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A controversial amendment that would expand the FBI’s surveillance power was narrowly defeated in the Senate Wednesday.
The final tally was 58 to 38, two votes shy of the 60 needed for the amendment to move forward. The issue will likely surface again soon, however, as Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., immediately filed for a motion to reconsider the amendment.
The amendment — lumped on last-minute to a criminal justice funding bill — would have expanded the scope of information the FBI can collect by sending technology and Internet companies what’s known as a national security letter—without getting any kind of court approval first.
The FBI would be able to access information about suspects’ online behavior including what websites someone visits and for how long, IP address, social media activity, email headers, and more.
Eight years ago today, the world lost a great man. While the mainstream media will tell you that he was merely a comedian, this man gave the world so much more than laughter. He challenged the establishment paradigm and was unafraid to speak truth to power.
In what can only be described as one of the most honest breakdowns of modern systems of control, legendary comedian George Carlin pulls no punches in this spot on monologue about America’s “real owners.”
Judicial Watch today announced it obtained U.S. State Department records referenced in the May 2016 State Department’s Office of the Inspector General report criticizing former Secretary of State Clinton’s email practices. The OIG report references the records, which include new Clinton emails, but the records were not released to the public until now. The records were obtained under a June14, 2016, court order issued by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in accordance with an unopposed motion by Judicial Watch to obtain the records.
By Derrick Broze
To understand the roots of the oppression, erosion of liberties, and invasion of privacy that has become the new norm for Americans, we must go back to the days following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
Immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush was promising Americans that he would exact revenge on those who dare attack the empire. Dubya’s program of “Shock and Awe” gave the American public an upfront look at what the U.S. military was prepared to do to the enemies of “freedom and democracy.” The bombing of Iraq was only the beginning of a larger conflict that the Bush Administration dubbed “The Global War on Terror.”
The War on Terror did not end in the physical battlefield, however. The U.S. government was determined to root out all possible terrorist activity and in the process roll back as many of America’s hard-earned liberties as possible. Only 45 days after the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Congress passed the infamous USA PATRIOT Act, typically known as simply the Patriot Act. The full Orwellian title is the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.”
The Patriot Act dramatically expanded the U.S. government’s abilities to monitor emails and landline phone calls, as well as also allowed access to voicemail through a search warrant rather than through a title III wiretap order. There is also section 215 of the Patriot Act, which has been used to justify mass surveillance programs by the National Security Agency.
The Patriot Act also vastly increased the use of National Security Letters, a tool used by the government to force telecommunications companies to give customer information without the use of a warrant from a judge. The NSLs are typically issued by the FBI to gather information from companies when related to national-security investigations. This information can include customer names, addresses, phone and Internet records, and banking and credit statements. The NSL also requires employees who have been questioned to be silenced via a gag order which prevents them from notifying anyone that the government is invading customers’ privacy.
Interestingly, many Americans are unaware that the Patriot Act was in fact written before the attacks of 9/11 (see this and this). Not only was the bill written and ready to be released at the right moment, at least one of the bills which spawned the Patriot Act was written by Vice President Joe Biden while he was still a senator in Delaware. In 2008 CNET reported:
The Center for National Security Studies said (Biden’s) bill would erode “constitutional and statutory due process protections” and would “authorize the Justice Department to pick and choose crimes to investigate and prosecute based on political beliefs and associations.”
Biden himself draws parallels between his 1995 bill and its 2001 cousin. “I drafted a terrorism bill after the Oklahoma City bombing. And the bill John Ashcroft sent up was my bill,” he said when the Patriot Act was being debated, according to the New Republic, which described him as “the Democratic Party’s de facto spokesman on the war against terrorism.”
Biden’s chronology is not accurate: the bombing took place in April 1995 and his bill had been introduced in February 1995. But it’s true that Biden’s proposal probably helped to lay the groundwork for the Bush administration’s Patriot Act.
The advancing tyranny that has resulted from the Patriot Act, and the bills which preceded it, has led to what we see in America in 2016. The bulk of American communications are now scanned, monitored, stored in a database, and analyzed for signs of terrorism. The NSA has even built a giant database in Utah to handle all of this data. Big Brother and Big sister are listening through an array of devices. Cell site simulators aka stingrays, Automatic License Plate Readers, Audio recording devices aka gunshot detectors, hidden cameras and microphones in public, thermal imaging planes and drones.
Two psychologists who helped the CIA develop and execute its now-defunct “enhanced interrogation” program partially admitted for the first time to roles in what is broadly acknowledged to have been torture.
In a 30-page court filing posted Tuesday evening, psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen responded to nearly 200 allegations and legal justifications put forth by the American Civil Liberties Union in a complaint filed in October. The psychologists broadly denied allegations that “they committed torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-consensual human experimentation and/or war crimes” — but admitted to a series of actions that can only be described as such.
“Defendants admit that over a period of time, they administered to [Abu] Zubaydah walling, facial and abdominal slaps, facial holds, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding, and placed Zubaydah in cramped confinement,” the filing says.
The American Psychological Association issued a lengthy report last year acknowledging members of the profession collaborated with the CIA and Pentagon on the torture program, and apologized. But until now, no psychologist has ever been called to account in court.
While many of the theories are bizarre, one longstanding view is the towers would not have collapsed in the way they did if they were hit by aircraft.
Some claim there must have been a “controlled detonation” at ground level for the Twin Towers to fall in on themselves as they did.
One key part of their argument is the collapse of a third smaller tower, called Building 7, at the World Trade Centre complex, several hours after the huge skyscrapers fell.
Until now, the theory has been just that and confined to the online forums of conspiracy theory websites.
But now, the University of Alaska is sponsoring a full investigation into claims that World Trade Center Building 7 was brought down by a controlled demolition during the 9/11 attacks.
The official version of events is that fire spread to Building 7, from the main towers, devastating the structure, and causing it also to fall in on itself.
Footage of the tower consumed by fire emerged in 2011, and it was thought the conspiracy may have been killed off.
But Dr J Leroy Husley, chair of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ (UAF) Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, has partnered with architects and engineers linked to campaign group 9/11 Truth to evaluate the causes of its collapse.
A report on Activistpost.com said: “Although questions still remain about how the two planes that hit the Twin Towers could cause the total collapse of the high-rise buildings, many 9/11 researchers now focus on the mysterious collapse of Building 7.
“A number of 9/11 family members point to the collapse of WTC7 as a possible crack in the official story that could spark a new national conversation on the events of that day.
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Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. intelligence analyst turned spy for Israel, wants the American government to ease up on the conditions of his parole. In legal briefs, he has argued that Washington should stop monitoring his personal computer and online activities and not force him to wear a personal GPS device that tracks Pollard’s movements in New York, where he has been living since his release from federal prison last year.
To which the U.S. intelligence community has essentially replied, “Oh, hell no.”
In a series of declarations filed late Friday with the U.S. Parole Commission, senior U.S. intelligence officials forcefully argued that Pollard still poses a risk to national security because if left unchecked, he could divulge U.S. secrets—and even old ones could do harm.
“Some of the sources and methods used to develop some of the intelligence exposed by Mr. Pollard not only remain classified but are still in use by the Intelligence Community today,” Jennifer L. Hudson, a senior official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in a written statement (PDF).