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Civil liberties advocates opposed to the government’s expanded wiretapping powers can fight another day after an appellate court on Monday reinstated a lawsuit challenging an eavesdropping law passed by Congress three years ago. The decision could put the Obama administration in the uncomfortable position of having to argue in support of broad executive authority to conduct surveillance operations – a position that President Obama , as a presidential candidate, had once opposed. In the lawsuit, one of the few remaining on the issue, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups charged that the expanded surveillance powers granted by Congress in 2008 were unconstitutional and illegal.
By EVAN PEREZ New rules allow investigators to hold domestic-terror suspects longer than others without giving them a Miranda warning, significantly expanding exceptions to the instructions that have governed the handling of criminal suspects for more than four decades. European Pressphoto Agency Courtroom sketch of bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Update Appended: June 24, 2011 The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee is weighing fresh concerns about the sweeping nature of domestic spying using one controversial section of the Patriot Act. This particular part of that law is notable because it has been divisive for years — and because during those years President Obama has quietly moved from being a Senator skeptical of the provisions to being an enthusiastic spy chief whose Administration embraces them. Last Tuesday the committee met to consider the worries of some members, mostly Democrats, who say the Justice Department has drafted a breathtakingly broad interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
The phone rang. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and it was my day off. Sitting in my rather neglected garden, as the late afternoon light sparkled golden on the tops of the plum trees, I put down my book – the 1995 edition of The Year’s Best Science Fiction , edited by Gardner Dozois – with more than a little annoyance. I was smack dab in the middle of a short story, “ Asylum ,” by Katharine Kerr, a tale about a future military coup in the US, written from the point of view of a particularly earnest liberal with faintly radical leanings. The main character is a woman writer who is abroad when the generals take over, and is marked as an enemy of the state on account of her book, Christian Fascism: Its Roots and Rise. Her San Francisco office is raided and her files carted away.
When I was in grad school, we had a "visitor" WiFi network available to people visiting campus. The network was only supposed to be used by guests; access was automatically cut off after two weeks to force students and staff to register for the main campus network. But registering was a bit of a hassle, so when I first got to campus I simply used the visitor network.
Federal regulators stepped into a firestorm of controversy recently when they ordered banks in California's North Coast area to spy on the transactions of customers who are suspected of making money in the medical marijuana business. Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI authorities claim they are not specifically targeting medical marijuana. They say they're just looking for "drug traffickers and money launderers," which of course under federal law includes any marijuana-related banking activity.
Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar brings humanity to its subject, depicting a tortured love relationship between J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson, his second-in-command at the FBI. When it comes to politics, though, the film reverts to stereotype.
The FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a controversial proposal that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance . In meetings with industry representatives, the White House, and U.S. senators, senior FBI officials argue the dramatic shift in communication from the telephone system to the Internet has made it far more difficult for agents to wiretap Americans suspected of illegal activities, CNET has learned. The FBI general counsel's office has drafted a proposed law that the bureau claims is the best solution: requiring that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly. "If you create a service, product, or app that allows a user to communicate, you get the privilege of adding that extra coding," an industry representative who has reviewed the FBI's draft legislation told CNET.
The FBI disclosed this weekend that data gathered by Carrier IQ software is used by it for "law enforcement purposes", but refused to give details of how it has done so. Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Muckrock , the FBI said that it held relevant records but that their release could interfere with pending or prospective law enforcement proceedings. The request asked for "manuals, documents or other written guidance used to access or analyze data gathered by programs developed or deployed by Carrier IQ."
<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-57107" title="FBIshadow" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2011/09/FBIshadow.jpg" alt="" width="640" height="480" /> The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding mechanism for combat.” At the Bureau’s training ground in Quantico, Virginia, agents are shown a chart contending that the more “devout” a Muslim, the more likely he is to be “violent.” Those destructive tendencies cannot be reversed, an FBI instructional presentation adds: “Any war against non-believers is justified” under Muslim law; a “moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah.” These are excerpts from dozens of pages of recent FBI training material on Islam that Danger Room has acquired.
FBI ‘Islam 101′ Guide Depicted Muslims as 7th-Century Simpletons | Danger Room | Wired.com - http://www.wired.com/<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-53205" title="4505842946_52b2b8b6df_z" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2011/07/4505842946_52b2b8b6df_z.jpg" alt="" width="640" height="426" /> As recently as January 2009, the FBI thought its agents ought to know the following crucial information about Muslims: They engage in a “circumcision ritual” More than 9,000 of them are in the U.S. military Their religion “transforms [a] country’s culture into 7th-century Arabian ways.”
Illustrations: Jeffrey Smith James Cromitie was a man of bluster and bigotry. He made up wild stories about his supposed exploits, like the one about firing gas bombs into police precincts using a flare gun, and he ranted about Jews. "The worst brother in the whole Islamic world is better than 10 billion Yahudi ," he once said .
The recent news of alleged LulzSec spokesperson Topiary's arrest took the media spotlight away from WikiLeaks supporters' demonstration against PayPal. But it also raises questions about how online laws are applied, and the credibility of those who enforce them. While doubts remain over whether the police have arrested the right person, Topiary's twitter account has been reduced to a single tweet : "You cannot arrest an idea." Topiary served as LulzSec's witty media front-man and his clever humour was tempered by a strong sense of justice. "Laws are to be respected when they're fair, not obeyed without question," he said in a recent interview . "Revolution, to me, is bringing down the big guy while not forgetting to stand up for the little guy."
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has written a letter to Attorney General Eric J. Holder expressing concern about an investigation into antiwar activists in Minneapolis and Chicago.
<img class="alignright size-full wp-image-14538" title="albert2_crop_small" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2010/03/albert2_crop_small.jpg" alt="albert2_crop_small" width="300" height="453" /> Albert Gonzalez, the hacker who masterminded the largest credit card heists in U.S. history, is asking a federal judge to throw out his earlier guilty pleas and lift his record-breaking 20-year prison sentence, on allegations that the government authorized his years-long crime spree. Gonzalez, 29, admitted last year that he and accomplices hacked into TJX, Office Max, Dave & Busters, Heartland Payment Systems and other companies to steal more than 130 million credit and debit card numbers, in what the government deemed the biggest computer crime case ever prosecuted in the United States. He’s currently serving time at the Milan low-security federal prison in southeastern Michigan, with a release date in the year 2025.