Thursday, December 05, 2013

The ongoing illegal spying (and the silences from some on the left)

The big news in yesterday's news cycle was via Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani (Washington Post) scoop about the NSA's tracking of basically everyone on the planet with a cell phone or tablet or other mobile communications device.  World Bulletin explains, "The National Security Agency gathers nearly 5 billion records a day on the location of mobile telephones worldwide, including those of some Americans, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing sources including documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden."

Margaret Hartmann (New York Magazine) points out, "As with other NSA surveillance programs, the agency can only legally collect information on foreign targets. It still scoops up the locations of Americans' cellphones 'incidentally,' but officials suggest they're too preoccupied with catching terrorists to keep track of Americans' boring day-to-day affairs."   Robert Schoon (Latino Post) notes:

[. . .]  though the NSA says it is not interested in everyone's data, and doesn't intentionally collect U.S. location information in bulk.
However, the non-targeted data is not simply thrown away, according to the report. Instead, it's being used as part of "target development" and "co-traveler analytics," - data analysis from global cellphone-tower identifiers to "compute the date, time, and location of any device in proximity to a known foreign intelligence target within a one-hour time window," to track previously unknown associates of the target who may be traveling or meeting with the known target.

Hold on a second.

I just realized we didn't include a warning.  Let me do that now.


That's because the US Socialist Worker is a worthless rag that can't even be bothered with noting the illegal spying -- so busy are they covering for Barack Obama.  They are so cowardly and so craven.

Contrast them with the World Socialist Web Site which has Eric London's report on the spying:

The Obama administration has responded to the leaks by flatly lying about the extent of the phone-tracking program. Robert Litt, head attorney for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said that “there is no element of the intelligence community that under any authority is intentionally collecting bulk cellphone location information about cellphones in the United States.”
Litt has carefully chosen his words. He claims that because the government focuses on information gathering abroad, any data collected from a US citizen is merely “incidental,” and therefore constitutional. Such a claim is little more than a pseudo-legal justification for a program that is unconstitutional on its face.

The Fourth Amendment to the constitution reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,” and explicitly prevents the use of “general warrants” to seize information from anyone upon any basis.

The US Socialist Worker these days lies about everything -- big and small.  Including that, "The feminist movement lost one of its most influential literary figures" -- no.  Doris Lessing was a Marxist and so US Socialist Worker has to praise her but Doris Lessing hated feminism and insulted it constantly. If that's news to you, go read Sady Doyle's In These Times piece.

An opinion piece in the Whitman Pioneer notes:

The fact that the NSA can and will lie brings into question how far they will take this precedent. Their track record shows that they are above the law and are able to cover their tracks for the sake of national security — however broad that definition may be. When the NSA can easily extract information from your own computer without your knowledge and can blatantly lie about how they are using it, how can we not question whether they will use their power to fabricate a fake story about somebody that they want to neutralize? They are the only ones with access to this information and they can lie to Congress, so who is going to stop them? We need to instill checks to their authority so that they cannot run rampant, breaking laws completely uncontested for the sake of national security.

Microsoft e-mailed the public e-mail account a post by Brad Smith (General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs) which includes:

Many of our customers have serious concerns about government surveillance of the Internet.
We share their concerns. That’s why we are taking steps to ensure governments use legal process rather than technological brute force to access customer data.
Like many others, we are especially alarmed by recent allegations in the press of a broader and concerted effort by some governments to circumvent online security measures – and in our view, legal processes and protections – in order to surreptitiously collect private customer data. In particular, recent press stories have reported allegations of governmental interception and collection – without search warrants or legal subpoenas – of customer data as it travels between customers and servers or between company data centers in our industry.
If true, these efforts threaten to seriously undermine confidence in the security and privacy of online communications. Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an “advanced persistent threat,” alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks.
In light of these allegations, we’ve decided to take immediate and coordinated action in three areas:

· We are expanding encryption across our services.
· We are reinforcing legal protections for our customers’ data.
· We are enhancing the transparency of our software code, making it easier for customers to reassure themselves that our products do not contain back doors.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates are noted in Kate Rummsrello's report for The Hill about the American Library Association efforts to secure privacy for library patrons:

The Library Association is backing legislation from Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), known as the USA Freedom Act, and joining with other advocacy groups in pushing it.
The bill would, among other things, lift the gag order that comes with an NSA surveillance request.
“We don’t want [library patrons] being surveilled because that will inhibit learning, and reading, and creativity,” Inouye said.
The ALA’s involvement in the surveillance debate is part of a broader expansion of the group’s advocacy in Washington.
In November, the association received a $1 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to increase its advocacy presence in Washington.

While the ALA is taking action, the Center for Constitutional Rights still doesn't have a response?

I've had seven phone calls from attorneys this morning pointing out that CCR met privately with Barack in his first term, privately and off the record and has still not disclosed what happened in that meeting.

CCR chose to violate their own ethics and that meeting is not forgotten.  When they're silent today, it only reminds left attorneys of how much Warren and the others betrayed the Constitution and the core ethics of CCR in their zeal to embrace 'identity politics.'  They really should be ashamed of themselves.

But, hey, they're the group, remember, that sent a whistle-blower to prison.  They supposedly care about the Guantanamo inmates, they supposedly wanted information, but when it was provided, CCR handed it to the government.  When a whistle blower provided the information, CCR forked it over.

They've got a lot to explain.  But they stay silent.

They kid themselves that people don't notice, but people notice.  Especially as they continue to provide cover for Barack Obama.

Takeaway?  If you're a whistle-blower, stay the hell away from the Center for Constitutional Rights -- as Matthew Diaz learned the hard way.  CCR didn't even marshal public support for him after he was released from prison and fought disbarment.

CCR hasn't even advocated for legislation to curb the NSA.  They're embarrassing (and all seven progressive attorneys calling today to ask me to call out CCR lay the blame at Vincent Warren's feet).  On legislation,  Rebecca Kaplan (CBS News) notes, "Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Mark Udall of Colorado and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland introduced an amendment to the 2014 defense authorization bill – which is still pending before the Senate – that would require agencies to disclose the history of or intention to collect location data on people who have no known connection to suspicious activities."  Canada's Guardian & Mail adds, "Another, led by long-time NSA critic and Republican house member Justin Amash, with bipartisan backing, has attracted more support from bodies concerned by NSA surveillance, who believe it contains more substantive checks and balances on the agency."

The news remains international news.  For example, India's IANS covers it here, the BBC covers it here, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper carries an article from England's Guardian newspaper here,  and the Irish Times carries a New York Times story here.

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