Selective Outrage Syndrome on display

Chris Wysocki ponders why the Left is not outraged over this news

Here comes Barack Obama, openly admitting he’s listening to our phone calls, reading our emails, tracking our cell phones, and scanning our license plates. All without a warrant. Not even one of those super-secret fig-leaf warrants from a FISA court. And nobody says “boo,” because he’s The One, and he craps unicorns or something.

The Obama administration has conducted warrantless searches of Americans’ communications as part of the National Security Agency’s surveillance operations that target foreigners located outside of the U.S., the administration’s top intelligence official confirmed in a letter to Congress disclosed Tuesday.

The recent acknowledgement of warrantless searches on Americans offers more insight into U.S. government surveillance operations put in place after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The government has broadly interpreted these laws to allow for the collection of communications of innocent Americans, practices the Obama administration maintains are legal.

“Senior officials have sometimes suggested that government agencies do not deliberately read Americans’ emails, monitor their online activity or listen to their phone calls without a warrant,” Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado said in a joint statement. “However, the facts show that those suggestions were misleading, and that intelligence agencies have indeed conducted warrantless searches for Americans’ communications.”

Obama lied? Say it ain’t so!

Hmmm, Liberals were OUTRAGED, outrageously outraged even when Bush spied on Americans. Yet when Obama does it, no big deal. What is the deal? Well, it is simply Selective Outrage Syndrome at work. Liberals become outraged when Republicans say, or do certain things, but seem care free when Democrats do the very same things, or even when they do worse. S.O.S is just another of the Liberal Maladies I have diagnosed over the last 18 years.

Rand Paul Leads 350,000 Plaintiffs In Federal Lawsuit Against Obama Regime Over NSA Surveillance

‘Rand Paul v. Barack Obama’ Lawsuit Hits Federal Court With 350,000 Plaintiffs, As U.S. Senator Sues White House And Intelligence Chiefs Over NSA Surveillance – Daily Mail

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is making good on his promise to sue the Obama administration over what he calls ‘precisely the kind of overreach we fought a revolution over.’ His targets are the National Security Agency, the FBI and other federal government offices that snoop on private communications at home and abroad.

With former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as his lead attorney, Paul is filing suit Wednesday morning in Washington, D.C. federal court along with the conservative FreedomWorks organization.

The legal action, officially titled ‘Rand Paul v. Barack Obama,’ will hit the court running with at least 350,000 plaintiffs, according to a source close to the process. Paul is aiming for 10 million, judging from a message on two websites run by his political staff.

‘When we learned that the NSA was collecting the phone data of every American last year,’ the senator said in a video message Tuesday night to supporters, ‘it posed a serious Constitutional question: Do we no longer have a Fourth Amendment?’

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The lawsuit will argue that the president ‘has publicly refused to stop a clear and continuing violation of the Fourth Amendment,’ Paul said in a statement from his political action committee. ‘I expect this case to go all the way to the Supreme Court and I predict the American people will win.’

President Obama is named as a defendant, along with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Director of the National Security Agency Gen. Keith Alexander, and FBI Director James Comey.

A White House National Security Council Staff spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But Obama said during a lengthy January 17 speech about U.S. signals intelligence gathering – an oration that might be a preview of the government’s courtroom defense – that ‘the men and women of the intelligence community, including the NSA, consistently follow protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people.’

‘They’re not abusing authorities in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails,’ the president insisted.

His press secretary, Jay Carney, followed up ten days later with assurance during a daily briefing that ‘to the extent that the NSA collects information, it is focused on valid foreign intelligence targets and not the information of ordinary Americans.’

‘Look,’ he told reporters, ‘I mean, terrorists, proliferators, other bad actors use the same communication tools that others use.’

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Sen. Paul’s objection focuses on the so-called bulk phone-record ‘metadata’ that the NSA gathers routinely. The data includes phone numbers, dates, times, and the durations of calls.

National security analysts say the massive tranches of data can be helpful when terrorism suspects are identified, because they allow investigators to establish who they have been talking to – and when.

Paul’s legal advisers thought about filing suit in a Kentucky federal court, MailOnline’s source said, but decided on Washington, D.C. because its judges are accustomed to sifting through the thorny issues surrounding whether a class-action group deserves to be ‘certified’–if, that is, its members have standing to sue.

He plans a press conference in front of the federal courthouse on Wednesday morning to boast that he’s protecting the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment from the White House’s national security apparatus.

‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,’ that Amendment reads in part.

The senator first forecast his legal action in late December, and told the Fox News Channel that since the Obama administration ‘has used the IRS to go after people… we wonder if they would use the NSA that way.’

‘Everybody who has a cellphone would be eligible’ to become a plaintiff, he said.

That interview came on the same day the NSA convinced a top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act judge to green-light its metadata collection for a new 90-day period.

That program, the subject of worldwide leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, has won reauthorization at least 36 times during the past seven years.

Paul’s odd mix of libertarian crusade and conservative button-pushing isn’t new, and it might become the norm on the right as more Republicans try to find common ground between what amount to warring cousins.

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‘Libertarian, or liberty, doesn’t mean libertine,’ the GOP presidential hopeful told a red-meat right-wing crowd at a D.C. gala last week.

‘To many of us,’ he said, playing deftly to a room full of social conservatives, ‘Libertarian means freedom and liberty. But we also see freedom needs tradition.’

The speech came an hour after a lobbyist was heard introducing him to friends during a pre-dinner reception as a ‘Libertarian rock star.’

But Paul cautioned that ‘I don’t see libertarianism as, “you can do whatever you want”.’

Now the federal legislator is applying that message to the executive branch of government, and hoping the judicial branch will see things his way.

But while his lawsuit percolates, Freedomworks president Matt Kibbe will manage the plaintiff-lists and turn them into a political mobilizing tool.

‘If you use a phone, you should care about this case,’ Kibbe said Tuesday, adding that his group’s 6 million members stand behind the legal effort.

Names are initially collected on websites run by PaulPAC, the Kentucky senator’s Political Action Committee, and by his political campaign – presumably one now engaged in planning for the 2016 presidential race.

Both websites ask Web surfers to ‘sign below and join my class-action lawsuit and help stop the government’s outrageous spying program on the American people.’

They also ask for donations.

‘After you sign up, please make a generous donation to help rally up to ten million Americans to support my lawsuit to stop Big Brother,’ a message reads.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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*VIDEO* Jon Stewart Mocks President Asshat’s Rambling NSA Speech


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H/T ClashDaily

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Breaking News: Mike Huckabee no longer my least favorite Republican

Nope! That honor goes to Rep, Peter King (A) Asshole

Via Politico:

Rep. Peter King took swings at fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul on Monday, saying he does not deserve to be in Congress and that he is stoking “paranoia” among Americans.

The New York Republican pointed to the debate over the National Security Agency’s surveillance, which King supports but Paul criticizes, as an example of why he believes the senator doesn’t belong in Congress.

