DOJ Notifies Defendants of Warrantless Wiretap Evidence

This is a very interesting development that could lead somewhere important. The Department of Justice is now informing defendants if any evidence in their case was procured through a warrantless wiretap. Why is this important? Because it gives them standing to challenge illegal surveillance.
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Schneier on the NSA’s Absurd Rationalizations

The Obama administration’s argument for why it’s okay to collect everyone’s electronic communications (like the Bush administration) is that it isn’t really a search until a human looks at or listens to all that data. And trust them, they have rules about that. Bruce Schneier explains why that’s absolute nonsense.
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NSA Analysts Spying on Spouses, Partners

The Inspector General of the National Security Agency has sent a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley about cases where NSA personnel have used their ability to listen in on phone calls and other communications to spy on girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands and wives. It’s happened 12 times since 2003. Some examples:
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NSA Spied on Political Enemies in Cold War

Foreign Policy reports on newly declassified documents that show that the NSA spied on a whole range of people that the LBJ and Nixon administrations considered their political enemies, including at least two sitting U.S. Senators, Martin Luther King and even — for crying out loud — Art Buchwald.
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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. It says, in part:
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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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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 came from.
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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 pretty close — and the leadership of both parties united to make sure that no limits would be placed on the National Surveillance State.
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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 of Democrats and the majority of Republicans made sure that didn’t happen.
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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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