Edward Snowden,National Security Agency surveillance 2015-2016

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by The Wrong Guy, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

    FBI Says Edward Snowden Is Reason Companies Are Resisting Handing Over Phone Records

    By Jenna McLaughlin, The Intercept


    Companies became more resistant to the FBI’s collection of their customers’ information following revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, according to a Department of Justice Inspector General report released Thursday.

    Partly because of the stigma around the telephony program, where NSA collected millions of Americans’ phone information, “providers’ resistance” to the orders, and the length of time it took to get the records — sometimes months — the FBI used it much less. It also said it started to use other means instead, including overseas surveillance and the criminal legal system to retrieve information.

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  2. The Wrong Guy Member

    Federal contractor charged with stealing classified government information | LA Times


    Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they had arrested a National Security Agency contractor and charged him with stealing classified intelligence documents and digital files, the second time in three years that a contractor has been accused of taking secrets related to the ultra-secret agency’s surveillance programs.

    Harold Thomas Martin III, of Glen Burnie, Md., was secretly arrested in August after an FBI search of his vehicle and residence found “hard copy documents and digital information stored on various devices,” including “six classified documents obtained from sensitive intelligence” from 2014, according to a Justice Department complaint unsealed on Wednesday.

    Although the complaint offered no details, prosecutors alleged that the documents and digital files are “critical to a wide variety of national security issues” and that they reveal “sensitive sources, methods and capabilities” whose disclosure “could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.”

    The complaint charges Martin, who had a top-secret security clearance, with unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials, which carries a maximum one-year sentence in prison if convicted. He also is charged with theft of government property, an offense punishable by up to 10 years behind bars if convicted.

    Although the charges are relatively light, the case is potentially explosive because Martin worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, the same defense contractor that employed Edward Snowden, who copied more than a million documents and files in 2013 related to NSA surveillance, which he later gave to journalists. Snowden, who was charged with espionage, is now a fugitive.

    Booz Allen Hamilton said in a statement that it had fired Martin after learning of his arrest. “We continue to cooperate fully with the government into its investigation of this critical matter,” the company said.

    Martin, 51, was not charged with espionage or with passing the documents to a foreign government or anyone else. Officials said the case was kept sealed for more than a month to give investigators time to examine whether such disclosures had occurred.

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    FBI Arrested NSA Contractor for Allegedly Stealing Top-Secret Documents | The Atlantic

    NSA contractor arrested for theft of six classified documents | TechCrunch

    NSA Contractor Arrested for Allegedly Stealing Top Secret “Source Code” | Vanity Fair

    Neighbor Describes NSA Contractor’s Arrest: “I Thought the Third World War Started” | The Intercept
  3. The Wrong Guy Member

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  5. The Wrong Guy Member

    When CIA and NSA Workers Blow the Whistle, Congress Plays Deaf

    By Patrick G. Eddington, The Intercept


    Do the committees that oversee the vast U.S. spying apparatus take intelligence community whistleblowers seriously? Do they earnestly investigate reports of waste, fraud, abuse, professional negligence, or crimes against the Constitution reported by employees or contractors working for agencies like the CIA or NSA? For the last 20 years, the answer has been a resounding “no.”

    My own experience in 1995-96 is illustrative. Over a two-year period working with my wife, Robin (who was a CIA detailee to a Senate committee at the time), we discovered that, contrary to the public statements by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell and other senior George H. W. Bush administration officials (including CIA Director John Deutch), American troops had in fact been exposed to chemical agents during and after the 1991 war with Saddam Hussein. While the Senate Banking Committee under then-Chairman Don Riegle, D-Mich., was trying to uncover the truth of this, officials at the Pentagon and CIA were working to bury it.

    At the CIA, I objected internally — and was immediately placed under investigation by the CIA’s Office of Security. That became clear just days after we delivered the first of our several internal briefings to increasingly senior officials at the CIA and other intelligence agencies. In February 1995, I received a phone call from CIA Security asking whether I’d had any contacts with the media. I had not, but I had mentioned to CIA officials we’d met with that I knew that the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” was working on a piece about the Gulf War chemical cover-up. This call would not be the last I’d receive from CIA Security about the matter, nor the only action the agency would take against us.

    In the spring of 1995, a former manager of Robin’s discreetly pulled her aside and said that CIA Security agents were asking questions about us, talking to every single person with or for whom either of us had worked. I seemed to be the special focus of their attention, and the last question they asked our friends, colleagues, and former managers was, “Do you believe Pat Eddington would allow his conscience to override the secrecy agreement he signed?”

    The agency didn’t care about helping to find out why hundreds of thousands of American Desert Storm veterans were ill. All it cared about was whether I’d keep my mouth shut about what the secret documents and reports in its databases had to say about the potential or actual chemical exposures to our troops.

    Seeing the writing on the wall, I began working on what would become a book about our experience: “Gassed in the Gulf.” The agency tried to block publication of the book and attempted to reclassify hundreds of previously declassified Department of Defense and CIA intelligence reports that helped us make our case. After I filed a lawsuit, the agency yielded. We left and became whistleblowers, our story a front-page sensation just days before the 1996 presidential election. Within six months, the CIA was forced to admit that it had indeed been withholding data on such chemical exposures, which were a possible cause of the post-war illnesses that would ultimately affect about one-third of the nearly 700,000 U.S. troops who served in Kuwait and Iraq. None of the CIA or Pentagon officials who perpetrated the cover-up were fired or prosecuted.

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  6. The Wrong Guy Member

    Three New Scandals Show How Pervasive and Dangerous Mass Surveillance is in the West, Vindicating Snowden

    By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept


    While most eyes are focused on the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, three major events prove how widespread, and dangerous, mass surveillance has become in the west. Standing alone, each event highlights exactly the severe threats which motivated Edward Snowden to blow his whistle; taken together, they constitute full-scale vindication of everything he’s done.

