Civil Liberties News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Civil Liberties News Articles in Media
Federal drug agents regularly mine Americans’ travel information to profile people who might be ferrying money for narcotics traffickers - though they almost never use what they learn to make arrests or build criminal cases. Instead, that targeting has helped the Drug Enforcement Administration seize a small fortune in cash. The DEA surveillance is separate from the vast and widely-known anti-terrorism apparatus. DEA units assigned to patrol 15 of the nation’s busiest airports seized more than $209 million in cash from at least 5,200 people over the past decade “They count on this as part of the budget,” said Louis Weiss, a former [DEA group] supervisor. “Basically, you’ve got to feed the monster.” Federal law gives the government broad powers to seize cash and other assets if agents have evidence that they are linked to crime. That process, commonly known as asset forfeiture, has come under fire ... after complaints that police were using the law as a way to raise money rather than to protect the public or prevent crime. Court records show agents and informants flagged travelers for questioning based on whether they were traveling with one-way tickets, had paid in cash, had listed a non-working phone number on the reservation or had checked luggage. Agents said Zane Young fit that profile when they ... seized $36,000 from his bags. Young’s lawyer, Thomas Baker, said in a court filing that the drug agency’s profile was “vague, ambiguous, overbroad, and can be manipulated to include just about anyone.”
Note: Read about how the DEA stole a young man's life savings without ever charging him with a crime. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
For more than a decade, professional snoops have been able to search troves of ... addresses, DMV records, photographs of a person’s car - and condense them into comprehensive reports costing as little as $10. Now they can combine that information with the kinds of things marketers know about you, such as which politicians you donate to, what you spend on groceries, and whether it’s weird that you ate in last night, to create a portrait of your life and predict your behavior. IDI, a year-old company in the so-called data-fusion business, is the first to centralize and weaponize all that information for its customers. Chief Executive Officer Derek Dubner says the system isn’t waiting for requests from clients - it’s already built a profile on every American adult, including young people who wouldn’t be swept up in conventional databases, which only index transactions. These personal profiles include all known addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses; every piece of property ever bought or sold, plus related mortgages; past and present vehicles owned; criminal citations, from speeding tickets on up; voter registration; hunting permits; and names and phone numbers of neighbors. The reports also include photos of cars taken by private companies using automated license plate readers - billions of snapshots tagged with GPS coordinates and time stamps to help PIs surveil people or bust alibis. IDI also runs two coupon websites ... that collect purchasing and behavioral data.
Tailyn Wang was two months pregnant when federal police officers broke into her house in Mexico City, ripped off her nightgown and threw her to the ground. They groped her breasts while punching and kicking her in front of her terrified children, before taking her blindfolded to a police base – without an arrest warrant. Wang is one of scores of innocent women illegally arrested and tortured by Mexican security services looking to boost arrest figures to justify the war on drugs, according to damning new research by Amnesty International. Of the 100 women interviewed for the report, 72 said they were sexually abused during or soon after the arrest. Ten of the women were pregnant when arrested; eight subsequently suffered a miscarriage. The vast majority were young, poor, single mothers. Most spend years in prison awaiting trial, without access to adequate healthcare or legal advice. Wang, who has reported the torture to judges, prosecutors, doctors, and the National Commission for Human Rights, was falsely accused by an acquaintance, a local police officer, after he was also tortured. Reports of torture have increased exponentially in Mexico since former President Felipe Calderón first deployed tens of thousands of armed forces on the streets to combat warring drug cartels and organised crime. The navy, which has been deployed in some of the most violent states ... appears to have a particularly serious torture problem. Among the women interviewed by Amnesty, eight out of the ten arrested by the navy were raped.
The Justice Department has announced that it is resuming a controversial practice that allows local police departments to funnel a large portion of assets seized from citizens into their own coffers under federal law. The "Equitable Sharing Program" gives police the option of prosecuting some asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law. Federal forfeiture policies are more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize. Asset forfeiture is a contentious practice that lets police seize and keep cash and property from people who are never convicted of wrongdoing - and in many cases, never charged. Use of the practice has exploded in recent years, prompting concern that, in some cases, police are motivated more by profit and less by justice. A wide-ranging Washington Post investigation in 2014 found that police had seized $2.5 billion in cash alone without warrants or indictments since 2001. In response, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced new restrictions on some federal asset forfeiture practices. Asset forfeiture is fast growing - in 2014, for instance, federal authorities seized more than $5 billion in assets. That's more than the value of assets lost in every single burglary that year. Reformers had hoped that the suspension of the program in December was a signal that the Justice Department was looking for ways to rein in the practice. But that no longer appears to be the case.