“We can have honest differences about what [NSA’s] policies are, but what Rand Paul is creating is hysteria,” King said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday. “When Rand Paul is comparing [NSA Director] Gen. [James] Clapper to [leaker Edward] Snowden, saying Clapper belongs in jail with Snowden, talking about how all phone calls are being listened to, trying to create this paranoia among Americans that the NSA is spying on everyone, the fact is he has not been able to cite one abuse by the NSA.”

King said the Kentucky Republican “creates this illusion” of spying in an attempt to play off Americans’ fear in an “offensive” way.

“The same reason he was saying he was worried about the CIA using drones to kill Americans in Starbucks. He is playing on some sort of … fear mongering, isolationism,” King said. “Rather than using intelligent arguments, as people could well do, he is resorting to fear, he’s appealing to the lowest common denominator. And I find that very offensive.”

King seems to be attacking Paul, and Ted Cruz, and every other Conservative in the GOP. I would remind Rep. King that he has no friends at MSNBS, and his political grandstanding is pretty damned offensive to many Conservatives. And, I might also remind King that Sen.Paul deserves to be in Congress because the people of Kentucky elected him. And, I would add that I am not so eager to trust the government NOT to take liberties with out liberties.

Obama’s NSA Disguised Itself As Google To Spy On Americans

NSA Disguised Itself As Google To Spy, Say Reports – Cnet

Here’s one of the latest tidbits on the NSA surveillance scandal (which seems to be generating nearly as many blog items as there are phone numbers in the spy agency’s data banks).

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Earlier this week, Techdirt picked up on a passing mention in a Brazilian news story and a Slate article to point out that the US National Security Agency had apparently impersonated Google on at least one occasion to gather data on people. (Mother Jones subsequently pointed out Techdirt’s point-out.)

Brazilian site Fantastico obtained and published a document leaked by Edward Snowden, which diagrams how a “man in the middle attack” involving Google was apparently carried out.

A technique commonly used by hackers, a MITM attack involves using a fake security certificate to pose as a legitimate Web service, bypass browser security settings, and then intercept data that an unsuspecting person is sending to that service. Hackers could, for example, pose as a banking Web site and steal passwords.

The technique is particularly sly because the hackers then use the password to log in to the real banking site and then serve as a “man in the middle,” receiving requests from the banking customer, passing them on to the bank site, and then returning requested info to the customer – all the while collecting data for themselves, with neither the customer nor the bank realizing what’s happening. Such attacks can be used against e-mail providers too.

It’s not clear if the supposed attack in the Fantastico document was handled by the NSA or by its UK counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The article by the Brazilian news agency says, “In this case, data is rerouted to the NSA central, and then relayed to its destination, without either end noticing.”

“There have been rumors of the NSA and others using those kinds of MITM attacks,” Mike Masnick writes on Techdirt, “but to have it confirmed that they’re doing them against the likes of Google… is a big deal – and something I would imagine does not make [Google] particularly happy.”

Google provided a short statement to Mother Jones reporter Josh Harkinson in response to his questions on the matter: “As for recent reports that the US government has found ways to circumvent our security systems, we have no evidence of any such thing ever occurring. We provide our user data to governments only in accordance with the law.” (The company is also trying to win the right to provide more transparency regarding government requests for data on Google users.)

CNET got a “no comment” from the NSA in response to our request for more information.

As TechDirt suggests, an MITM attack on the part of the NSA or GCHQ would hardly be a complete shock. The New York Times reported last week that the NSA has sidestepped common Net encryption methods in a number of ways, including hacking into the servers of private companies to steal encryption keys, collaborating with tech companies to build in back doors, and covertly introducing weaknesses into encryption standards.

It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to obtain a fake security certificate to foil the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) cryptographic protocol that’s designed to verify the authenticity of Web sites and ensure secure Net communications.

Indeed, such attacks have been aimed at Google before, including in 2011, when a hacker broke into the systems of DigiNotar – a Dutch company that issued Web security certificates – and created more than 500 SSL certificates used to authenticate Web sites.

In any case, the purported NSA/GCHG impersonation of Google inspired a rather clever graphic by Mother Jones, one that might even impress the rather clever Doodlers at Google:

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Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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NSA Bugged UN Headquarters In New York City According To Der Spiegel

NSA Bugged UN Headquarters In New York City, Claim New Documents Released By Ed Snowden – Daily Mail

The U.S. National Security Agency bugged the United Nations’ New York headquarters, Germany’s Der Spiegel weekly said on Sunday in a report on U.S. spying that could further strain relations between Washington and its allies.

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Citing secret U.S. documents obtained by fugitive former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel said the files showed how the United States systematically spied on other states and institutions.

The UN did not directly comment on Monday on the hacking reports, saying only that international treaties protect its offices and all diplomatic missions from interference, spying and eavesdropping.

Der Spiegel said the European Union and the U.N.’s Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), were among those targeted by U.S. intelligence agents.

In the summer of 2012, NSA experts succeeded in getting into the U.N. video conferencing system and cracking its coding system, according one of the documents cited by Der Spiegel.

‘The data traffic gives us internal video teleconferences of the United Nations (yay!),’ Der Spiegel quoted one document as saying, adding that within three weeks the number of decoded communications rose to 458 from 12.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said Monday that ‘the inviolability of diplomatic missions, including the United Nations and other international organizations, whose functions are protected by the relevant international conventions like the Vienna Convention, has been well-established international law.’

Haq added, ‘Therefore, member-states are expected to act accordingly to protect the inviolability of diplomatic missions.’

The 1961 Vienna Convention regulates diplomatic issues and status among nations and international organizations.

Among other things, it says a host country cannot search diplomatic premises or seize its documents or property.

It also says the host government must permit and protect free communication between the diplomats of the mission and their home country.

However, wiretapping and eavesdropping have been rampant for decades, most dramatically between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The report said internal files also show the NSA spied on the EU legation in New York after it moved to new rooms in autumn 2012. Among the documents copied by Snowden from NSA computers are plans of the EU mission, its IT infrastructure and servers.

According to the documents, the NSA runs a bugging program in more than 80 embassies and consulates worldwide called ‘Special Collection Service’. ‘The surveillance is intensive and well organized and has little or nothing to do with warding off terrorists,’ wrote Der Spiegel.

Snowden’s leaks have embarrassed the United States by exposing the global extent of its surveillance programs. Washington has said its spies operate within the law and that the leaks have damaged national security.

A week ago Britain, a staunch U.S. ally in the intelligence field, detained the partner of a Brazil-based journalist working for London’s Guardian newspaper who has led coverage of Snowden’s leaks. British police said documents seized from David Miranda were ‘highly sensitive’ and could put lives at risk if disclosed.

The Guardian last week destroyed computer equipment containing Snowden files after it was threatened with possible legal action by senior British government advisers.

In an open letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron published on Sunday, editors of leading Nordic newspapers said Miranda’s detention and moves against the Guardian were ‘undermining the position of the free press throughout the world’.

