Residents of San Diego county are justifiably concerned that new drone technology will soon be tested over their homes and schools. The area has recently been approved as an official FAA drone testing site. The people of Julian CA, in San Diego County, packed a crowded forum on the test site hosted by Back Country Voices. The event brought together a meeting of the minds to brainstorm ways to hold their local government accountable for brokering this deal with the FAA. Their concerns went beyond mere privacy concerns. What happens if a drone crashes and starts a fire? Who will be responsible? Will weapons be tested? How will local airspace be shared? Primary among the citizen’s concerns were the threats to privacy posed by the testing program.
Posts Tagged ‘drones’
President Obama announced that Jeh Johnson, former Pentagon General Counsel, would be his appointee to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Johnson has participated in many of the Obama administration’s most infamous policies: he oversaw the legal justification for the drone assassination of an American citizen, the expanded use of Military Commissions instead of federal courts to try terrorism suspects, and has aggressively defended US surveillance activities and the related crackdown on whistleblowers.
Since June, the documents released by Edward Snowden have revealed the vast extent of the NSA’s surveillance regime and raised concerns about the legal basis of the NSA’s programs. The Washington Post recently published another set of documents from Snowden that expose a new side of the NSA and its role in the war on terror. These documents show how the NSA’s participates in the targeted killing program that utilizes drones to attack terrorist groups — as well as many civilians — in countries like Yemen and Pakistan.
The drone campaign was previously thought to be solely the responsibility of the CIA, but it is now clear that the NSA and CIA collaborate closely on gathering information about targets. The documents detail how the NSA intercepted electronic communication about Hassan Ghul, an associate of Osama Bin Laden who had been released from detention in Pakistan. In this case, the NSA acquired an e-mail from Ghul’s wife, which helped pinpoint his location and facilitated a drone strike shortly afterwards, resulting in his death.
Between October 25 and the 28, an intimidating list of over 150 police departments, federal law enforcement agencies and private corporations participated in a series of militarized war games using the city of Oakland California as if it was their personal playground.
“In past years, Urban Shield has featured hostage-taking scenarios involving animal rights activists, and the bombing of an oil platform by Anarchists. In an interview, Sheriff Ahern said the scenarios are sourced from threats made to law enforcement and government agencies over the past five to ten years that have been documented by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center. “Many of those threats have used the formats of anarchy, in the form of white supremacy, of Muslim extremism,” Ahern said. “We simply use threats we’ve received over the last five to ten years that have been documented through our regional intelligence center.” (Eastbay Express)
9/17, Charlie Savage, New York Times, Extended Ruling by Secret Court Backs Collection of Phone Data
9/17, Editorial, New York Times, Steps Toward a Less Secret Court
9/17, NPR, Is The U.S. Drone Program Fatally Flawed?
9/17, Mike Masnick, TechDirt, FISA Court Pretends Every Member Of Congress Was Told Details Of Bulk Surveillance, Even Though They Weren’t
9/17, Josh Gerstein, Politico, Judge orders Guantanamo procedures unsealed
9/17, Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, Audit: Justice Department office overstated terrorism conviction statistics
8/15, Shahid Buttar, TruthOut, USA vs. NSA: Legislative Efforts to Curtail Spying
August 2013, Vol. 12 No. 08
View this newsletter as a webpage: http://www.bordc.org/newsletter/2013/08/
As the country continues to focus on the National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal, a rising tide of criticism has confronted the surveillance state.
In the last month, BORDC and coalitions we support across the nation have appeared in various press outlets to promote concerns about constitutional rights and the powers of police and intelligence agencies that abuse them.
Have you read BORDC’s blog lately? The People’s Blog for the Constitution has attracted a growing audience that has tripled over the past year. Featuring news & analysis beyond the headlines on a daily basis, it offers a great way to stay up to date and informed.
