continues to be controversial; key portions of it were challenged in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court this term.  In brief, the law allows the government to get secret FISA court orders — orders that do not require probable cause like regular warrants — for any emails or phone calls going to and from overseas.  The communications only have to deal with "foreign intelligence information," a broad term that can mean virtually anything.

Congress Approves the FISA Warrantless Spying Bill for Five More Years.  Today, after just one day of rushed debate, the Senate shamefully voted on a five-year extension to the FISA Amendments Act, an unconsitutional law that openly allows for warrantless surveillance of Americans' overseas communications.  Incredibly, the Senate rejected all the proposed amendments that would have brought a modicum of transparency and oversight to the government's activities, despite previous refusals by the Executive branch to even estimate how many Americans are surveilled by this program or reveal critical secret court rulings interpreting it.

Prez wants to spy on US.  Can you imagine what would have happened if the Bush administration had implemented "no-probable-cause" searches like these?  Actually they tried to.  The Republican Congress stopped it.  So Obama's doing it the "executive order" way:  He's launched widespread spying on we the people, directly from the White House, without going through our elected representatives.  And where are the liberals?  Where are Michael "War Crimes" Moore and Keith "Bush Is A Fascist" Olbermann?

New Anti-Crime Cameras Being Installed Downtown.  Officials said 38 anti-crime cameras will soon be installed in downtown Los Angeles.  In the coming weeks, this new equipment will replace cameras which have been broken or failing for years.

Federal Judge OKs Installation of Surveillance Cameras Without a Warrant.  On October 29, a federal district court judge ruled that police can enter onto privately owned property and install secret surveillance cameras without a warrant.  The judge did set forth a few guidelines that must be followed before such activity would be permissible, but the fact that such a scenario is accepted as constitutional by a federal judge is a serious setback for privacy and for the Fourth Amendment.

DHS Fusion Centers Spend Much, Learn Little, Mislead a Lot.  A network of 77 "fusion" intelligence centers, set up around the country under the auspices of the federal Department of Homeland Security, has over the past decade uncovered little information that could be useful in defending the nation against terrorism.  It also created numerous reports on the legal, everyday of activities of ordinary Americans, according to a Senate report released Tuesday.

Federal Support For and Involvement In State and Local Fusion Centers.  The Subcommittee investigation found that DHS-assigned detailees to the fusion centers forwarded "intelligence" of uneven quality — oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.  The Subcommittee investigation also found that DHS officials' public claims about fusion centers were not always accurate.  For instance, DHS officials asserted that some fusion centers existed when they did not.

Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Federal Support for Fusion Centers Report.  The Subcommittee investigation found that DHS-assigned detailees to the fusion centers forwarded "intelligence" of uneven quality — oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.

Explosive findings about DHS operations in congressional report.  An explosive 141-page investigative report was quietly released just after midnight by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is an indictment of the practices and procedures of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. [...] Of the 386 unclassified reports reviewed during this investigation, only 94 were found to relate "in some way" to potential terrorist activity, or the activities of a known or suspected terrorist.  Of those 94 reports, the usefulness of those reports were deemed as "questionable."

In Cell Phone Privacy Case, Government's Arguing a Theory of the Fourth Amendment 'That No One's Ever Heard Of'.  A federal appeals court in New Orleans is set to hear a case on whether the government can take possession of an individual's cell phone records from their carrier without a search warrant.  A federal court has already denied the government's bid to obtain the records without a warrant.  Judge Andrew Napolitano weighed in on Fox Business Network this morning [10/1/2012], saying the government's argument represents a new theory of the Fourth Amendment "that no one's ever heard of in 230 years."

Justice Department's Warrantless Spying Increased 600 Percent in a Decade.  The Justice Department use of warrantless internet and telephone surveillance methods known as pen register and trap-and-trace has exploded in the last decade, according to government documents the American Civil Liberties obtained via a Freedom of Information Act claim.

ACLU: Obama Has Quadrupled Warrantless Wiretaps.  The ACLU released a report this week that shows that under Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder, warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of American's electronic communications is "sharply on the rise."

Welcome to the National Counterterrorism Center! We Already Know All About You!  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wants to warn you about "the biggest new spying program you've probably never heard of" at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

Govt May Now Collect, Catalog, and Store All Private Information.  Imagine that the U.S. government had the power to scour the reams of public records and collect and collate every bit of personal information about every citizen of this country.  Now imagine that any of the various intelligence and security agencies within the government could combine that data with any other information about a person that has been posted to a social media website or compiled by one of the many data aggregating companies that keep tabs on all of us.  Finally, imagine that all this data could be passed among these agencies and that the ability of anyone inside or outside the government to challenge this surveillance was all but eliminated.

Feds Sue Telecom for Fighting Warrantless Search.  The Justice Department is suing a telecommunications company for challenging a request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for customer information — despite the fact that the law authorizing the request explicitly permits such challenges. [...] Clearly the Justice Department is unaccustomed to having to defend its attempts to obtain customer data on its own say-so; and it isn't taking this fight lying down.

Covert FBI Power to Obtain Phone Data Faces Rare Test.  Early last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a secret letter to a phone company demanding that it turn over customer records for an investigation.  The phone company then did something almost unheard of:  It fought the letter in court.  The U.S. Department of Justice fired back with a serious accusation.  It filed a civil complaint claiming that the company, by not handing over its files, was interfering "with the United States' sovereign interests" in national security.  The legal clash represents a rare and significant test of an investigative tool strengthened by the USA Patriot Act, the counterterrorism law enacted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

National Reconnaissance Office accused of illegally collecting personal data.  One of the nation's most secretive intelligence agencies is pressuring its polygraphers to obtain intimate details of the private lives of thousands of job applicants and employees, pushing the ethical and legal boundaries of a program that's designed instead to catch spies and terrorists.  The National Reconnaissance Office is so intent on extracting confessions of personal or illicit behavior that officials have admonished polygraphers who refused to go after them and rewarded those who did, sometimes with cash bonuses, a McClatchy investigation found.

Is US government reading email without a warrant? It doesn't want to talk about it.  In March, the American Civil Liberties Union caused a nationwide stir when the advocacy group released the results of its year-long investigation into law enforcement use of cellphone tracking data.  After issuing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests, the ACLU learned that many local police departments around the country routinely pay mobile phone network operators a small fee to get detailed records of historic cell phone location information.  The data tell cops not just where a suspect might have been at a given moment, but also create the possibility of retracing someone's whereabouts for months.

NSA chief defends agency against domestic spying charges.  The head of the National Security Agency on Monday denied reports that NSA's new data center in Utah would collect and store data about Americans, including their e-mails and web-browsing habits.  The $2 billion data center in Bluffdale, Utah, will house massive supercomputers capable of storing and analyzing vast quantities of data when it comes online next year, but U.S. Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander reiterated NSA's insistence it does not unlawfully conduct surveillance of Americans.

Supreme Court to Decide Whether NSA Domestic Wiretapping Is Beyond the Law.  On Monday [6/4/2012], the Supreme Court of the United States granted a petition to hear a lawsuit calling for an end to another case challenging the constitutionality of the government's warrantless wiretapping program.  This Orwellian (and unconstitutional) surveillance scheme was established in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, and was explicitly authorized by an act of Congress passed in 2008.

Senators Demand DOJ Release Secret Spy Court Rulings.  Two Democratic senators urged the Obama administration Thursday [3/15/2012] to declassify secret court rulings that give the government far wider domestic spying powers under the Patriot Act than intended.  The 10-year-old measure, hastily adopted in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks, grants the government broad surveillance powers with little oversight that can be used domestically.

DHS Conducts 'Drive-by' Surveillance.  What's Next?  [Scroll down]  The Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, has made public a series of government contracts that reveal that the Department of Homeland Security has been paying millions of dollars to develop and implement several radical programs that allow for an even broader, even spookier form of covert surveillance, namely "drive-by" surveillance from innocuous looking vans.  In its own words this allows the Department of Homeland Security to conduct "covert inspection of moving subjects," which includes people, places, and things.  According to a former Homeland Security officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity, DHS has been conducting this "drive-by" surveillance of American citizens since at least 2007, using a technologically advanced vehicle called a Z Backscatter Van, or ZBV for short.

As application approvals drop, work on secret wiretaps grows, U.S. government sources say.  Even as the Justice Department reports a two-year decline in the number of wiretap applications approved by a secret U.S. intelligence court, the workload of Justice Department lawyers assigned to request and oversee such sensitive surveillance activities appears to be growing.

Fall back, Big Brother.  Americans can be excused for a slight paranoid feeling that someone is following them.  Omnipresent surveillance cameras, especially in Chicago, record our daily movements.  If we use our cell phones, we announce where we are.  Our online communications can be monitored or resurrected from the distant past.  Congress is thinking about installing data-gathering "black boxes" in every car.  And now two U.S. senators — Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) — have introduced a bill to require people to produce identification before buying pre-paid cell phones.

Don't squeeze the telecoms.  Certain Democratic senators are doing their Pavlov's dog routine again, responding to the bell of the trial lawyers who finance their campaigns.  In this instance, they are reopening a fight to make telecommunications companies liable for trillions of dollars for complying with a presidential directive to assist in a "warrantless surveillance" program against suspected terrorists.

Abolish the DHS.  Many of the contracts that DHS considers a success have funded a growing federal assault on privacy.  The fishing village of Dillingham, AK (pop. 2,400), is too small for a streetlight, but thanks to a homeland security grant, it now has 80 surveillance cameras.  The town of Ridgely, MD (pop. 1,400), got a grant for cameras as well.  "It was difficult to be able to find something to use the money for," said Ridgely's police chief, but "if you don't ask, you aren't going to get a thing."

Illegal wire-tapping suit now in Obama's court.  President-elect Barack Obama dismayed civil liberties groups last summer when he voted to authorize President Bush's clandestine wiretapping program after publicly denouncing it.  Now, thanks to a ruling by a San Francisco federal judge, Obama must take a stand on whether the Bush administration violated Americans' rights when it intercepted their phone calls and e-mails without seeking a court's permission.

With CCTV everywhere no wonder we're all scared stiff.  The proliferation of surveillance equipment such as CCTV cameras (of which we have more than the rest of Europe put together) only makes people more worried of the very things the cameras are designed to tackle:  crime and terrorism.  It is ironic that something which is supposed to put our minds at rest has exactly the opposite effect.

How £500m of CCTV cameras does 'next to nothing' to cut crime.  The millions of CCTV cameras on Britain's streets have done virtually nothing to cut crime, Home Office research has revealed.  Cameras in town centres, housing estates and on public transport 'did not have a significant effect', a report concluded.

A Look Inside the Surveillance Society.  Is England a police state? It's hard not to think so given that the nation's public spaces brim with 4.2 million surveillance cameras.  Indeed, the United Kingdom seems an extreme case.  They use 20 percent of the world's closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras but monitor only one percent of its population.

Britain To Put CCTV Cameras Inside Private Homes.  As an ex-Brit, I'm well aware of the authorities' love of surveillance and snooping, but even I, a pessimistic cynic, am amazed by the governments latest plan:  to install Orwell's telescreens in 20,000 homes.  £400 million ($668 million) will be spend on installing and monitoring CCTV cameras in the homes of private citizens.  Why?  To make sure the kids are doing their homework, going to bed early and eating their vegetables.

US court:  Monitoring Muslims was constitutional.  A federal appeals court says it was constitutional for the United States to require visitors from two dozen Arab and Muslim countries and North Korea to register with immigration authorities.  The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan issued its ruling Wednesday [9/24/2008] in cases brought by several men who claimed their constitutional rights were violated.

Domestic spying far outpaces terrorism prosecutions.  The number of Americans being secretly wiretapped or having their financial and other records reviewed by the government has continued to increase as officials aggressively use powers approved after the Sept. 11 attacks.  But the number of terrorism prosecutions ending up in court — one measure of the effectiveness of such sleuthing — has continued to decline, in some cases precipitously.

Surveillance Showdown:  Would any sane country purposefully limit its ability to spy on enemy communications in time of war?  That is the question Congress must answer as it takes up reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  Privacy activists, civil libertarians and congressional Democrats argue that both foreign and domestic eavesdropping must be subject to judicial scrutiny and oversight, even if this means drastically reducing the amount of foreign intelligence information available to the government, without ever acknowledging the costs involved.  It is time the American people had an open and honest debate on the relative importance of privacy and security.

A diffeerent kind of domestic surveillance...
Camera convicted him but raised battle over privacy.  Farmers beware:  Big Brother may be watching.  Eastern Shore soybean farmer Steve VanKesteren learned that the hard way when he was charged with taking two red-tailed hawks, a violation of the federal Migratory Bird Act.  The evidence against him was a video recording showing him dispatching the birds with an ax.  Game wardens had put a hidden camera in a tree, pointed at VanKesteren's soybean fields, after receiving a complaint about protected birds getting caught in predator traps.

Bush Asks Congress to Extend NSA Program.  President Bush today [9/19/2007] called on Congress to make permanent a law that gives the government broad authority to eavesdrop without warrants on phone calls, e-mail and other communication between people in the United States and suspected terrorists abroad.  The president wants Congress to extend the law, set to expire in February, that allows spy agencies to intercept the communications of suspected terrorists that pass through U.S. switching facilities.

Phone Companies Refuse to Provide Data on Spy Program.  Three of the largest U.S. telephone companies declined to answer lawmakers' questions about Bush administration efforts to spy on Americans' phone calls and e-mails, saying the government forbade them from doing so.

NSA Style Eavesdropping Thwarts 9/11 Anniversary Terror Attack.  It appears that the very methods of phone call monitoring the Democrats have made their life's mission to impede have once again saved the day. … Unfortunately, there's no reason to believe that Democrat leaders the likes of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy will be any less likely to rebuke the use of "secret" (is there any other effective kind?) wiretaps now than before.  Even at the cost of American lives.

Listening In:  When the German government announced arrests this week in a terrorist plot against American and German targets inside Germany, one telling detail got little notice:  Two of the suspects were identified, in part, based on telephone conversations intercepted by American intelligence.

House approves foreign wiretap bill.  The House handed President Bush a victory Saturday, voting to expand the government's abilities to eavesdrop without warrants on foreign suspects whose communications pass through the United States.

Victory for Bush Administration in Spying Case.  A federal appeals court ordered the dismissal Friday [7/6/2007] of a lawsuit challenging President Bush's domestic spying program, saying the plaintiffs had no standing to sue.  The 2-1 ruling by the 6th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals panel vacated a 2006 order by a federal judge in Detroit, who found that the post-Sept. 11 warrantless surveillance aimed at uncovering terrorist activity violated constitutional rights to privacy and free speech and the separation of powers.

The Editor is quick to point out...
The word "privacy" is not in the Constitution.

Wiretap Tales.  Democrats and former Deputy Attorney General James Comey put on quite a Senate show Tuesday [5/15/2007] over the National Security Agency's wiretapping program.  With New York's Chuck Schumer directing, the players staged a full length docudrama to create the impression that the Bush Administration broke the law in reauthorizing the program to eavesdrop on al Qaeda. … News stories have suggested a pattern of White House misdeeds to accomplish an ultimately illegal end.  The transcript tells a different story.

Wiretap Debacle:  The U.S. homeland hasn't been struck by terrorists since September 11, and one reason may be more aggressive intelligence policies.  So Americans should be alarmed that one of the best intelligence tools — warrantless wiretapping of al Qaeda suspects — has recently become far less effective and is in danger of being neutered by Congressional Democrats.

The Editor says...
I disagree insofar as the notion that no terrorist attacks have taken place in America since 9/11/2001 is easily disproven.

Networks Distort Terrorist Surveillance Into 'Domestic Spying'.  The announcement Wednesday from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) would now approve of surveillance actions under the "Terrorist Surveillance Program," prompted a return to the bad network habit of describing as "domestic spying" and "domestic eavesdropping" the effort to monitor communication between people inside the United States and suspected terrorists abroad.

Let's Have a FISA Fight.  Here's something I never thought I'd say:  Three cheers for Chris Dodd!  With his bid for the Democrats' presidential nomination canceled for lack of interest, Connecticut's senior senator is back to doing what he does best:  making the United States vulnerable to foreign threats.  The editors of the Wall Street Journal report that Dodd is blocking a deal to overhaul the dangerously obsolete Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

FBI turns to broad new wiretap method.  Instead of recording only what a particular suspect is doing, agents conducting investigations appear to be assembling the activities of thousands of Internet users at a time into massive databases, according to current and former officials.  That database can subsequently be queried for names, e-mail addresses or keywords. … "What they're doing is even worse than Carnivore," said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who attended the Stanford event.  "What they're doing is intercepting everyone and then choosing their targets."

Did someone mention Carnivore?  What kind of words and phrases could the FBI be hoping to find?

Did the Clinton Administration Engage in "Domestic Spying" Against Princess Diana?  The first thing to remember in trying to evaluate reports that U.S. intelligence services wiretapped Princess Diana is that British press accounts can be notoriously unreliable. … But if the reports out now are accurate, the Diana case could raise questions for veterans of the Clinton administration similar to those facing the Bush administration today.

Gonzales attacks ruling against domestic spying.  Attorney General Alberto Gonzales contended Saturday that some critics of the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program were defining freedom in a way that presents a "grave threat" to U.S. security.  Gonzales was the second administration official in two days to attack a federal judge's ruling last August that the program was unconstitutional.  Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday [11/17/2006] called the decision "an indefensible act of judicial overreaching."

Court says eavesdropping program can continue.  The government can continue to use its warrantless domestic wiretap program pending the Justice Department's appeal of a federal judge's ruling outlawing the program, an Appeals Court in Cincinnati ruled on Wednesday [10/04/2006].  The ruling overturned District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's decision last week to deny a lengthy stay in the case, which is expected to end up with the Supreme Court.

A Perverse and Dangerous Ruling.  By striking down the Terrorists Surveillance Program (TSP) Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has hopefully opened the eyes of the American public to the Leftist political insurgency that is undermining the United States' ability to defend itself against future terrorist attacks.

Senate Panel Rejects Democrat's Attempt to Rein In Wiretapping Program.  Senate Republicans blocked Democratic attempts to rein in President Bush's domestic wiretapping program Wednesday [9/13/2006], endorsing a White House-supported bill that would give the controversial surveillance legal status.

A terror plot is exposed by the policies many American liberals oppose.  British antiterrorism chief Peter Clarke said at a news conference that the plot was foiled because "a large number of people" had been under surveillance, with police monitoring "spending, travel and communications."  Let's emphasize that again:  The plot was foiled because a large number of people were under surveillance concerning their spending, travel and communications.  Which leads us to wonder if Scotland Yard would have succeeded if the ACLU or the New York Times had first learned the details of such surveillance programs.

More FISA Fear-Mongering:  The New York Times strikes again.  In Times parlance, such monitoring of international enemy contacts, routinely carried out by every wartime president in history, somehow becomes "domestic spying" when George W. Bush employs it against an enemy that has managed to attack the United States — and, according to the intelligence community's latest assessment, is working feverishly to do it again.

White House invokes secrets privilege in eavesdropping cases.  The Bush administration has asked federal judges in New York and Michigan to dismiss a pair of lawsuits filed over the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, saying litigating them would jeopardize state secrets.

The ACLU v. National Security.  The fundamental defect of the case of ACLU v. NSA is that it is wholly contrived.  Faked from beginning to end.  The claim of standing is for conduct that simply does not exist.

To connect the dots, you have to see the dots.  The jihadists are not "primitives".  They're part of a sophisticated network:  They travel the world, see interesting places, meet interesting people — and kill them.  They're as globalized as McDonald's — but, on the whole, they fill in less paperwork.

Information Please.  It's not 1942.  It's 2006, and these three phone giants are about to be excoriated for cooperating with the war on terror.  Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter has demanded that ATT, Verizon, and BellSouth testify under oath about their assistance to the National Security Agency's counterterrorism programs; 50 House Democrats are demanding a criminal investigation by special counsel.

Excellent!
Terrorist Surveillance and the Constitution:  While the totality of the executive powers and actions is meant to be checked and balanced by the other two branches, the notion that every single executive activity, particularly in the national security area, has to be checked either by Congress or by the judiciary, is absurd.

