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Current Topic: Civil Liberties

Bush says he signed NSA wiretap order
Topic: Civil Liberties 11:41 pm EST, Dec 17, 2005

Bush added: "Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk."

A la Pentagon Papers, information has leaked that's having an effect on the citizenry's perceptions of government policy and actions. If the Bush Administration tries to actually press charges on the New York Times, they will get nowhere with it. That's the only reason they are not threatening to do so. This is simply a PR play, but one I feel will backfire.

I do not see any direct legitimate way this is putting citizens at risk. I am sure al-Qaeda assumes any communications inside the United States could be monitored. Rather, I see this as exposing an abuse of executive powers that are putting citizens civil liberties at risk. There is no system of accountability in place.

This is starting to look more serious than a blow job.

"He's trying to claim somehow that the authorization for the Afghanistan attack after 9/11 permitted this, and that's just absurd," Feingold said. "There's not a single senator or member of Congress who thought we were authorizing wiretaps."

He added that the law clearly lays out how to obtain permission for wiretaps.

"If he needs a wiretap, the authority is already there -- the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act," Feingold said. "They can ask for a warrant to do that, and even if there's an emergency situation, they can go for 72 hours as long as they give notice at the end of 72 hours."

According to Bush, he has reauthorized the NSA's domestic wiretap program over thirty times.

Bush says he signed NSA wiretap order

One Tree Hill - Wonkette
Topic: Civil Liberties 6:31 pm EST, Dec  8, 2005

MemeStreams user Neoteric made Wonkette, or at least his Senate Webcam pointed at the Christmas tree did.

Happy Holidays from Washington DC.

One Tree Hill - Wonkette

Fuzzy logic behind Bush's cybercrime treaty | Perspectives | CNET
Topic: Civil Liberties 11:52 pm EST, Nov 29, 2005

The Convention on Cybercrime will endanger Americans' privacy and civil liberties--and place the FBI's massive surveillance apparatus at the disposal of nations with much less respect for individual liberties.

For instance, if the U.S. and Russia ratify it, President Vladimir Putin would be able to invoke the treaty's powers to unmask anonymous critics on U.S.-based Web sites and perhaps even snoop on their e-mail correspondence.

There's an easy fix. The U.S. Senate could attach an amendment to the treaty saying the FBI may aid other nations only if the alleged "crime" in their country also is a crime here. The concept is called dual criminality, and the treaty lets nations choose that option.

Unfortunately, neither the Bush administration nor the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been willing to make that change, calling it too "rigid."

Fuzzy logic behind Bush's cybercrime treaty | Perspectives | CNET

Pentagon Expands Domestic Surveillance
Topic: Civil Liberties 11:51 pm EST, Nov 29, 2005

Pentagon expands domestic surveillance.

And Bruce Schneier weighs in as well...

Not only does involving the military in domestic surveillance mean bluring the line between citizens and enemies, it also means applying the 4th amendmend to military operations. What is the FBI not doing that you need them to be doing?

Pentagon Expands Domestic Surveillance

The FBI's Secret Scrutiny (Washington Post)
Topic: Civil Liberties 2:29 pm EST, Nov  7, 2005

Under the shield and stars of the FBI crest, the letter directed Christian to surrender "all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person" who used a specific computer at a library branch some distance away. Christian, who manages digital records for three dozen Connecticut libraries, said in an affidavit that he configures his system for privacy. But the vendors of the software he operates said their databases can reveal the Web sites that visitors browse, the e-mail accounts they open and the books they borrow.

The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.

The situation with NSLs has always gotten me riled up. I think giving the investigative agencies a license to request information without any type of review is a disaster for civil liberties happening silently.

I do understand the value of having as much information on hand as possible to do link analysis. It's a subject I might even qualify as an expert on. Let's just say you are pulling telephone call records for a suspect, and the records of everyone he was in contact with. You certainly do have a good pool there to do link analysis. Going out another level would be pointless, but from what you find at the first level, you may decide to expand certain specific people who show connections or become of interest. It's a very reasonable way to conduct a non-intrusive investigation. That's exactly the type of thing going on, I'm sure of it, and it has a hell of a lot more to it than phone records.

However non-intrusive that may appear at first glance, some review is still necessary. There is a big difference between a directed and scoped search, and trying to find needles in a haystack by x-raying the haystack. We do have this thing called the 4th amendment. I would like to think that our right to privacy extends to data of ours that we entrust to others, like our banks, schools, libraries, service providers, etc.. I fear that rather than privacy, we only simply have the right to be left alone. Which when put that way, doesn't say anything against ransacking your digital records, as long as you don't know about it.

Is the citizens' duty in the Global War on Terrorism to submit to being a node in a big graph? What kind of node are you? What kind of nodes are your friends? All mine are hackers, and we are nervous. Nodes can easily look nefarious when that's what you are looking to find.

I strongly suggest reading this entire article.

