As of Dec 1, we're $11,400 in the red for the month. Donate here to support this vital work.
Subscribe here to our free email list

Big Brother News Stories
Excerpts of Key Big Brother News Stories in Major Media


Below are highly revealing excerpts of important big brother news stories reported in the media that suggest a major cover-up. Links are provided to the full stories on their major media websites. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These big brother news stories are listed by date posted to this webpage. You can explore the same articles listed by order of importance or by article date. By choosing to educate ourselves on these important issues and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.


Note: This comprehensive list of big brother news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.


Clarity Sought on Electronics Searches
2008-02-07, Washington Post
Posted: 2008-02-10 12:33:44
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/06/AR20080206047...

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Asian Law Caucus, two civil liberties groups in San Francisco, [have filed] a lawsuit to force the government to disclose its policies on border searches, including which rules govern the seizing and copying of the contents of electronic devices. They also want to know the boundaries for asking travelers about their political views, religious practices and other activities potentially protected by the First Amendment. The lawsuit was inspired by two dozen cases, 15 of which involved searches of cellphones, laptops, MP3 players and other electronics. Almost all involved travelers of Muslim, Middle Eastern or South Asian background. "It's one thing to say it's reasonable for government agents to open your luggage," said David D. Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University. "It's another thing to say it's reasonable for them to read your mind and everything you have thought over the last year. What a laptop records is as personal as a diary but much more extensive. It records every Web site you have searched. Every e-mail you have sent. It's as if you're crossing the border with your home in your suitcase." Mark Rasch, a technology security expert with FTI Consulting and a former federal prosecutor, [said] "Your kid can be arrested because they can't prove the songs they downloaded to their iPod were legally downloaded," he said. "Lawyers run the risk of exposing sensitive information about their client. Trade secrets can be exposed to customs agents with no limit on what they can do with it. Journalists can expose sources, all because they have the audacity to cross an invisible line."

Note: For many recent stories on threats to our civil liberties, click here.


Bush Order Expands Network Monitoring
2008-01-26, Washington Post
Posted: 2008-02-03 11:58:32
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/25/AR20080125032...

President Bush signed a directive this month that expands the intelligence community's role in monitoring Internet traffic to protect against a rising number of attacks on federal agencies' computer systems. The directive, whose content is classified, authorizes the intelligence agencies, in particular the National Security Agency, to monitor the computer networks of all federal agencies -- including ones they have not previously monitored. The NSA has particular expertise in monitoring a vast, complex array of communications systems -- traditionally overseas. The prospect of aiming that power at domestic networks is raising concerns, just as the NSA's role in the government's warrantless domestic-surveillance program has been controversial. "Agencies designed to gather intelligence on foreign entities should not be in charge of monitoring our computer systems here at home," said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. The classified joint directive, signed Jan. 8 and called the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23, has not been previously disclosed. Allowing a spy agency to monitor domestic networks is worrisome, said James X. Dempsey, policy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology. "We're concerned that the NSA is claiming such a large role over the security of unclassified systems," he said. "They are a spy agency as well as a communications security agency. They operate in total secrecy. That's not necessary and not the most effective way to protect unclassified systems."

Note: For revealing reports from major media sources on the increasing surveillance of all aspects of society by secret government programs, click here.


Microsoft seeks patent for office 'spy' software
2008-01-16, Times of London
Posted: 2008-02-03 11:46:32
http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article3193480.ece

Microsoft is developing Big Brother-style software capable of remotely monitoring a worker’s productivity, physical wellbeing and competence. The Times has seen a patent application filed by the company for a computer system that links workers to their computers via wireless sensors that measure their metabolism. The system would allow managers to monitor employees’ performance by measuring their heart rate, body temperature, movement, facial expression and blood pressure. Unions said they fear that employees could be dismissed on the basis of a computer’s assessment of their physiological state. This is believed to be the first time a company has proposed developing such software for mainstream workplaces. Microsoft submitted a patent application in the US for a “unique monitoring system” that could link workers to their computers. Wireless sensors could read “heart rate, galvanic skin response, EMG, brain signals, respiration rate, body temperature, movement facial movements, facial expressions and blood pressure”, the application states. The system could also “automatically detect frustration or stress in the user”. Physical changes to an employee would be matched to an individual psychological profile based on a worker’s weight, age and health. If the system picked up an increase in heart rate or facial expressions suggestive of stress or frustration, it would tell management. Civil liberties groups and privacy lawyers strongly criticised the potential of the system for “taking the idea of monitoring people at work to a new level”.

