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Civil Liberties

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Massive New Surveillance Program Uncovered by Wall Street Journal

by Ryan Gallagher
Slate.com

When a former senior White House official describes a nationwide surveillance effort as “breathtaking,” you know civil liberties activists are preparing for a fight.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that the little-known National Counterterrorism Center, based in an unmarked building in McLean, Va., has been granted sweeping new authority to store and monitor massive datasets about innocent Americans.

After internal wrangling over privacy and civil liberties issues, the Justice Department reportedly signed off on controversial new guidelines earlier this year. The guidelines allow the NCTC, for the first time, to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, using “predictive pattern-matching,” to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. The data the counterterrorism center has access to, according to the Journal, includes “entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others.”

Notably, the Journal reports that these changes also allow databases about U.S. civilians to be handed over to foreign governments for analysis, presumably so that they too can attempt to determine future criminal actions. The Department of Homeland Security’s former chief privacy officer said that it represents a “sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public.”

The snooping effort, which officials say is subject to “rigorous oversight,” is reminiscent of the so-called Total Information Awareness initiative, dreamt up in the aftermath of 9/11 by the Pentagon’s research unit DARPA. The aim of the TIA initiative was essentially to create… Continue reading

Mother of American Torture Victim José Padilla Brings Case Before International Human Rights Tribunal

U.S. Courts Have Denied Recourse
By ACLU
December 11, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union and Yale Law School’s Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic today filed a petition against the United States with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) for the unlawful detention and torture of José Padilla, a U.S. citizen, whom the United States detained and interrogated for four years.

The petition was filed by Padilla’s mother, Estella Lebron, on her own and on her son’s behalf. Padilla and Lebron had previously filed federal lawsuits – since dismissed – against current and former government officials for their roles in Padilla’s torture and other abuse.

The petition is an international complaint asking the IACHR, which is an independent human rights body of the Organization of American States, to conduct a full investigation into the human rights violations suffered by Padilla; to find that his mistreatment violated the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man; and to recommend that the United States publicly acknowledge the violations and apologize for its unlawful conduct.

“The U.S. justice system denied a day in court to a U.S. citizen who was arrested and then tortured on U.S. soil by his own government,” said Steven Watt, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program. “The U.S. has historically been a leader in ensuring access to justice for human rights violations around the world, but it has effectively closed the courtroom door to all victims and survivors… Continue reading

New 9/11 truth documentary among ‘most watched’ on PBS this week

September 8, 2012
By Victoria N. Alexander
DigitalJournal.com

“9/11: Explosive Evidence – Experts Speak Out” is getting public attention and casting doubt on the scientific validity of the U.S. government’s investigation into the WTC tragedy. PBS is the first major network to air the program.

Just days away from the 11th anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy and months away from the U.S. presidential election, a game-changing 9/11 documentary is ranking number three among “most watched” documentaries on PBS and number one among “most shared.” Available for free online August 18th – September 4th, the documentary could have a significant effect on public opinion. [Update: PBS has extended viewing indefinitely.] Both the Republicans and Democrats, as equally staunch defenders of the official story, stand to be affected if the public’s suspicion of government corruption grows deeper.

An earlier report on Digital Journal found that the claims made in the documentary can be verified by reading the government reports themselves. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the government agency charged with the investigation, did not provide any data — no measurements or estimates — of the mass or energy that would be required to bring down the buildings in about ten seconds. Normally a scientific report would present all the data that is used to construct a theory. The omission of data is a red flag to anyone familiar with scientific procedure. It appears that the investigators may have intentionally produced reports that the scientific community would reject.… Continue reading

History Commons New 9/11 Timeline Entries

August 9, 2012
New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Hijacking Exercises, Air Force One’s Movements, Laura Bush on Sept. 11, and More
HistoryCommons.org

History Commons is only halfway towards its summer fundraising goal. Please contribute generously to help the History Commons stay alive and functioning.

A large number of entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, most of which provide new details about the events of the day of September 11, 2001.

Other entries are being posted in the US Civil Liberties project on campaign finance, voting laws, and indefinite detentions.

New 9/11 Entries

One new timeline entry describes a training exercise based on the scenario of a possible terrorist attack that was run on the morning of September 11 by the US Coast Guard in Tampa Bay, Florida, quite close to Sarasota, where the president was at the time. Another entry deals with a meeting scheduled to take place at the Pentagon that morning, regarding a planned “disaster exercise” at the nearby Navy Annex building.

An entry reveals that a number of FBI agents had, for reasons that are unknown, already arrived at the Navy Annex when the Pentagon was hit. Later on, the Navy set up a new command center at the Navy Annex, after its original command center was destroyed in the Pentagon attack.

