NSA Uses Loophole to Justify Collecting Domestic E-mail, Phone Calls

The National Security Agency (NSA) is using a “secret backdoor” to conduct warrantless searches of the e-mails and phone calls of American citizens, the Guardian (U.K.) reports. As with earlier reports, this latest revelation comes from information given to the newspaper by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Spencer Ackerman and James Ball, reporting for theGuardian, write that a rule change that was previously unreported is giving the NSA the inroad it needs to monitor “individual Americans’ communications using their name and other identifying information.”

In a statement to the Guardian, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) reportedly said that this rule change makes it possible for the NSA to conduct “warrantless searches for the phone calls or e-mails of law-abiding Americans.”

The regulatory restatement relied on by the NSA to justify their unconstitutional surveillance was “approved in 2011” by the Obama administration, in direct contradiction to the president’s commitment to protect the constitutionally protected privacy of the American public “from the NSA’s dragnet surveillance programs.”

The federal spy apparatus is relying on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments of 2008 (FISA). This provision purports to grant the government the “authority to target without warrant the communications of foreign targets, who must be non-US citizens and outside the US at the point of collection.”

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Lexington TSA Manager Gets Busted For Doing What He Does At Work

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Police busted a TSA manager at the Blue Grass Airport and charged him with sexually abusing a coworker earlier this week.hinkle

According to court documents, the victim told police Shane A. Hinkle, 38, touched her breasts and put his hand down her pants twice on two separate occasions. The arrest report indicates the incidents all happened at the airport, and surveillance video captured some of the groping.

When I first read the arrest report, I couldn’t help but wonder what the big deal was. Perhaps he just thought he was doing a little on the job training.

In all seriousness, TSA agents across the United States subject hundreds of innocent Americans to this kind of behavior on a daily basis. In a very real sense, Hinkle went to jail charged with doing what he does at work every day. Only the fact that federal law and a badge authorizes his on the job behavior differentiates it from his alleged criminal acts. And in some weird parallel universe, that makes groping OK.

Wrap your head around this: a federal stamp of approval legitimizes sexual abuse.

I don’t mean to minimize the victim’s experience. I can’t imagine the humiliation and fear she must have felt. My point is that airline passengers who must endure strangers touching their breasts, butts and genitals at the airport feel degraded and humiliated as well.

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Why Won’t They Tell Us the Truth About NSA Spying?

by Ron Paul

In 2001, the Patriot Act opened the door to US government monitoring of Americans without a warrant. It was unconstitutional, but most in Congress over my strong objection were so determined to do something after the attacks of 9/11 that they did not seem to give it too much thought. Civil liberties groups were concerned, and some of us in Congress warned about giving up our liberties even in the post-9/11 panic. But at the time most Americans did not seem too worried about the intrusion.

This complacency has suddenly shifted given recent revelations of the extent of government spying on Americans. Politicians and bureaucrats are faced with serious backlash from Americans outraged that their most personal communications are intercepted and stored. They had been told that only the terrorists would be monitored. In response to this anger, defenders of the program have time and again resorted to spreading lies and distortions. But these untruths are now being exposed very quickly.

In a Senate hearing this March, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Senator Ron Wyden that the NSA did not collect phone records of millions of Americans. This was just three months before the revelations of an NSA leaker made it clear that Clapper was not telling the truth. Pressed on his false testimony before Congress, Clapper apologized for giving an “erroneous” answer but claimed it was just because he “simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.” Wow.

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Lie of the Century: NSA Director Claims to “Stand for Freedom”

We stand for freedom.

Those words were spoken by National Security Agency Director, Keith Alexander at a speech given during the annual Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, Nevada this week.

A little while later, he also responded to a heckler in the audience who told him to “read the Constitution,” with; “I have, and so should you.”

If that doesn’t qualify as the lie of the century, I don’t know what does.

I guess his version of the 4th amendment says this:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated unless the government feels it’s necessary, and no Warrants shall issue, because the government doesn’t need them.”

In an effort to show complete truthfulness, Alexander claimed that he would “answer every question to the fullest extent possible.” This because he welcomed dialog on this issue, and wanted to “put the facts on the table.”  He then assured another questioner in the audience that he had not lied to congress. Although, whether he was speaking only for himself or the entire NSA, is anyone’s guess.  He reaffirmed his stance that the NSA isn’t really doing any information collecting that we should worry about, because they are only collecting metadata.

Interestingly, the ACLU posted a great article yesterday on the truth regarding the intimacy of metadata. MIT media lab has developed a great tool called Immersion which “analyzes the metadata–From, To, Cc and Timestamp fields– from a volunteer’s Gmail account and visualizes it.” It illustrates what a huge repository of information exists as “metadata,” and why we have great reason to be concerned.

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Economic Development Administration Goes ‘Rambo’ on Itself

There exists in the Department of Commerce an irrelevant Great Society relic called the Economic Development Administration. With a relatively small budget of around $400 million, the EDA acts as a slush fund for Congress to shovel subsidies to their districts for projects that should be funded locally or privately.

That’s why it’s been hard to kill. Indeed, last year 175 Democrats and 104 Republicans teamed up to defeat an amendment introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) that would have finally put the EDA out of its misery.

Around the same time that the EDA came under attack from Rep. Pompeo, the agency believed that it had also suffered a cyber attack on its IT infrastructure. National Review Online’s Kevin Williamson has the story, which has to be one of the all-time greatest examples of bureaucratic ineptitude:

The trouble began in December 2011, when the Department of Homeland Security alerted Commerce that it had discovered a possible malware infection in the department, specifically within the network located within the Hoover Building. The EDA’s immediate reaction — based on absolutely nothing — was: cyberwar! According to the [Dept. of Commerce inspector general] audit, the main concern among the EDA’s top brass was that the agency was under attack by a nation-state actor. There was no evidence to support that fear, and a good deal of evidence to the contrary, but the EDA basically went to whatever is the Commerce Department’s version of DEFCON 1.

As Kevin deftly wise-cracks, “If the Chi-Coms wanted to hurt the U.S. economy, they wouldn’t attack EDA; they’d hire a lobbyist to increase its funding.” But, after all, we’re talking about an agency that has an amazingly inflated sense of self-worth. And so the EDA decided that it wasn’t taking any chances – the agency’s entire IT infrastructure had to go: 

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