Note: Some police decide what property to seize based on departmental "wish lists". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Federal prosecutors declined to bring charges against law enforcement officers in the United States facing allegations of civil rights violations in 96 percent of such cases between 1995 and 2015, according to an investigation by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper. The newspaper examined nearly 3 million U.S. Justice Department records related to how the department's 94 U.S. attorney's offices across the country ... handled civil rights cases against officers. The data included cases referred to the Justice Department by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies. Overall, prosecutors turned down 12,703 potential civil rights violations out of 13,233 total complaints. By contrast, prosecutors rejected only about 23 percent of referrals in all other types of criminal cases. The findings could bolster arguments by activists, such as those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, who claim police officers are rarely held criminally responsible for their misconduct. The report comes just days after the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, announced he would not press charges against a white officer who killed an unarmed black teenager inside his own apartment in 2012. The most common reasons that prosecutors cited for declining to bring civil rights cases against officers were weak or insufficient evidence, lack of criminal intent and orders from the Justice Department.
In April 2012, a Kansas SWAT team raided the home of Robert and Addie Harte, their 7-year-old daughter and their 13-year-old son. The couple, both former CIA analysts, awoke to pounding at the door. The family was then held at gunpoint for more than two hours while the police searched their home. They found no evidence of any criminal activity. The investigation leading to the raid began ... when Robert Harte and his son went to a gardening store to purchase supplies to grow hydroponic tomatoes. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department began [sending] deputies out to sort through the family’s garbage. The deputies repeatedly found “saturated plant material” that they thought could possibly be marijuana. On two occasions, a drug testing field kit inexplicably indicated the presence of THC, the active drug in marijuana. Lab tests would later reveal that the “saturated plant material” was actually loose-leaf tea. Why did the field tests come up positive for pot? These tests come up positive whenever the police need them to. The tests [can] be manipulated to generate positive results. The Hartes wanted to know what happened. They spent more than $25,000 in legal fees just to learn why the sheriff had sent a SWAT team into their home. Once they finally had that information, the Hartes filed a lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge John W. Lungstrum dismissed every one of the Hartes’s claims, [and] ruled that the police were under no obligation to know that drug testing field kits are inaccurate.
Note: A detailed report by forensics expert John Kelly and former FBI chief scientist Dr. Frederick Whitehurst reveals "a drug testing regime of fraudulent forensics used by police, prosecutors, and judges." And recently the FBI was found to have faked an entire branch of forensic science. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
On the day of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., the city's SWAT team was training for an active shooter situation just minutes away from the scene of the massacre. "We were just working through scenarios when this call went out," says Lt. Travis Walker, the SWAT team commander. Walker was running his officers through scenarios with volunteers playing the role of shooters. "We'd just finished a training scenario that involved multiple shooters at multiple locations within a small confined area," he says. And then they were off — to the scene of a real-life multiple-shooter attack. They didn't get there in time to stop it, but the suspects were killed in a shootout later in the day. Walker and his team were there for that, too, using armored vehicles to get close. That scene was meaningful because those were the very same kind of armored vehicles that for the past year or so have become a symbol of what some people call police militarization.
Important Note: So "by coincidence" a team was training for a terrorist event the very day of this shooting not far from the scene. The very same "coincidence" happened in the recent Paris shootings, on the day of 9/11 where a team was training in DC for an attack where a plane would hit a government building, and the London bombings where a team was training for a subway terrorist attack that very morning at the same stations where the bombings occurred. Could all four be just coincidences? Might this have been another false flag operation to promote fear and the militarization agenda? Read also solid evidence that ISIS was a creation of intelligence services, including a confession by a USAF General that "we helped build ISIS."
Civil asset forfeiture ... lets police seize and keep cash and property from people who are never convicted - and in many cases, even charged - with wrongdoing. The past decade has seen a "meteoric, exponential increase" in the use of the practice. In 2008, there were less than $1.5 billion in the combined asset forfeiture funds of the Justice Department and the U.S. Treasury. But by 2014, that number had tripled, to roughly $4.5 billion. Critics ... say that the increase in forfeiture activity is due largely to the profit motive created by laws which allow police to keep some or all of the assets they seize. In one case represented by the Institute [for Justice], a drug task force seized $11,000 from a college student at an airport. They lacked evidence to charge him with any crime, but they kept the money and planned to divvy it up between 13 different law enforcement agencies. Asset forfeiture's defenders say that the practice is instrumental in dismantling large-scale criminal enterprises. But evidence suggests that forfeiture proceedings are often initiated against small time criminals or people who aren't criminals at all. An [ACLU] report earlier this year found that the median amount seized in forfeiture actions in Philadelphia amounted to $192. These forfeiture actions were concentrated in the city's poorest neighborhoods. In most states the typical forfeiture amount is very small. The median forfeiture case in Illinois is worth $530. In Minnesota, $451. Those are hardly kingpin-level hauls.
