U.S. Government Forced to Release Documents on Domestic Spying Program

American_Civil_Liberties_Union_logoThe Inter Press Service reports:

Last week’s release of 900 pages of U.S. government documents dealing with the implementation of the nation’s primary surveillance law suggests that the government has been systematically violating the privacy rights of U.S. citizens.

How many citizens is unclear, since the documents were extensively redacted. The previously secret internal documents were obtained through a court battle by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The government declined to disclose the number of citizens who had their telephone calls, e-mail, or other communications intercepted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008. They also declined to discuss any specific abuses, the ACLU said.

The 900 documents were delivered in keeping with a previously agreed schedule.

Alex Abdo, a senior attorney with the ACLU, told IPS, “For two years now, the government has had the authority to engage in the dragnet and unconstitutional surveillance of Americans’ communications with little to no oversight of its actual surveillance decisions.”

“This week’s disclosures confirm that the government repeatedly abused even the minimal, and unconstitutional, limits set out in this new surveillance authority,” he added. “Although we know that abuses occurred, the government has withheld all critical details about them.”

The lawsuit seeks to enforce a November 2009 Freedom of Information Act request for records related to the government’s interpretation and implementation of the FAA, including reports and assessments mandated by the law concerning how the FAA is being used, how many citizens are affected and what safeguards are in place to prevent abuse of privacy rights.

Prior to the government’s release of last week’s 900 pages, it had not released any of the records requested. The lawsuit alleges that the requested records are needed to enable informed public debate about whether the FAA – which expires in 2012 – should be repealed, amended or extended.

Read more here.

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14 Responses to U.S. Government Forced to Release Documents on Domestic Spying Program

  1. Liam_McGonagle December 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    This is a step in the right direction, but I was a little bit disappointed.

    I was hoping to see my own name on a list–but from what I can tell, the stuff released to date isn’t as specific as individuals’ names. I’d gotten a ‘funny’ email from some incompetent shithead at the state department of a foreign country, so I feel fairly certain that I’m somewhere in this list of unwarranted surveillances.

    Ah, well, ’tis for another day. Still, it’ll be great fun when we can all sit down and compare the number of times we’ve each been monitored, won’t it?

    • VoxMagi December 7, 2010 at 10:43 pm #

      I’m fairly sure I was redflagged for review years ago. On the few occasions that I’ve been published, one of them (by accident actually) was a communist magazine out of Detroit. I only knew it by reputation and title…and it was supposed to be very anti-authoritarian/anti-establishment. I shipped a few things to them and one was accepted for print. I got an authors copy…and realized it was a product of the actual Communist Party in Detroit.Despite my fearsome rep…I’m not actually a fan of Communism…it fails the litmus test for ideologies that function in real life. Marx had a great grasp of what the problems were…he just botched the answers as thoroughly as so many others have over the centuries…and don’t even get me started on what Lenin/Stalin and others did with the concepts…ugh.But point being…you get your name up in a thing like that…you’re on a list. You sign up for protests to raise awareness of homelessness or legalize marijuana or end the first Gulf War and champion gay rights (done all of the above)…you get your name on a list. The odds of my ever achieving any security clearance are NIL……and the only reason I feel bad about that is that my brother may have actually suffered a little for my rep. Despite serving honorably for 13 years…with distinction…as a security specialist for the ANG…he’s never been able to advance his clearance beyond a certain point. He and I disagree on much…but I respect him just the same…he would never do anything to compromise his integrity. He’s as straight arrow as they get…I am the black sheep…and damned proud of it. These clearances are heavily scrutinized…and they look into family members, old friends, teachers from school etc. Its extremely frustrating to think that my twenty + years of expressing patriotism and love of my people and home may actually be detrimental to his reputation…because the litmus test for clearance has an inborn conservative/pro-secrecy bias. You cannot advocate for transparency and rise in government service at the same time…and if you are close to someone with views as theoretically ‘radical’ as my own…thats almost as bad as being a risk yourself.

      • Hadrian999 December 7, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

        detroit commies, could have been worse, could have been Illinois Nazis, I hate Illinois Nazis

      • Liam_McGonagle December 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

        Don’t feel bad about yourself; feel bad about our generation if you must feel bad at all. You put me in mind of the Milo Radulovich story.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milo_Radulovich

        Remember that film “Good Night and Good Luck”? In case you don’t, the deal is that he was a U.S. Air Force officer who was discharged–without any formal hearings or notification of the cause of his dismissal–after a domestic spying program revealed that his FATHER–not himself, but his FATHER–once subscribed to an ethnic Serbian newspaper that some wonk in Washington unilaterally decided to put on a list of’Communist’ newspapers.

        That’s right, Milo himself not only wasn’t implicated in the offending event, not only was he denied information about the offending event, and not only was Milo’s father NOT an enrolled member of the Communist party, but the paper in question was arbitrarily classified as communist without public hearings of any kind.

        Edward R. Murrow got behind him and called ‘Bullshit’ on this, eventually getting Radulovich reinstated, though that apparently didn’t end all his troubles. And it brought more than a little trouble on Murrow’s own head–Appleton, WI’s own Joe McCarthy set the dogs on Morrow.

