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Civil Liberties

ABC News Exclusive: Inside Account of U.S. Eavesdropping on Americans

U.S. Officers’ “Phone Sex” Intercepted; Senate Demanding Answers By Brian Ross, Vic Walter and Anna Schecter

Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), called the allegations “extremely disturbing” and said the committee has begun its own examination.

“We have requested all relevant information from the Bush Administration,” Rockefeller said Thursday. “The Committee will take whatever action is necessary.”

WATCH THE NIGHTLINE STORY

“These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones,” said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA’s Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.

Kinne described the contents of the calls as “personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism.”

WATCH Kinne discuss why it was ‘awkward’ listening to her fellow Americans.

She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and “collected on” as they called their offices or homes in the United States.

Watch “World… Continue reading

New, controversial FBI guidelines go into effect – ACLU Condemns

Guidelines Released Amid Protest from Congress, Privacy Groups and American Public

Don't Spy on Me logoFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — 10/3/2008
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312 or media@dcaclu.org
(212) 519-7829 or 549-2666 or media@aclu.org

Washington, DC — New FBI guidelines governing investigations were released today after being signed by Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The American Civil Liberties Union quickly blasted the Department of Justice and FBI for ignoring calls for more stringent protections of Americans’ rights. The guidelines replace existing bureau guidelines for five types of investigations: general criminal, national security, foreign intelligence, civil disorders and demonstrations. The ACLU has been vocal in its disapproval of the overly broad guidelines, citing both the FBI’s and DOJ’s documented records of internal abuse.

The new guidelines reduce standards for beginning “assessments” (precursors to investigations), conducting surveillance and gathering evidence, meaning the threshold to beginning investigations across the board will be lowered. More troubling still, the guidelines allow a person’s race or ethnic background to be used as a factor in opening an investigation, a move the ACLU believes may institute racial profiling as a matter of policy.

“The attorney general today gave the FBI a blank check to open investigations of innocent Americans based on no meaningful suspicion of wrongdoing,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “The new guidelines provide no safeguards against the FBI’s improperly using race and religion as grounds for suspicion. They also fail to sufficiently prevent the government from infiltrating groups whose viewpoints it doesn’t like. The FBI has shown time and… Continue reading

TAKE ACTION against Political Repression at the DNC and the RNC!

Elaine Brower and Prachi Noor, members of the World Can’t Wait National Steering Committee:

Image of protestor prostrate with police officer kneeling on his neck The police repression of anti-war protest that took place at both national political conventions deeply angered members of the peace community, as well as the many people in this country who were shocked at the behavior of law enforcement. There are those who might believe this brutalization of those who were peacefully demonstrating, with permits issued by the City, and which people believe is their ‘right’ under the Constitution, was an aberration or “over-reaction.”

However, what we saw was an emerging police state further testing new weapons and tactics, and learning how much they can get away with.

In St. Paul, the repression began with over a year ago with infiltration by paid informers of protest organizers, and “pre-emptive” raids on private homes and meeting places, leading to overtly political “conspiracy” charges. Police from around the country were led by Homeland Security in the wanton use of concussion grenades thrown in succession at retreating protesters; smoke bombs; an array of tear gas & pepper gas; wooden batons (bats); weapons, including AR15 automatic assault rifles drawn on unarmed and passive people; riot control horses and dump trucks with blades down as if to scoop up anyone in the streets.

This fierceness of control is what is done in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 7-1/2 years in our names by our military and mercenaries alike, and what has and always will be done in communities of color… Continue reading

Twenty-Six Things We Now Know Seven Years After 9/11

By Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers

Each year around the anniversary of 9/11, I summarize what we ordinary citizens have learned since that awful day in 2001. This is the seventh annual look backwards, a 2008 update that contains new information and surmisings about those horrific events and what followed.

1. One 9/11 Size Fits All. What we now more fully understand is how the CheneyBush Administration utilized the murderous terrorism of 9/11 as the linchpin justification for their unfolding domestic and foreign agenda, much of it illegal, immoral and impeachable.

By and large, one can sum up that overall agenda as: Amass and control power in the U.S. and much of the world (“full-spectrum dominance”), and, in cahoots with their corporate supporters such as Halliburton and Blackwater, loot the federal treasury. All this was to be carried out secretly, with no accountability.