‘(We are) deeply concerned that a stout defender of democracy and free debate such as the United Kingdom uses anti-terror legislation in order to legalize what amounts to harassment of both the paper and individuals associated with it,’ said the letter from Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter, Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat, Denmark’s Politiken and Norway’s Aftenposten.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to limit U.S. government surveillance programs, saying the United States could and should be more transparent.

The issue has also become a hot topic in Germany before an election next month. Some reports have suggested that German intelligence agents have cooperated with U.S. spies.

There could be a voter backlash if it emerges that Chancellor Angela Merkel, tipped to win a third term, knew more about such cooperation than she has so far acknowledged.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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NSA-Nazis Overstepping Legal Authority Thousands Of Times A Year

NSA Broke Privacy Rules Thousands Of Times Per Year, Audit Finds – Washington Post

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The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

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The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

In one instance, the NSA decided that it need not report the unintended surveillance of Americans. A notable example in 2008 was the interception of a “large number” of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused the U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt, according to a “quality assurance” review that was not distributed to the NSA’s oversight staff.

In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has authority over some NSA operations, did not learn about a new collection method until it had been in operation for many months. The court ruled it unconstitutional.

The Obama administration has provided almost no public information about the NSA’s compliance record. In June, after promising to explain the NSA’s record in “as transparent a way as we possibly can,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole described extensive safeguards and oversight that keep the agency in check. “Every now and then, there may be a mistake,” Cole said in congressional testimony.

The NSA audit obtained by The Post, dated May 2012, counted 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications. Most were unintended. Many involved failures of due diligence or violations of standard operating procedure. The most serious incidents included a violation of a court order and unauthorized use of data about more than 3,000 Americans and green-card holders.

In a statement in response to questions for this article, the NSA said it attempts to identify problems “at the earliest possible moment, implement mitigation measures wherever possible, and drive the numbers down.” The government was made aware of The Post’s intention to publish the documents that accompany this article online.

“We’re a human-run agency operating in a complex environment with a number of different regulatory regimes, so at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line,” a senior NSA official said in an interview, speaking with White House permission on the condition of anonymity.

“You can look at it as a percentage of our total activity that occurs each day,” he said. “You look at a number in absolute terms that looks big, and when you look at it in relative terms, it looks a little different.”

There is no reliable way to calculate from the number of recorded compliance issues how many Americans have had their communications improperly collected, stored or distributed by the NSA.

The causes and severity of NSA infractions vary widely. One in 10 incidents is attributed to a typographical error in which an analyst enters an incorrect query and retrieves data about U.S phone calls or e-mails.

But the more serious lapses include unauthorized access to intercepted communications, the distribution of protected content and the use of automated systems without built-in safeguards to prevent unlawful surveillance.

The May 2012 audit, intended for the agency’s top leaders, counts only incidents at the NSA’s Fort Meade headquarters and other ­facilities in the Washington area. Three government officials, speak­ing on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters, said the number would be substantially higher if it included other NSA operating units and regional collection centers.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who did not receive a copy of the 2012 audit until The Post asked her staff about it, said in a statement late Thursday that the committee “can and should do more to independently verify that NSA’s operations are appropriate, and its reports of compliance incidents are accurate.”

Despite the quadrupling of the NSA’s oversight staff after a series of significant violations in 2009, the rate of infractions increased throughout 2011 and early 2012. An NSA spokesman declined to disclose whether the trend has continued since last year.

One major problem is largely unpreventable, the audit says, because current operations rely on technology that cannot quickly determine whether a foreign mobile phone has entered the United States.

In what appears to be one of the most serious violations, the NSA diverted large volumes of international data passing through fiber-optic cables in the United States into a repository where the material could be stored temporarily for processing and selection.

The operation to obtain what the agency called “multiple communications transactions” collected and commingled U.S. and foreign e-mails, according to an article in SSO News, a top-secret internal newsletter of the NSA’s Special Source Operations unit. NSA lawyers told the court that the agency could not practicably filter out the communications of Americans.

In October 2011, months after the program got underway, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled that the collection effort was unconstitutional. The court said that the methods used were “deficient on statutory and constitutional grounds,” according to a top-secret summary of the opinion, and it ordered the NSA to comply with standard privacy protections or stop the program.

James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has acknowledged that the court found the NSA in breach of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, but the Obama administration has fought a Freedom of Information lawsuit that seeks the opinion.

Generally, the NSA reveals nothing in public about its errors and infractions. The unclassified versions of the administration’s semiannual reports to Congress feature blacked-out pages under the headline “Statistical Data Relating to Compliance Incidents.”

Members of Congress may read the unredacted documents, but only in a special secure room, and they are not allowed to take notes. Fewer than 10 percent of lawmakers employ a staff member who has the security clearance to read the reports and provide advice about their meaning and significance.

The limited portions of the reports that can be read by the public acknowledge “a small number of compliance incidents.”

Under NSA auditing guidelines, the incident count does not usually disclose the number of Americans affected.

“What you really want to know, I would think, is how many innocent U.S. person communications are, one, collected at all, and two, subject to scrutiny,” said Julian Sanchez, a research scholar and close student of the NSA at the Cato Institute.

The documents provided by Snowden offer only glimpses of those questions. Some reports make clear that an unauthorized search produced no records. But a single “incident” in February 2012 involved the unlawful retention of 3,032 files that the surveillance court had ordered the NSA to destroy, according to the May 2012 audit. Each file contained an undisclosed number of telephone call records.

One of the documents sheds new light on a statement by NSA Director Keith B. Alexander last year that “we don’t hold data on U.S. citizens.”

Some Obama administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have defended Alexander with assertions that the agency’s internal definition of “data” does not cover “metadata” such as the trillions of American call records that the NSA is now known to have collected and stored since 2006. Those records include the telephone numbers of the parties and the times and durations of conversations, among other details, but not their content or the names of callers.

The NSA’s authoritative def­inition of data includes those call records. “Signals Intelligence Management Directive 421,” which is quoted in secret oversight and auditing guidelines, states that “raw SIGINT data… includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and/or unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice, and some forms of computer-generated data, such as call event records and other Digital Network Intelligence (DNI) metadata as well as DNI message text.”

In the case of the collection effort that confused calls placed from Washington with those placed from Egypt, it is unclear what the NSA meant by a “large number” of intercepted calls. A spokesman declined to discuss the matter.

The NSA has different reporting requirements for each branch of government and each of its legal authorities. The “202” collection was deemed irrelevant to any of them. “The issue pertained to Metadata ONLY so there were no defects to report,” according to the author of the secret memo from March 2013.

The large number of database query incidents, which involve previously collected communications, confirms long-standing suspicions that the NSA’s vast data banks – with code names such as MARINA, PINWALE and XKEYSCORE – house a considerable volume of information about Americans. Ordinarily the identities of people in the United States are masked, but intelligence “customers” may request unmasking, either one case at a time or in standing orders.

In dozens of cases, NSA personnel made careless use of the agency’s extraordinary powers, according to individual auditing reports. One team of analysts in Hawaii, for example, asked a system called DISHFIRE to find any communications that mentioned both the Swedish manufacturer Ericsson and “radio” or “radar” – a query that could just as easily have collected on people in the United States as on their Pakistani military target.

