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Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 04:07 AM   #1
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Who's watching the watchers?

Picking up justin's question here:
http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...9555#msg259555

I'll just respond personally to justin who said he was "paranoid about saying stuff on the Internet". My mom (78) [oops! now they'll know who she is!!] has several times warned me on the phone to "watch out" what I e-mail and say on the phone to RWsis (right-wing sis; political topics more or less the tenor of what I've posted here). It's pretty funny since she's been all hot under the collar since GHWB's "new world order".. yet she votes R every time! I tell her "well, quit voting for these people, then..!" ;-)

Quote:
I'd be curious to know how you know you are monitored and to what extent you are monitored.
.. the question is more properly put: "to what extent are you NOT monitored?"


Chapter 1: Financial Transactions

Let's start in the 1970s when as an oldish sprat my parents began talking to me about "adult" financial matters. They told me that the government tracked every bank transaction of $10k or more. Certain years my mom would gift me the amount roughly up to the gift tax exemption (used to be $10k even back when; now adjusts up), but scrupulously write multiple checks with different dates, to avoid "red flags".

In 2000 I move to Italy and obviously need to transfer $ between there and here. To do so I need a special number (actually it's a code of letters) that's alternately called a SWIFT code or SWIFT number. I know what this is for. In fact, if I HADn't known what it was for, I'dve soon gotten suspicious, since it was actually a blasted hard number to come across, at least in identifying my Italian bank. The Italians professed ignorance; the US broker needed the number and would not release funds without it; neither could help. I finally found it on an obscure web page of some wierd high-level commercial banking site. I found later that a lot of expats had run into the same problem. Fortunately 7 years have passed and you now can go here to research the codes:
http://www.swift.com/biconline/index...lay_freesearch

At www.swift.com, no less! Can't get much more secret than that!


Let's take a look, shall we? .. at the right-wing response to this --to them-- "revelation" (again, of which "average jane" me was completely aware):

The Weekly Standard (aka home of Bill Kristol -- I see a lot of you get your "general news" from FOX, so heads up here!):

Quote:
..the Times has published a front-page article disclosing a highly classified U.S. intelligence program that successfully penetrated the international bank transactions of al Qaeda terrorists.
http://weeklystandard.com/Content/Pu...2/385jqmfk.asp

Quote:
BY NOW IT'S UNDENIABLE: The New York Times is a national security threat. So drunk is it on its own power and so antagonistic to the Bush administration that it will expose every classified antiterror program it finds out about, no matter how legal the program, how carefully crafted to safeguard civil liberties, or how vital to protecting American lives.

The Times's latest revelation of a national security secret appeared on last Friday's front page--where no al Qaeda operative could possibly miss it. Under the deliberately sensational headline, "Bank Data Sifted in Secret by U.S. to Block Terror," the Times blows the cover on a highly targeted program to locate terrorist financing networks. .. .The administration strongly urged the New York Times not to expose this classified program, and for good reason.
http://weeklystandard.com/Content/Pu...2/386syqsr.asp

Here's a funny one from Powerline inciting some kind of spontaneous public rioting, lynching, or other violence :
Quote:
The Times and its likeminded media colleagues will undoubtedly continue to undermine and betray the national security of the United States until they are taught that they are subject to the same laws that govern the conduct of ordinary citizens, or until an enraged citizenry decides, like Bill Keller, to take the law into its own hands and express its disagreement some other way.
http://powerlineblog.com/archives/014482.php

Again, this is just over the SWIFT thing. The Times has "blown" the program! AHAAHAHHAAAA..
The one that my suburban parents and I had assumed was common knowledge for thirty (30) years!

We know she's nuts, but you can't leave out Ms. Coulter:
Quote:
Coulter declared that the Times had done "something that could have gotten them executed, certainly did get the Rosenbergs executed." As Media Matters had earlier noted, in the July 12 edition of her nationally syndicated column, Coulter wrote that if Times executive editor Bill Keller were convicted of treason, "I prefer a firing squad, but I'm open to a debate on the method of execution."
Didn't watch the US telly.. but apparently this "treason"/"prosecution"/"execution" meme was making the rounds on video screens near you. Nor were pundits and "fellow journalists" the only voices in the chorus:

Quote:
This morning, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) argued that the NYT reporters, editors, and publishers responsible for that story should be charged under the Espionage Act, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Quote:
[N]o one elected the New York Times to do anything. And the New York Times is putting its own arrogant elitest left wing agenda before the interests of the American people, and I’m calling on the Attorney General to begin a criminal investigation and prosecution of the New York Times — its reporters, the editors who worked on this, and the publisher. We’re in a time of war, Chris, and what they’ve done has violated the Espionage Act, the COMINT act.
http://thinkprogress.org/2006/06/25/king-espionage/


Anyway, the gist of it is that the US gov. knows and cares every time I make transaction to my Italian bank. If I make a large xfer the wire agent quizzes me on the whys and wherefores.. I need to explain the purpose of the funds and I assume not for the gossipy benefit of the wire agent; he writes it down and somebody tells someone, somewhere). Added bonus: I'm not allowed to make recurring automatic transfers. I have to call up (prob. traced) and make a special request each time. I asked about this and it was explained to me that this was "for my security" (see my other post about "enhanced services").

Now the question I ask myself about these goings-on is: what do people actually remember about ANY of the actual reporting about the SWIFT program (actually run by a private Belgian firm)? If they remember anything at all they're unlikely to remember that everything that was reported was, in fact, in the public domain: nothing "classified" at all. What I'd assume they remember most is that "the NYT editors are traitors and should be hung." I know whose work that is (cough-Bill KristolandtheWhiteHouse).

Now it's not enough that banks are required to report these transactions; I have to file a form TD F 90-22.1 each year, with ALL my bank information, including account number and average balance (tier). What's interesting about this is that it gets sent to Treasury (not the IRS) and the penalties for not filing are as follows:

Quote:
The Secretary of the Treasury may impose a civil penalty on any person who willfully violates this reporting requirement. The civil penalty is the amount of the transaction or the value of the account, up to a maximum of $100,000; the minimum amount of the penalty is $25,000.

In addition, any person who willfully violates this reporting requirement is subject to a criminal penalty. The criminal penalty is a fine of not more than $250,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years (or both); if the violation is part of a pattern of illegal activity, the maximum amount of the fine is increased to $500,000 and the maximum length of imprisonment is increased to 10 years.
Now thankfully I am not aware of penalties for garden-variety income tax evasion, but I would be surprised indeed if they reached these levels. Ok.. that's the law, you say. Well get this: new provisions were added that provide for a civil penalty of $10,000 "without regard to willfullness". This I just came across and it has me fairly disturbed since last year I sent the form in about a month late (it is due in June rather than April and I just plain forgot). "Without regard for willfullness"! My regular taxes I e-file and don't mind doing so; since I live overseas I actually prefer it. This form I have to send through the Italian postal system with my SS#, DOB and all bank info including acct. #.

The Orwellian name of the statute that requires I do this is the "Bank Secrecy Act" (!)

I won't even bother getting into all the credit- and debit-card xactions that I have no doubt the gov't. either has or soon will have (see succeeding chapters as I post them).
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 04:15 AM   #2
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Chapter Two: E-mails and phone calls

In December 2006 FOX (just to show I'm not biased) reported the following:
Quote:
WASHINGTON — If you use e-mail, instant messaging or a BlackBerry at work — smile! Your company is recording everything you do, thanks to new federal rules that go into effect Friday.
...
In addition to e-mail, companies will need to know about things more difficult to track, like digital photos of work sites on employee cell phones and information on removable memory cards, he said.
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,233559,00.html

Now.. you can say, as some have, that the government "can't" collect everyone's e-mails.. that this would somehow be impossible. Yet firms are required, today, to be collecting all work-related e-mails and more; if they collectively have the capacity, why would one think the gov. wouldn't?

Here is a map of who currently "owns" the Internet (routers):
http://infosthetics.com/archives/200...ernet_map.html
The original "backbone" originated with DARPA and then appears to have been mostly handed off to the National Science Foundation (who is currently working on the next, faster, generation of routers). I don't know enough about the subject to say whether merely being connected would allow an agency like DARPA or the NSA to skim off and archive e-mails for perusal at their leisure, but that may be moot, since they have willing partners in ATT & Verizon:

Quote:
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added.

