The Sad State of Civil Liberties Two excellent articles in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books powerfully underscore the sad state that respect for civil liberties has sunk in the United States in the 11 years since the war on terror was declared (and yes, we know that US record of civil liberties wasn’t always exemplary before then, but still).
Perhaps it’s in the nature of declaring war against concepts that takes us down the slippery slope. Steve Coll in his review of No Easy Day: The First-Hand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by one of the Navy SEAL team leaders in the Abbottabad raid zeroes in on our very troubling collective acceptance of the de facto order to kill Osama bin Laden — rather than capture and bring him to court. Of course there is no doubt that Osama bin Laden was guilty of planning, financing and masterminding a series of heinous crimes against US targets including the September 11 attacks. And yes, there was no actual order to have him killed. Personalizing Civil Liberties Abuses - The Case of Dr. Al-Arian. On Saturday, I was at the University of Chicago for an event to discuss humanitarian intervention and empire.
One of my fellow speakers was Tariq Ramadan, the highly regarded Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford. He’s one of the world’s most accomplished scholars in his field. For almost six years — from 2004 until 2010 — Ramadan was banned from entering the U.S. In 2004, he had accepted a tenured position at Notre Dame University, but was forced to resign it when, nine days before he was to move with his family to Indiana, his visa was suddenly revoked by the State Department pursuant to the “ideological exclusion” provision of the PATRIOT Act. Ramadan had been an outspoken critic of violence carried out by Muslims against civilians in the name of the Koran, as well a vigorous opponent of violence carried out by the U.S. Under Watch: A Day in the New Surveillance Society. Taking as a starting point brochures and internal documents made public last week by WikiLeaks, OWNI guides you through an average day spent under surveillance.
This realistic account provides a non-exhaustive overview of the types of technology sold by surveillance weapons dealers, a global market worth five billion dollars a year. 07:15 – Awoken by your smartphone’s alarm clock. Enter your pincode and switch it on. It’s now the perfect spy. The US Government Is Data Mining You. This story first appeared on the TomDispatch website.
I was out of the country only nine days, hardly a blink in time, but time enough, as it happened, for another small, airless room to be added to the American national security labyrinth. On March 22nd, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr. signed off on new guidelines allowing the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a post-9/11 creation, to hold on to information about Americans in no way known to be connected to terrorism—about you and me, that is—for up to five years.
The anti-protest bill signed by Barack Obama is a quiet attack on free speech. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images In post-Occupy America, it’s often hard to know whether new citizen protest laws signal the end of free speech or a mere tweak of the machine.
That looks to be the case with the new anti-protest bill that passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly two weeks ago and was signed into law by the president soon thereafter. On its face, the new legislation doesn’t change a whole lot.
Blogger Sues To See If Government Kept a File on Him. The intelligence community may have had a file on a liberal blogger and academic.
Now he wants to see what, if anything, was in it. Danger Room has learned that lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union* will file a lawsuit Wednesday morning in a federal court in Michigan to compel the government to release any information it collected on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who blogs on Mideast issues at Informed Comment. There’s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says. You think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens.
Sen. Ron Wyden says it’s worse than you know. Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. The "Secret" PATRIOT Act. Secret PATRIOT Act?
What was Wyden talking about? The American people aren’t allowed to know. But they got a taste of how it could be used to suppress freedom a month later, when the New York Times reported on June 16 that former CIA supervisor Glenn L. Carle accused senior Bush administration officials of trolling secret CIA files for negative information about one of its public critics, University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole.
Cole, ACLU, Sue CIA, FBI seeking Bloggergate Documents. Spencer Ackerman at Wired reports on the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit launched on my behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union against the CIA, FBI, Department of Justice, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
See also the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. In the text of the lawsuit, ACLU lawyers Michael Steinberg and Zachary Katznelson wrote, “At the heart of this action is whether the CIA, FBI and other agencies undertook an investigation of a U.S. citizen for the simple fact that he was a critic of U.S. government policy. Such a chilling of First Amendment freedoms, if it did in fact take place, would send shock waves through the public arena, threatening to limit the open debate that makes our democracy strong. The public has an urgent need to know whether government agencies are sweeping aside the law and spying on Americans who do nothing more than speak their minds.”
