Category Archives: Surveillance

A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack, by Patrick Lawrence

A comprehensive, well-written report packed with supporting evidence on why the DNC could not have been “hacked” last year. From Patrick Lawrence at thenation.com:

It is now a year since the Democratic National Committee’s mail system was compromised—a year since events in the spring and early summer of 2016 were identified as remote hacks and, in short order, attributed to Russians acting in behalf of Donald Trump. A great edifice has been erected during this time. President Trump, members of his family, and numerous people around him stand accused of various corruptions and extensive collusion with Russians. Half a dozen simultaneous investigations proceed into these matters. Last week news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury, which issued its first subpoenas on August 3. Allegations of treason are common; prominent political figures and many media cultivate a case for impeachment.

The president’s ability to conduct foreign policy, notably but not only with regard to Russia, is now crippled. Forced into a corner and having no choice, Trump just signed legislation imposing severe new sanctions on Russia and European companies working with it on pipeline projects vital to Russia’s energy sector. Striking this close to the core of another nation’s economy is customarily considered an act of war, we must not forget. In retaliation, Moscow has announced that the United States must cut its embassy staff by roughly two-thirds. All sides agree that relations between the United States and Russia are now as fragile as they were during some of the Cold War’s worst moments. To suggest that military conflict between two nuclear powers inches ever closer can no longer be dismissed as hyperbole.

All this was set in motion when the DNC’s mail server was first violated in the spring of 2016 and by subsequent assertions that Russians were behind that “hack” and another such operation, also described as a Russian hack, on July 5. These are the foundation stones of the edifice just outlined. The evolution of public discourse in the year since is worthy of scholarly study: Possibilities became allegations, and these became probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be established truths. By my reckoning, it required a few days to a few weeks to advance from each of these stages to the next. This was accomplished via the indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly in our leading media.

To continue reading: A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack

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Anarchy in America: Shot Down Like Dogs in the Street, by John W. Whitehead

People and dogs are being shot by police, in many cases indiscriminately. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
—William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming

Things are falling apart.

How much longer we can sustain the fiction that we live in a constitutional republic, I cannot say, but anarchy is being loosed upon the nation.

We are witnessing the unraveling of the American dream one injustice at a time.

Day after day, the government’s crimes against the citizenry grow more egregious, more treacherous and more tragic. And day after day, the American people wake up a little more to the grim realization that they have become captives in a prison of their own making. No longer a free people, we are now pushed and prodded and watched over by twitchy, hyper-sensitive, easily-spooked armed guards who care little for the rights, humanity or well-being of those in their care.

The death toll is mounting. The carnage is heartbreaking. The public’s faith in the government to do its job—which is to protect our freedoms—is deteriorating.

With alarming regularity, unarmed men, women, children and even pets are being gunned down by police who shoot first and ask questions later, and all the government does is shrug and promise to do better.

Things are not getting better.

Justine Damond is dead. The 40-year-old yoga instructor was shot and killed by Minneapolis police, allegedly because they were startled by a loud noise in the vicinity just as she approached their patrol car. Damond, clad in pajamas, had called 911 to report a possible assault in her neighborhood.

Ismael Lopez is dead. The 41-year-old auto mechanic was shot and killed by Mississippi police who went to the wrong address looking for a suspect in connection with an aggravated domestic violence case. Police also shot the man’s dog, which had raced out of the house ahead of him.

Mary Knowlton is dead. The 73-year-old retired librarian was shot and killed by Florida police during a “shoot/don’t shoot” role-playing scenario when police inadvertently used a loaded gun intended for training.

Sam DuBose is dead. The unarmed 43-year-old rapper was shot in the head and killed by a University of Cincinnati police officer during a traffic stop over a missing front license plate.

