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Judges in Seattle Heard the NSA Surveillance Case That Could Go to the Supreme Court

Originally published at The Stranger by Brendan Kiley on 12/12/14

Photo of Seattle's Ninth Circuit Courthouse

Seattle’s Ninth Circuit Courthouse
Photo: Brendan Kiley

Earlier this week, a real estate attorney from Coeur d’Alene stood up in front of a three-judge panel in Seattle’s Ninth Circuit courthouse to argue Smith vs. Obama—a case challenging NSA surveillance that began back in Idaho, and could be the one that ends up before the US Supreme Court.

It was the first time the attorney, Peter Smith, had appeared before the Ninth Circuit—as another lawyer once said to me, “the Ninth Circuit ain’t beanbag”—or done anything like it. Smith later said in a phone interview that he and his wife Anna were troubled by the 2013 Guardian stories about Edward Snowden and the NSA and had “an interesting discussion about what that means… Anna didn’t feel right.” So Smith did some research about the legality of the NSA’s bulk-collection programs and decided he had grounds to challenge them. Depending on how the Ninth Circuit rules, Mr. Smith could eventually go to Washington.

“Anna is my wife,” Smith started his statement to the judges. (You can watch the arguments by Smith and counter-argument from Department of Justice lawyer H. Thomas Byron III in the video below.) “She is also a neonatal intensive care nurse. She’s a mother. And ten years ago, Anna’s government began a dragnet collection of her call records. Those call records reveal detailed information about Anna when analyzed in the aggregate—”

“How do we know those records were… Continue reading

Senate report on CIA torture claims spy agency lied about ‘ineffective’ program

Originally published at The Guardian by Spencer Ackerman and Dominic Rushe in New York, and Julian Borger in London on 12/9/14

The full extent of the CIA’s interrogation and detention programmes launched in the wake of the September 11 terror attack was laid bare in a milestone report by the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday that concluded the agency’s use of torture was brutal and ineffective – and that the CIA repeatedly lied about its usefulness.

 

Report released by Senate after four-year, $40m investigation concludes CIA repeatedly lied about brutal techniques in years after 9/11

Photo of floor at CIA Headquarters Building

CIA Headquarters Building in McLean, Virginia
Photograph: Larry Downing/Reuters

The report represented the most scathing congressional indictment of the Central Intelligence Agency in nearly four decades. It found that torture “regularly resulted in fabricated information,” said committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, in a statement summarizing the findings. She called the torture programme “a stain on our values and on our history”.

“During the brutal interrogations, the CIA was often unaware the information was fabricated.” She told the Senate the torture program was “morally, legally and administratively misguided” and “far more brutal than people were led to believe”.

The report reveals that use of torture in secret prisons run by the CIA across the world was even more extreme than previously exposed, and included “rectal rehydration” and… Continue reading

Warrantless Wiretapping Program

Originally published at EPIC  on 9/8/14

Poster of Uncle Sam's unwarranted wiretaps

 

EPIC (Finally) Obtains Memos on Warrantless Wiretapping Program: More than eight years after filing a Freedom of Information Act request for the legal justification behind the “Warrantless Wiretapping” program of President Bush, EPIC has now obtained a mostly unredacted version of two key memos (OLC54) and (OLC85) by former Justice Department official Jack Goldsmith. EPIC requested these memos just four hours after the New York Times broke the story about the program in December 2005. When the agency failed to release the documents, EPIC filed a lawsuit. The ACLU and the National Security Archive later joined the case. These two Office of Legal Counsel memos offer the fullest justification of the warrantless wiretapping program available to date, arguing that the president has inherent constitutional power to monitor American’s communications without a warrant in a time of war. But some parts of the legal analysis, including possibly contrary authority, are still being withheld. The warrantless wiretapping program was part of “Stellar Wind,” a broad program of email interception, phone record collection, and data collection undertaken by the NSA without the approval of Congress.

 
 

Background

In December 2005, the New York Times reported that President Bush secretly issued an executive order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct warrantless surveillance of international telephone and Internet communications on American soil. President Bush acknowledged the existence of the NSA surveillance program and vowed that its activities would continue.