Dialing and the Democrats:  No sooner had the man who ran the National Security Agency for years been nominated to head the CIA than USA Today rushed out details of our efforts to use technical means to find terrorists using the phones.  And no sooner had USA Today disclosed details of an apparent attempt by the National Security Agency to defend Americans from terrorists than the Democratic Party and its leading politicians and interest groups went on the attack.  Not against the terrorists but against President Bush.

TV Jumps on Stale NSA Database Story.  Like the TV coverage, USA Today's story insinuated that the existence of the database was a major violation of Americans' privacy rights and evidence that the President was lying last December when he described the NSA's eavesdropping on suspected terrorist communications as limited and targeted.

The Editor says...
Just for reference, here is the USA Today article:

NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls.  The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sources said. The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said. The sources would talk only under a guarantee of anonymity because the NSA program is secret.

A Smelly NSA "Scoop" at USA Today.  It appears the basic flaw in the story, as suggested by the entire Verizon statement, is the assumption that phone companies passed along records of local calls to the NSA when the company says such records may not even exist in most cases.

The database double standard.  Here is the most insincere question a liberal TV news star can ask:  How can President Bush turn around his poll numbers? … The media's crocodile tears are not even laughable, just nauseating.  Pushing down the president's approval rating seems to be their daily task.

Media Crank Call:  Ever since USA Today broke a story on May 11 about the National Security Agency's secret review of millions of phone records, the media and civil libertarians alike have gotten their knickers in a twist.  But here's the problem: the story isn't news, it isn't accurate, and it isn't (or shouldn't be) troubling.

Update -- USA Today backpedals.
USA Today:  Call Database Not So Broad.  USA Today acknowledged in a "note to our readers" Friday [6/30/2006] that it could not establish that BellSouth or Verizon contracted with the National Security Agency to provide it with customer calling records, as it previously reported.

On the other hand...
Is the NSA's phone call database legal because the President says so?  As USA Today pointed out when it revealed the existence of this program, phone numbers can readily be linked to names and addresses using publicly available information.  The claim that there's really nothing personal or private about the phone call records — which tell the NSA who calls whom, when, and for how long — is therefore a tenuous basis for defending the legality of data collection that ordinarily requires a court order or the customer's consent.

Secret Mistakes.  It's no secret:  Critics of the Bush administration's prosecution of the war on terror have grown increasingly livid with each leaked report of alleged civil liberties abuses.  Less known, but no less true, is that the latest round of criticism has relied on discredited data.

Data-mining is the President's Duty.  The latest outbreak of controversy over Bush administration efforts to protect our nation from terrorist attack starkly demonstrates that the left and civil liberties extremists are determined to alter the system the Framers bequeathed us in fundamental and dangerous ways.

Connecting dots:  NSA needs phone records.  Despite the nonsense that the politically motivated mainstream media and the left have been spouting on the NSA program, this critical counterterrorism effort isn't intrusive, illegal — or unnecessary.

Loose lips sink ships.  Intentional, or even unintentional, leaks dry up productive intelligence-gathering techniques; Americans are placed at risk. … Have we as a nation forgotten the basics of the art of war?  Are we so misguided as to believe that the ACLU will protect us better than the NSA in this era of terrorism?

The Truth About Secrets:  Virtually every aspect of the war on terror has been met with a lawsuit.  Recently the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the ACLU sued the federal government over the NSA's surveillance of international phone calls involving persons inside the United States.  They seek court orders ceasing and disclosing the surveillance.

Hysteria at the ACLU.  You would never know from all this heavy breathing that the data supplied to the NSA consisted of phone numbers only, stripped of any identifying names or addresses.  Or that the calls themselves weren't actually monitored — no one was wiretapping any conversations.  Or that the Supreme Court has ruled that the government doesn't need a warrant to collect phone records, since information voluntarily disclosed to a third party (such as the phone company) isn't protected by the Fourth Amendment.

Did someone mention the ACLU?

Point of no return:  There is a large and gleeful audience in the Arab world for these gross brutalities, just as there was glee and cheering among the Palestinians when the televised destruction of the World Trade center was broadcast in the Middle East.  Yet what are we preoccupied with or outraged about?  Whether the American government should intercept the phone calls of these cutthroats to people in the United States.

Telephoning the Enemy:  By its own court filings, the Council on American-Islamic Relations conclusively established its multiple communications with persons suspected of connections with terrorists.

FISA judges say Bush is within the law.  A panel of former Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges yesterday [3/28/2006] told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that President Bush did not act illegally when he created by executive order a wiretapping program conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).

House panel blocks probe of NSA cost.  The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday [3/30/2006] rejected a proposal to withhold money from the National Security Agency if the White House did not reveal information about the cost of the agency's warrantless surveillance program.

Point of no return.  The way the question is posed by many in the media and in politics, you would think our intelligence agencies were listening in on you talking on the phone to your aunt Mabel.  Be serious!  There are more than a quarter of a billion people in the United States.  Intelligence agencies have neither the manpower, the time, the money, nor the interest to listen in on you and your aunt Mabel.

Censure Feingold.  Unlike Sen. Russell Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat seeking to censure President Bush for ordering the interception of communications in and out of the U.S. involving persons with suspected links to al Qaeda, Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt had no qualms about warrantless eavesdropping to protect the U.S. against attack.  Neither did Harry Truman.  There is a difference, however, between the eavesdropping Roosevelt and Truman authorized and the eavesdropping Bush is doing.  Roosevelt and Truman did it in peacetime without congressional authorization.  Bush is doing it during a war that Sen. Feingold voted on Sept. 14, 2001 to authorize.

Feingold Calls Warrantless Wiretaps an Impeachable Offense.  "I think it is right in the strike zone of what the Founding Fathers talked about when they talked about high crimes and misdemeanors," said Feingold, who introduced a resolution on Monday [3/13/2006] to censure the president for his authorizing the National Security Agency's electronic terrorist surveillance program.

[Where was Mr. Feingold's great concern about high crimes and misdemeanors seven or eight years ago?]

Do the Democrats know we're at war?  Many that oppose President Bush are claiming that he has authorized illegal wiretapping and should be impeached.  These actions have been wrongly termed "domestic spying" or "domestic surveillance."  From my view, these terms are purposefully wrong.  The use of the wrong terms is directly tied to the media and unhinged Democrats.

You're under surveillance.  In the midst of all the hypocritical and self-righteous talk about the fact that the National Security Agency actually listens to calls from known or suspected terrorists talking to someone in the United States or vice versa, is the fact that every single American is under surveillance these days.  It begins with the Social Security number that is issued to newborn infants!

If al Qaeda phones, tell them we can't take the call.  The issues at the center of this dispute are in fact intellectually interesting, having to do with separation of powers, legal rules versus legal discretion, and competing interpretations of the Fourth Amendment and Article II of the Constitution.  But let us here consider something that tends to fall outside legal considerations — effective management.

Springtime for Nixon.  Liberals in the 1970s began suggesting that virtually all American spying is unconstitutional.  Soviet and Chinese spies were to be expected, but we shouldn't "be like them."  A similar double standard exists today in much of the big media and among certain liberal politicians of both parties.  The enemy does what it wants without restraint.  We put shackles on ourselves and are shocked when those without any attack us.  Then we ask, "What went wrong?"

Security choices:  Democrats ought to be concerned by polls that show most Americans want the government to intercept al Qaeda communications, even — perhaps especially — those involving persons living here, as were all of the 9/11 attackers before they flew airplanes into our buildings.

Leaks Damage U.S. Intelligence Efforts.  In the most recent case addressing this issue, the 1980 Truong case, the Court upheld the Executive Branch's warrant-less electronic surveillance in the United States for foreign intelligence purposes.  The Court explicitly recognized a foreign intelligence exception to the warrant requirement based on the President's constitutional authority and responsibility to protect national security.  Incidentally, the President under whose authority that warrant-less search, or eavesdropping, was conducted was Jimmy Carter.

Has the New York Times Violated the Espionage Act?  The President, for his part, has not only stood firm, insisting on both the legality and the absolute necessity of his actions, but has condemned the disclosure of the NSA surveillance program as a "shameful act."  In doing so, he has implicitly raised a question that the Times and the President's foes have conspicuously sought to ignore — namely, what is, and what should be, the relationship of news-gathering media to government secrets in the life-and-death area of national security.  Under the protections provided by the First Amendment of the Constitution, do journalists have the right to publish whatever they can ferret out?

Jimmy Carter allowed surveillance in 1977.  In 1977, Mr. Carter and his attorney general, Griffin B. Bell, authorized warrantless electronic surveillance used in the conviction of two men for spying on behalf of Vietnam.  The men, Truong Dinh Hung and Ronald Louis Humphrey, challenged their espionage convictions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which unanimously ruled that the warrantless searches did not violate the men's rights.  In its opinion, the court said the executive branch has the "inherent authority" to wiretap enemies such as terror plotters and is excused from obtaining warrants when surveillance is "conducted 'primarily' for foreign intelligence reasons."

The opposite of intelligence:  If anyone can show me that the National Security Agency, under order from President Bush or top aides, eavesdropped on Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy or some prominent partisan critic, I'll change my tune and see what this administration is doing as a threat to civil liberties.

Amnesiac America:  Not that the president and commander-in-chief needed congressional permission to defend the country, thanks to the foresight of those who wrote the Constitution.  But in a joint resolution passed three days after the September 11th attacks, Congress made the point explicitly, recognizing that "the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States."

'Domestic' abuse:  I hereby expressly consent to the NSA eavesdropping on any telephonic, Internet or other electronic forms of communications I may have — whether I initiate or am on the receiving end of the communication — with any person or persons the government has reasonable basis to conclude is a member of al Qaeda, affiliated with al Qaeda or a member of an organization affiliated with al Qaeda.

NYT Still Struggles to Understand NSA Program; Ignores History.  What is so hard to grasp here?  Terrorism is a clandestine business.  Should we be calling the terrorists we're monitoring to let them know they are being monitored?  Have there been any wrongful deaths, convictions or violations in connection with the NSA program?  No.  Do the American people support it?  Yes.

Civil liberties v. al Qaida nukes:  Despite their best efforts to turn President George Bush's authorization of the NSA program into a criminal case, it turns out that no laws were broken, and most Americans actually want their government to track communications between domestic Islamist groups and al Qaida principals around the world — not to mention capturing or killing the latter.

The President is honoring his oath.  Are critics of President Bush's electronic-surveillance practices concerned with the Constitution?  Or are they just using any excuse they can find to accuse him of abusing his power?  If they are concerned with constitutional issues, why didn't they object to President Clinton's advocacy of warrantless searches — even for physical searches as opposed to electronic surveillance — for national security reasons?

Stuck in the '70s.  The press and partisan attacks on NSA surveillance of suspected terrorists' calls to the United States has not convinced most Americans that their rights are in peril.

Bush hits foes who say spying broke the law.  President Bush yesterday [1/23/2006] took direct aim at Democratic critics on Capitol Hill who charge that a secret spy program he ordered in 2002 is illegal, saying, "If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?"

Live and let spy.  If we must engage in a national debate on half-measures: After 9-11, any president who was not spying on people calling phone numbers associated with terrorists should be impeached for being an inept commander in chief.

And so what if you are?  Here's what happened.  After 9/11, authorities found a bunch of e-mail addresses and phone numbers in the phones and computers of confirmed terrorists.  They tracked down those leads.  Most of the people the NSA started eavesdropping on — about 7,000 — lived overseas, and their phone calls were to other foreigners living abroad.

Spying on Americans Seems to be OK if Democrats Do It.  The New York Times, which is currently scourging the Bush Administration over concerns it's "abusing" surveillance powers, blythely ignored evidence of greater "abuse" of such powers by the Clinton Administration.

Under Clinton, the NY Times called surveillance "a necessity".  The controversy following revelations that U.S. intelligence agencies have monitored suspected terrorist related communications since 9/11 reflects a severe case of selective amnesia by the New York Times and other media opponents of President Bush.  They certainly didn't show the same outrage when a much more invasive and indiscriminate domestic surveillance program came to light during the Clinton administration in the 1990's.

Nut-shelling Privacy Issues.  Some good friends on the Right and many nutcases on the Left are raising issues about our privacy in the wake of reports that the feds are listening in on cell phones and reviewing emails in the war on terrorism. … We don't have to join forces with the ACLU to stand up for individual liberty.  Clearly they don't care about the concept of "rights" unless it serves their decidedly hard-left agenda.

Are you scared of Alito?  In the matter at hand, there isn't a substantial public outcry, measured as squeals or yells from citizens imposed upon.  This is so because not enough citizens are subject to surveillance to bring on anything like a national alarm.  To begin with, those who are subject to special surveillance are overwhelmingly non-citizens.  A second reason for the general tranquility is that there is not much of a record of abuse.

Gonzales to back wiretapping in Senate testimony.  Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales will testify next month before a Senate committee on the legal justifications behind a domestic eavesdropping program approved by President Bush.

The Editor says...
While the word "wiretap" is used by the dumbed-down news media for the benefit of the poorly educated masses, the interception of telephone calls by the feds is done without making connections to actual wires.  This issue is about eavesdropping on international phone calls, and almost all international calls are carried by microwave and satellite links which are easy to listen in on.

Why We Don't Trust Democrats With National Security.  The Democratic Party has decided to express indignation at the idea that an American citizen who happens to be a member of al Qaeda is not allowed to have a private conversation with Osama bin Laden.  If they run on that in 2008, it could be the first time in history a Republican president takes even the District of Columbia.

'Warrantless' searches are not unprecedented.  Previous administrations, as well as the court that oversees national security cases, agreed with President Bush's position that a president legally may authorize searches without warrants in pursuit of foreign intelligence.

It's not that hard to grasp, folks:  'Spying' saves lives.  The argument for allowing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans is simple:  It works.

Spies like us.  Try as I might, I can't muster outrage over what appears to be a reasonable action in the wake of 9/11.  As a rule, I'm as averse as anyone to having people "spying" on me.  I'm also as devoted to protecting civil liberties as any other American.  But the privilege of debating our constitutional rights requires first that we be alive.  If federal agents want to listen in on suspected terrorists as they plot their next mass murder, please allow me to turn up the volume.

Liberal judge:  Federal District Judge James Robertson, who resigned from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court in protest over secret wiretaps ordered by President Bush, is regarded in Washington legal circles as one of President Bill Clinton's most liberal and partisan judicial appointments.

The Left's privacy hypocrites.  The hindsight hypocrisy of the civil-liberties absolutists never ceases to amaze.  And their selective outrage over privacy violations never ceases to aggravate. … The left believes the government should do whatever it takes to fight terrorists — but only when the terrorists look like Timothy McVeigh.  If you're on the MCI Friends and Family plan of Osama bin Laden and Abu Zubaydah, you're home free.

The anti-anti-terrorists:  The current hysteria over the president's authorization of some domestic intercepts by the National Security Agency reminds me of similar reaction by liberals to the Cold War.  Instead of recognizing communism as a clear and present danger to freedom and liberty here and abroad, many liberals decided the real threat to those values came from anti-communism itself.

None Dare Call it Hypothetical.  In Washington, D.C., a local talk-radio host poses a provocative question:  What if international terrorists were plotting a Super 9/11 that would kill not just 3,000 Americans — mere child's play for these nuts — but might wipe 30,000, 300,000, or even "a city of 3,000,000 off the face of the planet"?  Would the president then be justified in a few technically illegal wiretaps to detect them in time?  The question practically answers itself.

Secret court modified wiretap requests.  Government records show that the administration was encountering unprecedented second-guessing by the secret federal surveillance court when President Bush decided to bypass the panel and order surveillance of U.S.-based terror suspects without the court's approval.  A review of Justice Department reports to Congress shows that the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than from the four previous presidential administrations combined.

Let Bush, NSA do their jobs.  Like it or not — and you can bet the Defeatist Party does not — Bush was right on when he insisted in a recent press conference that he most certainly does have the constitutional authority to order such warrantless surveillance, an opinion he has based correctly and, in no small part, on the permission slip Congress signed when lawmakers authorized him to conduct the war on terror.

On the other hand...
One branch of government is so much more efficient than three.  [President] Bush has shown an alarming tendency to cut the legislative and judicial branches out of decisions about how to prosecute a war on terrorism that will continue long after he leaves office.  This combination of unilateralism with a perpetual state of emergency is a recipe for tyranny.

Wiretaps fail to make a dent in terror war; al Qaeda used messengers.  The Bush administration's surveillance policy has failed to make a dent in the war against al Qaeda.  U.S. law enforcement sources said that more than four years of surveillance by the National Security Agency has failed to capture any high-level al Qaeda operative in the United States.  They said al Qaeda insurgents have long stopped using the phones and even computers to relay messages.  Instead, they employ couriers.

The Agency That Could Be Big Brother.  Thirty years ago, Senator Frank Church, the Idaho Democrat who was then chairman of the select committee on intelligence, investigated the [NSA] and came away stunned.  "That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people," he said in 1975, "and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything:  telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter.  There would be no place to hide."  He added that if a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. "could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back."

Clinton Lawyer Claims Bush Doesn't Have Same Powers He Asserted Clinton Had.  There's a new lexicon that's developed, "domestic spying," which is contemptible.  It's not what this is all about.  The press has done an intentionally miserable job at explaining this program and the law and the history surrounding the program.

MRC Study:  Evening News Shows Claim NSA Spies on "Americans," Not "Terrorists".  Over at www.mrc.org, we've just posted a new study of how ABC, CBS and NBC have covered the NSA surveillance story. It's just as awful as you expected — most network stories were framed around the idea that the program is probably illegal and a shocking violation of Americans' civil liberties.

Sometimes in Polling, It's All in the Question.  What does the public think about the Bush administration's wiretapping program?  It depends on how you ask the question.  A half dozen polls on the issue have turned up different conclusions, and a key distinction appears to be the way pollsters identify the people who might have their emails and phone calls monitored as part of an effort to fight terrorism.  Recent poll questions have referred to "suspected terrorists," "people in the United States" and "American citizens."

US sues New Jersey over phone company subpoenas.  The U.S. government has sued the New Jersey Attorney General's office on grounds of security concerns to prevent it from asking telephone companies if they gave customer call records to the National Security Agency.

Justice Department's Warrantless Spying Increased 600 Percent in a Decade.  The Justice Department use of warrantless internet and telephone surveillance methods known as pen register and trap-and-trace has exploded in the last decade, according to government documents the American Civil Liberties obtained via a Freedom of Information Act claim.

ACLU: Obama Has Quadrupled Warrantless Wiretaps.  The ACLU released a report this week that shows that under Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder, warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of American's electronic communications is "sharply on the rise."

Say good-bye to privacy thanks to Stellar Wind.  The American republic, or any society so desiring emancipation to have its citizens live free and unfettered lives, must allow liberated and confidential communication.  Liberty and human dignity demand nothing less.  All of this is about to change.

New Details on NSA's 'Spy Center' and Secrets From Domestic Eavesdropping Operation 'Stellar Wind'.  [Scroll down]  Wired also includes a former NSA official going on the record for the first time on the secret, domestic spying program Stellar Wind and its role in data communication collection, which when the Bluffdale facility is complete will be stored there.  Former senior NSA "crypto-matematician" William Binney, who helped develop NSA's spying capabilities before leaving in 2001, explains how the NSA deliberately violated the Constitution, which was the reason why he left, in setting up warrentless wiretapping to the extent that they did.  Wired reports that much of NSA's wiretapping practices now were made legal under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

NSA keeping details about data center quiet.  The agency building 1 million square feet of enclosed space, including 100,000 square feet of space just for computers that will gather and digest intelligence information, continues to do what it does best — keep secrets — when asked about the project.  The NSA sent a short statement to the Deseret News on Friday [3/16/2012], but only after Wired Magazine compiled a voluminous story published the same day.