The NSA uses the term “incidental” when it sweeps up the records of an American while targeting a foreigner or a U.S. person who is believed to be involved in terrorism. Official guidelines for NSA personnel say that kind of incident, pervasive under current practices, “does not constitute a… violation” and “does not have to be reported” to the NSA inspector general for inclusion in quarterly reports to Congress. Once added to its databases, absent other restrictions, the communications of Americans may be searched freely.

In one required tutorial, NSA collectors and analysts are taught to fill out oversight forms without giving “extraneous information” to “our FAA overseers.” FAA is a reference to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which granted broad new authorities to the NSA in exchange for regular audits from the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and periodic reports to Congress and the surveillance court.

Using real-world examples, the “Target Analyst Rationale Instructions” explain how NSA employees should strip out details and substitute generic descriptions of the evidence and analysis behind their targeting choices.

“I realize you can read those words a certain way,” said the high-ranking NSA official who spoke with White House authority, but the instructions were not intended to withhold information from auditors. “Think of a book of individual recipes,” he said. Each target “has a short, concise description,” but that is “not a substitute for the full recipe that follows, which our overseers also have access to.”

Julie Tate and Carol D. Leonnig contributed to this report.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Suspicions Growing Over Death Of Journalist Probing NSA And CIA Abuses

Suspicions Growing Over Death Of Journalist Probing NSA And CIA Abuses – New American

Weeks after the fiery death of investigative journalist Michael Hastings (shown), who was probing abuses by the CIA and NSA and had recently informed others that he was being investigated by federal authorities, suspicions about his mysterious car crash are still swirling around the Internet. While police officially ruled the death an “accident,” serious questions are still surfacing – even in the establishment media and among prominent officials. Based on e-mails Hastings sent out shortly before he died about working on a “big story” and needing to go “off the radar,” it has become clear that he was worried, too.

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Hastings, who wrote for Rolling Stone, BuzzFeed, Gawker, and other publications, was probably best known for his award-winning 2010 article “The Runaway General.” The piece helped bring down U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Despite his establishment credentials and what analysts called his “Democrat-friendly” reporting, Hastings had become extremely alarmed about the “surveillance state” and other troubling developments in recent months. His last published story: “Why Democrats Love To Spy On Americans.”

When the Obama administration was exposed spying on journalists earlier this year, the investigative reporter blasted what he referred to as the president’s “war” on journalism. “The Obama administration has clearly declared war on the press. It has declared war on investigative journalists – our sources,” he said during a recent TV interview, blasting the administration’s lawless behavior, obsession with secrecy, and vicious persecution of whistleblowers. Beyond simple criticism, though, Hastings openly said it was time for journalists to fight back.

“I think the only recourse to this kind of behavior by the government is to say back to the government, ‘we declare war on you,’ and from this point forward, we should no longer – the media as a whole – cooperate in any manner with the government,” he continued. “We should withdraw all our cooperation and we should publish everything we know, because it’s a free press, it’s not a free-except-for-when-the-government-tells-me-to-do-it press, and we’ve been way too easygoing with these guys.”

Less than 24 hours before his death, Hastings made it crystal clear that he was concerned about his own well-being. In an e-mail sent to numerous contacts and his employer, for example, Hastings noted: “The Feds are interviewing my ‘close friends and associates.’” He also said that if authorities show up, it “may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.” The subject line read: “FBI investigation re: NSA.” Perhaps most alarming of all, the e-mail concluded with this: “Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the rada[r] for a bit.”

While some friends and family members are reportedly too frightened to speak out, at least one recipient of the e-mail has gone public. Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs, who became friends with Hastings while the journalist was embedded with his unit in Afghanistan in 2008, told KTLA that the “very panicked” message “alarmed me very much.” According to Biggs, “I just said it doesn’t seem like him. I don’t know, I just had this gut feeling and it just really bothered me.”

Biggs has spoken to Fox News and other major media outlets as well, saying Hastings was working on “the biggest story yet” about the CIA and that Hastings’ wife vowed to “take down whoever did this.” Apparently Hastings “drove like a grandma.” In an extended interview with radio host Alex Jones, Biggs also said he knew Hastings was receiving “death threats” from military brass. The retired staff sergeant added that he was extremely suspicious about his friend’s death and vowed to do everything in his power to find out what happened.

Heavy-hitters from the government sector have expressed concerns, too. Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke, for example, told The Huffington Post in late June that the deadly car crash was “consistent with a car cyber-attack.” Intelligence agencies for major powers – including the U.S. government – almost certainly know how to remotely seize control of a car, he added.

“What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it’s relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn’t want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn’t want the brakes on, to launch an air bag,” Clarke continued. “You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it’s not that hard… So if there were a cyber-attack on the car – and I’m not saying there was – I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.”

So far, the FBI has denied that it was investigating Hastings. However, on June 19, the day after the mysterious crash, WikiLeaks released what has been interpreted as a bomb-shell to some analysts monitoring the investigation. “Michael Hastings contacted WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him,” the whistleblowing organization said through its official Twitter account, sparking worldwide press coverage. The allegation has not been independently confirmed.

According to the official investigation of the crash, Hastings ran a red light and was driving over 100 miles per hour in his brand-new Mercedes in the early morning when he suddenly crashed into a tree, causing his car to burst into a bizarre fiery inferno. The engine was found more than 150 feet from the wreck. Local news outlets in California, meanwhile, are reporting that the police report is still not publicly available and that officials have been ordered not to comment on the case. The crash itself has also been ringing alarm bells among experts and analysts.

On San Diego 6 News, national security reporter Kimberly Dvorak, for example, recently took to the air and talked about her conversations with sources surrounding the crash after spending a day in Los Angeles investigating. Noting that the police report was not available, she said law enforcement and fire department officials refused to comment, with some saying they had been instructed not to say anything. “That kind of stands out; we look at the NSA, the government says if you have nothing to hide, don’t worry,” she said.

Military officials, meanwhile, told Dvorak that the fire was “extremely hot” and “not something we normally see,” the reporter continued. The fact that the engine was between 150 and 250 feet behind the car was also strange, according to university physics professors she spoke with – it should have been in front, if anything. Another interesting fact highlighted in the report: There were no skid marks at the accident scene.

Mercedes, she added, insists that their cars do not blow up. In fact, the company has a reputation for building some of the safest cars in the world, but Mercedes has not yet been contacted by authorities, according to a statement. Citing a 2010 study from a California university, Dvorak also noted that it is possible to “hack into the car system and operate the accelerator, the brakes, windshield wipers, light, steering,” and more using a simple iPad.

Car experts have also expressed skepticism about the official narrative. “I’m here to state that I’ve seen dozens of cars hit walls and stuff at high speeds and the number of them that I have observed to eject their powertrains and immediately catch massive fire is, um, ah, zero,” noted Jack Baruth, editor of The Truth About Cars. “Modern cars are very good at not catching fire in accidents. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which is an evolutionary design from a company known for sweating the safety details over and above the Euro NCAP requirements, should be leading the pack in the not-catching-on-fire category.”