EPIC submitted FOIA… Continue reading

NSA Whistleblower William Binney Supports 9/11 Truth

Originally published at The Corbett Report by James Corbett on 9/10/14

Photo of William Binney

William Binney

William Binney was a 30 year veteran official of the National Security Agency who resigned in October 2001 to blow the whistle on the NSA’s deliberate violation of the constitution. Now, 13 years after the events of 9/11 that helped the NSA justify its total surveillance dragnet, Binney has signed the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth’s petition calling for a new investigation into 9/11. Today we talk to Richard Gage, founder of AE911Truth.org, and William Binney himself, about this petition, its significance, and the ongoing quest for 9/11 truth and justice.

CLICK HERE for the full mp3 audio of this interview.

SHOW NOTES:
Architects and Engineeers for 9/11 Truth

AE911Truth Petition

9/11 Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out

 

 

 

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FBI calls half of populace with 9/11 doubts potential terrorists

Posted Sep 19, 2013 by Ralph Lopez

Photo of FBI Special Agent

A special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) New York Field Office Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team standing on the rooftop of a skyscraper in Downtown Manhattan

The FBI is instructing local police departments and “communities against terrorism” to consider anyone who harbors “conspiracy theories” about 9/11 to be a potential terrorist, in a circular released to local police departments.

The memo thus adds 9/11-official-story skeptics to a growing list of targets described by federal law enforcement to be security threats, such as those who express “libertarian philosophies,” “Second Amendment-oriented views,” interest in “self-sufficiency,” “fears of Big Brother or big government,” and “Declarations of Constitutional rights and civil liberties.”

A newly released national poll shows that 48 percent of Americans either have some doubts about the official account of 9/11, or do not believe it at all.

The FBI circular entitled “Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Sleepers” says that people who should be ‘considered suspicious’ of possible involvement in “terrorist activity” include those who hold the “attitude” described as ” Conspiracy theories about Westerners.” The circular continues: “e.g. (sic) the CIA arranged for 9/11 to legitimize the invasion of foreign lands.”

Screenshot of FBI Circular

Section of FBI circular to local police, “Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Sleepers.”

“Sleepers” refers to “sleeper cells,” in FBI jargon, which are terrorists awaiting orders to be activated into terrorist activity.

In 1998 it was declassified by the Pentagon that the Joint Chiefs of… Continue reading

FISA Surveillance Applications Rose Slightly in 2012

“During calendar year 2012, the Government made 1,856 applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for authority to conduct electronic surveillance and/or physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes.”

That somewhat opaque statistic was disclosed in the Justice Department’s latest annual report to Congress on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, filed on Tuesday. As is usually the case, none of the requests for electronic surveillance were denied by the Court.

No matter how it is sliced and diced, the newly disclosed number of applications does not yield much substance. It means that the government submitted an average of 5 requests per day last year for intelligence surveillance or physical search. It is about 5% higher than the number of applications the year before (1,745), but quite a bit lower than the figure from 2007 (2,371).

The number of applications does not correspond directly to the number of targets, since multiple applications may be submitted in the course of an individual investigation. Nor is the outcome of the surveillance or search activity indicated in a way that would tend to validate or invalidate the authorization after the fact.

In any case, the FISA Court did not deny any of the government’s requests for authority to conduct electronic surveillance in whole or in part, the report said, although unspecified modifications were made to 40 proposed orders. The report does not say whether or not any requests for physical search were disapproved or modified.

The government also made 212 applications for access to business… 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

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

Washington’s High-powered Terrorist Supporters

By Glenn Greenwald
Salon.com

We now have an extraordinary situation that reveals the impunity with which political elites commit the most egregious crimes, as well as the special privileges to which they explicitly believe they — and they alone — are entitled. That a large bipartisan cast of Washington officials got caught being paid substantial sums of money by an Iranian dissident group that is legally designated by the U.S. Government as a Terrorist organization, and then meeting with and advocating on behalf of that Terrorist group, is very significant for several reasons. New developments over the last week make it all the more telling. Just behold the truly amazing set of facts that have arisen:

In June, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 6-3 ruling in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law . In that case, the Court upheld the Obama DOJ’s very broad interpretation of the statute that criminalizes the providing of “material support” to groups formally designated by the State Department as Terrorist organizations. The five-judge conservative bloc (along with Justice Stevens) held that pure political speech could be permissibly criminalized as “material support for Terrorism” consistent with the First Amendment if the “advocacy [is] performed in coordination with , or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization” (emphasis added). In other words, pure political advocacy in support of a designated Terrorist group could be prosecuted as a felony — punishable with 15 years in prison — if the advocacy is coordinated with that… Continue reading

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

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

Appeals Court Revives EFF’s Challenge to Government’s Massive Spying Program

Justices Find that Spied-On Telephone Customers Have the Right to Sue

Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF.org

San Francisco – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today blocked the government’s attempt to bury the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF’s) lawsuit against the government’s illegal mass surveillance program, returning Jewel v. NSA to the District Court for the next step.