NSA's Spy Program "Stellar Wind" Exposed.  The National Security Agency, awash with funds provided by Congress, is nearly finished constructing its Utah Data Center as the collection point for data provided from around the country and around the world.  Its purpose:  "to intercept, decipher, analyze and store vast swaths of the world's communications ... [including] all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls and Google searches."

NSA Building is the Largest Spy Center Ever.  NSA spy centerIn the little town of Bluffdale, Utah, between the Wasatch Range and the Oquirrh Mountains, the National Security Agency (NSA) is building what will be the nation's largest spy center, reports Wired, a print magazine and online publication reporting on technological developments and their effects, including electronic privacy.

Big Brother FBI Data-Mining Programs Resurrect "Total Information Awareness".  From the wholesale use of informants and provocateurs to stifle political dissent, to Wi-Fi hacking and viral computer spyware to follow our every move, the FBI has turned massive data-mining of personal information into a growth industry.  In the process they are building the surveillance state long been dreamed of by American securocrats.

The Stellar Wind is Blowing.  The former NSA official held his thumb and forefinger close together:  "We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state."

Big Brother Goes Live September 2013.  George Orwell was right.  He was just 30 years early.

Data-Mining for Terrorists Not 'Feasible,' DHS-Funded Study Finds.  The government should not be building predictive data-mining programs systems that attempt to figure out who among millions is a terrorist, a privacy and terrorism commission funded by Homeland Security reported Tuesday [10/7/2008].  The commission found that the technology would not work and the inevitable mistakes would be un-American.  The committee, created by the National Research Council in 2005, also expressed doubts about the effectiveness of technology designed to decide from afar whether a person had terrorist intents, saying false positives could quickly lead to privacy invasions.

NSA's Domestic Spying Grows As Agency Sweeps Up Data.  Five years ago, Congress killed an experimental Pentagon antiterrorism program meant to vacuum up electronic data about people in the U.S. to search for suspicious patterns.  Opponents called it too broad an intrusion on Americans' privacy, even after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.  But the data-sifting effort didn't disappear.  The National Security Agency, once confined to foreign surveillance, has been building essentially the same system.

FBI's Data-Mining System Sifts Airline, Hotel, Car-Rental Records.  Headquartered in Crystal City, Virginia, just outside Washington, the FBI's National Security Branch Analysis Center (NSAC) maintains a hodgepodge of data sets packed with more than 1.5 billion government and private-sector records about citizens and foreigners, the documents show, bringing the government closer than ever to implementing the "Total Information Awareness" system first dreamed up by the Pentagon in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Report: NSA's Warrantless Spying Resurrects Banned 'Total Information Awareness' Project.  Total Information Awareness — the all-seeing terrorist spotting algorithm-meets-the-mother-of-all-databases that was ostensibly de-funded by Congress in 2003, never actually died, and was largely rebuilt in secret by the NSA, according to the Wall Street Journal's Siobhan Gorman.

Homeland Security Officials Caught Hiding Online Spying Program from Congress.  Writers aren't the only group to be watched by the never-blinking eye of Homeland Security.  According to the report, "anchors, newscasters, or on-scene reporters who are known or identified as reporters in their post or article or who use traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed" may also be spied on and have their "usernames and passwords" recorded for future reference.  How many people might be shoe-horned into one of those categories if the federal government decided it wanted to put them under online surveillance?

List reveals keywords feds monitor on Facebook, Twitter.  Have you ever wondered if the government — or more specifically, the Department of Homeland Security — is monitoring your Twitter or Facebook posts?  If the answer's "yes," give yourself a pat on the back because you're right and not simply paranoid.  There's even a list of keywords for which subcontractors hired by the DHS check social networks.

Words like Cyber Command, 2600, spammer, phishing, rootkit, phreaking, dransp, dirty bomb, enriched, nuclear, chemical weapon, biological weapon, ammonium nitrate
EPIC Obtains New Documents on DHS Media Monitoring, Urges Congress to Suspend Program.  EPIC has submitted a letter to Congress following a hearing on DHS monitoring of social networks and media organizations.  In the letter, EPIC highlights new documents obtained as a result of a FOIA lawsuit and points out to inconsistencies in DHS' testimony about the program.  Though DHS testified that it does not monitor for public reaction to government proposals, the documents obtained by EPIC indicate that the DHS analysts are specifically instructed to look for criticism of the agency and then to redirect reports that would otherwise be circulated to other agencies.

The Department of Homeland Security Is Searching Your Facebook and Twitter for These Words.  The Department of Homeland Security monitors your updates on social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, to uncover "Items Of Interest" (IOI), according to an internal DHS document released by the EPIC.  That document happens to include a list of the baseline terms for which the DHS — or more specifically, a DHS subcontractor hired to monitor social networks — use to generate real-time IOI reports.

FBI Pursues Social Media Surveillance to Gather Intelligence.  In a formal "request for information," the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asked software companies for a digital tool that would systematically scan the entire social media realm to find potential terrorist-related threats and intelligence information.  While hundreds of intelligence analysts are already probing overseas Facebook and Twitter posts, U.S. law enforcement officials claim digital software could sift through more data than humans ever could.

Privacy May Be a Victim in Cyberdefense Plan.  A plan to create a new Pentagon cybercommand is raising significant privacy and diplomatic concerns, as the Obama administration moves ahead on efforts to protect the nation from cyberattack and to prepare for possible offensive operations against adversaries' computer networks.  President Obama has said that the new cyberdefense strategy he unveiled last month will provide protections for personal privacy and civil liberties.  But senior Pentagon and military officials say that Mr. Obama's assurances may be challenging to guarantee in practice...

The NSA Is still Listening to You.  This summer, on a remote stretch of desert in central Utah, the National Security Agency will begin work on a massive, 1 million-square-foot data warehouse.  Costing more than $1.5 billion, the highly secret facility is designed to house upward of trillions of intercepted phone calls, e-mail messages, Internet searches and other communications intercepted by the agency as part of its expansive eavesdropping operations.  The NSA is also completing work on another data warehouse, this one in San Antonio, Texas, which will be nearly the size of the Alamodome.

Massive FBI Data Mining Revealed, Set to Expand.  Recently declassified documents obtained by Wired magazine reveal a massive Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data mining operation.  It already possesses over 1.5 billion records from government and private-sector sources.  That figure is expected by the FBI to balloon to over 6 billion within a few years.  And it is not just terrorists they are after.

Report on the Investigative Data Warehouse.  The Investigative Data Warehouse is a massive data warehouse, which the Bureau describes as "the FBI's single largest repository of operational and intelligence information."  As described by FBI Section Chief Michael Morehart in 2005, the "IDW is a centralized, web-enabled, closed system repository for intelligence and investigative data."  Unidentified FBI agents have described it "one-stop shopping" for FBI agents and an "uber-Google."

Is the NSA's 'Perfect Citizen' the Ultimate Spying Tool?  Could the NSA's new "Perfect Citizen" actually be used for spying on every citizen in the U.S.? ... The NSA's new cyber-security program Perfect Citizen will monitor nuclear power plants, train stations, and the electric power grid to safeguard against cyber-assaults. ... According to [a] report, Raytheon was awarded a $100M contract to develop Perfect Citizen.  (Raytheon declined to comment to FoxNews.com, as did the NSA other than describing Perfect Citizen in an official statement as a "research and risk-assessment" project that does not use sensors.)

10 ways your voice and data can be spied on:
1. Wireless keyboard eavesdropping
2. Wired keyboard eavesdropping
3. Laptop eavesdropping via lasers
4. Commercial keyloggers
5. Cell phones as remotely activated bugs
6. Cell phone SIM card compromise
7. Law enforcement wiretapping based on voice print
8. Remote capture of computer data
9. Cable TV as an exploitable network
10. Cell phone monitoring

'Eavesdropper' satellite rides huge rocket from Florida.  The US National Reconnaissance Office has launched what is reputed to be the largest satellite ever sent into space.  The spacecraft was put into orbit on a Delta-4 Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force station on Sunday [11/21/2010].  The NRO gave no details about the payload but it is understood the satellite will be used to eavesdrop on enemy communications.

Air Force Launches Massive, Secret Spy Satellite.  A powerful Delta 4 rocket roared to life and climbed away from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Sunday evening on a high-priority mission to boost a National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite into orbit. ... Once on station, the satellite presumably will unfold a huge, lightweight antenna to tap into targeted military or civilian communications networks.

Monitoring America: How the U.S. Sees You.  Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators.  The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation's history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

A hidden world, growing beyond control.  The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

The NSA Is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center.  Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency.  A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade.  Its purpose:  to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world's communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks.  The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013.

NSA Won't Disclose How Many Americans are Being Spied On.  As the sprawling surveillance site being constructed by the National Security Agency (NSA) in Utah grows larger and nearer completion every day, the domestic spy service remains tightlipped about just how much and what kind of personal electronic data they have already collected and collated.  Not only does the NSA refuse to provide such information, it insists that it cannot be forced to.

Is US government reading email without a warrant? It doesn't want to talk about it.  In March, the American Civil Liberties Union caused a nationwide stir when the advocacy group released the results of its year-long investigation into law enforcement use of cellphone tracking data.  After issuing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests, the ACLU learned that many local police departments around the country routinely pay mobile phone network operators a small fee to get detailed records of historic cell phone location information.  The data tell cops not just where a suspect might have been at a given moment, but also create the possibility of retracing someone's whereabouts for months.

NSA chief defends agency against domestic spying charges.  The head of the National Security Agency on Monday denied reports that NSA's new data center in Utah would collect and store data about Americans, including their e-mails and web-browsing habits.  The $2 billion data center in Bluffdale, Utah, will house massive supercomputers capable of storing and analyzing vast quantities of data when it comes online next year, but U.S. Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander reiterated NSA's insistence it does not unlawfully conduct surveillance of Americans.

National Reconnaissance Office accused of illegally collecting personal data.  One of the nation's most secretive intelligence agencies is pressuring its polygraphers to obtain intimate details of the private lives of thousands of job applicants and employees, pushing the ethical and legal boundaries of a program that's designed instead to catch spies and terrorists.  The National Reconnaissance Office is so intent on extracting confessions of personal or illicit behavior that officials have admonished polygraphers who refused to go after them and rewarded those who did, sometimes with cash bonuses, a McClatchy investigation found.

The Most Powerful, Well Connected Company You've Never Heard Of.  Have you ever heard of a tech company called Neustar?  Probably not, and that's just the way the government wants to keep it.  Neustar is a relatively new company that is playing a large, albeit secret, role in the expansion of the surveillance state.  According to published reports, Neustar handles the law enforcement surveillance and user data requests for over 400 telecommunications companies.  To accommodate their clients' demands, Neustar maintains a database containing information on every cell phone in the United States — including yours.

Govt May Now Collect, Catalog, and Store All Private Information.  Imagine that the U.S. government had the power to scour the reams of public records and collect and collate every bit of personal information about every citizen of this country.  Now imagine that any of the various intelligence and security agencies within the government could combine that data with any other information about a person that has been posted to a social media website or compiled by one of the many data aggregating companies that keep tabs on all of us.  Finally, imagine that all this data could be passed among these agencies and that the ability of anyone inside or outside the government to challenge this surveillance was all but eliminated.

Did Bush's Broadband Deregulation Upend His Own NSA Wiretapping?  As Congress prepares to reauthorize the controversial FISA Amendments Act of 2008 — which effectively legalized the notorious warrantless wiretap program launched by President Bush — much about the law remains shrouded in secrecy:  The National Security Agency has refused to give legislators even a rough estimate of how many Americans' communications have been swept up in the digital dragnet.  Yet even four years after the FAA's passage, one of the biggest mysteries isn't how the law has been used, but why it was necessary in the first place.  One surprising — but surprisingly plausible — explanation points to the unexpected consequences of broadband deregulation.

Whistle-Blower's Evidence, Uncut.  Former AT&T technician Mark Klein is the key witness in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's class-action lawsuit against the telecommunications company, which alleges that AT&T cooperated in an illegal National Security Agency domestic surveillance program.  In a public statement Klein issued last month, he described the NSA's visit to an AT&T office.  In an older, less-public statement recently acquired by Wired News, Klein goes into additional details of his discovery of an alleged surveillance operation in an AT&T building in San Francisco.

FISA Fight.  The Obama administration is pushing for the reauthorization of a law allowing warrantless wiretaps and prolonging Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests despite campaigning against such measures and promising to be the most transparent administration ever.  In a statement of administration policy released Monday [9/10/2012], the Obama administration announced it "strongly supports" reauthorizing the FISA Amendments Act, on which the House is expected to vote Wednesday.  The act "allows the Intelligence Community to collect vital foreign intelligence information about international terrorists and other important targets overseas, while providing protection for the civil liberties and privacy of Americans," according to the statement.

DOJ domestic phone, email, Internet surveillance of Americans skyrocketed under Obama.  A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union shows a dramatic increase in the U.S. Department of Justice's electronic surveillance of Americans under the Obama administration.  Documents obtained by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that under President Obama between 2009 and 2011, warrantless electronic surveillance requests by the Justice Department to spy on phone communications increased 60 percent from 23,535 to 37,616.  The number of people whose phone calls were subject to such surveillance during that same time period tripled.

There's quite a bit we don't know about FBI investigations.  If there is any upside to the scandal that brought down the CIA director, it is probably that Americans have an extremely memorable reason to be careful about what they put in an email.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation has exposed the techniques its cyber forensics unit uses to track down the sources of emails, and even, indirectly, has given the public a glimpse of the assumptions or thresholds they use to widen the scope of any particular investigation.  Some of the details are technical, but everyone should avail themselves of the opportunity to learn about them.

How Did Feds Listen In on Blagojevich?  Court records from the investigation into Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich are filled with recorded conversations of the governor allegedly offering to sell an appointment to President-elect Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.  How did the government find out what he was saying?

Government Spying Out of Control.  FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] gives the government unchecked authority to snoop on all Americans who communicate with any foreign person, in direct contravention of the Fourth Amendment.  The right to privacy is a natural human right.  Its enshrinement in the Constitution has largely kept America from becoming East Germany.  Moreover, everyone in Congress has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, which could not be more clear:  "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects..." shall not be violated, except via a warrant issued by a neutral judge upon the judge finding probable cause of crime.

Great news: Your permanent record is now available on demand.  Remember when government needed something called a warrant or even probable cause to look at your records?  Good times, good times.  I'm nostalgic for the halcyon days of, er, February of this year, before the Attorney General of the United States signed off on an order allowing the government to access pretty much everything it wanted in the name of counterterrorism.

U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens.  Top U.S. intelligence officials gathered in the White House Situation Room in March to debate a controversial proposal.  Counterterrorism officials wanted to create a government dragnet, sweeping up millions of records about U.S. citizens — even people suspected of no crime. [...] The rules now allow the little-known National Counterterrorism Center to examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them.  That is a departure from past practice, which barred the agency from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or related to an investigation.

Attorney General Secretly Granted Gov. Ability to Develop and Store Dossiers on Innocent Americans.  In a secret government agreement granted without approval or debate from lawmakers, the U.S. attorney general recently gave the National Counterterrorism Center sweeping new powers to store dossiers on U.S. citizens, even if they are not suspected of a crime, according to a news report.  Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder granted the center the ability to copy entire government databases holding information on flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and other data, and to store it for up to five years, even without suspicion that someone in the database has committed a crime, according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story.

The government already controls too much.  Last week, a lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal detailed how the federal government's "little-known National Counterterrorism Center" can now, under new authority, examine "the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them."  It "can copy entire government databases — flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others," keeping "data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years ... to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior."

NYPD to probe internet to detect future shooters.  Senior officers from The New York City Police Department met late last week to discuss a plan to monitor internet sites in search of clues that might prevent future mass-casualty shootings.  The NYPD intends to create algorithms that scan the text of conversations in chat rooms, social media and emails for clues on potential 'apolitical or deranged killers', according to an article in the New York Times.

CALEA Is Watching YOU!  Eric Holder, his Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Obama administration want to expand existing CALEA laws to require all services that enable communications including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct "peer to peer" messaging like Skype to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order.

Presumed Guilty in the Name of Fighting Terrorism.  [Scroll down]  The change in the standards by which the NCTC now is able to troll data means every action a person takes that is logged into a government database, is subject to scrutiny for criminal behavior.  Probable cause or reasonable suspicion — constitutional standards for invading a person's privacy by government snooping — are irrelevant in such a scenario.  We are all presumed guilty of engaging in potential terrorist acts.

Obama signs warrant-less surveillance bill.  U.S. President Obama Sunday [12/30/2012] signed a five-year extension of the law allowing warrant-less electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists, the White House said.

President Obama Quietly Renews Warrantless Wiretap Law for 5 Years.  As everyone's attention is focused on the slew of taxes set to increase in 2013, President Barack Obama has quietly signed into law a five-year extension to the warrantless intercept program that monitors the overseas activity of suspected spies and terrorists.

The NSA's warrantless domestic spying program has turned America into the most surveilled society.  in history, eclipsing conditions of East Germans under the Stasi.  Two high-profile NSA whistleblowers, Thomas Drake and William Binney, have revealed the extent of the collateral damage to our rights from the Big Brother surveillance dragnet.  In their own words, the government is illegally monitoring (in real time) activities not tethered to any suspicious or illegal conduct — for example, phone calls, purchases, email, text messages, Internet searches, social media communications, health information, employment history, travel, and student records — and creating dossiers on everyone (even senators, congressmen, and decorated generals).

Who (or What) Are They Looking For?  In response to the events of September 11, 2000 and after designating an axis of evil yet carefully navigating around the question of Islam and its fanatics, the federal government in Washington rushed to increase surveillance and security measures to guard against Al-Qaeda and the threat of terrorism.  We, the citizens who are not responsible for terrorism, are saddled 12 years later with the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Safety Administration and a surveillance technology that is everywhere, all the time.  Nine trillion dollars later are we more secure?



The United States is spying on its allies.
Not exactly a news bulletin, except to Barack H. Obama, who says he had no idea!

Obama orders curbs on NSA spying on U.N. headquarters.  President Barack Obama recently ordered the National Security Agency to curtail eavesdropping on the United Nations headquarters in New York as part of a review of U.S. electronic surveillance, according to a U.S. official familiar with the decision.

Is Obama a Dupe or a Totalitarian, Megalomaniacal Liar?  [Scroll down]  One could understand the NSA's propensity to listen to the conversations of those foreign leaders who wish us ill.  And one would expect that it would do so.  But the urge to listen to the leadership of our allies serves no discernible intelligence-gathering purpose.  Rather, it fuels distrust between our nations and in the case of Merkel exacerbates memories of the all-seeing and all-hearing Stasi, which was the East German version of the KGB that ruled that police state from the end of World War II until it collapsed in 1989.  [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel was raised in East Germany, and she has a personal revulsion at the concept of omnipresent state surveillance.

Officials Claim Obama Unaware of Foreign Spying Program Until Revealed in the Press.  Following an internal review, U.S. officials announced on Sunday [10/27/2013] that they were ending a National Security Agency program which netted the communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as a number of other world leaders.  According to the Wall Street Journal's reporting on Sunday night, President Barack Obama was not aware of the scale of the spying programs until they were uncovered in the press.

White House To Stop Spying on Allies, Dianne Feinstein Promises.  Continuing to play Obama like a fiddle, the Snowden revelations have done more to change US foreign policy in a few short months, than all laws passed since the advent of the Patriot Act.

NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts.  The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.  The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its "customer" departments, such as the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their "Rolodexes" so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems.

Merkel calls Obama about 'US spying on her phone'.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called US President Barack Obama after receiving information that the US may have spied on her mobile phone.  A spokesman for Mrs Merkel said the German leader "views such practices... as completely unacceptable".  Mrs Merkel called on US officials to clarify the extent of their surveillance in Germany.

NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders, claims latest Snowden leak.  The National Security Agency has monitored the phone conversations of at least 35 world leaders after being given their numbers by an official in another government department, according to a classified document leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.  The confidential memo reveals that senior officials in 'customer' departments such the White House and the Pentagon were encouraged to share their 'Rolodexes' of contact details with the NSA.  The agency then added the phone numbers of the foreign politicians to their surveillance systems and started to monitor them.

