April 5, 2012
Electronic Frontier Foundation
By Hanni Fakhoury
New data from law enforcement agencies across the country has confirmed what EFF has long been afraid of: while police are routinely using cell phone location tracking information, only a handful of agencies are bothering to obtain search warrants.
Since 2005, we’ve been beating the drum loudly, warning that the government’s attempts to track a person’s physical location through their cell phone requires a search warrant.
As we’ve said again and again, because cell phone tracking can give the government a snapshot of a person’s life through their movements, a search warrant is necessary to safeguard against privacy intrusions.
Now new data — obtained from a coordinated FOIA request by the ACLU — shows just how pervasive cell phone tracking is throughout the United States. The ACLU obtained 5,500 pages of records from over 200 different law enforcement agencies. The records revealed that most law enforcement agencies are using location tracking information routinely, with only 10 out of the more than 200 claiming they had not tracked cell phones.
And even more troubling, the records demonstrate that different agencies use different standards to obtain this information, with only a few agencies obtaining search warrants in order to track.
It looks like local law enforcement agencies are taking their lead from the federal government, who has been using cell location data obtained without a search warrant for years.
March 30, 2012
By Glenn Greenwald
“It looks like there’s not much difference between Bush and Obama.” –KTRN
The ACLU is suing the Obama administration under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking to force disclosure of the guidelines used by Obama officials to select which human beings (both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals) will have their lives ended by the CIA’s drone attacks (“In particular,” the group explains, the FOIA request “seeks to find out when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killing”). The Obama administration has not only refused to provide any of that information, but worse, the CIA is insisting to federal courts that it cannot even confirm or deny the existence of a drone program at all without seriously damaging national security; from the CIA’s brief in response to the ACLU lawsuit:
March 7, 2012
By All Gov
In a rare demonstration of judicial independence from the national security state, a federal judge last Wednesday ordered the federal government to release a document it says is classified. The case is a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit filed by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) in 2001 against the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). CIEL requested USTR turn over a one-page position paper concerning a U.S. negotiating position in negotiations to create a free-trade area among 34 nations in the western hemisphere that eventually went nowhere. USTR refused to release the document, which was classified because the countries in the negotiation had agreed to keep their records secret until the end of 2013. To violate that agreement would, according to USTR, undermine trust of the U.S. and thus could reasonably be expected to cause harm to U.S. foreign relations.
But U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Roberts, a Bill Clinton appointee, rejected the USTR’s argument, especially since the document was a U.S. Government record, not foreign government information that had been provided to the U.S. in confidence. Roberts concluded that “USTR has not provided a plausible or logical explanation for why disclosure of the document would harm the United States’ foreign relations.” The Obama administration is likely to appeal this ruling.
February 23, 2012
By Paul Joesph Watson
“You might want to think twice before you post an anti-government comment on your Facebook page. Apparently, the government doesn’t have anything better to do than read social media. What are they afraid of? The answer is you and me. Hooray for freedom.” –KTRN
A Homeland Security training manual belies claims made by DHS representatives during a Congressional hearing last week that the federal agency is only monitoring social media outlets for “situational awareness,” and proves the fact that Bis Sis is also tracking online criticism of government, including discussion of airport body scanners.
“Analysts for a Department of Homeland Security program that monitors social networks like Twitter and Facebook have been instructed to produce reports on policy debates related to the department, a newly disclosed manual shows,” reports the New York Times.
The manual, entitled Department of Homeland Security National Operations Center Media Monitoring Capability Desktop Reference Binder, was obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center via a FOIA request.
The controversy over DHS spying on social media erupted last month following the release of 300 documents which detailed how DHS had hired an outside contractor, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, to monitor social media outlets along with a list of websites, on a “24/7/365 basis,” in order to uncover “any media reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government and the Department of Homeland Security.”
During a subsequent Congressional hearing on the matter, DHS representatives Mary Callahan and Richard Chávez denied the fact that tracking criticism of government agencies formed any part of the program, and that the effort was merely aimed at developing “situational awareness” of potential threats, mostly related to extreme weather events.
However, the 2011 manual makes it abundantly clear that the program was a backdoor effort to keep tabs on what the American people were saying about not just the DHS, but a whole host of federal agencies, including the CIA, the ATF, the TSA, FEMA, as well as organizations outside of the U.S. government such as the United Nations and the Red Cross.
February 16, 2012
By Nicholas West
“State and Federal governments are so afraid of the people that they will do anything to keep track on what we’re doing. How bout instead you leave us alone? Just a thought.” –KTRN
ICE announced in February, 2011 that it would begin using biometric identification as a key component of an information-sharing nexus with 58 California counties meant to identify aliens who are booked for crimes by local police. However, a Freedom of Information Act request by several justice organizations revealed a program involving extensive Homeland Security coordination to expand the Secure Communities biometrics program to include even law-abiding American citizens.
The progression of Secure Communities has been warp speed, as 27 states have implemented its procedures. Minnesota is the latest to add itself in full compliance with the mandatory federal biometric ID program.