Highlights from the past month include:
- USA vs. NSA: Legislative Efforts to Curtail Spying by Shahid Buttar
- FBI answers questions about drones while evading real scrutiny by Nadia Kayyali
- The police state mindset in our public schools by John Whitehead
- Stop and Frisk found unconstitutional, communities vindicated by Michael Figura
- Media coverage bolsters the anti-surveillance movement by Isaac Kornblatt-Stier
- North Carolina move to restrict license plate scanners by Chris Burnett
- BORDC welcomes Communications Specialist Adwoa Masozi
- BORDC welcomes new Legal Fellow Matthew Kellegrew
- BORDC seeks Fall 2013 interns
- BORDC to rebrand as BORRN and launch new website
- BORDC’s George Friday and Shahid Buttar present at Democracy Conference
Every month, BORDC honors an individual who has made an outstanding contribution in his or her community to the movement to restore civil liberties and the rule of law. This month, the Patriot Award goes to Janet Weil for her extraordinary and committed activism and organizing over the last three decades.
To view campaigns supported by BORDC at a glance, visit our interactive campaign maps for local coalitions addressing surveillance and profiling by local law enforcement, or military detention under the NDAA. To get involved in any of these efforts, please email the BORDC Organizing Team at organizing (at) bordc (dot) org. We’re eager to hear from you and help support your activism!
- Nationwide: Activists challenge Congress during August Recess
- Montgomery County, MD: Grassroots activists challenge NSA spying
- Boston, MA: Coalition of privacy activists grows
- Providence, RI: Townhall challenges local politicians
- New York, NY: Amash amendment supporter challenged by constituents
- Chicago, IL: Coalitions voice support to defund NSA
- San Francisco, CA: Activists protest Pelosi
- Washington, DC: Coalition plans national mobilization challenging renewal of Verizon court order
- Miami, Orlando, and Tallahassee, FL: Statewide mobilization on immigration, mass incarceration
- New Orleans, LA and Newark, NJ: Cities adopt policies to limit cooperation with ICE
- King County, WA: Moves towards ending local law enforcement immigration support
At the end of July, a military court acquitted Pfc. Bradley Manning of “aiding the enemy,” a charge with dangerous implications for journalists. Manning supporters, however, should not be too quick to celebrate; the court convicted him of twenty other crimes and Manning faces nearly 100 years in prison.
On Monday, August 12, New Yorkers won a historic victory with a federal court ruling that the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) use of stop and frisk policing violated the constitution. Judge Shira Scheindlin found that the tactic violated both the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The plaintiffs and their attorneys, the Center for Constitutional Rights, brought the case to challenge blatant racial profiling by the NYPD.
Calls for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to face prosecution for lying to Congress continues to escalate. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has been one of the strongest voices for transparency around NSA surveillance.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently rejected a challenge to the sections of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that could allow for indefinite military detention of those who are suspected of substantially supporting terrorism.
As Janet Napolitano steps down as Secretary of Homeland Security, President Obama has looked for a new candidate to fill the position. Raymond Kelly, Police Commissioner of New York, has been cited as a possible successor to Napolitano, but his appointment would likely exacerbate the profiling and surveillance of Muslims throughout the country.
BORDC recently developed a grassroots action toolkit, a resource to provide guidance to grassroots constitutionalists engaging federal policymakers while in their home districts on recess.
August 28, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Groups and individuals will recreate the event on August 24 by traveling to Washington and gathering at the Lincoln Memorial, the setting where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.
September brings more than the end of summer and the start of the academic season. September 17 marks Constitution Day, commemorating the day, September 17, 1787, when our Constitution was signed.
On July 4, there were protests in dozens of cities standing in support of the Fourth Amendment and against unconstitutional NSA spying. The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is proud to support the Restore the Fourth movement, and played an especially active role in building a coalition to support the rally in McPherson Square in Washington, DC. This is a guide we put together about planning and executing successful protests. Please feel free to cross-post this anywhere you’d like.
To help encourage outreach, public education, and grassroots mobilization, BORDC has provided microgrants to coalitions that have participated in one of BORDC’s anchor convenings, such as the May 2013 convening in the Bay Area, CA. Grants of $300 to $500 are available to help active coalitions expand their local visibility, host events, and/or build capacity.
Hold your elected officials and candidates for office accountable: pledge to support only those who defend your civil liberties
Here’s an online opportunity to connect the dots and encourage greater respect for constitutional values by your state and federal representatives.
Help BORDC restore the rule of law
- Get involved! Volunteer, organize, raise your voice—we have an opportunity that’s right for everyone.
