Category Archives: Surveillance

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

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Certain U.S. Airlines Are Testing Mandatory Facial Recognition Scans on Americans Flying Abroad, by Michael Krieger

Bit by Orwellian bit, the state introduces new surveillance technologies…for our own good, of course. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

Just when you thought air travel couldn’t get any more invasive, authoritarian and downright miserable, the Department of Homeland Security and two U.S. carriers are determined to prove you wrong.

Yesterday, Harrison Rudolph, a law fellow at the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, wrote a very troubling article at Slatetitled, DHS Is Starting to Scan Americans’ Faces Before They Get on International Flights. Here’s some of what we learned:

Decades ago, Congress mandated that federal authorities keep track of foreign nationals as they enter and leave the United States. If the government could record when every visitor stepped on and off of U.S. soil, so the thinking went, it could easily see whether a foreign national had overstayed a visa.

But in June of last year, without congressional authorization, and without consulting the public, the Department of Homeland Security started scanning the faces of Americans leaving the country, too.

You may have heard about new JetBlue or Delta programs that let passengers board their flights by submitting to a face recognition scan. Few realize, however, that these systems are actually the first phase of DHS’s “Biometric Exit” program.

For certain international flights from Atlanta and New York, DHS has partnered with Delta to bring mandatory face recognition scans to the boarding gate. The Delta system checks a passenger is supposed to be on the plane by comparing her face, captured by a kiosk at the boarding gate, to passenger manifest photos from State Department databases. It also checks passengers’ citizenship or immigration status. Meanwhile, in Boston, DHS has partnered with JetBlue to roll out a voluntary face recognition system for travelers flying to Aruba. In JetBlue’s case, you can actually get your face scanned instead of using a physical ticket.

While these systems differ in details, they have two things in common. First, they are laying the groundwork for a much broader, mandatory deployment of Biometric Exit across the country. Second, they scan the faces of everyone—including American citizens.

Treating U.S. citizens like foreign nationals contradicts years of congressional mandates. DHS has never consulted the American public about whether Americans should be subject to face recognition. That’s because Congress has never given Homeland Security permission to do it in the first place. Congress has passed Biometric Exit bills at least nine times. In each, it has been clear: This is a program meant for foreign nationals. In fact, when President Trump issued an executive order in January on Biometric Exit, it was actually reissued to clarify that it didn’t apply to American citizens.

To continue reading: Certain U.S. Airlines Are Testing Mandatory Facial Recognition Scans on Americans Flying Abroad

The Surveillance State and Big Brother Trump, by Kurt Nimmo

President Trump embraces the surveillance state just as avidly as his predecessors. From Kurt Nimmo at theburningplatform.com:

Despite his opposition to surveillance during the campaign, Trump has flip-flopped once again and now supports the surveillance state.

His Homeland Security advisor, Tom Bossert, who worked with the Bush administration, penned an editorial for The New York Times this week calling for a reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Section 702 allows for vacuuming up emails, instant messages, Facebook messages, web browsing history, and more in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.

“Cabinet officials and security professionals from different agencies will testify on this matter on Wednesday,” writes Bossert. “President Trump stands with them 100 percent on the need for permanent reauthorization of Section 702. Officials from the past two administrations also agree that we cannot have a blind spot in our defenses simply because a foreign terrorist on foreign land chooses an American email provider.”

Former NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers have repeatedly claimed NSA snooping has thwarted 54 terrorist attacks. This claim has been completely debunked. Like the baseless and politically motivated claim Russia hacked the election, the 54 terrorists claim is little more than fiction. It’s propaganda to justify a surveillance state.

Jenna McLaughlin writes “the reason there haven’t been any large-scale terror attacks by ISIS in the US is not because they were averted by the intelligence community, but because — with the possible exception of one that was foiled by local police — none were actually planned.”

The NSA and the government insist they only conduct surveillance overseas but this was dispelled after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union showed the NSA intentionally violated the law and spied on American citizens.

The surveillance state was created not to protect Americans from terrorists. It was created to spy on political targets in the United States. Evidence of this arose in 2014.