However, a pattern of deception by the federal government from the onset, as well as ignoring the growing criticism, is making it clear that rather than being a specific initiative to deport known criminals, Secure Communities is looking more and more like a sweeping move toward a Big Brother total surveillance grid.
Secure Communities is part of the Next Generation Identification program that has been rolled out to supplant the current fingerprint database known as IAFIS. Full biometrics are added to fingerprint information, including: palm scans, voice imprints, iris scans, facial recognition, and other body signatures that form an identity dossier of every individual. Once established, the dossier can be analyzed and communicated in real time between local law enforcement and federal agencies to theoretically deport “illegal and dangerous immigrants.”
Concerns have been raised by privacy rights advocates and Constitutionalists alike. The biometric dossier is compiled on anyone caught within its web; it then becomes the property of law enforcement agencies even if your biometrics (and DNA) are picked up as latent imprints at a crime scene. This makes everyday movements part of a tracking grid that can be cross-referenced beyond the court of law, potentially leading to false suspicions, interrogations, and arrests.
ICE is already under investigation for misrepresenting its intentions; and the wider role of the FBI, and its push to make mandatory what could have been voluntary, only furthers the suspicion that forcing states to obey federal mandate has intentions that far surpass documenting and deporting illegal and dangerous individuals.
According to Bridget Kessler of the Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic, one of the organizations that applied through FOIA to review documents outlining the FBI’s role in the implementation of Secure Communities:
February 1, 2012
By Stephen Lendman
Consensus 9/11 seeks “best evidence” proof to dispel official story falsehoods. It’s founded on:
(1) The opinions of respected authorities, based on professional experience, descriptive studies, and reports of expert committees.
(2) Physical data in the form of photographs, videotapes, court testimony, witness reports, and FOIA releases.
(3) Direct rather than circumstantial evidence.
Determining “best evidence” depends on “integrating individual professional expertise with the best available documentary and scientific evidence.”
Simplified Delphi methodology is followed. It’s often used “where published information is inadequate or non-existent.” As a result, experts use “best evidence” to determine truth.
9/11: The Seminal Event of Our Time
Lt. Col. Shelton F. Lankford, US Marine Corps (ret.) calls 9/11 “the watershed event of our lives and the greatest test for our democracy in our lifetimes.”
Calling the official explanation “impossible,” he cited “evidence of government complicity in the lead-up to the event, the failure to respond during the event, and the astounding lack of any meaningful investigation afterwards, as well as the ignoring of” subsequent evidence perhaps causing “the end of the American experiment….(O)ur republic and our Constitution remain in the gravest danger.”
Evidence revealed contradicts the official 9/11 story. It spawned a nightmarish decade of wars, torture, military tribunals, extraordinary rendition, assault on democratic freedoms, millions of deaths, and incalculable human misery.
Official 9/11 claims “are contradicted by facts that have been validated by a scientific consensus process,” using “best” and other strong evidence.
For example, bin Laden was blamed for 9/11. However, FBI charges against him excluded it. In fact, then FBI investigative publicity head, Rex Tomb, said no hard evidence connected him to it. Moreover, the 9/11 Commission also produced none.
Another example involves blaming jet impacts, fuel, and resulting fires for bringing down the Twin Towers. In fact, jet fuel reaches maximum temperatures no greater than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Steel begins melting only at 2,700 degrees or higher.
Yet, official reports claimed otherwise. They also said three causes only downed the buildings: jet impacts, fires and gravity. However, best evidence disproves this and other official claims.
WTC 7′s collapse is especially important. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) initially blamed structural damage combined with jet fuel fire. Then its final report blamed fire alone.
January 17, 2012
By Paul Joseph Watson
“You don’t have to go through the body scanners. You can opt out. Yes, you’ll be felt up. But who knows, it might be enjoyable.” –KTRN
Following reports of cancer clusters at Boston-Logan Airport, the TSA is set to test its naked body scanner operators for radiation exposure, but still refuses to test the actual machines that thousands of Americans are forced to pass through each day.
“After years of rebuffing health concerns over airport scanners, the Transportation Security Administration plans to conduct new tests on the potential radiation exposure from the machines at more than 100 airports nationwide,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
Details of the tests were not announced publicly by the federal agency, they were leaked as a result of a request sent to government vendors to provide wearable dosimeters that provide measurements of individual radiation exposure.
The tests follow apparent efforts by the TSA to cover-up a “cluster” of cancer cases amongst scanner operators at Boston-Logan airport. According to FOIA documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, when Union representatives in Boston discovered a “cancer cluster” amongst TSA workers linked with radiation from the body scanners, the TSA sought to downplay the matter and refused to issue employees with dosimeters to measure levels of exposure.
The documents indicated how, “A large number of workers have been falling victim to cancer, strokes and heart disease.”
Numerous studies conducted by prestigious universities and health authorities, including Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, the University of California, and the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety, have warned that the devices will lead to an increase in cancers.