2. Iraq War Planning Began Before 9/11. We also know more about the nature of the lies (including forged documents) used by the Administration to sell the Iraq War, which attack already was in the planning stages well before 9/11.

The first faked document, by CIA forgers at the behest of White House officials, was a 2005 letter (back-dated 2001) supposedly coming from the then-Iraqi intelligence chief to his boss Saddam Hussein mentioning alleged “facts” that established a tie-in between 9/11, Al-Qaida and Iraq and about Saddam’s supposed purchase of uranium. The official, Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, who had been an informant for the U.S. during… Continue reading

Veteran Wages War Against Pentagon Over Mandatory Anthrax Vaccine

By Thomas D. Williams
The Public Record
May 26, 2008

US Air Force Reserve Maj. Thomas “Buzz” Rempfer, a 43-year-old Connecticut native, is hoping he is nearing the end of nearly a decade’s perpetual and unprecedented battle with the Pentagon over the legality, safety and effectiveness of mandatory anthrax vaccinations.

His and others’ efforts have already netted favorable federal court rulings. They invalidated the original Department of Defense mandate and the vaccine’s initial licensing.

Now Rempfer, formerly of West Suffield, Connecticut, and now of Tucson, Arizona, awaits a ruling from the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records. The board could award him back pay for lost time and promotions in the Air National Guard. If the board does not, he is likely to appeal back to the federal court. It was that court which decided in his favor by forcing another ruling from the Air Force panel.

However, much more significant to Rempfer is a broader public service goal. Rempfer and his deceased close friend, US Air Force Reserve Maj. Russell “Russ” E. Dingle, both pilots, fought their battle for others adversely affected by the vaccine. It was their belief that any victory, legally, must become a crucial military servicewide precedent, clearing all other vaccine-resisting veterans from punishment. Rempfer is acting as a representative of Dingle’s estate.

In more than five years of research, Dingle and Rempfer concluded the anthrax vaccine was improperly licensed and ineffective. They found it created thousands of adverse reactions and was unnecessary. The… Continue reading

Roots of surveillance standoff go back decades

By Shane Harris, National Journal

In the old days, everyone was linked to a lug nut, and Jim Kallstrom liked it that way.

It was 1985, a simpler time for a cop like Kallstrom, who was in charge of setting telephone wiretaps on suspected drug dealers and mobsters for the FBI’s New York City field office.

In New York, Kallstrom’s cases were often won on the basis of incriminating evidence surreptitiously snatched from the mouths of criminal defendants through their phone lines.

With a mere 203,000 Americans using mobile phones, people were still tied to the ground, and that gave Kallstrom’s world a certain comforting order.

On any given day, he could stand on a street corner in Manhattan, gaze up at an apartment building with its neat rows and columns of units stacked atop each other, and know that inside each one there was a telephone, tethered by thin copper wire to a single point, sometimes several miles away. In his mind’s eye, Kallstrom could have imagined shrinking himself to the size of an electron and traveling over the phone line, down to the bottom of the building, then shooting beneath the streets, until he ended up in the basement of the telephone company’s switching station. There, the wire emerged, pegged to a rack by a single copper lug nut. Acres of racks lined the walls, each holding rows and columns of lug nuts and their wires, neatly stacked atop each other — the city of New York in… Continue reading

The Last Roundup

The Last Roundup illustration

Illustration by Brett Ryder

For decades the federal government has been developing a highly classified plan that would override the Constitution in the event of a terrorist attack. Is it also compiling a secret enemies list of citizens who could face detention under martial law?

By Christopher Ketcham





Editor’s Note:
This is an incredibly important article–one of the most important we’ve posted. It’s long, thorough, historical, and frightening… Several links for other, related reading are at the end. Please follow-up with your Representatives and other elected officials immediately, and let us know what you her. Thank you.

 
In the spring of 2007, a retired senior official in the U.S. Justice Department sat before Congress and told a story so odd and ominous, it could have sprung from the pages of a pulp political thriller. It was about a principled bureaucrat struggling to protect his country from a highly classified program with sinister implications. Rife with high drama, it included a car chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., and a tense meeting at the White House, where the president’s henchmen made the bureaucrat so nervous that he demanded a neutral witness be present.