“Nor is the C-Class known for sudden veering out of control into trees and whatnot,” continued Baruth, who has a professional racing license as well. “Mr. Hastings’ aggressively Democrat-friendly storytelling has the Internet already considering the idea that his death was engineered somehow. I can’t say it’s totally unlikely. As noted above, the reported (and videotaped) behavior of the C250 was not in line with what we’d expect.”

It would not be the first time that a prominent journalist taking on the establishment has died under suspicious circumstances. Conservative-leaning alternative-media giant Andrew Breitbart, for example, promised to reveal information that would destroy the Obama machine. Shortly before the highly anticipated release, the 43-year-old died of “heart failure.” Two months later, the county coroner who conducted Breitbart’s autopsy was poisoned. Before that, investigative journalist Gary Webb, who exposed CIA cocaine trafficking, supposedly “committed suicide” with two bullets to the head after publicly expressing his concerns that he would be killed. The list could go on.

Of course, it is now common knowledge that the administration believes it can extra-judicially murder anyone – including Americans – whom Obama claims is a threat to the “Homeland.” No charges or trial are required, and indeed, the president has already openly murdered Americans like Anwar al Awlaki and his young son without even charging them with a crime – let alone securing a conviction by a jury in a court of law. Whether Hastings was murdered remains uncertain, but there is little doubt that the circumstances of his death were extremely suspicious.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Little Known Search Engine That Refuses To Store User Data Doubles Traffic Amid NSA Scandal

Little Known Search Engine That Refuses To Store Data On Users Doubles Web Traffic Amid NSA Tapping Scandal – Daily Mail

Web-users who want to protect their privacy have been switching to a small unheard of search engine in the wake of the ‘Prism’ revelations.

DuckDuckGo, the little known U.S. company, sets itself aside from its giant competitors such as Google and Yahoo, by not sharing any of its clients’ data with searched websites. This means no targeted advertising and no skewed search results.

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Aside from the reduced ads, this unbiased and private approach to using the internet is appealing to users angered at the news that U.S. and UK governments (the National Security Agency (NSA) in the U.S. and GCHQ in the UK), have direct access to the servers of big search engine companies, allowing them to ‘watch’ users.

Within just two weeks of the NSA’s operations being leaked by former employee Edward Snowden, DuckDuckGo’s traffic had doubled – from serving 1.7 million searches a day, to 3million.

‘We started seeing an increase right when the story broke, before we were covered in the press,’ said Gabriel Weinberg, founder and CEO, speaking to The Guardian.

Entrepreneur Mr Weinberg had the idea for the company in 2006, while taking time out to do a stained-glass making course. He had just sold successful start-up Opobox, similar to Friends Reunited, for $10million (£6.76million) to Classmates.com.

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While on the course he realised that the teacher’s ‘useful web links’ did not tally up with Google’s search results, and realised the extent of the personalised skewing of results per user.

From there he had the idea to develop a ‘better’ search engine, that does not share any user information with any websites whatsoever.

Search data, he told the paper, ‘is arguably the most personal data people are entering into anything. You’re typing in your problems, your desires. It’s not the same as things you post publicly on a social network.’

DuckDuckGo, named after an American children’s tag game Duck Duck Goose (though not a metaphor), was solo-founded by Mr Weinberg in 2008, in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

He self-funded it until 2011 when Union Square Ventures, which also backs Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and Kickstarter, and a handful of angel investors, came on board.

The team has expanded to a few full-time people, many part-time contributors and a bunch of open-source contributors.

‘If you’re wondering how you would turn that into a verb… Duck it!’ he says on the company website.

The 33-year-old CEO, who lives in Paoli, a suburb of Philadelphia, PA, with his wife and two children, explains that when other search engines are used, your search terms are sent to that site you clicked on; this sharing of information is known as ‘search leakage’.

‘For example, when you search for something private, you are sharing that private search not only with your search engine, but also with all the sites that you clicked on (for that search),’ he points out on his website.

‘In addition, when you visit any site, your computer automatically sends information about it to that site (including your User agent and IP address). This information can often be used to identify you directly.

‘So when you do that private search, not only can those other sites know your search terms, but they can also know that you searched it. It is this combination of available information about you that raises privacy concerns,’ he says.

The company offers a search engine, like Google, but which does not traffic users, which has less spam and clutter, that showcases ‘better instant answers’, and that does not put users in a ‘filter bubble’ meaning results are biased towards particular users.

Currently, 50 per cent of DuckDuckGo’s users are from the U.S., 45 per cent from Europe and the remaining 5 per cent from Asia-Pacific (APAC).

On June 3, the company reported it had more than 19million direct queries per month and the zero-click Info API gets over 9million queries per day.

It has partnerships with apps, browsers and distributions that include DuckDuckGo as a search option: Browsers, distributions, iOS, and Android. Companies can use DuckDuckGo for their site search, and the firm offers an open API for Instant Answers based on its open source DuckDuckHack platform.

Speaking on U.S. radio channel, American Public Media, Mr Weinberg said: ‘Companies like DuckDuckGo have sprung in the last couple years to cater to the growing number of data dodgers.

‘There’s pent up demand for companies that do not track you,’ he says.

User feedback on the company website say the search engine reminds them of the early days of using Google; it’s like an ‘honorable search site to complement Wikipedia’; and other are ‘amazed’ that a search engine company is ‘doing exactly the right thing’.

Critics of the company remain cautious of the sudden surge in success, however, pointing out that 3million searches per day is just a ‘drop in the ocean’ compared with the 13billion searches Google does every day.

Writing on his website, Danny Sullivan, who runs the Search Engine Land site and analyses the industry, said big companies like Ask.com and Yahoo had tried pro-privacy pushes before and failed to generate huge interest.

Perhaps in the wake of the NSA and GCHQ revelations, however, users may think twice about their search engine provider.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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National Intelligence Director Apologizes For Making ‘Erroneous’ Statement (aka Lying) To Congress

DNI Chief Clapper Apologizes For ‘Erroneous’ Answer On NSA Surveillance – Fox News

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has apologized for telling Congress the National Security Agency doesn’t gather data on millions of Americans.

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The apology comes after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden gave top-secret information to newspapers that last month published stories about the federal government collecting the data from phone calls and such Internet communications as emails.

Clapper apologized in a letter to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein that was posted Tuesday on the website of Clapper’s office.

Clapper said in the June 21 letter that his answer was “clearly erroneous.”

Americans have long known the United States implemented surveillance programs under the Patriot Act, in the wake of 9/11, with the goal of preventing more terror attacks, and that the programs targeted foreign and overseas suspects. However, many Americans seem stunned at the apparent extent of the programs and that the broad data collection included basic details on Americans’ phone records.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden asked Clapper at a March 12 congressional hearing whether the NSA “collects any type of data at all on millions of hundreds of millions of Americas?”

Wyden asked because Clapper suggested publicly months earlier that stories about the NSA keeping “dossiers” on millions of Americans were “completely false.”