The court found that Jewel had alleged sufficient specifics about the warrantless wiretapping program to proceed. Justices rejected the government’s argument that the allegations about the well-known spying program and the evidence of the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco were too speculative.

“Since the dragnet spying program first came to light, we have been fighting for the chance to have a court determine whether it is legal,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “Today, the Ninth Circuit has given us that chance, and we look forward to proving the program is an unconstitutional and illegal violation of the rights of millions of ordinary Americans.”

Also today, the court upheld the dismissal of EFF’s other case aimed at ending the illegal spying, Hepting v. AT&T, which was the first lawsuit against a telecom over its participation in the dragnet domestic wiretapping. The court found that the so-called “retroactive immunity” passed by Congress to stop telecommunications customers from suing the companies is constitutional, in part because the claims remained against the government in Jewel v. NSA.

“By passing the retroactive immunity for the telecoms’ complicity in the warrantless wiretapping program, Congress abdicated its duty… Continue reading

Fusion Center documents label OKC Bombing investigators as terrorists

By Andrew W. Griffin

Red Dirt Report, editor
RedDirtReport.com

Screenshot of BJA/Fusion Center document

OperationDefuse.com — A screenshot featuring the page from a BJA/Fusion Center document listing OKCbombing,net as a terroristic organization.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Ten years after 9/11 and 16 years after the Oklahoma City bombing, it appears the federal government continues to view some Americans who embrace their First Amendment rights — press and speech, primarily — as a danger to the State, and as a result they are listing certain investigative websites as extremist and a terroristic threat to the “homeland.”

One, labeled as “extremist” and therefore a threat to the U.S. Government, includes a well-known site, once operated by a truth-seeking Oklahoma state legislator, working to expose anomalies related to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing — OKCbombing.net . A link to the document can be seen here .

This shocking designation is indeed troubling, particularly to the local documentary film production company Free Mind Films , which is also releasing an explosive documentary about the Oklahoma City bombing, A Noble Lie.
 

 
OKCbombing.net was formerly operated by State Rep. Charles Key (R-Oklahoma City), as a site to inform the public about reams of information discovered by the Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee, much of it originally ignored by the same federal agencies who now list the site as a threat to the homeland. As for Rep. Key, he concluded his role in the OBIC in approximately 2002 and Free Mind Films is now paying for access and domain rights to… Continue reading

A Majority of Americans (Including Both OWS and the Tea Party) AGREE on the Most Important Issues … We Just Don’t Realize It

WashingtonsBlog

I have repeatedly demonstrated that — despite the false divide-and-conquer tactics of the mainstream parties and mainstream media — the overwhelming majority of Americans agree on the most important issues facing our country . And see this .

NO MORE BAILOUTS!

As I’ve noted since 2008 , Americans are united in their overwhelming disapproval for bailouts to the big banks.

This has remained true right up to today.

As Rassmussen found only last month (as summarized by KXLF news ):

Today’s Rasmussen Reports survey finds that most Americans don’t like bailouts for financial institutions.

60% Oppose Financial Bailouts; 74% Say Wall Street Benefited Most

Survey of 1,000 American Adults

***

Just 20% think it was a good idea for the government to provide bailout funding to banks and other financial institutions, but 60% say otherwise .

– While many activists try to link the Republican Party and Wall Street, Republicans think the bailouts were a bad idea by an eight-to-one margin.

– Those not affiliated with either major party think they were a bad idea by a four-to-one margin. Democrats are much more evenly divided. Thirty-four percent (34%) of those in the president’s party say the bailouts were a good idea while 42% disagree.

– Overall, 68% believe that most of the bailout money went to the very people who created the nation’s ongoing economic crisis , but 12% disagree and 21% aren’t sure.