The Editor says...
I don't really have a problem with the CIA and NSA spying on other countries.  Even our allies sometimes communicate with countries that are hostile to the U.S.  It's the wholesale spying on Americans in North America to which I object.

The Americans should be congratulated for bugging the phones of 35 world leaders.  When the dust has settled on the media frenzy over allegations that America's National Security Agency NSA) succeeded in bugging the mobile phones of 35 world leaders, surely the agency should given an award for undertaking one of the most remarkable feats of intelligence-gathering of modern times, rather than subjected to universal condemnation.

White House OKd spying on allies, U.S. intelligence officials say.  The White House and State Department signed off on surveillance targeting phone conversations of friendly foreign leaders, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said Monday [10/28/2013], pushing back against assertions that President Obama and his aides were unaware of the high-level eavesdropping.

Obama accused of misleading voters on Benghazi, Obamacare, Merkel. There's a pattern here.  There are conflicting reports over whether or not Obama knew about the tapping of Angela Merkel's phone.  The Wall Street Journal says that he was "unaware" this was going on.  The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag says that he's the one who ordered the bugging in the first place.  As TechCrunch points out, either narrative looks bad for the Prez.  If he did give the order then he's an authoritarian who snoops on his allies.  If he didn't, then he's not entirely in control of his own administration.

White House refuses to confirm Obama didn't know until a few weeks ago that NSA spied on German Chancellor's phones.  The White House refused on Monday [10/28/2013] to confirm a report that President Obama first learned this summer that the U.S. was spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phones.  Press Secretary Jay Carney shied away from a perfectly teed-up chance to legitimize a Wall Street Journal story that also had Obama ending the National Security Agency program immediately when he learned that the agency was surveilling foreign leaders.  Carney's grilling came as Spanish media reported that the NSA had also monitored millions of phone calls in Spain, and a German newspaper wrote that the U.S. had hacked into Mexican president Felipe Calderon's emails in 2010.

Inspector Clouseau's White House: Obama was also unaware of phone taps on foreign leaders.  Conventional political wisdom in America is that as commander-in-chief, the president of the United States knows all and sees all.  Barack Obama's press office is constantly announcing his briefings on everything from global threats to hurricane preparations, wildfires and floods.  Recent revelations about the National Security Agency's ubiquitous monitoring of every phone call and email would seem to indicate that's Obama's goal too.  But over recent months the Obama administration has developed a peculiar pattern of behavior in this area.  Obama himself and unidentified aides using news leaks have boasted of the president's ignorance of things that an ordinary person outside the Oval Office bubble would think a chief executive should know.

Birds, Bees and NSA Spies.  [Scroll down]  The German case is more sensitive even if the details remain unclear.  Nobody doubts Mrs. Merkel's personal bona fides as a friend of the U.S.  But there are good reasons the U.S. would want to eavesdrop on German chancellors, going back decades.

It's not arrogance, just stupidity.  The Germans are in a frenzy over the disclosure that the National Security Agency (NSA) tapped Angela Merkel's private telephone, along with the telephones of three-dozen other world leaders.  It's an embarrassment of the second magnitude, and all Barack Obama knows about it is what he reads in the newspapers.  "Senior government officials" tell The Wall Street Journal that the spooks didn't tell the president about the wiretaps "because it wouldn't have been practical to brief him on all of them."  (He was working on his hook shot and couldn't be disturbed.)

NSA Scandal Shames the U.S. Media.  The American media are the biggest losers in the latest revelations in the National Security Agency scandal.  Not because domestic journalists could have been expected to discover closely-guarded state secrets such as a spy program that targeted foreign heads of state (still less to reveal it, if they did not).  Rather, the U.S. media's lack of interest in holding the Obama administration accountable is being exposed by the foreign press.

Obama Throws Intel Community Back Under the Bus.  The revelations about NSA spying on allied leaders are now officially a scandal.  No, that scandal isn't that the U.S. spies on its allies — all nations do that and some go further than that. [...] No, the scandal is that, faced with embarrassing allegations, President Obama is trying to throw General Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, and the rest of the intelligence community under the bus by claiming that he had no idea what was going on.  Not surprisingly, anonymous leakers in the intelligence community are pushing back to shred the White House alibi.



Snowden II
More of the same.

After Edward Snowden, US government now fears it has new mole.  The US government fears that the US intelligence agencies have a second mole who is feeding top secret information to journalists, it has been reported.  The existence of a second high-level leaker — separate from the former defence contractor Edward Snowden — has been mooted in intelligence and journalistic circles for some weeks, but was confirmed by US officials, according to a report by CNN.

New Post-Snowden Leaks Reveal Secret Details of U.S. Terrorist Watchlist.  The U.S. government believes that someone other than former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has recently leaked secret national-security documents to the media, an official confirmed Tuesday [8/5/2014].  The documents, published by the Intercept on Tuesday [8/5/2014], detail the growth of federal terrorist watch lists.  They were drafted after Snowden fled prosecution in the U.S. for Russia, when he no longer had access to classified intelligence networks.



Edward Snowden:
Hero, traitor, genius, mad man?  All of the above?

Is The Guardian Holding Back The New York Times' Snowden Stories?  A source at the Times tells The Daily Beast the paper feels 'shackled' over The Guardian's total control over the cache of Edward Snowden NSA documents — and how they are used.

Edward Snowden Revealed In Chilling 'Citizenfour'.  Seamless and as darkly riveting as any John le Carré or Graham Greene thriller, Laura Poitras' Citizenfour puts an indelibly human face on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, while ripping away any mask of pretense that the most massive and sophisticated breach of privacy in American history had grounding in reality, let alone the law.

NSA losing interest in deal for Snowden.  The Obama administration is increasingly less inclined to make a deal to allow Edward Snowden to come back to the United States, according to a top National Security Agency official.  "As time goes on, the utility for us of having that conversation becomes less," NSA No. 2 Rick Ledgett said this weekend at Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, according to Politico.

Edward Snowden urges professionals to encrypt client communications.  The NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has urged lawyers, journalists, doctors, accountants, priests and others with a duty to protect confidentiality to upgrade security in the wake of the spy surveillance revelations. Snowden said professionals were failing in their obligations to their clients, sources, patients and parishioners in what he described as a new and challenging world.  "What last year's revelations showed us was irrefutable evidence that unencrypted communications on the internet are no longer safe.  Any communications should be encrypted by default," he said.

Background check firm faces fraud, bonus pay investigation.  The background check company that vetted Edward Snowden and faces fraud accusations from the Justice Department has refused a congressional request for details about executive bonus payouts and the identities of some former officials.

Benny, Ed and the death of treason.  Call me old-fashioned, but I will never swoon over a self-declared whistleblower who puts American lives at risk because he doesn't personally approve of policies put in place to make us safer in an ever more dangerous world.  Nor do I care that Snowden leaked the secrets to the media, as if that having them publicly available made them less dangerous.  Indeed, Snowden has now provided cover to every spy who follows him.  Rather than deliver secrets directly to the Kremlin or Tehran, enemies of America can now follow the Snowden protocol and simply email their dirty secrets to the New York Times.

A Ticker-tape Parade for Treason?  "For the foreseeable future," says President Obama, "the most direct threat to America at home and abroad remains terrorism."  Yet his remarks at the United States Military Academy Commencement Ceremony included no acknowledgement that NSA traitor Edward Snowden has made this kind of terrorism more likely.  And there were no demands for Moscow to turn him over to U.S. authorities to face espionage charges.

The attack of the lawyers.  [Scroll down]  The Chinese threat to counter-expose US efforts may involve Edward Snowden, whose last post was in Hong Kong.  It is conjectured Snowden's target, or at least the unit he worked with, was China.  Now that Snowden is on the other side, he may have a tale or two to tell.  Moreover, the Daily Caller notes that Obama gratuitously took credit for deploying the Stuxnet worm when he wanted to appear gung-ho against Iran, itself a confession of offensive cyber-operations.

Edward Snowden: the unacknowledged author of an NSA reform bill.  It's called the USA Freedom Act, but a more fitting name might be Edward's Law — as in Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor charged with violating the Espionage Act.  I'm referring to a bill cleared by the House Intelligence Committee that would end the NSA's bulk collection of telephone metadata:  information about the source, destination and duration of calls.  The bill, identical to a measure approved by the Judiciary Committee, addresses what was probably Snowden's most sensational revelation:  that the government was indiscriminately collecting the phone records of vast numbers of Americans under an expansive interpretation of the Patriot Act.  The database could then be "queried" or searched for matches when investigators came into possession of a phone number thought to be related to foreign terrorism.

Former NSA contractor Snowden expects to remain in Russia.  Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who fled to Moscow last year after revealing details of massive U.S. intelligence-gathering programs, expects his asylum status in Russia to be renewed before it expires this summer, his lawyer said on Wednesday [4/30/2014].

A Pitiful Pulitzer Pick.  The award of the Public Service prize to the Washington Post and the Guardian for serving as a mouthpiece for Edward Snowden is an attempt by the journalistic establishment to put its stamp of approval on the actions of one of the most destructive traitors in U.S. history — a former NSA contractor who has done untold damage to American intelligence gathering efforts against Russia, China, Al Qaeda, and other essential targets by revealing some of the most secret information that the U.S. government possesses.

Snowden Charade: Why the fugitive leaker got softball treatment at conference.  Put aside that Ed Snowden did the interview against the backdrop of an oversized Constitution, holding forth about the evils of American spying and the mendacity of top U.S. officials.  Put aside that the man interviewing him, Ben Wizner, is an ACLU official.  He is also Snowden's legal adviser.  Why on earth would the South by Southwest conference allow this charade?

Edward Snowden nominated for Nobel peace prize.  Two Norwegian politicians say they have jointly nominated the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden for the 2014 Nobel peace prize.

Echoes of Marc Rich in Edward Snowden case.  Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director James Comey and new Obama White House counselor John Podesta all played roles in the Rich saga, wrestling with the complex questions of what tactics and compromises officials should consider when an American is holed up overseas, beyond the reach of the U.S. justice system.

Snowden snow job.  [N]o responsible federal official would do anything other than laugh off pleas for clemency for self-exiled leaker Edward Snowden.  He is being depicted as a martyr who advanced the public's knowledge of privacy abuses.  Nuts to that.  Snowden gave America's enemies detailed security information, including publishing the government's intelligence spending plan.

Snowden Lied About [His] China Contacts.  Yesterday, the New York Times urged the Obama administration to offer Edward Snowden "a plea bargain or some form of clemency."  The paper called the former NSA contractor "a whistle-blower" for his exposure of "the vast scope" of the NSA's "reach into the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the United States and around the globe."  Perhaps Snowden is what the Times portrays him to be, a hero of sorts, yet the editors of the paper rushed to judgment.  In their editorial they did not even raise the possibility that he passed along vital national security secrets to China.  It is likely he did so.

U.S. Loses Multibillion-Dollar Contract Because of Administration Spying.  The U.S. lost a fighter jet contract with Brazil worth $4.5 billion in the wake of the South American country's anger over revelations that President Obama's intelligence agencies spied on the personal communications of President Dilma Rousseff.  Boeing was considered to be the front-runner for the contract with its F/A-18 Super Hornet until the leak from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The Case for Arresting Glenn Greenwald.  If Edward Snowden can be charged with espionage and threatened with arrest if he returns to the U.S., why can't his associate, Glenn Greenwald, be charged as well?

Snowden Snowed In.  Mrs. O'Leary's cow was lost to history after it ignited the Chicago Fire because the fire was vastly more important than the cow.  Having ignited a global fire around the U.S. intelligence community, NSA leaker Edward Snowden is inevitably being condemned to the same fate for the same reason.  He isn't at all happy about it.

Just How Badly Has Snowden Wrecked American Power?  The damage done by the leaks to intelligence collection will be short lived, but the damage to American influence could easily endure.  The leaks have done more harm than we recognize.  Snowden is the latest in a long line of American naïfs — gullible, self-righteous, with a dislike for America that blinds them to the world's larger dangers.  Like the unfortunate Bradley Manning, Snowden was exploited by those whose intent is to damage American influence and power.

Edward Snowden: The Terrorists' Useful Idiot.  Britain's new MI-5 intelligence chief has blasted NSA leaker Edward Snowden's indiscriminate revelations as "a gift to the terrorists."  How pathetic that we aren't seeing the same clarity from the U.S.

Treason Chic.  There is a word for men like Agee and Snowden -- men who betray their country, their country's allies, their comrades, and defect to a hostile state.  It is an ancient one:  traitor.

Fisa judge: Snowden's NSA disclosures triggered important spying debate.  The court that oversees US surveillance has ordered the government to review for declassification a set of secret rulings about the National Security Agency's bulk trawls of Americans' phone records, acknowledging that disclosures by the whistleblower Edward Snowden had triggered an important public debate.

Snowden impersonated NSA officials, sources say.  Edward Snowden accessed some secret national security documents by assuming the electronic identities of top NSA officials, said intelligence sources.  "Every day, they are learning how brilliant [Snowden] was," said a former U.S. official with knowledge of the case.  "This is why you don't hire brilliant people for jobs like this.  You hire smart people.  Brilliant people get you in trouble."

NSA Leaker "Outed" as Russian Agent.  The media have been given important new information in the case of NSA leaker Edward Snowden and don't seem to know what to do with it.  Snowden has been "outed" by the Russians as their agent.  The Washington Post reports that "Before American fugitive Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow in June — an arrival that Russian officials have said caught them by surprise — he spent several days living at the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong, a Moscow newspaper reported Monday."  In other words, the Russians were in on the deception all along.

Britain's secret listening post based in the Middle East is revealed in Snowden leaks.  Britain is operating a secret listening post based in the Middle East which collects emails, phone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, it has been reported.  The existence of the facility reportedly came to light following the leaks made by US fugitive Edward Snowden.  The site accesses web traffic by tapping into underwater fibre optic cables connecting the region to the internet.  The location of the site has not been reported.

Snowden suspected of bypassing electronic logs.  Such logs would have showed what information Snowden viewed or downloaded.

A lover and a mule.  Let's be clear about the material swiped by the ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden and marketed by the radical journalist Glenn Greenwald and the documentarian Laura Poitras:  The Snowden material was stolen.  Yes, what Snowden put on thumb drives and took out of CIA computers were digital files, not jewelry or cash or weapons.  No matter.  By the very definition of thievery, he is a thief, pure and simple:  He took things that didn't belong to him.

US doesn't know what Snowden took, sources say.  More than two months after documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden first began appearing in the news media, the National Security Agency still doesn't know the full extent of what he took, according to intelligence community sources, and is "overwhelmed" trying to assess the damage.

The Editor says...
I have an easy solution:  Just tell us everything he might have walked out with, and could disclose any minute now, embarrassing the government, and we'll sort it out.

Edward Snowden Leaks Again — And It's a Bombshell.  In 2008, the National Security Agency illicitly — if accidentally — intercepted a "large number" of phone calls from Washington, D.C. because an error confused Egypt's country code — "20" — with, yes, "202."  That fact, one of many startling ones from Barton Gellman's new blockbuster Washington Post story based on documents given to him by Edward Snowden, is so catchy and memorable that I almost worry about it.  That is, I worry people will just think of that and fail to grasp that this was actually one of the more anodyne NSA abuses revealed by these newly disclosed top-secret documents, including an internal audit.

Someone within the US Senate edited Edward Snowden's Wikipedia page.  A member of the US Senate was caught this week trying to make a rather conspicuous edit to Edward Snowden's Wikipedia page.  In a move sure to grind the gears of conspiracy theorists everywhere, a member of the US Senate recently edited Snowden's Wikipedia page from describing him as a 'dissident' to a traitor, according to the entry's changelog.  The user's IP address was quickly traced back to the US Senate.  It is not clear if the person is an active Senator, a staffer or an intern, but the change certainly came from the Senate.

Iceland proposal would grant NSA leaker Snowden citizenship.  [Edward] Snowden is believed to be stuck in a Moscow airport transit area.  At one point, he told the Guardian newspaper that he was inclined to seek asylum in a country that shared his values — and that "the nation that most encompasses this is Iceland."  But to apply for asylum in Iceland, Snowden would have to reach the island nation's soil.

Is It Possible That Snowden Is A Hero?  Until I began reading Brad Thor's thriller, "Black List", I was undecided about whistleblower Edward Snowden.  The plot of this novel is eerily similar to the NSA scandal and involves an IT whiz who discovers that the government is collecting data on American citizens, not terrorists, to control our lives and she steals the proof but is hunted down and killed.  Maybe Snowden blew the whistle because the extent of the data collection and how it is being used by this administration terrified him.  The irony is that the book was published in 2012 before the IRS and AP scandals.

Greenwald Slams Obama On Fox And Friends: Targeting Snowden 'To Intimidate Future Whistle Blowers'Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald made a rare Fox News appearance Tuesday morning [7/2/2013], teasing new national security revelations and harshly criticizing the Obama administration for targeting NSA leaker Edward Snowden so as to discourage future disclosures.

The Anti-American Far Left Rallies to Edward Snowden's Defense.  Know Edward Snowden by taking a look at who his friends are.  As it becomes more and more obvious that Mr. Snowden is not a civil-libertarian whistle-blower, but someone committed to engaging in espionage, his list of supporters is beginning to dwindle.

Obama admin bungled Snowden extradition.  The Obama administration's "smart diplomacy" wasn't able to get the paperwork done properly in extraditing Edward Snowden from Hong Kong.  At least that's the story the Hong King government is telling. [...] This should be a deep embarrassment for anyone with the chutzpah to claim the label of smart diplomacy, but one has to go overseas to find it reported.  My guess is that only conservatives will be informed of the bungling, ghettoizing information that is is harmful to the Obama administration.

Breach.  Intelligence agencies in China and Russia gained access to highly classified U.S. intelligence and military information contained on electronic media held by renegade former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, according to U.S. officials.  The exact compromise of the secret data held on Snowden's laptop computers remains unknown but is the subject of an ongoing damage assessment within NSA and other intelligence agencies, said officials familiar with the case.

Greenwald: Snowden's Files Are Out There if "Anything Happens" To Him.  As the U.S. government presses Moscow to extradite former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, America's most wanted leaker has a plan B.  The former NSA systems administrator has already given encoded files containing an archive of the secrets he lifted from his old employer to several people.  If anything happens to Snowden, the files will be unlocked.

Obama's turning point has arrived.  [Scroll down]  Snowden then leaked the goods to the Washington Post and Britain's Guardian newspapers, and began a hide-and-seek game that has taken him to Hong Kong and Russia so far, and perhaps to Cuba and Ecuador next.  Even if the information Snowden released is something the American people need to know, the way he did it belies his claim to be a hero.  Whistle-blowers and patriots don't go to these countries, spies and traitors do.  And when they go they have to pay the price of admission — by turning over information that country wants.

The Age of American Impotence.  At this writing, Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive National Security Agency contractor indicted on espionage charges, is in Moscow, where Vladimir Putin's spokesman insists his government is powerless to detain him.  "We have nothing to do with this story," says Dmitri Peskov.  "I don't approve or disapprove plane tickets."  Funny how Mr. Putin always seems to discover his inner civil libertarian when it's an opportunity to humiliate the United States.

Cold war: U.S. tells Russia to give back Snowden, or else.  Does this mean Snowden really did get on a plane to Russia?  Because if it turns out he didn't and the whole Russia-to-Cuba-to-Ecuador thing was just a ruse, then we should dismantle the NSA on principle.  If they can't locate America's most wanted man, who can't bear to be apart from his computer, after he's absconded with a treasure trove of intelligence, then they're not so useful that we need to keep this eye in the sky afloat.

Snowden Snowballs Into Colossal Embarrassment for Obama and his Foreign Policy.  Buoyed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden's revelations of U.S. intelligence activities and after reportedly milking the hard drives of four laptops he carried into his Hong Kong hotel, the Chinese government defied a Washington extradition request and let Snowden leave the former British territory.  Once safely at the airport in Moscow, his U.S. passport revoked, Snowden had cover from Russia as he obtained financial and legal assistance from WikiLeaks and petitioned Ecuador for asylum.