Clapper told Wyden: “No sir, it does not.”

When asked for clarification, he said “not wittingly.”

After the latest stories appeared to reveal otherwise, Clapper said he gave the “least untruthful answer possible.”

Clapper said in the letter to Feinstein that when answering he was confounded by the word dossier and challenged by trying to protect classified information. He also said that when answering Wyden, he was focused on whether the U.S. collected the content of phone and email conversations, and not so-called metadata, which essentially is phone numbers, email addresses, dates and times. He wrote that he “simply didn’t think of” the pertinent section of the Patriot Act under which that information can be collected.

“Thus my response was clearly erroneous – for which I apologize,” Clapper said to Feinstein, in the letter.

Snowden’s father Lon, meanwhile, chastised Clapper for his answers in an open letter Snowden sent Tuesday to his son.

“We leave it to the American people to decide whether you or Director Clapper is the superior patriot,” Snowden wrote in the letter to his son.

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Think NSA Spying Is Bad? Here Comes ObamaCare Hub

Think NSA Spying Is Bad? Here Comes ObamaCare Hub – Investors Business Daily

The Health and Human Services Department earlier this year exposed just how vast the government’s data collection efforts will be on millions of Americans as a result of ObamaCare.

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Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., asked HHS to provide “a complete list of agencies that will interact with the Federal Data Services Hub.” The Hub is a central feature of ObamaCare, since it will be used by the new insurance exchanges to determine eligibility for benefits, exemptions from the federal mandate, and how much to grant in federal insurance subsidies.

In response, the HHS said the ObamaCare data hub will “interact” with seven other federal agencies: Social Security Administration, the IRS, the Department of Homeland Security, the Veterans Administration, Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Defense and – believe it or not – the Peace Corps. Plus the Hub will plug into state Medicaid databases.

And what sort of data will be “routed through” the Hub? Social Security numbers, income, family size, citizenship and immigration status, incarceration status, and enrollment status in other health plans, according to the HHS.

“The federal government is planning to quietly enact what could be the largest consolidation of personal data in the history of the republic,” noted Stephen Parente, a University of Minnesota finance professor.

Not to worry, says the Obama administration. “The hub will not store consumer information, but will securely transmit data between state and federal systems to verify consumer application information,” it claimed in an online fact sheet .

But a regulatory notice filed by the administration in February tells a different story.

That filing describes a new “system of records” that will store names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, taxpayer status, gender, ethnicity, email addresses, telephone numbers on the millions of people expected to apply for coverage at the ObamaCare exchanges, as well as “tax return information from the IRS, income information from the Social Security Administration, and financial information from other third-party sources.”

They will also store data from businesses buying coverage through an exchange, including a “list of qualified employees and their tax ID numbers,” and keep it all on file for 10 years.

In addition, the filing says the federal government can disclose this information “without the consent of the individual” to a wide range of people, including “agency contractors, consultants, or grantees” who “need to have access to the records” to help run ObamaCare, as well as law enforcement officials to “investigate potential fraud.”

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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You can think what you wish about Mr. Snowden, but his choices of countries to visit troubles me

Stacy McCain asks, and I think, answers the hero vs traitor questions about Edward Snowden

As soon as Edward Snowden came forward as the “face” of the NSA leaks, the question immediately suggested itself: “Hero or Traitor?”

Revelations about the NSA surveillance program had made worldwide headlines. Coming on the heels of other scandals, it seemed to fit into an emerging neo-Nixonian picture of the Obama administration. As I wrote Friday at The American Spectator:

Welcome to America in 2013, where Hope and Change have transmogrified into Fear and Loathing, where even a liberal reporter who last year praised Obama as “one of the most talented politicians around” could not resist the pervasive paranoia inspired by what voters were once promised would be “the most transparent administration in history.” Between the IRS secretly punishing the president’s political enemies, the Justice Department secretly seizing reporters’ phone records and the NSA’s secret surveillance, the only thing transparent about this administration is its dishonest hypocrisy.

One little problem: The IRS scandal and the DOJ scandal are genuine scandals — clear-cut abuses of power — whereas the NSA surveillance program had no actual victims. That is to say, while the NSA’s access to phone and e-mail records raises Fourth Amendment concerns about potential abuse, there is no one who can point to an instance where actual abuse has occurred. So far as we know, no one has been arrested on the basis of illegally obtained information or targeted by the NSA because they’re on Obama’s Enemies List of political opponents.

Apparently, Glenn Greenwald’s idea to solve this problem was to present the world with Edward Snowden as the hero-victim, making him the symbol (as Greenwald saw it) of how the administration was punishing courageous truth-tellers. However, rational people (a category from which Greenwald long ago excluded himself) recognized this as problematic: Snowden wasn’t an IRS employee revealing important truths about unlawful political abuse of government power, or a DOJ staffer disclosing the surveillance of journalists. Snowden had top-secret clearance at an agency whose express mission it is to gather communications (“signals intelligence,” or sigint) about America’s enemies. There is a world of difference between these two categories, and my antennae detected this difference when I saw the quote from Snowdenpraising Army Pvt. Bradley Manning as “a classic whistleblower” who “was inspired by the public good.”

Of course the NSA news troubles me, it ought to trouble all of us. Frankly, anytime the government has that much power I get worried. But, Snowden has chosen some odd nations to seek refuge in hasn’t he? China, Russia, and he seems to be looking to get to Venezuela via Cuba. What North Korea was not on his list? Talk about things that make you go HMMMM. Stacy McCain also looks at some other eyebrow-raising facts about Snowden at Viral Read

If leaking top-secret information made Ed Snowden a hero, then everyone with access to classified information who doesn’t leak it is a villain. And the more I looked at the backstory, the less I liked it:

After leaving the CIA a few years later, however, Snowden seemed disillusioned and suspicious toward government. In a comment on an Ars Technica article about surveillance software developed by Cisco, Snowden expressed concern about “how little this sort of corporate behavior bothers those outside of technology circles.” Criticizing what he called an attitude of “unquestioning obedience,” Snowden suggested that such surveillance had “sneaked in undetected because of pervasive government secrecy.”

Oh, what fresh hell is this? When I see the word “corporate” used as a pejorative, coupled with a jab at “unquestioning obedience,” I don’t think of Jefferson, Madison and Patrick Henry. Instead I think of Theodor Adorno, C. Wright Mills and Herbert Marcuse — the leftist indictment of 1950s America as proto-fascist oppression. I also think of every disgruntled misfit I’ve ever had the misfortune to know, malcontent whiners grumbling about the “bosses” and doing their best to spread demoralization throughout the organization.

Edward Snowden sounds a lot like a Leftist, he runs from Communist paradise to Communist paradise (no Russia is not Communist any more, but, they are not our friend either) and uses “corporate as a slur? Yep, that makes the Leftist Detection Meter go off alright. I just wonder what he is talking to all those Communists about? HMMMMMM. Like I said, I do not trust the NSA, or this administration, there is some “there” there in this story. But the Snowden as Patrick Henry Meme? Not buying that!