As the Washington Post ‘s Greg Sargent notes , the recent proposal from lobbyists… Continue reading

Fake terror plots, paid informants: the tactics of FBI ‘entrapment’ questioned

Critics say bureau is running a sting operation across America, targeting
vulnerable people by luring them into fake terror plots

by Paul Harris

16 November 2011

guardian.co.uk

Fake terror plots, paid informants: the tactics of FBI ‘entrapment’ questioned

Critics say bureau is running a sting operation across America, targeting vulnerable people by luring them into fake terror plots

David Williams did not have an easy life. He moved to Newburgh, a gritty, impoverished town on the banks of the Hudson an hour or so north of New York, at just 10 years old. For a young, black American boy with a father in jail, trouble was everywhere.

Williams also made bad choices. He ended up going to jail for dealing drugs. When he came out in 2007 he tried to go straight, but money was tight and his brother, Lord, needed cash for a liver transplant. Life is hard in Newburgh if you are poor, have a drug rap and need cash quickly.

His aunt, Alicia McWilliams, was honest about the tough streets her nephew was dealing with. “Newburgh is a hard place,” she said. So it was perhaps no surprise that in May, 2009, David Williams was arrested again and hit with a 25-year jail sentence. But it was not for drugs offences. Or any other common crime. Instead Williams and three other struggling local men beset by drug, criminal and mental health issues were convicted of an Islamic terrorist plot to blow up Jewish synagogues and shoot down… Continue reading

This Beat Down is for Your Health – the Money Party Must Stop Occupy Movements

November 14, 2011
By Michael Collins
The Money Party RSS

portland
Photo: K. Kendall. “The problems we are facing were not created by us, but we deign to shed
light on them and so we are blamed for them. The truth is, every person at our
protest is there because the system is broken.” Samuel
Rutledge, Open Newswire, Portland Indymedia

The fascist financiers of the Money Party are growing restless. Occupy Wall Street began with a call to action
from the activist online group Anonymous in August. It was barely
featured in the mainstream or alternate media. Instead of a small crowd
that could easily be ignored then disbursed, fifty thousand citizens
showed up at the headquarters for the world financial system, Wall
Street. Despite the best efforts of Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD, the Occupy
Wall Street continues. The message went out to the country and the world. Now, there are over 100 occupy events in Oakland, Kansas City, Washington, DC, and elsewhere.(Image: K. Kendall)

Occupy Portland began on October 6, 2011. It has maintained a steady presence in downtown Portland, a major West Coast center of commerce. The participants refuse to leave until the government addresses their grievances. Police scare tactics, planted provocateurs, and the elements are no barrier.

Portland evicted occupiers from their camps on Sunday morning. The occupy forces regrouped. Drawing local support, the crowd grew throughout the day. Sunday evening, the police tried a forced eviction from the downtown area that involved mounted police, shoving and pushing, and pepper spray.…

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U.S. Vets, Suffering From Unemployment and Homelessness, Support Occupy Protests

By Olivia Katrandjian

October 29, 2011

ABCNews.com

Scott Olsen, the 24-year-old two-tour Iraq veteran whose skull was fractured by a rubber bullet or tear gas canister fired by police during an Occupy Oakland protest, has become a symbol for the Oakland, Calif., protests and put a spotlight on veterans’ solidarity with the Occupy movement.

Olsen had joined joined the Occupy Oakland protest after work Tuesday, before clashes broke out between demonstrators and police trying to evict them from a city plaza. Videos of Olsen posted on YouTube show him standing still in a space between police a protesters when he was hit in the head by something and fell to the ground.

When fellow demonstrators tried to come to Olsen’s aid, a tear gas canister exploded in their midst, driving them away from the injured man.

“He joined the military to fight for people’s rights, and that’s not what he found himself doing in Iraq. And so he came home and started fighting for people’s rights here and for his brothers and sisters who were still deployed,” said Iraq veteran Aaron Hughes, the central and team leader of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

“There is a massive disconnect between the larger society and U.S. service members. Right now we have high unemployment, homeless and suicide rates among veterans. Scott is just one example of hundreds and thousands of service members who are tired of the rhetoric and want real substantive change,” said Hughes, who said he returned to Iraq as a civilian after his tour to fight for peace.…

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