Privacy Media Articles
Excerpts of Key Privacy Media Articles from Major Media
Below are many highly revealing excerpts of important privacy articles reported in the mainstream media suggesting a cover-up.
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For an index to revealing excerpts of media articles on several dozen engaging topics, click here
Officials Sued Over Phone Records Access
2006-06-14, Los Angeles Times/Associated Pres
The federal government sued the New Jersey attorney general and other state officials Wednesday to stop them from seeking information about telephone companies' cooperation with the National Security Agency. The unusual filing...is the latest effort by federal authorities to halt legal proceedings aimed at revealing whether and how often AT&T, Verizon and other phone companies have provided customer records to the NSA without a court order. New Jersey Attorney General Zulima Farber, a Democrat, and other officials sent subpoenas to five carriers on May 17, asking for documents that would explain whether they supplied customer records to the NSA, the lawsuit said. The subpoenas followed by a few days a USA Today report that the phone companies had complied with the secretive agency's request for the phone records of millions of ordinary Americans after the Sept. 11 attacks. The Justice Department said more than 20 lawsuits have been filed around the country alleging that the phone companies illegally assisted the NSA. The government says sensitive national security information would be revealed if judges allow those cases to proceed. In this matter, the federal government said the New Jersey officials are treading on federal turf and that the companies, if forced to comply with the subpoenas, would be confirming or denying the existence of the program. President Bush and other top federal officials have refused to do that.
Informed Consent Waived in Public Crisis
2006-06-08, CBS News/Associated Press
In a public health emergency, suspected victims would no longer have to give permission before experimental tests could be run to determine why they're sick, under a federal rule published Wednesday. Privacy experts called the exception unnecessary, ripe for abuse and an override of state informed-consent laws. Health care workers will be free to run experimental tests on blood and other samples taken from people who have fallen sick as a result of a bioterrorist attack, bird flu outbreak, detonation of a dirty bomb or any other life-threatening public health emergency, according to the rule issued by the Food and Drug Administration. The rule took effect Wednesday but remains subject to public comment until Aug. 7. The FDA said it published the rule without first seeking comments because it would hinder the response to an outbreak of bird flu or other public health emergency.
Invoking Secrets Privilege Becomes a More Popular Legal Tactic
2006-06-04, New York Times
Facing a wave of litigation challenging its eavesdropping at home and its handling of terror suspects abroad, the Bush administration is increasingly turning to a legal tactic that swiftly torpedoes most lawsuits: the state secrets privilege. Officials have used the privilege...to ask the courts to throw out three legal challenges to the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program. The privilege claim, in which the government says any discussion of a lawsuit's accusations would endanger national security, has short-circuited judicial scrutiny and public debate. While the privilege...was once used to shield sensitive documents or witnesses from disclosure, it is now often used to try to snuff out lawsuits at their inception. "If the very people you're suing are the ones who get to use the state secrets privilege, it's a stacked deck," said Representative Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut. Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at Wake Forest University...said the administration's legal strategy "raises profound legal and policy questions." Under Mr. Bush, the secrets privilege has been used to block a lawsuit by a translator at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sibel Edmonds, who was fired after accusing colleagues of security breaches. Two lawsuits challenging the government's practice of rendition, in which terror suspects are seized and delivered to detention centers overseas, were dismissed after the government raised the secrets privilege.
Note: Sibel Edmonds is one of several whistleblowers with powerfully incriminating information on 9/11 who have been silenced with tactics like those mentioned above. To learn more about this critical case which has been blocked, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/050131sibeledmonds
The war on free press
2006-05-24, Boston Globe
JOURNALISTS. Our attorney general is coming for us. On Sunday, Alberto Gonzales told ABC's "This Week" that he would consider prosecuting reporters who get their hands on classified information and break news about President Bush's terrorist surveillance program. "There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility. We have an obligation to enforce those laws." Asked...if The New York Times should be prosecuted for its initial story on government surveillance without warrants, Gonzales said, "We are engaged now in an investigation about what would be the appropriate course of action." This is the same administration that...has already set the presidential record in claiming the authority to circumvent the law in more than 750 cases. Gonzales...issued the infamous "torture memo" that advised President Bush to throw the Geneva Convention into the trash can for detainees in the war on terror. Gonzales...helped the administration block and drag its feet on the release of presidential papers from Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Gonzales helped to withhold or delay highly classified documents from the president's own 9/11 Commission and from...the energy task force of Vice President Dick Cheney. The actions of Gonzales show how little the Bush administration promotes the rights of the press. With every pronouncement, freedom is disappearing, in incremental steps.