How Could a Goofy Techie Expose Our Government's Incompetence?  The goofy techie, of course, is Ed Snowden, and the question might seem hard to answer if the Obama administration's incompetence were not on display for all to see.  The international press, belatedly catching on to the fact that our president is a fool, is having fun with the U.S.  Thus, Reuters headlines, with a snicker:  "Questions turn to U.S. competence in Snowden saga."  As well they might.

U.S. officials don't know how much secret material Snowden took.  U.S. intelligence agencies are worried they do not yet know how much highly sensitive material is in the possession of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, whose whereabouts are unclear, several U.S. officials said.

What Snowden Knew.  I'm still a bit confused about the brouhaha surrounding Edward Snowden.  I'm not sure what he has said that is really new.  I mean, what did we think was going on in all those mammoth NSA installations? [...] But he may have done us a favor, putting an exclamation point on the activities of the NSA so there are no doubts.  He also has made obvious the utter contempt with which Russia and China treat the Obama administration.

Washington keeps getting worse for whistleblowers.  With espionage charges now laid against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who revealed government collection of data on all Americans' phone calls, the Obama administration has initiated prosecutions of more than twice as many leakers as all previous presidential administrations combined.

Obama administration bungles Snowden, leaves great power diplomacy in shambles.  As Sarah Palin might ask:  How's that "smart diplomacy" workin' out for ya'?  The former NSA contractor and his famous thumb drives apparently remain in Moscow as of this writing.

U.S. files criminal complaint against Snowden over leaks: report.  The government has filed sealed criminal charges against former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who admitted leaking secrets about classified U.S. surveillance programs, U.S. sources said on Friday [6/21/2013].

Ex-Contractor Is Charged in Leaks on N.S.A. Surveillance.  Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor whose leak of agency documents has set off a national debate over the proper limits of government surveillance, has been charged with violating the Espionage Act and stealing government property for disclosing classified information to The Guardian and The Washington Post, the Justice Department said on Friday [6/21/2013].

Scenarios for Snowden: Escape, arrest, asylum.  A narrow window of time is closing quickly for Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has infuriated the U.S. government by leaking details of surveillance programs after fleeing the country.  As FBI agents gather evidence against him, the 29 year old is racing to find a permanent refuge while hiding out in Hong Kong on what's thought to be a 90-day tourist visa which could expire in early August.

Will the Real Traitor Please Stand Up?  [Scroll down]  Many say Snowden helped our enemies.  Hogwash.  Anyone engaged in terrorism, espionage, or crime already knew that the government can get a warrant — based on probable cause — to wiretap their phones and even plant a hidden microphone.  This changes nothing for people engaged in "probable cause" eligible behavior.  And, they will never know if the government is on to them.

Snowden: A Fool, Not a Spy.  It would make things so much easier for everyone if Edward Snowden were working for China.  And that's certainly a possibility.  His decision to flee to Hong Kong — a Chinese vassal — was an odd one, given that China is hardly a bulwark of transparency and civil rights.  It's a bit like complaining that Boston is too Catholic and then moving to Vatican City in protest.

The "Apolitical" Fantasy and the IRS.  The ongoing saga of Edward Snowden has at least been moving in the right direction for President Obama.  Snowden may once have tried to position himself as a whistleblower, but he has since devolved into ingratiating himself with authoritarian regimes by plying them with American national security secrets.  While Pete [Wehner] is correct that the NSA story seems to be hurting voters' opinion of Obama's trustworthiness, Americans are by now realizing that they would be foolish to go the other extreme and place that trust in Snowden.

NSA Chief: Intel Leak Caused 'Irreversible and Significant Damage'.  National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander told the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday [6/18/2013] that the NSA whistleblower that leaked classified information on the agency's surveillance program caused "irreversible and significant damage" to the nation and helped America's enemies.

Snowden Continues to Discredit Himself.  Edward Snowden seems to be afraid that the CIA, NSA and other parts of the U.S. intelligence apparatus will mount a massive campaign to discredit him.  Actually, they don't have to bother.  He's doing an excellent job of discrediting himself. [...] In reality the programs he disclosed are focused primarily on foreigners and operate under strict safeguards to avoid violations of Americans' privacy.

The Sickening Snowden Backlash.  Since Edward Snowden came forward to identify himself as the leaker of the National Security Agency spying programs, the D.C. mandarins have been working overtime to discredit the man many view as a hero for revealing crucial information the government had wrongfully kept secret.  Apparently, if you think hiding information about spying on Americans is bad, you are misguided.  The real problem is that Snowden didn't understand that his role is to sit and be quiet while the "best and the brightest" keep Americans in the dark about government snooping on private citizens.

NSA "Whistleblower" An Enemy Agent?  The fingerprints of America's enemies and adversaries are all over the disclosures about the NSA's terrorist surveillance program.  It is significant that NSA contract employee Edward Snowden would flee to Hong Kong — controlled by China — and that he would select Glenn Greenwald, a far-left columnist, as his mouthpiece. [...] After first giving Greenwald and his then-secret source tons of favorable publicity and softball coverage, the media seem to be having second thoughts, with CNN asking about Snowden, "Is this guy a hero or a traitor?"

By Revealing Prism, Snowden May Have Committed Treason.  Like many others, we have raised constitutional questions about the expansive nature of the so-called Prism program that collects data on more than 100 million Americans.  That said, Snowden's revelation of Prism and U.S. intelligence data-mining efforts to the left-wing British newspaper the Guardian broke the law.  As a government contractor with top-security clearance, he agreed not to reveal the secrets that were entrusted to him, under penalty of U.S. law.  He violated that.

Ron Paul fears US will use a drone to take out Edward Snowden.  Former Republican Rep Ron Paul has revealed he is worried about the welfare of Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who leaked the secret information about a classified U.S. government surveillance program.  'I'm worried about somebody in our government might kill him with a cruise missile or a drone missile,' Mr Paul explained in an interview this morning.  'I mean we live in a bad time where American citizens don't even have rights and that they can be killed, but the gentlemen is trying to tell the truth about what's going on.'

Is Edward Snowden's story unravelling? Why the Guardian's scoop is looking a bit dodgy.  Now that the dust has settled after the Edward Snowden affair, it's time to ask some tough questions about The Guardian's scoop of the week.  Snowden's story is that he dropped a $200,000 a year job and a (very attractive) girlfriend in Hawaii for a life in hiding in Hong Kong in order to expose the evils of the NSA's Prism programme.  But bits of the story are now being questioned.

NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Breaks Silence: 'I'm Neither Traitor Nor A Hero, I'm An American'.  Since Snowden's bombshell revelations were made abroad, some have suggested that he was aware that he was breaking U.S. law and sought the protection of foreign governments.  Snowden says that he does not consider himself to be a fugitive from justice.

Spy leaker Edward Snowden 'vows to fight extradition'.  The information leaked by Mr Snowden has undoubtedly angered the US government, but so far he has not been charged by the authorities, nor is he the subject of an extradition request.  Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the US, although analysts say any attempts to bring Mr Snowden to America may take months and could be blocked by Beijing.

Why I Don't Care About Edward Snowden.  The Snowden narrative matters mostly to White House officials trying to deflect attention from government overreach and deception, and to media executives in search of an easy storyline to serve a celebrity-obsessed audience.

Edward Snowden and the selective targeting of leaks.  Edward Snowden's expansive disclosures to the Guardian and the Washington Post about various National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs have only two corollaries in contemporary history — the classified cache Bradley Manning allegedly released to WikiLeaks a few years ago and Daniel Ellsberg's dissemination of the voluminous Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and other newspapers in 1971.

That's Officer Obama, walking the electronic beat.  Our constitutional republic is under attack.  It has been wounded by the rise of the national surveillance state. [...] We now know the NSA monitors the phone records, emails and Internet data of more than 120 million Americans.  For this, many Republicans and Democrats are calling him a "traitor."  The ruling class considers Mr. Snowden a digital Benedict Arnold.  The opposite is true.  He is a hero and patriot, who exposed the rampant abuses of power at the heart of the Obama regime.

Did Snowden have an accomplice?  The world of the NSA, and the contractors who support it, is filled with young men and women — many of whom are or once were enlisted military personnel — who may or may not have a college degree but have shown an aptitude for some element of NSA work.  All that said, we still don't know (at least publicly) exactly what Snowden's job was.  So questions remain about whether he should have had access to the materials he passed along to the Guardian and the Washington Post.  Or is there some "hole" in the NSA's internal IT system that allowed him to get around and get to materials he should not have been able to see, let alone download?

NSA Leaker Had Legal Means to Reveal Information.  The inspector general for the Defense Department runs a hotline for military and intelligence officials to report such conduct in ways that do not disclose classified information to the public.  Experts on national security whistleblower laws say Snowden could also have disclosed the information to members of Congress.

Edward Snowden: Whistleblower or double agent?  While some initially championed Edward Snowden, the 21st century mole holed up in Hong Kong, as a martyr, there also appears to be a growing backlash against the former NSA contractor.  And as the story slowly unfolds, one key question stands out: is Snowden the heroic whistleblower he claims to be or something more sinister?

Snowden Used Banned Flash Drive to Smuggle NSA Data.  Edward Snowden, who has admitted leaking top-secret documents detailing the NSA's phone and Internet surveillance programs, exceeded his authorized access to the agency's computer systems while managing to smuggle out classified documents on a portable USB drive.  The small data-storage device has been banned from use on secret military networks, including those of the National Security Agency, for at least five years, The Washington Times reports.

NSA leaker Ed Snowden used banned thumb-drive, exceeded access.  Questions were raised Friday about security procedures at the ultra-secret National Security Agency, after it emerged that Edward Snowden, the contract employee who leaked details of the agency's broad-scale data gathering on Americans, exceeded his authorized access to computer systems and smuggled out Top Secret documents on a USB drive — a thumb-sized data storage device banned from use on secret military networks.  "He should not have been able to do either of those things" without setting off alarm bells, said one private sector IT security specialist who has worked on U.S. government classified networks.  He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivities of his current employer.

Fox's Brit Hume Dismisses NSA Uproar As 'Misplaced Hysteria'.  Appearing on FoxNews.com Tuesday afternoon [6/11/2013], Fox senior political analyst Brit Hume dismissed the uproar over the National Security Agency's snooping revelations as "misplaced hysteria," adding that he sees no "abuse" whatsoever in what has been revealed.  If anything, he said, NSA leaker Edward Snowden is the one who committed an abuse.

Judge Napolitano To Shep Smith: NSA Leaker An 'American Hero' Who Exposed 'Extraordinary Violations'.  Appearing on Fox's Studio B this afternoon [6/10/2013], senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano gave a frank assessment of NSA leaker Edward Snowden as "an American hero" who went great lengths to expose "extraordinary violations" of fundamental American values within the government.  "I describe this man has an American hero," the judge told host Shepard Smith, "willing to risk life and liberty in order to expose to the American people one of the most extraordinary violations of the American principles, value judgments and the Constitution itself in all of our history."


"Anybody who thinks it is consistent with the Constitution for spies in the United States of America, working for the federal government, to spy on more than half the country, does not understand the Constitution, does not accept our values, does not understand our history and ought not be in office."

Judge Andrew Napolitano        


Edward Snowden has exposed both the ambition and the incompetence of Obama's security state.  "We hack everyone everywhere," Snowden tells The Guardian, arguing that there's little material or moral difference between the US and China when it comes to privacy rights.  "You are not even aware of what is possible," he continues.  "We can plant bugs in machines.  Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine.  You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place."  Snowden says that the NSA "routinely lies" about the scale of the surveillance, all of which implies that Verizon is simply the tip of the iceberg.

Glenn Beck, Michael Moore call NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden a hero.  Conservative radio commentator Glenn Beck and liberal Hollywood movie-maker Michael Moore have found common ground on the National Security Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden:  He's a hero.



Other government threats to your privacy

Feds Developing Technology to Detect Obesity from Your Picture.  The federal government is developing a body mass index (BMI) detector intended to be available to every American "anywhere and anytime," according to a grant awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  The detector is expected to rely on the analysis of facial and body imagery.  The project has been awarded $200,113 thus far to create the system under the notion that too many obese individuals are unaware of their BMI.

Are Public Schools Collecting Too Much Data on Your Kids?  Parents are increasingly voicing concern that public schools are collecting massive amounts of personal data on students, storing it and distributing it to third parties without their consent.  Dawn Sweeney, a Pennsylvania mother, has two children in public schools and home-schools her younger three.  She had planned to enroll them in public schools when they reached seventh grade, as she did with her two oldest.  But because of the data collection, she's now reconsidering.

Anti-Surveillance Camouflage for Your Face.  I had slathered the paint on my face in order to hide from computers.  The patterns in which I applied the paint were important:  To the pixel-calculating machinations of facial recognition algorithms, they transformed my face into a mess of unremarkable pixels.  In the computer's vision, my face caused a momentary burst of confusion.  That's why the patterns are called computer vision dazzle (or CV dazzle).  When it works, CV dazzle keeps facial-recognition algorithms from seeing a face.

Report: 87 Percent of Online Spying Comes from Governments.  It's not surprising to learn that various governments (not just the United States) account for the bulk of online mischief, but it's a bit sobering to see the numbers laid out by a new Verizon investigative report, summarized by the UK Telegraph:  there has been a 300 percent increase in cyber espionage since last year's report, and government agents are responsible for 87 percent of it.  (11 percent came from organized criminals, which I suppose leaves two percent traceable to random jackasses.)

The Editor says...
The remaining two percent could be stalkers and snoops, or they might be supermarkets tracking your purchases through the use of "loyalty cards."

White House Updating Online Privacy Policy.  A new Obama administration privacy policy released Friday [4/18/2014] explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites, and it clarifies that online comments, whether tirades or tributes, are in the open domain.

It will soon be technically impossible to be anonymous.  Whether we like it or not (and often we do), we are getting ever more astonishingly accurate authentication links between people and machines.  It soon will be technically impossible to stay "anonymous".  Data we emit as people as we do anything other than sit alone starving in a cave will be collected and stored and processed as part of things working normally.  That data will throw up patterns of behaviour that can be used for both good and malign purposes, by both government agencies and private organisations.

Government 'Mining' Social Media for Information on Health Behavior.  The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is "mining" Facebook and Twitter to improve its social media footprint and to assess how Tweets can be used as "change-agents" for health behaviors.  The NLM, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will have software installed on government computers that will store data from social media as part of a $30,000 project announced last week.

Privacy fears grow as Obama weighs expanded gun-buyer database.  Mental health advocates are worried that the privacy of people who have received treatment for their illnesses could be jeopardized by a White House push to expand a database used to run background checks on gun buyers.

They're up in arms of the NSA database, but what about ObamaCare and health records?  [Scroll down]  What I have a hard time understanding, however, is how one can get worked up into a near panic about an overreaching national security apparatus while also celebrating other government expansions into our lives, chief among them the hydrahead leviathan of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare).  The 2009 stimulus created a health database that will store all your health records.  The Federal Data Services Hub will record everything bureaucrats deem useful, from your incarceration record and immigration status to whether or not you had an abortion or were treated for depression or erectile dysfunction.

Justice Department tries to force Google to hand over user data.  A secret lawsuit in Manhattan filed last month asks judge to force Google to cough up user data without a search warrant.  A different court has already ruled that the process is unconstitutional.

Indiana attorney general probing privacy breach of 'Obamaphone' users.  The Indiana attorney general's office confirmed Monday [5/20/2013] it is investigating a security breach in which Social Security numbers and other personal information were posted online for roughly 44,000 low-income Americans who applied for a federal program that provides discount Internet and phone service.  The program was nicknamed the "Obamaphone" during the 2012 election, though it actually started long before President Obama took office.  Indiana reportedly has the highest number of applicants, roughly 17,400, who were signed up by TerraCom Inc. and the affiliated YourTel America Inc.

DOJ Won't Require Warrants for Email, Chat Seizures.  In blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, the Department of Justice has apparently declared that they do not require warrants for grabbing Americans' emails and Facebook chats.  The ACLU has gotten hold of the documents from the FBI and DOJ that show that a subpoena, which comes from a prosecutor, is all that is necessary to seize emails and chats.

Big Government Mind-Readers.  Like Big Brother, Big Government cannot read minds.  But he can read your emails (at least, the IRS can, and apparently without a warrant) and your social media.  He can obtain your Google history and data.  He knows which candidates you voted for and how much you contributed to political campaigns.  Big Government can calculate how much you're worth, what you earn, spend, and owe, whether you pay bills on time, and how much you dropped in the offering plate at church.  He knows what kind of car you drive, where you drive it, and how quickly it guzzles gas.  If you use public transportation, he can see what you packed for the trip and then pat you down.

Obama's EPA And IRS Violate Our Constitutional Rights.  The Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged that it released personal information on potentially thousands of farmers and ranchers to environmental groups, violating their privacy rights and acting in collusion with private groups with private political agendas.  In Nixonian fashion, the EPA has provided these environmental groups with the dossiers of farmers it has gathered to help them create an enemies list of potential polluters.  The agency acknowledged the information included individual names, email addresses, phone numbers and personal addresses.

Silly extremist: the government has no designs on your firearms.  See?  No black helicopters here.  Just the innocent sharing of data between states and the federal government.  For the children!

Why Are the Feds Trying to Identify All Gun Owners in Missouri?  They keep telling you they have noting but good intentions, that to worry about the feds coming for your guns makes you part of "the black helicopter crowd."  But then things like this happen:  In Missouri, federal investigators have demanded and obtained from the state government — apparently twice — the entire list of Missouri concealed weapon permit holders.

The IRS is reading your email, and doesn't care a court said they can't.  If you aren't encrypting your email, the IRS is probably reading it right now.

The Second Great Crypto War.  The first great conflict over cryptography and state power happened in the 1990s.  In one corner were cryptographers equipped with subtle math, digital technologies, and new ideas.  In the other were the Clinton administration and its National Security Agency (NSA), which sought to maintain and extend the federal government's control over cryptography.  They struggled over the concept that cryptography could be classified as munitions, over requirements to include NSA-friendly chips in communication hardware, and, in general, over the shape of post-Cold War security.  The geeks eventually defeated the feds, freeing up crypto for public use.

Big Brother Has The Neatest Toys.  At the time of the revolution Libya had only about 100,000 Internet users and the government monitoring system was able to filter all traffic (that was readable) for certain words or phrases.  If something was not in plaintext, the French monitoring software could identify what kind of data it was (encrypted, compressed, music or video, or whatever).  The system also kept a record of which users were on the Internet, when, and with what type of data.  The monitoring effort was no secret and rebels using the Internet were warned to be careful what they said and how they said it.

Electronic Privacy is the New 21st Century Battleground: Why We Must Fight Back.  With the advent of the Electronic Age mankind has seen increasing breakthroughs of communications and entertainment utterly unthinkable a century ago.  Along with these advances though comes the ability of government to increasingly track the emails, cell calls, and online activities of countless Americans with increasing ease.  In fact, we are being spied on routinely — a fact which is occasionally noted but hardly ever protested in our increasingly complacent, civil-rights illiterate and government-trusting populace.

Missouri Secretly Shares Entire CCW List With Feds Against State Law.  Missouri State Senator Kurt Schaefer confirmed today [4/10/2013] that the Missouri Highway Department did in fact share confidential CCW lists with the federal government in violation of Missouri law.

IRS to taxpayers: We don't need a warrant for email snooping, GPS tracking.  IRS attorneys have asserted in internal documents that the Fourth Amendment does not protect email and that a warrant is not needed to plant a GPS location tracker on a car in its owner's driveway.  In documents obtained from the IRS by the ACLU under the federal Freedom of Information Act and posted on the website Wednesday, the agency's attorneys adopt an extremely aggressive posture toward the requirements the Fourth Amendment might place on its criminal investigators who want to read email or text messages, or use GPS location tracking.

EPA acknowledges releasing personal details on farmers, senator slams agency.  The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged Tuesday [4/9/2013] that it released personal information on potentially thousands of farmers and ranchers to environmental groups, following concerns from congressional Republicans and agriculture groups that the release could endanger their safety.