The bureaucrat was James Comey, John Ashcroft’s second-in-command at the Department of Justice during Bush’s first term. Comey had been a loyal political foot soldier of the Republican Party for many years. Yet in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he described how he had grown increasingly uneasy reviewing the Bush administration’s various… Continue reading

John F Kennedy “President and the Press” Speech given on April 27, 1961

Posted at YouTube, John F Kennedy “President and the Press” Speech given on April 27, 1961 in New York.

That’s right, old JFK says everything that’s happening now is basically…well… unamerican… This is the full speech, “President and the Press.” I encourage you to listen to it first and not view the picture show on the video in front of you as the words speak for themselves.
 

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

Centers Tap Into Personal Databases–State Groups Were Formed After 9/11

By Robert O’Harrow Jr.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Intelligence centers run by states across the country have access to personal information about millions of Americans, including unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver’s license photographs and credit reports, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post.

One center also has access to top-secret data systems at the CIA, the document shows, though it’s not clear what information those systems contain.

Dozens of the organizations known as fusion centers were created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to identify potential threats and improve the way information is shared. The centers use law enforcement analysts and sophisticated computer systems to compile, or fuse, disparate tips and clues and pass along the refined information to other agencies. They are expected to play important roles in national information-sharing networks that link local, state and federal authorities and enable them to automatically sift their storehouses of records for patterns and clues.

Though officials have publicly discussed the fusion centers’ importance to national security, they have generally declined to elaborate on the centers’ activities. But a document that lists resources used by the fusion centers shows how a dozen of the organizations in the northeastern United States rely far more on access to commercial and government databases than had previously been disclosed.

Those details have come to light at a time of debate about domestic intelligence efforts, including eavesdropping and data-aggregation programs at the National Security Agency, and whether the government has enough protections in… Continue reading

Bush Consolidates the National Security State

By Tom Burghardt From Antifascist Calling…Exploring the shadowlands of the corporate police state

The Washington Post revealed Friday that the FBI is continuing its systematic violation of Americans’ Fourth Amendment guarantees against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

A Justice Department report concluded that the Bureau had repeatedly abused its intelligence gathering “privileges” by issuing bogus “national security letters” (NSLs) from 2003-2006. On at least one occasion, the FBI relied on an illegally-issued NSL to circumvent a ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain records the secret court deemed protected by the First Amendment.

While the Bush regime claims that the Bureau requires sweeping authority to invade the privacy of American citizens to “protect the homeland” from the Afghan-Arab database of disposable intelligence assets, al-Qaeda, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine determined that fully “60 percent of the nearly 50,000 security letters issued that year [2006] by the FBI targeted Americans,” according to Post reporter Dan Eggen.

Despite the FISA court twice rejecting Bureau requests to obtain sensitive private records, determining “the ‘facts’ were too thin” and the “request implicated the target’s First Amendment rights,” the FBI used an NSL as a “work around” and proceeded anyway.

The stunning disregard for all legal norms under the Bush regime is encapsulated by FBI general counsel Valerie E. Caproni’s statement to investigators that “it was appropriate to issue the letters in such cases because she disagreed with the court’s conclusions.”

Fine asserted in the Inspector General’s report that the Bureau has… Continue reading

House Passes Surveillance Bill with No Telecom Immunity

EFF Applauds House Passage of Surveillance Bill with No Telecom Immunity Bill Would Allow Spying Cases to Proceed Fairly and Securely

Washington, D.C. – This morning the House of Representatives passed a compromise surveillance bill that does not include retroactive immunity for phone companies alleged to have assisted in the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program. The bill would allow lawsuits like the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s case against AT&T to proceed while providing specific security procedures allowing the telecom giants to defend themselves in court.

The House bill succeeded 213 to 197 despite the president’s threat to veto any bill that does not include immunity.

“We applaud the House for refusing to grant amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms, and for passing a bill that would allow our lawsuit against AT&T to proceed fairly and securely,” said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. “Amnesty proponents have been claiming on the Hill for months that phone companies like AT&T had a good faith belief that the NSA program was legal. Under this bill, the companies could do what they should have been able to do all along: tell that story to a judge.”