NSA Whistleblower Alleges Illegal Spying
2006-05-11, ABC News
Russell Tice, a longtime insider at the National Security Agency, is now a whistleblower the agency would like to keep quiet. For 20 years, Tice worked in the shadows as he helped the United States spy on other people's conversations around the world. "I specialized in what's called special access programs," Tice said of his job. "We called them 'black world' programs and operations." But now, Tice tells ABC News that some of those secret "black world" operations run by the NSA were operated in ways that he believes violated the law. He is prepared to tell Congress all he knows about the alleged wrongdoing in these programs run by the Defense Department and the NSA. Tice says the technology exists to track and sort through every domestic and international phone call...and to search for key words or phrases that a terrorist might use. President Bush has admitted that he gave orders that allowed the NSA to eavesdrop on a small number of Americans without the usual requisite warrants. But Tice disagrees. He says the number of Americans subject to eavesdropping by the NSA could be in the millions. The NSA revoked Tice's security clearance in May of last year based on what it called psychological concerns and later dismissed him. Tice calls that bunk and says that's the way the NSA deals with troublemakers and whistleblowers.
Note: For many years, both the U.S. and U.K. denied the existence of Echelon, which according to the BBC article below is a "spying network that can eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/503224.stm
Congress Demands NSA Spying Answers
2006-05-11, CBS News
Congressional Republicans and Democrats demanded answers from the Bush administration Thursday about a government spy agency secretly collecting records of ordinary Americans' phone calls to build a database of every call made within the country. This database affects as many as 200 million Americans. AT&T Corp., Verizon Communications Inc., and BellSouth Corp. telephone companies began turning over records of tens of millions of their customers' phone calls to the NSA program shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 'We have reached a privacy crisis,' said Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-MA, the ranking Democrat on the House Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee. 'The N.S.A. stands for Now Spying on Americans.' Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News Channel: "The idea of collecting millions or thousands of phone numbers, how does that fit into following the enemy?" The Justice Department has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the NSA refused to grant its lawyers the necessary security clearance. The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility [said] they were closing their inquiry because without clearance their lawyers cannot examine Justice lawyers' role in the program.
Note: Who gave the NSA power to stop the Justice Department from performing an inquiry?
FBI Keeps Watch on Activists
2006-03-27, Los Angeles Times
The FBI, while waging a highly publicized war against terrorism, has spent resources gathering information on antiwar and environmental protesters and on activists who feed vegetarian meals to the homeless, the agency's internal memos show. For years, the FBI's definition of terrorism has included violence against property. That definition has led FBI investigations to online discussion boards, organizing meetings and demonstrations of a wide range of activist groups. The FBI's encounters with activists are described in hundreds of pages of documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act after agents visited several activists before the 2004 political conventions. ACLU attorneys acknowledge that the FBI memos are heavily redacted and contain incomplete portraits of some cases. Still, the attorneys say, the documents show that the FBI has monitored groups that were not suspected of any crime. FBI officials respond that there is nothing improper about agents attending a meeting or demonstration.
IRS plans to allow preparers to sell data
2006-03-21, Philadelphia Enquirer (Philadelphia's leading newspaper)
The IRS is quietly moving to loosen the once-inviolable privacy of federal income-tax returns. If it succeeds, accountants and other tax-return preparers will be able to sell information from individual returns - or even entire returns - to marketers and data brokers. The change is raising alarm among consumer and privacy-rights advocates. It was included in a set of proposed rules that the Treasury Department and the IRS published...where the official notice labeled them "not a significant regulatory action." The proposed rules...would require a tax preparer to obtain written consent before selling tax information. Critics call the changes a dangerous breach in personal and financial privacy. They say the requirement for signed consent would prove meaningless for many taxpayers, especially those hurriedly reviewing stacks of documents before a filing deadline.The IRS first announced the proposal in a news release the day before the official notice was published, headlined: "IRS Issues Proposed Regulations to Safeguard Taxpayer Information."
