Civil Freedoms Under Threat

  • FBI: We need wiretap-ready Web sites – now

    Source: Cnet. The FBI general counsel’s office has drafted a proposed law that the bureau claims is the best solution: requiring that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly…. In addition … , there are indications that the Federal Communications Commission is considering reinterpreting CALEA to demand that products that allow video or voice chat over the Internet — from Skype to Google Hangouts to Xbox Live — include surveillance backdoors to help the FBI with its “Going Dark” program.

  • Police Warrant Squads Were Used to Monitor Wall Street Protesters, Suspects Say

    Source: New York Times. On Monday, the New York Police Department sent its warrant squads after an unusual set of suspects: people who had old warrants for the lowliest of violations, misconduct too minor, usually, to draw the attention of those squads. But those who were questioned by the warrant squads said the officers had an ulterior motive: gathering intelligence on the Occupy Wall Street protests scheduled for May 1, or May Day.

  • Cleveland won’t renew Occupy group’s permit

    Source: Fox News. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio questioned the timing of the permit revoke, saying it was concerned Jackson’s announcement was an attempt to connect the entire Occupy movement to the bomb plot. “Individuals are responsible for their own actions, not the groups they affiliate with,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman in a statement. “City officials should not be in the business of condemning an entire group of people based on the actions of others.” Bill Dobbs, a spokesman for Occupy in New York, also said the arrests have nothing to do with the Occupy Movement that began last fall. “This incident has nothing to do with Occupy Wall Street, which explicitly stands for non-violence.

  • U.S. Border Patrol Increases Use Of Unmanned Drones For Surveillance

    Source: Huffington Post. [T]he drones deployed in Washington will be 10,000-pound Predator-B unmanned aircraft with 950-mile coverage ranges that can stay in the air for up to 20 hours at a time, border patrol spokesperson Gina Gray told The Associated Press. In the Republican primary, Rick Perry suggested that Predator drones should be used to patrol the Southern border, apparently unaware that the nation’s border patrol agency was already doing just that in his own state.

  • How America came to torture its prisoners

    Source: Slate. Our highest government officials, up to and including President Bush, broke international and U.S. laws banning torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Worse, they made their subordinates in the military and civilian intelligence services break those laws for them.

  • Source: Huffington Post. [T]he no-fly list reportedly contains some 20,000 names, among them about 500 U.S. citizens. As many as 800 changes, such as removing or adding names, are made to the list each day. A much larger terrorism watchlist of a half-million people across the globe that contains the names of those barred from flying also includes individuals subjected to heightened security screenings. Because the no-fly list is classified, no one can be sure whether he or she will be prevented from flying until after arriving at the airport with a purchased ticket. The plaintiffs say they’ve been unfairly denied the convenience of air travel and must spend days on trains and in cars in order to cross the country. Civil libertarians argue that the list withholds the due process rights of travelers. There’s no meaningful way to dispute one’s inclusion on the list and determine if the status is based on mistakes or flawed intelligence.

  • The Rise of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret

    Source: Rolling Stone. One day in late November, an unmanned aerial vehicle lifted off from Shindand Air Base in western Afghanistan, heading 75 miles toward the border with Iran. The drone’s mission: to spy on Tehran’s nuclear program, as well as any insurgent activities the Iranians might be supporting in Afghanistan…. something went wrong. One of the drone’s three data streams failed, and began sending inaccurate information back to the base. Then the signal vanished, and Creech lost all contact with the drone. Today, even after a 10-week investigation by U.S. officials, it’s unclear exactly what happened. Had the Iranians, as they would later claim, hacked the drone and taken it down…? What we do know is that the government lied about who was responsible for the drone.

  • CIA’s Secret Fear: High-Tech Border Checks Will Blow Spies’ Cover

    Source: Wired. The increasing deployment of iris scanners and biometric passports at worldwide airports, hotels and business headquarters, designed to catch terrorists and criminals, are playing havoc with operations that require CIA spies to travel under false identities.

  • US Pentagon Releases Training Manual Used As Basis For Bush’s Torture Program

    Source: Eurasia Review. [The manual’s disastrous results included] the sickening torture of individuals in a global web of torture prisons run by the CIA; no intelligence that could not have been obtained by non-coercive means; a staggering waste of the resources of both the CIA and the FBI, as operatives were tied up chasing false leads generated through the use of torture; and a tarnished reputation for the US that has not been cleaned up by President Obama’s ostrich-like refusal to confront the crimes committed by his predecessor. So dark is this period in America’s modern history that in Guantánamo, where 14 of the supposed “high-value detainees” … eventually ended up in September 2006, there has been a blanket ban, since that time, on allowing any of the discussions that have taken place between these men and their lawyers being released to the public, for one reason alone — to prevent any mention of the torture to which these men were subjected from becoming public knowledge.

  • A Primer on Domestic Drones: Legal, Policy, and Privacy Implications

    Source: Forbes. Already a number of civil liberties groups have concluded that watchful eyes in the sky will be privy to intimate details concerning the private lives of everyday Americans. While this conclusion is premature their caution is warranted. However, rather than viewing The FAA Act as a harbinger of privacy invasions to come, it is best viewed as a prudent first step in a public discussion of the role that drones will one day play in the U.S. If the energetic public debate thus far is any indicator, this policy issue will likely land back in the hands of legislators — the only question is whether it will be a soft landing that takes account of a wide range of public views, or a crash landing that tries to dodge accountability.