Note: Some police decide what property to seize based on departmental "wish lists". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
From the mid-1970s to the mid-’80s, America’s incarceration rate doubled, from about 150 people per 100,000 to about 300 per 100,000. From the mid-’80s to the mid-’90s, it doubled again. By 2007, it had reached a historic high of 767 people per 100,000. In absolute terms, America’s prison and jail population from 1970 until today has increased sevenfold, from some 300,000 people to 2.2 million. In 2000, one in 10 black males between the ages of 20 and 40 was incarcerated — 10 times the rate of their white peers. At a cost of $80 billion a year, American correctional facilities are a social-service program — providing health care, meals, and shelter for a whole class of people. An authoritative report issued last year by the National Research Council concluded, “the current U.S. rate of incarceration is unprecedented by both historical and comparative standards.” Even once an individual is physically out of prison, many do not elude its grasp. In 1984, 70 percent of all parolees successfully completed their term without arrest and were granted full freedom. In 1996, only 44 percent did. As of 2013, 33 percent do. Deindustrialization had presented an employment problem for America’s poor and working class of all races. Prison presented a solution: jobs for whites, and warehousing for blacks. Mass incarceration “widened the income gap between white and black Americans,” writes [historian] Heather Ann Thompson ... “because the infrastructure of the carceral state was located disproportionately in all-white rural communities.”
Note: The article above provides a detailed history of some U.S. policies that created the corrupt prison industry.
Tens of thousands of troops were used in testing conducted by the U.S. military between 1922 and 1975. The military wanted to learn how to induce symptoms such as "fear, panic, hysteria, and hallucinations" in enemy soldiers. Those who are still alive are part of a class action lawsuit against the Army. If they're successful, the Army will have to explain to anyone who was used in testing exactly what substances they were given and any known risks, [as well as] provide those veterans with health care for any illnesses that result, in whole or in part, from the testing. At least 70,000 troops were used in the testing. Researchers kept information about which agents they were administering from test subjects, [referring to the agents by] code names such as CAR 302668. That's one of the agents, records show, that researchers injected into Frank Rochelle in 1968. In 1975, the Army's chief of medical research admitted to Congress that he didn't have the funding to monitor test subjects' health after they went through the experiments. Since then, the military says it has ended all chemical and biological testing. Test subjects like Rochelle say that's not enough. "We were assured that everything that went on inside the clinic, we were going to be under 100 percent observation; they were going to do nothing to harm us," he says. "And also we were sure that we would be taken care of afterwards if anything happened. Instead we were left to hang out to dry."
Note: The rampant use of humans as guinea pigs in government, military, and medical experiments over the last century is laid out on this timeline. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing military corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Associated Press sued the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday over the FBI's failure to provide public records related to the creation of a fake news story used to plant surveillance software on a suspect's computer. At issue is a 2014 Freedom of Information request seeking documents related to the FBI's decision to send a web link to the fake article to a 15-year-old boy suspected of making bomb threats to a high school. The FBI has used spyware before to pursue suspected criminals. AP strongly objected to the ruse, which was uncovered last year. AP General Counsel Karen Kaiser [wrote] in a 2014 letter to then-Attorney General Eric Holder, "It is improper and inconsistent with a free press for government personnel to masquerade as The Associated Press or any other news organization. The FBI may have intended this false story as a trap for only one person. However, the individual could easily have reposted this story to social networks, distributing to thousands of people, under our name, what was essentially a piece of government disinformation." In a November opinion piece in the New York Times, FBI Director James Comey revealed that an undercover FBI agent had also impersonated an AP reporter. AP's records request also seeks an accounting of how many times since 2000 the FBI has impersonated media organizations to deliver malicious software. In a response to AP, the FBI indicated it might take nearly two years to find and copy the requested records.
Note: According to The Guardian, the FBI forced an informant to hack into and compromise the computer systems of a major UK newspaper in 2011. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in the intelligence community and the manipulation of mass media.