Pay too much and you could raise the alarm
2006-02-23, Providence Journal (the leading newspaper in Rhode Island)
Walter Soehnge is a retired Texas schoolteacher. What got him so upset might seem trivial to some people who have learned to accept small infringements on their freedom as just part of the way things are in this age of terror-fed paranoia. The balance on their JCPenney Platinum MasterCard had gotten to an unhealthy level. So they sent in a large payment, a check for $6,522. And an alarm went off. A red flag went up. The Soehnges' behavior was found questionable. After sending in the check, they checked online to see if their account had been duly credited. They learned that the check had arrived, but the amount available for credit on their account hadn't changed. They were told, as they moved up the managerial ladder at the call center, that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment. And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified. And the money doesn't move until the threat alert is lifted. Walter called television stations, the American Civil Liberties Union and me. And he went on the Internet to see what he could learn. He learned about changes in something called the Bank Privacy Act. "The more I'm on, the scarier it gets," he said. "It's scary how easily someone in Homeland Security can get permission to spy."
US group implants electronic tags in workers
2006-02-13, MSNBC/Financial Times
An Ohio company has embedded silicon chips in two of its employees - the first known case in which US workers have been "tagged" electronically as a way of identifying them. A private video surveillance company said it was testing the technology as a way of controlling access to a room where it holds security video footage for government agencies and the police. Embedding slivers of silicon in workers is likely to add to the controversy over RFID technology, widely seen as one of the next big growth industries. RFID chips – inexpensive radio transmitters that give off a unique identifying signal – have been implanted in pets or attached to goods so they can be tracked in transit. "There are very serious privacy and civil liberty issues of having people permanently numbered," said Liz McIntyre, who campaigns against the use of identification technology. "There's nothing pulsing or sending out a signal," said Mr Darks, who has had a chip in his own arm. "It's not a GPS chip. My wife can't tell where I am." The technology's defenders say it is acceptable as long as it is not compulsory. But critics say any implanted device could be used to track the "wearer" without their knowledge.
We are moving ever closer to the era of mind control
2006-02-06, The Guardian (one of the UK's leading newspapers)
There is increasing military interest in the development of techniques that can survey and possibly manipulate the mental processes of potential enemies, or enhance the potential of one's own troops. There is nothing new about such an interest. In the US, it stretches back at least half a century. Impressed by claims that the Soviet Union was developing psychological warfare, the CIA and the Defence Advanced Projects Agency (Darpa) began their own programmes. Early experiments included the clandestine feeding of LSD to their own operatives and attempts at 'brain-washing'. By the 1960s, Darpa, along with the US Navy, was funding almost all US research into 'artificial intelligence', in order to develop methods and technologies for the 'automated battlefield' and the 'intelligent soldier'. Contracts were let and patents taken out on techniques aimed at recording signals from the brains of enemy personnel at a distance, in order to 'read their minds'. These efforts have burgeoned in the aftermath of the so-called 'war on terror'. The step beyond reading thoughts is to attempt to control them directly. A new technique - transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) - has begun to generate interest. This focuses an intense magnetic field on specific brain regions, and has been shown to affect thoughts, perceptions and behaviour.
Note: These technologies are far more developed than this article suggests. For reliable, verifiable information on these little-known "non-lethal" weapons: http://www.WantToKnow.info/mindcontrol10pg#nonlethal
They were loyal conservatives and Bush appointees. They fought a quiet battle to rein in the president's power in the war on terror. And they paid a price for it. James Comey...resigned as deputy attorney general in the summer of 2005. Comey's farewell speech...contained...an unusual passage. Comey thanked "people who came to my office, or my home, or called my cell phone late at night, to quietly tell me when I was about to make a mistake; they were the people committed to getting it right....Some of them did pay a price for their commitment to right, but they wouldn't have it any other way." These Justice Department lawyers, backed by their intrepid boss Comey, had stood up to the hard-liners, centered in the office of the vice president, who wanted to give the president virtually unlimited powers in the war on terror. Demanding that the White House stop using what they saw as farfetched rationales for riding rough-shod over the law and the Constitution, [they] fought to bring government spying and interrogation methods within the law. These government attorneys did not always succeed, but their efforts went a long way toward vindicating the principle of a nation of laws and not men. They did not see the struggle in terms of black and white but in shades of gray -- as painfully close calls with unavoidable pitfalls. They worried deeply about whether their principles might put Americans at home and abroad at risk. Their story...is a quietly dramatic profile in courage.
