Multiple New Polls Show Americans Reject Wholesale NSA Domestic Spying Mark M. Jaycox and Trevor Timm eff.org August 14, 2013 Update: Polls further confirm that Americans are deeply concerned with the unconstitutional NSA spying programs. In a July 10 poll by Quinnipiac University, voters were asked whether the government’s efforts “go too far in restricting the average person’s civil liberties” or “not far enough to adequately protect the country.” The poll revealed that Americans largely believe that the government has gone too far by a margin of 45% to 40%. This is a clear reversal from a January 2010 survey in which the same question found that 63% of voters believed the government didn’t “go far enough to adequately protect the country.” Polls further reveal Americans as highly skeptical of the programs. In an Economist/YouGov poll, 56% of Americans do not think the NSA is telling the truth about the unconstitutional spying. The same poll found that 59% of people disapprove of the spying, while only 35% approve of it. These numbers are not outliers and are supported by a recent Fox News poll (.pdf) finding 62% of Americans think the collection of phone records is “an unacceptable and alarming invasion of privacy rights.” The latest poll, performed by Pew, affirms every one of these conclusions. Not only are Americans skeptical about the program, but they also believe the government has gone too far—the same exact conclusion found in the Quinnipiac poll. In a series of questions, Pew asked Americans whether they supported or opposed the program with different phrasings. As Pew reports: “Under every condition in this experiment more respondents oppose than favor the program.” The Pew poll is full of evidence supporting the fact that Americans oppose the unconstitutional spying, are skeptical of government claims about the unconstitutional NSA spying, and are increasingly concerned about their privacy rights. — In the 1950s and 60s, the NSA spied on all telegrams entering and exiting the country. The egregious actions were only uncovered after Congress set up an independent investigation called the Church Committee in the 1970s after Watergate. When the American public learned about NSA’s actions, they demanded change. And the Church Committee delivered it by providing more information about the programs and by curtailing the spying. Just like the American public in the 1970s, Americans in the 2010s know that when the government
amasses dossiers on citizens, it’s neither good for security nor for privacy. And a wide range of polls this week show widespread concern among the American people over the new revelations about NSA domestic spying. Yesterday, the Guardian released a comprehensive poll showing widespread concern about NSA spying. Two-thirds of Americans think the NSA’s role should be reviewed. The poll also showed Americans demanding accountability and more information from public officials—two key points of our recently launched stopwatching.us campaign. But there’s more. So far, Gallup has one of the better-worded questions, finding that 53% of Americans disapprove of the NSA spying. A CBS poll also showed that a majority—at 58%—of Americans disapprove of the government “collecting phone records of ordinary Americans.” And Rasmussen— though sometimes known for push polling—also recently conducted a poll showing that 59% of Americans are opposed to the current NSA spying. The only poll showing less than a majority on the side of government overreach was Pew Research Center, which asked Americans whether it was acceptable that the NSA obtained “secret court orders to track the calls of millions of Americans to investigate terrorism.” Pew reported that 56% of Americans said it was “acceptable.” But the question is poorly worded. It doesn’t mention the widespread, dragnet nature of the spying. It also neglects to describe the “information” being given—metadata, which is far more sensitive and can provide far more information than just the ability to “track the calls” of Americans. And it was conducted early on in the scandal, before it was revealed that the NSA doesn’t even have to obtain court orders to search already collected information. Despite the aggregate numbers, many of the polls took place at the same time Americans were finding out new facts about the program. More questions must be asked. And if history is any indication, the American people will be finding out much more. Indeed, just today the Guardian reported that its working on a whole new series with even more NSA revelations about spying. One thing is definitely clear: the American public is demanding answers and needs more information. That’s why Congress must create a special investigatory committee to reveal the full extent of the programs. Democracy demands it. Go here to take action.
White House Knew Mike Rogers Withheld Details Of NSA Surveillance From Others In Congress techdirt.com August 14, 2013 In the last week or so it’s come out that Rep. Mike Rogers, the head of the House Intelligence Committee has actively blocked requests from members of Congress to review details of the NSA’s surveillance program — showing that the claim that everyone in Congress was informed about these programs isn’t just a lie but a duplicitous one. And then it got worse. Rep. Justin Amash pointed out that Rogers’ committee actually withheld key information from all incoming Representatives in the class of 2010, who had to vote on the Patriot Act’s reauthorization, which renewed the program to collect data on all Americans in bulk. Amash highlighted a document showing that the White House had sent a letter to Rogers, telling him that he should make the document available to all members of Congress, and then noted that he had not actually done so in 2011 (though he had in 2009). Marcy Wheeler has pointed out that if you actually closely read the DOJ’s paper that was released on Friday defending this program, you’d see that the White House was well aware that Rogers never made the document available to Congress. Of course, you have to read the document very, very, very carefully to spot that. The paper first talks about the document that was provided to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in 2009, and then notes that both committees made those documents available to all of their colleagues: In December 2009, DOJ worked with the Intelligence Community to provide a classified briefing paper to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees that could be made available to all Members of Congress regarding the telephony metadata collection program. A letter accompanying the briefing paper sent to the House Intelligence Committee specifically stated that “it is important that all Members of Congress have access to information about this program” and that “making this document available to all members of Congress is an effective way to inform the legislative debate
about reauthorization of Section 215.” See Letter from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich to the Honorable Silvestre Reyes, Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (Dec. 14, 2009). Both Intelligence Committees made this document available to all Members of Congress prior to the February 2010 reauthorization of Section 215. See Letter from Sen. Diane Feinstein and Sen. Christopher S. Bond to Colleagues (Feb. 23, 2010); Letter from Rep. Silvestre Reyes to Colleagues (Feb. 24, 2010) But, when it came to the similar document in 2011, the White House report only notes that the Senate Intelligence Committee made the document available, and never says anything about the House. And of course, the letter that Amash highlighted points out that the White House was clearly urging Rogers to make it available as well — and he did not do that. An updated version of the briefing paper, also recently released in redacted form to the public, was provided to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees again in February 2011 in connection with the reauthorization that occurred later that year. See Letter from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich to the Honorable Dianne Feinstein and the Honorable Saxby Chambliss, Chairman and Vice Chairman, Senate Select Committee on
Snowden Says NSA Targets Journalists Critical of Government Raven Clabough thenewamerican.com August 14, 2013 Controversial whistleblower Edward Snowden has levied a variety of accusations against the National Security Agency. The latest allegation asserts that the NSA has specifically targeted journalists who wrote critically about the federal government following the September 11 attacks. According to Snowden, this facet of the NSA’s spying is what helped him decide which journalists to whom he should reach out and report on the NSA’s unconstitutional activities. Snowden is a former NSA contractor who blew the whistle on the NSA’s warrantless searches of e-mails and phone calls of American citizens, a story first reported by the U.K. Guardian. The Obama administration has targeted Snowden as a traitor, charging him with theft of government property and violating the Espionage Act of 1917, while others have celebrated Snowden as a hero. While a great deal of attention is given to Snowden’s accusations against the federal government, little has been reported on just why Snowden chose to bring his story to documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian.