- Read our blog. We publish the latest civil liberties news, plus analysis beyond the headlines.
- Support our work! Donate online or mail a check or money order to:
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
8 Bridge Street, Suite A
Northampton, MA 01060
- 8/15, Larry Abramson, NPR, Drone Manufacturers Confident Domestic Industry Will Grow
- 8/14, Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic, An Educated Guess About How the NSA Is Structured
- 8/14, Brian Bennett and Alexei Koseff, Los Angeles Times, Drones descend on Washington – just for show
- 8/14, Julie Tate, Washington Post, Manning apologizes, says he ‘hurt the United States’
- 8/14, Dana Priest, Washington Post, Government surveillance spurs Americans to fight back
- 8/14, Spencer Ackerman, Guardian (UK), Intelligence committee urged to explain if they withheld crucial NSA document
- 8/14, Lara Seligman, The Hill, Feinstein, Durbin press for closing Gitmo, call prison an ‘abomination’
- 8/14, Anita Kumar and Jonathan S. Landay, Kansas City (MO) Star, Obama’s surveillance revisions omit limits on warrantless email searches
- 8/8, Ron Winslow, Wall Street Journal, NIH in Pact to Protect Privacy of Family, Maintain Research
- 8/8, Charlie Savage, New York Times, N.S.A. Said to Search Content of Messages to and From U.S.
- 8/7, Kara Brandeisky, Pro Publica, The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President
- 8/7, Brian Fung, Washington Post, NSA data was supposed to make the DEA’s job easier. Instead it makes prosecutors’ jobs harder.
- 8/7, Deborah Hastings, New York Daily News, Colorado voters will decide whether to issue drone-hunting licenses
- 8/7, Scott Wilson, Washington Post, Security threat from Yemen complicates Obama’s Guantanamo plan
- 8/6, Meline Milazzo, Huffington Post, It’s Never Too Late to Account for Our Torturous Past
On July 29th, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), received a letter from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) responding to his questions around the Bureau’s use of drones. Sen. Paul made it clear that he will not pursue his inquiry further at this time, clearing the way for the eventual confirmation of James Comey to lead the Bureau.
But while the FBI’s letter does provide some meager answers, what is more notable about the correspondence between the Senator and the FBI is the lack of real information it reveals.
Much like National Security Agency (NSA) spying, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts, and other secret law, the government has made clear yet again that policies and procedures that purportedly protect civil liberties will not be revealed to the public. Perhaps the secrecy is because those policies do not, in fact, include adequate protections.
As we reported a few weeks ago, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, current FBI director Robert Mueller admitted that the FBI uses drones to conduct domestic surveillance. When questioned further, he admitted that the Bureau was only “in the initial stages” of developing policies and procedures for the drone program.
The day after the hearing, Senator Paul issued an open letter to Director Mueller asking for specifics on the program by July 1. He requested transparency on the secretive program, including the number of drones the FBI has, whether they are (or could be) armed, and what privacy protections are or will be in place. Unsurprisingly, the FBI declined to respond. Senator Paul sent a follow up letter on July 9th again requesting a response.
- 8/5, Shira Ovide, Wall Street Journal, For Twitter, Free Speech Is a High-Wire Act
- 8/4, Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, In Afghanistan, a second Guantanamo
- 8/4, Jake Miller, CBS News, Hawks use terror threat to defend NSA surveillance
- 8/4, Staff, Associated Press, NC Law Grounds Some Surveillance Drones
- 8/4, Staff, Associated Press, States consider regulation of drones
- 8/4, Eric Lichtblau and Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times, Other Agencies Clamor for Data N.S.A. Compiles
- 8/3, Mark Mazzetti and Mark Lander, New York Times, Despite Administration Promises, Few Signs of Change in Drone Wars
- 8/2, Fred Kaplan, Slate, Damaged Goods: How the NSA traveled down a slippery slope—and how it can regain Americans’ trust
- 8/2, Michael Hirsh, National Journal, The NSA’s Future: A Tale of Two Committees
- 8/2, Ana Marie Cox, Guardian (UK) Opinion, Why have so many liberals been silent about NSA spying?