Apparently Snowden is in the mood to visit Ecuador now

Former Intelligence Agent Accuses NSA, Obama Of Lying, Alleges Broader Spying Programs

Bombshell: Fmr. Intelligence Agent Accuses NSA, Obama Of Lying, Alleges Broader Spying Programs – Mediaite

On Friday, MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin interviewed former U.S. Air Force intelligence Agent Russell Tice about the revelations surrounding the National Security Agency’s monitoring of Americans’ digital and electronic communications. Tice accused a variety of administration officials, including President Barack Obama, of disseminating outright falsehoods in their efforts to explain those programs. He added that those programs are far broader than any government official has said up to this point.

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Tice slammed the president’s meeting with privacy advocates today, conceding the point that this was largely a “PR move.”

“There is a lot of disinformation going on,” Tice observed. “I’ve always said the station is much worse.”

Tice accused the NSA’s past and current directors of misleading the public regarding the scope of the agency’s communications monitoring programs.

“NSA, today, is collecting everything – including content – of every digital communication in this country, both computer and phone, and that information is being stored indefinitely,” Tice said. “And that’s something that they’re lying about.”

Melvin noted that The Guardian reported Thursday that domestic communications can be kept if they were obtained “inadvertently, and they can be used by courts under certain circumstances. He noted that this news also contradicts statements by the president.

“You’ve got to understand, the FISA court is being used as a screen to be able to use information that ultimately they can use to throw at somebody in a court of law with a grand jury,” Tice said, noting that this happened to him and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter, Jim Risen.

He says that the FISA court appeal justifies the government collecting information on Americans that can later be used in criminal cases against them.

Watch the clip below:

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Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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*VIDEO* Funny Or Die – Public Service Announcement: How To Fight Back Against NSA Snooping


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H/T Independent Journal Review

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Rand Paul To Challenge NSA Snooping In Supreme Court, Asks Phone And Internet Customers To Join Lawsuit

Rand Paul Tells Fox Viewers To Join Lawsuit Against NSA: ‘I’m Going To Challenge This At The Supreme Court’ – Mediaite

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul took to Fox News Sunday to declare his legal opposition to the NSA’s surveillance programs. “I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level,” Paul said.

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“I’m going to be asking all the internet providers and all of the phone companies: ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit,” Paul told host Chris Wallace. “If we get ten million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington.”

Like many lawmakers, Paul drew a distinction between targeted surveillance and the blanket surveillance revealed this week.

“They are looking at a billion phone calls a day,” Paul said. “That doesn’t sound to me like a modest invasion of primary, it sounds like an extraordinary invasion of privacy.”

“I have no problem if you have probable cause, you target people who are terrorists, and you go after them,” Paul continued. “But we’re talking about trolling through billions of phone records… That is unconstitutional.”

Paul also said he would introduce the Fourth Amendment Restoriation Act, though he offered few details about the still-hypothetical legislation.

“If you talk to young people who use computers every day, they’re absolutely with me,” Paul said. “What I spend on my Visa each month, that’s my business, where I spend it, and whether I read conservative magazines, whether I subscribe to Fox News, or whether I subscribe to Yahoo or Google – what I do with my private life is my private life. If you suspect me of a crime, have probable cause.”

“So much of our life now is digitalized, that we have to protect it from a snooping government,” Paul said. “We’ve now got a government that appears to target people based on their political beliefs. I don’t want my phone records being given to an administration I can’t trust.”

Paul remembered that the public outrage against SOPA and PIPA legislation last year were somewhat successful in pushing back the laws, and predicted that if people reacted with similar severity to the current surveillance measures, they would be successful in repealing them.

Watch the interview here, via Fox News:

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Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Obama: Everyone In Congress Knew About NSA Snooping – Congress: No We Didn’t

Lawmakers Rebut Obama’s Data Defense – Politico

President Barack Obama’s chief defense of his administration’s wide-ranging data-gathering programs Friday: Congress authorized them, with “every member” well aware of the details.

Not so, say many members of Congress – Democrats and Republicans alike.

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Typically, members of Congress “don’t receive this kind of briefing,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told POLITICO Friday. They wouldn’t have known about the programs unless they were on an intelligence committee, attended special sessions last held in 2011 or specifically asked to be briefed – something they would only know to do if they were clued in by an colleague who was already aware.

Durbin said he learned about the two programs himself only after requesting a briefing under “classified circumstances” after being urged to do so by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Congressional leadership and intelligence committees had access to information about the programs, he said – but the “average member” of Congress likely wouldn’t have been aware of the breadth of the telephone and Internet surveillance.

There’s no public record of who has attended any of these sessions – and even the Obama administration couldn’t confirm the president’s claim that “every member of Congress” had been briefed.

The White House declined to comment for this story.

And Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) told POLITICO that the classified intelligence briefing sessions he’s attended haven’t disclosed details on the two data-gathering programs as were unveiled this week.

Schock, in Congress since 2009, said he had “no idea” about the phone data gathering, or any briefings for House members to discuss it, until news reports this week.

Like other members who said they learned of the data-gathering efforts when they were revealed in the Guardian and the Washington Post, Schock said the administration classified briefings he’s attended have revealed very little information.

“I can assure you the phone number tracking of non-criminal, non-terrorist suspects was not discussed,” he said. “Most members have stopped going to their classified briefings because they rarely tell us anything we don’t already know in the news. It really has become a charade.”

President Obama’s explanation allows him to sound a nothing-to-see-here note that paints the programs as both prosaic and innocuous. After all, if all 535 members of Congress knew about them, how bad could they really be?

“These are the folks you all vote for as your representatives in Congress, and they’re being fully briefed on these programs,” said Obama. “And if, in fact… there were abuses taking place, presumably those members of Congress could raise those issues very aggressively. They’re empowered to do so.”

But as Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) complained to Attorney General Eric Holder during a Thursday hearing, the idea that Congress has been “fully briefed” on these programs is coming as news to many of the lawmakers themselves.

“This ‘fully briefed’ is something that drives us up the wall, because often ‘fully briefed’ means a group of eight leadership; it does not necessarily mean relevant committees,” Mikulski said.

In theory, briefings on the electronic surveillance programs were available – and offered – to every member of Congress. In practice, they were regularly given to those on the House and Senate Intelligence committees – and haven’t been offered all members of Congress for the past two years, except by request.

Justice and intelligence officials conducted a dozen briefings for congressional committees and leadership between May 2009 and October 2011, and FBI Director Robert Mueller briefed the House GOP conference and House Democratic caucus in May 2011 ahead of the last the Patriot Act reauthorization. The administration also asked that classified white papers be made available to all members of the House and Senate in 2011, when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was last re-authorized.

So senators not on the intelligence committee would only have learned of the program had they attended one of those classified briefings in 2010 or 2011. Then, the committee invited all 100 senators to read a classified report on “roving authority for electronic surveillance” in a secure location in the Hart Senate Office Building.

