- 5/20, The Associated Press, Fox News, AP president calls on Obama to ‘rein in’ DOJ probe into wire service’s records
- 5/19, Steve Holland, Reuters, Obama to discuss al Qaeda, drones, Guantanamo Bay in Thursday speech
- 5/19, Editorial Board, New York Times, Eavesdropping on Internet Communications
- 5/19, Dominic Rushe, Business Insider, AP: Sources Aren’t Talking To Us Out Of Fear The US Government Will Spy On Them
- 5/18, Miranda Green, Daily Beast, When Drones Come to America, What Happens Then?
- 5/17, Andrew Rosenthal, New York Times, The Forever War
Posts Tagged ‘surveillance’
Surveillance, secret interpretations, and secret authorizations: the story of Section 215 of the PATRIOT ActSaturday, May 18, 2013 at 10:04 am by Dave Mitchell
When one power is constrained (or simply not broad enough), interpret other powers to be unrealistically and shockingly expansive and shield that interpretation from public scrutiny…at least that’s what the FBI would tell you.
The FBI’s annual report on its use of spying powers released late last month reveals a meteoric 900% rise in the use of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act under the Obama Administration (see graphic). This provision, reauthorized in 2011, allows the FBI to force unwilling businesses to hand over “any tangible things” simply upon showing the closed-door Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts (FISA court) that they are “relevant” to an “authorized investigation” into “international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.” In a break with foundational Fourth Amendment principles, the person whose “tangible things” are sought need not be suspected of any criminal activity themselves. The FBI merely must show the FISA court that those “things” sought are “relevant” to an investigation into international terrorism.
So just how broad is this power?
A few courageous senators in the know have hinted that Americans would be “stunned” by the scope of the spy powers claimed under Section 215; the only problem is the government has kept this interpretation secret. Not only does this lack of transparency prevent public discourse on what the limits of the government’s powers should be, it also drips with irony under a president that denounced such broad powers as a “fishing expedition” while in the Senate.
5/16, Daniel Halper, Weekly Standard, Congressman: Justice Dept. Wiretapped the House of Representative’s Cloak Room
5/16, Josh Peterson, The Daily Caller, DOJ sought to surveil several thousand U.S. citizens in 2012
5/16, Alina Selyukh and Deborah Charles, NBC News, CISPA cybersecurity bill backers hope second time’s a charm
5/16, Charlie Savage, New York Times, Debating the Legal Basis for the War on Terror
5/16, Somini Sengupta, New York Times, Concerns Arise on U.S. Effort to Allow Internet ‘Wiretaps’
5/16, Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor, US loses track of terrorists in witness protection: Poor data sharing blamed
5/15, Matthew Alexander, MSNBC, New WikiLeaks film discusses government secrecy
- 5/13, David Kravets, Wired, Feds Won’t Say if NSA Surveilled New York Terror Suspects
- 5/13, Sari Horwitz, Washington Post, Under sweeping subpoenas, Justice Department obtained AP phone records in leak investigation
- 5/13, Matt Williams, Raw Story, Guantánamo hunger strikers subjected to harsh new method of force feeding
- 5/13, The Associated Press, New York Times, U.S. Secretly Obtains Two Months of A.P. Phone Records
- 5/13, Rebecca J. Rosen, The Atlantic, So This Is How It Begins: Guy Refuses to Stop Drone-Spying on Seattle Woman
- 5/10, Kelley Vlahos, The American Conservative, VA Whistleblower Ignites Firestorm Over Vets’ Illnesses
On May Day, the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission (PJC) and the Berkeley Police Review Commission (PRC) held a town hall on the issue of drones in Berkeley, which is part of Alameda County. County Sheriff Greg Ahern’s plans to purchase a drone, made public in fall of last year, spurred activists to push for a public hearing in February. The hearing was packed with residents of the county who were vocally opposed to the purchase. Without a clear policy, Sheriff Ahern would potentially be able to lend his drone to the Berkeley Police Department and other cities. He would also be able to fly his drone into Berkeley if he were in pursuit of a suspect.
In December of last year, the City Council started discussing a potential drone policy for the City of Berkeley. While the PJC recommended that Berkeley be a no-drone zone, some of the city council members were convinced that an all out ban was not ideal. They felt that drones could be used for “natural disasters, to locate missing persons or assist in crime investigations.” After voting down the PJC’s proposal, the council directed the PJC, along with the PRC and the Disaster and Fire Safety Commission to work together to make a recommendation.
The May 1st town hall featured overviews of the legal concerns drones raise from attorney Linda Lye of the ACLU of Northern California, who made it clear why drones are “qualitatively different” from other forms of aerial surveillance. Jennifer Urban, Professor and Co-Director at the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley, explained that courts are much slower than technological change, meaning that Fourth Amendment jurisprudence can lag years behind the widespread implementation of technology like drones. The upshot of her analysis? Community action and legislative fixes are the necessary response.
Parker Higgins, privacy activist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation(EFF) emphasized the technical aspects of drones and how they affect privacy, and Neil Satterlund of Alameda County Against Drones (ACAD) emphasized concerns around mission creep, meaning hat drones would inevitably be used for purposes far beyond what they were originally approved for.
