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Statement on US President Obama’s surveillance speech | Human Rights Watch

Statement on US President Obama’s surveillance speech | Human Rights Watch | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

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President Obama today announced a number of welcome reforms to the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs, but fell short on core human rights concerns: the collection of data in bulk on people worldwide, including in the US, and giving foreigners clear rights against unwarranted US surveillance. 

Specifically, on the bulk metadata collection program, the President said that bulk telephone metadata should no longer be held by the government. But we don’t know the details of how the program will move out of government hands, and it remains to be seen whether this is a viable option. Further, significant questions remain as to why collection en mass is still necessary to begin with given that mass collection by the NSA has not proven necessary to prevent any terrorist attacks. In addition, the President said nothing about any other bulk collection programs that could be happening under Section 215....

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Former NSA Exec: Government Spying Violates Constitution

Former NSA Exec: Government Spying Violates Constitution | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Pt. 2 Thomas Drake: Surrendering Civil Liberties Does Not Make America Safe
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Did the NSA Leaks Really Put USA at Risk? .....Answer: NO!

Did the NSA Leaks Really Put USA at Risk? .....Answer:  NO! | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Filled with hope, I watched all three hours -- but was disappointed. Only three times did the subject come up at all, and then briefly. No one offered anything to substantiate the claim....

That evasion would be more believable if it hadn't occurred after officials spent hours publicly detailing how the NSA and FBI operate. Or if those officials had not shined a floodlight on specific plots and how these programs pulverized them....

I hoped to have better luck with Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who says Snowden committed "treason." I called her press secretary, asked the same question I had asked Rogers' spokesperson and was promised a response. Despite additional calls, I never got it.

FBI Director Robert Mueller, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, finally offered something tangible on the point. The leaks endanger Americans, he explained, because "you have persons who want to undertake terrorist attacks who don't have a full understanding of the Internet. And, to the extent that you expose programs like this, we are educating them."

Yes, he really said that. Maybe Mueller thinks the terrorists are incredibly dumb. Or maybe he just thinks we are.

 

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Edward Snowden Q&A: Dick Cheney traitor charge is 'the highest honor'

Edward Snowden Q&A: Dick Cheney traitor charge is 'the highest honor' | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
The whistleblower behind the biggest intelligence leak in NSA history answered your questions about the NSA surveillance revelations
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Internet privacy a basic human right, U.N. official says

Internet privacy a basic human right, U.N. official says | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- The United Nations' human rights chief says the uproar over mass surveillance recalls the kind of response that helped defeat apartheid in South Africa.

Navi Pillay, the first non-white woman to serve as a high-court judge in South Africa, said Internet privacy is as important as any other category of human rights.

Pillay said she will prepare a U.N. report on protection of the right to privacy, following the leak of classified documents by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden exposing U.S. and British spying and the gathering of personal data.

The former international criminal court judge said her previous encounters with serious human rights abuses did not make her take online privacy less seriously....

 

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Spying on Americans: The Bush and Obama Administrations’ Justification for Mass Surveillance

Spying on Americans: The Bush and Obama Administrations’ Justification for Mass Surveillance | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

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However – as demonstrated below – that claim is totally false.

ProPublica notes:

In defending the NSA’s sweeping collection of Americans’ phone call records, Obama administration officials have repeatedly pointed out how it could have helped thwart the 9/11 attacks: If only the surveillance program been in place before Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. authorities would have been able to identify one of the future hijackers who was living in San Diego [named Khalid al Mihdhar].

Last weekend, former Vice President Dick Cheney invoked the same argument.

Indeed, the Obama administration’s invocation of the Mihdhar case echoes a nearly identical argument made by the Bush administration eight years ago when it defended the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program.

The reality is different.

Initially, an FBI informant hosted and rented a room to Mihdhar and another 9/11 hijacker in 2000.

Investigators for the Congressional Joint Inquiry discovered that an FBI informant had hosted and even rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House.

As the New York Times notes:

Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the White House on Tuesday of covering up evidence ….The accusation stems from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s refusal to allow investigators for a Congressional inquiry and the independent Sept. 11 commission to interview an informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who had been the landlord in San Diego of two Sept. 11 hijackers.

So mass surveillance of Americans isn’t necessary, when the FBI informant should have apprehended the hijackers.

Moreover, the NSA actually did intercept Mihdhar’s phone calls before 9/11.

We reported in 2008:

We’ve previously pointed out that the U.S. government heard the 9/11 plans from the hijackers’ own mouth. Most of what we wrote about involved the NSA and other intelligence services tapping top Al Qaeda operatives’ phone calls outside the U.S.

However, as leading NSA expert James Bamford - the Washington  Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings for almost a decade, winner of a number of journalism awards for coverage national security issues, whose articles have appeared in dozens of publications, including cover stories for the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and the only author to write any books (he wrote 3) on the NSA – reports,the NSA was also tapping the hijackers’ phone calls inside the U.S.

Specifically, hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi lived in San Diego, California, for 2 years before 9/11. Numerous phone calls between al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in San Diego and a high-level Al Qaeda operations base in Yemen were made in those 2 years.

The NSA had been tapping and eavesdropping on all calls made from that Yemen phone for years. So NSA recorded all of these phone calls.

Indeed, the CIA knew as far back as 1999 that al-Mihdhar was coming to the U.S. Specifically, in 1999, CIA operatives tailing al-Mihdhar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, obtained a copy of his passport. It contained visas for both Malaysia and the U.S., so they knew it was likely he would go from Kuala Lumpur to America....

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National Spy Agency charges Snowden with 'spying.' ...Total hypocrisy

National Spy Agency charges Snowden with 'spying.'    ...Total hypocrisy | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Hong Kong authorities are asked to arrest leaker of documents that revealed secret surveillance program.
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