The FBI's Secret Scrutiny (Washington Post)

Post RAVE act, post PATRIOT act America | MetaFilter
Topic: Civil Liberties 6:40 pm EDT, Aug 22, 2005

Krick of Evol Intent offers a firsthand account of the events that took place at a party that he was scheduled to play August 20th in Utah. The event was fully licensed, fully legal, and non-violent. Halfway through the party, authorities arrived in full riot gear and ended the event like a full-scale riot (tear gas, attack dogs, and assault rifles). One attendee managed to escape with actual video footage of the shutdown. Another DJ at the event who goes by Syne offers her own account of the same event, and the Utah Raves forum is lit up like a switchboard. Lawsuits are pending...

(via Metafilter) This story is making the rounds today. This is pretty disturbing. The facts floating around don't appears to jive with each other. The various accounts state that the promoters did have a permit from the county, an insurance policy covering the event, and professional security guards confiscating any drugs found at the gates. These accounts also say that upon being shown the permit, the authorities on the scene simply ripped it up. They forced everyone to leave, including the person who owns the property. Other accounts say different, such as this one from Utah's Daily Herald:

The Utah County Sheriff's Office said in addition to all the illegal activity at the rave, the promoter failed to obtain a permit, bond and approval of the County Commission. The county's mass gathering ordinance -- created in recent years to control events like rave parties -- prohibits gatherings of 250 more people without county approval.

So did the promoters have the proper permits? In that article, there are all the other accounts you'd expect. They found drugs. They had a few young girls on hand who were sexually assaulted at prior events. The normal stuff.

Keep in mind, I don't think there has been any event entailing rock or electronic music that has not involved drugs, alcohol, and sexual misconduct. Its par for the course when you bring together 2,000 people for a party. It sounds like this crowd was pretty peaceful. Its not like they hired the Hell's Angels to do security or anything...

Straight to the obvious question.. What happened to the right to assemble? Is that limited to football games and church rallies now?

This link to the video being shot on the stage at the point the show was shutdown appears too be working.

More details about this are desired...

Post RAVE act, post PATRIOT act America | MetaFilter

In New Security Move, New York Police to Search Commuters' Bags - New York Times
Topic: Civil Liberties 3:04 am EDT, Jul 22, 2005

New York City will begin making random checks of bags and backpacks at subway stations, commuter railways and on buses, officials announced today in the wake of a second wave of bombings on the London transit system. The checks will begin on Friday morning.

Don't forget to wear your "i do not consent to being searched" t-shirt this morning.

In New Security Move, New York Police to Search Commuters' Bags - New York Times

House Panel OKs Patriot Act Provisions - Yahoo! News
Topic: Civil Liberties 8:44 pm EDT, Jul 13, 2005

Three other amendments that Democrats proposed failed, including one that would have blocked investigators from getting records from libraries or bookstores.

Its disturbing that this survived.

The panel approved a measure related to the Patriot Act that would let one provision expire in 2010, unless extended by Congress, that allows the FBI to wiretap "lone wolf" terrorists who may be operating on their own, without control from a foreign agent or power.

That is good. Anyone could possibly be construed as a "lone wolf terrorist"..

Lawmakers also accepted another Democratic proposal requiring federal agents to give more detail to judges about roving wiretaps, which allow investigators to specify a targeted individual rather than a mode of communication. Investigators would have to file a report to the court when they change where they're monitoring the suspect.

It might be worth noting recent revelations out of London about the identities of the suicide bombers. It appears you might be more likely to spot a school massacre then a well planned terrorist attack.. Not that the Patriot Act will, or is even designed to, help with that.

House Panel OKs Patriot Act Provisions - Yahoo! News

Slashdot | Perl's Chip Salzenberg Sued, Home Raided
Topic: Civil Liberties 10:50 am EDT, Jul  1, 2005

Days beforehand, I had made an internal report of unethical and apparently illegal behavior by the company: Use of open proxies for web harvesting to avoid blockage by web site operators. HMS apparently decided that working with me to address their use of open proxies was not an option.

Health Market Science is a large corporation with, compared to me, effectively infinite resources. My legal bills have topped $40K already over just two months. If HMS succeeds in tarring me with their false accusations, what's to stop your employer or client from doing the same to you, should your relationship sour?

Slashdot | Perl's Chip Salzenberg Sued, Home Raided | 'Policing Gays'
Topic: Civil Liberties 12:16 am EDT, Jun 27, 2005

Metro cops use confidential informants to target gay chat rooms and lure homosexual men into trading and selling drugs. This undercover operation changed the life of one man who may well be innocent.

Shady informants being used in selective enforcement of drug policy primarily targeting a minority group. Imagine a police department doing that... Shocking.

I think as a partial remedy, they should make the cops continue the operation, but have to do all the phishing themselves. Picture this: A Nashville Metro cop getting caught by another cop at the station while looking at gay dating websites, then promptly getting in a huff and going on about how it was "for work"... | 'Policing Gays'

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