Security Archives

Perhaps it might be a bit extreme to think that Australia’s government is quite as bad as all that but then again, I can’t begin to say how many stories I’ve seen over the last couple of years that show a definite trend in that direction.  Privacy and freedom of speech is taking hit after hit there (yah, I know, the US isn’t exactly stellar in that regard anymore is it? Thanks mr Bush.).

They’ve taken a lot of steps to make it easier for police and intel people to snoop on just about anybody for any or even no reason.  Freedom of speech is fast becoming a thing of the past and I have no doubt that there’s some government operated “extended stay hotels” that are little more than secret prisons where the incarcerated have little, if any, rights and now there’s a story on an Australian news site with the screaming tittle “Humans ‘will be implanted with microchips'”.

In which there’s a whole lot of talk that’s trying to justify and predict that microchip implants will be required someday.  I have no doubt that’s true.  I also have no intention of ever complying with such a requirement.

Then again, we in the US have the homeland security act, the patriot act, gitmo, warrantless wiretapping, domestic spying, free speech zones, and no doubt a whole lot more on the way.

So I don’t suppose I can actually say for 100% certain if Australia is leading the way or not.  It could well be a three way tie between Britain, Australia and the US.

On a related note (well, sorta): during the recent power failure I was listening to Paul Harvey on the car radio and he popped up with a quote that I just have to share.  I don’t know who it’s attributed to and right now I’m too lazy to look it up but here it is:

If all of the lawyers in the world were laid end to end around the equator

We’d all be better off.

Technorati Tags: Intel, Definite Trend, Equator, Leading The Way, Lawyers, Whole Lot, Freedom Of Speech, Homeland Security, Power Failure, Prisons, Mr Bush, Patriot Act, Free Speech, Regard, Homeland Security Act, Last Days, Gitmo

Privacy At Risk Under Obama?

On Jan 14, Eric Holder, the new attorney general, testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Holder said the Obama administration is going to defend the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that immunizes telecommunications companies from lawsuits over their involvement in the Bush administration’s illegal surveillance of the telephone and Internet communications of ordinary Americans.

This is in spite of the fact that While still a Senator, Obama pledged that he would oppose that bill and intended to filibuster it.  In actuality, he ended up voting for it.  Strange how nobody seems to remember that now.  Then again, it’s not like the Forth Amendment is covered a whole lot in schools these days now is it?  When *I* went to school, the textbooks for American history and Civics classes actually contained not only a lot of study material about he Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they also contained verbatim copies of those documents!  (for that matter, in one high school American history class I heard about, instead of actually teaching American history, this “educator” has the class watching movies all semester!)

Now that he’s President, AT&T, Verizon and the other major telcos can rest assured that they are free to continue providing a steady stream of our communications to the NSA, which will then share that data with whatever other agencies as it sees fit.

Under this legislation the NSA’s reach is very wide and touches almost everything.  Basically it means that the government can conduct intrusive surveillance and never have to tell a court who it’s going to spy on, never have to reveal what phone lines or what email addresses it’s going to monitor, never say where it’s targets are, why it’s doing surveillance on the target in the first place or even if they suspect them of any wrongdoing.

This isn’t the America I grew up in!

I realize that intelligence agencies need to be able to monitor Internet communications and email but they should have to show probable cause, some legitimate justification that the particular American(s) have some link to terrorism.  Then matters need to proceed on the basis of innocent until proven guilty.  Unfortunately, this notion of presumed innocence, something that used to be one of the founding principles of our Constitution, is apparently too old fashioned for President Obama.

The Obama administration’s intent to support the 2008 FISA amendments is going to end up being the ultimate cause of the dismissing of a lot of lawsuits by individual Americans who are understandably eager to know whether they’ve been spied on.

Meanwhile, Obama’s decision to discard the Fourth Amendment is unfortunately supported by the August 2008 ruling by the secret Foreign Intelligence Court of Review which was revealed recently saying in effect that yes, telecommunications companies have to play ball with NSA (and other government intelligence agencies) and continue intercept our phone calls and e-mails.

Of course, this secret court’s isn’t even remotely likely to be revised to give it power to review the government’s now pretty much limitless, warrantless wholesale spying on our communications made possible by the 2008 FISA Amendments Act.  The government can and will continue all this domestic spying without even so much as a single bit of evidence that the American target in question is doing anything to act or plan against national security.