    Earlier this month, a special British court that rules on secret spying activities issued an emphatic denunciation of the nation’s domestic mass surveillance programs. The court found that “British security agencies have secretly and unlawfully collected massive volumes of confidential personal data, including financial information, on citizens for more than a decade.” Those agencies, the court found, “operated an illegal regime to collect vast amounts of communications data, tracking individual phone and web use and other confidential personal information, without adequate safeguards or supervision for 17 years.”

    On Thursday, an even more scathing condemnation of mass surveillance was issued by the Federal Court of Canada. The ruling “faulted Canada’s domestic spy agency for unlawfully retaining data and for not being truthful with judges who authorize its intelligence programs.” Most remarkable was that these domestic, mass surveillance activities were not only illegal, but completely unknown to virtually the entire population in Canadian democracy, even though their scope has indescribable implications for core liberties: “the centre in question appears to be the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s equivalent of a crystal ball – a place where intelligence analysts attempt to deduce future threats by examining, and re-examining, volumes of data.”

    The third scandal also comes from Canada – a critical partner in the Five Eyes spying alliance along with the U.S. and UK – where law enforcement officials in Montreal are now defending “a highly controversial decision to spy on a La Presse columnist [Patrick Lagacé] by tracking his cellphone calls and texts and monitoring his whereabouts as part of a necessary internal police investigation.” The targeted journalist,Lagacé, had enraged police officials by investigating their abusive conduct, and they then used surveillance technology to track his calls and movements to unearth the identity of his sources. Just as that scandal was exploding, it went, in the words of the Montreal Gazette, “from bad to worse” as the ensuing scrutiny revealed that police had actually “tracked the calls and movements of six journalists that year after news reports based on leaks revealed Michel Arsenault, then president of Quebec’s largest labour federation, had his phone tapped.”

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  7. The Wrong Guy Member

    When the FBI Has a Phone It Can’t Crack, It Calls These Israeli Hackers

    By Kim Zetter, The Intercept


    Earlier this year, at the height of a very public battle between the FBI and Apple over whether the computer maker would help decrypt a mass murderer’s locked iPhone, it appeared that a little-known, 17-year-old Israeli firm named Cellebrite Mobile Synchronization might finally get its moment in the spotlight.

    After weeks of insisting that only Apple could help the feds unlock the phone of San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook, the Justice Department suddenly revealed that a third party had provided a way to get into the device. Speculation swirled around the identity of that party until an Israeli newspaper reported it was Cellebrite.

    It turns out the company was not the third party that helped the FBI. A Cellebrite representative said as much during a panel discussion at a high-tech crimes conference in Minnesota this past April, according to a conference attendee who spoke with The Intercept. And sources who spoke with the Washington Post earlier this year also ruled out Cellebrite’s involvement, though Yossi Carmil, one of Cellebrite’s CEOs, declined to comment on the matter when asked by The Intercept.

    But the attention around the false report obscured a bigger, more interesting truth: Cellebrite’s researchers have become, over the last decade, the FBI’s go-to hackers for mobile forensics. Many other federal agencies also rely on the company’s expertise to get into mobile devices. Cellebrite has contracts with the FBI going back to 2009, according to federal procurement records, but also with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secret Service, and DHS’s Customs and Border Protection. U.S. state and local law enforcement agencies use Cellebrite’s researchers and tools as well, as does the U.S. military, to extract data from phones seized from suspected terrorists and others in battle zones.

    The company is poised to seize a prominent and somewhat ominous place in the public imagination; just as Apple has come to be seen as a warrior for digital protection and privacy against overreaching government surveillance, Cellebrite is emerging as its law-and-order counterpart, endeavoring to build tools to break through the barriers Apple and other phone makers erect to protect data.

    “Vendors … are implementing more and more security features into their product, and that’s definitely challenging for us,” says Shahar Tal, director of research at Cellebrite. “But we’ve solved these challenges before [and] we continue to solve these challenges today.”

    In July, months after the unknown third party provided the FBI with a method for getting into the San Bernardino phone — an iPhone 5C running iOS 9 — Cellebrite announced that it had developed its own technique for bypassing the phone’s password/encryption lock. And the company is confident that it will be able to deal successfully with future security changes Apple may make to its phones in the wake of the San Bernardino case.

    “If it’s going to be done, it’s going to be done in this building,” Carmil told The Intercept during a visit to the company’s Israeli headquarters earlier this year.

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  8. Disambiguation Global Moderator

    Interview with Snowden about the election

  9. The Wrong Guy Member

  10. Disambiguation Global Moderator

    The thread title is now 2015-2016
  11. Disambiguation Global Moderator

  12. The Wrong Guy Member

  13. The Wrong Guy Member

    Obama Refuses to Pardon Edward Snowden. Trump’s New CIA Pick Wants Him Dead.


    President Obama indicated on Friday that he won’t pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even as President-elect Donald Trump announced his pick to run the CIA: Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo, who has called for “the traitor Edward Snowden” to be executed.

    Pompeo has supported nearly unfettered NSA surveillance, has blamed Muslim leaders for condoning terror, and is one of the most hyperbolic members of Congress when it comes to describing the Islamic State, which he has called “an existential threat to America” and “the most lethal and powerful terrorist group ever to have existed.”

    In an interview with Obama published on Friday, German newspaper Der Spiegel asked: “Are you going to pardon Edward Snowden?” Obama replied: “I can’t pardon somebody who hasn’t gone before a court and presented themselves, so that’s not something that I would comment on at this point.”

