Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.
Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?
Many hyperlinks at the original - loose nuke
Have We Learned Anything from the Bush Years? by George Washington
Fear makes people stupid.
It makes us unable to think straight. And it makes us give up our power to tough-talking authoritarians.
War Is Stupid
And since the "war on terror" is now being expanded to Yemen, it is worth remembering that experts state that the "war on terror" has been counterproductive for keeping us safe. For example, a leading advisor to the U.S. military, the hawkish Rand Corporation, released a study in 2008 called "How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qa'ida".
The report confirms what experts have been saying for years: the war on terror is actually weakening national security (see this, this and this).
As a press release about the study states:
"Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism."
And see this.
Sprint manager: ‘Half’ of all police surveillance includes text messaging
By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, December 5th, 2009 -- 3:37 pm
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According to a graduate student's research into the spying policies of major U.S. telecommunications companies, at a recent security conference a Sprint surveillance manager told a group of onlookers that half of all police requests include the target's text messages.
Half of millions -- including some 8 million automated, web-based requests for GPS location, all in just over a year's time.
The revelation was made by Indiana University grad Christopher Soghoian, as part of his PhD dissertation published Dec. 1, 2009.
He attributes the stunning number to Paul Taylor, an Electronic Surveillance Manager with Sprint Nextel, who was speaking recently at the Washington, D.C. International Securities Systems conference, otherwise known as ISS World.
Mind Your Tweets: The CIA Social Networking Surveillance System by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, October 27, 2009
Antifascist Calling... - 2009-10-24
That social networking sites and applications such as Facebook, Twitter and their competitors can facilitate communication and information sharing amongst diverse groups and individuals is by now a cliché.
It should come as no surprise then, that the secret state and the capitalist grifters whom they serve, have zeroed-in on the explosive growth of these technologies. One can be certain however, securocrats aren't tweeting their restaurant preferences or finalizing plans for after work drinks.
No, researchers on both sides of the Atlantic are busy as proverbial bees building a "total information" surveillance system, one that will, so they hope, provide police and security agencies with what they euphemistically call "actionable intelligence."
Build the Perfect Panopticon, Win Fabulous Prizes!
Richard Clarke, Bush's Counterterrorism Czar and a holdover from the Clinton Administration, weighs in on the Bush Administration prior to and after 9/11, and recent attempts by Rice and Cheney to spin the events and their actions. Clarke gives his own spin, essentially labeling Bush Administration principals as negligent, but not calling for accountability, merely a slight correction of perspective and course. Clarke, in his book and in testimony, is one of the people who placed Cheney in the PEOC while the attacks were in progress (Against All Enemies, 2-19). Here he recalls, "Once in the bomb shelter, Cheney assembled his team while the crisis managers on the National Security Council staff coordinated the government response by video conference from the Situation Room." and quotes Cheney's recent admission that he was, without noting that this contradicts Cheney's and the 9/11 Commission's timeline; "'I'll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities,' Cheney said in his recent speech."
N.S.A.’s Intercepts Exceed Limits Set by Congress
By ERIC LICHTBLAU and JAMES RISEN
Published: April 15, 2009
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews.
Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic, although one official said it was believed to have been unintentional.
An emerging progressive consensus on Obama's executive power and secrecy abuses - Glenn Greenwald
"In the last week alone, the Obama DOJ (a) attempted to shield Bush's illegal spying programs from judicial review by (yet again) invoking the very "state secrets" argument that Democrats spent years condemning and by inventing a brand new "sovereign immunity" claim that not even the Bush administration espoused, and (b) argued that individuals abducted outside of Afghanistan by the U.S. and then "rendered" to and imprisoned in Bagram have no rights of any kind -- not even to have a hearing to contest the accusations against them -- even if they are not Afghans and were captured far away from any "battlefield." These were merely the latest -- and among the most disturbing -- in a string of episodes in which the Obama administration has explicitly claimed to possess the very presidential powers that Bush critics spent years condemning as radical, lawless and authoritarian.
Do the Secret Bush Memos Amount to Treason? Top Constitutional Scholar Says Yes- Naomi Wolf Interviews Michael Ratner
Do the Secret Bush Memos Amount to Treason? Top Constitutional Scholar Says Yes
By Naomi Wolf, AlterNet. Posted March 25, 2009.
Legal expert Michael Ratner calls the legal arguments made in the infamous Yoo memos, "Fuhrer's law."
In early March, more shocking details emerged about George W. Bush legal counsel John Yoo's memos outlining the destruction of the republic.
The memos lay the legal groundwork for the president to send the military to wage war against U.S. citizens; take them from their homes to Navy brigs without trial and keep them forever; close down the First Amendment; and invade whatever country he chooses without regard to any treaty or objection by Congress.
It was as if Milton's Satan had a law degree and was establishing within the borders of the United States the architecture of hell.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has launched a "Surveillance Self-Defense" website to educate the public about what the US govt. might be doing to surveil you, and what you can do about it.