For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm

Again, keep in mind that what they will ADMIT to doing is likely just the tip of the iceberg.


Warnings about Google:
Quote:
Google Copies Your Hard Drive - Government Smiles in Anticipation
Consumers Should Not Use New Google Desktop

San Francisco - Google today announced a new "feature" of its Google Desktop software that greatly increases the risk to consumer privacy. If a consumer chooses to use it, the new "Search Across Computers" feature will store copies of the user's Word documents, PDFs, spreadsheets and other text-based documents on Google's own servers, to enable searching from any one of the user's computers. EFF urges consumers not to use this feature, because it will make their personal data more vulnerable to subpoenas from the government and possibly private litigants, while providing a convenient one-stop-shop for hackers who've obtained a user's Google password.

"Coming on the heels of serious consumer concern about government snooping into Google's search logs, it's shocking that Google expects its users to now trust it with the contents of their personal computers," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "If you use the Search Across Computers feature and don't configure Google Desktop very carefully—and most people won't—Google will have copies of your tax returns, love letters, business records, financial and medical files, and whatever other text-based documents the Desktop software can index. The government could then demand these personal files with only a subpoena rather than the search warrant it would need to seize the same things from your home or business, and in many cases you wouldn't even be notified in time to challenge it. Other litigants—your spouse, your business partners or rivals, whoever—could also try to cut out the middleman (you) and subpoena Google for your files."

The privacy problem arises because the Electronic Communication Privacy Act of 1986, or ECPA, gives only limited privacy protection to emails and other files that are stored with online service providers—much less privacy than the legal protections for the same information when it's on your computer at home. And even that lower level of legal protection could disappear if Google uses your data for marketing purposes. Google says it is not yet scanning the files it copies from your hard drive in order to serve targeted advertising, but it hasn't ruled out the possibility, and Google's current privacy policy appears to allow it.

"This Google product highlights a key privacy problem in the digital age," said Cindy Cohn, EFF's Legal Director. "Many Internet innovations involve storing personal files on a service provider's computer, but under outdated laws, consumers who want to use these new technologies have to surrender their privacy rights. If Google wants consumers to trust it to store copies of personal computer files, emails, search histories and chat logs, and still 'not be evil,' it should stand with EFF and demand that Congress update the privacy laws to better reflect life in the wired world."
http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2006_02.php

Futher down on the same page, this happens to be of note:
Quote:
Internet Companies Need Code of Conduct in Authoritarian Regimes
Of course, they are talking about China and so forth (right?)
Quote:
"Without careful thought, even well-meaning Internet companies can become the handmaidens of state repression. Internet routers can be turned into powerful wiretapping tools," said EFF Activism Coordinator Danny O'Brien.
Apparently data (including e-mail) in transit is not subject to warrants, but can be had with a mere subpoena or even just a "request":
Quote:
Last week a Federal District Court in Boston decided that when someone reads your private e-mail without your permission and before you receive it, it doesn't violate federal wiretap law.
...
the court held that, even though the ISP diverted the incoming e-mails and read them before the recipients even knew they were there, they did not "intercept" them in transmission, and therefore violated no law.
http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/253

In a separate case:
Quote:
EFF's amicus brief was filed in Warshak vs. United States, a case brought in the Southern District of Ohio federal court by Steven Warshak to stop the government's repeated secret searches and seizures of his stored email using the SCA. The district court ruled that the government cannot use the SCA to obtain stored email without a warrant or prior notice to the email account holder. The government, which has routinely used the SCA over the past 20 years to secretly obtain stored email without a warrant, appealed the decision to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That court is now primed to be the first circuit court ever to decide whether email users have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in their stored email.

"Email users clearly expect that their inboxes are private, but the government argues the Fourth Amendment doesn't protect emails at all when they are stored with an ISP or a webmail provider like Hotmail or Gmail"...
http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2006_11.php#005022

There ya go.. I guess it is fairly easy to capture e-mails remotely.

In some cases judges have also ruled that locating you via your cell phone does not require a warrant:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/USA_v_PenRegister/

I have read of other instances in which PATRIOT ACT access to e-mails has resulted in prosecution for "regular" criminal activity (nothing to do with "terror"); can't find 'em all now.
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 04:24 AM   #3
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Chapter 3: Terrorists? or also you and me?

But it's only terrorists, right? So any and all measures are worth the price of being constantly monitored by the gov't.?

Now, some people might think this is groovy, as long as all goes smoothly. But it doesn't.
The climate surrounding gov't. abuses is so permeated with secrecy that whistleblowers are not even allowed to attend trials in which they are a party.

Quote:
To: The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

A Petition to require public hearings by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform into confirmed reports by FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds of wrongdoing, criminal activities, cover-ups against the security and interests of the United States and its citizenry, and the erroneous use of the State Secrets Privilege to shut down all court proceedings in her case.

In March 2002 the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General (DOJ-IG) began its investigation of Ms. Edmonds’ reports.

In June 2002, in at least two unclassified Senate briefings, FBI officials confirmed the validity of Ms. Edmonds reports; however, in May 2004 Attorney General John Ashcroft retroactively classified information from these briefings and gagged the Congress, preventing further investigation.
In October 2002 Attorney General Ashcroft invoked the ‘State Secrets Privilege’ to block all court proceedings in Edmonds’ case.

In July 2004 the DOJ-IG investigation into Edmonds' dismissal was completed but was entirely classified.

In January 2005 the DOJ-IG released an unclassified summary report on Edmonds’ case which concluded that Edmonds was fired for reporting serious security breaches and misconduct in the agency's translation program, and that many of her allegations were supported by other witnesses and documents.

The issues that were reported by Ms. Edmonds include:

·        Cases of espionage activities within the FBI, DOD, and the Department of State.

·        Cases of cover-up of information and leads pre and post 9/11, under the excuse of protecting certain diplomatic relations.

·        Cases of intentional blocking and mistranslation of crucial intelligence by FBI translators and management.

·        Cases of foreign entities bribing certain government officials and elected representatives.

Edmonds filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the Department of Justice, but the government successfully argued that the state secrets privilege was an absolute bar to her suit going forward. She was even barred from the courtroom during the argument of her appeal! The Supreme Court declined to review the case. The government's invocation of the state secrets privilege in a motion to dismiss her case contradicts the core idea of judicial review and essentially allows the Executive Branch to dictate to the federal courts what cases they can and can’t hear.

Invoking the State Secrets Privilege is a tactic frequently used by the Executive Branch to stop potentially embarrassing lawsuits against the government. Many of these suits are brought by government employees, such as Ms. Edmonds, who allege fraud, mismanagement, or other unlawful conduct, and the state secrets privilege has successfully been invoked by the government to silence them. The state secrets provision has been used too frequently and with too little public protection.
http://www.nswbc.org/press.htm
http://www.nswbc.org/Reports%20-%20D...ateSecrets.htm

Section 215 of Patriot Act gives FBI power to demand documents, medical records, ANYthing, without a judge's order; all the FBI has to do is say that its interest is primarily related to terror OR money laundering. No proof; just their say-so.
http://www.aclu.org/privacy/spying/1...s20021024.html

The Quakers:
Quote:
Section 215 allows the government to obtain records without probable cause of past or planned criminal conduct. The FBI’s application must merely certify that the investigation is relevant to an ongoing investigation. Once this request is presented in the proper format, the FISA judge must then issue the warrant. The judge has no discretion to refuse the FBI’s request for a section 215 business records search warrant unless the certification is incomplete.

In addition, the work of the FISA court is all conducted ex parte (without notice to or participation by the other party; only the FBI even knows the court is considering the application). Add to this secrecy the a gag order preventing the business served with the order from telling anyone about the order, and what results is that the people whose records are being searched have no way to defend themselves. For example, they have no way to present an argument to any court that there has been a mistake in identity, or that the search arises solely from protected First Amendment activity.

And further, many people assume that “court proceedings” are monitored by the press and through the press is available for public scrutiny. Again, these assumptions are not true when applied to the FISA court. The FISA “court” is a secret chamber with very different rules and procedures than those most people in the United States associate with a “court.” The Justice Department is using familiar language, but with unstated definitions.
http://www.fcnl.org/issues/item.php?item_id=344&issue_id=68
The Quakers have good reason to be worried: as a pacifist group they are a gov't. target.

wiki on the FISA court:
Quote:
Through the end of 2004, 18,761 warrants were granted, while just five were rejected (many sources say four). Fewer than 200 requests had to be modified before being accepted, almost all of them in 2003 and 2004. The four known rejected requests were all from 2003, and all four were partially granted after being resubmitted for reconsideration by the government.
For all intents and purposes, the FISA court is useless as anything other than a fig leaf. In 20-some-odd years there has been one appeal on the part of the gov. (the fifth reject?). So we've been at about a 99.995% rubber-stamp rate; this is in no way an adequate challenge to the power the FBI has been granted.

