Civil Freedoms Under Threat

  • A look at America’s convoluted web of terror watch list

    Source: Buzz Feed News. The massive network of terror watch lists and databases involved in tracking potential threats across the globe now includes tens of thousands of names, the vast majority of which belong to people who likely have no idea they’ve been flagged. But the extensive surveillance apparatus, while allowing authorities to track potential threats, has also proven to be a nightmare for the extremely small percentage of those who find out they are on a watch list, and then try to get off it.

  • U.S. mass surveillance has no record of thwarting large terror attacks, regardless of snowden leaks

    Source: The Intercept. Despite the intelligence community’s attempts to blame NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for the tragic attacks in Paris on Friday, the NSA’s mass surveillance programs do not have a track record — before or after Snowden — of identifying or thwarting actual large-scale terrorist plots. CIA Director John Brennan asserted on Monday that “many of these terrorist operations are uncovered and thwarted before they’re able to be carried out,” and lamented the post-Snowden “handwringing” that has made that job more difficult. But the reason there haven’t been any large-scale terror attacks by ISIS in the U.S. is not because they were averted by the intelligence community, but because — with the possible exception of one that was foiled by local police — none were actually planned.

  • The Constitution can’t defend you from predictive policing — here’s why

    Source: Tech Mic. Crime mapping has been around for decades, but a new class of products peddled by Silicon Valley-style startups claims to forecast where crime will happen, and when. So if police are told that the very specific area you’re walking through or living in is prime territory for a particular crime, the question is: If the police can predict crime, can they detain you before you’ve done anything wrong? The Fourth Amendment was never meant to deal with pre-crime mapping. Reasonable suspicion, which allows police to stop suspects and make brief detentions, isn’t a hard science. It exists in the amorphous space before the probable cause needed to actually arrest or search someone.

  • FBI spy planes flew 10 times over Freddie Gray protests: documents

    Source: Reuters. The FBI deployed at least 10 flights of surveillance planes equipped with advanced aerial surveillance technology, including infrared and night-vision cameras, to monitor the Baltimore riots earlier this year, according to government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union. The flights, totaling more than 36 hours and involving at least two planes, occurred over Baltimore from April 29 to May 3, showed the flight logs provided to the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act.

  • Over 16,000 alleged terrorists believed dead, yet many remain watchlisted

    Source: The Intercept. Even death won’t get you off the U.S. terrorism watchlist. As of last July, over 3,500 suspected terrorists included in the U.S. government’s central terror database were “confirmed dead” and another 13,000 were “reportedly dead,” yet many of their names continued to be actively monitored in databases like the no-fly list, according to an intelligence assessment prepared by the Department of Homeland Security in August of this year. Among the central complaints about the watchlists is that there is no reliable way to determine whether non-terrorists are being unfairly included. This new document demonstrates that the government looks at the problem from the opposite perspective: Officials are loath to take anyone off the list, even if they are dead.

  • Trevor Aaronson – TERROR FACTORY

    NCPCF Event: Trevor Aaronson – TERROR FACTORY. Terror Aaronson, author of “Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism” spoke at First United Church of Tampa, October 10, 2015. The FBI is responsible for more terrorism plots in the United States than any other organization.” The event was sponsored by The National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms and the Social Action Committee of the church.

  • Nearly everyone dislikes CISA, so Congress will make it law

    Source: Info World. After spending months mired in the Senate, the latest incarnation of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) advanced to the floor this week and could face a vote as early as next week. The move to pass the CISPA rehash — which the Obama administration has indicated it will sign — comes despite mounting opposition from technology companies, security experts, and privacy advocates. Although CISA is branded a cyber security bill, it does nothing to actually improve the effectiveness of security systems. It’s concerned instead with increasing the amount of information that corporations share with government and protecting those companies from liability for violating customers’ privacy.

  • Police citing “terrorism” to buy stingrays used only for ordinary crimes

    Source: ACLU. State police in Michigan have been secretly using hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cell site simulator equipment to locate and track cell phones since at least 2006, according to records obtained by the ACLU and ACLU of Michigan. And although the agency justified its initial purchase of the surveillance gear as “vital to the war on terrorism,” the records show that the department used its cell site simulators in 128 run-of-the-mill investigations last year—not a single one of which was for terrorism. The records also highlight the continuing problem of excessive secrecy about use of this invasive tracking equipment.

  • Beyond the Patriot Act: The most harmful state policy enacted in the wake of 9/11

    Source: Truthout. Perhaps the most harmful state policy implemented in the wake of 9/11 is the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). Under the rule, nonimmigrant males, 16 years and older, from specific countries had to report to immigration authorities upon arrival; 30 days after arrival; every 12 months after arrival; upon events such as a change of address, employment or school; and upon departure from the United States. Individuals who did not comply with NSEERS were placed into a database that could be shared with local law enforcement and were at risk of being apprehended at a later point. While the program may seem like an important mechanism to monitor who enters the United States, NSEERS was actually applied to nonimmigrants from only 25 countries: almost all have majority-Muslim or significant Muslim populations. As soon as the first round of registration began, reports of differential treatment from region to region emerged, with some striking examples of mistreatment and improper interrogation.

  • Microsoft gave NSA access to encrypted messages including Skype, says Snowden

    Source: Yahoo News. Tech firm Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages sent over Outlook and Skype, according to whistleblower Edward Snowden. According to leaked internal memos given to The Guardian, the U.S. government’s National Security Agency (NSA) worked with Microsoft in order to enable them to read personal messages sent over Skype as well as Outlook email, and its predecessor Hotmail. Microsoft also gave the NSA access to its increasingly popular SkyDrive cloud storage service, according to the reports.