- 5/6, Steve Coll, The New Yorker, Remote Control
- 5/1, Amy Davidson, The New Yorker, A Hundred Hungry Men at Guantánamo
- 5/1, CBS News Poll, New York Times, Americans on Terrorism Threats
- 5/1, Cornelius Chapman, Boston Herald, Double standard on Patriot Act
- 4/30, Jason Koebler, U.S. News and World Report, Domestic Drone Arrest Database Being Built by Defense Lawyers Group
- 4/30, Robert Beckhusen, Wired, No One Wants the Pentagon’s Gigantic Hydrogen-Powered Drone
- 4/30, Amitai Etzioni, The Atlantic, Everything Libertarians and Liberals Get Wrong About Drones
Posts Tagged ‘PATRIOT Act’
- 3/24, Grant Gross, PC World, Bills would require warrants for police to use GPS tracking
- 3/24, David Pierce, The Verge, Mayor Bloomberg says surveillance drones are inevitable in NYC: ‘get used to it’
- 3/24, David Carr, New York Times, In Leak Case, State Secrecy in Plain Sight
- 3/24, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Washington Post, The CIA’s interrogation program deserves a public airing
- 3/24, Deborah Dupre, Examiner.com, Obama administration gives $50 million to keep Guantanamo open indefinitely
- 3/23, Traci Bridges, SCNow.com, Police drones? No thanks say local authorities
- 3/22, Elizabeth Flock, U.S. News and World Report, DHS Denies Massive Ammunition Purchase
- 3/22, Michael Endler, Information Week, Microsoft Reports On Patriot Act Data Requests
- 3/22, Joseph Menn and Deborah Charles, Reuters, US plan calls for more scanning of private Web traffic, email
- 11/14, The Rev. Jill Saxby, Bangor (ME) Daily News, Sen. Snowe can stand for truth and decency, vote to make results of torture investigation public
- 11/14, Jennifer Martinez and Brendan Sasso, The Hill, OVERNIGHT TECH: Failure of cybersecurity bill opens door for White House action
- 11/14, Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, Obama signs secret directive to help thwart cyberattacks
- 11/14, Nick Wing, Huffington Post, Texas Lawmakers Seek To Block NDAA Indefinite Detentions, Criminalize Certain TSA Searches
- 11/14, Charles S. Clark, Government Executive, Whistleblower protection act heads to president’s desk
- 11/13, Dave Lindorff, Albany Tribune, Done In By The Patriot Act?
Decorated documentarian Laura Poitras, renown for films such as “My Country, My County” and “The Oath”, recently profiled National Security Administration (NSA) whistleblower William Brinney. In this segment from an upcoming Op-Doc titled “The Program”, Binney details a post-9/11 NSA program he helped design, and explains how the federal government turned these tools against the American people.
Although law mandates that the NSA restrict intelligence collection to foreign communications, post-9/11 national security policies grant tacit authority to dishonor Americans’ right to privacy. Recalling his work on a program called Stellar Wind, Binney tells of a “separate” NSA operation established specifically for domestic spying. Binney states, “it was simply a different input; instead of foreign, it was domestic”. This description suggests that the NSA may perform domestic surveillance, despite legislative proscription, to the same extent it executes its express duties. In effect, Stellar Wind signifies a program created to circumvent constitutional protections.
While jeopardizing the right to privacy and chilling the freedoms of speech and association, the NSA’s Stellar Wind program also violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”). FISA governs matters of global communication regarding foreign intelligence. Though subsequent legislation such as the PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendment Act of 2008 (“FAA”) aggrandize domestic surveillance authority, no law may disturb the rights guaranteed by our Constitution. By violating Americans’ fundamental freedoms, the NSA creates insecurity in the nation it purports to protect.
Acquiescence to government misconduct enables further infringement upon civil rights. Engagement and organization are effective means of combating the erosion of our liberties. The House has already voted to extend the FAA for another five years, but the Senate does not vote on this matter until December. If the FAA fails to pass the Senate, this noxious law will expire. Contact or visit your state Senator’s office and demand that they represent your community’s opposition to secret civilian surveillance.
Visit BORDC’s Resources page for information on initiating civic activism.