Continue reading

EFF Challenges National Security Letter Statute in Landmark Lawsuit

July 17, 2012
By Matt Zimmerman
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Since the first national security letter statute was passed in 1986, the FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of such letters seeking private telecommunications and financial records of Americans without any prior approval from courts. Indeed, for the period between 2003 and 2006 alone, almost 200,000 requests for private customer information were sought pursuant to various NSL statutes. Prior to 2011, the constitutionality of this legal authority to investigate the records of Americans without court oversight had been challenged in court — as far as we know — exactly one time. EFF is today releasing FBI-redacted briefing from a major new ongoing case in which it is challenging one of the NSL statutes on behalf of a telecommunications company that received an NSL in 2011. Not only does this briefing show that the Department of Justice continues to strongly protect the FBI’s NSL authority, it highlights a startlingly aggressive new tactic used by the Department of Justice: suing NSL recipients who challenge the FBI’s authority, arguing that court challenges to such authority themselves amount to breaking the law.

National security letter statutes — five in all — are controversial laws that allow the FBI to easily bypass courts and issue administrative letters on their own authority to telecommunications companies and financial institutions demanding information about their customers. The NSL statutes permit the FBI to permanently gag service providers from revealing the fact that the demand was made, preventing them from… Continue reading

Obama Seizes Control of All Communications Systems With Executive Order

by Susanne Posel
Occupycorporatism.com

President Obama has usurped all available forms of communication for use and discretion of the US government. Under an Executive Order (June 6, 2012) entitled Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness  Communications Functions, Obama has enabled the executive branch to control communications  “under all circumstances to ensure national security, effectively manage emergencies, and improve national resilience.” (For full text of the Executive Order, seen Annex below).

Radio and wired communications systems “of all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and the public must inform the development of national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) communications policies, programs, and capabilities.”

Cellular phone corporations like Sprint owned Boost Mobile have released messages to their customers concerning the US government’s allocation of their phone communications at the whim of the President. In a text message to customers, Boost Mobile said that: “. . . you can receive national and local emergency alerts directly on your phone.”

Back in 2011, Hillary Clinton admitted that the US government, via the mainstream media, is losing their “information war” with the American public. As alternative media becomes more prevalent, the propaganda must be taken up a notch in order to keep the masses onboard with the agendas of the US government.

Danny Schechter, filmmaker and investigative journalist, explains that MSM cannot compete with the alternative media. Schechter says that “America feels on the defensive because it can no longer” monopolize the thoughts of citizens domestically and abroad. Since the US government thinks “its point of view is the only point of view” these new news outlets are “extremely damaging” to the US continual purveyance of propaganda.

The Presidential Alert was announced in August of 2011, wherein the Commissioners for the FCC required that television, radio stations and cable systems (including satellites) will redirect broadcasting if the President wants to “alert Americans of impending danger”. Continue reading

The U.S. Internment Camp: Prison for a New American Century

A newly uncovered Army document details U.S. internment camps on American soil .

Ryan Cummings, Contributor Activist Post

Photo of prison The topic of civilian internment camps in the United States has been largely dismissed as a paranoid “conspiracy theory” by the mainstream media. Recent legislation and newly uncovered government documents, however, reveal the sad truth: The United States is quickly descending into a full-blown authoritarian police state.

NDAA 2012: Patriot Act Part Two

On December 31, 2011, while the majority of Americans were busy watching balls drop and drinking themselves into oblivion, President Obama quietly signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. This unprecedented legislation effectively codified the executive branch’s authority to indefinitely detain American citizens without trial, stripping them of their Constitutional right to due process and habeas corpus.

Under this legislation, if you are simply “suspected” of providing support to a group the government classifies as a terrorist organization–or an affiliate or associated force of said organization–you can be rounded up and detained until the end of the “War on Terror”–a war, according to policy makers, that has no end.

Over the course of this endless and prefabricated war, the government’s definition of “terrorist” has slowly shifted post 9/11 from Al Qaeda, a group of dubious power initially funded and supported by the CIA and the Pakistani ISI , to such “domestic terrorists” as Occupy Wall Street protestors , pro-life advocates and Ron Paul supporters . When the FBI set-up a band of dimwitted… Continue reading

FBI Attempts to Hold Sibel Edmonds’ Book Hostage

Agency Used Contracts to Censor Whistleblowers

WEBWIRE
April 10, 2012

Washington, D.C. April 10, 2012 — Today, the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) revealed that the FBI required employees to sign employment contracts that are illegal under Federal law. The NWC launched the investigation in response to a nearly year long campaign by the FBI to prevent the publication of whistleblower Sibel Edmonds’ new book, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story.