Of course, the Bush admin. doesn't even want to go by the FISA court system. They don't want there to be a paper trail of ANY kind... even a secret, non-adversarial one.

Don't forget, too, that the PATRIOT Act also forces libraries to give up lists of what books you've checked out, upon the FBI's mere request.

Quote:
March 2007
FBI Illegally Used Patriot Act, Audit Says
The FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the USA Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information about people in the United States, a Justice Department audit concluded Friday.

And for three years the FBI underreported to Congress how often it forced businesses to turn over the customer data, the audit found.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said he was to blame for not putting more safeguards into place.

"I am to be held accountable," Mueller said. He told reporters he would correct the problems and did not plan to resign.

"The inspector general went and did the audit that I should have put in place many years ago," Mueller said.

The audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found that FBI agents sometimes demanded personal data on individuals without proper authorization. The 126-page audit also found the FBI improperly obtained telephone records in non-emergency circumstances.

The audit blames agent error and shoddy recordkeeping for the bulk of the problems; it did not find any indication of criminal misconduct.

Still, "we believe the improper or illegal uses we found involve serious misuses of national security letter authorities," the audit concludes.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who oversees the FBI, said the problems outlined in the report involved no intentional wrongdoing. In remarks prepared for delivery to privacy officials late Friday, Gonzales said: "In many cases, we're talking about people taking shortcuts, people being sloppy, people not knowing what was required of them; insufficient oversight, quite frankly."

He added, "There is no excuse for the mistakes that have been made, and we are going to make things right as quickly as possible."
...
At issue are the security letters, a power outlined in the Patriot Act that the Bush administration pushed through Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The letters, or administrative subpoenas, are used in suspected terrorism and espionage cases. They allow the FBI to require telephone companies, Internet service providers, banks, credit bureaus and other businesses to produce highly personal records about their customers or subscribers — without a judge's approval.

The FBI has sent tens of thousands of such letters, reports CBS News correspondent Thalia Assuras.

Librarian George Christian received one. "To receive a request like this — to help spy on someone and then remain silent about it forever — it was chilling," he said.
...
The FBI also used so-called "exigent letters," signed by officials at FBI headquarters who were not authorized to sign national security letters, to obtain information. In at least 700 cases, these exigent letters were sent to three telephone companies to get toll billing records and subscriber information.

"In many cases, there was no pending investigation associated with the request at the time the exigent letters were sent," the audit concluded.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/...n2551665.shtml

This is the agency telling us the extent of its own wrong-doing.. do we trust them? Do we trust Gonzales? This is his purview. What reason has he given the American people to trust anything he says?

But it's only terrorists, right? (and whistleblowers.. 'cause some things have to be secret)..  This has nothing to do with the regular courts and regular accusations of criminal activity..  right?
Quote:
PATRIOT ACT: Law's use causing concerns
Use of statute in corruption case unprecedented, attorneys contend

By J.M. KALIL and STEVE TETREAULT
REVIEW-JOURNAL

The investigation of strip club owner Michael Galardi and numerous politicians appears to be the first time federal authorities have used the Patriot Act in a public corruption probe.

Government officials said Tuesday they knew of no other instances in which federal agents investigating allegations such as racketeering and bribery of politicians have employed the act.

"I don't know that it's been used in a public corruption case before this," said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the Justice Department.

An attorney for one of the defendants in the Galardi case said he researched the matter for hours Tuesday and came to the same conclusion.

"I have discussed this with lawyers all over the country, and if the government has done this before, then this is definitely the first time it has come to light," said Las Vegas attorney Dominic Gentile, who represents former Clark County Commissioner Lance Malone, Galardi's lobbyist.

Two of Nevada's lawmakers blasted the FBI for employing the act in the Galardi probe, saying the agency overstepped its bounds.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Congress intended the Patriot Act to help federal authorities root out threats from terrorists and spies after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"The law was intended for activities related to terrorism and not to naked women," said Reid, who as minority whip is the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate.

"Let me say, with Galardi and his whole gang, I don't condone, appreciate or support all their nakedness. But having said that, I haven't heard anyone say at any time he was involved with terrorism."

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said she was preparing an inquiry to the FBI about its guidelines for using the Patriot Act in cases that don't involve terrorism. The law makes it easy for citizens' rights to be abused, she said.

"It was never my intention that the Patriot Act be used for garden-variety crimes and investigations," Berkley said.

But Corallo insisted lawmakers were fully aware the Patriot Act had far-reaching implications beyond fighting terrorism when the legislation was adopted in October 2001.

"I think probably a lot of members (of Congress) were only interested in the anti-terrorism measures," Corallo said. "But when the Judiciary Committee sat down, both Republicans and Democrats, they obviously discussed the applications, that certain provisions could be used in regular criminal investigations."

Federal authorities confirmed Monday the FBI used the Patriot Act to get financial information in its probe of Galardi and his dealings with current and former politicians in Southern Nevada.

"It was used appropriately by the FBI and was clearly within the legal parameters of the statute," said Special Agent Jim Stern of the Las Vegas field office of the FBI.

One source said two Las Vegas stockbrokers were faxed subpoenas Oct. 28 asking for records for many of those identified as either a target or subject of the investigation.

That list includes Galardi, owner of Jaguars and Cheetah's topless clubs; Malone; former Commissioner Erin Kenny; County Commission Chairwoman Mary Kincaid-Chauncey; former County Commission Chairman Dario Herrera; and former Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald, defeated for re-election in June.

A second source confirmed that stockbrokers had been faxed subpoenas asking for information on Galardi, Malone, Kenny, Kincaid-Chauncey, Herrera, McDonald and at least one of the former politicians' spouses.

That source said the subpoena appeared to be a search for hidden proceeds that could be used as evidence of bribery. A source also indicated that records on Las Vegas City Councilman Michael Mack were sought.

Sources said the FBI sought the records under Section 314 of the act. That section allows federal investigators to obtain information from any financial institution regarding the accounts of people "engaged in or reasonably suspected, based on credible evidence, of engaging in terrorist acts or money laundering activities."

Gentile, Malone's attorney, said he plans to mount a legal challenge once he confirms the Patriot Act was used to investigate his client. "My research today indicates that this is the first time the government has used Section 314 in a purely white-collar criminal investigation."

Attorney General John Ashcroft has touted the law as an effective homeland security tool, but coalitions of civil libertarians and conservatives concerned about a too-powerful federal government have led criticism against it.

Corallo said federal law enforcement officials have no qualms about using the act to pursue an array of criminal investigations that have nothing to do with terrorism, such as child pornography, drug trafficking and money laundering.

"I think most of the American people think the Patriot Act is a good thing and it's not affecting their civil liberties at all, and that the government should use any constitutional and legal tools it can, whether it's going after garden-variety criminals or terrorists."

But Gary Peck, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, expressed outrage at Corallo's suggestion that lawmakers were largely aware the Patriot Act's provisions would equip the FBI with new investigative tools beyond the scope of terrorism investigations.

"Those comments are disingenuous at best and do little to inspire confidence that the act won't be systematically abused," Peck said.
http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2003/Nov-05-Wed-2003/news/22521283.html


Quote:
New USA-Patriot Act allows police agencies to target dissidents of all kinds
Alan Graf, National Lawyers Guild, Portland Oregon
November/December 2001

The USA-Patriot Act stands for "the Uniting and Strengthening By Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism." The Act was signed into law by George Bush on October 26, 2001. It provides new powers to law enforcement, some of which seriously infringe upon the civil rights of American citizens and immigrants:

The following is a summary and commentary concerning some of the provisions of the Act.

1. The Act Allows for Detention and Deportation of People Engaged in Innocent Associational Activity.

The Act permits detention and deportation of non-citizens who provide "assistance" for lawful activities of a group the government claims is a terrorist organization, even if the group has never been designated as such. See Section 411 of the USA Patriot Act which adds a new provision to INA section 212(a)(3)(B) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act.