A decade after Jay Bybee furnished legal subterfuge for the CIA’s regime of torture, the Brennan Center unearths another Bybee memorandum in which his perilous reasoning undermines fundamental American principles of justice. In this July 2002 memo, Bybee provides the White House with his interpretation of how the PATRIOT Act modifies the authority to distribute grand jury information among the president and government officials. The memo focuses particularly on information relating to foreign intelligence and national security. Empowering the government to break its own barriers, Bybee cites to the President’s inherent authority and implements imprecise legislative analysis to expand information sharing network and deter active oversight.
Though the PATRIOT Act’s language restricts the disclosure of grand jury matters to appropriate persons for official use, Bybee determines that “[i]n the context of grand jury material, an attorney for the government…may disclose the protected information without a court order to a number of different categories of federal officials”. Here we find Bybee instructing the government to circumvent its own means of tracking the distribution of potentially prejudicial information. This interpretation of the PATRIOT Act holds daunting implications, as law enforcement or intelligence agents may utilize grand jury information to conduct secret investigations on persons or groups.
Bybee’s persistent push towards a police state illustrates not only his disregard for American legal and judiciary tenets, but also his antagonism for the liberties of the people.The information-sharing provision of the PATRIOT Act amends Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), which sets the standards and restrictions for disclosing matters occurring before a grand jury. Prior to the PATRIOT Act, affairs of a grand jury could only be disclosed for specific purposes, such as to “assist an attorney for the government…to enforce federal criminal law”, or if sharing information constituted “necessary…conduct of [the sharer's] official duties”. Further demonstrating the sensitivity of grand jury material, Rule 6(e) also requires that “an attorney for the government must file, under seal, a notice with the court…that such information was disclosed”.
On Friday, the US Department of State decided to drop the Iranian opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) from its list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTO). The MEK has been the focus of intensive lobbying for removal from the list for several years and has been vocally supported by a number of prominent politicians, including US Senators and Representatives, as well as former administration officials.
Not limited to one party, supporters of the MEK range from Rudolph Guliani to Howard Dean. The terrorist status of the group has proved an uncomfortable situation for many of these politicians, who may have committed material support of terrorism by accepting fees and travel reimbursements to speak at rallies on behalf of the MEK when it was designated as a terrorist organization.
Under the interpretation of laws prohibiting material support to terrorism, expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act and upheld by the Supreme Court in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (2010), it is illegal for a person to provide “expert advice or assistance,” humanitarian aid, or even to advocate lawful non-violent activity, if it is coordinated with a group on the FTO list.
The severe ramifications of this law have resulted in solitary confinement and a fifteen year sentence for US citizen Fahad Hashmi, who allowed a suitcase of raincoats at his apartment, and a 17 year sentence for Tarek Mehanna, who translated a text by a Saudi religious scholar. The removal of the MEK from the FTO list demonstrates not only the double-standard for enforcement of material support laws, but also the over-broad and heavy-handed criminalization of constitutionally protected activity.
When the overbroad law resulted in investigations of prominent politicians and former officials, the law was not modified to address First Amendment concerns, but instead maintained, while a specific organization was removed from the terrorist list to accommodate those politicians’ activities. The material support law should be changed so that it doesn’t criminalize association, expression, or other activity protected by the First Amendment, or efforts aimed to advance humanitarian goals.
Earlier this month, Spanish authorities recovered a video illustrating a man guiding a large remote-controlled aircraft over southern Spain. At the pilots direction, the plane then slowly descended and dropped two small packages from both wings. Spanish authorities believe the video was recorded by an al Qaeda terrorist attempting to convert a toy plane into a deadly explosive. Three men were arrested, including Cengiz Yalkin, a Turkish National living in Spain as an al Qaeda cell facilitator, and two Chechen associates specializing in explosives.
Unfortunately, converting model air-crafts–originally intended for hobby purposes–into bombers is not unprecedented. In 2011, Rezwan Ferdaus, a Korean War veteran purchased miniature versions of the F-86 Sabre fighter jet, to build attack planes and destroy the Penatagon and U.S. Capitol with C-4 plastic explosives. He pleaded guilty last month. Before finding inspiration by al Qaeda’s ideology, Ferdaus was a Northeastern University graduate with a degree in physics.