    But P.S. Ruckman, editor of the Pardon Power blog said Obama is wrong to suggest he couldn’t pardon Snowden if he wanted to. Ruckman noted that Obama has previously only granted pardons and commutations to people who have already been convicted. “I just think what he may have better said is: ‘I prefer that he present himself to a court and then we’ll talk turkey.’ But technically in terms of the Constitution, there are no restrictions at all.”

    The operative Supreme Court ruling, from 1886, states that “The power of pardon conferred by the Constitution upon the President is unlimited except in cases of impeachment. It extends to every offence known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment. The power is not subject to legislative control.”

    Obama said that although Snowden “raised some legitimate concerns,” he “did not follow the procedures and practices of our intelligence community.”

    Obama also suggested that the debate is between people holding two extremist positions: people who “think we can take a 100-percent absolutist approach to protecting privacy” and “those who think that security is the only thing and don’t care about privacy.”

    Very few people actually occupy either extreme. But Pompeo, a three-term congressman and former Army officer, is about as close as it comes to the latter.

    In a 2014 letter, Pompeo accused Snowden of “intentional distortion of truth that he and his media enablers have engaged in.” Pompeo supports virtually no legal barriers to having the NSA spy on Americans, and has alarmed civil liberties advocates with many of the positions he has taken while serving on the House Intelligence Committee. Not only has he argued that the NSA should resume its phone records program, he has called on Congress to “pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata, and combining it with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database.”

    “What’s needed is a fundamental upgrade to America’s surveillance capabilities,” reads a Wall Street Journal piece Pompeo co-wrote in January.

    Pompeo is also a staunch defender of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, calling it an “important national asset,” and repeatedly arguing that closing the facility would endanger Americans. He has also defended CIA torturers, saying that “these men and women are not torturers,” and that “the programs being used were within the law.” He called the exhaustive, 6,000-page Senate torture report “some liberal game being played by the ACLU and Sen. Feinstein.”

    Civil liberties groups immediately expressed concern about Pompeo as CIA director. The position requires Senate confirmation.

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  14. The Internet Member

    First, if the courts find the warrant less surveillance was unconstitutional then Snowden is a hero not a traitor.

    Second, I am ok with data-mining organized crime where there is real probable cause. But first safeguards against fishing expeditions targeting political adversaries or individuals just because someone is sure the person is up to no good. That makes people fall into confirmation bias, which makes them crazy, then they go on about how any day now the emails will prove the Clintons are running a child sex trafficking ring. Look where that got us.

    Third, holy shit Abu ghraib pictures! That shit was torture.
  15. DeathHamster Member

    The problem with data-mining and automated connect the dots software:

    Everyone is within five degrees of separation of a terrorist.
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  16. The Wrong Guy Member

    U.K. Parliament Approves Unprecedented New Hacking and Surveillance Powers

    By Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept, November 22, 2016


    A few years ago, it would have been unthinkable for the British government to admit that it was hacking into people’s computers and collecting private data on a massive scale. But now, these controversial tactics are about to be explicitly sanctioned in an unprecedented new surveillance law.

    Last week, the U.K.’s Parliament approved the Investigatory Powers Bill, dubbed the “Snoopers’ Charter” by critics. The law, which is expected to come into force before the end of the year, was introduced in November 2015 after the fallout from revelations by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden about extensive British mass surveillance. The Investigatory Powers Bill essentially retroactively legalizes the electronic spying programs exposed in the Snowden documents — and also expands some of the government’s surveillance powers.

    Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the new law is that it will give the British government the authority to serve internet service providers with a “data retention notice,” forcing them to record and store for up to 12 months logs showing websites visited by all of their customers. Law enforcement agencies will then be able to obtain access to this data without any court order or warrant. In addition, the new powers will hand police and tax investigators the ability to, with the approval of a government minister, hack into targeted phones and computers. The law will also permit intelligence agencies to sift through “bulk personal datasets” that contain millions of records about people’s phone calls, travel habits, internet activity, and financial transactions; and it will make it legal for British spies to carry out “foreign-focused” large-scale hacks of computers or phones in order to identify potential “targets of interest.”

    “Every citizen will have their internet activity — the apps they use, the communications they send, and to who — logged for 12 months,” says Eric King, a privacy expert and former director of Don’t Spy On Us, a coalition of leading British human rights groups that campaigns against mass surveillance. “There is no other democracy in the world, possibly no other country in the world, doing this.”

    King argues that the new law will cause a chilling effect, resulting in fewer people feeling comfortable communicating freely with one another. He cites a Pew survey published in March 2015 that found that 30 percent of American adults had altered their phone or internet habits due to concerns about government surveillance. “It’s going to change how people communicate and express their thoughts,” King says. “For a society that’s supposed to be progressive, that encourages open debate and dialogue, it’s awful.”

    Other civil liberties advocates are concerned that the new law will be viewed by governments across the world as a green light to launch similar sweeping surveillance regimes. “The passing of the IP Bill will have an impact that goes beyond the U.K.’s shores,” says Jim Killock, executive director of the London-based Open Rights Group. “It is likely that other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, will use this law to justify their own intrusive surveillance powers.”

    Despite the broad scope of the Investigatory Powers Bill, it generated little public debate in the U.K., and did not receive a great deal of coverage in the mainstream press. One reason for this was undoubtedly the U.K.’s shock vote in June to leave European Union — known as Brexit — which has dominated news and discussion in recent months. But there was another major factor for the swift passage of the law in the face of little backlash. The Labour Party, the U.K.’s leading opposition political party, had pledged to fight back against “unwarranted snooping,” but ended up supporting the government and voting in favor of the new surveillance law. “Blame has to be fixed on the Labour Party,” says Killock. “They asked for far too little and weren’t prepared to strongly challenge many of the central tenets of the bill.”