Highway patrol gave feds Missouri weapon permits data.  Missouri's database of concealed weapon permits was twice given to federal authorities investigating Social Security disability fraud in a move that has enraged lawmakers already angry over potential abuses in a new driver's licensing system.

National Databases: Collecting Student-Specific Data is unnecessary and Orwellian.  Home School Legal Defense Association has long opposed the creation of a national database of student-specific data.  We believe that such national databases threaten the privacy of students, could be abused by government officials or business interests that may gain access to the data, threaten the safety of young people if their data is breached, and are not necessary in order to educate young people.

EPA acknowledges releasing personal details on farmers, senator slams agency.  The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged Tuesday that it released personal information on potentially thousands of farmers and ranchers to environmental groups, following concerns from congressional Republicans and agriculture groups that the release could endanger their safety.

Senate GOP blasts EPA for release of private business info to environmental groups.  Senate Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee this week criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for improperly releasing private personal and business information to environmental groups.  Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the lead Republican on the committee, and other committee Republicans charged that the EPA answered a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request last year by including business information that should have remained private.

ATF Seeks 'Massive' Database of Personal Info: 'Assets, Relatives, Associates and More'.  A recent solicitation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) reveals that the agency is seeking a "massive" online database capable of pulling up individuals' personal information, connections and associates.

Mayor Bloomberg admits soon NYPD surveillance cameras will be on nearly every corner.  Envisioning a future where privacy is a thing of the past, Mayor Bloomberg said Friday [3/22/2013] it will soon be impossible to escape the watchful eyes of surveillance cameras and even drones in the city.  He acknowledged privacy concerns, but said "you can't keep the tides from coming in."  "You wait, in five years, the technology is getting better, they'll be cameras everyplace ... whether you like it or not," Bloomberg said.

The Editor says...
"Whether you like it or not"?  Is that representative government, or an omnipotent nanny state?

13,753 Gov't Requests for Google E-Mail Data in 2012, Most Without a Warrant.  American government agencies — state, local, and federal — made a record 13,753 requests to read emails or gather other information sent through Google's Gmail and other services in 2012, more than half without warrants, according to statistics released by Google.  The total number of users about whom government agencies wanted information also set a record at 31,072, up from 23,300 in 2011, the first year Google began reporting the data.  The discrepancy comes because government agencies request information on multiple users or accounts at the same time.

Obama's license to snoop.  Uncle Sam is downloading the contents of laptops, cellphones and digital cameras belonging to international travelers.  The widespread snooping may help agents discover whether someone illegally downloaded music before boarding a long flight, but it also has chilling implications for personal privacy.  A report released Jan. 29 by the Department of Homeland Security's internal civil liberties watchdog saw nothing wrong with the searches.

The single dumbest gun-control measure ever proposed.  With extraordinary shortsightedness, Connecticut lawmakers want to publicize the addresses of handgun owners.

Connecticut Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Publish Names, Addresses of Gun Permit Holders.  Connecticut State Representative Stephen D. Dargan (D-New Haven), co-chairman of the state's Public Safety Committee, has introduced a bill that would make public the names and addresses of gun permit holders in Connecticut under the state's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Big Brother's Listening.  The era of private conversations on city buses — and even on San Francisco's iconic streetcars — may be coming to an end.  Government officials are quietly installing sophisticated audio surveillance systems on public buses across the country to eavesdrop on passengers, according to documents obtained by The Daily.  Plans to implement the technology are under way in cities from San Francisco to Hartford, Conn., and Eugene, Ore., to Columbus, Ohio.

Public Buses Across Country Quietly Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations.  Transit authorities in cities across the country are quietly installing microphone-enabled surveillance systems on public buses that would give them the ability to record and store private conversations, according to documents obtained by a news outlet.  The systems are being installed in San Francisco, Baltimore, and other cities with funding from the Department of Homeland Security in some cases, according to the Daily, which obtained copies of contracts, procurement requests, specs and other documents.

Great news: Your permanent record is now available on demand.  Remember when government needed something called a warrant or even probable cause to look at your records?  Good times, good times.  I'm nostalgic for the halcyon days of, er, February of this year, before the Attorney General of the United States signed off on an order allowing the government to access pretty much everything it wanted in the name of counterterrorism.

U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens.  Top U.S. intelligence officials gathered in the White House Situation Room in March to debate a controversial proposal.  Counterterrorism officials wanted to create a government dragnet, sweeping up millions of records about U.S. citizens — even people suspected of no crime. [...] The rules now allow the little-known National Counterterrorism Center to examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them.  That is a departure from past practice, which barred the agency from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or related to an investigation.

Attorney General Secretly Granted Gov. Ability to Develop and Store Dossiers on Innocent Americans.  In a secret government agreement granted without approval or debate from lawmakers, the U.S. attorney general recently gave the National Counterterrorism Center sweeping new powers to store dossiers on U.S. citizens, even if they are not suspected of a crime, according to a news report.  Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder granted the center the ability to copy entire government databases holding information on flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and other data, and to store it for up to five years, even without suspicion that someone in the database has committed a crime, according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story.

Feds Want 'Black Boxes' in New Cars, But Who Will Be Tracking You?  [Scroll down]  Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray of Massachusetts found out the hard way last year.  He crashed a car he was driving and told police that he was wearing a seatbelt and was not speeding at the time of the crash.  However the black box installed in his car revealed he was actually speeding at 75 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone, before accelerating to more than 100 miles per hour.

Nothing is Private Under the False Flag of Terrorism.  In a possible preparation for the ability of the CIA to spy on American citizens with their household items, the NSA's Utah Data Center is located in the Utah desert in the foot hills of the Wasatch mountain range.  This is the centerpiece of the Global Information Grid; a military project that collects yottabytes of data.  They are listening to every conversation, reading every post, intercepting every text message under the false flag of terrorism.  The facility has the technological ability to record and analyze every communication in the world.  From emails to phone calls to text messages to chats; nothing is private anymore.

Electronic Privacy is the New 21st Century Battleground: Why We Must Fight Back.  With the advent of the Electronic Age mankind has seen increasing breakthroughs of communications and entertainment utterly unthinkable a century ago.  Along with these advances though comes the ability of government to increasingly track the emails, cell calls, and online activities of countless Americans with increasing ease.  In fact, we are being spied on routinely — a fact which is occasionally noted but hardly ever protested in our increasingly complacent, civil-rights illiterate and government-trusting populace.

If There Needs To Be An Investigation, It Should Be About Why The FBI Was Reading Certain Emails.  While some have noted the irony of General Petreaus being taken down due to online surveillance methods that he should have been aware of, the case is bringing growing attention to an issue many of us have been discussing for a while:  how easy it is for law enforcement to snoop through your email.

Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants.  A proposed law scheduled for a vote next week originally increased Americans' e-mail privacy.  Then law enforcement complained.  Now it increases government access to e-mail and other digital files.

The Editor says...
Cops are notorious for claiming, "We don't write the laws, we just enforce them."  Such claims are completely untrue, as we see in this case:  The cops tell the state legislators what kind of laws they want, and the politicians put it in writing.

Update:
Leahy scuttles his warrantless e-mail surveillance bill.  After public criticism of proposal that lets government agencies warrantlessly access Americans' e-mail, Sen. Patrick Leahy says he will "not support" such an idea at next week's vote.

DHS Boss, In Charge Of Cybersecurity, Doesn't Use Email Or Any Online Services.  We've talked in the past about the problematic efforts to push for new cybersecurity regulations, especially when little to nothing has been done to show the actual problem.  There has been quite a turf war over who would "own" cybersecurity within the federal government, with some wanting to give it to the Defense Department, where the NSA would control it (along with all your info), and others wanting to give it to the Department of Homeland Security.

Petraeus case shows ease of government email snooping.  The scandal surrounding the sudden resignation of an adulterous CIA director has stunned the American public not just for its prominent cast of characters, but also because of the ease with which authorities appeared to have traipsed through personal email accounts.

Petraeus case shows FBI's authority to read email.  Your emails are not nearly as private as you think.

California vs. Texas.  Certainly, many government workers are working in legitimate government functions: police, courts, and prisons.  But what are the others doing? They are creating regulations, checking paperwork, inspecting businesses, and generally putting obstacles in the path of citizens living their lives and operating their businesses.  California has substantially more people erecting these arbitrary barriers than Texas.  In short, California has more people snooping and prying into the lives of its citizens than Texas does.

In Cell Phone Privacy Case, Government's Arguing a Theory of the Fourth Amendment 'That No One's Ever Heard Of'.  A federal appeals court in New Orleans is set to hear a case on whether the government can take possession of an individual's cell phone records from their carrier without a search warrant.  A federal court has already denied the government's bid to obtain the records without a warrant.  Judge Andrew Napolitano weighed in on Fox Business Network this morning [10/1/2012], saying the government's argument represents a new theory of the Fourth Amendment "that no one's ever heard of in 230 years."

94 Million Exposed: The Government's Epic Fail on Privacy.  Believe it or not, this number — which was just revealed in the latest report from tech security firm Rapid7 — is only the most conservative estimate.  When you take into account the difference between reported data breaches, which is what this report measures, and actual incidents, you are talking about a much, much bigger number.  As bad as the numbers are, it gets worse.

Constitution Day: 225 Years in Passage of Time; Light Years in Loss of Liberty.  In increasingly sophisticated and insidious ways, today's national government weaves a web of monitoring that allows the national intelligence apparatus to keep most citizens under some form of surveillance nearly 24 hours a day.  Add to that the passage by Congress and the signing by the president of the National Defense Authorization Act — legislation that grants the president the unprecedented and unconstitutional power to deploy members of the U.S. military to apprehend and indefinitely detain anyone he suspects of posing a threat to national security.  Finally, with the Supreme Court's decision to deem ObamaCare a constitutional exercise of Congress' taxing power, all three branches of the federal government established in the document drafted in Philadelphia 225 years ago have colluded in the creation of a government whose power is nearly immeasurable.

Obama Admin. Argues for Warrantless Cellphone Tracking.  In a document filed September 4 in the D.C. District Court, the Obama administration argues that there is no "reasonable expectation of privacy" in a person's cellphone GPS data.  The president's lawyers argue that they do not need a warrant to request cellphone company records regarding a customer's movements and location as tracked by their signal towers.

FBI to roll out $1 billion public facial recognition system in 2014.  They're watching you — or at least will be in a couple of years.  That's when the FBI is gearing up for a nationwide launch of a $1 billion project designed to identify people of interest, according to the New Scientist.  Dubbed the Next Generation Identification (NGI) program, the high-tech endeavor uses biometric data such as DNA analysis, iris scans and voice identification to track down folks with a criminal history.

The Editor says...
That sounds harmless enough, but with a large enough database, the government could track anybody's movements — not just criminals.

The Most Powerful, Well Connected Company You've Never Heard Of.  Have you ever heard of a tech company called Neustar?  Probably not, and that's just the way the government wants to keep it.  Neustar is a relatively new company that is playing a large, albeit secret, role in the expansion of the surveillance state.  According to published reports, Neustar handles the law enforcement surveillance and user data requests for over 400 telecommunications companies.  To accommodate their clients' demands, Neustar maintains a database containing information on every cell phone in the United States — including yours.

Feds Sue Telecom for Fighting Warrantless Search.  The Justice Department is suing a telecommunications company for challenging a request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for customer information — despite the fact that the law authorizing the request explicitly permits such challenges. [...] Clearly the Justice Department is unaccustomed to having to defend its attempts to obtain customer data on its own say-so; and it isn't taking this fight lying down.

Covert FBI Power to Obtain Phone Data Faces Rare Test.  Early last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a secret letter to a phone company demanding that it turn over customer records for an investigation.  The phone company then did something almost unheard of:  It fought the letter in court.  The U.S. Department of Justice fired back with a serious accusation.  It filed a civil complaint claiming that the company, by not handing over its files, was interfering "with the United States' sovereign interests" in national security.  The legal clash represents a rare and significant test of an investigative tool strengthened by the USA Patriot Act, the counterterrorism law enacted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

National Reconnaissance Office accused of illegally collecting personal data.  One of the nation's most secretive intelligence agencies is pressuring its polygraphers to obtain intimate details of the private lives of thousands of job applicants and employees, pushing the ethical and legal boundaries of a program that's designed instead to catch spies and terrorists.  The National Reconnaissance Office is so intent on extracting confessions of personal or illicit behavior that officials have admonished polygraphers who refused to go after them and rewarded those who did, sometimes with cash bonuses, a McClatchy investigation found.

Is US government reading email without a warrant? It doesn't want to talk about it.  In March, the American Civil Liberties Union caused a nationwide stir when the advocacy group released the results of its year-long investigation into law enforcement use of cellphone tracking data.  After issuing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests, the ACLU learned that many local police departments around the country routinely pay mobile phone network operators a small fee to get detailed records of historic cell phone location information.  The data tell cops not just where a suspect might have been at a given moment, but also create the possibility of retracing someone's whereabouts for months.

NSA chief defends agency against domestic spying charges.  The head of the National Security Agency on Monday denied reports that NSA's new data center in Utah would collect and store data about Americans, including their e-mails and web-browsing habits.  The $2 billion data center in Bluffdale, Utah, will house massive supercomputers capable of storing and analyzing vast quantities of data when it comes online next year, but U.S. Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander reiterated NSA's insistence it does not unlawfully conduct surveillance of Americans.

FBI, DEA warn IPv6 could shield criminals from police.  Relax.  This has nothing to do with criminals.  It's cop bluster designed to get us to wiretap ourselves "before the cops get Congress to force us to".

NASA gets two military spy telescopes for astronomy.  The secretive government agency that flies spy satellites has made a stunning gift to NASA:  two exquisite telescopes as big and powerful as the Hubble Space Telescope.  They've never left the ground and are in storage in Rochester, N.Y. [...] The telescopes have been declassified, though they remain sufficiently sensitive that neither the NRO or NASA would provide a photograph of them.

The Editor says...
Last year's model, perhaps?  These two have "never left the ground", they say, but how many others just like them are in orbit right now?

NSA Has Your E-Mails and More, Whistleblower Says.  The internal spying regime, instituted under an NSA program known as "Stellar Wind," began sometime in 2001, [William] Binney said.  But after the scheme was implemented, he resigned from the agency in disgust.  "At that point, I knew I could not stay because it was a direct violation of the constitutional rights of everybody in the country," he said.  The NSA, Binney explained, has also enlisted the support of major companies such as AT&T to help spy on the American people.

Big Brother uses school children to troll for incriminating information
State exam asks N.J. 3rd graders to write essay on secret they had kept.  Is it okay to ask a child to reveal a secret?  Richard Goldberg doesn't think so.  Goldberg, the father of 8-year old twin boys, was dismayed to learn his third-grade sons were asked to write an essay about a secret they had and why it was hard to keep.  The unusual question, which Goldberg called "entirely inappropriate" was on the standardized tests given to public school students in the third through eighth grade every spring.

Big Brother just got scarier.  A new camera technology from Hitachi Hokusai Electric can scan days of camera footage instantly, and find any face which has EVER walked past it.  Its makers boast that it can scan 36 million faces per second.  The technology raises the spectre of governments — or other organisations — being able to 'find' anyone instantly simply using a passport photo or a Facebook profile.

The Editor says...
Maybe that's why criminals wear hoodies.  In the summer.

Say good-bye to privacy thanks to Stellar Wind.  The American republic, or any society so desiring emancipation to have its citizens live free and unfettered lives, must allow liberated and confidential communication.  Liberty and human dignity demand nothing less.  All of this is about to change.

New Details on NSA's 'Spy Center' and Secrets From Domestic Eavesdropping Operation 'Stellar Wind'.  [Scroll down]  Wired also includes a former NSA official going on the record for the first time on the secret, domestic spying program Stellar Wind and its role in data communication collection, which when the Bluffdale facility is complete will be stored there.  Former senior NSA "crypto-matematician" William Binney, who helped develop NSA's spying capabilities before leaving in 2001, explains how the NSA deliberately violated the Constitution, which was the reason why he left, in setting up warrentless wiretapping to the extent that they did.  Wired reports that much of NSA's wiretapping practices now were made legal under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

Big Brother FBI Data-Mining Programs Resurrect "Total Information Awareness".  From the wholesale use of informants and provocateurs to stifle political dissent, to Wi-Fi hacking and viral computer spyware to follow our every move, the FBI has turned massive data-mining of personal information into a growth industry.  In the process they are building the surveillance state long been dreamed of by American securocrats.

The Stellar Wind is Blowing.  The former NSA official held his thumb and forefinger close together:  "We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state."

NSA keeping details about data center quiet.  The agency building 1 million square feet of enclosed space, including 100,000 square feet of space just for computers that will gather and digest intelligence information, continues to do what it does best — keep secrets — when asked about the project.  The NSA sent a short statement to the Deseret News on Friday [3/16/2012], but only after Wired Magazine compiled a voluminous story published the same day.

The CIA wants to spy on you through your TV.  When people download a film from Netflix to a flatscreen, or turn on web radio, they could be alerting unwanted watchers to exactly what they are doing and where they are.  Spies will no longer have to plant bugs in your home — the rise of 'connected' gadgets controlled by apps will mean that people 'bug' their own homes, says CIA director David Petraeus.  The CIA claims it will be able to 'read' these devices via the internet — and perhaps even via radio waves from outside the home.

CIA Chief: We'll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher.  More and more personal and household devices are connecting to the internet, from your television to your car navigation systems to your light switches.  CIA Director David Petraeus cannot wait to spy on you through them.  Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an "Internet of Things" — that is, wired devices — at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital firm.  "'Transformational' is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies," Petraeus enthused, "particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft."

Big Brother Goes Live September 2013.  George Orwell was right.  He was just 30 years early.

Report: NSA's Warrantless Spying Resurrects Banned 'Total Information Awareness' Project.  Total Information Awareness — the all-seeing terrorist spotting algorithm-meets-the-mother-of-all-databases that was ostensibly de-funded by Congress in 2003, never actually died, and was largely rebuilt in secret by the NSA, according to the Wall Street Journal's Siobhan Gorman.

Data-Mining for Terrorists Not 'Feasible,' DHS-Funded Study Finds.  The government should not be building predictive data-mining programs systems that attempt to figure out who among millions is a terrorist, a privacy and terrorism commission funded by Homeland Security reported Tuesday [10/7/2008].  The commission found that the technology would not work and the inevitable mistakes would be un-American.  The committee, created by the National Research Council in 2005, also expressed doubts about the effectiveness of technology designed to decide from afar whether a person had terrorist intents, saying false positives could quickly lead to privacy invasions.

NSA's Domestic Spying Grows As Agency Sweeps Up Data.  Five years ago, Congress killed an experimental Pentagon antiterrorism program meant to vacuum up electronic data about people in the U.S. to search for suspicious patterns.  Opponents called it too broad an intrusion on Americans' privacy, even after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.  But the data-sifting effort didn't disappear.  The National Security Agency, once confined to foreign surveillance, has been building essentially the same system.

FBI's Data-Mining System Sifts Airline, Hotel, Car-Rental Records.  Headquartered in Crystal City, Virginia, just outside Washington, the FBI's National Security Branch Analysis Center (NSAC) maintains a hodgepodge of data sets packed with more than 1.5 billion government and private-sector records about citizens and foreigners, the documents show, bringing the government closer than ever to implementing the "Total Information Awareness" system first dreamed up by the Pentagon in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Supreme Court: Police Need Warrant for GPS Tracker.  The government argued that attaching the tiny device to a car's undercarriage was too trivial a violation of property rights to matter, and that no one who drove in public streets could expect his movements to go unmonitored.  Thus, the technique was "reasonable," meaning that police were free to employ it for any reason without first justifying it to a magistrate, the government said.  The justices seemed troubled by that position at arguments in November, where the government acknowledged it would also allow attaching such trackers to the justices' own cars without obtaining a warrant.