On April 26, 2011, Ms. Edmonds followed official procedure and submitted her manuscript to the FBI for pre-publication clearance. Under the terms of her employment agreement and controlling regulations, the FBI was required to review and approve the submission within thirty (30) days. Instead of complying with the law, the FBI intentionally stalled the approval process for over 341 days and has still refused to “clear” the book for publication.

Ms. Edmonds will speak today for the first time about the FBI’s attempts to suppress her book. The interview will be aired live at 1:30pm ET on Honesty Without Fear, and the podcast will also be available for download.

The NWC is also releasing documentation confirming that the FBI required employees, including Ms. Edmonds, to sign the illegal contracts that allowed the FBI to censor issues of “public policy” it found embarrassing. According to Ms. Edmonds attorney, Stephen M. Kohn, “the controlling law strictly limits government’s ability to censor its employees. Agencies like the FBI may require pre-publication review of its employees’ writings, but may only… Continue reading

Obama takes Bush’s secrecy games one step further

By Glenn Greenwald
Salon.com

(updated below)

The ACLU is suing the Obama administration under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking to force disclosure of the guidelines used by Obama officials to select which human beings (both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals) will have their lives ended by the CIA’s drone attacks (“In particular,” the group explains, the FOIA request “seeks to find out when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killing”). The Obama administration has not only refused to provide any of that information, but worse, the CIA is insisting to federal courts that it cannot even confirm or deny the existence of a drone program at all without seriously damaging national security; from the CIA’s brief in response to the ACLU lawsuit:

New Counterterrorism Guidelines Gives Authorities Vast Access to Private Info of Innocent Americans

By Trevor Timm
Electronic Frontier Foundation

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signed expansive new guidelines for terrorism analysts, allowing the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) to mirror entire federal databases containing personal information and hold onto the information for an extended period of time–even if the person is not suspected of any involvement in terrorism. (Read the guidelines here).

Despite the “terrorism” justification, the new rules affect every single American. The agency now has free rein to, as the New York Times’ Charlie Savage put it, “retrieve, store and search information about Americans gathered by government agencies for purposes other than national security threats ” and expands the amount of time the government can keep private information on innocent individuals by a factor of ten.

From the New York Times:

The guidelines will lengthen to five years — from 180 days — the amount of time the center can retain private information about Americans when there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism, intelligence officials said. The guidelines are also expected to result in the center making more copies of entire databases and “data mining them” using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat. (emphasis ours)

 

Journalist Marcy Wheeler summed the new guidelines up nicely saying, “So…the data the government keeps to track our travel, our taxes, our benefits, our identity? It just got transformed from bureaucratic data into national security intelligence.”

Show Editor’s Note »

See also these related stories:… Continue reading

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)

By James Bamford
March 15, 2012
Wired.com


Photo Credit, Name withheld; Digital Manipulation: Jesse Lenz

The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.

Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978–and the number of plural marriages has tripled–so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.

But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive,… Continue reading

New Obama Executive Order Seizes U.S. Infrastructure and Citizens for Military Preparedness

By Brandon Turbeville
Activist Post

In a stunning move, on March 16, 2012, Barack Obama signed an Executive Order (EO) stating that the President and his specifically designated Secretaries now have the authority to commandeer all domestic U.S. resources including food and water. The EO also states that the President and his Secretaries have the authority to seize all transportation, energy, and infrastructure inside the United States as well as forcibly induct/draft American citizens into the military. The EO also contains a vague reference in regards to harnessing American citizens to fulfill “labor requirements” for the purposes of national defense.

Not only that, but the authority claimed inside the EO does not only apply to National Emergencies and times of war. It also applies in peacetime.

 

Show Editor’s Note: »

The Act to which this Executive Order refers is the national Defense Resources Act, first passed September 8, 1950, at the beginning of the Korean conflict, as the Cold War began. Wikipedia states (please read original for full links):

The Defense Production Act (Pub.L. 81-774) is a United States law enacted on September 8, 1950, in response to the start of the Korean War. It was part of a broad civil defense and war mobilization effort in the context of the Cold War. Its implementing regulations, the Defense Priorities and Allocation System (DPAS), are located at 15 CFR §§700 to 700.93. The Act has been periodically reauthorized and amended, and remains in force as of 2012.

The Act contains… Continue reading

Obama’s Kill Doctrine

Trust us, Attorney General Eric Holder says — we’ll only assassinate Americans after administrative “due process.” That’s not how the Constitution works, buddy.

By Jonathan Turley
Foreignpolicy.com

On Monday, March 5, Northwestern University School of Law was the location of an extraordinary scene for a free nation. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder presented President Barack Obama’s claim that he has the authority to kill any U.S. citizen he considers a threat. It served as a retroactive justification for the slaying of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki last September by a drone strike in northeastern Yemen, as well as the targeted killings of at least two other Americans during Obama’s term.
 