December 20, 2011
“Doesn’t anyone think it’s odd that there is NO evidence of Osama Bin Laden being buried at sea? I guess it’s just better to beleive what you’re told like a sheep.” –KTRN
Months ago, I asked the Pentagon for its visual records of Osama bin Laden’s sea burial under the Freedom of Information Act. Today, I received a thick packet of No— a complete denial that any records exist. Read it.
The core of the response is this: the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, United States Special Operations Command, and the Department of the Navy all had their records searched. Nothing. Admiral Mike Mullen’s email was scanned. Nothing. The Pentagon claims not a single person aboard the USS Carl Vinson, where Bin Laden’s remains were disposed of, took a single picture. Not a single email from the ship makes reference to photo or video. Essentially: nobody in the military has evidence. So did these things ever exist? If so, they’re in a filing cabinet at the CIA, where they’ll be safe for the rest of time.
Read for yourself.
October 26, 2011
By Jennifer LaFleur
A proposed rule to the Freedom of Information Act would allow federal agencies to tell people requesting certain law-enforcement or national security documents that records don’t exist – even when they do.
Under current FOIA practice, the government may withhold information and issue what’s known as a Glomar denial that says it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records.
The new proposal – part of a lengthy rule revision by the Department of Justice – would direct government agencies to “respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist.”
Open-government groups object.
“We don’t believe the statute allows the government to lie to FOIA requesters,” said Mike German, senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the provision.
The ACLU, along with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and OpenTheGovernment.org said the move would “dramatically undermine government integrity by allowing a law designed to provide public access to government to be twisted.
The Glomar denial arose in the mid-1970s when a Los Angeles Times reporter requested information about the CIA’s Glomar Explorer, built to recover a sunken Soviet submarine and the CIA’s attempt to suppress stories about it.
But the advocacy groups propose another response: You have requested “…records which, if they exist, would not be subject to the disclosure requirements of FOIA…”
They prefer such language because a last resort is to sue to obtain the records, something people requesting information might not do if they assumed that no records existed.
Open government groups also contend that the proposed rule could undermine judicial proceedings.
In a recent case brought by the ACLU of Southern California, the FBI denied the existence of documents. But the court later discovered that the documents did exist. In an amended order, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney wrote that the “Government cannot, under any circumstance, affirmatively mislead the Court.”
DOJ’s draft FOIA rule was first published in March, but DOJ re-opened comment submissions in September at the request of open-government groups. The new comment period ended October 19.
The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment. We will update as soon as it does.
After filing a lawsuit that prompted NIST to release more than 3 terabytes of photographs and videos from their investigation into the collapse of the twin towers and WTC 7 on 9/11, the International Center for 9/11 Studies has obtained evidence that suggests NIST edited several videos of the collapse of Building 7 in order to hide evidence of a controlled implosion.
The Center filed a FOIA Request with NIST on January 26, 2009, seeking production of “all of the photographs and videos collected, reviewed, cited or in any other way used by NIST during its investigation of the World Trade Center building collapses.” Following several unsuccessful attempts to get NIST to even acknowledge receipt of the Request, the Center was forced to file a lawsuit on May 28, 2009. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the Request was assigned a reference number, and NIST began periodically releasing batches of responsive records.
The Center has now begun posting some of those images and videos online, the first batch of which is from an external hard disk drive “NIST WTC Investigation Cumulus Video Clips.”
In one of the clips, the video of which has been in the public domain for years, a loud, low-frequency boom can be heard just before the east penthouse of WTC 7 falls. Once the support columns that held up the penthouse are taken out, the rest of the building falls almost within its own footprint.
However, in subsequent clips released by NIST, where the camera is located nearer to the building, the collapse of the penthouse is clearly edited out of the footage.
“Several clips from the Cumulus database show signs of editing. In the two video clips below, the collapse of the penthouse of World Trade Center 7 is cut out of the video. These videos happen to have been filmed from close to WTC 7, and have a high quality soundtrack that would have picked up explosion sounds from the charges that severed the columns supporting the penthouse, especially the explosion heard in the last video clip presented,” comments the International Center for 9/11 Studies.
In another clip, the entire collapse of the building is edited out, the audio is removed and only restored after the building has fully collapsed.
The Center also obtained videos of the collapse of the twin towers that had obviously been edited, with sections deliberately removed. “There are many video clips in the Cumulus database that do not show collapse initiation – the only event even purportedly explained in the final report from NIST on the Twin Towers,” states the Center.
Another new video shows Michael Hess yelling for help from the 8th floor window of WTC 7. The clip reinforces the fact that the building had not sustained any substantial damage before its free fall collapse within 7 seconds.
As we documented for several years, the collapse of WTC 7 is the smoking gun confirming that the official story behind 9/11 is bogus. The collapse of Building 7 was reported before it happened by several news stations, including BBC and CNN.
The International Center for 9/11 Studies is now in the process of reviewing over 300 DVDs along with several external hard disk drives that contain a plethora of unseen photographs and video footage from ground zero. Judging by the small amount of damning footage already released, it’s highly probable that this data will provide a myriad of new contradictions both to the official 9/11 story as well as NIST’s own investigation into the collapse of the three buildings.