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.
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.
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.
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.
An Occupy Wall Street protester speaks to a police officer. 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.
<img class="alignright size-full wp-image-51662" title="juanagain" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2011/07/juanagain.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="331" /> 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.
<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-47747" title="090529-A-5611R-073" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2011/05/090529-A-5611R-073.jpg" alt="" width="640" height="448" /> You think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens. Sen.
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.”
Civil liberty - curators...
When I wrote earlier this week about Jane Mayer’s New Yorker article on the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers, the passage I hailed as “the single paragraph that best conveys the prime, enduring impact of the Obama presidency” included this observation from Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin: ” We are witnessing the bipartisan normalization and legitimization of a national-surveillance state. “ There are three events — all incredibly from the last 24 hours — which not only prove how true that is, but vividly highlight how it functions and why it is so odious. Top congressional leaders agreed Thursday to a four-year extension of the anti-terrorist Patriot Act , the controversial law passed after the Sept. 11 attacks that governs the search for terrorists on American soil. The deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner calls for a vote before May 27, when parts of the current act expire.
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.
National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney reveals he believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush. He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion “transactions” — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. JUAN GONZALEZ : Today we bring you a Democracy Now!
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
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.
It is certain to cause controversy over civil liberties - but also raise concerns over the security of the records. Access to such information would be highly prized by hackers and could be exploited to send spam email and texts. Details of which websites people visit could also be exploited for commercial gain.