All Hail Samuel Alito, Privacy Champion Extraordinaire!  Yesterday [1/23/2012] the Supreme Court handed down the most important privacy case of the Roberts era, U.S. v. Jones.  The unanimous decision is an occasion for dancing in the chat rooms.  In holding that the government needs a warrant before attaching a GPS device to a suspect's car to track his movements 24/7 for a month, all the justices rejected the Obama administration's extreme and unnecessary position that we have no expectations of privacy when it comes to the virtual surveillance of our movements in public places.

9 Things to Say Goodbye To:  [#9] Privacy.  If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy.  That's gone.  It's been gone for a long time anyway.  There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone.

Block Big Brother's Internet snoops.  Americans are moving more and more of our personal data onto the Internet. ... What most Americans don't realize is that if the government wants to read your emails, look at your pictures or gain access to any data that you have stored online for more than 180 days on sites including Yahoo! Google Docs and online backup sites, it can do so without a search warrant.

Justice Dept. to Congress: Don't Saddle 4th Amendment on Us.  The Obama administration is urging Congress not to adopt legislation that would impose constitutional safeguards on Americans' e-mail stored in the cloud.  As the law stands now, the authorities may obtain cloud e-mail without a warrant if it is older than 180 days, thanks to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act adopted in 1986.

Is Your Gmail Safe From the G-Men?  Does the Fourth Amendment's requirement that the government obtain a warrant to search one's effects based on probable cause apply to e-mail communications?  It all depends on where those e-mails are being stored.  Under the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), if the e-mail is downloaded to the recipient's computer and stored there, the Fourth Amendment applies.  If, however, the e-mail is being stored "in the cloud" (i.e., on a third-party server), then the Fourth Amendment only applies for the first 180 days of storage.

The worst homeland-security menace.  How much of your freedom are you willing to give up in the name of your personal safety?  That question is prompted by the latest news about the Transportation Security Administration, which has reportedly been contemplating expanding its controversial X-ray body-scanning program from airports to public events, mass transit and possibly even the streets where you live.  According to documents obtained by the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center, the TSA in 2006 began planning pilot programs that, if ever fully implemented, would expand its reach into the everyday lives of American citizens.

Infra-red camera scheme put on hold over privacy concerns.  A project in Boston designed to educate home owners about energy efficiency has been put on hold due to privacy concerns.  The city was due to have a number of infrared cameras installed that would take aerial and street-level photos across approximately four miles in order to show heat loss in homes during the winter months.

Your Papers, Please!  I recently received an e-mail from the St. Louis Association of Realtors detailing a new policy being implemented by the Missouri Real Estate Commission (the official governmental board regulating real estate practices).  In the next licensing period anyone licensed to sell or rent real estate will have to be fingerprinted and their fingerprints — along with a tougher background check — kept on file with both the state police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Of course, I will have to pony up $52.20 for this singular honor.  Granted, other states have had this provision, but why implement it in Missouri now?

Fingerprint Registry in Housing Bill.  Fingerprints are considered to be among the most personal of information, and fingerprint databases created and proposed in the name of national security have generated much debate.  Recently, "Server in the Sky" — a proposed international database of the fingerprints of suspected criminals and terrorists to be shared among the U.S., U.K. and Canada — has ignited a firestorm of controversy.  As have cavalier comments by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that fingerprints aren't "personal data."

Are Borrowers Next?  [Scroll down]  I have still not been able to find any debate or justification for it, but it seems now that fingerprint requirements are a simplistic way for polticians to argue that they are getting tough about a particular problem, even if it's questionable how much fingerprinting will contibute to solving the problem.  Some commenters were right to note that this is an issue concerning federalism as well as privacy.  Through the CNET story, comments on the blog, and e-mails I have received, I learned about other state fingerprint registries of questionable justification for various professions.

More about the proposed National ID Card.

Oil change reignites debate over GPS trackers.  Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old computer salesman and community college student, took his car in for an oil change earlier this month and his mechanic spotted an odd wire hanging from the undercarriage.

Homeland Security head praises Chicago's security cameras.  U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday ranked Chicago's Big Brother network of well over 10,000 public and private surveillance cameras as one of the nation's most extensive and integrated — and Mayor Daley wants to make it even bigger.  "Expansion of cameras citywide is one of the highest priorities that will help us here in the city of Chicago," Daley said with Napolitano at his side.

The Government Can Use GPS to Track Your Moves.  Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go.  This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway — and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements.

Fall back, Big Brother.  Americans can be excused for a slight paranoid feeling that someone is following them.  Omnipresent surveillance cameras, especially in Chicago, record our daily movements.  If we use our cell phones, we announce where we are.  Our online communications can be monitored or resurrected from the distant past.  Congress is thinking about installing data-gathering "black boxes" in every car.  And now two U.S. senators — Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) — have introduced a bill to require people to produce identification before buying pre-paid cell phones.

Welcome to the New Total Security State.  The U.S. government now has at its disposal a technological arsenal so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void.  And these technologies are being used by the government to invade the privacy of the American people.

GPS use voids conviction.  Ruling that federal agents erred in attaching a satellite tracking device to a vehicle without a search warrant, a federal appeals court has reversed the life sentence of man accused of running a major Washington drug ring.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday [8/6/2010] found that the government's use of GPS technology to track defendant Antoine Jones' Jeep violated the Fourth Amendment.

Airport device follows fliers' phones.  Today's smartphones and PDAs could have a new use in the nation's airports:  helping passengers avoid long lines at security checkpoints.  The Transportation Security Administration is looking at installing devices in airports that home in and detect personal electronic equipment.  The aim is to track how long people are stuck in security lines.

U.S. eavesdropping agency says Perfect Citizen is purely R&D.  The program, dubbed Perfect Citizen, is "purely a vulnerabilities-assessment and capabilities-development contract," Judith Emmel, a National Security Agency spokeswoman, said in an email to Reuters.  "This is a research and engineering effort," she said.  "There is no monitoring activity involved, and no sensors are employed in this endeavor."  The Wall Street Journal, in its Thursday [7/8/2010] editions, described Perfect Citizen as relying on sensors it said would be deployed in networks running critical infrastructure such as the electricity grid and nuclear-power plants.

NSA Denies It Will Spy on Utilities.  The NSA is denying a report from the Wall Street Journal that a secret program code-named "Perfect Citizen" will be monitoring civilian networks.  That's from a rare public statement by the ultra-secret agency responsible for spying on outsiders and defending classified networks.  The NSA, as a wing of the military, is largely prohibited from operating within the U.S.

Putting Private Info on Government Database.  Far more personal information on students than is necessary is being collected by public schools, according to the Fordham Law School Center on Law and Information Policy, which investigated education records in all 50 states.  States are failing to safeguard students' privacy and protect them from data misuse.  Some states collect a lot of data that has nothing to do with student test scores, including Social Security numbers, disciplinary records, family wealth indicators, student pregnancies, student mental health, illness and jail sentences.  A couple of states record the date of a student's last medical exam and a student's weight.

CDC uses shopper-card data to trace salmonella.  As they scrambled recently to trace the source of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened hundreds around the country, investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention successfully used a new tool for the first time — the shopper cards that millions of Americans swipe every time they buy groceries.

More about supermarket discount cards.

How much information can the government demand from us?  We don't have to give corporations [personal information].  We do so for our convenience.  If I don't want a credit card company to track my spending habits, I can pay cash.  If I don't want Safeway to track my product purchases, I don't have to have a membership number.  I like the convenience of credit cards and I like the discounts that go with grocery store membership cards, but I can quit playing the game at any time to preserve my privacy.  The stakes are different, though, when the government is involved.  When it's the government demanding your information, you have no leeway to say "no!"

Tracking Your Digital Trail.  Since the mid-1970s, market research firms and pollsters have worked to collect value and lifestyle ("VALS") data on children and adults from any source capable of generating an analysis — popular magazines, surveys, telephone polls, school questionnaires, psychological screening instruments, census forms, and even academic tests. ... A few parents were aware that such tactics were encroaching upon educational settings, but viewed them as more an invasion of privacy than an outright violation of their childrearing prerogatives.  Until the other shoe dropped.  Along came the computer and the Internet.

Big Brother? — Area cameras would record all license plates.  If recent grant applications win approval, all vehicles traveling on certain local traffic arteries would have their license plates automatically recorded and checked against a U.S. criminal records database.  A surveillance system would run every plate number through the National Crime Information Center, a computerized index maintained by the FBI.  If the number matches someone with an outstanding warrant, or a criminal record, or perhaps just a person of interest in a local investigation, police would be alerted.

Lower Merion School District sued for cyber spying on students.  Lower Merion School District officials brag that they give every one of their 1,800 high-schoolers laptop computers to "ensure that all students have 24/7 access to school-based resources."  Instead, they ensured they got a 24/7 sneak peek into students' private lives by secretly monitoring webcams embedded in the laptops to spy on teens and their families at home, according to a federal, class-action lawsuit filed this week in Philadelphia.

Federal judge orders school district to stop spying on students.  A Pennsylvania school district has been ordered to disable equipment allowing officials to watch students using cameras on their laptops.  The order, issued Wednesday [2/24/2010] by a federal judge, will prevent school administrators from turning on cameras installed on students' school-issued laptops remotely.

Big Teacher Is Watching You.  My laptop's webcam now has a postage stamp covering it.  Does yours?  This week, a district court judge in Philadelphia, PA, had to do the unthinkable:  issue an order preventing a school district from further remote reactivation of webcams on laptop computers issued to nearly 2,000 high school students, a practice which has left many students and parents wondering whether school administrators had unfettered access into their homes and lives.

When schools spy on their students, bad things happen.  Last week the Robbins family, whose son Blake attends LMSD's Harriton High, filed a class-action suit against the district alleging that it's been spying on its students via webcams on school-supplied MacBooks.  The suit came about after Blake Robbins was called into the assistant principal Lindy Matsko's office last November to discuss "inappropriate behavior" he was displaying — at home.  The proof?  A snapshot of him taken with his laptop's Webcam.  Apparently Matsko thought Blake was popping pills.  According to Robbins, he was merely eating candy:  Mike-N-Ikes.

Students'-eye view of Webcam spy case.  Students at Harriton High School in Lower Merion School District near Philadelphia are given Apple MacBook laptops to use both at school and at home.  Like all MacBooks, the ones issued to the students have a Webcam.  And, in addition to the students' ability to use the Webcam to take pictures or video, the school district can also use it to take photographs of whomever is using the computer.

School 'Spycam' in Student's Home Sparks Outrage in Philly Suburb.  A school district in suburban Philadelphia apparently thought it had devised the perfect anti-theft device for the laptops it issued its students — until parents discovered the plan involved secretly using a Web camera to snap photos of their children, even in their bedrooms at home.

School Snoops on Students at Home Via Computer Camera.  The Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, school district lent high school sophomore Blake Robbins an Apple MacBook laptop last fall, and then utilized security software on the computer's webcam to take pictures of him in his home.  The pictures involved him sleeping and getting dressed, but the school district's information systems coordinator Carol Cafiero contends in a lawsuit that Robbins had "no legitimate expectation of privacy" with the laptop.

The American inquisition:  Considering all those privacy statements I've received over the years, one may reasonably conclude that everyone understands the importance of keeping personal information secure. ... So why is it that government gets away with disregarding your right to privacy?

Taxes could get sky-high with aerial technology.  A new high-tech aerial photography system that can spot an illegal porch from 5,000 feet is being marketed to tax assessors as a way to grow revenue.  Pictometry International Corp. says it offers tax assessors 12 different views of every square foot of building or land in a jurisdiction that buys their system.  They call it "sophisticated visual intelligence."  State Sen. Jeff Van Drew has another name for it.  "It's Big Brother," said Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic.

Wisconsin court upholds GPS tracking by police.  Wisconsin police can attach GPS to cars to secretly track anybody's movements without obtaining search warrants, an appeals court ruled Thursday [5/7/2009].

Courts Divided on Police Use of GPS Tracking.  If a police officer puts a GPS tracking device on your car, should he or she have to get a warrant first?  It's a simple question, but one, so far, without a clear legal answer.  In an example of how unsettled the issue is, in just the past week, appeals courts in two different states delivered completely opposite rulings.

Big British Brother:  [The National Post's] editorial board traditionally has argued that, in the post-9/11 age, law-enforcement and security services should enjoy broad powers to investigate and apprehend terrorists.  But even we are appalled by a British proposal, revealed over the weekend, to monitor the telephone, cellphone, text message, e-mail and Web surfing activity of every citizen in the U. K. in the name of homeland security.

Britain To Put CCTV Cameras Inside Private Homes.  As an ex-Brit, I'm well aware of the authorities' love of surveillance and snooping, but even I, a pessimistic cynic, am amazed by the governments latest plan:  to install Orwell's telescreens in 20,000 homes.  £400 million ($668 million) will be spend on installing and monitoring CCTV cameras in the homes of private citizens.  Why?  To make sure the kids are doing their homework, going to bed early and eating their vegetables.

Britons Weary of Surveillance in Minor Cases.  It has become commonplace to call Britain a "surveillance society," a place where security cameras lurk at every corner, giant databases keep track of intimate personal details and the government has extraordinary powers to intrude into citizens' lives.

FBI compiling big database of physical traits.  The FBI has embarked on a $1 billion effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.  Digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns already are flowing into FBI systems….

FBI Spearheads Biometric Program with Other Nations.  The FBI is spearheading the creation of a biometrics program, called 'Server in the Sky,' with international partners using biometric information — such as irises and palm prints — to create a worldwide database of criminals and terrorists.

[...and everybody else, while they're at it.]

Total Informational Awareness.  A project of the United States Department of Defense, Total Informational Awareness (TIA) is designed to gather personal data on a grand scale, including emails, phone calls, financial records, transportation habits, and medical information.  Its proponents believe that by scanning and analyzing this massive pile of data, government agents will be able to predict and prevent crime.

[If that is true, they would also be able to detect and prevent any opposition to Big Brother.]

Update:
Homeland Security revives supersnoop.  Homeland Security officials are testing a supersnoop computer system that sifts through personal information on U.S. citizens to detect possible terrorist attacks, prompting concerns from lawmakers who have called for investigations.  The system uses the same data-mining process that was developed by the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness (TIA) project that was banned by Congress in 2003 because of vast privacy violations.

Safer homes, safer neighborhoods.  Police Chief Cathy Lanier wants to help parents and others who fear their own children or other family members might have a gun in the home.  As part of her Safe Homes initiative, the chief announced that officers would be going door-to-door asking residents for permission to search their home and seize illegal property (guns, drugs, etc.)  No warrants.  Just knock, ask, agree and the latex gloves begin searching.

The Editor says...
The usual shills will argue, "If you have nothing to hide, why would you object?"

Sounding the Alarm on Government-Mandated Data Retention:  By waving the red flag of fighting child pornography, seemingly intelligent and usually well-meaning legislators appear ready to create the mother of all big-brother database laws, a treasure trove of personal data that will ultimately be available for every fishing expedition under the sun.

Additional information about Data Retention is on this page.

And if you're worried about leaky interactive databases, read this.

'Big Brother' is the boss.  When the Town of Babylon (New York) installed global positioning system technology in most of its fleet of 250 vehicles in January, officials touted it as a way to improve efficiency, particularly during emergencies such as snowstorms.  However, the system also is being used to monitor worker behavior — a realization that has left town employees increasingly nervous.

Living Under Surveillance:  Telecom giant AT&T has allowed the National Security Agency (NSA) to set up what could only be called a "spy room" on AT&T property to make routine monitoring of phone calls easier. … Face-recognition software was successfully tested during Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa, Florida, with approximately 100,000 faces being scanned and identified. … The FBI, apparently unsatisfied with their success using data mining, is issuing so many National Security Letters (NSLs) — administrative subpoenas that require no probable cause while simultaneously precluding the recipient from ever disclosing that the letter was issued — that they plan to automate the process of tracking them.

Protecting Yourself From Suspicionless Searches While Traveling:  Only a judge can force you to answer questions, and then only if the Fifth Amendment does not apply.  While no Fifth Amendment right protects the data on your laptop or phone, one federal court has held that even a judge cannot force you to divulge your password when the act of revealing the password shows that you are the person with access to or control over potentially incriminating files.  See In re Boucher, 2007 WL 4246473 (D. Vt. November 29, 2007).

'Snooper's charter' to check texts and emails.  Local councils, health authorities and hundreds of other public bodies are to be given the power to access details of everyone's personal text, emails and internet use under Home Office proposals published yesterday [8/12/2008].  Ministers want to make it mandatory for telephone and internet companies to keep details of all personal internet traffic for at least 12 months so it can be accessed for investigations into crime or other threats to public safety.

NYC mayor:  Get used to surveillance.  Residents of big cities like New York and London must accept that they are under constant watch by video cameras, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday [10/1/2007].  Bloomberg, holding talks with his London counterpart Ken Livingstone, said such measures as London's "ring of steel" — a network of closed-circuit cameras that monitors the city center — were a necessary protection in a dangerous world.

D.C. police set to monitor 5,000 cameras.  D.C. officials are giving police access to more than 5,000 closed-circuit TV cameras citywide that monitor traffic, schools and public housing — a move that will give the District one of the largest surveillance networks in the country.

Who's Listening In on You?  Simply put, monitoring every phone call, every e-mail message, and every instant message flowing through America will not result in a reasonable reduction of the risk of terrorist attacks.  Unless there are a lot more terrorists in the United States than even the most pessimistic estimates would suggest, increased monitoring will result in little else but loss of privacy and increased expense.  (It would also result in a veritable cornucopia of business for security firms and technology providers, all paid for with taxpayer money.)

U.S. to Expand Domestic Use Of Spy Satellites.  The U.S.'s top intelligence official has greatly expanded the range of federal and local authorities who can get access to information from the nation's vast network of spy satellites in the U.S.  The decision, made three months ago by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, places for the first time some of the U.S.'s most powerful intelligence-gathering tools at the disposal of domestic security officials.

Federal, local police bypass subpoenas, get phone data from brokers.  Those using data brokers include agencies of the Homeland Security and Justice departments — including the FBI and U.S. Marshal's Service — and municipal police departments in California, Florida, Georgia and Utah.  Experts believe hundreds of other departments frequently use such services.

This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2014 by Andrew K. Dart



We must learn from other countries' experiences.

England had the great idea to put up surveillance cameras almost everywhere (just like in 1984) as a sure way to eliminate crime.  There's still just as much crime, but now the cops have pictures of it.  Unfortunately they also have pictures of everyday people minding their own business.

This nonsense can happen here, too, if we let it.

Germany's plan to take on NSA: Block eavesdroppers with classical music, and use typewriters.  Politicians in Germany have devised an ingenious solution to combat the threat of eavesdropping by American spies: playing classical music during their meetings.  MPs who sit on the spying committee had become so concerned that US agents might listen in to their discussions that they had ordered classical music to be played, to drown out the discussions.  On arrival at the meeting, The Suddetusche Zeitung reported that for "security reasons" MPs had to put their mobile phones and computers into a large metal box to ensure that they were not subjected to outside surveillance.

U.K. Govt. Seeks Massive Communications Surveillance Powers.  "Unless you are a criminal, then you've nothing to worry about from this new law."  How many times have humans heard that old saw?  Only as many times as governments have taken away more of their liberties in the name of fighting crime.  The latest politician to utter those infamous words is British Home Secretary Theresa May.  Defending her government's plan to require communications providers to store details of every e-mail, telephone call, and text message in the United Kingdom, May called the proposal "sensible and limited" and denounced opponents as "conspiracy theorists ... with ridiculous claims about how these measures infringe freedom."

Britain will be first country to monitor every car journey.  Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded.  A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.  Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.

Your family is being watched 24-7.  What's next in surveillance-happy Britain?  Cameras in private homes?  Actually, yes.

Britain risks becoming 'Orwellian society'.  An increase in closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras risks turning Britain into an Orwellian society, a senior police officer said in an interview broadcast today.

It's all just a façade.
Tens of thousands of CCTV cameras, yet 80% of crime unsolved.  London has 10,000 crime-fighting CCTV cameras which cost £200 million, figures show today.  But an analysis of the publicly funded spy network, which is owned and controlled by local authorities and Transport for London, has cast doubt on its ability to help solve crime.  A comparison of the number of cameras in each London borough with the proportion of crimes solved there found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.

