The leader of the embattled National Security Agency doubled down Wednesday against calls from Capitol Hill to restrict U.S. government surveillance programs — a campaign he attributed to “sensationalized” reporting and “media leaks.”
On the same day that key Senate lawmakers pledged to bring new oversight to the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander mounted a public defense of his agency: He stressed the intelligence community isn’t “listening to Americans’ phone calls and reading their emails,” and he urged technology and government leaders to help “get the facts out” and “get our nation to understand why we need these tools” in the wake of Edward Snowden’s disclosures.
Speaking at a cybersecurity conference in Washington, Alexander also commended companies for cooperating with the federal government, and he made a plea for more power — particularly to thwart terrorists who have elevated their activities to cyberspace.
“Over 950 people were killed in Kenya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan,” Alexander said at the Billington CyberSecurity Summit, referencing recent violence in the region, “and we’re discussing more esoteric things here. Why? Because we’ve stopped the terrorist attacks here.”
“We’ve been fortunate, and it’s not been luck,” the general continued. “It’s our military that’s out [front], and it’s our intelligence community back here. They can’t do it without tools. So we’re going to have a debate in this country: Do we give up those tools? I’m concerned we’ll make the wrong decision.”
Alexander gave the speech before attending a classified meeting with lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee — whose chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), just this Tuesday called for sweeping changes to the NSA’s surveillance powers.
Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and other lawmakers later unveiled their own blueprint for surveillance reform. The package would reform the secret court that authorizes government surveillance requests while limiting the NSA’s ability to collect U.S. phone call logs in bulk.
“It is designed to set a high bar and serve as a measure for true intelligence reform,” Wyden said at a news conference, emphasizing the proposed legislation is “not cosmetic.”
Alexander heads back to the Hill on Thursday to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is exploring the NSA’s data collection and retention practices under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. He’ll return again next week for an open session with Leahy’s panel.
Even against those strong political currents, however, Alexander fiercely defended the NSA’s existing authorities.
The general repeatedly referenced Sept. 11, 2001, saying the intelligence community had learned from those attacks that it “had to connect the dots.” Alexander pointed to the Boston tragedy and “the threats this summer” as he made the case for “speed and agility” in intelligence gathering. The NSA leader also rebuffed charges that his agency had siphoned up mounds of Americans’ personal data. Pointing to Section 215, the provision in the PATRIOT Act under which the NSA has sought telephone call logs in bulk, Alexander emphasized: “There is no content, there [are] no names, just the numbers. That’s it. That’s all we asked for.”
Alexander also appeared to defend tech companies like Google and Microsoft, both of which are actively are fighting the federal government to release more data about government surveillance requests. Speaking only generally about “industry,” Alexander said companies aren’t “driving up to the NSA” and “dumping” data. They’re doing “what the courts are directing them to provide,” Alexander said. “Our industry have taken a beating on this, and it’s wrong.”
Click below for the full article:
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff suspended preliminary steps for her October state visit to Washington, signaling allegations of US spying on her personal communications could reverse what would have been a crescendo of positive US-Brazil relations.
President Rousseff called off her advance logistics team that would have laid the ground for the only state visit the Obama administration has scheduled this year. It’s an honor reserved for Washington’s closest partners – including a black-tie dinner and military reception – and the invitation last May was viewed as an upgrade for Brazil in terms of bilateral relations.
But the US-Brazil relationship, already tense after leaks in July of alleged US eavesdropping on millions of phone calls and emails sent by citizens across Brazil, was further strained this week. After the widely viewed Sunday night TV program Fantástico alleged that the US also spied on the personal communications of President Rousseff and her aides, her administration hardened its tone, sending strong signals that the October visit could be cancelled.
Rousseff’s outrage goes beyond posturing to gain bargaining power with the US, says David Fleischer, a political scientist at the University of Brasília. “It was pretty genuine. She is a pretty short tempered person,” Mr. Fleischer says.
A state dinner is such a high-level commitment that to cancel it would be a blow to Obama; the Monitor found no examples that a state visit, once announced, has ever been cancelled before.
Click below for the full article.