An undercover police unit that monitored political groups over 40 years gathered intelligence on members of at least five trade unions, a whistleblower has revealed. Peter Francis, who spent four years undercover infiltrating political activists, has named five trade unions whose members he spied on: Unison, the Fire Brigades Union, Communication Workers Union, National Union of Teachers, and the National Union of Students. Francis, who has become a whistleblower in recent years ... was part of the covert Metropolitan police unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), that monitored hundreds of political groups between 1968 and 2008. Francis gave a statement to a packed meeting in Parliament that marked the launch of a new book about the blacklisting of thousands of workers by multi-national construction firms. This month, the Daily Mirror revealed that one of the undercover officers in the SDS, Mark Jenner, posed as a joiner and was a member of the construction workers union, UCATT, for three years. Jenner’s involvement in trade unions is detailed here by the Undercover Research Group, a resource on covert infiltration of political groups. It describes how he attended meetings of UCATT and other unions, regularly went on pickets and ferried trade unionists to demonstrations. In his statement ... Francis said, ”Let me state very clearly that Mark Jenner was 100% one of my fellow undercover SDS police officers deployed alongside me in the 1990s.”
Note: While undercover, Mark Jenner had a four-year relationship with a woman who did not know his real identity. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The U.S. Supreme Court building proclaims a high ideal: “Equal Justice Under Law.” But inside, an elite cadre of lawyers has emerged [to give] their clients a disproportionate chance to influence the law. A Reuters examination of nine years of cases shows that 66 of the 17,000 lawyers who petitioned the Supreme Court ... were at least six times more likely to be accepted by the court than were all others. About half [of these 66 lawyers] worked for justices past or present, and some socialize with them. Although they account for far less than 1 percent of lawyers who filed appeals to the Supreme Court, these attorneys were involved in 43 percent of the cases the high court chose to decide from 2004 through 2012. The Reuters examination of the Supreme Court’s docket, the most comprehensive ever, suggests ... a decided advantage for corporate America. Some legal experts contend that the reliance on a small cluster of specialists, most working on behalf of businesses, has turned the Supreme Court into an echo chamber – a place where an elite group of jurists embraces an elite group of lawyers who reinforce narrow views of how the law should be construed. Of the 66 most successful lawyers, 51 worked for law firms that primarily represented corporate interests. In cases pitting the interests of customers, employees or other individuals against those of companies, a leading attorney was three times more likely to launch an appeal for business than for an individual, Reuters found.
Note: How interesting that no major media seem to have picked up this revealing story. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption from reliable major media sources.
The shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American, by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, is a reminder that civilians—innocent or guilty—are far more likely to be shot by police in America than in any other rich country. In 2012, according to data compiled by the FBI, 410 Americans were “justifiably” killed by police—409 with guns. That figure may well be an underestimate. Not only is it limited to the number of people who were shot while committing a crime, but also, amazingly, reporting the data is voluntary. Last year, in total, British police officers actually fired their weapons three times. The number of people fatally shot was zero. In 2012 the figure was just one. Even after adjusting for the smaller size of Britain’s population, British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans. Between 2010 and 2014 the police force of one small American city, Albuquerque in New Mexico, shot and killed 23 civilians; seven times more than the number of Brits killed by all of England and Wales’s 43 forces during the same period. The explanation for this gap is simple. In Britain, guns are rare. Only specialist firearms officers carry them; and criminals rarely have access to them. In America, by contrast, it is hardly surprising that cops resort to their weapons more frequently. In 2013, 30 cops were shot and killed—just a fraction of the 9,000 or so murders using guns that happen each year. Add to that a hyper-militarised police culture and a deep history of racial strife and you have the reason why so many civilians are shot by police officers.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, “amplif[y]” sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be “extremist.” The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call. The tools were created by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG’s use of “fake victim blog posts,” “false flag operations,” “honey traps” and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users. A newly released top-secret GCHQ document called “JTRIG Tools and Techniques” provides a comprehensive, birds-eye view of just how underhanded and invasive this unit’s operations are. The document—available in full here—is designed to notify other GCHQ units of JTRIG’s “weaponised capability” when it comes to the dark internet arts, and serves as a sort of hacker’s buffet for wreaking online havoc.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency operations news articles from reliable major media sources.
Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post. [90% of] account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else. Many of them were Americans. [Many] files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless. The cache Snowden provided came from domestic NSA operations under the broad authority granted by Congress in 2008 with amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA content is generally stored in closely controlled data repositories, and for more than a year. The files offer an unprecedented vantage point on the changes wrought by Section 702 of the FISA amendments, which enabled the NSA to make freer use of methods that for 30 years had required probable cause and a warrant from a judge.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.