Note: For revealing reports from major media sources on the increasing surveillance of all aspects of society by secret government and corporate programs, click here.


The White House Coup
2007-07-23, BBC Radio
Posted: 2007-12-10 08:25:36
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/document/document_20070723.shtml

[BBC Radio] uncovers details of a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by right-wing American businessmen. The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell [House] and George Bush’s grandfather, Prescott [Bush]) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression. Why [is] so little ... known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American democracy?

Note: The highly decorated General Smedley Butler, author of the landmark book War is a Racket, was approached by the plotters for assistance in carrying out this coup. He at first played along, but then eventually exposed the coup plot in Congressional testimony. Yet news of this huge plot was squelched by both the government and media. To understand why, read a two-page summary of General Butler's book by clicking here and listen to the gripping, 30-minute BBC broadcast at the link above.


Here come the thought police
2007-11-19, Baltimore Sun (Baltimore's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2007-12-02 13:04:14
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bal-op.thoughtpolice19nov19,0,2...

With overwhelming bipartisan support, Rep. Jane Harman's "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act" passed the House 404-6 late last month. Swift Senate passage appears certain. Not since the "Patriot Act" of 2001 has any bill so threatened our constitutionally guaranteed rights. Diverse groups vigorously oppose Ms. Harman's effort to stifle dissent. Unfortunately, the mainstream press and leading presidential candidates remain silent. Ms. Harman ... thinks it likely that the United States will face a native brand of terrorism in the immediate future and offers a plan to deal with ideologically based violence. But her plan is a greater danger to us than the threats she fears. Her bill tramples constitutional rights by creating a commission with sweeping investigative power and a mandate to propose laws prohibiting whatever the commission labels "homegrown terrorism." The proposed commission is a menace through its power to hold hearings, take testimony and administer oaths, an authority granted to even individual members of the commission - little Joe McCarthys - who will tour the country to hold their own private hearings. Ms. Harman's proposal includes an absurd attack on the Internet ... and legalizes an insidious infiltration of targeted organizations. While Ms. Harman denies that her proposal creates "thought police," it defines "homegrown terrorism" as "planned" or "threatened" use of force to coerce the government or the people in the promotion of "political or social objectives." That means that no force need actually have occurred as long as the government charges that the individual or group thought about doing it. Any social or economic reform is fair game. The bill defines "violent radicalization" as promoting an "extremist belief system." But American governments, state and national, have a long history of interpreting radical "belief systems" as inevitably leading to violence to facilitate change.

Note: For many major media reports on serious new threats to civil liberties, click here.


Big Brother Spying on Americans' Internet Data?
2007-11-07, ABC News
Posted: 2007-11-18 10:38:02
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Story?id=3833172

According to a former AT&T employee, the government has warrantless access to a great deal of Internet traffic should they care to take a peek. As information is traded between users it flows also into a locked, secret room on the sixth floor of AT&T's San Francisco offices and other rooms around the country -- where the U.S. government can sift through and find the information it wants, former AT&T employee Mark Klein alleged Wednesday at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "An exact copy of all Internet traffic that flowed through critical AT&T cables -- e-mails, documents, pictures, Web browsing, voice-over-Internet phone conversations, everything -- was being diverted to equipment inside the secret room," he said. Klein ... said that as an AT&T technician overseeing Internet operations in San Francisco, he helped maintain optical splitters that diverted data en route to and from AT&T customers. One day he found that the splitters were hard-wired into a secret room on the sixth floor. Documents he obtained [from] AT&T showed that highly sophisticated data mining equipment was kept there. Conversations he had with other technicians and the AT&T documents led Klein to believe there are 15 to 20 such sites nationwide, including in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Diego and Atlanta, he said. Brian Reid, a former Stanford electrical engineering professor who appeared with Klein, said the NSA would logically collect phone and Internet data simultaneously because of the way fiber optic cables are intertwined. He said ... the system described by Klein suggests a "wholesale, dragnet surveillance." Of the major telecom companies, only Qwest is known to have rejected government requests for access to data. Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, appealing an insider trading conviction last month, said the government was seeking access to data even before Sept. 11.