    In an effort to placate some of its critics, the government has agreed to strengthen oversight of the surveillance. The Investigatory Powers Bill introduces for the first time a “judicial commissioner” — likely a former senior judge — who will have the authority to review spying warrants authorized by a government minister. It also bolsters provisions relating to how police and spy agencies can target journalists in a bid to identify their confidential sources. New safeguards will mean the authorities will have to seek approval from the judicial commissioner before obtaining a journalist’s phone or email records; previously they could obtain this data without any independent scrutiny.

    The U.K.’s National Union of Journalists, however, believes that the law does not go far enough in protecting press freedom. The union is particularly alarmed that any potential surveillance of media organizations will be kept completely secret, meaning they will not be afforded the chance to challenge or appeal any decisions relating to them or their sources. “The bill is an attack on democracy and on the public’s right to know and it enables unjustified, secret, state interference in the press,” the union blasted in a statement last week, adding that “the lack of protection for sources has an impact on journalists working in war zones or those investigating organized crime or state misconduct.”

    Other issues relating to how the law will be applied remain unclear. It contains a provision, for instance, allowing the government to serve a company with a “technical capability notice,” which can include “obligations relating to the removal by a relevant operator of electronic protection applied by or on behalf of that operator to any communications or data.” Earlier this year, technology giants Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo criticized this power, expressing concerns that it could be used by the government to force companies to weaken or circumvent encryption technology used to protect the privacy of communications and data.

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  17. The Wrong Guy Member

    31 authors urge Obama to pardon Edward Snowden | Los Angeles Times


    Thirty-one authors have signed an open letter to President Obama, urging him to pardon Edward Snowden, the former U.S. government contractor charged with violating the Espionage Act for leaking National Security Agency documents to journalists.

    Writers who signed the letter include Michael Chabon, Ursula K. LeGuin, Cheryl Strayed, Neil Gaiman, Teju Cole and Joyce Carol Oates.

    "Throughout American history, the pardonable offense and the pardon privilege itself have functioned together as a uniquely direct system of check-and-balance between the individual citizen and the executive branch," the letter reads. "Both can be understood as extreme actions undertaken to mitigate the harm caused by judicial and legislative insufficiency; by courts that would rule unfairly, and by laws — like the Espionage Act — whose vagaries and datedness would make their application too severe or too broad."

    The authors argue that Snowden's actions were not treasonous, but instead patriotic.

    "Having sworn an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, Snowden proceeded to do just that," the authors wrote, "by releasing the information he’d uncovered to reputable institutions of our free press, in accordance with Jefferson’s principle that 'wherever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.'"

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  18. I only recently watched the movie "Snowden". I must say it was scary how the U.S monitor more than twice as many of its own citizens than Russians.
    Snowden is somewhat of a hero in my eyes
  19. The Wrong Guy Member

    Law Enforcement’s Secret “Super Search Engine” Amasses Trillions of Phone Records for Decades

    Electronic Frontier Foundation Fights For More Disclosure About Hemisphere Program


    Although the government still hides too much information about a secret telephone records surveillance program known as Hemisphere, we have learned through EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits that police tout the massive database of private calls as “Google on Steroids" [pdf].

    Hemisphere, which AT&T operates on behalf of federal, state, and local law enforcement, contains trillions of domestic and international phone call records dating back to 1987. AT&T adds roughly four billion phone records to Hemisphere each day [.pptx], including calls from non-AT&T customers that pass through the company’s switches.

    The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and other federal, state and local police use Hemisphere to not only track when and who someone is calling, but to perform complicated traffic analysis that can dynamically map people’s social networks and physical locations. This even includes knowing when someone changes their phone number.

    And federal officials often do it without first getting permission from a judge.

    Indeed, Hemisphere was designed to be extremely secret, with police instructed to do everything possible to make sure the program never appeared in the public record. After using Hemisphere to obtain private information about someone, police usually cover up their use of Hemisphere by later obtaining targeted data about suspects from phone providers through traditional subpoenas, a process the police call “parallel construction” and that EFF calls “evidence laundering.”

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  20. The Wrong Guy Member

    "Elizabeth Goitein is co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law."

    Trump will have wider spying powers than anything J. Edgar Hoover ever imagined

    By Elizabeth Goitein, Los Angeles Times


    President-elect Donald Trump is about to inherit the most powerful surveillance apparatus in history. Combining unprecedented technological capabilities with a lax legal regime, his spying powers dwarf anything the notorious FBI director J. Edgar Hoover could have fathomed.

    Many privacy and civil rights advocates worry Trump will seek to expand these powers further in order to spy on Muslim Americans, activists and political opponents. The truth is, he won’t have to. Because of our country’s rush to strip civil liberty protections from surveillance laws after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Trump will already have all the powers he needs and more.

    How did we get here? The laws that until recently safeguarded Americans from sweeping government intrusion were established in the 1970s, after a special Senate investigation revealed widespread abuses of intelligence-gathering. Almost every president dating to Franklin D. Roosevelt had a version of Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies list,” resulting in wiretaps of congressional staffers, executive officials, lobbyists, law firms and reporters. Between 1956 and 1971, under the program dubbed COINTELPRO (short for “counterintelligence program”), the FBI routinely spied on anti-war protesters and civil rights organizations. The bureau targeted Martin Luther King Jr. with particular ferocity, bugging his hotel rooms and using the resulting evidence of infidelity to try to induce him to commit suicide.