Under this provision the Secretary of State (or his designates) can designate any group that has ever engaged in violent activity as a terrorist organization. This designation would make the group's non-citizen members inadmissible to the U.S. and would make payment of dues or the lodging of a member of the designated group a deportable offense for non-citizens.

This provision can apply retroactively. It could conceivably be used to deport someone who contributed to Greenpeace in 1980 because Greenpeace at some point used "violence" against property as part of its tactics.

The Act places an affirmative duty on the accused immigrant to prove that they did not know that the organization that they furnished assistance to was a terrorist organization. The burden of proof which is historically the state's burden, has been shifted to the accused.

The Act does not contain a notice requirement that the government must list which groups it regards as terrorist before certifying that the immigrant illegally supported a terrorist organization or supported an organization that provided "material support" for terrorist activities. Under this law, the government can effectively arrest someone for a minor immigration violation, discern which groups that person has helped, and then subsequently designate those groups as terrorist organizations, finding that the arrested person has violated the Act.

...
4. Sharing of Information with the CIA by Local Law Enforcement and the FBI.

The Act under Section 203(a) would permit law enforcement agents to provide to the CIA foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information that was revealed to a grand jury during an unrelated criminal investigation. No court order would be required. The information revealed is not limited to the person in question.

The Act permits a vast array of information gathering on U.S. citizens from school records, financial transactions, internet activity, telephone conversations, information gleaned from grand jury proceedings, and criminal investigations to be shared with the CIA.

The term "foreign intelligence information" has been redefined by Section 203(a) which includes "information, whether or not concerning a United States person, with respect to a foreign power or foreign territory that relates to the national defense of the security of the United States or the conduct of the foreign affairs of the United States."

This is a key and determinative definition that will serve as the underpinning in the interpretation and construction of the Act by courts of law. If information sought is defined as "foreign intelligence" the Act will allow law enforcement to secure unchallenged warrants from a FISA court. See below for an explanation of FISA. The Act also allows the sharing of this information between all law enforcement agencies locally and nationally.

This definition of "foreign intelligence" would involve the activities and communications of the peace movement and any information disseminated or produced by dissidents to U.S. foreign policy. Information about peace movement groups could be shared with any other agency including the CIA. This information could be gleaned from criminal investigations or from phone taps or emails.

..
7. Financial Institutions Will Monitor Daily Financial Activities and Report "Suspicious Activities" Without any Risk of Liability and Without any Notice to the Person Reported.

Section 351 of the Act encourages financial institutions to disclose possible violations of law or "suspicious activities" under any contract or legally binding agreements. The financial institution is prohibited from notifying the person involved that the institution made such a report. This section allows financial institutions to determine what activities are "suspicious" as the term "suspicious" is not defined in the Act. There is no judicial review of these reports.

Through this provision, the CIA would be put back in the business of spying on Americans, and law enforcement agencies would have a wide access to a range of personal information including individual credit reports without showing good cause as to why that information is relevant to a particular investigation.
http://www.afn.org/~iguana/archives/.../20011116.html


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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 04:37 AM   #4
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Chapter 4: The Big Picture

Anyone who thinks they have a hard time changing inaccuracies on their credit report, dealing with the DMV, getting wildy-mistargeted junk mail replete with errors (with a last name that ends in a vowel, I kept getting stuff in Spanish, a language I don't speak).. well, now just imagine that portrait being handed to the FBI or other Federal agencies to do with as they wish:

Quote:
Section 314: Sharing Your Information

According to the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Information Network (FinCEN), Section 314 of the PATRIOT Act "permits financial institutions, upon providing notice to the United States Department of the Treasury, to share information with one another in order to identify and report to the federal government activities that may involve money laundering or terrorist activity."

Essentially, this rule creates a vast web of personal data, traded between banks, credit bureaus, and the like, from which the government can pick and choose anyone it believes to be engaging in suspicious activity. This provision does have some advantageous aspects, as it was utilized to gather data in the Riggs Bank money-laundering scandal. However, it also means that many innocent Americans or foreign nationals can find themselves "unbanked" if their names match that of a suspected terrorist on the watch list, or if their Social Security Number was used in cases of identity theft.

In their zealous attempts to comply with both OFAC's lists and FinCEN's own Section 314-related lists, many banks have closed customers' accounts suddenly and without explanation -- the hardest hit being those of Arab or Muslim descent, regardless of their actual intentions, citizenship, or activity.

The actual requirements for information gathering under Sections 314 and 326 are actually not terribly daunting. Banks are required to ask for a full name, address (P.O. Boxes won't do), Social Security number, and date of birth from any customer wishing to open a new account as "minimum procedure." "Non-documentary verification" -- that is, proving a customer's identity apart from the papers they present -- can involve anything from using Section 314 to communicate with other banks regarding their financial history, to consulting with the major consumer reporting agencies (CRA's) to determine their credit activity.

Although Section 326 mandates that banks give consumers "adequate notice" that these procedures are being used, the guidelines are so vague that nothing more than a verbal description of the actions being taken can suffice.

In addition, banks are required to compile, submit, and maintain exhaustive records of the customer's identity, how it was verified, and any discrepancies encountered, for up to five years after the consumer closes the account. Imagine the prospect of bank employees coming and going with access to your personal information, even if you no longer maintain an account with that institution.

Information brokers have been lobbying to move from the cumbersome "document solution" to a completely electronic ID-verification system, based solely around mining data records and using Social Security numbers as the linchpin. As one financial services firm puts it, "From conversations with financial institutions, manual solutions can take up to 25 times longer than automated solutions, which can lead to reduced service levels and inefficient processes at the bank."

As they see it, "using a comprehensive identity verification solution provides the greatest protection against identity fraud while improving customer service, risk management, and operational efficiency."

The key players in the drive for completely automated ID verification warehouses are by no means new to the game -- they are none other than data-mining giant ChoicePoint, and eFunds, the parent company of the ChexSystems banking data clearinghouse.

Unholy Alliances

Years before its now-infamous security breach and the loss of thousands of consumer records, ChoicePoint was a major government contractor. In fact, it is by most measure the federal government's primary source of information on individual Americans.

The federal government has turned to commercial databases for information because it is not allowed to collect such data. In 1974, Congress passed the Privacy Act, which made it illegal for the government to operate its own "Big Brother" database. But Congress did not restrict private companies from conducting surveillance and gathering data on individual Americans. Nor did it prohibit the government from buying that information.

Since at least April of 2001, the Alpharetta, Georgia-based data broker has been providing multiple government agencies with thousands of data records on individuals. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)'s investigation, ChoicePoint owns dozens of information brokering or collecting services, trafficking in everything from medical records, to drug test results, to arrest and criminal records.

One of their key acquisitions was the Bridger Insight software verification system, designed to provide "enhanced due diligence research to quickly uncover otherwise unknown customer information." The Bridger Insight system allows for a full-scale electronic identity verification, including helpful "risk assessment" scores as to whether or not the individual's identity data constitutes a concern, and full-page "verification reports" with "Pass" or "Fail" marks depending on the results.

If this sounds like the work of a consumer reporting agency or credit bureau, ChoicePoint's pedigree as a spin-off of credit reporting giant Equifax bears that out. However, unlike Equifax, ChoicePoint is not officially classified as a consumer reporting agency, and thus not subject to the terms of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

EPIC filed suit against ChoicePoint in 2004 for what it calls "subverting the policy goals of federal information privacy law." Also very much like a credit reporting agency, ChoicePoint was taken to task for providing inaccurate, outdated, and mixed-up consumer data records -- with a "90% error rate", according to Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum. Couple this with the sale of 145,000 data records to an admitted criminal enterprise, and ChoicePoint was the lucky recipient of Privacy International's 2005 "Lifetime Menace" award for being "an abuser and broker of personal information for many years now, collecting information on Americans and foreigners without having to adhere to strict privacy laws."

Nevertheless, ChoicePoint's Bridger Insight system is one of the cornerstones of the PATRIOT Act's identity verification solutions, "help[ing] more than 4,000 clients simplify the process of achieving compliance and conducting due diligence."

As detailed in ConsumerAffairs.Com's special report on ChexSystems, the Bridger Insight software system was partnered with eFunds' ChexSystems database in 2002 to "help streamline Section 326 compliance efforts of financial institutions," according to eFunds' senior vice-president Mark Spilsbury.

