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Government Surveillance

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Imagine this scenario: you’ve occupied an office for eight years and now you’re about to move out. You know who's going to move in and, by reputation, he’s a fellow with a minimal ability to control himself who might conceivably be a danger to others. So here’s one thing you undoubtedly wouldn’t do: leave a... Read More
FBI Director James Comey got Hillary off the hook but wants to put you on it. He is pushing hard for warrantless access to all of your Internet activity. Comey, who would have fit in perfectly with Hitler’s Gestapo, tells Congress that the United States is not safe unless the FBI knows when every American... Read More
Three recent stories regarding three government agencies — the IRS, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — show why we should oppose big government for practical, as well as philosophical, reasons.In recent months, many Americans have missed their flights because of longer-than-usual TSA security lines. In typical DC fashion,... Read More
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Police Nationwide Are Secretly Exploiting Intrusive Technologies With the Feds’ Complicity
Can’t you see the writing on the touchscreen? A techno-utopia is upon us. We’ve gone from smartphones at the turn of the twenty-first century to smart fridges and smart cars. The revolutionary changes to our everyday life will no doubt keep barreling along. By 2018, so predicts Gartner, an information technology research and advisory company,... Read More
The so-called “Panama Papers” which are presented by the world’s corporate media as some kind of super-mega-uber-Wikileaks are simply the latest US strategic PSYOP. Of course, no hard proof of that will ever materialize, but take a look at this pretty good summary of the leak so far: The source: an anonymous leaker who has... Read More
The revelation that an Israeli firm cracked the iPhone raises questions about state-corporate espionage
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) court battle with Apple over the security system in place on iPhones appears to be over. But some experts in the communications security community are expressing concern because of the Bureau’s unwillingness to reveal what exactly occurred to end the standoff. According to government sources speaking both on and... Read More
It was not long after last week’s horrifying bombings in Brussels that the so-called security experts were out warning that Europeans must give up more of their liberty so government can keep them secure from terrorism. I guess people are not supposed to notice that every terrorist attack represents a major government failure and that... Read More
The FBI tells us that its demand for a back door into the iPhone is all about fighting terrorism, and that it is essential to break in just this one time to find out more about the San Bernardino attack last December. But the truth is they had long sought a way to break Apple’s... Read More
"There is nothing new in the realization that the Constitution sometimes insulates the criminality of a few in order to protect the privacy of us all." -- Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016) After the San Bernardino massacre on Dec. 2, 2015, the FBI lawfully acquired the cellphone of one of the killers and persuaded a federal... Read More
Letting the government bypass iPhone security measures won't stop terrorists—or make you safer
The question of how to balance government surveillance with individual privacy is really quite simple. On one side the government believes that the investigation of someone who is either planning or has actually carried out a crime should be without any conditions, that all evidence potentially relating to the event should be accessible to law... Read More
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A New Year's Wish
“Terrorism” might well be the word one encounters most in the international media. The reaction to recent incidents has been hysterical coupled with demands for an apocalyptic violent response. At this point with the old year ending and the new one about to begin, it would perhaps be fruitful to examine both the reality of... Read More
Judging by his prime-time speech last week, the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency will be marked by increased militarism abroad and authoritarianism at home. The centerpiece of the president’s speech was his demand for a new law forbidding anyone on the federal government’s terrorist watch list from purchasing a firearm. There has never been... Read More
If you were looking for a needle in a haystack, simple logic would tell you that the smaller the haystack the likelier you are to find the needle. Except for the government. Since Edward Snowden revealed the federal government's unlawful and unconstitutional use of federal statutes to justify spying on all in America all the... Read More
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“HEY, it’s me, Salah Abdeslam. Did you see the attacks across Paris? Bismillah, may we have many more like them. Brothers Brahim Abdeslam, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, myself and others pulled it off. I’m still in Paris. I need a ride back to Brussels. Come get me.” After executing 130 people in Paris, Nov. 13, and maiming... Read More
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A few cheering thoughts on terrorism. This column specializes in cheering thoughts. Terrorism by Moslems in America and Europe cannot be stopped. If attacks do not occur, it will be because nobody tried very hard. Stopping them would require excluding Moslems, deporting them, or controlling them by totalitarian methods. Or, improbably, minding our own business... Read More
In an effort to draw attention away from the intelligence failures that permitted the attacks of 9/11 and create the impression that it was doing something -- anything -- to avoid a repeat, the federal government tampered seriously with freedoms expressly guaranteed in the Constitution. Its principal target was the right to privacy, which is... Read More