    To stem the abuses, the government implemented laws and regulations that shared a common principle: Law enforcement and intelligence agencies could not collect information on an American unless there was reason to suspect that person of wrongdoing. In some cases, this meant showing probable cause and obtaining a warrant, but even when no warrant was required, spying without any indication of criminal activity was forbidden.

    The thinking was that if officials had to cite objective indications of misconduct, they wouldn’t be able to use racial bias, political grudges or other improper motives as a reason to spy on people. This logic was borne out, as government surveillance abuses went from being routine to being the occasional scandalous exception.

    Then came Sept. 11. As swiftly as the principle had been established, it was rooted out. In 2002, the FBI abolished a rule barring agents from monitoring political or religious gatherings without suspicion of criminal activity. A 2007 law allowed the National Security Agency to collect calls and emails between Americans and foreign “targets” with no warrant or demonstration of wrongdoing by the American or the foreigner. Revisions to Justice Department guidelines in 2008 created a category of FBI investigation requiring no “factual predicate” — meaning no cause for suspicion. The list of erosions goes on.

    The instinct to remove any restrictions on surveillance when facing a national security threat is understandable, but misguided. Dragnet surveillance does not make us safer. The massive amount of useless data collected today only obscures the real threats buried within. Even the 9/11 Commission, which issued dozens of recommendations to improve national security, did not propose surveillance without suspicion.

    When privacy advocates and civil libertarians pushed Congress to restore protections, Obama administration officials said it was unnecessary because no abuse had been shown. Despite evidence that law enforcement was monitoring the Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements, lawmakers and much of the public accepted the government’s claim and continued to trust it with broad surveillance powers. Warnings that future administrations might be less trustworthy went unheeded.

    Those warnings now seem prescient. Trump has specifically called for more surveillance of American Muslim communities. His pick for national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has described Islam as a “cancer,” while his nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, has called the NAACP “un-American.” As a possible secretary of Homeland Security, Trump has floated Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, who compared Black Lives Matter to the Islamic State group and described peaceful protests against Trump as “temper tantrums” that should be “quelled.” Trump’s tendency to hold grudges is legendary: Referring to Republicans who did not support his candidacy, a Trump surrogate stated, “Trump has a long memory and we’re keeping a list.”

    In short, there is every reason to fear that Trump and his administration will target people for surveillance based on religion, political activism and personal vendettas.

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  21. DeathHamster Member

    Posted for irony...

    The Global Magnet Sky law recently passed. (CoS was lobbying for it, probably with hopes of abusing it.)
  22. The Wrong Guy Member

    U.S. to disclose estimate of number of Americans under surveillance | Reuters


    The U.S. intelligence community will soon disclose an estimate of the number of Americans whose electronic communications have been caught in the crosshairs of online surveillance programs intended for foreigners, U.S. lawmakers said in a letter seen by Reuters on Friday.

    The estimate, requested by members of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, is expected to be made public as early as next month, the letter said.

    Its disclosure would come as Congress is expected to begin debate in the coming months over whether to reauthorize or reform the so-called surveillance authority, known as Section 702, a provision that was added to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2008.

    "The timely production of this information is incredibly important to informed debate on Section 702 in the next Congress — and, without it, even those of us inclined to support reauthorization would have reason for concern," said the letter signed by 11 lawmakers, all members of the House Judiciary Committee.

    The letter was sent on Friday to National Intelligence Director James Clapper. It said his office and National Security Agency (NSA) officials had already briefed congressional staff about how the intelligence community intends to comply with the disclosure request.

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  23. The Wrong Guy Member

    In Major Privacy Victory, Top EU Court Rules Against Mass Surveillance

    By Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept


    The European Union’s top court has severely undermined the British government’s mass surveillance powers in a new ruling that could rein in police and spy agency investigations.

    In a judgment handed down in Luxembourg on Wednesday, the European Court of Justice declared that the “general and indiscriminate retention” of data about people’s communications and locations was inconsistent with privacy rights. The court stated that the “highly invasive” bulk storage of private data “exceeds the limits of what is strictly necessary and cannot be considered to be justified, within a democratic society.”

    Camilla Graham Wood, legal officer with the London-based group Privacy International, hailed the ruling as a victory for civil liberties advocates. “Today’s judgment is a major blow against mass surveillance and an important day for privacy,” she said. “It makes clear that blanket and indiscriminate retention of our digital histories – who we interact with, when and how and where – can be a very intrusive form of surveillance that needs strict safeguards against abuse and mission creep.”

    The European court’s panel of 15 judges acknowledged in their ruling that “modern investigative techniques” were necessary to combat organized crime and terrorism, but said that this cannot justify “the general and indiscriminate retention of all traffic and location data.” Instead, the judges stated, it is acceptable for governments to engage in the “targeted retention” of data in cases involving serious crime, permitting that persons affected by any surveillance are notified after investigations are completed, and that access to the data is overseen by a judicial authority or an independent administrative authority.

    The case was originally brought in December 2014 by two British members of parliament, who challenged the legality of the U.K. government’s Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act, which forced telecommunications companies to store records on their customers’ communication for 12 months. That law has since been replaced by the Investigatory Powers Act, which was recently approved by the British parliament and is expected soon to come into force.

    Though the U.K. voted to leave the European Union earlier this year, Wednesday’s decision remains – at least in the short term – highly significant, and will prove to be a severe headache for British government officials. The ruling will now be forwarded to the U.K.’s Court of Appeal, where judges there will consider how to apply it in the context of national law. It may result in the government being forced to make significant changes to controversial sections of the Investigatory Powers Act, which enable police and spy agencies to access vast amounts of data on people’s internet browsing, instant messages, emails, phone calls, and social media conversations.