The always-expanding bipartisan Surveillance State - Glenn Greenwald. George Washington: Influential Senator Warned in 1975: “Th[e National Security Agency's] Capability At Any Time Could Be Turned Around On The American People, And No American Would Have Any Privacy Left …There Would Be No Place To Hide. [If A Dictator Eve. Senator Church’s Prophetic Warning Senator Frank Church – who chaired the famous “Church Committee” into the unlawful FBI Cointel program, and who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – said in 1975: “Th[e National Security Agency's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter.
There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back. Videos: Obama’s state surveillance system. Exclusive: National Security Agency Whistleblower William Binney on Growing State Surveillance. This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. Greenwald: Indefinite detention policies have become normalized legally, politically and culturally in Israel and the US. WaPo: Top Secret America. Huge investigative piece in the Washington Post into “A hidden world growing beyond control” — National Security Inc. — about the massive expansion of the private and government intelligence and counterterrorism activities.
What was historically sensitive government-only activities has been outsourced to for-profit vendors, with a variety of problems associated with this: “To ensure that the country’s most sensitive duties are carried out only by people loyal above all to the nation’s interest, federal rules say contractors may not perform what are called “inherently government functions.” But they do, all the time and in every intelligence and counterterrorism agency, according to a two-year investigation by The Washington Post,” I found the interactive graphic most interesting: click for interactive graphic. Watch FRONTLINE Online. Government Internet Surveillance Starts With Eyes Built in the West.
What has long been an EFF issue is once again making headlines. In recent days, the world is seeing damning reports of authoritarian regimes spying on their citizens using American- and European-made surveillance technologies, with new evidence emerging from Bahrain, Libya, Syria, and Thailand. Last week, Bloomberg reported on Bahrain’s use of Nokia-Siemens surveillance software to intercept messages and gather information on human rights activists, resulting in their arrest and torture. A Wall Street Journal article published this week alleges the use of products in Libya created by the French company Amesys and the South African firm VASTech SA Pty Ltd.
Phone and email records to be stored in new spy plan. A hidden world, growing beyond control. The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.
These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine. The investigation's other findings include: Exposed: Inside the NSA’s Largest and Most Expansive Secret Domestic Spy Center in Bluffdale, Utah. US Constitution vs. The Patriot Act. UPDATED: The HB Gary Email That Should Concern Us All. Explaining to a 5-Year Old Why the Indefinite Detention Bill DOES Apply to U.S. Citizens on U.S. Soil. Congress endorsing military detention, a new AUMF.
A bill co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin and GOP Sen. Obama and NDAA: Chipping away at the Constitution - HRW. Congress Passes $662 Billion Defense Bill, Aka The NDAA. Congress just passed the National Defense Authorization Act in a 283-to-136 vote. 190 Republicans and 93 Democrats voted for; 43 Republicans and 93 Democrats voted "against. " Prepare to be arrested, without charge, simply because someone "up there" believes you engage in "terroristy" stuff. Good luck proving them wrong. From Reuters: The U.S. House of Representatives approved a defense bill on Wednesday requiring the military to handle suspected militants linked to al Qaeda, acting not long after President Barack Obama removed a veto threat from the controversial legislation.
Cognitive dissonance and detention without trial. Senate Bill Allows Arrest of Americans by Military Anywhere. ACLU statement on Obama's signing of NDAA. President Obama Signs Indefinite Detention Bill Into Law. YK32P.jpg (JPEG Image, 700x811 pixels) - Scaled (79. Guantánamo Forever? - NYTimes.com. Obama Says Americans Are MILITARY Targets in the War on Terror ... And Says that Only He - and Not the Courts - Gets to Decide Who Is a Legitimate Target. Senators Demand the Military Lock Up American Citizens in a “Battlefield” They Define as Being Right Outside Your Window. Battlefield America: Is Gitmo in Your Future? Why I'm suing the US government to protect internet freedom.