Asked Thursday if she knew how many senators had taken the time to read the report, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) responded: “I do not, certainly the Intelligence Committee should have.”

Congress last reauthorized the FISA provision of the Patriot Act in in May 2011, with the Senate voting 72-23 in favor, and the House approving the measure by a 250-153 count.

It is not known how many members reviewed the intelligence papers prior to those votes. And it’s not clear how many members of Congress have pursued classified briefings on their own. But it’s not hard to find members of Congress this week who say the latest reports are the first they’ve heard of these programs.

There are now nine senators and 61 congressmen who were not in office during the 2010 and 2011 briefing sessions – new members of Congress like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who have never been personally informed of either program unless they asked about it.

“Americans trusted President Obama when he came to office promising the most transparent administration in history,” Cruz said Friday. “But that trust has been broken and the only way to earn it back is to tell the truth.”

Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) wrote “not quite” on Twitter in response to a reporter’s tweet about Obama’s remark that “every member” was aware of the data-gathering programs. Long wasn’t made available to explain his tweet Friday.

And Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told MSNBC Friday that he received a briefing only because he “sought it out,” not because the Obama administration had offered it to him.

“I had to get special permission to find out about the program,” Merkley said. “It raised concerns for me… When I saw what was being done, I felt it was so out of sync with the plain language of the law and that it merited full public examination, and that’s why I called for the declassification.”

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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NSA Collecting Phone Records Of Millions Of Verizon Customers Daily

NSA Collecting Phone Records Of Millions Of Verizon Customers Daily – The Guardian

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

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The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

The disclosure is likely to reignite longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government’s domestic spying powers.

Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.

The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.

The Guardian approached the National Security Agency, the White House and the Department of Justice for comment in advance of publication on Wednesday. All declined. The agencies were also offered the opportunity to raise specific security concerns regarding the publication of the court order.

The court order expressly bars Verizon from disclosing to the public either the existence of the FBI’s request for its customers’ records, or the court order itself.

“We decline comment,” said Ed McFadden, a Washington-based Verizon spokesman.

The order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson, compels Verizon to produce to the NSA electronic copies of “all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications between the United States and abroad” or “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls”.

The order directs Verizon to “continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order”. It specifies that the records to be produced include “session identifying information”, such as “originating and terminating number”, the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and “comprehensive communication routing information”.

The information is classed as “metadata”, or transactional information, rather than communications, and so does not require individual warrants to access. The document also specifies that such “metadata” is not limited to the aforementioned items. A 2005 court ruling judged that cell site location data – the nearest cell tower a phone was connected to – was also transactional data, and so could potentially fall under the scope of the order.

While the order itself does not include either the contents of messages or the personal information of the subscriber of any particular cell number, its collection would allow the NSA to build easily a comprehensive picture of who any individual contacted, how and when, and possibly from where, retrospectively.

It is not known whether Verizon is the only cell-phone provider to be targeted with such an order, although previous reporting has suggested the NSA has collected cell records from all major mobile networks. It is also unclear from the leaked document whether the three-month order was a one-off, or the latest in a series of similar orders.

The court order appears to explain the numerous cryptic public warnings by two US senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, about the scope of the Obama administration’s surveillance activities.

For roughly two years, the two Democrats have been stridently advising the public that the US government is relying on “secret legal interpretations” to claim surveillance powers so broad that the American public would be “stunned” to learn of the kind of domestic spying being conducted.

Because those activities are classified, the senators, both members of the Senate intelligence committee, have been prevented from specifying which domestic surveillance programs they find so alarming. But the information they have been able to disclose in their public warnings perfectly tracks both the specific law cited by the April 25 court order as well as the vast scope of record-gathering it authorized.

Julian Sanchez, a surveillance expert with the Cato Institute, explained: “We’ve certainly seen the government increasingly strain the bounds of ‘relevance’ to collect large numbers of records at once – everyone at one or two degrees of separation from a target – but vacuuming all metadata up indiscriminately would be an extraordinary repudiation of any pretence of constraint or particularized suspicion.” The April order requested by the FBI and NSA does precisely that.

The law on which the order explicitly relies is the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act, 50 USC section 1861. That is the provision which Wyden and Udall have repeatedly cited when warning the public of what they believe is the Obama administration’s extreme interpretation of the law to engage in excessive domestic surveillance.

In a letter to attorney general Eric Holder last year, they argued that “there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows.”

“We believe,” they wrote, “that most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted” the “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.

Privacy advocates have long warned that allowing the government to collect and store unlimited “metadata” is a highly invasive form of surveillance of citizens’ communications activities. Those records enable the government to know the identity of every person with whom an individual communicates electronically, how long they spoke, and their location at the time of the communication.

Such metadata is what the US government has long attempted to obtain in order to discover an individual’s network of associations and communication patterns. The request for the bulk collection of all Verizon domestic telephone records indicates that the agency is continuing some version of the data-mining program begun by the Bush administration in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack.

The NSA, as part of a program secretly authorized by President Bush on 4 October 2001, implemented a bulk collection program of domestic telephone, internet and email records. A furore erupted in 2006 when USA Today reported that the NSA had “been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth” and was “using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity.” Until now, there has been no indication that the Obama administration implemented a similar program.

These recent events reflect how profoundly the NSA’s mission has transformed from an agency exclusively devoted to foreign intelligence gathering, into one that focuses increasingly on domestic communications. A 30-year employee of the NSA, William Binney, resigned from the agency shortly after 9/11 in protest at the agency’s focus on domestic activities.

In the mid-1970s, Congress, for the first time, investigated the surveillance activities of the US government. Back then, the mandate of the NSA was that it would never direct its surveillance apparatus domestically.

At the conclusion of that investigation, Frank Church, the Democratic senator from Idaho who chaired the investigative committee, warned: “The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter.”

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Related videos:

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Holder Refuses To Answer If DOJ Monitored Phones From Members Of Congress – Weasel Zippers

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Flashback… Obama: We Will Not Monitor Citizens, Violate Civil Liberties In The Name of National Security – Breitbart

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Are Obama voters stupid?

Let me put it this way. They KNEW about the high unemployment numbers, especially among minorities, and young voters, yet, they voted for Obama anyway. I would say that is, if not stupid, at least unwise

Obama supporters continue to suffer the most in the latest jobs report. Blacks, Hispanics and young adults suffer the most under this administration.

The national unemployment rate is 7.8% (not counting the millions who dropped out of the market.)

The Herald Online reported:

  • The overall unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds for December 2012 is 11.5 percent (NSA).
  • The unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African-Americans for December 2012 is22.1 percent (NSA); the unemployment rate for 18-29 year old Hispanics for December 2012 is 12.2 percent (NSA); and the unemployment rate for 18–29 year old women for December 2012 is 10.4 percent (NSA).
  • The declining labor force participation rate has created an additional 1.7 million young adults that are not counted as “unemployed” by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs.
  • If the labor force participation rate were factored into the 18-29 unemployment calculations, the actual Millennial unemployment rate would rise to 16.3 percent (NSA).

Simply unbelievable