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  24. The Wrong Guy Member

    Newly Declassified House Intel Report on Snowden Is “Rifled With Obvious Falsehoods”

    By Jenna McLaughlin, The Intercept


    The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Thursday unveiled its full 37-page report on its three-year investigation into Edward Snowden, drawing even more criticism for conclusions that have been called biased by supporters of the former NSA contractor.

    The report, released just days before a holiday weekend, is an extended version of a highly acerbic — and disputed — unclassified summary the committee published in September, describing the former NSA contractor as a “serial exaggerator and fabricator.”

    Snowden and other critics have vehemently denied the report’s conclusions.

    The House Committee authors allege Snowden’s concerns had more to do with petty workplace spats than moral uncertainty, citing interviews with his coworkers as well as his superiors — and suggest that he is not legally a whistleblower because he did not take advantage of internal channels available for formal complaints such as Congress and the inspector general.

    Snowden quickly derided the report, which delves into his personal and professional life, often citing seemingly petty workplace grievances. He tweeted to his more than 2.5 million followers that the document is “rifled with obvious falsehoods” — citing reporting by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Barton Gellman, who has also criticized the report.

    The extended report, according to U.S. News & World Report, actually addresses some factual concerns critics had about the summary published in September. The original report argued Snowden overstated his injuries and lied about his education, while the full investigation includes contrary evidence.

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  25. The Wrong Guy Member

    Top-Secret Snowden Document Reveals What the NSA Knew About Previous Russian Hacking

    By Sam Biddle, The Intercept


    To date, the only public evidence that the Russian government was responsible for hacks of the DNC and key Democratic figures has been circumstantial and far short of conclusive, courtesy of private research firms with a financial stake in such claims. Multiple federal agencies now claim certainty about the Kremlin connection, but they have yet to make public the basis for their beliefs.

    Now, a never-before-published top-secret document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden suggests the NSA has a way of collecting evidence of Russian hacks, because the agency tracked a similar hack before in the case of a prominent Russian journalist, who was also a U.S. citizen.

    In 2006, longtime Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down in her apartment, the victim of an apparent contract killing. Although five individuals, including the gunman, were convicted for the crime, whoever ordered the murder remains unknown. Information about Politkovskaya’s journalism career, murder, and the investigation of that crime was compiled by the NSA in the form of an internal wiki entry. Most of the wiki’s information is biographical, public, and unclassified, save for a brief passage marked top secret:

    Continued at
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  26. The Wrong Guy Member

    Implications of the newest Shadow Brokers offerings | MalwareJake

    Shadow Brokers are at it again, this time offering apparent Windows exploits and toolkits. The timing of this does not seem coincidental. If Shadow Brokers are to be believed, they've been holding the tools for some time and just now releasing the Windows toolkits. Previously, they have released other tool sets, but nothing that operated against or exploited Windows.

    Continued at

    More finds from the Shadow Brokers dump | MalwareJake

    Stolen NSA "Windows Hacking Tools" Now Up For Sale | The Hacker News
  27. The Wrong Guy Member

    This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alice Salles and

    5 Controversial Whistleblowers You Should Be Following on Social Media

    By Alice Salles, The Anti-Media, January 12, 2017


    Whistleblowers,” former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden once said, “are elected by circumstance.”

    More critical than who you are,” he continued, “is what you see.” And when you see something wrong but choose to look the other way, you’re part of the problem. At least that’s what the U.S. Department of Homeland Security seems to suggest.

    Nowadays, whistleblowers are more important than ever. As more and more news organizations are outed as perpetrators of phony information, using their platforms to spread propaganda that helps boost a particular political party or politician, the whistleblower’s presence in news organizations, government bodies, and major corporations is what guarantees the truth will be exposed — sooner or later.

    But to many of those who have already gone down that path, enduring soul-crushing scrutiny as a result, the work wasn’t over when they blew the whistle. Instead, they kept on going. Some even turned out to be investigative journalists, while others, like Snowden, continue to offer their expertise and input from afar. Indeed, Snowden is active on Twitter, and so are many others who have risked everything to speak out.

    Here’s a list of the top five whistleblowers you should be following on social media and around the internet.

    1. Jesselyn Radack

    In her tenure as an ethics adviser for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Radack reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had committed an ethics violation while interrogating John Walker Lindh.

    Lindh was dubbed the “American Taliban,” and he was captured in 2001 when America invaded Afghanistan.

    In the book, TRAITOR: The Whistleblower and the “American Taliban,” Radack explains her ordeal in detail, showing that due to her actions, the DOJ retaliated by giving her a poor performance review. She was also advised to leave and find employment elsewhere, risking a tainted reputation.

    In order to reveal what she saw and experienced, she eventually went around the DOJ, releasing emails after a court order for all Justice Department’s internal correspondence concerning Lindh came up short.

    Her actions in the name of truth eventually landed her in hot water, with the government “sending letters to bar associations in jurisdictions where she was licensed to practice law, referring her for a possible ethics violation, which kept her from finding work for years.”

    Now, Radack heads a Whistleblower and Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at In the recent past, Radack has represented the likes of Edward Snowden and other NSA whistleblowers.

    Follow her on Twitter at @JesseleynRadack.

    2. Thomas Drake

    A former senior executive of the NSA, Thomas Andrews Drake is also a decorated U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy veteran whose dedication to ethics and the constitution nearly turned him into a pariah.

    In 2010, the former official was indicted after being accused of providing classified material to a newspaper reporter between 2006 and 2007. Drake, who was 52-years-old at the time, “was also accused of obstructing justice by shredding documents, deleting computer records and lying to investigators who were looking into the reporter’s sources,” the New York Times has noted.

    At the time, the Times admitted the then-indictment of Drake proved “the [Barack] Obama administration may be no less aggressive than the Bush administration in pursuing whistleblowers and reporters’ sources who disclose government secrets.”