It’s not just the NSA that has been caught spying on Americans. Some of our nation’s largest corporations have been conducting espionage as well, against civic groups. That’s the lesson of a new report on corporate espionage against nonprofit organizations by ... Essential Information. The title of the report is Spooky Business, and it is apt. Spooky Business is like a Canterbury Tales of corporate snoopery: Hiring investigators to pose as volunteers and journalists. Hacking. Wiretapping. Information warfare. Physical intrusion. Investigating the private lives of nonprofit leaders. Dumpster diving using an active duty police officer to gain access to trash receptacles. Electronic surveillance. Many different types of nonprofit civic organizations have been targeted by corporate spies: environmental, public interest, consumer, food safety, animal rights, pesticide reform, nursing home reform, gun control and social justice. A diverse constellation of corporations has planned or executed corporate espionage against these nonprofit civic organizations. Food companies like Kraft, Coca-Cola, Burger King, McDonald’s and Monsanto. Oil companies like Shell, BP and Chevron. Chemical companies like Dow and Sasol. Also involved are the retailers (Wal-Mart), banks (Bank of America), and, of course, the nation’s most powerful trade association: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Plenty of mercenary spooks have joined up to abet them, including former officials at the FBI, CIA, NSA, Secret Service and U.S. military. Sometimes even government contractors are part of the snooping.
Note: For more on corporate corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
When Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, sat down with President Obama at the White House in April to discuss Syrian chemical weapons, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and climate change, it was a cordial, routine exchange. The National Security Agency nonetheless went to work in advance and intercepted Mr. Ban’s talking points for the meeting, a feat the agency later reported as an “operational highlight” in a weekly internal brag sheet. It was emblematic of an agency that for decades has operated on the principle that any eavesdropping that can be done on a foreign target of any conceivable interest — now or in the future — should be done. After all, American intelligence officials reasoned, who’s going to find out? From thousands of classified documents, the National Security Agency emerges as an electronic omnivore of staggering capabilities, eavesdropping and hacking its way around the world to strip governments and other targets of their secrets, all the while enforcing the utmost secrecy about its own operations. It spies routinely on friends as well as foes, as has become obvious in recent weeks; the agency’s official mission list includes using its surveillance powers to achieve “diplomatic advantage” over such allies as France and Germany and “economic advantage” over Japan and Brazil, among other countries. The scale of eavesdropping by the N.S.A., with 35,000 workers and $10.8 billion a year, sets it apart.
Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
[Barrett] Brown is not a household name like Edward Snowden or Bradley Manning. But after helping expose a dirty tricks plot, he faces jail. Brown made a splash in February 2011 by helping to uncover "Team Themis", a project by intelligence contractors retained by Bank of America to demolish the hacker society known as Anonymous. The Team Themis story began in late 2010, when Julian Assange warned WikiLeaks would release documents outlining an "ecosystem of corruption [that] could take down a bank or two." Bank of America went into damage-control mode and, as the New York Times reported, assembled "a team of 15 to 20 top Bank of America officials … scouring thousands of documents in the event that they become public." Days later, Bank of America retained the well-connected law firm of Hunton & Williams [which] "proposed various schemes to attack" WikiLeaks. Its partners suggested creating false documents and fake personas to damage progressive organizations. The tech companies' emails – which Anonymous hacked and Barrett Brown helped publicize – listed planned tactics: "Feed[ing] the fuel between the feuding groups. Disinformation. Create messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization. Submit fake documents and then call out the error." Brown [has] been cooling his heels in a jail outside Dallas ... awaiting two separate trials that could put him on ice for more than 100 years. In contrast to the FBI's aggressive pursuit of Brown, no probe of the Team Themis project was launched – despite a call from 17 US House representatives to investigate a possible conspiracy to violate federal laws.
Note: With the wide focus on the privatized national security state by the leaks from Edward Snowden, there is renewed interest in Brown's plight and the campaign for justice in his case. For more on this and to support Barret Brown, click here. For more on intelligence agency corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Britain's spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world's phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA). The sheer scale of the agency's ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate. One key innovation has been GCHQ's ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects. This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user's access to websites – all of which is deemed legal, even though the warrant system was supposed to limit interception to a specified range of targets. The existence of the programme has been disclosed in documents shown to the Guardian by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Britain's technical capacity to tap into the cables that carry the world's communications ... has made GCHQ an intelligence superpower. A total of 850,000 NSA employees and US private contractors with top secret clearance had access to GCHQ databases.
Note: For solid evidence spy agencies targeted even top politicians, click here. For more on intelligence agency corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
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