Blackwater's Owner Has Spies for Hire
2007-11-03, Washington Post
Posted: 2007-11-11 08:48:00
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR20071102021...

The Prince Group, the holding company that owns Blackwater Worldwide, has been building an operation that will [develop] intelligence ... for clients in industry and government. The operation, Total Intelligence Solutions, has assembled a roster of former ... high-ranking figures from agencies such as the CIA and defense intelligence. Its chairman is Cofer Black, the former head of counterterrorism at CIA known for his leading role in many of the agency's more controversial programs, including the rendition and interrogation of ... suspects and the detention of some of them in secret prisons overseas. Its chief executive is Robert Richer, a former CIA associate deputy director of operations who was heavily involved in running the agency's role in the Iraq war. Because of its roster and its ties to owner Erik Prince, the multimillionaire former Navy SEAL, the company's thrust into this world highlights the blurring of lines between government, industry and activities formerly reserved for agents operating in the shadows. Richer, for instance, once served as the chief of the CIA's Near East division and is said to have ties to King Abdullah of Jordan. The CIA had spent millions helping train Jordan's intelligence service in exchange for information. Now Jordan has hired Blackwater to train its special forces. "Cofer can open doors," said Richer, who served 22 years at the CIA. "I can open doors. We can generally get in to see who we need to see. We ... can deal with the right minister or person." "They have the skills and background to do anything anyone wants," said RJ Hillhouse, who writes a national security blog called The Spy Who Billed Me. "There's no oversight. They're an independent company offering freelance espionage services. They're rent-a-spies."


State Department Use of Contractors Leaps in 4 Years
2007-10-19, New York Times
Posted: 2007-11-11 08:29:15
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/24/washington/24contractor.html?ex=1350878400&...

Over the past four years, the amount of money the State Department pays to private security and law enforcement contractors has soared to nearly $4 billion a year from $1 billion, ... but ... the department had added few new officials to oversee the contracts. Auditors and outside exerts say the results have been vast cost overruns, poor contract performance and, in some cases, violence that has so far gone unpunished. A vast majority of the money goes to companies like DynCorp International and Blackwater [Worldwide] to protect diplomats overseas, train foreign police forces and assist in drug eradication programs. There are only 17 contract compliance officers at the State Department’s management bureau overseeing spending of the billions of dollars on these programs, officials said. Two new reports have delivered harsh judgments about the State Department’s handling of the contracts, including the protective services contract that employs Blackwater guards whose involvement in a Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad has raised questions about their role in guarding American diplomats in Iraq. The ballooning budget for outside contracts at the State Department is emblematic of a broader trend, contracting experts say. The Bush administration has doubled the amount of government money going to all types of contractors to $400 billion, creating a new and thriving class of post-9/11 corporations carrying out delicate work for the government. But the number of government employees issuing, managing and auditing contracts has barely grown. “That’s a criticism that’s true of not just State but of almost every agency,” said Jody Freeman, an expert on administrative law at Harvard Law School.


From Casinos to Counterterrorism
2007-10-22, Washington Post
Posted: 2007-10-26 08:18:02
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/21/AR20071021015...