To continue reading: Anarchy in America: Shot Down Like Dogs in the Street

Brennan, Rice, Power — Lock Them Up! by David Stockman

David Stockman argues that the biggest problem with the surveillance apparatus behind the effort to depose Donald Trump is the surveillance apparatus itself. If you shred the constitution and throw civil liberties out the window, bad things, including palace coups, happen. From Stockman at lewrockwell.com:

We frequently hear people say they have nothing to hide—-so surrendering privacy and constitutional rights to the Surveillance State may not be such a big deal if it helps catch a terrorist or two. But with each passing day in the RussiaGate drama we are learning that this superficial exoneration is dangerously beside the point.

We are referring here to the unrelenting witch hunt that has been unleashed by Imperial Washington against the legitimately elected President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. This campaign of lies, leaks and Russophobia is the handiwork of Obama’s top national security advisors, who blatantly misused Washington’s surveillance apparatus to discredit Trump and to effectively nullify America’s democratic process.

That is, constitutional protections and liberties were systematically breached, but not simply to intimidate, hush or lock up citizens one by one as per the standard totalitarian modus operandi. Instead, what has happened is that the entire public debate has been hijacked by the shadowy forces of the Deep State and their partisan and media collaborators.

The enabling culprits are Obama’s last CIA director, John Brennan, his national security advisor Susan Rice and UN Ambassador Samantha Power. There is now mounting evidence that it was they who illegally “unmasked” NSA intercepts from Trump Tower; they who confected the Russian meddling narrative from behind the protective moat of classified intelligence; and they who orchestrated a systematic campaign of leaks and phony intelligence reports during the presidential transition—-all designed to delegitimize Trump before he even took the oath of office.

To continue reading: Brennan, Rice, Power — Lock Them Up!

How “Nothing to Hide” Leads to “Nowhere to Hide” – Why Privacy Matters in an Age of Tech Totalitarianism, from the Daily Bell

Your life may be on of pristine purity and goodness, but though you may think you have nothing to hide, you may still not want to give up your privacy. From the Daily Bell at dailybell.com:

Editor’s note: The following comes from a longtime journalist who specializes in writing for major media outlets and private companies about robots, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Would you allow a government official into your bedroom on your honeymoon? Or let your mother-in-law hear and record every conversation that takes place in your home or car – especially disagreements with your husband or wife? Would you let a stranger sit in on your children’s playdates so that he could better understand how to entice them with candy or a doll?

Guess what? If you bring your phone with you everywhere, or engage with a whole-house robo helper such as Alexa or Echo or Siri or Google, you’re opening up every aspect of your life to government officials, snooping (possibly criminal) hackers, and advertisers targeting you, your spouse and your children.

The following is not a screed against technology. But it is a plea to consider what we’re giving up when we hand over privacy, wholesale, to people whom we can neither see nor hear… people whose motives we cannot fathom.

The widened lanes of communication, and the conveniences that Smart Phones, wireless communities, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have fomented are indeed helpful to some extent. They allow, for example, for remote working, which allows people to spend more time with their families and less time commuting. In areas such as the energy business, the field of predictive analytics, born of Big Data and the Industrial Internet, helps mitigate the danger of sending humans to oil rigs at sea. 

And on a personal level, of course, the conveniences are innumerable: Grandparentsliving far away can “see” their grandchildren more often than they could in years past, thanks to technology such as FaceTime and Skype.

To continue reading: How “Nothing to Hide” Leads to “Nowhere to Hide” – Why Privacy Matters in an Age of Tech Totalitarianism

 

They Got What They Wanted, by Robert Gore

Independence Day 2017 finds Americans celebrating freedoms they no longer have.

Maybe it was the proposal at work you knew was wrong, but didn’t fight. Maybe it was the argument on principle you knew you had to have, but avoided to keep an unsatisfactory peace. Maybe it was the jerk who berated and humiliated a store clerk who wasn’t at fault, and you didn’t challenge him. Battles that were never fought—surrender and capitulation without resistance. A handful, the scrupulously honest with themselves, identify the ensuing inner darkness, that collapsing sensation, as self-betrayal, breeching personal standards of right and wrong.

Independence Day is a historical commemorative, nothing more. You don’t celebrate the day a seed is planted; you celebrate the harvest. Independence has been surrendered without resistance. The nation’s founders planted a seed, but seeds must be tended, nurtured, and protected. Having failed to do so, America has reaped a bitter harvest.