Note: If you want to understand the complexities involved behind the scenes at the top levels of US politics, I most highly recommend reading this entire article. It is five webpages in length.
The Other Big Brother
The Pentagon has its own domestic spying program. Even its leaders say the outfit may have gone too far. Late on a June afternoon in 2004, a motley group of about 10 peace activists showed up outside the Houston headquarters of Halliburton, the giant military contractor once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. The demonstrators wore papier-mache masks and handed out free peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches to Halliburton employees as they left work. The idea, according to organizer Scott Parkin, was to call attention to allegations that the company was overcharging on a food contract for troops in Iraq. To U.S. Army analysts at the top-secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), the peanut-butter protest was regarded as a potential threat to national security. A Defense document shows that Army analysts wrote a report on the Halliburton protest and stored it in CIFA's database. There are now questions about whether CIFA exceeded its authority and conducted unauthorized spying on innocent people and organizations. The deputy Defense secretary now acknowledges that...reports may have contained information on U.S. citizens and groups that never should have been retained. The number of reports with names of U.S. persons could be in the thousands, says a senior Pentagon official.
NSA used city police as trackers
2006-01-13, Baltimore Sun
The National Security Agency used law enforcement agencies, including the Baltimore Police Department, to track members of a city anti-war group as they prepared for protests outside the sprawling Fort Meade facility, internal NSA documents show. The target of the clandestine surveillance was the Baltimore Pledge of Resistance, a group...whose members include many veteran city peace activists with a history of nonviolent civil disobedience. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, members of the group say, their protests have come under increasing scrutiny by federal and local law enforcement officials working on behalf of the NSA. An internal NSA e-mail, posted on two Internet sites this week, shows how operatives with the "Baltimore Intel Unit" provided a minute-by-minute account of Pledge of Resistances' preparations for a July 3, 2004. "****UPDATE: 11:55 HRS. S/A V------- ADVISED THE PROTESTORS LEFT 4600 YORK ROAD EN ROUTE TO THE NSA CAMPUS ... S/A V----- REPORTED FIVE OR SIX PEOPLE IN A BLUE VAN WITH BLACK BALLOONS, ANTI-WAR SIGNS AND A POSSIBLE HELIUM TANK." Some legal analysts and administration critics say the agency's actions violate the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
NSA Whistleblower Alleges Illegal Spying
2006-01-10, ABC News
Russell Tice, a longtime insider at the National Security Agency, is now a whistleblower the agency would like to keep quiet. For 20 years, Tice worked in the shadows. "I specialized in what's called special access programs," Tice said of his job. "We called them 'black world' programs and operations." Some of those secret "black world" operations run by the NSA were operated in ways that he believes violated the law. He is prepared to tell Congress all he knows. Tice says the technology exists to track and sort through every domestic and international phone call...and to search for key words or phrases that a terrorist might use. Tice...says the number of Americans subject to eavesdropping by the NSA could be in the millions if the full range of secret NSA programs is used. "For most Americans [who] placed an overseas communication, more than likely they were sucked into that vacuum." He told ABC News that he was a source for the [New York] Times. But Tice maintains that his conscience is clear. "We need to clean up the intelligence community. We've had abuses, and they need to be addressed." The NSA revoked Tice's security clearance in May of last year based on what it called psychological concerns and later dismissed him. Tice calls that bunk and says that's the way the NSA deals with troublemakers and whistleblowers.
Behind the Eavesdropping Story, a Loud Silence
2006-01-01, New York Times
The New York Times's explanation of its decision to report, after what it said was a one-year delay, that the National Security Agency is eavesdropping domestically without court-approved warrants was woefully inadequate. And I have had unusual difficulty getting a better explanation for readers, despite the paper's repeated pledges of greater transparency. For the first time since I became public editor, the executive editor and the publisher have declined to respond to my requests for information about news-related decision-making. My queries concerned the timing of the exclusive Dec. 16 article about President Bush's secret decision in the months after 9/11 to authorize the warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in the United States. I e-mailed a list of 28 questions to Bill Keller, the executive editor [of the New York Times], on Dec. 19, three days after the article appeared. He promptly declined to respond to them. I then sent the same questions to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, who also declined to respond. They held out no hope for a fuller explanation in the future. The top Times people involved in the final decisions [are] refusing to talk and urging everyone else to remain silent.
