Showing posts with label Government Surveillance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Government Surveillance. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

World's leading authors: state surveillance of personal data is theft

Clockwise from top left, eight of the people who have signed
 the petition: Hanif Kureishi, Björk, Arundhati Roy, Don DeLillo,
 Ian McEwan, Tom Stoppard, Margaret Atwood and Martin Amis


World's leading authors: state surveillance of personal data is theft
• 500 signatories include five Nobel prize winners
• Writers demand 'digital bill of rights' to curb abuses

Matthew Taylor and Nick Hopkins
The Guardian, Tuesday 10 December 2013

More than 500 of the world's leading authors, including five Nobel prize winners, have condemned the scale of state surveillance revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden and warned that spy agencies are undermining democracy and must be curbed by a new international charter.

The signatories, who come from 81 different countries and include Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo, Orhan Pamuk, Günter Grass and Arundhati Roy, say the capacity of intelligence agencies to spy on millions of people's digital communications is turning everyone into potential suspects, with worrying implications for the way societies work.

They have urged the United Nations to create an international bill of digital rights that would enshrine the protection of civil rights in the internet age.

Their call comes a day after the heads of the world's leading technology companies demanded sweeping changes to surveillance laws to help preserve the public's trust in the internet – reflecting the growing global momentum for a proper review of mass snooping capabilities in countries such as the US and UK, which have been the pioneers in the field.

The open letter to the US president, Barack Obama, from firms including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, will be followed by the petition, which has drawn together a remarkable list of the world's most respected and widely-read authors, who have accused states of systematically abusing their powers by conducting intrusive mass surveillance.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Snowden's Dad SCHOOLS Obama, Pelosi, and Holder in Open Letter

Obama Swearing to Uphold the Constitution
Dees Illustration

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Snowden's Dad SCHOOLS Obama, Pelosi, and Holder in Open Letter

Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution

Dear Mr. President:

You are acutely aware that the history of liberty is a history of civil disobedience to unjust laws or practices. As Edmund Burke sermonized, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Civil disobedience is not the first, but the last option. Henry David Thoreau wrote with profound restraint in Civil Disobedience: “If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.”

Thoreau’s moral philosophy found expression during the Nuremburg trials in which “following orders” was rejected as a defense. Indeed, military law requires disobedience to clearly illegal orders.

A dark chapter in America’s World War II history would not have been written if the then United States Attorney General had resigned rather than participate in racist concentration camps imprisoning 120,000 Japanese American citizens and resident aliens.

Civil disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Act and Jim Crow laws provoked the end of slavery and the modern civil rights revolution.

We submit that Edward J. Snowden’s disclosures of dragnet surveillance of Americans under § 215 of the Patriot Act, § 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments, or otherwise were sanctioned by Thoreau’s time-honored moral philosophy and justifications for civil disobedience. Since 2005, Mr. Snowden had been employed by the intelligence community. He found himself complicit in secret, indiscriminate spying on millions of innocent citizens contrary to the spirit if not the letter of the First and Fourth Amendments and the transparency indispensable to self-government. Members of Congress entrusted with oversight remained silent or Delphic. Mr. Snowden confronted a choice between civic duty and passivity. He may have recalled the injunction of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.” Mr. Snowden chose duty. Your administration vindictively responded with a criminal complaint alleging violations of the Espionage Act.

From the commencement of your administration, your secrecy of the National Security Agency’s Orwellian surveillance programs had frustrated a national conversation over their legality, necessity, or morality. That secrecy (combined with congressional nonfeasance) provoked Edward’s disclosures, which sparked a national conversation which you have belatedly and cynically embraced. Legislation has been introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate to curtail or terminate the NSA’s programs, and the American people are being educated to the public policy choices at hand. A commanding majority now voice concerns over the dragnet surveillance of Americans that Edward exposed and you concealed. It seems mystifying to us that you are prosecuting Edward for accomplishing what you have said urgently needed to be done!

The right to be left alone from government snooping–the most cherished right among civilized people—is the cornerstone of liberty. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson served as Chief Prosecutor at Nuremburg. He came to learn of the dynamics of the Third Reich that crushed a free society, and which have lessons for the United States today.

Writing in Brinegar v. United States, Justice Jackson elaborated:
The Fourth Amendment states: “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 no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
These, I protest, are not mere second-class rights but belong in the catalog of indispensable freedoms. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart. Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. And one need only briefly to have dwelt and worked among a people possessed of many admirable qualities but deprived of these rights to know that the human personality deteriorates and dignity and self-reliance disappear where homes, persons and possessions are subject at any hour to unheralded search and seizure by the police.

We thus find your administration’s zeal to punish Mr. Snowden’s discharge of civic duty to protect democratic processes and to safeguard liberty to be unconscionable and indefensible.

We are also appalled at your administration’s scorn for due process, the rule of law, fairness, and the presumption of innocence as regards Edward.

On June 27, 2013, Mr. Fein wrote a letter to the Attorney General stating that Edward’s father was substantially convinced that he would return to the United States to confront the charges that have been lodged against him if three cornerstones of due process were guaranteed. The letter was not an ultimatum, but an invitation to discuss fair trial imperatives. The Attorney General has sneered at the overture with studied silence.

We thus suspect your administration wishes to avoid a trial because of constitutional doubts about application of the Espionage Act in these circumstances, and obligations to disclose to the public potentially embarrassing classified information under the Classified Information Procedures Act.