        Had the ‘Greatest Generation’ been as stupid and cowardly as the Boomers and the Xers show themselves to be, I suspect that Joe McCarthy would have gone on to host a wildly popular ‘news’ program and co-host political rallies with nutty Right Wing political candidates instead of dying the death of an alcoholic dog, as he justly deserved, in ’57.

  2. Anonymous December 8, 2010 at 12:13 am #

    This is a step in the right direction, but I was a little bit disappointed.

    I was hoping to see my own name on a list–but from what I can tell, the stuff released to date isn’t as specific as individuals’ names. I’d gotten a ‘funny’ email from some incompetent shithead at the state department of a foreign country, so I feel fairly certain that I’m somewhere in this list of unwarranted surveillances.

    Ah, well, ’tis for another day. Still, it’ll be great fun when we can all sit down and compare the number of times we’ve each been monitored, won’t it?

  3. VoxMagi December 8, 2010 at 2:43 am #

    I’m fairly sure I was redflagged for review years ago. On the few occasions that I’ve been published, one of them (by accident actually) was a communist magazine out of Detroit. I only knew it by reputation and title…and it was supposed to be very anti-authoritarian/anti-establishment. I shipped a few things to them and one was accepted for print. I got an authors copy…and realized it was a product of the actual Communist Party in Detroit.

    Despite my fearsome rep…I’m not actually a fan of Communism…it fails the litmus test for ideologies that function in real life. Marx had a great grasp of what the problems were…he just botched the answers as thoroughly as so many others have over the centuries…and don’t even get me started on what Lenin/Stalin and others did with the concepts…ugh.

    But point being…you get your name up in a thing like that…you’re on a list. You sign up for protests to raise awareness of homelessness or legalize marijuana or end the first Gulf War and champion gay rights (done all of the above)…you get your name on a list. The odds of my ever achieving any security clearance are NIL…

    …and the only reason I feel bad about that is that my brother may have actually suffered a little for my rep. Despite serving honorably for 13 years…with distinction…as a security specialist for the ANG…he’s never been able to advance his clearance beyond a certain point. These clearances are heavily scrutinized…and they look into family members, old friends, teachers from school etc. Its extremely frustrating to think that my twenty + years of expressing patriotism and love of my people and home may actually be detrimental to his reputation…because the litmus test for clearance has an inborn conservative/pro-secrecy bias. You cannot advocate for transparency and rise in government service at the same time…and if you are close to someone with views as theoretically ‘radical’ as my own…thats almost as bad as being a risk yourself.

  4. Hadrian999 December 8, 2010 at 3:34 am #

    detroit commies, could have been worse, could have been Illinois Nazis, I hate Illinois Nazis

  5. Ironaddict06 December 8, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

    I got you two-Liam, and Vox. I’m reporting you two to big Sister-Janet for suspicious activity.
    HEhehaha.

  6. Ironaddict06 December 8, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    I got you two-Liam, and Vox. I’m reporting you two to big Sister-Janet for suspicious activity.
    HEhehaha.

  7. Jon Doe December 8, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    Obviously Wikileaks is the problem here. The government shouldn’t be having their documents released, they just need more secrecy because if you don’t know that you’re being watched then you can’t feel violated. It’s all so obvious.

  8. John Doe December 8, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    Obviously Wikileaks is the problem here. The government shouldn’t be having their documents released, they just need more secrecy because if you don’t know that you’re being watched then you can’t feel violated. It’s all so obvious.

  9. Anonymous December 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    Don’t feel bad about yourself; feel bad about our generation if you must feel bad at all. You put me in mind of the Milo Radulovich story.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milo_Radulovich

    Remember that film “Good Night and Good Luck”? In case you don’t, the deal is that he was a U.S. Air Force officer who was discharged–without any formal hearings or notification of the cause of his dismissal–after a domestic spying program revealed that his FATHER–not himself, but his FATHER–once subscribed to an ethnic Serbian newspaper that some wonk in Washington unilaterally decided to put on a list of’Communist’ newspapers.

    That’s right, Milo himself not only wasn’t implicated in the offending event, not only was he denied information about the offending event, and not only was Milo’s father NOT an enrolled member of the Communist party, but the paper in question was arbitrarily classified as communist without public hearings of any kind.

    Edward R. Murrow got behind him and called ‘Bullshit’ on this, eventually getting Radulovich reinstated, though that apparently didn’t end all his troubles. And it brought more than a little trouble on Murrow’s own head–Appleton, WI’s own Joe McCarthy set the dogs on Morrow.

    Had the ‘Greatest Generation’ been as stupid and cowardly as the Boomers and the Xers show themselves to be, I suspect that Joe McCarthy would have gone on to host a wildly popular ‘news’ program and co-host political rallies with nutty Right Wing political candidates instead of dying the death of an alcoholic dog, as he justly deserved, in ’57.

  10. Keith Smith December 9, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    Any surprises here? No,just Patriot Act bullshit as usual.

  11. Geek Hillbilly December 9, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    Any surprises here? No,just Patriot Act bullshit as usual.

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