Tag Archives | PATRIOT Act

Federal Court Rules NSA Violated Patriot Act By Collecting Phone Records

It really hasn’t been a great year or two for the NSA, has it? The once secret American spy agency is getting slammed from all sides with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit piling on and overruling a lower court that decided to look the other way on the NSA’s massive collection of private phone conversations. From the Washington Post:

A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that the National Security Agency’s collection of millions of Americans’ phone records violates the Patriot Act, the first appeals court to weigh in on a controversial surveillance program that has divided Congress and ignited a national debate over the proper scope of the government’s spy powers.

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Credit: EFF (CC)

 

In a blistering 97-page opinion, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned a lower court and determined that the government had stretched the meaning of the statute to enable “sweeping surveillance” of Americans’ data in “staggering” volumes.

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Whistleblowers vs. ‘Fear-Mongering’

Photo of (left to right) Kirk Wiebe, Coleen Rowley, Raymond McGovern, Daniel Ellsberg, William Binney, Jesselyn Radack, and Thomas Drake by Kathleen McClellan (@McClellanKM) via Twitter

Photo of (left to right) Kirk Wiebe, Coleen Rowley, Raymond McGovern, Daniel Ellsberg, William Binney, Jesselyn Radack, and Thomas Drake by Kathleen McClellan (@McClellanKM) via Twitter

Seven prominent national security whistleblowers Monday called for a number of wide-ranging reforms — including passage of the “Surveillance State Repeal Act,” which would repeal the USA Patriot Act — in an effort to restore the Constitutionally guaranteed 4th Amendment right to be free from government spying.

Several of the whistleblowers also said that the recent lenient sentence of probation and a fine for General David Petraeus — for his providing of classified information to his mistress Paula Broadwell — underscores the double standard of justice at work in the area of classified information handling.

Speakers said Petraeus’s favorable treatment should become the standard applied to defendants who are actual national security whistleblowers, such as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Jeffrey Sterling (who has denied guilt but who nevertheless faces sentencing May 11 for an Espionage Act conviction for allegedly providing classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen).… Read the rest

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Honest Opinions of Obama Supporters on His Policies

***ATTENTION: This video is NOT in support of Mitt Romney, in any way, nor is this organization.*** Luke Rudkowski hits the streets of NYC to find out where Obama supporters really stand on his policies. Now he did this in an underhanded way where the policies where presented to be Romney's, but this was only done to get an honest opinion. The reactions when the truth was uncovered varied but they were very telling to say the least.
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Inside the Expanding Panopticon: Covert Legal Interpretation and Mass Surveillance

Presidio Modelo

Cuba's Presidio Modelo. Photo: Friman (CC)

Via the Internet Chronicle:

Government secrecy faced major public scrutiny this month, as a former National Security Agency mathematician’s claims to all-encompassing government surveillance did not line up with the NSA director’s public statements; and the American Civil Liberties Union found itself embroiled in controversies associated with what it contends are abuses of power by the executive branch, as well as local law enforcement.

Last month the American Civil Liberties Union asked for clarification of the meaning of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. DailyKos Blogger Joan McCarter writes: “The provision in question, [Section] 215, allows the government to gain access to records of citizens’ activities being held by a third party. It gives the FBI the power to force doctors, libraries, bookstores, universities and internet service providers, for example, to turn over records on their clients or customers.”

In a March letter to the American Civil Liberties Union, FBI’s special counsel Paul Colborn said, “We have searched the [Office of Legal Counsel’s] files and found two documents that are responsive to your request.… Read the rest

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Occupy The National Security State

Spray The Founders?Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

It seems sadly fitting the USA Patriot Act turned ten years old the day after police in Oakland, California assaulted peaceful demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets. While police violence had been already rampant in New York in Zuccotti Park, Oakland marked one of the first major violent confrontations with Occupy demonstrators. Soon after, police in cities across American began raids on Occupy camps, many of which culminated in the use of pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets and sonic weapons. The evidence that such raids were coordinated by city mayors continues to mount, even though they vehemently deny any collusion. Most recently, police at UC Davis in California nonchalantly pepper sprayed peaceful students sitting on a plaza.

For ten years, we’ve watched one of the most draconian laws passed with incredible haste systematically destroy the freedoms that were supposedly under attack by terrorists and the “axis of evil.” In the name of national security, the Patriot Act has allowed our government — one that touts itself as the freeist in the world — the ability to spy on its citizens without justification, search their homes without warrants, and even penalize them for speaking a word of such actions.… Read the rest

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New York Times Suing Government For Refusing To Reveal Its Secret PATRIOT Act Interpretation

docPerhaps the most perverse aspect of the PATRIOT Act is the federal government’s refusal to reveal how it interprets and puts into practice the (vague and far-reaching) law. Techdirt reports that the New York Times is stepping up to the plate and challenging Washington:

Reporter Charlie Savage of the New York Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out the federal government’s interpretation of its own law…and had it refused. According to the federal government, its own interpretation of the law is classified. What sort of democracy are we living in when the government can refuse to even say how it’s interpreting its own law? That’s not democracy at all.

We’ve been covering for a while now how Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have been very concerned over the secret interpretation the feds have of one piece of the PATRIOT Act. They’ve been trying to pressure the government into publicly explaining how they interpret the law, because they believe that it directly contrasts how most of the public (and many elected officials) believe the feds are interpreting the law.

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Our Hypocritical Surveillance State

TruthDavid Sirota writes at Salon.com:

With the Obama administration considering federal civil-rights investigations into police brutality, some local police departments have reacted not by cleaning up their act, but instead by intensifying their ongoing efforts to stop citizens from even documenting police misconduct in the first place.

Earlier this summer, Rochester authorities arrested Emily Good for videotaping police while on her own property — and then later used parking tickets to try to punish and intimidate those protesting Good’s arrest. In Las Vegas, it was even worse — the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday reported that a police not only arrested Mitchell Crooks but then beat him to a pulp — all for the “crime” of innocently videotaping them from his own driveway. Importantly, Crooks may have been specifically marked for police revenge after he had made headlines in 2002 by documenting Inglewood, California police beating a 16-year-old boy.

The hypocrisy of police trying to stop citizens from videotaping their public actions should be obvious in this, the Patriot Act Age.

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Cloud-Based Data Outside the U.S. Not Exempt From PATRIOT Act Spying

Bald EagleStephen C. Webster writes on The Raw Story:
In the brave new world of cloud computing, where data is stored off-site in massive server farms instead of on a user's local hard drive, privacy and security are paramount in the consumer's mind. Unfortunately for privacy advocates, their concerns are essentially moot thanks to the U.S.A. Patriot Act, which a key Microsoft official said recently permits the U.S. to spy on data stored within cloud servers across the European Union. The revelation of transcontinental spying, which has long been suspected, came from Gordon Frazer, Microsoft U.K.'s managing director, speaking at an announcement event for the company's new suite of office software. Frazer's admission was caught by ZDNet reporter Zack Whittaker, who's long covered data security issues as they relate to the Patriot Act.
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