Obama voted for the warrantless wiretapping/Telco immunity bill, and seems to be completely disinterested in investigating the Bush Administration's admitted criminal actions.
Pre-9/11 warrantless wiretapping (thanks to George Washington for collecting these links):
Court rejects Obama bid to stop wiretapping suit
By DEVLIN BARRETT – 20 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has lost its argument that a potential threat to national security should stop a lawsuit challenging the government's warrantless wiretapping program.
A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Friday rejected the Justice Department's request for an emergency stay in a case involving a defunct Islamic charity.
Yet government lawyers signaled they would continue fighting to keep the information secret, setting up a new showdown between the courts and the White House over national security.
Obama Faces Familiar Divisions Over Anti-Terror Policies - No Change in Views of Torture, Warrantless Wiretaps
Excerpts, Fair Use:
By a wide margin (59% to 25%), the public says that his administration’s policies will make the chance of another major terrorist attack on the United States less likely rather than more likely. However, while majorities of Democrats (76%) and independents (62%) say that the Obama administration’s policies will make another terrorist attack less likely, just 29% of Republicans agree. Nearly half of Republicans (47%) say Obama’s policies will make another attack more likely.
Similarly, views have remained stable about whether the use of torture is justified in order to gain important information from suspected terrorists. More than four-in-ten say such tactics are often (16%) or sometimes (28%) justified; a majority says torture is rarely (20%) or never (31%) justified. Public attitudes regarding the use of torture against suspected terrorists have been largely unchanged since 2004.
James Bamford's dubious sense of irony when it comes to Israeli firms cornering the market on NSA's major "mass surveillance"
Although I am quite happy Amy Goodman is covering this stuff and that Bamford has at least put this on the table, there is definitely an odd way that Bamford has of using the word irony. He actually uses it correctly (semantically that is) when talking about the alleged hijackers living across the highway from Hayden's NSA office. That exchange is here:
AMY GOODMAN: You say that they set up their final base of operations almost next door to the NSA headquarters in Laurel, Maryland?
The government should not be building predictive data-mining programs systems that attempt to figure out who among millions is a terrorist, a privacy and terrorism commission funded by Homeland Security reported Tuesday. The commission found that the technology would not work and the inevitable mistakes would be un-American.
The committee, created by the National Research Council in 2005, also expressed doubts about the effectiveness of technology designed to decide from afar whether a person had terrorist intents, saying false positives could quickly lead to privacy invasions.
"Automated identification of terrorists through data mining (or any other known methodology) is neither feasible as an objective nor desirable as a goal of technology development efforts," the report found. "Even in well-managed programs, such tools are likely to return significant rates of false positives, especially if the tools are highly automated."
182 comments so far at ThinkProgress(sic)
Hatch compares FISA critics to those ‘who wear tin foil hats and think 9/11 was an inside job.’»
Speaking today on the Senate floor in favor of the Foreign Service Intelligence Act legislation, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) compared critics of the bill — which include Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV), Chris Dodd (D-CT), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), among others — to deluded conspiracy theorists. Hatch mocked the what he called “onerous oversight provisions” included in the bill, and said those who raise the specter of unchecked executive wiretapping power “feed the delusions of those who wear tin foil hats around their house and think that 9/11 was an inside job.” Watch it:
Those “onerous” oversight provisions Hatch maligns? A ban on “reverse targeting” of Americans and a new requirement of probable cause for surveillance of Americans abroad.
Letter to the editor about the spineless/toady Congress giving immunity and broad, mostly unchecked powers to spy on Americans to the same public servants who ignored and failed to prevent the 9/11 terror attacks numerous advisors were warning them were going to happen.
first, a link about PatriotsQuestion911.com from 911Research.WTC7.net
As far as I know, 911Summary.com is better vetted for those "kookorspooks" in the truth movement, who may not be "patriots" at all.
Highly-Credible People Question 9/11
Here's the letter, pasted in full:
Among people who have examined the evidence of 9/11 thoroughly, there is little doubt the story created by the government for mass consumption is a gigantic fraud.
Scholars, engineers, architects, pilots and intelligence professionals have gone on the record exposing the lies, as seen at http://patriots question911.com.
But that is not what this letter is about.
Bush opens wiretap documents to House
By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer
Ending months of resistance, the White House has agreed to give House members access to secret documents about its warrantless wiretapping program, a congressional official said Thursday.
The Bush administration is trying to convince the House to protect from civil lawsuits the telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on Americans without the approval of a court. Congress created the court 30 years ago to oversee such activities.
House Intelligence and Judiciary committee members and staff will begin reading the documents at the White House Thursday, said an aide to Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas.
Reyes and ranking Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan requested the documents in May, saying they would not support telecom immunity without them. The Senate committees were given the documents last fall.