The tragedy in Paris last Friday has regrettably been employed as a catalyst for renewed calls by governments in western Europe and even in the United States for more curtailment of personal liberties. Those who accept the trade of liberty for safety have argued in favor of less liberty. They want government to have more... Read More
The Paris attack is playing out as I expected. The French government is attacking French civil liberty with legislation similar to the US PATRIOT Act. Readers in France have informed me that 84% of the French people, according to a poll, are content to be spied upon as long as it keeps them safe. This... Read More
The “war on terror” was a hoax. Americans were deceived by policymakers, who are pursuing a hegemonic agenda. The American people were too trusting and too gullible and, consequently, Americans were easily betrayed by Washington and by the presstitute media. The consequences of the deceit, gullibility, and betrayal are horrendous for Americans, for millions of... Read More
John Kiriakou is an American patriot who informed us of the criminal behavior of illegal and immoral US “cloak and dagger” operations that were bringing dishonor to our country. His reward was to be called a “traitor” by the idiot conservative Republicans and sentenced to prison by the corrupt US government. Manning revealed US war... Read More
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How to Censor Yourself Before the Government Even Has the Chance
It was August 2002. My partner Jan Adams and I were just beginning our annual pilgrimage to Massachusetts to visit my father and stepmother. At the check-in line at San Francisco International Airport, we handed over our driver’s licenses and waited for the airline ticket agent to find our flight and reservation. Suddenly, she got... Read More
The dust-up between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul over presidential fidelity to the Constitution -- particularly the Fourth Amendment -- was the most illuminating two minutes of the Republican debate last week. It is a well-regarded historical truism that the Fourth Amendment was written by victims of government snooping, the... Read More
Imagine that you’re in the FBI and you receive a tip -- or more likely, pick up information through the kind of mass surveillance in which the national security state now specializes. In a series of tweets, a young man has expressed sympathy for the Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda, or another terrorist group or cause.... Read More
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Last week, Retired General Wesley Clark, who was NATO commander during the US bombing of Serbia, proposed that “disloyal Americans” be sent to internment camps for the “duration of the conflict.” Discussing the recent military base shootings in Chattanooga, TN, in which five US service members were killed, Clark recalled the internment of American citizens... Read More
There’s been so much dramatic news these days – from Greece’s miseries to Iran, China from blowhard Donald Trump – that the shocking story of how America’s National Security Agency has been spying on German and French leadership has gone almost unnoticed. Last year, it was revealed that the NSA had intercepted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s... Read More
Last week, Republicans and Democrats in Congress joined President Barack Obama in congratulating themselves for taming the National Security Agency’s voracious appetite for spying. By permitting one section of the Patriot Act to expire and by replacing it with the USA Freedom Act, the federal government is taking credit for taming beasts of its own... Read More
In their continuous efforts to create the impression that the government is doing something to keep Americans safe, politicians in Washington have misled and lied to the public. They have violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution. They have created a false sense of security. And they have dispatched and re-dispatched 60,000 federal agents to... Read More
The Patriot Act has a bad pedigree and an evil history. In the fearful days immediately following 9/11, the Department of Justice quickly sent draft legislation to Congress that, if enacted, would have permitted federal agents to violate their oaths to uphold the Constitution by writing their own search warrants. The draft subsequently was revealed... Read More
A decision last week about NSA spying by a panel of judges on the United States Court of Appeals in New York City sent shock waves through the government. The court ruled that a section of the Patriot Act that is due to expire at the end of this month and on which the government... Read More
This week the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NSA’s metadata collection program was not authorized in US law. The PATRIOT Act, under which the program began, was too vague, the court found. But the truth is the Act was intended to be vague so that the government could interpret it in the... Read More
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If you plan to visit a college campus this month, don’t be surprised if you see signs and placards encouraging you to “Restore the Fourth.” Restore the Fourth is not about an athletic event or a holiday; it is about human freedom. The reference to “the Fourth” is to the Fourth Amendment, and it is... Read More
Does the FBI manifest fidelity, bravery and integrity, or does it cut constitutional corners in order to incriminate? Can the FBI cut the cable television lines to your house and then show up pretending to be the cable guy and install listening devices? Can FBI agents and technicians testify falsely and cause the innocent to... Read More
John W. Whitehead is a constitutional attorney. As head of the Rutherford Institute he is actively involved in defending our civil liberties. Being actively involved in legal cases, he experiences first hand the transformation of law from a shield of the American people into a weapon in the hands of the government. American civil liberty... Read More
Credit: Antiwar.com
Google’s Boycott Campaign Against War Photography and Alternative Media