Editor’s Note:
See also: “Who said it: Bush or Obama?” by Uri Friedman, also at ForeignPolicy.com.

 
What’s even more extraordinary is that this claim, which would be viewed by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution as the very definition of authoritarian power, was met not with outcry but muted applause. Where due process once resided, Holder offered only an assurance that the president would kill citizens with care. While that certainly relieved any concern that Obama, or his successor, would hunt citizens for sport, Holder offered no assurances on how this power would be used in the future beyond the now all-too-familiar “trust us” approach to civil liberties of this administration.

In his speech, Holder was clear and unambiguous on only one point: “The president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign… Continue reading

Goodbye, First Amendment: ‘Trespass Bill’ will make protest illegal

February 29, 2012
RT.com

Just when you thought the government couldn’t ruin the First Amendment any further: The House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it.

The US House of Representatives voted 388-to-3 in favor of H.R. 347 late Monday, a bill which is being dubbed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. In the bill, Congress officially makes it illegal to trespass on the grounds of the White House, which, on the surface, seems not just harmless and necessary, but somewhat shocking that such a rule isn’t already on the books. The wording in the bill, however, extends to allow the government to go after much more than tourists that transverse the wrought iron White House fence.

Under the act, the government is also given the power to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country.

Under current law, White House trespassers are prosecuted under a local ordinance, a Washington, DC legislation that can bring misdemeanor charges for anyone trying to get close to the president without authorization. Under H.R. 347, a federal law will formally be applied to such instances, but will also allow the government to bring charges to protesters, demonstrators and activists at political events and other outings across America.

The new legislation allows prosecutors to charge anyone who enters a building without permission or with the intent to disrupt a… Continue reading

How To Remove Your Google Search History Before Google’s New Privacy Policy Takes Effect

February 20, 2012
by Eva Galperin

Electronic Frontier Foundation

[UPDATE 2/22/2012] It is important to note that disabling Web History in your Google account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using it for internal purposes. More information at the end of this post.]

On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google’s other products. This protection was especially important because search data can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including facts about your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, health concerns, and more. If you want to keep Google from combining your Web History with the data they have gathered about you in their other products, such as YouTube or Google Plus, you may want to remove all items from your Web History and stop your Web History from being recorded in the future.

Here’s how you can do that:

1. Sign into your Google account.

Image of Google Web History

2. Go to https://www.google.com/history

Image for removing google web history

3. Click “remove all Web History.”

Final image for removing all web history from Google

4. Click “ok.”

Image of page showing web history is paused

Note that removing your Web History also pauses it. Web History will remain off until you enable it again.

[UPDATE 2/22/2012]: Note that disabling Web History in your Google account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using… Continue reading

FBI: Paying Cash for Coffee Potential Terrorism?

FBI says paying for your morning coffee with cash a potential terrorist activity, urges coffee shop owners to report cash-paying customers to authorities

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
NaturalNews.com

Purchasing a cup of coffee using cash instead of a credit or debit card, using Google Maps to view photos of sporting event stadiums and large cities, and installing software to protect your internet privacy on your mobile phone — these and many other mundane activities are now considered to be potential terrorist activities by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). And the agency is now distributing a new series of flyers as part of its new “Communities Against Terrorism” (CAT) program that urges shop owners and others to report such “suspicious” activity to authorities.

“The Communities Against Terrorism program is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance through the SLATT Program to provide law enforcement agencies with a tool to engage members of the local community in the fight against terrorism,” writes SLATT.org, the program of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance that is promoting the program, on its website. “To assist law enforcement in the outreach effort, templates of flyers containing potential indicators have been created for distribution to specific industries” (https://www.slatt.org/CAT).

The SLATT program offers both on-site and online training (indoctrination) for coffee shop owners, financial institution employees, tattoo shop artists, and many others into how to spot potential terrorist activities. Included among the many propaganda flyers the FBI is distributing as… Continue reading

Imagine having to rely on government-sanctioned media and publishers

Imagine …

Having to rely on government-sanctioned
media and publishers
to “allow” you access to history or current events and government actions.

No 911truth.org …
No Historycommons.org …
No Wikipedia.org …
No Secrecy News sharing CRS Reports, No CLG, No Information Clearinghouse, No access to information released because of FOIA efforts
… No more of whatever sources you rely on to be in-the-know so that you can make informed decisions …

Imagine a United States with No Human Being-managed information sources accessible
online …

STOP SOPA &
PIPA

Learn
more

Take
action TODAY

“An informed citizenry is the only
true repository of the public will.”

“What country can preserve its liberties
if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the
spirit of resistance?”

“In matters of style, swim with the
current;
In matters of principle, stand like a rock”

Thomas Jefferson

10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

By Jonathan Turley

Washington Post

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?

While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack… Continue reading

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