In 2008, Christopher Paul, a Columbus Ohio resident, pleaded guilty to planning terrorist plots in both the United States and Europe. Paul, who allegedly joined al Qaeda in the early 1990s, conducted extensive research from 2006, on numerous remote-controlled miniatures, including a boat and helicopter.
While the federal government, through the the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) fail to regulate the purchases of certain models, both Senator Charles Schumer (D- New York) and Congressman John Mica (R-Florida) have called for further regulations as a result of these models getting into the wrong hands, and creating catastrophic results, whether through deploying explosives or chemical materials. Since the September 11th attacks, federal agents have asked organizations and hobby shops, such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics, to report any suspicious purchasers of model planes with questionable intentions. However, the FAA has yet to implement any new regulations regarding the suspicious purchases of models for criminal use.
In an ironic twist, the Obama Administration is under scrutiny for continuing President George W. Bush’s foreign policies in using drones for surveillance and missile strikes against terrorists. According to CNN, drones, which are similar to remote controlled air-crafts, have made “a dramatic impact in the campaign against al Qaeda and other terror groups in Pakistan — and is now being expanded to the Horn of Africa.” Drone strikes have increased from 52 during the Bush presidency, to an estimated 278 during the Obama administration.
The FAA should begin implementing regulations that will detect suspicious purchases of models. Hopefully, the FAA, organizations and hobby shop business owners are working with both federal and local law enforcement agencies in detecting such purchases. The government, without hindering miniature hobby enthusiasts, needs to continue developing protective measures to prevent potential attacks, as they did in 2008, 2011 and most recently in Spain.
August 2012, Vol. 13, No. 8
Director of National Intelligence and FISA Court admit warrantless surveillance violated Fourth AmendmentMonday, August 13, 2012 at 6:27 pm by Kaila C. Randolph
Last month, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) wrote a letter to James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, alleging that the federal government may be reviewing e-mails and phone calls of law-abiding Americans. In his response, Dir. Clapper explained his awareness of “at least one occasion” where the federal government violated the Fourth Amendment’s limitation on unreasonable searches and seizures in using its police power to wiretap and surveillance individuals without a warrant. In fact, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (“FISA”) Court found that “some collection carried out pursuant to the Section 702 minimization procedures used by the government were unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
The intelligence office also informed Sen. Wyden that the Obama Administration has addressed any concerns and the government’s efforts regarding intelligence continue to undergo close scrutiny from both Congress and the FISA Court, which considers government requests for electronic surveillance and physical searches of foreigners in the U.S., currently suspected of engaging in terrorism or espionage. The surveillance violated the Fourth Amendment but the “government claims it has “remedied” the FISA Court’s worries regarding the Fourth Amendment violation and will continue to “lawfully collect e-mails and phone calls.”
The FISA Court was established under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which provides an extension to the federal government’s use of wiretapping after September 11th, permitting the government to collect e-mail or phone communications made when at least one party is suspected to be outside of the U.S., therefore no longer requiring a warrant. Dir. Clapper explained, the federal statute “allows the Intelligence Community to collect vital information about international terrorists and other important targets overseas while providing robust protection for the civil liberties and privacy of Americans.” The government collects most of their intelligence regarding cell and phone calls, e-mails and texts through cooperation with large communication companies, such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon.
This summer, from August 6 to September 7, members of Congress will return home to meet with their constituents. During this time, representatives will be looking to hear the interests and concerns of constituents like you – presenting a perfect opportunity to express your views and make an impact. Congress is already set to consider several civil rights and civil liberties issues this year, including indefinite domestic military detention, and dragnet NSA surveillance and wiretapping.
Telling our representatives to stand up for our constitutional rights will be insufficient to beat back the national security state. But taking that step remains a critical part of a broader strategy. And it’s a part of the process that only you (and your neighbors) can fill.
Our federal representatives can take several actions this year to advance constitutional rights, whether by (1) voting to repeal the indefinite domestic military detention powers of the NDAA, (2) supporting the JUSTICE Act to fix dragnet surveillance abuses of the PATRIOT Act alongside FISA standards up for reauthorization this fall, or (3) supporting the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) to address a problem long ignored by our federal government.