The Scottsdale, Arizona-based "information solutions" company has positioned itself as a prime mover in the identity verification field. One of their major subsidiaries, Penley Inc., provides a host of ID verification products, including BackgroundWatch, which researches customer data and returns a three-tiered search result. The "Basic Search" returns general data, such as name, address, SSN, and the like. The "Extended Search" offers more in-depth information, including lists of property records and "possible friends and relatives" (emphasis added).

The "Complete Search" contains all of this data, plus records of any sort of license, weapon registration, and voter registration. All of this information is integrated with the ChexSystems suite to track banking records and evidence of suspicious activity. The end result is a frighteningly complete portrait of an individual's personal records, containing all of their essential data and information.

Furthermore, the "risk assessment" components allow participating financial institutions to not only study a customer's past banking history, but in the case of the QualiFile system, to actually make judgments on their future history based on "[a bank's] pre-determined risk strategy and a risk assessment score that scientifically predicts the likelihood that you will have to force-close this account."

Penley has been a strong advocate of moving to a Web-based solution for its data warehousing for some time. Their cleverly named "ID Verification" system advocates a centralized, one-stop "turnkey" process, with (in their words) "simple 'pass' or 'fail' answers which require little interpretation by the frontline employees."

The system apparently requires nothing more than an Internet connection and a Web browser to use -- no software or hardware required. Given that eFunds proudly proclaims its ownership of one of the largest debit databases in the world , and its ability to outsource its customers' operations to offshore call centers, the potential for identity theft and data mismanagement is tremendous.

Apparently, the notion that a purely Web-based information database might find itself prey to hackers and data thieves is apparently not as high a priority as ensuring that the data is collected and sold to whomever wants it.

Keeping Your Information Safe: What You Need To Know

The sheer number of data mismanagement scandals in recent months has drawn Americans' attention to the fact that their private, personal information is no longer strictly their own. It can be traded among banks, provided to the government, and used by "information brokers" to sell consumers products, predict their shopping patterns, and determine their ability to open bank accounts, receive credit cards, or apply for loans. The PATRIOT Act's "identity verification" provisions grant data brokers even more power to hoard your information and use it for whatever purpose they wish -- or worse, mismanage it and let it fall into the hands of identity thieves.

Sections 314 and 326 are not "sunset" provisions of the Act. They are permanent for as long as the Act remains law. As debate begins swirling over the necessity of the Act and its consequences for Americans, greater attention must be paid to the fact that the very thing this Act was passed to protect -- Americans' freedom and liberty -- was endangered by the ability of data sellers to take our information and turn it into a commodity.
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2005/patriot01.html


Interesting document describing DARPA/corporate teamwork on developing TIA databases:
Quote:
4.) Ultimately, the US may need huge databases of commercial transactions that cover the world or certain areas outside the US. This information provides economic utility, and thus provides two reasons [what is the first? -ld] why foreign countries would be interested. Acxiom could build this mega-scale database.
http://www.epic.org/privacy/profiling/tia/darpaacxiom.pdf

This is all couched in the language of data mining and analysis, testing on searching for established patterns and so forth (only of terrorists, though!).

There are very obvious significant issues here:
1.) The government being somehow in possession of all this data. People who don't care about the 4th amendment can skip this.
2.) The extent to which it is only applied for "tracking terrorists to avoid attack". The writer of the mail helpfully indicates that this is "the goal".. but goals can change. Was the goal of Hoover's FBI to fight crime, or to smear MLK? It doesn't take massive super-computing power to be evil, but it sure doesn't hurt.
3.) The writer calmly assesses the future "need" for world-wide commercial transactions to be monitored by the US government. He goes on to be concerned only with the money aspect of having DARPA's investment co-mingled with proprietary tech. "There is little or no chance that any [commercial] company is likely to advance the state of the art."

Here's a GAO report with a small section on "privacy concerns":
pp. 10-11

Quote:
Information can be developed about a
specific individual or about unknown individuals whose behavior or
characteristics fit a specific pattern.
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04548.pdf

Now, I think that's a quite interesting turn of phrase: "information can be developed"

Kinda reminds me of how a forged letter and a kooky informer "developed" into mobile bioweapons labs, nuclear facilities and other WMD-type items in a certain Middle Eastern country.

From the Puzzle Palace:
"Three decades after its creation, the NSA is still without a formal, statutory charter, the first reform called for by the Church Committee. Instead, there is a super hush-hush surveillance court that is virtually impotent; the FISA, which has enough loopholes and exceptions to render it nearly useless; and an executive order that was designed more to protect the intelligence community from the citizens than the citizens from the intelligence community. (p. 475)"

U.S. Senator Frank Church: "If this government ever became a tyranny ... the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government ... is within the reach of the government to know."

These quotes aren't from yesterday, they're from 25 years ago.

As I think I said before, it's too late. They'll never put the genie back in the bottle. It's just not possible.

When the book was written, the employees' secrecy oath was for twenty years; after the book was published, it was changed to fifty. So if we want to know what happened after 1982, we'll have to wait 'til 2032. (Or the secrecy oath will be changed to 100 years.)

Those who don't have time or inclination to read the book might instead glean something from this post I came across, which summarizes it quite a bit, with material from other sources:
http://home.earthlink.net/~count_bel...saclipper1.htm

a couple of stand-outs:
Quote:
Also basic to this method is the “watch list” of groups and individuals whose communications should be “targeted.” When a target is added to the watch list, NSA’s computers are told to extract communications to, from, or about the target; the agency can then examine the selected communications and determine whether they constitute intelligence data.
Quote:
This list of targets usually expands to include all members of targeted groups plus individuals and groups with whom they communicate; thus it has a tendency to grow rapidly if not checked. Some requests seem a bit astonishing: during the presidency of Richard Nixon, a Quaker, J. Edgar Hoover requested “complete surveillance of all Quakers in the United States” because he thought they were shipping food and supplies to Southeast Asia.
Ars Technica is another good site with material on this subject:
Quote:
NSA considers itself exempt from normal law

When the [Church] committee’s chief counsel said to Gen. Allen, [Director of NSA in 1975] “You believe you are consistent with the statutes, but there is not any statute that prohibits your interception of domestic communications,” Allen replied, “I believe that is correct.” When deputy director Buffham was asked about the legality of domestic aspects of the Huston plan, he said, “Legality? That particular aspect didn’t enter into the discussions.”

It appears that the only effective restraint on the NSA is the direct authority of the President, the NSC, the Secretary of Defense, and the U.S. Intelligence Board. Since the agency was created and chartered in secret by the President and the NSC, it can presumably be modified in secret by the same authorities.

Nor is the NSA bereft of means of influencing other branches of government, as Marchetti and Marks note:

"A side effect of the NSA’s programs to intercept diplomatic and commercial messages is that rather frequently certain information is acquired about American citizens, including members of Congress and other federal officials, which can be highly embarrassing to those individuals. This type of intercept message is handled with even greater care than the NSA’s normal product, which itself is so highly classified a special security clearance is needed to see it."

Senator Schweiker of the Church committee asked NSA director Allen if it were possible to use NSA’s capabilities “to monitor domestic conversations within the United States if some person with malintent desired to do it,” and was probably not surprised by Allen’s “I suppose that such a thing is technically possible.”
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20051220-5808.html

Again, the above refers to the situation in 1975, over 30 years ago.

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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 04:44 AM   #5
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Chapter 5: Defending Totalitarian Information Awareness

Now let's look at TIA from the other point-of-view to be fair. Here's the Heritage Organization.
They echo lets-retire in that the big brouhaha is all the fault of the media.
http://www.heritage.org/Research/Hom...ense/wm175.cfm

Quote:
If you believe the political pundits in all the major news outlets, you probably believe the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Total Information Awareness system (TIA), managed by Dr. John Poindexter, is about TMI – or Too Much Information on you. In fact, TIA is what the public, Congress and many in the policy community have rightly been demanding since 9/11, a methodology for putting the pieces of the terrorism puzzle together in order to prevent another 9/11 while respecting fundamental American civil liberties.
Well that sounds very nice.. To some of you the name "John Poindexter" might ring a distant bell. Oh yeah! The Admiral John Poindexter CONVICTED OF MULTIPLE FELONIES, to wit: conspiracy, obstruction of justice, perjury, defrauding the government, and the alteration and destruction of evidence. A little thing called Iran-Contra.

