Feds Tout New Domestic Intelligence Centers | Threat Level from Wired.com
11:19 am EDT, Apr 3, 2008
Federal, state and local cops are huddling together in domestic intelligence dens around the nation to fuse anti-terror information and tips in ways they never have before, and they want the American people to know about it -- sort of.
The dominant catchphrase from the officials was that the centers need to focus on "all threats, all hazards." Officials say the centers must look at even the most mundane crimes, since they can be used to fund terrorism.
Total surveillance, justified by the threat of terrorism, but applied in absolutely every context. More here.
The fusion centers have subscriptions to private information-broker services that keep records about Americans' locations, financial holdings, associates, relatives, firearms licenses and the like.
Pennsylvania buys credit reports and uses face-recognition software to examine driver's license photos, while analysts in Rhode Island have access to car-rental databases. In Maryland, authorities rely on a little-known data broker called Entersect, which claims it maintains 12 billion records about 98 percent of Americans.
"There is never ever enough information when it comes to terrorism" said Maj. Steven G. O'Donnell, deputy superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police. "That's what post-9/11 is about."
Recent reports in this paper and others allege the existence of broad intelligence programs run by the National Security Agency to process wide-ranging personal data on Americans' activities. One of us (Eshoo) sees this as the latest in a string of troubling accusations about the erosion of privacy and civil liberties since 9/11. The other (McConnell) sees it as more hyperbole and inaccurate press reports designed to mislead the public into thinking that the intelligence community is acting against American law and values. Honest people can differ on these tough issues. We think it is healthy. This is America, after all.
Despite our diverging opinions, it would be useful to set forth those areas where we agree...
A cyber attack could be more devastating economically than Sept. 11. Preventing a cyber attack will require tremendous cooperation between the government and the private sector, and above all, a common understanding that our liberty and our security go hand in hand.
Comments like "our liberty and our security go hand in hand" are usually made by people when they are doing away with liberty.
Finally, no cyber-security plan will succeed without congressional support. Checks and balances are essential in a democracy, particularly when the matter concerns secret government programs that rightly remain out of the public view. Active congressional oversight gives the public confidence that their rights and their security are being properly attended to, and such oversight allows Congress to say so confidently and publicly.
This, I assume, is as opposed to judicial review... I give you Arlen Specter.
CQ Politics | Secret Session Brings House Members No Closer Together on Surveillance
3:16 pm EDT, Mar 14, 2008
“It was a total waste of time,” Jerrold Nadler , D-N.Y., said of the secret session. “Frankly, we think the whole thing was a bluff. But we called it. They thought, ‘We’ll call a secret session and the Democrats will reject it, then we can say they didn’t want to hear all the information.’ ”
A dispute broke out when an unnamed Republican started to talk about a topic that Democrats considered off limits under the ground rules for the session, since it was at a higher security clearance level than the discussion up to that point. But one Republican lawmaker said the discussion was in bounds. “We tried to give them the information, but they didn’t want to hear it,” the lawmaker said.
Tom Price , R-Ga., said he was disappointed by the partisanship on the floor during the closed session. “There were two different camps in the approach. One camp was interested in talking about issues. The other camp was talking about . . . politics,” Price said.
Will someone please tell me where Republicans have discussed the issues? Have they explained why President Bush thinks the Electronic Frontier Foundation sees "a financial gravy train" in these lawsuits? Is there a place where they describe just exactly how the system they have established prevents their domestic surveillance apparatus from being abused for domestic political purposes? Have they explained why amnesty will not create perverse incentives for telecoms to comply with unwarranted surveillance in the future?
You have no 4th amendment right to privacy in regard to your physical movements.
11:23 am EDT, Sep 25, 2007
This morning, you left the house tagged with a tracking device that the government can use to find out where you have been and where you are going.
I'm talking, of course, about your cell phone...
While most courts considering the issue have held that police need "probable cause" to track your movements, a new decision (.pdf) last week out of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts holds that law enforcement need show only "relevance to an ongoing investigation" to get a historical record of your past movement (something like the Jeffy trail in The Family Circus cartoon).