One of the most powerful voices at the hearing was that of Andrea Pritchett of Berkeley Copwatch. She succintly explained why a no-drones zone was the best solution. Reflecting on Copwatch’s documentation of existing abuses of police power in Berkeley, Andrea stated that regulations on the use of drones such as those suggested by the ACLU would be:
wonderful in a climate with effective police accountability. In the absence of a way to control the police, even the best guidelines, restrictions, suggestions, are not really gonna have an impact.
5/10, Kevin Collier, Salon, Congress wants to let you unlock your cellphone
5/10, A.M. Gittlitz, TruthOut, Double Jeopardy: New York Activist Subpoenaed for Secret Grand Jury – Again
5/10, Max Fisher, Washington Post, Photos from Guantanamo’s force-feeding facilities
5/10, Natasha Lennard, Salon, Hidden in immigration reform, vast biometrics plan
5/10, Jonathan Weisman, New York Times, I.R.S. Apologizes to Conservative Groups Over Application Audits
5/9, Mark M. Jaycox, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Update to Email Privacy Law Must Go Further
5/8, Laurie Jo Reynolds and Stephen F. Eisenman , Creative Time Reports, TruthOut, Tamms Is Torture: The Campaign to Close an Illinois Supermax Prison
5/8, Scott Thistle, Bangor (ME) Daily News, Bill to allow police to use drones without search warrant heads to Maine Senate
5/7, Erin Durkin, Daily News (NY), On Muslim Surveillance, Bloomberg Questions Mayoral Candidates’ Intelligence
5/7, Charlie Savage, New York Times, U.S. Weighs Wide Overhaul of Wiretap Laws
5/7, Staff, Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, After Boston, Little Change in Views of Islam and Violence
5/6, John Knefel, Rolling Stone Magazine, Everything You’ve Been Told About Radicalization Is Wrong
- 4/30, John Reed, Foreign Policy, The White House responds to the “Stop CISPA” petition
- 4/30, Editorial Board, New York Times, The President and the Hunger Strike
- 4/30, Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare, The President’s Guantanamo Comments
- 4/30, Natasha Lennard, Salon, Government preparing to fine tech firms that don’t comply with wiretaps
- 4/30, Eyder Peralta, NPR, Poll: Most Americans Are OK With Surveillance Cameras
- 4/30, Inside Story Americas, Al Jazeera, CIA: Buying peace in Afghanistan?
The Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition (MCCRC) held a public forum on April 18 to discuss what effect “The War on Terror” has had on free expression and grassroots political organizing in Maryland and across the United States since 9/11. The forum featured four speakers whose presentations discussed a number of demonstrations of federal, state and local surveillance and their disruption of peaceful activism. The forum was opened by Kit Bonson, who explained the MCCRC’s desperate formation, saying:
The Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition (MCCRC) started because in the fall of 2010, 7 activists in Minneapolis and Chicago awoke one morning to find that their houses were being raided by the FBI. Boxes and boxes of their possessions were confiscated, including computers, papers, and family photos. Although they were never charged with any crime, they were called to testify in front of a Grand Jury.
In response, activists here in our area, as well as in cities around the country, came together to protest the use of the FBI and the Grand Jury process to harass and intimidate movement organizers. Basically, we wanted to stand in solidarity with activists who had not committed crimes or advocated anything other than nonviolence action. It was from these events that MCCRC was founded.
Saqib Ali, formerly a Maryland state legislator, is now the Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Maryland chapter (CAIR-MD). Ali spoke about the overwhelming surveillance of Muslim-American communities throughout the United States, describing the three major issues facing these communities as the “No Fly” list; the FBI’s infiltration of mosques and the growing presence of FBI informants in mosques; and the near-constant surveillance of Muslim communities. Ali explained that the “No Fly” list prohibits many Muslim-Americans from travel back and forth between the United States and countries abroad where family members may still be located. Ali specifically noted that the Transport Security Administration (TSA) compiles their “No Fly” list fairly arbitrarily, and lacks any legal recourse; not only is the reason for being on a “No Fly” list murky at best, but it becomes nearly impossible to remove oneself from that list.
Ali also discussed the FBI infiltration of mosques, both as a means to surveil Muslim community worshiping therein, as well as to persuade mosque members towards terrorist action and subsequently stage their arrests. He also discussed the more local development of an NYPD “Demographics” Unit, which singled out Muslim community centers of all kinds throughout New York and New Jersey for surveillance. He described the “Demographics” Unit as a “wide, indiscriminate dragnet of Muslim everyday things: barber shops, bookstores…”
Sue Udry, the Executive Director of the Defending Dissent Foundation (DDF), broadened the discussion beyond the Muslim-American community to discuss the many different examples of legitimate activism being disproportionately targeted by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. She specifically mentioned the “Ag Gag laws,” which aim at preventing whistleblowers from exposing any wrongdoing within agricultural operations. Within these Ag Gag laws is the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) which Udry and DDF describe as:
- 4/29, The Associated Press, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 30 arrested in NY during rally against drones
- 4/29, Ryan Gallagher, Staten Island (NY) Advance, More surveillance is not the answer (Commentary)
- 4/28, Sen. Rand Paul, Wall Street Journal, Rand Paul Replies on Combatants
- 4/27, Niels Lesniewski, Roll Call, Biden Backs Public Disclosure of Torture Report
- 4/26, Alex Marthews, Warrantless, Drowning in Data, Starved for Wisdom: The surveillance state cannot meaningfully assess terrorism risks
- 4/26, Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, White House backs off mandatory cybersecurity standards for companies