    Within the agency, Drake was one of the few officials who preferred to employ projects such as ThinThread, which was intended to protect the privacy of individuals while intelligence was being gathered. Despite his stance, leadership moved forward with another project — the much more expensive and invasive Trailblazer Project.

    Designed to gather similar data but without the encryption feature built into the ThinThread technology to provide privacy aspects,” Trailblazer was seen as a nightmare to those within the agency who were concerned about privacy issues. Drake attempted to use formal channels to voice his concerns, but his internal complaints seemed to go nowhere. After he contacted a staffer for Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee that he had met years prior to the adoption of Trailblazer, the staffer, along with three former NSA officials, filed a DoD Inspector General report that mentioned Trailblazer. Drake was a source for this report.

    In 2005, Drake contacted the Baltimore Sun’s Siobhan Gorman, sending her emails regarding a variety of topics. Being careful not to give her sensitive information, Gorman used what she learned from Drake, writing several pieces on waste, abuse, fraud, and of course, the Trailblazer program.

    The FBI eventually raided Drake’s home and seized his computer and files. Later, journalist Jane Mayer wrote that Drake felt president Obama’s NSA was committing crimes more serious than those committed by President Richard Nixon.

    Thanks to the work of people like Radack, all original charges against Drake were eventually dropped. Nevertheless, Drake did plead guilty to one misdemeanor count for exceeding authorized use of a computer.

    Follow him on Twitter at @Thomas_Drake1.

    3. Mordechai Vanunu

    Vanunu is a former nuclear technician from Israel.

    In 1985, after he lost his job amid government cuts, he was able to be readmitted as a technician at Negev Nuclear Research Center. At the time, Vanunu smuggled a camera into the facility and took 57 photographs. On October 27, 1985, he quit, and in 1986, he leaked the information he had obtained to British media, revealing that Israel had a nuclear program — a fact the country has long denied.

    Vanunu was eventually imprisoned and remained behind bars for 18 years, “11 of which were spent in solitary confinement.” He is now under house arrest and is not allowed to “own a cell phone, enter internet chat rooms, have contact with foreigners or leave Israel.”

    Follow him on Twitter at @VanunuMordechai.

    4. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

    Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) senior policy analyst Marsha Coleman-Adebayo blew the whistle on dangerous conditions African workers faced at a U.S. mining company in South Africa, but the EPA failed to respond. She then went to other organizations for help.

    She eventually sued the EPA, inspiring the passage of the Notification and Federal Employee Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act). Currently, Coleman-Adebayo serves as a member of the National Whistleblower Center’s Board of Directors. The group focuses on protecting the rights of employee whistleblowers.

    Follow her on Twitter at @nofearcoalition or on Facebook.

    5. Daniel Ellsberg

    The former military analyst for RAND Corporation was the man behind the Pentagon Papers leak.

    The 7,000-page document disclosed information on the Vietnam War, showing the Lyndon B. Johnson administrationsystematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress.”

    Ellsberg faced a series of felony charges, but his case was eventually dismissed in 1973. The judge at the time claimed the government had acted improperly. Ellsberg is a celebrated author and can be followed on Twitter, at @DanielEllsberg.

    It goes without saying that Edward Snowden is a must-follow on Twitter, as is John Kirakou, who blew the whistle on the use of torture by the CIA.

    Other whistleblowers who deserve honorable mention but are not on Twitter include Chelsea Manning [] — who released footage of American soldiers shooting at journalists in Iraq and is now forced to endure solitary confinement during her life sentence — and Jeffrey Sterling [], who revealed information about the CIA’s cyber warfare.

  28. The Wrong Guy Member

    NSA-leaking Shadow Brokers lob Molotov cocktail before exiting world stage | Ars Technica


    Shadow Brokers, the mysterious group that gained international renown when it published hundreds of advanced hacking tools belonging to the National Security Agency, says it's going dark. But before it does, it's lobbing a Molotov cocktail that's sure to further inflame the US intelligence community.

    In a farewell message posted Thursday morning, group members said they were deleting their accounts and making an exit after their offers to release their entire cache of NSA hacking tools in exchange for a whopping 10,000 bitcoins (currently valued at more than $8.2 million) were rebuffed. While they said they would still make good on the offer should the sum be transferred into their electronic wallet, they said there would be no more communications.

    "Despite theories, it always being about bitcoins for TheShadowBrokers," Thursday's post, which wasn't available as this article was going live, stated. "Free dumps and bullshit political talk was being for marketing attention. There being no bitcoins in free dumps and giveaways. You are being disappointed? Nobody is being more disappointed than TheShadowBrokers."

    The post included 61 Windows-formatted binary files, including executables, dynamic link libraries, and device drivers. While, according to this analysis, 43 of them were detected by antivirus products from Kaspersky Lab, which in 2015 published a detailed technical expose into the NSA-tied Equation Group, only one of them had previously been uploaded to the Virus Total malware scanning service. And even then, Virus Total showed that the sample was detected by only 32 of 58 AV products even though it had been uploaded to the service in 2009. After being loaded into Virus Total on Thursday, a second file included in the farewell post was detected by only 12 of the 58 products.

    Parting insult

    Malware experts are still analyzing the files, but early indications are that, as was the case with earlier Shadow Brokers dumps, they belonged to the Tailored Access Operations, the NSA's elite hacking unit responsible for breaking into the computers and networks of US adversaries. And given evidence the files remained undetected by many of the world's most widely used malware defenses, Thursday's farewell message may have been little more than a parting insult, particularly if the group has origins in the Russian government, as members of the intelligence community have speculated.