I don't even know how to express my disgust? outrage? (too overused) There's really nothing strong enough without resorting to a paragraph of expletives. I don't want to gloss over how important this is: we trusted the gov. back then to "do what was right." They broke the law. Most people, when they break serious laws, go to jail. Now they've gotten to be head of a database whose express purpose is to sweep up every electronic bread crumb they could possibly find on you, me, anybody. They also get to go on the tee-vee like Ollie North. The whole Iran-Contra crowd is a bunch of busy bees in the current WH:, you got your John Negroponte (Deputy Sec. of State), you got your Robert Gates (Defense Secretary), you got your Eliot Abrams (Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy) DEMOCRACY, my a$$! These are people who demonstrably colluded to make a mockery of democracy, yet here they are holding the reins of power.

As an aside, note the weasly substitution of "Dr." Poindexter for "Admiral", likely hoping no one would notice.

Quote:
On November 14th, William Safire initiated a call to arms to combat DARPA's efforts to turn Uncle Sam into Winston Smith of George Orwell's 1984, by claiming that, through TIA, DARPA is developing a "computerized dossier on your private life" that would include "your entire lifetime paper trail."[1] Not to be outdone, the Washington Times further fanned the fires the next day by describing the system as "A supersnoop's dream" that "will allow the federal government to track the email, Internet use, travel, credit-card purchases, phone and bank records of foreigners and U.S. citizens."[2] This kind of scare mongering with references to the so-called "slippery slope" to totalitarianism are not new in the post 9/11 world, however 4 clicks of your mouse will give you a very different story about TIA.
Since this is the declared function and purpose of the database, or combined databases "
to allow the federal government to track the email, Internet use, travel, credit-card purchases, phone and bank records of foreigners and U.S. citizens" ... how is describing it accurately "fanning the fire"?

Quote:
Neither TIA nor its subcomponents are secret projects being developed in the nether world of the intelligence community to subvert democracy and civil liberty, but open projects which DARPA described in detail during its recent DARPA Tech symposium in Anaheim, CA. It has even posted transcripts from this seminar on its website.
Ok, they are not secret. Two points: How does the fact that this specific initiative is not secret translate into its being a good thing? Second, how do we know what is actually being done in secret? I think these programs are priming the pump to get people "comfortable" with the process of being tracked.

Quote:
A reading of these briefings, beginning with Dr. Poindexter's, outlines a program that keeps the protection of civil liberties at its forefront while providing a valuable tool for investigating suspected terrorists and improving communication.
Even in support of investigating terrorists, TIA is not designed to create a dossier on every one in the United States in the off chance doing so might provide information useful information to the war on terrorism. Nobody will be maintaining a file (electronic or otherwise) labeled "John Q. Public, SSN: XXX-XX-XXXX". Instead of searching for the pin, such an approach would merely build new haystacks on the ruins of national freedom. Further, under such an approach, there could be little methodology to determine what information was useful.
This is incredibly disingenuous because as many of us know, in a relational database there is no such thing as a "dossier". You can connect the dots anyway you like, which is the whole point of the exercise. This is obviously written to the level of the constituency of Ted "Tubes" Stevens and contingency.

Quote:
In fact, Ted Senator, a Project Director with TIA, clearly rejects this approach as both impractical and containing "important and legitimate legal and policy constraints."[3] Instead, Mr. Senator notes that existing intelligence reports should be the starting point of the program and that the system would be designed to cross-reference numerous databases already in existence for related information. In essence, it's merely a more efficient use of information that already exists. Through such a mechanism, the intelligence community could build a more in-depth portfolio on a suspected terrorist including their contacts and frequent activities. Such a capability may even expose entire terrorist cells.

Further, the TIA is being designed to protect individual privacy even while investigating suspected terrorists.
We are not worried about the privacy of "suspects" who are herein assumed to have, and to merit, none --by the exact virtue of their being suspect! I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.. but it certainly seems to question the whole notion of probable cause.

Quote:
Another subcomponent of the TIA, Genisys, is being designed to "separate identity information from transactions that people conduct, only reforming this association when we have evidence and legal authority to do so."[4] Information the system provides during the course of an investigation will also be user specific, so individual users can only access that information they have a need to see and filters are being developed to keep out irrelevant information.
Again it would be very interesting to see a legal defense of this. The information initially being collected, if this Genisys description is correct, would be kept anonymous. So you'd have "anonymous person" who made such-and-such purchases and has such-and-such driver's license info. brown hair, brown eyes.. whatever.. bought a lot of guns (whooops! scratch that one since the NRA put its back up and said "no way") which leads me to suspect he or she is a terrorist. Then what? How do you "break open" the box that puts a name on this person and completes the puzzle? Do you ask a judge to issue a warrant to search "anonymous person's" house and effects? The "probable cause" is the information, but you only get the information by having "probable cause"..which is the information.. etc. etc. And this is assuming that the anonymity is truly iron-clad up to this point.

Quote:
These are important privacy measures that must be incorporated into the technology of the system as DARPA continues to develop it. Once completed and deployed, however, policy safeguards guiding its use must also be implemented to limit the possibility of abuse.
Hysterical! First go deploy it. THEN develop the policy. Sounds like a certain little ongoing episode in the Middle East.

Quote:
Foremost, the use of this tool should be limited to developing intelligence on terrorists in an effort to prevent future attacks. State and local and other federal law enforcement agencies should not have access to this tool to investigate common crimes such as tax evasion and child support enforcement.
Well, lawdy lawdy.. that's already happened while everyone's been paying attention to how terrible it is that the media is writing not-nice things.

Quote:
Instead, access to this powerful investigative tool should be limited to members of the intelligence community with major counter-terrorism missions including, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the new Department of Homeland Security's intelligence arm. Stiff penalties should be enacted for members of even that select community if they abuse their access. Fear of abuse by corrupt individuals should not hinder the government's ability to complete its duty to protect Americans.
Experience of abuse led us to HAVE a 4th amendment in the first place:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 04:56 AM   #6
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Chapter 6: The 4th Amendment in Shreds

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

My e-mails, phone calls, and financial transactions ARE my "papers and effects".

I'll re-iterate something here that I wrote to RWsis (right-wing sis) who kept writing me crap to the effect that: "the gov. has the right to do this; the gov. has the right to do that..":

THE CONSTITUTION is NOT a document that establishes the rights of the government.

The Constitution is a document that establishes the (minimum!) RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE.

It is about freedom FROM government, not freedom FOR government.

The government is not an entity that has rights!!!

People have the right to assign certain tasks to the government, to oversee it, and to limit it where necessary, to revoke its authority entirely if so desired.

A true conservative would understand that.
------------------

It's all very plain to me. It couldn't be clearer. The authors of the Constitution were not stupid. There are no loopholes.

We have the right to be secure in our papers and effects.
This SHALL NOT BE VIOLATED.

A "reasonable" search can occure if a public oath is made (one does not make a private oath) that attests to the cause and describes the extent of the desired search.

In Totalitarian-Information-Awareness-land you can't HAVE a description of the person until you use the information already "seized", which is how you get the description.

Here we have the searching going on a priori... inventing the "cause" and the "reason" from what has already been found. I hope I am not in the minority, either on this board or anywhere else, in finding this reprehensible.

Now the TIA cum TIA has supposedly been killed (why? -because the public found out about it and got pissed). But kind of like those serial horror films, it's still around in one form or another.. and both parties are to blame:

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20051220-5808.html
Quote:
We covered TIA here on Ars, but of all the coverage I think Caesar's initial take on it seems the most directly applicable to the current situation:

"This system's purpose would be to monitor communications and detect would-be terrorists and plots before they happen... This project is not interested in funding "evolutionary" changes in technology, e.g., bit-step improvements to current data mining and storage techniques. Rather, the amount of data that the directors are anticipating (petabytes!) would require massive leaps in technology (and perhaps also some massive leaps in surveillance laws). According to DARPA, such data collection "increases information coverage by an order of magnitude," and ultimately "requires keeping track of individuals and understanding how they fit into models."

"Massive leaps in surveillance laws" indeed. TIA became public in 2002, and Congress quickly put the kibosh on it. This is right about the time that Bush secretly signed the executive order authorizing the new NSA wiretap program.

So, are TIA and the NSA wiretapping directive related? That probably depends on what you mean by "related." I doubt seriously they're the same thing, but it's entirely possible that the undescribed new technology used in the NSA wiretapping program was also going to be deployed as a part of TIA's massive data collection efforts.