[Las Vegas], famous for being America's playground, has also become its security lab. Like nowhere else in the United States, Las Vegas has embraced the twin trends of data mining and high-tech surveillance, with arguably more cameras per square foot than any airport or sports arena in the country. Even the city's cabs and monorail have cameras. Some privacy advocates view the city as a harbinger of things to come. In secret rooms in casinos across Las Vegas, surveillance specialists are busy analyzing information about players and employees. Relying on thousands of cameras in nearly every cranny of the casinos, they evaluate ... behavior. They ping names against databases that share information with other casinos, sometimes using facial-recognition software to validate a match. And in the marketing suites, casino staffers track players' every wager, every win or loss, the better to target high-rollers for special treatment and low- and middle-rollers for promotions. "You could almost look at Vegas as the incubator of a whole host of surveillance technologies," said James X. Dempsey, policy director for the Center for Democracy and Technology. Those technologies, he said, have spread to other commercial venues: malls, stadiums, amusement parks. After Sept. 11, 2001, several airports tested facial-recognition software, with little success. But the government is continuing to invest in biometric technologies. "We often hear of the surveillance technology du jour, but what we're seeing now in America is a collection of surveillance technologies that work together," said Barry Steinhardt, the American Civil Liberties Union's technology and liberty project director. "It isn't just video surveillance or face recognition or license plate readers or RFID chips. It's that all these technologies are converging to create a surveillance society."

Note: For revealing major media reports of privacy risks and invasions, click here.


An Opportunity for Wall St. in China’s Surveillance Boom
2007-09-07, New York Times
Posted: 2007-09-21 07:46:54
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/11/business/worldbusiness/11security.html?ex=1...

Li Runsen, the powerful technology director of China’s ministry of public security, is best known for leading Project Golden Shield, China’s intensive effort to strengthen police control over the Internet. But last month Mr. Li took an additional title: director for China Security and Surveillance Technology, a fast-growing company that installs and sometimes operates surveillance systems for Chinese police agencies, jails and banks, among other customers. The company has just been approved for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The company’s listing and Mr. Li’s membership on its board are just the latest signs of ever-closer ties among Wall Street, surveillance companies and the Chinese government’s security apparatus. Wall Street analysts now follow the growth of companies that install surveillance systems providing Chinese police stations with 24-hour video feeds from nearby Internet cafes. Hedge fund money from the United States has paid for the development of not just better video cameras, but face-recognition software and even newer behavior-recognition software designed to spot the beginnings of a street protest and notify police. Executives of Chinese surveillance companies say they are helping their government reduce street crime, preserve social stability and prevent terrorism. They note that London has a more sophisticated surveillance system, although the Chinese system will soon be far more extensive. Wall Street executives also defend the industry as necessary to keep the peace at a time of rapid change in China. They point out that New York has begun experimenting with surveillance cameras in Lower Manhattan and other areas of the city.


Spy Satellites Turned on the U.S.
2007-09-06, ABC News
Posted: 2007-09-21 07:44:35
http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=3567635

Traditionally, powerful spy satellites have been used to search for strategic threats overseas. But now the Department of Homeland Security has developed a new office to use the satellites to [monitor the US itself]. [DHS] officials ... faced extensive criticism [in Congress] about the privacy and civil liberty concerns of the new office, called the National Applications Office. [House Homeland Security] Committee members expressed concern about abuse of the satellite imagery, charging that Homeland Security had not informed the oversight committee about the program. "What's most disturbing is learning about it from The Wall Street Journal," said Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. The lawmakers also expressed concern about using military capabilities for U.S. law enforcement and Homeland Security operations, potentially a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which bars the military from serving as a law enforcement body within the United States. Committee members said that in addition to not being informed about the National Applications Office program, they had not yet been provided with documents defining the limits and legal guidance about the program. [They] sent a letter to Homeland Security saying, "We are so concerned that ... we are calling for a moratorium on the program. Today's testimony made clear that there is effectively no legal framework governing the domestic use of satellite imagery for the various purposes envisioned by the department."