The Senate is expected to consider the House bill when it returns from recess on Monday, March 31. House and Senate staff are expected to spend much of the break negotiating over differences between the new House bill and a previous Senate bill that includes immunity provisions.

“This newly-passed House bill represents a true compromise on the amnesty issue:… Continue reading

Sibel Edmonds Must be Heard

by Philip Giraldi

Sibel Edmonds is the FBI translator turned whistleblower who decided to go public late in 2002 and has been seeking to tell her story about high level corruption in the United States government involving Turkey and Israel. What makes her story particularly compelling is that the corruption relates to the theft and sale of United States defense secrets, most particularly nuclear technology. Sibel obtained her information while translating Turkish language telephone intercepts directed against several Turkish lobbying groups who had contact with senior officials in the Bush Administration, both at the Pentagon and in the State Department. Many of the officials involved are apparently the same neoconservatives who cooked the books to enable the rush to war against Iraq and who are continuing to urge more wars in the Middle East, most notably against Iran and Syria. Several of them are close allies of leading Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

To stop Sibel from telling her story, then Attorney General John Ashcroft subjected her to a state secrets privilege gag order after her appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes in October 2002 that not only forbade her providing details of her employment with FBI but also made the ban retroactive so that anything relating to her case would be considered a state secret. Edmonds had been discouraged by her experience with CBS as her most important points wound up on the cutting room floor. Then came the gag order, which she has observed while working assiduously to get… Continue reading

Runnin’ Scared: NYPD Seeks an Air Monitor Crackdown for New Yorkers

A city councilman and the cops don’t want you to have that Geiger counter without their permission
by Chris Thompson

Damn you, Osama bin Laden! Here’s another rotten thing you’ve done to us: After 9/11, untold thousands of New Yorkers bought machines that detect traces of biological, chemical, and radiological weapons. But a lot of these machines didn’t work right, and when they registered false alarms, the police had to spend millions of dollars chasing bad leads and throwing the public into a state of raw panic.

OK, none of that has actually happened. But Richard Falkenrath, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for counterterrorism, knows that it’s just a matter of time. That’s why he and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have asked the City Council to pass a law requiring anyone who wants to own such detectors to get a permit from the police first. And it’s not just devices to detect weaponized anthrax that they want the power to control, but those that detect everything from industrial pollutants to asbestos in shoddy apartments. Want to test for pollution in low-income neighborhoods with high rates of childhood asthma? Gotta ask the cops for permission. Why? So you “will not lead to excessive false alarms and unwarranted anxiety,” the first draft of the law states.

Last week, Falkenrath made his case for the new law before the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, where Councilman Peter Vallone introduced the bill and chaired the hearing. Dozens of university researchers, public-health professionals, and environmental lawyers sat… Continue reading

Did RAND Corporation Pen the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act?

Kurt Nimmo
TruthNews

According to Jessica Lee of Indypendent and Kamau Karl Franklin of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act was penned with plenty of help from the RAND Corporation.

“Rep. Jane Harman, Democrat from California, has had a lengthy relationship with the Rand Corporation,” Lee tells Democracy Now, although she was unable to determine if RAND wrote the bill. On the 12th anniversary of the OKC bombing, Rep. Harman, as chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment, introduced the bill in the House of Representatives.

“The ‘Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007′ seeks to address the roots causes of radicalization, and would establish a grant program to provide funds to States to foster badly needed vertical information sharing from the Intelligence Community to the local level and from local sources to state and federal agencies,” explains Harman’s website. “It also creates a Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Radicalization and Home Grown Terrorism to examine the social, criminal, political, psychological and economic roots of domestic terrorism and to propose solutions, and promotes international collaboration on strategies to combat radicalization.”

Franklin mentions Brian Michael Jenkins, an “expert” on “terrorism, counterinsurgency, and homeland security,” according to RAND. Jenkins is “someone who helped the United States in counterinsurgency measures in Vietnam,” states Franklin. “In addition to that, he wrote a book, and in his own book” Jenkins declared that “in their international campaign, the jihadists will seek common ground… Continue reading

State Terror: H.R. 1955 a Weapon of Mass Destruction of Civil Liberties

Ministry of Mythinformation Blog

Concerning the graduated repression of the Nazi regime, the Reverend Martin Niemoller, in 1945, stated, to the effect:

First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.