But in an interview with the New York Times Magazine, Snowden provides some insight into his decision. During the interview, Snowden said that Laura is one of “the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics throughout this period, even in the face of withering personal criticism.” “After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power — the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government — for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism,” he said. “From a business perspective, this was the obvious strategy,” he continued. “But what benefitted the institutions ended up costing the public dearly. The major outlets are still only beginning to recover from this cold period. Laura and Glenn are among the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics.” Snowden contends that in doing so, Poitras became “targeted by the very programs involved in the recent disclosures.” According to Snowden, the agency tracked her e-mails and placed her on countless travel watch lists, causing her to have to repeatedly undergo airport interrogations. For Snowden, it was Poitras’ willingness to report critically on the government that compelled him to reach out to her. He contacted her through an encrypted network, and that is when it all began. “I was surprised to realize that there were people in news organizations who didn’t recognize any unencrypted message sent over the Internet is being delivered to every intelligence service in the world,” he said. “In the wake of this year’s disclosures, it should be clear that unencrypted journalist-source communication is unforgivably reckless,” he added. Further, Poitras earned Snowden’s full trust when she appeared skeptical of Snowden. “We came to a point in the verification and vetting process where I discovered Laura was more suspicious of me than I was of her, and I’m famously paranoid,” Snowden indicated. Ultimately, this communication would result in a meeting in Hong Kong between Snowden, Greenwald, and Poitras that lead to the revelations about the NSA’s surveillance programs.
MIT: Future Smartphones Will ‘Listen to Everything All the Time’ Paul Joseph Watson Infowars.com August 14, 2013 Ubiquitous surveillance to “detect your moods,” “pinpoint the sources of your stress,” and “present relevant information” The development of new smartphone technology that constantly records your private conversations in addition to all ambient background noise in order to “detect your moods” could mean the NSA might not have to bother with tapping actual phone calls at all in future. A report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hails the era of “technologies that emphasize listening to everything, all
the time,” ubiquitous surveillance aided by microphones installed on new smartphones, such as Google’s Moto X, that do not run off the main battery and can, “continually monitor their auditory environment to detect the phone owner’s voice, discern what room or other setting the phone is in, or pick up other clues from background noise.” While the article fails to mention the nightmare privacy implications that this technology would engender, it focuses on the innumerable apparent benefits. The technology could, “make it possible for software to detect your moods, know when you are talking and not to disturb you, and perhaps someday keep a running record of everything you hear.” Not only would such technology prevent accidental pocket calls by recognizing muffled sounds, or put unnecessary calls on hold by recognizing the voice of its owner, It could also be used to “pinpoint the sources of your stress” if you are talking too quickly, or “present relevant information” in relation to your audio environment (in other words bombard you with commercials). It sounds like Big Brother and invasive Minority Report-style advertising rolled into one. Chris Schmandt, director of the speech and mobility group at MIT’s Media Lab, relates how “one of his grad students once recorded two years’ worth of all the sounds he was exposed to—capturing every conversation. While the speech-to-text conversions were rough, they were good enough that he could perform a keyword search and recover the actual recording of a months-old conversation.” Isn’t it enough that the NSA can already read every email we send, snoop on every private Facebook message and eavesdrop on every Skype call? Now we’re opening the door to government to have a transcript of our every private auditory interaction? None of this is even addressed in the MIT piece. Only in the final paragraph of the article does it admit that “people skittish about surveillance” might have a problem with any of this. A respondent to the article summed up such concerns, commenting, “I am not my phone. I do not want a phone that thinks it is me, nor even that thinks it understands me. My phone is a tool. It is not my friend. It is not my assistant. It is a tool. It is MY tool. It is not the tool of advertisers nor data collectors nor the government.” It’s little wonder that former CIA Director David Petraeus last year hailed the arrival of “the Internet of things,” a new era of “clandestine tradecraft” that will grease the skids for ubiquitous eavesdropping. With virtually every consumer product now being connected to the Internet and with smartphones set to become a permanent Big Brother in our pocket, there’ll be little need to plant a bug on anyone in future since we’re voluntarily doing it to ourselves.
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