Technorati Tags: obama, secret fisa court, fisa amendment, obama administration, fisa court, forth amendment, nsa, illegal domestic spying, intelligence agencies, warrantless wiretapping, constitution, without evidence, right to privacy, domestic spying, fisa amendment 2008, privacy, president obama, fisa, national security

Warrantless Wiretaps By NSA Targeted Non-Terrorists, Journalists

If anybody ever had any doubt that the NSA, under orders from President Bush, were engaged in a massive illegal warrantless wiretapping scheme they can put those doubts to rest.

On NBC’s “Countdown” with Kieth Olberman Russel Tice, a former analyst for the NSA reveals that the Bush administration’s illegal spying campaign had a lot more going on than most people suspected or wanted to believe.

He reveals that the Bush administration specifically targeted “non-terrorist” groups for special surveillance and that journalists were specifically targeted.  Being targeted like this means more than just “they’re watching you”, it means that they are monitoring, recording, digitizing and archiving ALL of your communications.  Every phone call, every email, All of it.

All of this being done without benefit of probable cause, warrant, or even some kind of judicial order.  Every bit of it clearly in violation of the fourth amendment.  Also, when you watch this video, don’t forget that journalists were just one of many groups that were targeted by Bush administration’s illegal domestic spying program run by the NSA.

There are still LOADS of questions to consider about this.  To name just a very few: How many other groups were targeted?  What are those groups?  Will the Obama administration do anything to put a stop to this?  Will anything be done to prosecute those responsible for this?  Will “W” ever have to answer in court or before a Congressional or Senate committee for this?

I certainly would like to see at least some of the people directly responsible on the inside of a prison cell for a very long time.  (being a realistic person however, I’m not gonna hold my breath waiting.)

Technorati Tags: russel tice, kieth olberman, surveillance, terrorists, bush administration, 1984, warrant, exaggerated terrorist threat, phony terrorist threat, digitizing, police state, countdown, nsa, terrorist groups, probable cause, fourth amendment, senate committee, email, domestic spying program, journalists, president bush, big brother, warrantless wiretaps, whistleblower, orwell, nbc

Internet Danger To Kids Exaggerated

In the last couple of years there’s been a LOT of hype about how dangerous it is to let your kids on the Internet.  Now while I DO agree that children need to have their internet activity monitored by their parents, I’ve never believed that there’s a predator behind every chat message, MySpace page or Facebook profile the way the mainstream media and a lot of government types have tried their best to portray it.

Frankly, they face more risk from spam emails pushing diet pills, viagra and other pharmaceutical “solutions” that kids with self image problems might be tempted to try using as a way to feel better about themselves.

There’s a recent NYTimes article that looks at this issue.  One of the first things they point out is really very telling I think.

A task force created by 49 state attorneys general to look into the problem of sexual solicitation of children online has concluded that there really is not a significant problem.

Contrary to what you might think from watching things like “to catch a predator”, I’m quite sure that while there are a lot of predators out there, there isn’t nearly as many as programs like that can lead you to believe.

The big problem with the whole thing is that it’s an emotionally charged issue.  Politicians and others can and have managed to foist a lot of crap on us in the name of “protecting the children”.  Most of which has less to do with protecting children than it does with giving the government more ability to monitor more individual citizens more closely and all the time.

Technorati Tags: out of portion, protecting children, sexual solicitation, politicians, exaggerated danger, government, hype, predator, mainstream media, task Force, monitor internet activity, self image, internet danger, crap, pharmaceutical solutions, predators, state attorneys

NYPD Stops And Frisks 500,000 In 2008

That’s right. It seems that in 2008, the NYPD’s tendency to stop, question and frisk people for one reason or another, that this has meant half a million people or more.

The rate that this is increasing doesn’t look like any kind of linear motion, it seems a lot closer to being nearly exponential at times.

What’s really “special” about this is two details that strike me as more than a bit tellig.

1. Of that number, roughly 80% of the people stopped were black or Hispanic and that these people were much more likely to have physical force used on them in the process.

2. According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, “of the cumulative number of stops made since 2005, only 2.6 percent resulted in the discovery of a weapon.”

Seems to me that when you’re getting results that low, something is genuinely out of whack with your choice of people to stop.

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