Rod Bretches, the former Loveland police officer convicted of possessing child pornography and videotaping a woman in the shower without her consent, was sentenced Monday to 16 months in jail, plus 15 years of probation and intensive therapy.
Eighth District Court Judge Stephen E. Howard said that while Bretches’ status as both an ex-policeman and sexual offender will render him highly vulnerable to harassment by other inmates, it would have been inappropriate to not give a jail sentence.
“The circumstances are, in my opinion, horrendous,” Howard said.
Bretches, 49, must turn himself in by Friday at 5 p.m. His sentence requires he spend the first six months of his sentence in the county jail, though he may become eligible to spend the remaining 10 months on outside work release.
He was originally arrested in May 2012 after colleagues at the Loveland Police Department began investigating Bretches following a woman’s complaint that he had secretly videotaped her showering and then shared it online. Police searched his home and found videos and photos depicting child pornography, in addition to online messages between Bretches and user name “masterbill69” suggesting the shower taping was premeditated.
“You need to grow some … and start taking pictures,” masterbill69 wrote in June 2011. “I want action, wimp.”
Bretches’ attorney, Denver-based criminal defense lawyer Jonathan Willett, argued against a jail sentence by citing his client’s “troubled” and “broken” childhood. In his youth, Bretches rarely spent more than one full year in the same place and was often subjected to abuse from his mother’s numerous sexual partners.
The Title says it all….. interesting that they can record us but heaven forbid if we ever record them making an arrest.
Who will watch the watchers? What if all watchers were required to wear a video camera that would record their every interaction with citizens? In her ruling in a recent civil suit challenging the New York City police department’s notorious stop-and-frisk rousting of residents, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of the Federal District Court in Manhattan imposed an experiment in which the police in the city’s precincts with the highest reported rates of stop-and-frisk activity would be required to wear video cameras for one year.
This is a really good idea. Earlier this year, a 12-month study by Cambridge University researchers revealed that when the city of Rialto, California, required its cops to wear cameras, the number of complaints filed against officers fell by 88 percent and the use of force by officers dropped by almost 60 percent. Watched cops are polite cops.
Jay Stanley, a policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), calls police-worn video cameras “a win/win for both the public and the police.” Win/win because video recordings help shield officers from false accusations of abuse as well as protecting the public against police misconduct. The small cameras like the AXON Flex from Taser International attach to an officer’s sunglasses, hat, or uniform.
In order to make sure that both the public and police realize the greatest benefits from body-worn video cameras, a number of policies need to be implemented. For example, police officers must be subject to stiff disciplinary sanctions if they fail to turn their cameras on each time they interact with the public. In addition, items obtained during an unrecorded encounter would be deemed a violation of the subject’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure and excluded as evidence, unless there were extenuating circumstances, such as a broken camera. Similarly, failure to record an incident for which a patrolman is accused of misconduct should create a presumption against that officer.
Click below for the full article.
An officer with the Leland Police Department has been suspended without pay for 28 days after a teenager recorded video of an arrest on his cell phone.
According to police reports, 19-year-old Gabriel Self tried approaching Leland Police Sergeant John Keel as he was arresting another man on drug charges. Sgt. Keel told Self to leave the area….
The charge was resisting, obstructing, or delaying a law enforcement officer. Self was interfering with an investigation, according to the arrest report….
Self said Keel was simply standing in the parking lot, so he did not see how he could be interfering with anything.
Click below for the full article.