My main point in bringing up TIA is twofold: 1) TIA-like efforts are still going on (Defensetech catalogs some), and 2) the government has been trying to use new technology, like database tech and voice recognition, for domestic surveillance for a long time. And when I say a long time, I mean well before the current administration came into office.

The domestic electronic surveillance ball really got rolling under the Clinton administration, with the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). CALEA mandated that the telcos aid wiretapping by installing remote wiretap ports onto their digital switches so that the switch traffic would be available for snooping by law enforcement. After CALEA passed, the FBI no longer had to go on-site with wiretapping equipment in order to tap a line—they could monitor and digitally process voice communications from the comfort of the home office. (The FCC has recently ruled that CALEA covers VOIP services, which means that providers like Vonage will have to find a way to comply.)

CALEA opened up a huge can of worms, and PGP creator Phil Zimmermann sounded the alarm back in 1999 about where the program was headed:

A year after the CALEA passed, the FBI disclosed plans to require the phone companies to build into their infrastructure the capacity to simultaneously wiretap 1 percent of all phone calls in all major U.S. cities. This would represent more than a thousandfold increase over previous levels in the number of phones that could be wiretapped. In previous years, there were only about a thousand court-ordered wiretaps in the United States per year, at the federal, state, and local levels combined. It's hard to see how the government could even employ enough judges to sign enough wiretap orders to wiretap 1 percent of all our phone calls, much less hire enough federal agents to sit and listen to all that traffic in real time. The only plausible way of processing that amount of traffic is a massive Orwellian application of automated voice recognition technology to sift through it all, searching for interesting keywords or searching for a particular speaker's voice. If the government doesn't find the target in the first 1 percent sample, the wiretaps can be shifted over to a different 1 percent until the target is found, or until everyone's phone line has been checked for subversive traffic. The FBI said they need this capacity to plan for the future. This plan sparked such outrage that it was defeated in Congress. But the mere fact that the FBI even asked for these broad powers is revealing of their agenda.

Read the quote above carefully, and see if it doesn't ring any bells for you. The salient points that Zimmermann makes are these:

In 1995, back when the Pentium Pro was hot stuff, the FBI requested the legal authorization to do very high-volume monitoring of digital calls.
There's no way for the judicial system to approve warrants for the number of calls that the FBI wanted to monitor.
The agency could never hire enough humans to be able to monitor that many calls simultaneously, which means that they'd have to use voice recognition technology to look for "hits" that they could then follow up on with human wiretaps.
It is entirely possible that the NSA technology at issue here is some kind of high-volume, automated voice recognition and pattern matching system. Now, I don't at all believe that all international calls are or could be monitored with such a system, or anything like that. Rather, the NSA could very easily narrow down the amount of phone traffic that they'd have to a relatively small fraction of international calls with some smart filtering. First, they'd only monitor calls where one end of the connection is in a country of interest. Then, they'd only need the ability to do a roving random sample of a few seconds from each call in that already greatly narrowed pool of calls. As Zimmermann describes above, you monitor a few seconds of some fraction of the calls looking for "hits," and then you move on to another fraction. If a particular call generates a hit, then you zero in on it for further real-time analysis and possible human interception. All the calls can be recorded, cached, and further examined later for items that may have been overlooked in the real-time analysis.

In a recent press conference, Deputy Director for National Intelligence Michael Hayden said the following (via Defensetech):

"And here the key is not so much persistence as it is agility. It's a quicker trigger. It's a subtly softer trigger. And the intrusion into privacy -- the intrusion into privacy is significantly less. It's only international calls. The period of time in which we do this is, in most cases, far less than that which would be gained by getting a court order."
They will do this by hook or by crook. The FBI is roughly controllable. The NSA is not.

Again, this is what they will ADMIT to.. AND they are quite confident they don't need a court order to do it.

"It's only 1% of calls"
"It's only international calls"
"the intrusion to privacy" --publicly admitted!-- "is less" (intruding is more polite than invading)
All bogus arguments.

These are limits placed, in all likelihood, only by the technology (and only IF we take them at their word that these in fact are the current limits). If what you are looking for is a needle in a haystack.. you can go through it a bit at a time (now).. but in the future, when the guy happens along with a book of matches, you'll really be able to make progress.

The "Son of the Patriot Act" is even worse than the father:
Quote:
USAPA II eliminates most of the USAPA I provisions that limited such sharing to terrorism investigations.

Information sharing (Sec. 311). Consumer credit information, visa-related information, educational records can now be sent to state and local law enforcement with no limitations except "guidelines as the Attorney General shall issue to protect confidentiality." The "sharing" need not be part of a terrorism investigation.
...
USAPA II does not limit the scope of the powers to those necessary or even related to terrorism. This includes:

Information sharing (sec. 311). Consumer credit information, visa-related information, educational records may be freely shared. No relationship to terrorism is required.

FISA Information may be shared to officials conducting any kind of criminal proceedings, not just terrorism (sec. 105).

National Security investigation subpoena information can be shared without limitation as to its use (sec. 129)

Law enforcement can be given FISA pen register information about US citizens for any purpose. (sec. 107).

Grand jury subpoena gag orders are not limited to situations involving terrorism (sec. 206).

Cryptography Sentence Enhancements apply without limitation to terrorism (sec. 404).

The Environmental Protection Agency is prohibited from informing us of dangers of chemical releases (sec. 202). While the justification of this is to prevent terrorism, it is not limited to situations where terrorism is suspected.

Information from multi-function devices is not limited to terrorism-related surveillance. (sec. 124).

Reduced judicial oversight of classified information requests is not limited to terrorism (sec. 204).

Autopsy Orders are not limited to terrorism investigations (sec. 127)

Surveillance done at the request of foreign governments is not limited to either US or foreign terrorism investigations (sec. 313)
http://www.eff.org/Censorship/Terrorism_militias/patriot-act-II-analysis.php

Good sites to keep abreast of this stuff:
http://www.eff.org
http://arstechnica.com/index.ars
http://www.epic.org/
http://www.defensetech.org/
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 06:18 AM   #7
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

The average American lives in America. Clearly this makes you not average. International banking transactions have been monitored for decades, so the scrutiny you are under is nothing new.

As far as the rest you fail to give specific details of how you are being monitored, and quite frankly sounds a little paranoid. You are quoting news source of what is possible. I'll restate my previous statement, it is possible to monitor the average person, but it is not probable that they are being monitored. The government most likely does have the computer capability to monitor just about everything, but the manpower is the limiting segment. The computers can not evaluate anything. They can search through stuff and bring it to peoples attention, but that is about it. When it comes to sitting down and evaluating the information a person has to do it. The government does not have enough people to monitor everything.

Think of it as a wall. The wall is all of the ways to transfer information into and out of the country. The wall is the size of the great wall of China. All of the information going through the wall can be represented by mud. Now throw mud all along the wall. 99% of it falls off, this is the information that is of no use. The little bit that sicks is of some intelligence value. What you and the media seem to think is all of the mud that is thrown onto the wall is looked at. It isn't. I can be, if we had the people to look at it, but it would be a large waste of time.

The last time I checked searching, electronic communications was actually controlled by legislation. The Congress decided not to let the Supreme Court rule on it and enacted legislation to control searching it, which I thought was rather weird. That was several years ago and case law might have gone to the Supreme Court. Perhaps one of the lawyer types can clarify. I don't have any doubt that if a case is taken to the Supreme Court they will find as you stated the electronic communications are protected, to a certain extent. As far as financial transactions goes, since the laws governing those have been used to arrest very wealthy people, I'd almost guarantee that their high priced lawyers have argued their constitutionality and lost.
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 06:58 AM   #8
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

I assume everything I do is watched and monitored to a greater or lesser degree. That's the way it is in Merkin-land. Eventually they will come get me, I suppose. Mebbe I should go examine extradition policies in otehr lands...
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 07:50 AM   #9
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?



Don't want to be monitored? Forget it! Go google yourself.

http://www.google.com/search?q=ladel...ient=firefox-a

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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 09:06 AM   #10
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Thanks for taking the time to craft a response Ladelfina. It was very well thought out and detailed and included numerous citations to source documents. I can tell that this is a matter of deep importance to you.

Although I'm generally in favor of these actions the govt takes to provide security for the country, it is also good to have commentators like you to keep the "govt thugs" in check.