Independence carries an obligation to act, to provide, to think for one’s self, and it requires its own defense. Americans couldn’t be burdened. Asking only what their country could do for them, they accepted the state’s promises, propaganda, provender, and protection—from mostly spurious threats—without reckoning the price. The promises were illusory, not the price. The pall dimming the fireworks is the confusion, anxiety, and antagonisms of a nation that’s badly lost its way.

Taxes, it’s been said, are the price of civilization. For a brief, shining historical moment, Americans freed themselves from the state’s exaction of their income. Tragically, they faltered, allowing themselves to be deceived, accepting the state’s forcible extraction of their labor, time, and production and never questioning how the coercion that is its bedrock could possibly be “civilized.” Sold, as the state’s depredations always are, as a limited measure, 100 years later the state recognizes no limits on its power to tax, reserving special persecution for those who question it too volubly.

At the same time, America handed control of the nation’s money (and subsequently its debt), to a bankers’ cartel. Supposedly an elasticized and discretionary “money” would prevent financial panics, bank runs, and economic contractions. The new money was worth less every year than the year before, and it wouldn’t prevent contractions more severe than the ones that preceded its introduction. Only the cranks, immediately quarantined by the force of “respectable” opinion, questioned the new money. Only “dangerous” fringe elements insisted on their right to their own production, exchangeable for honest money, its value free from bureaucratic and political whim.

Predictably, the new money inflated a bubble that popped. Faced with adversity, the so-called greatest generation opted for the crank solutions of a socialistic demagogue and his band of charlatans. They turned the ensuing downturn into the most severe contraction in the nation’s history. By acclamation the people surrendered their economy, more of their incomes, and their right to own gold—real money—to the government, accepted the future bondage of increased debt, and enshrined the “right” of the politically favored to live off the labor of the productive unfavored. Henceforth, the latter would have a duty to support the former. The megalomaniac who peddled this abnegation of America’s freedom—and consequently its greatness—was reelected three times.

By the time President Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex, it was too late. That he waited until his farewell address to issue his warning speaks volumes. The complex had been in control since World War II and would never willingly relinquish the commanding height on which atomic bombs and the world’s most productive economy has placed it.

Confederated and unchallenged global empire was the seductive goal; “leader of the free world” was how it was sold to the American people. They bought it, never questioning the complex’s machinations and skullduggery in Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, and other remote backwaters. Alliances with corrupt and repressive regimes, propaganda, rigged elections, US-sponsored rebellions and coups, war, terrorism, and assassinations were necessary countermeasures to Soviet evil. Whatever the US did, the USSR—since it’s acquisition of nuclear weapons an existential threat—was worse, always worse.

Vindicating the few who said command economies couldn’t work, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Existential threats always make it easier to amass power and money, and curtail liberty. One was conjured—Islamic extremism. How a rough band of guerrillas in Afghanistan’s caves posed the same threat as one of the largest empires in history, with the world’s second largest nuclear arsenal, was a question most Americans would not ask. Just keep us safe, they bleated.

Wars based on concocted intelligence, the Patriot Act and other eviscerations of the Bill of Rights, a huge and intrusive new cabinet department—Homeland Security—the militarization of local police, and the vast expansions of the military and intelligence agencies’ power and funding went through with nary a bleat. There were few bleats a decade later when whistleblowers revealed an America under a degree of surveillance that would make Big Brother green. Deflated footballs stirred more controversy.

Independence Day 2017 finds Americans celebrating freedoms they no longer have, freedoms they and those greatest generations that preceded them surrendered on a golden platter. The Philippine’s House of Representatives recently passed a bill: singing the national anthem at public gatherings “shall be mandatory and must be done with fervour.” What an insight into the minds of those who would rule us, Filipino, American, or whatever. You’re not just to submit; you’re to worship your submission and those to whom you submit. It conjoins Orwell, Islam (which means submission), and all those pain-is-pleasure perversions.