Lou Dobbs Tonight: Agenda to Create a North American Union
2006-11-29, CNN
Posted: 2007-09-14 19:51:33
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0611/29/ldt.01.html

When Mexican president Vicente Fox leaves office this week and Felipe Calderon takes his place, President Bush will be the last of the so-called three amigos. Bush, Fox, and, of course, Canadian prime minister Paul Martin were the originators of the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership, which critics call nothing more than a North American [U]nion. It means open borders, commerce of all [kinds] ... without the approval of either American voters or the U.S. Congress. An effort, the governments say, to harmonize regulation and increase cooperation between three very different countries. A new Canadian prime minister [is] joining the discussions as this North American partnership barrels ahead, with departments and ministries of all three governments working quickly to integrate North America by 2010. Now Mexico's new president, Felipe Calderon, [is] widely expected to keep the progress moving. Critics, though, say there's too little transparency and no congressional oversight. [Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch says] "There's nothing wrong with neighboring governments talking to each other, synchronizing their watches to make sure they're all on the same page in the cases of emergency or on trade issues or even on the flows of goods and people. But if policies are being made that the American people might oppose, or that are contrary to the law ... they're doing something a bit more nefarious." [Fitton] points to SPP documents urging the free flow of goods and people across borders and a wish list from business interests that borders remain open during a flu pandemic. Worse, critics say foreign policy elites are promoting a European-style union, erasing borders between the three countries and eventually moving to a single North American currency called the [Amero].

Note: To view the CNN broadcast of the above, click here. The Canadian TV network CNBC also carried a two-minute report on one of the supposed outcomes of the SPP, the Amero, which is a new common currency being planned for use by Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. To watch this news report, click here.


US doles out millions for street cameras
2007-08-12, Boston Globe
Posted: 2007-08-29 07:44:50
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/08/12/us_doles_out_millions_f...

The Department of Homeland Security is funneling millions of dollars to local governments nationwide for purchasing high-tech video camera networks, accelerating the rise of a "surveillance society" in which the sense of freedom that stems from being anonymous in public will be lost, privacy rights advocates warn. The department ... has doled out millions on surveillance cameras, transforming city streets and parks into places under constant observation. A Globe [investigation] shows that a large number of new surveillance systems, costing at least tens and probably hundreds of millions of dollars, are being simultaneously installed around the country as part of homeland security grants. Federal money is helping New York, Baltimore, and Chicago build massive surveillance systems that may also link thousands of privately owned security cameras. Boston has installed about 500 cameras in the MBTA system, funded in part with homeland security funds. Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said [the] Homeland Security Department is the primary driver in spreading surveillance cameras, making their adoption more attractive by offering federal money to city and state leaders. The proliferation of cameras could mean that Americans will feel less free because legal public behavior -- attending a political rally, entering a doctor's office, or even joking with friends in a park -- will leave a permanent record, retrievable by authorities at any time.


Concerns Raised on Wider Spying Under New Law
2007-08-19, New York Times
Posted: 2007-08-22 08:03:27
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/19/washington/19fisa.html?ex=1345176000&en=2e7...

Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congress this month could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include — without court approval — certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection of Americans’ business records. “This may give the administration even more authority than people thought,” said David Kris, a former senior Justice Department lawyer in the Bush and Clinton administrations. Several legal experts said that by redefining the meaning of “electronic surveillance,” the new law narrows the types of communications covered in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, by indirectly giving the government the power to use intelligence collection methods far beyond wiretapping that previously required court approval if conducted inside the United States. These new powers include the collection of business records, physical searches and so-called “trap and trace” operations, analyzing specific calling patterns. For instance, the legislation would allow the government, under certain circumstances, to demand the business records of an American in Chicago without a warrant if it asserts that the search concerns its surveillance of a person who is in Paris, experts said. Some civil rights advocates said they suspected that the administration made the language of the bill intentionally vague to allow it even broader discretion over wiretapping decisions. The end result ... is that the legislation may grant the government the right to collect a range of information on American citizens inside the United States without warrants, as long as the administration asserts that the spying concerns the monitoring of a person believed to be overseas.


Domestic Use of Spy Satellites To Widen
2007-08-16, Washington Post
Posted: 2007-08-22 07:59:37
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/15/AR20070815024...