Con artists and swindlers in China who try to use fake ID will have a tougher time trying to pass themselves off as someone else now that the public has access to the Ministry of Public Security's population database.
Anyone can now send a text message or visit the country's population information center's website, to check if the name and the ID number of a person's identity card match. If they do match the ID cardholder's picture also appears, said the Ministry, adding that no other information is available to ensure a citizen's privacy is protected.
The Volokh Conspiracy - The Politics of Surveillance and the Specter NSA Bill:
11:57 pm EDT, Sep 15, 2006
On a scale of 1 to 10, in which 1 is the least important and least far-reaching and 10 is the most important and most far-reaching, the controversial parts of the Patriot Act renewal were about a 2. Nonetheless, the Bush Administration struggled for months to push through the legislation. Congress held hearings on almost every teeny tiny piece of text...
Compare that to the developing politics surrounding the Specter NSA bill, which was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. On the same scale of 1 to 10, in which 1 is the least important and 10 is the most important, the Specter bill is somewhere around an 8. The Specter bill would reorient the basic role of the legislative branch in national security surveillance. In terms of importance, its provisions dwarf the provisions in the Patriot Act renewal by orders of magnitude.
Experts Fault Reasoning in Surveillance Decision - New York Times
6:21 pm EDT, Aug 19, 2006
Even legal experts who agreed with a federal judge’s conclusion on Thursday that a National Security Agency surveillance program is unlawful were distancing themselves from the decision’s reasoning and rhetoric yesterday.
They said the opinion overlooked important precedents, failed to engage the government’s major arguments, used circular reasoning, substituted passion for analysis and did not even offer the best reasons for its own conclusions.
Federal Judge Orders End to Warrantless Wiretapping - New York Times
8:24 pm EDT, Aug 17, 2006
“Consequently, the court finds defendants’ arguments that they cannot defend this case without the use of classified information to be disingenuous and without merit,” she wrote.
NYT article linked for brevity. Full decision here.
The decision basically follows the contours of the open letter to Congress from prominent legal scholars from February.
Some favorite quotes:
All of the above Congressional concessions to Executive need and to the exigencies of our present situation as a people, however, have been futile. The wiretapping program here in litigation has undisputedly been continued for at least five years, it has undisputedly been implemented without regard to FISA and of course the more stringent standards of Title III, and obviously in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The President of the United States is himself created by that same Constitution.
Basically she is saying that FISA balances Article II and Amendment 4, and the President's argument that Article II makes FISA unconstitutional, or, at least, ignorable, disregards Amendment 4, and thus is obviously incorrect.
I also like this:
As Justice Warren wrote in U.S. v. Robel, 389 U.S. 258 (1967):
Implicit in the term ‘national defense’ is the notion of defending those values and ideas which set this Nation apart. . . . It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of . . . those liberties . . . which makes the defense of the Nation worthwhile. Id. at 264.
Perhaps this point of view is now considered "liberal." Conservatives tend to define the republic in personal identity terms rather then in terms of the system it implements.
TheDenverChannel.com - News - Marshals: Innocent People Placed On 'Watch List' To Meet Quota
7:05 pm EDT, Jul 25, 2006
The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they're required to submit at least one report a month. If they don't, there's no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments.
"Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft ... and they did nothing wrong," said one federal air marshal.
27B Stroke 6blogged this yesterday but didn't link the actual story they were quoting. Its worth clicking through to some of the other stories at the bottom of this story. Basically, the Atlanta Air Marshall Director has quit his job and is raising a public stir about bad policies at the Air Marshal's service.
FBI plans new Net-tapping push | Tech News on ZDNet
5:15 pm EDT, Jul 9, 2006
The FBI has drafted sweeping legislation that would require Internet service providers to create wiretapping hubs for police surveillance and force makers of networking gear to build in backdoors for eavesdropping, CNET News.com has learned.