Is the government watching your emails?
They are probably watching mine. The House just approved extending an eavesdropping bill another five years. The National Security Agency is collecting a staggering amount of Americans’ conversations, but only examining a small slice of them, or so they say.
The bill specifically allows eavesdropping without cause, if the government believes the conversation is with someone who lives outside the US.
Since I exchange emails with people from all over the world, the government probably has a huge file on “Mish”.
Worse yet, the Government’s amazing interpretation of “out of the country” applies to anyone in the country as long as the government is doing so on grounds they are looking for al-Qaida.
So if you are Muslim, Jewish, or in any other targeted religious or ethnic group, everything you do or say is probably in a government file somewhere.
The New York Times Op-Ed “The Program” shows a video from The filmmaker Laura Poitras profiles William Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency who helped design a top-secret program he says is broadly collecting Americans’ personal data.
I have been detained at the border more than 40 times. Once, in 2011, when I was stopped at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and asserted my First Amendment right not to answer questions about my work, the border agent replied, “If you don’t answer our questions, we’ll find our answers on your electronics.”’ As a filmmaker and journalist entrusted to protect the people who share information with me, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to work in the United States. Although I take every effort to secure my material, I know the N.S.A. has technical abilities that are nearly impossible to defend against if you are targeted.
The 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which oversees the N.S.A. activities, are up for renewal in December. Two members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, both Democrats, are trying to revise the amendments to insure greater privacy protections. They have been warning about “secret interpretations” of laws and backdoor “loopholes” that allow the government to collect our private communications. Thirteen senators have signed a letter expressing concern about a “loophole” in the law that permits the collection of United States data. The A.C.L.U. and other groups have also challenged the constitutionality of the law, and the Supreme Court will hear arguments in that case on Oct. 29.
Laura Poitras is a documentary filmmaker who has been nominated for an Academy Award and whose work was exhibited in the 2012 Whitney Biennial. She is working on a trilogy of films about post-9/11 America. This Op-Doc is adapted from a work in progress to be released in 2013.
Loopholes Widened, Warrantless Electronic Spy Powers Approved
Wired reports House Approves Sweeping, Warrantless Electronic Spy Powers.
The House on Wednesday reauthorized for five years broad electronic eavesdropping powers that legalized and expanded the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.
The FISA Amendments Act, which is expiring at year’s end, allows the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant so long as one of the parties to the communication is believed outside the United States. The communications may be intercepted “to acquire foreign intelligence information.”
The government has also interpreted the law to mean that as long as the real target is al-Qaida, the government can wiretap purely domestic e-mails and phone calls without getting a warrant from a judge. That’s according to David Kris, a former top anti-terrorism attorney at the Justice Department.
The government does not have to identify the target or facility to be monitored. It can begin surveillance a week before making the request, and the surveillance can continue during the appeals process if, in a rare case, the secret FISA court rejects the surveillance application. The court’s rulings are not public.
The vote was 301-118 in favor of passage, with 111 Democrats and seven Republicans voting no.
According to one former Justice Department official, the FISA Amendments Act gives the government nearly carte blanche spying powers.
The National Security Agency told lawmakers that it would be a violation of Americans’ privacy to disclose how the measure is being used in practice. The NSA said the “NSA leadership agreed that an IG (Inspector General) review of the sort suggested would further violate the privacy of U.S. persons.”
Please read the last paragraph above carefully.
Spying on people is not an invasion of privacy, but somehow disclosing the number of people being spied upon, as well as how they are being spied upon is an invasion of privacy.
Any legislator voting for this preposterous act is unfit for public office in my opinion. Trashing the US constitution in this manner is not acceptable.
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Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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