Federal Court orders confirm that you are a slave and we live in a totalitarian society. There is a difference between socialism and communism, but the totalitarian control of production and distribution of goods and services is the core of both, the USA is now a Totalitarian Republic. The US Government is saying that a company providing voluntary services to other people, of which there are many other voluntary providers, cannot go out of business. The company in question is Lavabit. It provides secure encrypted email services. Ladar Levison started Lavabit 10 years ago to capitalize on public concerns about the Patriot Act, offering paying customers encrypted email, that make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for law enforcement agents to decipher. The government gave him a court order to provide the content of ALL email from ALL his customers to the government without letting his customers know. In as much as this totally compromised the reason he created the company rather than comply he shut the company down. In an NBC Article it is reported that “James Trump, a senior litigation counsel in the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Va., sent an email to Levison’s lawyer last Thursday – the day Lavabit was shuttered — stating that Levison may have “violated the court order,” a statement that was interpreted as a possible threat to charge Levison with contempt of court.” NBC’s byline for the article is an appropriate “from the either-you-help-us-spy-on-people-or-you’re-a-criminal dept”If this happens it means that legally you can be required to work against your will. Isn’t that slavery? If not slavery it is clearly the actions of a totalitarian government that is not limited in any way as to what it can demand of common people. We live in a Constitutional Republic where the government has (had) limited and defined powers. Specifically the clearly stated Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights states that: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Modern technology has changed what papers and effect look like, but there is no reasonable way to say the government has the authority to search your every email. Rather than enable the government to violate the 4th, Lavabit choose to cease to provide services designed to protect individuals from government violation of their 4th amendment rights. – See more at: http://1787network.com/2013/08/us-court-orders-tyranny/7363#sthash.ts9dPPBb.dpuf
U.S. intelligence officials released new documents on Wednesday showing that the National Security Agency may have unintentionally collected as many as 56,000 emailed communications of Americans per year between 2008 and 2011.
The officials revealed the documents as part of an effort to explain how the NSA spotted, and then fixed, technical problems which led to the inadvertent collection of emails of American citizens without warrants.
The move is the Obama administration’s latest response to continuing controversy over alleged electronic eavesdropping excesses by the NSA.
The documents included a formerly “top-secret,” but newly-declassified ruling by the ultra-secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in which the court itself, in an obscure footnote, estimates, based on data supplied by NSA, that between 2008 and 2011, the agency might have unintentionally collected as many as 56,000 emailed communications of Americans in each of those three years.
U.S. intelligence officials who agreed to answer questions about the documents’ contents told reporters the domestic emails were collected in the execution of a program designed to target the emails of foreign terrorism suspects.
According to the officials and a court document which the administration released, the NSA decided to “purge” the material after discovering it was inadvertently collected.
Details about the secretive surveillance programs have been brought to light in recent months by fugitive U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents to media outlets.
Click below for the full article, as well as a few updates from Reuters.
The National Security Agency has a secret backdoor into its vast databases under a legal authority enabling it to search for US citizens’ email and phone calls without a warrant, according to a top-secret document passed to the Guardian by Edward Snowden.
The previously undisclosed rule change allows NSA operatives to hunt for individual Americans’ communications using their name or other identifying information. Senator Ron Wyden told the Guardian that the law provides the NSA with a loophole potentially allowing “warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans”.
The authority, approved in 2011, appears to contrast with repeated assurances from Barack Obama and senior intelligence officials to both Congress and the American public that the privacy of US citizens is protected from the NSA’s dragnet surveillance programs.
The intelligence data is being gathered under Section 702 of the of the Fisa Amendments Act (FAA), which gives the NSA authority to target without warrant the communications of foreign targets, who must be non-US citizens and outside the US at the point of collection.
The communications of Americans in direct contact with foreign targets can also be collected without a warrant, and the intelligence agencies acknowledge that purely domestic communications can also be inadvertently swept into its databases. That process is known as “incidental collection” in surveillance parlance.
But this is the first evidence that the NSA has permission to search those databases for specific US individuals’ communications.
A secret glossary document provided to operatives in the NSA’s Special Source Operations division – which runs the Prism program and large-scale cable intercepts through corporate partnerships with technology companies – details an update to the “minimization” procedures that govern how the agency must handle the communications of US persons. That group is defined as both American citizens and foreigners located in the US.
“While the FAA 702 minimization procedures approved on 3 October 2011 now allow for use of certain United States person names and identifiers as query terms when reviewing collected FAA 702 data,” the glossary states, “analysts may NOT/NOT [not repeat not] implement any USP [US persons] queries until an effective oversight process has been developed by NSA and agreed to by DOJ/ODNI [Office of the Director of National Intelligence].”
The term “identifiers” is NSA jargon for information relating to an individual, such as telephone number, email address, IP address and username as well as their name.
The document – which is undated, though metadata suggests this version was last updated in June 2012 – does not say whether the oversight process it mentions has been established or whether any searches against US person names have taken place.
Click below for the full article.