Private Surveillance Is a Lethal Weapon Anybody Can Buy: Is it too late to rein it in?
Sharon Weinberger, The New York Times, July 19, 2019
. . . One thing is clear: The private surveillance industry is growing. A firm that creates a catalog of these technologies, once named the “Little Black Book of Electronic Surveillance,” changed the name in 2016 to the “Big BlackBook.” It had doubled in size in its first three years. The 2017 edition includes 150 vendors.
The genesis of this global spy bazaar can be traced back to the frenetic weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, when Congress rushed through the Patriot Act, a law that vastly expanded the American government’s wiretapping authorities. In the process, lawmakers inadvertently created a market for companies interested in providing services and technologies to collect and analyze the new trove of data. . . .
Activists, Amnesty International, Azerbaijan, Big Black Book of Electronic Surveillance, Cell Phones, Citizen Lab, Congress, Contractors, Cybersecurity, DarkMatter, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Digital Rights, Drones, Edward Snowden, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Ethiopia, European Union, Exports, Federal, FinSpy, FlexiSPY, Gamma Group, Guardian, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Intelligence Agencies, Internet, Journalists, Israel, Law, Law Enforcement, "Lawful Interception", Luta Security, National Security Agency, New York Times, NSO Group, Patriot Act, Prism, Privacy, Privacy International, Saudi Arabia, Security, State Department, Spyware, Surveillance, Surveillance Industry (Private), Surveillance (Private), Surveillance Technology, Syria, Telephones, TeleStrategies, Terrorism, Unit 8200, Uzbekistan, Vans,"Voice Print", Wassenaar Arrangement, Weapons, "Wiretappers Ball", Wiretapping, WiSpear
America is fueling our age of impunity. Just look at Yemen: The US has the power to set a global standard on international human rights. Unfortunately, it is retreating from our global rules-based system
The Guardian Fri 5 Apr 2019 08.47 EDT
The promise by Donald Trump to veto the bipartisan Congressional War Powers Resolution on Yemen is significant in and of itself. The decision is rightly drawing significant fire. The war in Yemen is a humanitarian disaster and a strategic failure, with precisely the forces the Administration says it opposes - Iran, jihadists, separatists - gaining ground on the back of the bankrupt Saudi-led war strategy.
However, there is a wider, ugly picture, beyond Yemen. It can be summarized as an Age of Impunity: where war crimes go unpunished and the laws of war become optional. This is not solely the responsibility of the United States, but the US has the power and position to set a global standard, and when it fails to do so the effects are felt worldwide, by innocent civilians feeling the brunt of lawless military tactics and humanitarian aid workers risking life and limb as they go about their work. . . .
Chemical Weapons, Civilians, Congress, Congressional War Powers Resolution on Yemen, Donald Trump, Global, Human Rights, Law, War Crimes, Yemen
N.S.A. Purges Hundreds of Millions of Call and Text Records
The New York Times, Charlie Savage, June 29, 2018
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has purged hundreds of millions of records logging phone calls and texts that it had gathered from American telecommunications companies since 2015, the agency has disclosed. It had realized that its database was contaminated with some files the agency had no authority to receive.
The agency began destroying the records on May 23, it said in a statement. Officials had discovered “technical irregularities” this year in its collection from phone companies of so-called call record details, or metadata showing who called or texted whom and when, but not what they said.
The agency had collected the data from a system it created under the USA Freedom Act. Congress enacted that law in 2015 to end and replace a once-secret program that had systematically collected Americans’ domestic calling records in bulk. The National Security Agency uses the data to analyze social links between people in a hunt for hidden associates of known terrorism suspects. . . .
Congress, Edward Snowden, Federal, George W. Bush Administration, National Security Agency, New York Times, Patriot Act, Privacy, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Stellarwind, Surveillance, USA Freedom Act
The New Yorker February 26, 2017
Of all the liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the most underrated by far is the one that gives us the right to complain to our elected officials. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly: all of these are far more widely known, legislated, and litigated than the right to—as the founders rather tactfully put it—“petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” . . .
Congress, Federal, Petitioning
King of the Towels: The Torture and Murder of Pedro Albizu Campos
Latino Rebels Nelson A. Denis MAR 10, 2015 11:12 AM
There is a most unusual TV interview of Gov. Luis Muñoz Marín on YouTube. The interview occurred in March 1954, just after the Nationalist attack on U.S. Congress that was led by Lolita Lebrón. (NOTE: This video was shared on Facebook by the Fundación Luis Muñoz Marín in 2013.)
During that time, Muñoz Marín had rushed up to Washington, D.C. to assure the world that he (and the rest of Puerto Rico) did not condone the actions of these “lunatics, fanatics, fascists and Communists.” This is how Muñoz Marín described the Nationalists to The New York Times, prior to the TV interview.
The interview was an installment of Washington Merry Go Round, which was the 1950s equivalent of today’s 60 Minutes, Meet the Press or Face the Nation. It was moderated by Drew Pearson, the top political columnist of that era. For nearly 10 minutes, Muñoz Marín filled America with lies about Pedro Albizu Campos and the Nationalist movement in Puerto Rico.
The most shocking moment occurred from 7:15 to 8:45—a 90-second segment where he described Albizu Campos as a lunatic who constantly wrapped himself in cold wet towels, in order to protect himself from “mysterious machines throwing nuclear rays at him from a great distance.”
On national TV, Muñoz Marín and Pearson scoffed at this madman from Puerto Rico. The implicit message was that anyone who believed in the independence of Puerto Rico was as crazy as Albizu Campos.
But Albizu Campos was not crazy.
He was, in fact, being subjected to lethal TBI (Total Body Irradiation) in his prison cell. This radiation continued for several years, until it finally killed him. . . .
Congress, Eisenhower Administration, Ethics, Federal, Human Experimentation, Latino Rebels, Medical, Murder, Nuclear Radiation, Prisoners, Psychiatritic Abuse, Puerto Rican Independence Movement, Puerto Rico, Torture, Total Body Irradiation
Sunshine Week: The Pathetic Story of One Request for Total Info Awareness
Wired, Ryan Singel, 03.13.07 01:23 PM
This week is Sunshine Week, an open government initiative sponsored by American Society of Newspaper Editors, that celebrates and advocates for more transparency in American government, especially as it relates to official requests for documents from government agencies. So this might be a good time to talk about my long-standing Freedom of Information Act request that the government has stymied, lost and bounced from component to component.
In the fall of 2002, a government plan to root around in every conceivable database – public or private – on Americans' daily lives to find possible terrorists began gathering attention from journalists. The research project, known as Total Information Awareness, was spearheaded by Adm. John Poindexter of Iran-Contra fame and was eventually largely killed off by Congress (portions of the effort went into the Pentagon's black budget and was allowed to be developed so long as only foreigners were targeted by the system).
But prior to that, the program was tested using some interesting data sets. For example, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, told Congress that it had tested some data-mining tools on information gleaned during the war in Afghanistan. Darpa also said that it had created an entire fake world of data – 10 million fake people buying fake things with fake credit cards, fake people emailing other fake people, etc. In a later interview, Poindexter called this "Vanilla World." Into this morass of data, Darpa would insert fake "red teams" – fake terrorists plotting with other fake terrorists for some nefarious fake terrorist attack.
Fascinating. So on July 8, 2003, I used the Freedom of Information Act to ask for documents about the testing and for documents about privacy protections in TIA. Though I've filed many FOIAs in my life, little did I know what I was getting into by asking Darpa to turn over information... . . .
Congress, DARPA, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Federal, Freedom of Information Act Requests, Government Transparency, Total Information Awareness System, Wired
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