The Bush administration has approved a plan to expand domestic access to some of the most powerful tools of 21st-century spycraft, giving law enforcement officials and others the ability to view data obtained from satellite and aircraft sensors that can see through cloud cover and even penetrate buildings and underground bunkers. A program approved by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security will allow broader domestic use of secret overhead imagery beginning as early as this fall, with the expectation that state and local law enforcement officials will eventually be able to tap into technology once largely restricted to foreign surveillance. But the program ... quickly provoked opposition from civil liberties advocates, who said the government is crossing a well-established line against the use of military assets in domestic law enforcement. The administration's decision would provide domestic authorities with unprecedented access to high-resolution, real-time satellite photos. They could also have access to much more. Civil liberties groups quickly condemned the move, which Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, ... likened to "Big Brother in the sky. They want to turn these enormous spy capabilities ... onto Americans. They are laying the bricks one at a time for a police state." Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists, said that ... oversight for the program was woefully inadequate. Enhanced access "shouldn't be adopted at all costs because it comes with risk to privacy and to the integrity of our political institutions," he said.


China Enacting a High-Tech Plan to Track People
2007-08-12, New York Times
Posted: 2007-08-22 07:39:52
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/12/business/worldbusiness/12security.html?ex=1...

At least 20,000 police surveillance cameras are being installed along streets here [in Shenzhen] in southern China and will soon be guided by sophisticated computer software from an American-financed company to recognize automatically the faces of police suspects and detect unusual activity. Starting this month in a port neighborhood and then spreading across Shenzhen, a city of 12.4 million people, residency cards fitted with powerful computer chips programmed by the same company will be issued to most citizens. Data on the chip will include not just the citizen’s name and address but also work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance status and landlord’s phone number. Even personal reproductive history will be included, for enforcement of China’s controversial “one child” policy. Plans are being studied to add credit histories, subway travel payments and small purchases charged to the card. Security experts describe China’s plans as the world’s largest effort to meld cutting-edge computer technology with police work to track the activities of a population. But they say the technology can be used to violate civil rights. “We have a very good relationship with U.S. companies like I.B.M., Cisco, H.P., Dell,” said Robin Huang, the chief operating officer of China Public Security. “All of these U.S. companies work with us to build our system together.” The role of American companies in helping Chinese security forces has periodically been controversial in the United States. Executives from Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Cisco Systems testified in February 2006 at a Congressional hearing called to review whether they had deliberately designed their systems to help the Chinese state muzzle dissidents on the Internet; they denied having done so.


Same Agencies to Run, Oversee Surveillance Program
2007-08-07, Washington Post
Posted: 2007-08-14 11:41:22
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/06/AR20070806013...

The Bush administration plans to leave oversight of its expanded foreign eavesdropping program to the same government officials who supervise the surveillance activities and to the intelligence personnel who carry them out, senior government officials said yesterday. The law, which permits intercepting Americans' calls and e-mails without a warrant if the communications involve overseas transmission, gives Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales responsibility for creating the broad procedures determining whose telephone calls and e-mails are collected. It also gives McConnell and Gonzales the role of assessing compliance with those procedures. The law ... does not contain provisions for outside oversight -- unlike an earlier House measure that called for audits every 60 days by the Justice Department's inspector general. The controversial changes to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act were approved by both chambers of the Democratic-controlled Congress despite privacy concerns raised by Democratic leaders and civil liberties advocacy groups. Central to the new program is the collection of foreign intelligence from "communication service providers," which the officials declined to identify, citing secrecy concerns. Under the new law, the attorney general is required to draw up the governing procedures for surveillance activity, for approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Once the procedures are established, the attorney general and director of national intelligence will formally certify that the collection of data is authorized. But the certification will be placed under seal "unless the certification is necessary to determine the legality of the acquisition," according to the law signed by Bush.


