LA vs NSA, vs FBI (or Us vs the Empire)

Thursday, November 14th, 6:30pm at Huffington Center at St. Sophia Cathedral, a coalition of activists will be introducing LA vs NSA: How to Push Back Against Warrantless Spying as part of the Stop NSA Spying Coalition. The Huffington Center is located at 1324 Normandie Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90006. Parking is free.
Continue reading “LA vs NSA, vs FBI (or Us vs the Empire)”

Pardon Snowden Now!

Earlier today, Editorial Director Justin Raimondo published this letter:

Dear Friend of,

When darkness begins to fall, some curse the shadows – and others turn on the lights.

One man, a 29-year-old former spook and apparent libertarian, has stepped forward to reveal the truth about what our government is doing – and rescue our liberties from the warlords of Washington. One man had the courage to step forward and speak truth to power: in some dictionaries, that’s called “narcissism.” In mine, it’s called bravery.

Americans must send a message to Edward Snowden, one that will also be immediately noted and understood by our nervous rulers: Ed, we’ve got your back!

That’s why it’s so vitally important for you to sign the White House petition to pardon Snowden. It’s the least we can do for a man who has sacrificed everything so that Americans might be given one last chance wake up and restore the Constitution. The petition — started by an anonymous person from Rochester, New York, with the initials “P.M.” — immediately took off, with over 50,000 in the first 48 hours, but it is now stuck at around 90,000 – with until July 9th to reach a total of 100,000, and thus earn an official White House response.

Topping 100,000 – even after they raised the threshold from 25,000 – would score a huge public relations coup for the cause of civil liberties and force the White House to acknowledge the popularity of Snowden’s cause.

The success of the petition will also have a cascading effect on legislation – such as Sen. Rand Paul’s “Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013” – designed to rein in Big Brother.

Please sign the petition now – every signature counts!

In peace and liberty,

Justin Raimondo
Editorial Director

FISA grants warrant for dragnet of domestic calls — what’s next?

UPDATE: ‘What’s next?’ Less than 24 hours later and we can answer that question. It’s called total content awareness, or PRISM, reported tonight by The Washington Post.

“I’m just an average man, with an average life. I work from nine to five; hey hell, I pay the price. All I want is to be left alone in my average home; But why do I always feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone, and I always feel like somebody’s watching me.” — Kennedy William ‘Rockwell’ Gordy.

Writer and constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald has an explosive scoop out today: the super secret Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court granted the FBI a warrant that amounts to a virtual dragnet on all Verizon customers’ calls between the U.S and foreign countries (Correction: and all calls “wholly within the United States” ) from April 25 to July 19. This means tens of millions of calls will or have been tracked by the government.

Why the court granted this warrant is not explained in the document, found here. Someone leaked the warrant to Greenwald who called Verizon, FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA), which is handling all the data, and was unable to get further comment. Verizon, as noted in the warrant is gagged from talking about the order at all.

The dragnet will record the following things: all “metadata” of calls made from the U.S to foreign countries — on a “daily, ongoing basis” for the duration of the order — which includes “session identifying information.” These are the originating and terminating numbers on the calls. Metadata also includes telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, the time-stamp duration of each call,  International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) numbers, and “comprehensive communication routing information.”

Metadata does not include the names of the customers, addresses or billing records. All that would require individual warrants, noted Greenwald.

So far.

The FBI/NSA’s broad surveillance of domestic calls is unprecedented (that we know of) under the Obama Administration, but not entirely surprising. The ability to do all of this apparently falls under the Patriot Act [50 USC section 1861] or the “business records” provision of the legislation, passed by Congress in the wake of 9/11 (or at least this is the FBI’s apparent interpretation of it). The Patriot Act, the gift that keeps on taking.

Civil libertarians have warned from the beginning that these Patriot Act measures would eventually intrude on the privacy of ordinary Americans, but those voices were dismissed as paranoid and unpatriotic. Then the revelations of 2005 came: The Bush Administration had authorized the warrantless surveillance of Americans communicating with foreigners. As far as we know it never stopped, but the activity was codified in so called FISA “reforms” in 2008. President Barack Obama, then U.S Senator, signed off on that FISA bill and never looked back.

According to FISA, the Department of Justice filed 1,879 requests for searches in 2012 — 1,789 of them for electronic surveillance — a 6.7 percent increase over 2011. None of those warrants were denied. Some 15,229 requests for “national security letters,” which allow the government to snoop into American financial records under the Patriot Act were granted during the same year.

But what Greenwald is reporting is a entire step away from individual FISA warrants — it’s really elaborate data mining effort in which the FBI is looking for patterns and clues among the call information (much like the NSA’s secret data mining program under the Bush Administration). Agents will likely drill down further with new warrants (or not) when something among the ostensibly disparate numbers and codes draws their attention.

As Greenwald notes, “it is also unclear from the leaked document whether the three-month order was a one-off, or the latest in a series of similar orders.”

For years, groups like the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and individual lawmakers have warned that  both the Bush and Obama administrations were abusing the Patriot Act and using their own interpretations, secretly, to spy on Americans. Each year, new revelations emerge to indicate they are doing just that. We have whistleblowers contending that they saw it happening up close and personal. Yet America continues to shrug as if to say, I’m not doing anything wrong, why should I care?

Next time you pick up the phone, let that thought comfort you, if you can.

The ACLU Asks, “Will You ‘Stand With Rand’ at Tuesday’s Killing Program Hearing?”

ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Chris Anders writes, “When Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) courageously held the Senate floor for 13 hours in an historic filibuster to put a spotlight on a vast killing program run out of the White House – which has left 4,700 people dead, including four American citizens – there was a groundswell of Americans saying that they would ‘Stand With Rand.’ If Paul was committed enough to filibuster, they were committed enough to stand with him.”

“On Tuesday, there will be another history-making moment. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who is a longtime champion of the Constitution and human rights, will be chairing the first-ever hearing in the Senate focused on drones and the killing program. Reaching across the aisle, Durbin invited Paul to be the first witness to testify at the hearing, and Paul said yes. It will be a time for all of us to Stand With Rand (and Dick) for this key hearing.”

The hearing is Tuesday, April 23 at 10am ET. Read the rest at the ACLU’s Blog of Rights.