To continue reading: The Surveillance State and Big Brother Trump

He Said That? 6/4/17

From Edward Snowden,

Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

Spying on You, Spying on Me, Spying on the President, by Andrew P. Napolitano

The Fourth Amendment is virtually a dead letter. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

“The makers of our Constitution … conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.” — Justice Louis D. Brandeis, 1928

After the Watergate era had ended and Jimmy Carter was in the White House and the Senate’s Church Committee had attempted to grasp the full extent of lawless government surveillance in America during the LBJ and Nixon years, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA declared that it provided the sole source for federal surveillance in America for intelligence purposes.

FISA required that all domestic intelligence surveillance be authorized by a newly created court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Since 1978, FISC has met in secret. Its records are unavailable to the public unless it determines otherwise, and it hears only from Department of Justice lawyers and National Security Agency personnel. There are no lawyers or witnesses to challenge the DOJ or the NSA.

Notwithstanding this handy constitutional novelty, the NSA quickly grew impatient with its monitors and began crafting novel arguments that were met with no resistance. Those arguments did away with the kind of particularized probable cause about targets of surveillance that the Constitution requires in favor of warrants based on the probability that someone somewhere in a given group could provide intelligence data helpful to national security, and because the FISC bought these arguments, the entire group could be spied upon. The FISC unleashed the NSA to spy on tens of millions of Americans.

That was still not enough for the nation’s spies. So beginning in 2005, then-President George W. Bush permitted the NSA to interpret President Ronald Reagan’s executive order 12333 so as to allow all spying on everyone in the U.S., all the time. The NSA and Bush took the position that because the president is constitutionally the commander in chief of the military and because the NSA is in the military, both the president and the NSA are lawfully independent of FISA.

The NSA does not acknowledge any of this, but we know from the Edward Snowden revelations and from the testimony of a former high-ranking NSA official who devised many of the NSA programs that this is so.

To continue reading: Spying on You, Spying on Me, Spying on the President

How Team Obama tried to hack the election, by Paul Sperry

Now here’s a story about election hacking for which there is an abundance of evidence. From Paul Sperry at nypost.com:

New revelations have surfaced that the Obama administration abused intelligence during the election by launching a massive domestic-spy campaign that included snooping on Trump officials.

The irony is mind-boggling: Targeting political opposition is long a technique of police states like Russia, which Team Obama has loudly condemned for allegedly using its own intelligence agencies to hack into our election.

The revelations, as well as testimony this week from former Obama intel officials, show the extent to which the Obama administration politicized and weaponized intelligence against Americans.

Thanks to Circa News, we now know the National Security Agency under President Barack Obama routinely violated privacy protections while snooping through foreign intercepts involving US citizens — and failed to disclose the breaches, prompting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court a month before the election to rebuke administration officials.

The story concerns what’s known as “upstream” data collection under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, under which the NSA looks at the content of electronic communication. Upstream refers to intel scooped up about third parties: Person A sends Person B an e-mail mentioning Person C. Though Person C isn’t a party to the e-mail, his information will be scooped up and potentially used by the NSA.

Further, the number of NSA data searches about Americans mushroomed after Obama loosened rules for protecting such identities from government officials and thus the reporters they talk to.

The FISA court called it a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue” that NSA analysts — in violation of a 2011 rule change prohibiting officials from searching Americans’ information without a warrant — “had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”

A number of those searches were made from the White House, and included private citizens working for the Trump campaign, some of whose identities were leaked to the media. The revelations earned a stern rebuke from the ACLU and from civil-liberties champion Sen. Rand Paul.

To continue reading: How Team Obama tried to hack the election

Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years, by John Solomon and Sara Carter

Big Brother Obama, supposed constitutional scholar, went above and beyond the call of duty in shredding Americans’ civil liberties. From John Solomon and Sara Carter at circa.com:

The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.

The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans.

Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.

Officials like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have argued their activities were legal under the so-called minimization rule changes Obama made, and that the intelligence agencies were strictly monitored to avoid abuses.

To continue reading (and to read the FISA court opinion): Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years