The Agency That Could Be Big Brother
2005-12-25, New York Times
Deep in a remote, fog-layered hollow near Sugar Grove, W.Va., hidden by fortress-like mountains, sits the country's largest eavesdropping bug. The station's large parabolic dishes secretly and silently sweep in millions of private telephone calls and e-mail messages an hour. Run by the ultrasecret National Security Agency, the listening post intercepts all international communications entering the eastern United States. Another N.S.A. listening post, in Yakima,Wash., eavesdrops on the western half of the country. According to John E. McLaughlin, who as the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the fall of 2001 was among the first briefed on the program, this eavesdropping was the most secret operation in the entire intelligence network, complete with its own code word - which itself is secret. Jokingly referred to as "No Such Agency," the N.S.A. was created in absolute secrecy in 1952 by President Harry S. Truman. But the agency is still struggling to adjust to the war on terror. At home, it increases pressure on the agency to bypass civil liberties and skirt formal legal channels of criminal investigation. Originally created to spy on foreign adversaries, the N.S.A. was never supposed to be turned inward.
Note: Don't miss the amazing article on Operation Northwoods by the author of this article, former ABC producer James Bamford. It details the 1962 plans of the Pentagon chiefs to foment terrorism in the US as a pretext for war with Cuba. See http://www.WantToknow.info/010501operationnorthwoods
F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show
2005-12-20, New York Times
Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief. One F.B.I. document...talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." The documents...came as part of a series of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The latest batch of documents...totals more than 2,300 pages and centers on references in internal files to a handful of groups, including PETA, the environmental group Greenpeace and the Catholic Workers group, which promotes antipoverty efforts and social causes. Many of the investigative documents turned over by the bureau are heavily edited. The documents indicate that in some cases, the F.B.I. has used employees, interns and other confidential informants within groups like PETA and Greenpeace to develop leads on potential criminal activity and has downloaded material from the groups' Web sites, in addition to monitoring their protests.
National Security Watch: Disquieted whistleblowers
2005-10-11, U.S. News and World Report
The first annual National Security Whistleblowers Conference...has to be one of the more unusual gatherings of intelligence veterans in recent years. The nearly 20 current or former officials from the FBI, CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and even the supersecret National Security Agency who make up the core of the conference share an unusual distinction: They are all deeply out of favor with their longtime employers. Most cannot discuss the allegations they are making in detail because the specifics are highly classified. The agencies they work for also refuse to answer questions. The current and former officials at the conference said that today's climate in Washington has never been worse for whistleblowers. One of the biggest names of the conference never even uttered a word. Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer is the military intelligence operative who...went public with a controversial claim that a year before September 11, his top-secret task force "Able
Danger" was able to identify the man who later turned out to be the lead hijacker [on 9/11]. Shaffer was slated to speak but instead sat quietly by as his lawyer, Mark Zaid, spoke for him. "Tony is not allowed to talk," Zaid said. "He is gagged from talking to Congress." The conference was organized by Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator who was pushed out of the bureau after raising accusations of wrongdoing by other FBI translators. She has been barred from discussing the details of her case by the FBI. She created the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition www.nswbc.org to bring whistleblowers like her together to push for legal reforms.
Note: For a detailed article in Vanity Fair on Sibel Edmonds' courageous efforts to expose the truth, click here. For the whistleblowing action which drew international media attention by WantToKnow.info founder Fred Burks, click here.
ID cards could be used for mass surveillance system
2005-08-18, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The Government is creating a system of "mass public surveillance" capable of tracking every adult in Britain without their consent, MPs say. They warn that people who have never committed a crime can be "electronically monitored" without their knowledge. Biometric facial scans, which will be compulsory with ID cards, are to be put on a national database which can then be matched with images from CCTV. The database of faces will enable police and security services to track individuals regardless of whether they have broken the law. CCTV surveillance footage from streets, shops and even shopping centres could be cross-referenced with photographs of every adult in the UK once the ID cards Bill becomes law. Biometric facial scans, iris scans and fingerprints of all adults in the UK will be stored on a national database. Civil liberties groups say the plans are a "dangerous" threat to people's privacy. Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said the plans were being brought in by the Government without informing the public.