Bush administration defends spy law
2007-08-07, Los Angeles Times
Posted: 2007-08-14 11:39:32
http://www.latimes.com/news/la-na-intel7aug07,0,1631228.story

The Bush administration rushed to defend new espionage legislation Monday amid growing concern that the changes could lead to increased spying by U.S. intelligence agencies on American citizens. But officials declined to provide details about how the new capabilities might be used by the National Security Agency and other spy services. And in many cases, they could point only to internal monitoring mechanisms to prevent abuse of the new rules that appear to give the government greater authority to tap into the traffic flowing across U.S. telecommunications networks. Officials rejected assertions that the new capabilities would enable the government to cast electronic "drift nets" that might ensnare U.S. citizens [and] that the new legislation would amount to the expansion of a controversial — and critics contend unconstitutional — warrantless wiretapping program that President Bush authorized after the 9/11 attacks. Intelligence experts said there were an array of provisions in the new legislation that appeared to make it possible for the government to engage in intelligence-collection activities that the Bush administration officials were discounting. "They are trying to shift the terms of the debate to their intentions and away from the meaning of the new law," said Steven Aftergood, an intelligence policy analyst at the Federation of American Scientists. "The new law gives them authority to do far more than simply surveil foreign communications abroad," he said. "It expands the surveillance program beyond terrorism to encompass foreign intelligence. It permits the monitoring of communications of a U.S. person as long as he or she is not the primary target. And it effectively removes judicial supervision of the surveillance process."


The Fear of Fear Itself
2007-08-07, New York Times
Posted: 2007-08-14 11:30:32
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/07/opinion/07tue1.html?ex=1344139200&en=69538e...

It was appalling to watch over the last few days as Congress — now led by Democrats — caved in to yet another unnecessary and dangerous expansion of President Bush’s powers, this time to spy on Americans in violation of basic constitutional rights. Many of the 16 Democrats in the Senate and 41 in the House who voted for the bill said that they had acted in the name of national security, but the only security at play was their job security. What [do] the Democrats ... plan to do with their majority in Congress if they are too scared of Republican campaign ads to use it to protect the Constitution and restrain an out-of-control president[?] The White House and its allies on Capitol Hill railroaded Congress into voting a vast expansion of the president’s powers. They gave the director of national intelligence and the attorney general authority to intercept — without warrant, court supervision or accountability — any telephone call or e-mail message that moves in, out of or through the United States as long as there is a “reasonable belief” that one party is not in the United States. While serving little purpose, the new law has real dangers. It would allow the government to intercept, without a warrant, every communication into or out of any country, including the United States. The Democratic majority has made strides on other issues like children’s health insurance against White House opposition. As important as these measures are, they do not excuse the Democrats from remedying the damage Mr. Bush has done to civil liberties and the Bill of Rights. That is their most important duty.


In Bush we trust - or else
2007-08-05, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2007-08-14 11:27:43
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/08/05/EDJFRB8AF1.DTL

President Bush's latest affront to the U.S. Constitution [is] in plain view on the White House Web site: "Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq." This far-reaching order ... is a frontal assault on the Fifth Amendment, which decrees that the government cannot seize an individual's property without due process. [The order asserts] the authority to freeze the American assets of anyone who directly or indirectly assists someone who poses "a significant risk" [to] the "peace and stability" of [Iraq] or the reconstruction effort. "On its face, this is the greatest encroachment on civil liberties since the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II," said Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer who was a deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration. Fein said the sanctions against suspected violators would amount to "a financial death penalty. King George III really would have been jealous of this power." The executive order not only calls for the freezing of assets of anyone who directly or indirectly [opposes US policy in Iraq,] it prohibits anyone else from providing "funds, goods or services" to a blacklisted individual. In other words, a friend or relative could have his or her assets seized for trying to help someone whose bank account is suddenly frozen. An attorney who offered legal help could risk losing everything he or she owned. Then again, there's not much need for lawyers in the world of this executive order. The blacklist would be drawn up by the "secretary of treasury, in consultation with the secretary of state and the secretary of defense." The Fifth Amendment was written for good reason: It's dangerous to give the government unchecked authority to seize private property without judicial review.


Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.