    "This farewell message is kind of a burn-it-to-the-ground moment," Jake Williams, a malware expert and founder of Rendition Infosec, told Ars. Russian ties make sense Given the inauguration [of Donald Trump] happens in a short time [from now]. If that narrative is correct and Shadow Brokers is Russian, they wouldn't be able to release those tools after Trump takes office. If you roll with that narrative, [the burn-it-to-the-ground theory] certainly works."

    Under such theories, Russian hackers attempted to sway the 2016 presidential election in favor of Trump in hopes he would his policies would be more favorable to Russia than Hillary Clinton. Once Trump takes office, Russian hackers would want to prevent any blowback from hitting the new president. Thursday's farewell message came within hours of a new dispatch from Guccifer 2.0, the online persona that leaked hacked Democratic e-mails that the US intelligence community said was a front for Russian operatives. In the post, Guccifer 2.0 strenuously rejected he was Russian and claimed evidence to the contrary was false.

    Thursday's dump came several days after Shadow Brokers members published screenshots of what they claimed were NSA-developed exploits for Windows systems. While the absence of the actual files themselves made analysis impossible, the screenshots and the file names suggested the cache may have included a backdoor made possible by a currently unpatched vulnerability in the Windows implementation of the Server Message Block protocol.

    Continued at
  29. The Wrong Guy Member

    Help keep an eye on police social media monitoring

    It doesn’t take long for the seemingly innocuous to develop dangerously

    B y Beryl Lipton, Muckrock


    There are a few basic guidelines to stay aware and safe of your surroundings. Be careful of ice on slick winter roads. Don’t mix bleach and ammonia. Keep an eye on new police technologies before they become too powerful.

    Part of being a conscientious member of American society relies on keeping tabs on our police, and social media surveillance has become an increasingly used tool of law enforcement.

    Numerous companies have cropped up to aid police and federal law enforcement attempting to monitor online interactions and comments. Groups like Geofeedia and Dataminr, SnapTrends and Lucidworks collect data from public social media posts, which can then be analyzed by insurance companies, marketing firms, and, yes, local law enforcement.

    And with pervasive surveillance, there’s a growing concern that what you say, like, or laugh at online may be misinterpreted, misread, and used against you.

    At MuckRock, we believe that concern is valid. It doesn’t take long for the innocuous to develop dangerously.

    The current capabilities of such software involve features like location-based monitoring, which in real time can collect and analyze posts within a particular area or by particular people...

    Contined at
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  30. Gnome Chomsky Member

    Thanks for your article on Controversial Whistleblowers WG, I'd somehow lost track of Mordechai Vanunu and Daniel Ellsberg.

    Time has a nasty habit of running away from you.
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  31. The Wrong Guy Member

    Edward Snowden's leave to remain in Russia extended for three years | The Guardian

    Former US intelligence contractor’s Russian lawyer also says Snowden can apply for country’s citizenship from next year

    Russia extends Edward Snowden's asylum to 2020 | CNN


    In the final weeks of the Obama administration, more than a million supporters have petitioned the White House to pardon Snowden. However, the White House said Tuesday that Snowden had not submitted official documents requesting clemency. He is accused of espionage and theft of government property.

    Edward Snowden Can Remain in Russia and Apply for Passport Next Year: Attorney | NBC News


    Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking U.S. surveillance secrets, can remain in Russia for another three years — and be eligible for citizenship in 2018, officials there and his lawyer said Wednesday.
  32. Gnome Chomsky Member

    Am I the only one who feels jittery about Edward Snowden remaining in Russia?

    If there's one iota of truth in an alliance between Putin and Trump does it compromise the safety of Edward Snowden and will Putin use him as a pawn in his political agenda with the US?
  33. Edward Snowden is likely pondering the same question now.
  34. Gnome Chomsky Member

    It's likely I've gone full tinfoil there.
  35. The Wrong Guy Member

    Edward Snowden: “Your support keeps me company during the fight.” | Amnesty International

    Whistleblower and human rights hero Edward Snowden thanks the more than 1 million supporters who raised their voices for him.


    I want to thank you, humbly and with a full heart, for your unwavering advocacy and support. More than a million of you came together to say in one voice that the truth matters. My gratitude is beyond expression.

    Though the powers of our day may keep me from home for a few more years, your support keeps me company during the fight. With each action, you are authoring a story of how ordinary people, good and gracious, come together in the United States and around the world to change our collective future. There is no honor greater than standing shoulder-to-shoulder with your generous spirit.

    It is this same spirit that set free Chelsea Manning, who will finally come home from seven long years in prison for the crime of telling the truth. It will be the force that preserves our civil liberties, not just over the next four years, but for the enduring generations. It is the force that inspires me to never give up, and ask you to commit to the same.

    In that unstoppable spirit, I invite you to stand with me one more time to protect the values that represent the real greatness of our age. Make no mistake, my friends: There is injustice in this world, but it will not last forever.

    We will make sure of it.

    Edward Snowden

    On 13 January 2017 our partners, the Pardon Snowden campaign, handed more than 1.1 million signatures to the US White House calling on President Obama to use the presidential pardon for Edward Snowden. Amnesty supporters from 110 countries worldwide stood up for Snowden as part of our Write for Rights campaign, tweeting, writing letters, and signing our petition. Thousands wrote solidarity messages as well.

    Although Obama did not, in the end, pardon Snowden, he did decide to free Chelsea Manning – a huge victory for those defending the rights of whistleblowers everywhere.

    The fight isn’t over yet. Please keep up the pressure and stand with Snowden.

    Continued at
  36. Gnome Chomsky Member

    You always come through with the good stuff WG.
    • Like Like x 1
  37. The Wrong Guy Member

  38. The Wrong Guy Member

  39. DeathHamster Member

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