My hope is that the 4th amdt (and subsequent case law) criminal procedure protections are kept in place as a defence to unlawful search and seizure in criminal cases. Even if the govt (the executive branch) has the technical capability and generally non-judicially reviewed (as of yet) statutory authority to carry out intrusive investigations and compile databases, application of that data to a criminal prosecution is still constrained by our constitutional rights. It may take a defendant-appellant's efforts to elevate a case to the supreme court to defend their rights (and by establishing a precedent, defending the rights of future defendants).
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 10:30 AM   #11
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin

Although I'm generally in favor of these actions the govt takes to provide security for the country, it is also good to have commentators like you to keep the "govt thugs" in check.

My hope is that the 4th amdt (and subsequent case law) criminal procedure protections are kept in place as a defence to unlawful search and seizure in criminal cases. Even if the govt (the executive branch) has the technical capability and generally non-judicially reviewed (as of yet) statutory authority to carry out intrusive investigations and compile databases, application of that data to a criminal prosecution is still constrained by our constitutional rights. It may take a defendant-appellant's efforts to elevate a case to the supreme court to defend their rights (and by establishing a precedent, defending the rights of future defendants).
I think you missed the forest through the trees in her post. The "government thugs" are not in check. And it is people who are "generally in favor of these actions" that enable them.
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 10:34 AM   #12
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345
I assume everything I do is watched and monitored to a greater or lesser degree. That's the way it is in Merkin-land. Eventually they will come get me, I suppose. Mebbe I should go examine extradition policies in otehr lands...

Like Canada ...eh? Heheh ..
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 10:52 AM   #13
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bosco
I think you missed the forest through the trees in her post. The "government thugs" are not in check.
There are definite limits on what the government can get by with in terms of invasion of privacy. I don't think I missed much from ladelfina's post. I understood all of it and I understand there are grave concerns. I also understand that there are activists (including those using our legal system) fighting the blatant abuses of the government.

Viewing our government's actions in the context of other governments throughout history, it isn't that bad. Compare the US vs. China, Nazi Germany or soviet Russia. For US citizens, things could be way worse and we are nowhere near the level of "getting bound and gagged and hauled out of your house in the middle of the night for interrogation by the secret police with no legal redress". Unless you count that enemy combatant that got sent to Gitmo.

Overall, I'd have to say this particular concern is of limited relevance to me and doesn't really occupy much of my thoughts. I've reviewed the facts presented in the light least favorable to the government and drawn my own conclusions. I'm a good guy and I'm not overly worried about invasion of my privacy. However, it does concern me that what I publicly say on a message board might be taken out of context and used against me at a later point. Like I have done in the past, I'll fight that fight if necessary.
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 11:14 AM   #14
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
Viewing our government's actions in the context of other governments throughout history, it isn't that bad. Compare the US vs. China, Nazi Germany or soviet Russia. For US citizens, things could be way worse and we are nowhere near the level of "getting bound and gagged and hauled out of your house in the middle of the night for interrogation by the secret police with no legal redress". Unless you count that enemy combatant that got sent to Gitmo.
So you are happy with the US being compared to Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia?

And its OK to disappear anyone who pleases the ruling party so long as you label them an "enemy combatant"?
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 12:24 PM   #15
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lets-retire
The average American lives in America.  Clearly this makes you not average.  International banking transactions have been monitored for decades, so the scrutiny you are under is nothing new.

As far as the rest you fail to give specific details of how you are being monitored, and quite frankly sounds a little paranoid. 
Domestic banking transactions are monitored as well.
Just because it is "not new", I'm supposed to be happy about it?

"it is possible to [break into the average person's home and go through his papers], but it is not probable that [the gov't. will break into everyone's home and go through their papers].  The government most likely does have the capability to [break into everyone's home], but the manpower is the limiting segment. The government does not have enough people to [break into everyone's home]."

I feel better already!

Quote:
I don't have any doubt that if a case is taken to the Supreme Court they will find as you stated the electronic communications are protected, to a certain extent. 
But as we see in the whistleblower case above (which the Supreme Court 'refused' to rule upon) I think the Supreme Court (along with the other "check & balance" of the Congress) is out of the loop already. How can a case be argued when the "rules", evidence, and involved parties are so super-secret they barely exist? I don't think the Court would have the clearance to review documents and if they did, could their proceedings and opinions be kept secret as well??

As justin says, this may be of limited relevance to most people. But it's a slippery slope. J.Edgar said he wanted surveillance on all Quakers. They are currently under the watchful eye of the DoD (N.B., not an entity that should have even the most minimal authority in domestic surveillance of the citizenry):

Quote:
The Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee (NOAFSC) and the Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC) both appeared on a document detailing groups that were being watched by the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), a division of the Department of Defense.
http://www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/23937prs20060126.html

Quote:
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
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Keep an eye out also during these AG hearings; apparently they have Comey talking about Gonzales trying to get Ashcroft's signature in order to keep doing the warrantless wiretapping, at Ashcroft's sickbed in the hospital when he is out of it!! You think these things happen only in movies.. urgh...

Quote:
Comey Breaks Silence: White House Tried To Force Incapacitated Ashcroft To Back Spying Program
In March 2004, President Bush’s warrantless domestic spying efforts were temporarily suspended after then-acting Attorney General James Comey refused to sign on to an extension of the program “amid concerns about its legality and oversight.”

Today, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Comey detailed the extraordinary and potentially illegal efforts made by Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card — then White House counsel and chief of staff, respectively — to attempt to force John Ashcroft to overrule Comey, despite the fact that Ashcroft was debilitated in a hospital with pancreatitis.

In his testimony today, Comey spoke for the first time about:

– The high-speed pursuit that took place when Comey learned that Card and Gonzales were on their way to see Ashcroft at the hospital;

– The hospital meeting, in which the seriously ill Ashcroft “stunned” Comey by lifting “his head off the pillow and in very strong terms” rejecting Card and Gonzales’ effort to have him reauthorize the spying program;

– Comey’s admission that he believed he had “witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me”;

– Andrew Card’s subsequent “very upset” call to Comey, in which Card claimed that he and Gonzales had visited Ashcroft “just…to wish him well”
Edited to switch link to clearer transcript of Comey testimony here:
http://thinkprogress.org/2007/05/15/...ce/#more-12881
http://thinkprogress.org/comey-testimony/
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 12:44 PM   #16
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345
So you are happy with the US being compared to Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia?

And its OK to disappear anyone who pleases the ruling party so long as you label them an "enemy combatant"?
I regard the US as magnitudes of order better than Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. I am happy comparing the US to these two other countries.

I also have no problem with the US temporarily disappearing non-citizens that it labels as enemy combatants based upon information it has.
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 12:47 PM   #17
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ladelfina
"it is possible to [break into the average person's home and go through his papers], but it is not probable that [the gov't. will break into everyone's home and go through their papers]. The government most likely does have the capability to [break into everyone's home], but the manpower is the limiting segment. The government does not have enough people to [break into everyone's home]."

I feel better already!
Misquote and out of context definitely makes your case stronger. It sounds more like paranoia and conspiracy theories than actual evidence of wrong doing. I admitted that some of the programs were abused, but that does not mean they all were. Show evidence, then an argument can be made of wrong doing. Suspicions, hunches, news paper articles of what is possible is not evidence. It is paranoia and conspiracy theories.
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 12:53 PM   #18
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Hey, if we can't keep the real classified secrets out of the hands of the media then we're clearly not ready to tackle the real of international espionage.

I say let the Times and the rest keep snooping all they want...
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 01:04 PM   #19
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lets-retire
I'll restate my previous statement, it is possible to monitor the average person, but it is not probable that they are being monitored. The government most likely does have the computer capability to monitor just about everything, but the manpower is the limiting segment. The computers can not evaluate anything. They can search through stuff and bring it to peoples attention, but that is about it. When it comes to sitting down and evaluating the information a person has to do it. The government does not have enough people to monitor everything.
While I agree that it can't ALL be monitored, I'm surprised that this is your...defense of the act of monitoring American citizens.
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?
Old 05-15-2007, 01:27 PM   #20
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Re: Who's watching the watchers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
I also have no problem with the US temporarily disappearing non-citizens that it labels as enemy combatants based upon information it has.
The problem is: how would you know who they are labelling as enemy combatants and whether the information was made up out of whole cloth?
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