Britain's multi-billion-pound CCTV network 'an utter fiasco which has failed to cut crime'.  Britain's network of CCTV cameras has been branded "an utter fiasco" for failing to cut crime, despite billions of pounds being spent on it.  Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, who is in charge of closed-circuit television for the Metropolitan Police Force, claimed only 3 percent of the capital's street robberies are solved using security camera footage and criminals are not afraid of being caught on film.

80 percent of CCTV images 'ineffective'.  Britain's surveillance society was exposed as ineffective yesterday [10/19/2007] by a damning official report which revealed 80 percent of CCTV footage is of poor quality and that the cameras are mostly used to trap motorists rather than catch criminals.  The Government and police chiefs want to extend the network which monitors Britons — already the world's biggest with an estimated one camera for every 12 people — even further to cover all "public space".

Councils Told:  Stop Spying On The Public.  Bosses have been warned by the head of the Local Government Association (LGA) that they risk alienating the public for so-called snooping.  They may also be stripped of the right to use spying methods.  But Sir Simon Milton defended councils that used surveillance to tackle fly tippers, rogue traders and tax and benefit fraudsters.  There has been growing anger about the methods used by councils to probe minor crimes, such as dog fouling.

Electronic Visual Surveillance and the Reasonable Expectation of Privacy:  Public video surveillance has recently become one of the most conspicuous manifestations of, and effective instruments in, the exercise of the state's police powers.  The development of surveillance technology, and its late convergence with state of the art computers, databases, and telecommunication systems, has dramatically enhanced government's ability to perform its law enforcement functions.  But, it has equally increased the tension between the need of government to combat the daily threats to public safety and the right of law-abiding citizens to be secure from the potential privacy abuses of modern policing technology.

Surveillance Nation.  News broke this week that the [British] police have a series of databases recording the personal details of thousands of people who attend protests or rallies, which are searchable by a number of officers and come complete with color photographs assembled and printed onto "spotter cards" which are then distributed to enable agencies to monitor attendees at events.  Cost of this part of the surveillance state alone?  Over nine million pounds.



NJ Bill Would Prohibit Anonymous Posts on Forums.  Too much important opinion, including that leading to the founding of the country, was published anonymously to permit the government to ban anonymous opinion.  Even unto this day, anonymous pamphleteering is an honorable activity at the core of the First Amendment. … I would expect that such a statute, were it to be enacted, would be quickly challenged and almost as quickly overturned.

TSA Lied About Protecting Passenger Data.  This is major stuff.  It shows that the TSA lied to the public about its use of personal data again and again and again.

IBM Becomes Speed Enforcer in UAE.  IBM will begin installing a "Smart Box" system in vehicles in the United Arab Emirates next year, potentially generating millions in traffic fines for the Gulf state.

Covert Video Cameras:  Who's Watching Me?  The controversial news of the National Security Agency (NSA) conducting domestic spying puts a spotlight on the issue of surveillance in general. Have you ever wondered, for instance in your place of employment or at the local shopping mall, if you were being watched?

SFPD Officer Accused of Using Airport Cameras to Ogle Women.  A police officer is facing possible disciplinary action for allegedly using surveillance cameras at San Francisco International Airport to ogle women as they walked through the terminal, according to San Francisco Police Commission documents.

Watching You:  Systematic Federal Surveillance of Ordinary Americans.  To combat terrorism, Attorney General John Ashcroft has asked Congress to "enhance" the government's ability to conduct domestic surveillance of citizens.  The Justice Department's legislative proposals would give federal law enforcement agents new access to personal information contained in business and school records.  Before acting on those legislative proposals, lawmakers should pause to consider the extent to which the lives of ordinary Americans already are monitored by the federal government.

Schools Adjust to Student-Tracking System.  This month marks the first anniversary of a student tracking system that has nabbed 155 individuals in its first year for various suspicious activities, including using forged documents.

Warrants as a Security Countermeasure.  More and more, we are living in a society where we are all tracked automatically all of the time.  We can all be tracked by our cell phones.  E-ZPass tracks cars at tunnels and bridges.  [In Dallas, they're called Toll Tags.]  Security cameras record us.  Our purchases are tracked by banks and credit card companies, our telephone calls by phone companies, our Internet surfing habits by Web site operators.  The Department of Justice claims that it needs these, and other, search powers to combat terrorism.

Privacy from Government in a Transparent Society:  Individuals face a greater threat to their privacy from government than from the private sector.  In general, people have little or no control over what information is collected, how much is shared or how securely it is stored.  If a business refuses to keep private information about one's consumer preferences secure, consumers can take their business elsewhere.  But they hardly have the same opportunity when it comes to the Department of Motor Vehicles or the IRS.

Is the IRS putting your private data at risk?  The Internal Revenue Service already takes your money.  As if that weren't painful enough, it also seems that the IRS doesn't adequately protect your private information, according to a recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.  Curious?  You should be.

Sweden May Spy On E-Mails.  Sweden's government presented a contentious plan Thursday [3/8/2007] to allow a defense intelligence agency to monitor — without a court order — E-mail traffic and phone calls crossing the nation's borders.  The government insists only a fraction of the electronic communications will be affected, but critics worry the program, designed to combat terrorism and other threats to national security, is too far-reaching.

The Agency That Could Be Big Brother.  Thirty years ago, Senator Frank Church, the Idaho Democrat who was then chairman of the select committee on intelligence, investigated the [NSA] and came away stunned.  "That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people," he said in 1975, "and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything:  telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter.  There would be no place to hide."  He added that if a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. "could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back."

ACLU Calls New "Secure Flight" Passenger Profiling System Invasive, Inadequate and Ineffective.  In comments filed with the Department of Homeland Security, the ACLU has offered deep criticism of the "Secure Flight" airline passenger screening program.  The ACLU said that many of the privacy and civil liberties concerns identified in the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II) remain with its successor, Secure Flight.

License Plate "Guns" and Privacy:  New Haven police have a new law enforcement tool:  a license-plate scanner.  Similar to a radar gun, it reads the license plates of moving or parked cars and links with remote police databases, immediately providing information about the car and owner.  Right now the police check if there are any taxes owed on the car, if the car or license plate is stolen, and if the car is unregistered or uninsured.  A car that comes up positive is towed.

Olympic Spy Zeppelin Flies Into Greek Flak.  Greek activists say a 200-foot surveillance zeppelin patrolling Olympic Athens tramples on civil rights and have launched legal action to ground it.  The blimp, dubbed Big Brother by local media, carries a battery of hi-tech sensors from spy cameras to chemical agent detectors and is part of Greece's $1.2 billion security plan.

DOJ Seeks the Power To Disable PC Security.  The U.S. Department of Justice is to request government authorization to use covert methods to disable security measures on PCs prior to criminal investigations, according to Friday's Washington Post. The legislation is reportedly entitled the "Cyberspace Electronic Security Act".

Minneapolis approves gunfire sensors.  The Minneapolis City Council approved a new system (called "Shot Spotter") that detects the sound of gunfire in the city, allowing police to respond more quickly to possible crimes. … The system's sensors are hidden in units the size of a coffee can, and criminals cannot detect them.  "They have no idea where the system is deployed," says [Shot Spotter CEO James] Beldock.

[Nonsense.  The sensors will be in fixed locations, and anyone with eyes should be able to find them all.]

The Patriot Act reduces privacy and undercuts judicial review.  The assumption has been that there was simply too much liberty and privacy in America — and that federal law-enforcement agencies did not have enough power.  To remedy that perceived problem, policymakers rushed the USA Patriot Act into law.  The Patriot Act was designed to reduce privacy and increase security.  It has succeeded in at least reducing privacy.  Financial privacy is essentially gone.  The feds have turned banks, brokerage houses, insurers and other financial institutions into state informers.

Big Brother is Watching You.  The issues involved have little to do with privacy, although Americans like to think of their cars as their own private little domain.  The issues involved are constitutional in nature, and have to do more with fairness than privacy.

Watching Your Every Move:  Comprehensive government databases and new invasive technologies threaten our system of checks and balances, presenting an unprecedented potential for tyranny.

The Loss of Privacy:  The advance of technology poses a new threat to privacy.  Today vast amounts of information once considered personal and private are collected, shared and cross-referenced in massive databases without the knowledge or consent of those affected.  Included in the list are school records, financial records, buying habits information, and medical records.

Carnivore: The Government Wants Your E-Mail.  The FBI has assured congress that only communications covered by warrants will be kept and any non-relevant material destroyed, but what else are they going to say?  Can you imagine a federal official testifying before congress that "well, we think it's a neat way to find out who's misbehaving".  These assurances of honorable intent would be more comforting if they weren't coming from an agency that happily trotted over hundreds of raw FBI files, many on political adversaries of the Clinton's, to the White House.

Minnesota Private Police Database Shut Down.  Some saw it as the sort of tool that could help police protect citizens, but others decried it as a Big Brother network operating outside the bounds of state regulation.

Secret U.S. court OKs electronic spying.  In an unexpected and near-complete victory for law enforcement, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review overturned a lower court's decision and said that Attorney General John Ashcroft's request for new powers was reasonable.

New Technology:  Security Precautions or Privacy Violations  The Pentagon's already developing a system that can track and library every car and driver in a city, a complex matrix of cameras and computers constantly sifting information about the traffic, looking for suspicious activity.

IRS Tightens Controls Over Tax ID Numbers:  After raising concerns about potential security risks, the Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday [12/17/2003] tightened restrictions on identification numbers issued to taxpayers who are ineligible for Social Security numbers.

Vanishing Liberties:  Where's the Press?  On March 18 [2003], the Associated Press reported that at John Carroll University, in a Cleveland suburb, Justice Antonin Scalia said that "most of the rights you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires" because "the Constitution just sets minimums."  Accordingly, in wartime, Scalia emphasized, "the protections will be ratcheted down to the constitutional minimum."

Complexities Of Federal Data Mining:  Whether or not the powers of the federal government to mine data make us safer from terrorism is open to serious question.  The government has yet to prove its efficacy in fighting terrorism.

How Much Is Privacy Worth?  The Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether the government is automatically on the hook for illegally releasing private data.  The feds say individuals must prove harm before claiming compensation.

Plan to snoop on fliers takes intrusion to new heights:  The government now is proposing to take screening to an unprecedented level of intrusiveness:  rifling through extensive commercial and government data on all air travelers without their knowledge or permission and using the information to assign each flier a security-risk ranking.

Privacy Villain of the Week: North Central Texas Council of Governments.  According to a report in the Dallas Star-Telegram, members of the North Central Texas Council of Governments are pushing a plan to record and archive the movements of motorists in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex as viewed on 159 traffic cameras.  The highly dubious justification given for the move is a potential bioterrorist attack at a football stadium that no one notices at the time.  By recording everyone, the Council of Governments can later decide what cities to quarantine.

ACLU report says the US is heading toward a Big Brother society.  The United States is evolving into a Big Brother society as technology advances and post-September 11 surveillance increases, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a new report.

More Surveillance on the Way:  The USA Patriot Act opened loopholes that let electronic communications service providers give customer records to law enforcement officials without a warrant.  In lay terms, the folks that provide your email account are an electronic service provider, and your actual emails could fall into the category of customer records.

Conservatives Go on the Offense:  The privacy issue was discussed in terms of making certain that any information the government can gather on law-abiding citizens in the name of national security is information you would not mind falling into the hands of Hillary Clinton should she someday become president or attorney general.

Why the Pentagon Wants to Spy on Your Shopping:  Did you realize the Pentagon will soon know about every gun, book, magazine, Twinkie, condom and everything else you buy?  The reason for the massive database:  to seek "patterns indicative of terrorist activity," defense officials said [recently].

Watching You:  Systematic Federal Surveillance of Ordinary Americans  Federal data collection empowers the United States government to obtain personal information about every American citizen:  the checks he writes, the types of causes he supports, what he says "privately" to his doctor.  The result — and often the purpose — is a profound erosion of individual autonomy.

Feds Share College Students' Info:  Student aid applicants, check the fine print.  That information you put on your application to the U.S. Department of Education is being shared with the Pentagon, the Justice Department and other agencies, even private companies like debt collectors.

The Number of the Beast:  Worldwide systems of pervasive surveillance might make it easier for the spies and for law enforcement, but is that a sufficient excuse for the establishment of a secret police?  As long as the existence and purpose of these systems are denied by my government and held secret from me in the name of some bogus national security, then they are wrong, and I object.  A system like Carnivore or Echelon, well known to any conceivable enemy of the state but kept hidden only from everyday citizens and operated outside of the purview of due process, has no business in a free society.  Yet somehow these defenders of our liberty expect us to lie down and accept their lies and their invasion into our daily lives.  That's what they are counting on.

Big Brother is watching you read:  Increasingly, the government is demanding that bookstores reveal what books their customers have purchased. Bookstore owners and privacy advocates say that's scarier than a Stephen King novel.

Big Brother Wants to Watch You Even MoreYour phone bill records, your bank account, your medical records.  All will be exposed to more prying eyes if federal and (increasingly) international snoopers get their way.

Big Brother is On-line: Public and Private Security in the Internet

Security trumps privacy:  In the name of thwarting terrorism, Americans are more accepting than ever of technology that tracks their every move.

Liberty and Privacy: Connections.  If property is liberty's other half, privacy is its guardian.  The right to privacy is essential to the preservation of freedom for the simplest of reasons.  If no one knows what I do, when I do it, and with whom I do it, no one can possibly interfere with it.  Intuitively, we understand this, as witness our drawing the curtains and pulling the window shades down when prowlers are about.  The threat to freedom comes from both the criminal and the state, from any and all ways and means in which others forcibly overcome our will.  Just as we do not want burglars casing our homes, we should fear the government's intimate knowledge of the many details of our daily lives.

Feds implement perpetual census:  Critics of [2000]'s decennial census "long form" may soon find a similar questionnaire in their mailboxes as the U.S. Census Bureau begins implementing a revised version of the American Community Survey.

Reveal Everything Just to Keep a Driver's License:  Driving may obligate you to tell bureaucrats minute details of your health problems and other personal matters.  Dean C. Eger of New Bern, N.C., was stunned when he received a 10-page questionnaire this month from the state Division of Motor Vehicles.  Some of the 114 questions were to be answered by him, the others to be filled out by his physician.  Failure to answer in 30 days "will result in cancellation or denial of your driving privilege."

Condit's Zone of Privacy — And Ours:  The press has done to him what he would do to us.

High-Tech Peeking Requires Warrant:  The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 across ideological lines (June 11, 2001) that police must get warrants before using high-tech devices to search homes from the outside.

House Leadership Turns Up Heat on Privacy:  House Majority Whip Tom DeLay has urged the Bush administration to cut the U.S. from any participation in an international privacy-invading program being promoted by Europeans. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, DeLay congratulates the Bush administration for refusing to go along with an attempt by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to sanction low-tax nations for their supposedly "unfair" competition against the high-tax welfare states.

EU row on use of phone records:  European Union ministers approved a British-backed measure yesterday [6/27/2001] to allow the police access to telephone, email and internet records.

Warning:  Internet Privacy at RiskThe effort to deprive you of the privacy that comes with the Internet — "the people's medium" – is taking on worldwide Orwellian proportions.

Eurosnoops Want to Invade Communications Privacy

Cyberbrother Is WatchingImagine not having to file an income tax form every year, or sending out change-of-address notices or renewing your driver's license, because all the information concerning these personal matters is part of a nationwide data bank.  That world exists — it's called Finland.

Next FBI Director: Privacy or the Jackboot?  Your right to privacy could hang in the balance when President Bush nominates an FBI director to replace Louis Freeh.

Feds Buy Citizens' Most Personal InformationBanned by law from snooping around in the private lives of American citizens, the FBI, IRS and about 35 other inquisitive government agencies just go out and buy information about citizens from huge personal data-gathering companies.

HHS Chief to Alter Privacy Rules

Campaign Finance 'Reform' Risks PrivacyPart of the bill that raises personal privacy issues is getting little attention.

Nosy Pupil Surveys Rile Parents

Privacy Debate Rages as Government Increases Watchdog Role

Where Does Privacy Begin?  In the continuing saga of government invasion of our personal privacy, today (02/20/2001) could be a landmark day.

"Wiretapped nation":  The British government's plan to wiretap the entire country is so outrageous it seems to have been put forward just to see if anybody is paying attention.

Firestorm Hits Capitol Hill As Americans Protest 2000 CensusPhone lines are ringing off the wall in Congressional Offices as Americans express their outrage over the intrusive questions on the 2000 Census form.  Even the short form's "eight simple questions" invade personal privacy as it asks if the home is owned or rented, who owns it and what is the telephone number.  All of this information is already available to the government through federal, state and local records.  What does such information have to do with assuring an official count of the nation, as called for in the Constitution?

House leader demands action against Clinton invasion of medical privacy.

All That Data, All That Secrecy Big Brother may know who you are, but do you know who Big Brother is?  If you showed up at the Federal Trade Commission's workshop on the privacy implications of database marketing Tuesday, [3/13/2001] the answer is probably still no.

The secret FISA court: Rubber stamping on rights(FISA = Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act)

Big Brother Goes High-Tech

Privacy a Victim of the Drug War

Big Brother Is Monitoring Us by Databases

Privacy International – The 2000 US Big Brother Awards



Social Security Numbers:

How many of you remember when Social Security cards included a statement that they were not to be used for identification?  That was one of the promises made when Social Security was established.  Somehow that disclaimer seems to have disappeared - new Social Security cards don't have it.  Today many states include a person's Social Security number on his or her driver's license, and people are beginning to speculate about the Social Security number showing up on the National ID Card, when and if it materializes.

Frequently Asked Questions on Social Security Numbers and Privacy

The Privacy Act of 1974 is the primary law affecting the use of SSNs.

My Social Security Number:  How Secure Is It? When Social Security numbers were first issued in 1936, the federal government assured the public that use of the numbers would be limited to Social Security programs.  Today, however, Social Security numbers are used for many purposes, including employee files, medical records, credit reports and banking information.  In fact, the Social Security number (SSN) is now required for dependents over one year of age, and is the most frequently used recordkeeping number in the United States.

Data theft hit 80 percent of active military.  Social Security numbers and other personal information for as many as 2.2 million U.S. military personnel — including nearly 80 percent of the active-duty force — were among the data stolen from the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs analyst last month, federal officials said yesterday [6/5/2006], raising concerns about national security as well as identity theft.

Stopping the Surveillance State:  For all intents and purposes, the Social Security number is now a national ID.  The use of the Social Security number has become so widespread that most Americans must produce a Social Security number to get a fishing license, and members of Congress must show their Social Security number in order to vote on the House floor.

Putting the SSN genie back in the bottle?  There were several stories in the news today about a delay in implementing new privacy-enhancing legislation in Texas.  All SSNs were to have been stricken from publicly-accessible documents, including title records, deeds, tax liens and birth and death records, but in response to complaints that this work could not be completed in time, Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a letter delaying the requirement by 60 days.

Privacy Survival Guide:  How to Take Control of Your Personal Information.

Princeton Uses Social Security Numbers to Hack into Yale Admissions Database:  reported in Yale Daily News, 7/25/02

No problem with agencies sharing data?  A General Accounting Office report has claimed that privacy experts "have no problems" with the collection and use of Social Security numbers by state motor vehicle agencies, though experts who spoke with WorldNetDaily disagreed with the agency's assertion.

Your Social Security Number to be Shared

Feds are exempt from mortgage privacy noticesAn estimated 60 percent of the mortgage market is not required to send customers those privacy notices other consumers have been receiving, by law.  If your mortgage is covered by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you likely won't even be asked whether you wish to "opt out" of having your name, personal financial information and Social Security number exchanged with other marketers or entities.


"Subtler and more far-reaching means of invading privacy have become available to the government.  Discovery and invention have made it possible for the government, by means far more effective than stretching upon the rack, to obtain disclosure in court of what is whispered in the closet."

- US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, 1928.


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