In a recent Nation article, Nicholas Niarchos tells the story of Ron Kuby, a lawyer who was representing a man charged with providing material support to the plotters of the foiled 2009 New York subway bombing. Kuby was summoned to a Joint Terrorism Task Force office in New York City and led to a conference room where, accompanied by law enforcement agents, he listened to recordings of three conversations between him and his client. Apparently, when the client called Kuby for legal advice, the government had been listening in.
Posts Tagged ‘FISA’
Original commentary by Steven Rosenfeld and published to Alternet on Decemer 17, 2013.
Pundits across the political left should be careful about heaping too much praise on U.S. District Judge Richard Leon for this week’s dramatic ruling that the National Security Agency’s electronic dragnet capturing Americans’ online activities is “significantly likely” to be unconstitutional, even though it is a powerful rebuke to America’s spymasters.
That’s because Leon, a longtime Republican warrior, is as much of a legal loudmouth and rightwing activist judge as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. More importantly, his elbows-out 68-page opinion is not going to be the last word on the government’s data mining. Leon’s ruling is one of several NSA-related suits moving through the federal courts, including rulings that have reached the opposite conclusion.
11/18, Yamiche Alcindor, USA Today, NSA grapples with huge increase in records requests
11/16, Brendan Sasso, The Hill, Supreme Court weighs NSA challenge
11/15, Matthew Weaver, The Guardian, NSA files: New York Times defends the Guardian’s Snowden leaks
11/15, Marjorie Cohn, Huffington Post, Voices From the Drone Summit
11/15, Editorial, Washington Post, Jeremy Hammond, hacker for Anonymous, sentenced to 10 years
11/15, Sari Horwitz, Washington Post, Justice is reviewing criminal cases that used surveillance evidence gathered under FISA
11/15, Chris Strohm, Bloomberg News, Silicon Valley Nerds Seek Revenge on NSA Spies With Coding
11/14, Center for Investigative Reporting, UT San Diego, Reddit chat: Losing the ‘surveillance war’
11/14, Michael Tarm, ABC News, Ex-FBI Agent Pleads Guilty to Being AP Source
11/14, Fabien Tepper, Christian Science Monitor, Google transparency report curiously opaque, thanks to FBI gag order
11/14, Laura Ryan, National Journal, Google: Government Information Requests More Than Double Since 2010
The first installment in this series explained how, as the left vs. right schism grows eclipsed by establishment vs. populist tension, Democrats risk getting left holding the bag of the national security state. This post explores the dangerous consequences that could pose for progressivism.
As the NSA spying scandal has progressed, congressional Democrats have grown co-opted by an Obama administration committed to defending, entrenching, and perpetuating the Bush administration’s legacy—despite the president’s campaign promises in 2008 to reverse it. This co-optation spells grave threats not only to partisan Democrats, but also to principled progressives attached to an ideology inadvertently weakened by partisan Democrats aligned with the president.
Rallying around President Obama…to shoot themselves in the feet
In August 2013, during the debate on the House defense appropriations bill, only 7 votes protected the NSA from debilitating budget cuts that would have ended its domestic bulk collection activities. Seven members of Congress could have changed the outcome of the vote, reflecting a razor thin (under 2%) margin of victory for the surveillance state.
That margin of victory could be explained in many ways. One explanation may surprise progressives: Democrats from the Bay Area and Chicago, representing safe blue seats, who were outspoken about surveillance abuses at one point, comprised the NSA’s entire margin of victory. They chose to resign their principles, oaths of office, and constituents’ concerns in order to support their partisan patron, the president. They’re carrying the Bush administration’s water because it’s now President Obama holding the glass.
This post was written by Trevor Timm and was originally published on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Deep Links blog.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and one of the NSA’s biggest defenders, released what she calls an NSA “reform” bill [yesterday].
Don’t be fooled: the bill codifies some of the NSA’s worst practices, would be a huge setback for everyone’s privacy, and it would permanently entrench the NSA’s collection of every phone record held by U.S. telecoms. We urge members of Congress to oppose it.
We learned for the first time in June that the NSA secretly twisted and re-interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act six years ago to allow them to vacuum up every phone record in America—continuing an unconstitutional program that began in 2001. The new leaks about this mass surveillance program four months ago have led to a sea change in how Americans view privacy, and poll after poll has shown the public wants it to stop.
Fight for The Future, in partnership with the BORDC, Restore the Fourth NYC, Demand Progress and other privacy groups in the Stop Watching Us coalition debuted their new film The NSA Video this week in Manhattan, New York.
BORDC Legal Fellow Matthew Kellegrew joined the crowd as it gathered under the Grand Arch in Washington Square Park in the cool air of New York in the fall. At first, only a few people milled about unsure what to do but before long the few strangers became an unmistakable crowd. The organizers donned NSA costumes, handed out popcorn and briefed the crowd on what was to come.
Originally published on The Slate.com.
Written by Sean Vitka
On Sept. 6, far away from the two high-profile challenges to the NSA’s dragnet surveillance programs filed by the ACLU and EPIC, attorney Joshua Dratel filed a motion demanding a new trial for his client, Basaaly Moalin, and three other defendants. The motion argued that the defendants’ constitutional and statutory rights were violated by the government’s surveillance, committed under the NSA’s mass telephone record collection. Furthermore, Dratel argued, the prosecution’s secrecy violated rules of discovery.
Dratel was reacting to FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce’s descriptions of warrantless surveillance of and exculpatory evidence regarding Moalin—public statements made to Congress on July 31. That was five months after a trial in which the government and the court prohibited Dratel from obtaining exactly that evidence, and five months after his client and the three other defendants were convicted.
A hearing held by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to discuss changes to programs under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) quickly devolved into unanswered or ignored inquiries from silent senators. The hearing, in response to information leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, was meant to start conversations about the unlawful programs under FISA and bring forth potential reforms. However, it was quickly reduced to senators blaming the media for misleading the American people, ironically not acknowledging their own role in the spy tactics employed by federal agencies as well as the fallout now encircling the Senate. By not making their practices and the extent of their powers transparent, the NSA has played a major role in keeping the public uninformed, and it now appears that even elected representatives are unwilling to own the damage their policies have done to American’s right to privacy.
Only two senators, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), actually posed relevant questions and made remarks about the lack of transparency within the NSA’s programs. Senator Udall questioned whether the NSA had any “upper limit” when it came to collecting phone records, followed by a troubling response: there is actually no limit on how many records can be collected by the NSA. When further questioned, Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, said that he was in support of a “lock box”, a collection of the phone records of everyone in the country to be looked through at any time, regardless of just cause or permission granted through the court system. Senator Wyden enquired about whether the NSA collected individuals’ cell site records, a question that was evaded at every turn by Alexander, who seemed unwilling to delve into the specifics of Wyden’s query. After repeated questioning, Alexander finally stated that the matter was classified, continuing the troubling trend of secrecy.
September 2013, Vol. 12 No. 09
View this newsletter as a webpage: http://www.bordc.org/newsletter/2013/09/
On September 17, Judge Claire Eagan of the secret FISA court declassified an August 29 legal opinion, responding to mounting public concerns about transparency.
Despite mounting outrage about NSA abuses revealed since May, the agency continues to operate with impunity under the protection of the FISA Court. This month, BORDC has actively informed public audiences about the profound implications of NSA surveillance and executive secrecy, particularly addressing the dangers of building backdoors to encryption software, and spying on the electronic communications of other countries.