Category Archive: Privacy

Aug 16 2013

Obama’s Absurd Interpretation of Section 215

As part of an effort to quell concerns about the federal government’s data mining programs, the Obama administration has released a white paper explaining why they think they have the legal authority to get telephone metadata on every single cell phone user in the country. To call that rationale absurd is to engage in flattery. …

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Aug 15 2013

Obama’s Empty Surveillance Promises, Take 2

I wrote the other day that the promises that President Obama made last week about greater transparency were mostly hollow, especially the appointment of a commission to study the problem. Such commission are a political black hole. But it turns out that his “independent” commission won’t be independent at all:

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Aug 13 2013

Obama’s Meaningless Surveillance Reforms

President Obama held a press conference on Sunday and promised to make reforms that would bring greater transparency to the government’s blatantly illegal surveillance and data mining programs. Those promises were as empty as every other promise he’s made on the subject.

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Aug 09 2013

Anonymous Republican Blocks Leahy Bill

Sen. Patrick Leahy was hoping to get a vote on a bill he proposed that would require a warrant instead of a mere subpoena before law enforcement could access our online communications, but an anonymous Republican senator put a hold on the bill to prevent that from happening.

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Aug 07 2013

DEA Using Surveillance Data, Covering That Up

Though the Patriot Act and the FISA amendments were justified as necessary to stop terrorism, the reality is that they are more often used for mundane criminal investigations. Here’s a perfect example. The DEA is using massive amounts of surveillance data to launch drug investigations, but teaching local police to cover up where the information …

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Jul 30 2013

The Bipartisan Consensus On Surveillance

Glenn Greenwald reports on the behind-the-scene battle over an amendment that would have confined NSA data mining only to those who are actually under investigation rather than allowing them to collect massive amounts of data on all of us in the name of stopping terrorism. That amendment failed in the House, but the vote was …

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Jul 29 2013

House Votes for Continued Illegal Surveillance

Rep. Justin Amash, a Tea Party Republican from Michigan but one that actually does care about civil liberties, tried to add an amendment to this year’s defense appropriations bill to prevent the NSA from using the Patriot Act to seize phone records of those who are not under investigation. The White House, a sizable number …

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Jul 15 2013

Hertzberg’s Naivete on the NSA

Rick Herzberg has an essay in the New Yorker discussing the most recent revelations on the NSA’s data mining programs. To say he shows an astonishing naivete for a guy who has been covering Washington politics, and writing intelligently about it, for as long as he has.

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Jul 09 2013

CJ Roberts and the FISA Court

I was not aware until recently how the judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court were chosen for that job, but as Ezra Klein points out they are appointed entirely by the Chief Justice, with no input from either the executive or legislative branches.

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Jun 26 2013

Sensenbrenner on the Patriot Act

Rep. James Sensenbrenner has an op-ed in the Guardian about the recent revelations by that newspaper that the NSA is getting all the metadata on nearly every cell phone call in the country every day. There’s a lot of hypocritical partisan posturing in it, predictably, but the core seems undeniable to me:

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Jun 19 2013

Another NSA Data Mining Hypocrite

Guess who said in 2006, “If I know every single phone call you made, I’m able to determine every single person you talked to. I can get a pattern about your life that is very, very intrusive.” If you guessed Joe Biden, come on down. And he didn’t stop there:

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Jun 18 2013

Lessig: NSA Revelations Won’t Change Anything

I have a lot of respect for Larry Lessig of Harvard Law School and I agree with him completely when he tells Bill Moyers that Edward Snowden’s fear that his leaks about the NSA’s illegal data mining won’t really change anything. He’s right, they won’t.

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Jun 16 2013

Hannity’s Convenient Flip Flop on NSA Surveillance

Like Bill O’Reilly and many others, including many liberals unfortunately, Sean Hannity’s position on government surveillance has taken a mighty swing in the other direction now that Obama is in office instead of Bush. When Bush was in office, questioning NSA data mining makes one “weak on national security.” Now that Obama is in office, …

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Jun 16 2013

Why Illegal Surveillance Matters

Chris Hayes has been doing an excellent job of examining the recent revelations about illegal government spying, including this segment explaining why history teaches that we should be very concerned about the abuses of government surveillance, especially when it’s done without serious checks and balances. He makes many of the same points I’ve made about …

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Jun 15 2013

Obama vs Obama

Someone put together this video contrasting candidate Obama’s hammering of the Bush administration for giving us the false choice of either fighting terrorism or upholding the Constitution with his defense of illegal surveillance on the grounds that we can’t have 100% security and 100% privacy as well (as if either of those things could possibly …

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