Though this quote has taken on many forms and endured several disputes, the ultimate interpretation stands. That silence about liberty infractions equals civil death.

Further, on the notion of leading the public headstrong into oblivion, the Nazis said it best:

“Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia , nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany . That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” Hermann Goering, 1946… Continue reading

The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot

 

Naomi Wolf on “The End of America”

It not only can happen here, it is happening here. Mussolini created the blueprint (with inspiration from Lenin), Hitler elaborated on it, Stalin studied Hitler…

Here’s how it works (notice how many Bush & Co. is using now.):

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy 2. Create a gulag 3. Develop a thug caste 4. Set up an internal surveillance system 5. Harass citizens’ groups 6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release 7. Target key individuals 8. Control the press 9. Dissent equals treason 10. Suspend the rule of law

Wolf’s conclusion? Impeachment of Bush and Cheney is not enough. Prosecuting (and jailing) them for crimes committed is the only rational solution.

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Cover image of The End of America The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot is now available. Highly regarded among reviewers, Ms. Wolf’s book is a timely and urgent read for anyone concerned with the future of our Republic.

In a stunning indictment of the Bush administration and Congress, best-selling author Naomi Wolf lays out her case for saving American democracy. In authoritative research and documentation Wolf explains how events of the last six years parallel steps taken in the early years of the 20th century’s worst dictatorships such as Germany, Russia, China, and Chile.

The book cuts across political parties and ideologies and speaks directly to those among us who are concerned about the ever-tightening noose being placed… Continue reading

9/11 Truth, Activism and the Fourth Amendment (Updated with action steps)

The Fourth Amendment
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.

Retroactive immunity for telecom companies who engaged in illegal spying at the behest of the NSA is at the heart of a bill currently being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, even before having been officially introduced, is being hotly debated by bloggers, electronic privacy groups, and civil libertarians, as well as presidential contenders (CT Senator Chris Dodd has actually posted a petition at his election website, encouraging readers to support his threatened “hold” on the bill). We should compare the issues involved here with the retroactive immunity provided CIA interrogators in the September, 2006 Military Commissions Act, who could otherwise have been accused of war crimes.

Below, we direct readers to an important series of programs from PBS’ Frontline to help readers investigate the background of this issue, and a deeper consideration of some of what’s at stake in continually ceding power to a rogue Executive bent on dissolving the few civil liberties which currently remain untouched.

Lest readers be swayed by the Administration’s repeated argument that “9/11 makes this necessary,” the Rocky Mountain News reported (emphasis added) on October 11, 2007 that this spying was underway well before 9/11/01:

“The National Security Agency and other government agencies retaliated against Qwest because the Denver telco refused to go along with a phone spying program, documents released Wednesday suggest.

Continue reading

Methodist Minister Calls Emergency Meeting to Address Constitutional Crisis

A CALL TO ACTION – EMERGENCY MEETING

Summary

“First they came for the terrorists but I wasn’t a terrorist so I stayed silent and went about my business. Then they came for those suspected of terrorism, but I certainly wasn’t a suspect so I stayed silent and went  about my business. Then they came for those who defended those who were suspected of terrorism, but I wasn’t defending such people so I stayed silent and went about my business. Then, one day, they came and  began to “suspect” me, so I stayed very, very silent and went about my business.

And that is how I lost my soul.”

You can feel it in the air: many of us are living in the fear that we are one “bad event” away from this administration seizing power over the people in such a way that we will find ourselves swept up in a nightmare of tyranny such as we’ve never seen before.

Others before us have also lived in such times. Others before us have also witnessed the tyranny of empire, the fear it unleashes, and the trance it imposes on its population. There is a story in the Gospel of Mark (this Sunday I’ll be preaching about it) that has Jesus encountering a man in a graveyard, chained to the tombs and possessed by a powerful demon that has caused the man to become violent, insane, and out of control. The name of the demon is Legion, a military term that… Continue reading