Your decision to force down a civilian airliner carrying Bolivian President Eva Morales in hopes of kidnapping Edward also does not inspire confidence that you are committed to providing him a fair trial. Neither does your refusal to remind the American people and prominent Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate like House Speaker John Boehner, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann,and Senator Dianne Feinstein that Edward enjoys a presumption of innocence. He should not be convicted before trial. Yet Speaker Boehner has denounced Edward as a “traitor.”

Ms. Pelosi has pontificated that Edward “did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents.” Ms. Bachmann has pronounced that, “This was not the act of a patriot; this was an act of a traitor.” And Ms. Feinstein has decreed that Edward was guilty of “treason,” which is defined in Article III of the Constitution as “levying war” against the United States, “or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

You have let those quadruple affronts to due process pass unrebuked, while you have disparaged Edward as a “hacker” to cast aspersion on his motivations and talents. Have you forgotten the Supreme Court’s gospel in Berger v. United States that the interests of the government “in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done?”

We also find reprehensible your administration’s Espionage Act prosecution of Edward for disclosures indistinguishable from those which routinely find their way into the public domain via your high level appointees for partisan political advantage. Classified details of your predator drone protocols, for instance, were shared with the New York Times with impunity to bolster your national security credentials. Justice Jackson observed in Railway Express Agency, Inc. v. New York: “The framers of the Constitution knew, and we should not forget today, that there is no more effective practical guaranty against arbitrary and unreasonable government than to require that the principles of law which officials would impose upon a minority must be imposed generally.”

In light of the circumstances amplified above, we urge you to order the Attorney General to move to dismiss the outstanding criminal complaint against Edward, and to support legislation to remedy the NSA surveillance abuses he revealed. Such presidential directives would mark your finest constitutional and moral hour.

Sincerely,
Bruce Fein
Counsel for Lon Snowden
Lon Snowden

Bruce Fein & Associates, Inc.
722 12th Street, N.W., 4th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: 703-963-4968
bruce@thelichfieldgroup.com

Posted at: http://www.activistpost.com/2013/07/snowdens-dad-schools-obama-pelosi-and.html?m=1

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Guardian: The cyber-intelligence complex and its useful idiots

J Edgar Hoover (right, with President Richard Nixon)
 ran the FBI's illegal Cointelpro domestic political
surveillance scheme. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/01/cyber-intelligence-complex-useful-idiots

The cyber-intelligence complex and its useful idiots
Those who tell us to trust the US's secret, privatised surveillance schemes should recall the criminality of J Edgar Hoover's FBI

Barrett Brown
guardian.co.uk, Monday 1 July 2013 11.21 EDT

It's a fine thing to see mainstream American media outlets finally sparing some of their attention toward the cyber-industrial complex – that unprecedented conglomeration of state, military and corporate interests that together exercise growing power over the flow of information. It would be even more heartening if so many of the nation's most influential voices, from senator to pundits, were not clearly intent on killing off even this belated scrutiny into the invisible empire that so thoroughly scrutinizes us – at our own expense and to unknown ends.

Summing up the position of those who worry less over secret government powers than they do over the whistleblowers who reveal such things, we have New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who argues that we can trust small cadres of unaccountable spies with broad powers over our communications. We must all wish Friedman luck with this prediction. Other proclamations of his – including that Vladimir Putin would bring transparency and liberal democracy to Russia, and that the Chinese regime would not seek to limit its citizens' free access to the internet – have not aged especially well.

An unkind person might dismiss Friedman as the incompetent harbinger of a dying republic. Being polite, I will merely suggest that Friedman's faith in government is as misplaced as faith in the just and benevolent God that we know not to exist – Friedman having been the winner of several of the world's most-coveted Pulitzer Prizes.

If Friedman is, indeed, too quick to trust the powerful, it's a trait he shares with the just over half of Americans, who tell pollsters they're fine with the NSA programs that were until recently hidden from their view. Why, our countrymen wonder, ought we to be disturbed by our state's desire to know everything that everyone does? Given the possibility that this surveillance could perhaps prevent deaths in the form of terrorist attacks, most Americans are willing to forgo some abstract notion of privacy in favor of the more concrete benefits of security.

Besides, the government to which we're ceding these broad new powers is a democracy, overseen by real, live Americans. And it's hard to imagine American government officials abusing their powers – or at least, it would be, had such officials not already abused similar but more limited powers through repeated campaigns of disinformation, intimidation and airtight crimes directed at the American public over the last five decades. Cointelpro, Operation Mockingbird, Ultra and Chaos are among the now-acknowledged CIA, FBI and NSA programs by which those agencies managed to subvert American democracy with impunity. Supporters of mass surveillance conducted under the very same agencies have yet to address how such abuses can be insured against in the context of powers far greater than anything J Edgar Hoover could command.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Attorney General Holder Enlarges Citizen Data Collection



The New York Times is reporting that  Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Thursday signed new guidelines for the National Counterterrorism Center, a terrorism threat clearinghouse. 

The guidelines will lengthen to five years from the current 6 months the amount of time the center can retain private information about Americans with no suspicion of being tied to terrorism. 

The center is making more copies of entire databases and “data mining them” using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat.  

They claim the new rules have grew out of reviews launched after the failure to connect the dots about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber,” before his Dec. 25, 2009, attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner.