Category Archives: 1st Amendment
A Philadelphia couple and an activist lawyer have filed the first class action lawsuit against Verizon Communications and the federal government over the National Security Agency’s collection of millions of Verizon customers’ phone records.
The class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in D.C., names President Obama, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the director of the NSA and the CEO of Verizon as defendants. Also being sued is the NSA, the U.S. Department of Justice, and Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – who signed the secret order directing Verizon to turn over all phone records “on an ongoing daily basis.”
The plaintiffs are calling the domestic spy operation an “outrageous breach of privacy” and a violation of Verizon users’ “reasonable expectation of privacy, free speech and association, right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, and due process rights,” according to the complaint.
The class action lawsuit was originally spearheaded solely by Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch and a vocal critic of the Obama Administration. Philadelphia couple Charles and Mary Anne Strange joined the case on Sunday.
Their son Michael, a U.S. Navy SEAL, was killed along with other 21 other SEAL Team 6 members and 6 National Guardsmen when their helicopter was shot down by terrorist Taliban jihadists in Afghanistan in 2011. They claim in the class action lawsuit that their phone records were accessed and their phones tapped after they became vocal in their criticism of President Obama and the U.S. military regarding the circumstances of their son’s death.
“Somebody has to be held accountable for my son’s death. Thirty brave Americans, the biggest loss in the Afghan war. And that’s when I started asking questions, that’s when my phone got tapped,” Mr. Strange said in an interview.
Strange claims he heard tapping noises on his phone and started receiving odd texts shortly after his son’s death. When he called Verizon to inquire “who’s this?” he claims he was told “it’s somebody listening in from the United States, and someone from Afghanistan.”
The class action lawsuit challenges the legality of the NSA’s “secret and illegal government scheme to intercept and analyze vast quantities of domestic telephone communications.”
“They weren’t going after individual terrorists, they were going after the entire American public,” Klayman told reporters.
Klayman and the Stranges are seeking to represent a nationwide class of all American citizens in the United States and overseas who are current subscribers or customers of Verizon at any time, including but not limited to April 25, 2013 to July 19, 2013.
They are seeking a cease-and-desist order to prohibit the collection of Verizon customers’ phone records and more than $3 billion in damages and attorney fees.
- Philadelphia Couple Join Class-Action Lawsuit Against NSA’s Verizon Spying (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- Obama, 9 PRISM Partners Targeted by Class-Action Lawsuit… Developing… (usnews.com)
- Nine Companies Tied to PRISM, Obama Will Be Smacked With Class-Action Lawsuit Wednesday (usnews.com)
- Former DOJ Prosecutor Files $3 Billion Suit Against Obama, Holder, NSA, Verizon Over PRISMGate (silverdoctors.com)
- Nine Companies Tied to PRISM, Obama Will Be Smacked With Class-Action Lawsuit Wednesday (thedestructionist.wordpress.com)
- 17. Nine Companies Tied to PRISM, Obama Will Be Smacked With Class-Action Lawsuit Wednesday (12160.info)
- Idaho Woman Sues Obama, Holder, Hagel And NSA Over Surveillance (secretsofthefed.com)
- Lawsuit filed over NSA phone spying program (networkworld.com)
- Nine Companies Tied to PRISM, Obama Will Be Smacked With Class-Action Lawsuit Wednesday (12160.info)
- Geneva Co. BP Class Action Lawsuit (wtvy.com)
. . . the document is the first demonstration that the current US administration is collecting, indiscriminately and in bulk, communications records of millions of US citizens, whether or not they’re suspected of wrongdoing.
“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” President Obama said on Friday, defending a broad government surveillance program that was leaked to the press in the preceding week.
Obama defended the program, code-named “PRISM,” at an event on the West coast that was initially supposed to be devoted to the health care law.
According to the New York Times, the president sought to reassure the public that the information collected from nine of the biggest internet companies about phone calls and internet traffic helps to prevent terrorist attacks and is controlled by rigorous judicial and Congressional oversight.
News about the secret surveillance program was broken on Wednesday by the Guardian, which revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting telephone records of millions of Verizon’s US customers under a top-secret order issued on April 25 by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The order, obtained by the Guardian, directs Verizon to hand over information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries, on an “ongoing, daily basis.”
The court order contains a gag provision that prohibits Verizon from disclosing to the public either the FBI’s request for customer records or the court order itself.
It covers a nearly three-month period ending July 19 (although Senator Dianne Feinstein on Thursday said that the order has been renewed every three months for the last seven years) and requires the numbers of both parties on a call to be handed over, as well as location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time of all calls.
- Viewpoints: NSA is snooping on a scope unimagined (sacbee.com)
- Gallagher: NSA’s PRISM program makes phone surveillance seem like child’s play (newsday.com)
- Denials in surveillance program require decoding (news.yahoo.com)
- NSA, FBI get data from nine Internet giants in secret program (thestar.com)
- Privacy vs. Protection: NSA PRISM Program by the Numbers (richardbaris.wordpress.com)
- Tech firms deny involvement in secret NSA ‘backdoor’ spying program (electronista.com)
- We are not spying on you but we are: Parts of NSA’s PRISM program declassified (sott.net)
- Intel chief misled Congress on NSA snooping? (wnd.com)
- Google, Facebook, Others Deny Giving Gov’t Broad Access To Data (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program – The Washington Post
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.
The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.
Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”
London’s Guardian newspaper reported Friday that GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the NSA, also has been secretly gathering intelligence from the same internet companies through an operation set up by the NSA.
According to documents obtained by The Guardian, PRISM would appear to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required in Britain to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an internet company based outside of the country.
PRISM was launched from the ashes of President George W. Bush’s secret program of warrantless domestic surveillance in 2007, after news media disclosures, lawsuits and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court forced the president to look for new authority.
Congress obliged with the Protect America Act in 2007 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with U.S. intelligence collection. PRISM recruited its first partner, Microsoft, and began six years of rapidly growing data collection beneath the surface of a roiling national debate on surveillance and privacy. Late last year, when critics in Congress sought changes in the FISA Amendments Act, the only lawmakers who knew about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.
- U.S. intelligence (NSA) mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program (12160.info)
- US intelligence mining data direct from MSFT, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, others (washingtonpost.com)
- PRISM – US Gov. mining data from Google, y, msn, skype, youtube, and FB (washingtonpost.com)
- By the numbers: The NSA’s super-secret spy program, PRISM (foreignpolicy.com)
via The American Conservative
No, this is not Watergate or Iran-Contra. Nor is it like the sex scandal that got Bill Clinton impeached.
The AP, IRS and Benghazi matters represent a scandal not of presidential wrongdoing, but of presidential indolence, indifference and incompetence in discharging the duties of chief executive.
The Barack Obama revealed to us in recent days is something rare in our history: a spectator president, clueless about what is going on in his own household, who reacts to revelations like some stunned bystander.
Consider. Because of a grave national security leak, President Obama’s Department of Justice seized two months of records from 20 telephones used by The Associated Press. An unprecedented seizure.
Yet the president was left completely in the dark. And though he rushed to defend the seizure, he claims he was uninvolved.
While the AP issue does not appear to have legs—we know what was done and why—it has badly damaged this president. For his own Justice Department treated the press, which has an exalted opinion of itself and its role, with the same contempt as the IRS treated the Tea Party.
The episode has damaged a crucial presidential asset. For this Washington press corps had provided this president with a protective coverage of his follies and failings unseen since the White House press of half a century ago covered up the prowlings of JFK.
The Benghazi issue is of far greater gravity. Still, Obama’s sins here as well seem to be those of omission, not commission.
The president was apparently completely in the dark about the urgent requests from Benghazi for more security. Obama was also apparently completely out of the loop during the seven-hour crisis of Sept. 11-12, when Ambassador Stevens was assassinated, calls for help from Benghazi were denied and two heroic ex-Navy SEALs died fighting to defend U.S. personnel from the roof of that CIA installation.
No one seems to know where Obama was that night.
- White House Troubles (lewrockwell.com)
- The Bystander President (theamericanconservative.com)
- The Spectator President (takimag.com)
- The Spectator President (buchanan.org)
- Half of America wants Obama impeached (wnd.com)
- It’s Bigger Than Obama — We’re Witnessing What Happens When Liberalism Rules (rushlimbaugh.com)
The OIC assault on free speech continues.
“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” – George Washington.
OIC coming back with another attempt to stamp out free speech
Saudi king demands global blasphemy law
Arab League demands global blasphemy law
In all, the San Francisco-based micro-blogging service, in its second so-called transparency report, said there were 815 demands for Twitter account-holder data. Twitter did not say what type of user data was sought in those 815 requests, but it likely includes a mixture of e-mail addresses associated with accounts, IP logs, tweets and direct messages.
Twitter neither said what data it hands over nor said what type of data requires probable-cause warrants. Twitter did not immediately respond for comment.
The disclosure came a week after Google and Yahoo told Wired that it requires probable-cause warrants to divulge to the authorities e-mail and cloud-stored content of its account holders, despite federal law not always demanding that.
MORE . . .
- US gov displays growing appetite for Twitter users’ personal data (boingboing.net)
- The Government Is Still Trying to Spy on a Lot of Your Twitter and Google Data (theatlanticwire.com)
- The Government Is Still Trying to Spy on a Lot of Your Twitter and Google Data (revolutionpac.com)
- Twitter says govt data requests rise (bigpondnews.com)
- Twitter’s transparency report reveals increase in government data requests (guardian.co.uk)
- Data Privacy Day 2013: Twitter reveals US government makes 80% of info requests (rt.com)
- Twitter gives U.S. government its user data 69 percent of the time (digitaltrends.com)
- Twitter: 80% of Government User Data Requests Issued Without a Warrant (mashable.com)
- Twitter: Government user data requests have risen 20 percent (sott.net)
A Virginia man who wrote an abbreviated version of the Fourth Amendment on his body and stripped to his shorts at an airport security screening area won a trial Friday in his lawsuit seeking $250,000 in damages for being detained on a disorderly conduct charge.
Aaron Tobey claimed in a civil rights lawsuit(.pdf) that in 2010 he was handcuffed and held for about 90 minutes by the Transportation Security Administration at the Richmond International Airport after he began removing his clothing to display on his chest a magic-marker protest of airport security measures.
“Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated,” his chest and gut read.
In sending the case to trial, unless there’s a settlement, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 and reversed a lower court judge and invoked Benjamin Franklin in the process. According to the opinion by Judge Roger Gregory:
Here, Mr. Tobey engaged in a silent, peaceful protest using the text of our Constitution—he was well within the ambit of First Amendment protections. And while it is tempting to hold that First Amendment rights should acquiesce to national security in this instance, our Forefather Benjamin Franklin warned against such a temptation by opining that those ‘who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.’ We take heed of his warning and are therefore unwilling to relinquish our First Amendment protections—even in an airport.
MORE . . .
- Politics & NWO – Re: Man With 4th Amendment Written on Chest Wins Trial (disclose.tv)
- Man With 4th Amendment Written on Chest Wins Trial Over Airport Arrest (consciouslifenews.com)
- 4th & 1st Amendments Upheld In TSA Case To The Tune Of $250K (charlesoliverblog.wordpress.com)
- An update on Aaron Tobey’s TSA lawsuit – he won today! (dailypaul.com)
- IN THE LATEST TSA NEWS: Man With 4th Amendment Written on Chest Wins Trial Over Airport Arrest. “A… (pjmedia.com)
Daily, Americans exercise their rights secured by the Constitution. The most widely discussed and debated part of the Constitution is known as the Bill of Rights. Belinda Stutzman provides a refresher course on exactly what the first ten amendments grant each and every American citizen.
It’s become the email equivalent of separating church and state: work email is for official communications while private accounts are for personal — and sometimes inappropriate — messaging.
The FBI probe into Petraeus — which led to his resignation last Friday — serves as a reminder that even the most private emails sent on commercial online services among people using pseudonyms can be discovered and thrown into the harsh light of scrutiny.
Here are Gmail lessons to be learned from the Petraeus affair:
1. It’s not anonymous.
Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell apparently took steps to protect their communication, such as using pseudonyms to set up an online service account and in communicating with each other. But FBI investigators were able to figure out some information about the account from looking at emails sent from the account to another party. Reportedly this is what led authorities investigating threatening emails to Tampa socialite Jill Kelley from Broadwell.
“Who you are saying it to and where you are saying it from has the least protection under the law,” said Chris Soghoian, principal technologist at the ACLU. “A warrant is needed to find out what you are saying.”
Internet service providers and most websites keep complete records of the Internet Protocol addresses of those who use their services for 18 months, and then slightly blurred records of IP addresses after 18 months. Investigators can obtain that information under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act as long as they have reasonable grounds to believe that it is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation — less than the probable cause needed to secure a warrant. In the Petraeus case, the FBI reportedly got the necessary court clearances.
The only way that people can use pseudonymous webmail accounts safely is via an anonymizing service like Tor, said Peter Eckersley, technology projects director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Tor is installed on a computer and reroutes website visits, instant messages and other communications to other Tor users so it is not possible to identify a single computer, sort of like hiding in a crowd.
2. Government requests for access are increasing and Google and other services play ball.
Google reported Tuesday that law enforcement and courts in the United States made nearly 8,000 requests for user information in the first half of 2012 from all of Google’s products — including Gmail, search, Google Docs, etc. The number of requests from the American law enforcement alone jumped 26 percent from the previous six months, when 6,321 requests were made.
Government officials wanted information on 16,281 accounts, Google said, and Google complied roughly 90 percent of the time.
The report shows governments around the world not only wanted more data for law enforcement purposes but also increased requests to Google to remove content.. “Government surveillance is on the rise,” Dorothy Chou, a senior policy analyst at Google, wrote in a blog post announcing the report.
3. You’re not in cyberspace.
A person’s physical location when sending an email can often be pinpointed from the email they send. Email metadata contains IP addresses of the computers and servers they come in contact with, as well as the unique number associated with the device that sent the emails. Sometimes, the traceable IP of the sender’s device is visible in a sent email — email services such as Yahoo and others reveal information about the sending computer, while messages sent from Gmail’s Web interface do not reveal the information about the sending computer, privacy experts say. Even if it isn’t visible, investigators can obtain it with the use of a subpoena or court order, and determine other accounts accessed from the same location.
MORE . . .
- 5 Gmail lessons from Petraeus affair (politico.com)
- How metadata brought down CIA boss David Petraeus (newscientist.com)
- Gmail Location Data Led FBI to Uncover Top Spy’s Affair (wired.com)
- How CIA Director David Petraeus’s Affair Was Traced Through Email (and How to Keep It From Happening to You) (lifehacker.com)
- David Petraeus scandal: The silliness of using Gmail for your affair (telegraph.co.uk)
Carlos Miller was arrested for filming the police. Resisting the pressure to accept a “deal,” he risked more prison time simply by insisting on his right to a jury trial. According to Miller, the prosecutor told the jury that Miller did not behave like a “real journalist” because a “real journalist” would have obeyed all police requests and orders. Miller’s attorney responded to that argument with the following:
“In this country, when you’re a journalist, your job is to investigate.
Not to be led by your hand where the police want you to see, so they can hide what they don’t want you to see.
No, when you’re a journalist, a real journalist, it’s your job to go find the truth. As long as you are acting within the law as Mr. Miller was, you have the right to demand and say, ‘no, I’m not moving, I have the right to be here. This is a public sidewalk, I have the right to be here.’
He did his job. He has the right to do his job the way he sees fit. It’s not up to these prosecutors to tell anybody, much less an independent journalist, how to do their job. It’s not up to the police officers, it’s not up to a judge or the president.
In this country, journalists do their job the way they see fit.
What’s he describing is Cuba. What he’s describing is a communist country. The government says you can’t be here because I say you can’t be here.
And it’s infuriating to me that a prosecutor would try to get up here and try to convince you that just because a police officer says something, that he has to bow his head and walk away.
That is a disgrace to the Constitution of this country.”
Congratulations to Miller and his attorneys. More info, including video from the trial, click here.
- Jury Says Journalist Arrested While Videotaping Police Is Not Guilty (libertycrier.com)
- *** Not Guilty *** (photographyisnotacrime.com)
- Texas woman charged with felony for posting police officer’s photo on Facebook (rt.com)
How the FISA Amendments Act Allows for Warrantless Wiretapping, As Described By Supreme Court Justices
On [October 29, 2012] … the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Clapper v. Amnesty, an important case that will decide if the ACLU’s challenge to the FISA Amendments Act—the law passed in the wake of the NSA warrantless wiretapping scandal—can go forward. The Court will essentially determine whether any court, short of a government admission, can rule on whether the NSA’s targeted warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international communications violates the Constitution.1
In Clapper, the plaintiffs — journalists, human rights workers, and lawyers — filed the lawsuit because the statute prevents them from doing their job without taking substantial measures when communicating to overseas witnesses, sources and clients. EFF has previously explained how the FISA Amendments Act gives the government an unconstitutional license to read any emails or other electronic communications coming into and out of the United States. So let’s hear the Supreme Court Justices, in their own words, explain how invasive the law really is.
Here is how Justice Ginsburg, with an assist from ACLU deputy director Jameel Jaffer, explained how the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) gutted the traditional warrant requirements in FISA, along with the Fourth Amendment:
JUSTICE GINSBURG: Mr. Jaffer, could you be clear on the expanded authority under the FAA? As I understood it, it’s not like in [FISA], where a target was identified and…the court decided whether there was probable cause. Under this new statute, the Government doesn’t say who is the particular person or the particular location. So, there isn’t that check. There isn’t that check.
MR. JAFFER: That’s absolutely right, Justice Ginsburg…The whole point of the statute was to remove those tests, to remove the probable cause requirement, and to remove the facilities requirement, the requirement that the Government identify to the court the facilities to be monitored. So those are gone.
That’s why we use the phrase “dragnet surveillance.” I know the Government doesn’t accept that label, but it concedes that the statute allows what it calls categorical surveillance, which…is essentially the surveillance that the plaintiffs here are concerned about.
As Justice Kagan stated succinctly, “this statute greatly expands the government’s surveillance power. Nobody denies that.”
MORE . . .
- How the FISA Amendments Act Allows for Warrantless Wiretapping, As Described By Supreme Court Justices (activistpost.com)
- Fight over FISA Amendments Act Moves to the Senate, as the House Passes the Broad, Warrantless Spying Bill (rubinoworld.com)
- How the FISA Amendments Act Allows for Warrantless Wiretapping, As Described By Supreme Court Justices (eff.org)
- Fact Checking Obama’s Misleading Answer About Warrantless Wiretapping on The Daily Show (eff.org)
- House approves another five years of warrantless wiretapping (rubinoworld.com)
Add Facebook to the cadre of media that are helping President Obama cover up his responsibility for the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
The Special Operations Speaks PAC last week posted an image comparing SEALs’ loyalty when Obama needed them to how two SEALs were ignored by the White House during the firefight at the U.S. mission on September 11. The meme was shared by more than 30,000 and seen by hundreds of thousands of people.
Over the weekend, Facebook apparently panicked, pulled the image and gave SOS a warning that it was in violation of Facebook policy.
Larry Ward, president of Political Media Inc., which maintains the SEALs page, told Breitbart that he copied the Facebook warning and reposted the original image with the warning as a caption.
As a result, Facebook suspended SOS for 24 hours.
And yes, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is said to be an Obama supporter.
MORE . . .
- Facebook Censors Navy SEALs to Protect Obama on Benghazi-Gate (thegrimcreeper.newsvine.com)
- WOMEN’S GROUP Slams Obama For Abandoning SEALs in Benghazi (Video) (thegatewaypundit.com)
- Facebook Censors Navy Seals To Protect Obama On Benghazi-Gate (redalertpolitics.com)
- Facebook Censors Navy Seals to Protect Obama on Benghazi-gate (tarpon.wordpress.com)
- Facebook Closes Down SEALs to Shield Obama (moonbattery.com)