They’re not just claiming your life and your freedom, they’re claiming your soul. That’s what they were after all along. The Faust legend is wrong. Surrendering one’s soul, for both individuals and a nation, is a long series of capitulations, not some shadowy one-time bargain. Which prompts the question: can souls that have all too willingly been surrendered ever be redeemed?

DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENCE!

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New Device Allows Cops to Download All of Your Smartphone Activity in Seconds, from Anti-Media

A new device plugs into your smartphone and allows cops to determine how and when you were using it. From Anti-Media at theantimedia.org:

(ANTIMEDIA) New York  — “Any person who operates a motor vehicle in the state shall be deemed to have given consent to field testing of his or her mobile telephone and/or personal electronic device for the purpose of determining the use thereof while operating a motor vehicle, provided that such testing is conducted by or at the direction of a police officer.”

That’s language from the text of a bill currently working its way through the New York state legislature. The legislation would allow cops to search through drivers’ cell phones following traffic incidents — even minor fender-benders — to determine if the person was using their phone while behind the wheel.

Most states have laws banning the use of mobile devices while driving, though such laws are rarely enforced. This is largely because it’s nearly impossible to catch someone in the act. What person would admit to an officer that they broke the law, the argument goes, particularly when it’s after the fact? After all, cops don’t show up until after the accident occurs.

Now, technology exists that would give police the power to plug drivers’ phones into tablet-like devices — being called “textalyzers” in the media — that tell officers exactly what they were doing on their phone and exactly when they were doing it. And if the readout shows a driver was texting while driving, for instance, the legal system will have an additional way to fine them.

“Recording your every click, tap or swipe, it would even know what apps you were using. Police officers could download the data, right on the spot,” Jeff Rossen of NBC News said in a video report on the technology.

Proponents of the legislation point to the rise in traffic fatalities associated with using mobile devices while driving. But rights activists, such as Rashida Richardson of the New York Civil Liberties Union, says it’s a societal issue and no excuse to violate an individual’s privacy:

“This is a concern because our phones have some of our most personal and private information — so we’re certain that if this law is enforced as it is proposed, it will not only violate people’s privacy rights, but also civil liberties.”

New York state isn’t alone. Currently, similar legislation is being considered in Tennessee and New Jersey.

http://theantimedia.org/textalyzer-cops-download-smartphone-activity/

 

The Age of No Privacy: The Surveillance State Shifts Into High Gear, by John W. Whitehead

You have, unless you want to stay locked up in a super-secure room all day, virtually zero privacy. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government.” ― William O. Douglas, Supreme Court Justice, dissenting in Osborn v. United States, 385 U.S. 341 (1966)

The government has become an expert in finding ways to sidestep what it considers “inconvenient laws” aimed at ensuring accountability and thereby bringing about government transparency and protecting citizen privacy.

Indeed, it has mastered the art of stealth maneuvers and end-runs around the Constitution.

It knows all too well how to hide its nefarious, covert, clandestine activities behind the classified language of national security and terrorism. And when that doesn’t suffice, it obfuscates, complicates, stymies or just plain bamboozles the public into remaining in the dark.

Case in point: the National Security Agency (NSA) has been diverting “internet traffic, normally safeguarded by constitutional protections, overseas in order to conduct unrestrained data collection on Americans.”

It’s extraordinary rendition all over again, only this time it’s surveillance instead of torture being outsourced.

In much the same way that the government moved its torture programs overseas in order to bypass legal prohibitions against doing so on American soil, it is doing the same thing for its surveillance programs.

By shifting its data storage, collection and surveillance activities outside of the country—a tactic referred to as “traffic shaping” —the government is able to bypass constitutional protections against unwarranted searches of Americans’ emails, documents, social networking data, and other cloud-stored data.

The government, however, doesn’t even need to move its programs overseas. It just has to push the data over the border in order to “[circumvent] constitutional and statutory safeguards seeking to protect the privacy of Americans.”

Credit for this particular brainchild goes to the Obama administration, which issued Executive Order 12333 authorizing the collection of Americans’ data from surveillance conducted on foreign soil.

 

To continue reading: The Age of No Privacy: The Surveillance State Shifts Into High Gear