What happens when a dynamic company, started by a couple of idealistic friends in grad school, succeeds so wildly that it becomes a mega-corporation that pervades the lives of hundreds of millions? In imperial America, it would seem, it eventually becomes corrupted, even captured. Tragically, that seems to be the unfolding story of Google. By... Read More
Here is a short pop quiz. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress earlier this month about the parameters of the secret negotiations between the United States and Iran over nuclear weapons and economic sanctions, how did he know what the negotiators were considering? Israel is not a party to those negotiations, yet the... Read More
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1% Elections, The Privatization of the State, a Fourth Branch of Government, and the Demobilization of "We the People"
Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that, and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new... Read More
What if the current massive spying on Americans began with an innocent secret executive order signed by President Reagan in 1986? What if Reagan contemplated that he was only authorizing American spies to spy on foreign spies unlawfully present in the U.S.? What if Reagan knew and respected the history of the Fourth Amendment? What... Read More
Why the Cure Will Be Worse Than the Disease
The shadow of a new threat seems to be darkening the national security landscape: the lone-wolf terrorist. “The lone wolf is the new nightmare,” wrote Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer recently, and the conservative pundit wasn’t alone in thinking so. “I really see [lone wolves] as being a bigger threat than al-Qaeda, or the Islamic... Read More
While the Western world was watching and grieving over the slaughter in Paris last week, and my colleagues in the media were fomenting a meaningless debate about whether President Obama should have gone to Paris to participate in a televised parade, the feds took advantage of that diversion to reveal even more incursions into our... Read More
The Tao of Washington
When it comes to the national security state, our capital has become a thought-free zone. The airlessness of the place, the unwillingness of leading players in the corridors of power to explore new ways of approaching crucial problems is right there in plain sight, yet remarkably unnoticed. Consider this the Tao of Washington. Last week,... Read More
It will not shock readers to hear that quite often legislation on Capitol Hill is not as advertised. When Congress wants to do something particularly objectionable, they tend give it a fine-sounding name. The PATRIOT Act is perhaps the best-known example. The legislation had been drafted well before 9/11 but was going nowhere. Then the... Read More
Let me tell you my modest post-9/11 dream. One morning, I'll wake up and see a newspaper article that begins something like this: "The FBI is attempting to persuade an obscure regulatory body in Washington to change its rules of engagement in order to curtail the agency's significant powers to hack into and carry out... Read More
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A Shadow Form of National ID
When Wiley Gill opened up, no one was there. Suddenly, two police officers appeared, their guns drawn, yelling, “Chico Police Department.” “I had tunnel vision,” Gill said, “The only thing I could see was their guns.” After telling him to step outside with his hands in the air, the officers lowered their guns and explained.... Read More
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Tom Engelhardt's New Book Tells All!
I have just finished reading Tom Engelhardt’s latest book Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. I will be completely frank – it is a book I would have liked to have written myself. Indeed, I did try to write something like it a couple of years back... Read More
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A TomDispatch Interview With Laura Poitras
Here’s a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! stat from our new age of national security. How many Americans have security clearances? The answer: 5.1 million, a figure that reflects the explosive growth of the national security state in the post-9/11 era. Imagine the kind of system needed just to vet that many people for access... Read More
Earlier this week, FBI Director James Comey gave an interview to "60 Minutes" during which he revealed a flawed understanding of personal freedom. He rightly distinguished what FBI agents do in their investigations of federal crimes from what the NSA does in its intelligence gathering, when the two federal agencies are looking for non-public data.... Read More
The government has cried wolf too many times to be trusted with backdoors into our cell phones
Should America’s law enforcement and the intelligence agencies have the ability to read other people’s mail or listen in on their phone calls? Or, more to the point, since we live in a nation where the rule of law and constitutional liberties allegedly prevail, do they have any legal right to do so given the... Read More
While the political commentators in the nation's capital are wrapped up in the debate over what to do about ISIS, and as one third of the Senate and nearly all members of the House campaign for re-election, the president's spies continue to capture massive amounts of personal information about hundreds of millions of us and... Read More
Keeping tabs on Turkey alone is justification enough for Langley to relax its new rules on targeting Europe
Amidst simultaneous media-driven foreign policy crises dealing with Russia and ISIS, most normally well informed Americans might well be forgiven for missing a recent Associate Press report headlined “CIA halts spying in Europe.” The text somewhat contradicts the headline, as it goes on to describe how the Central Intelligence Agency has issued instructions to its... Read More
Category Classics
Which superpower is more threatened by its “extractive elites”?
How America was neoconned into World War IV
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.