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Posts Tagged ‘surveillance state’

We Were Warned About the Deep State, but Refused to Listen by Larry C Johnson – Sic Semper Tyrannis

Posted by M. C. on January 2, 2020

What has happened to Donald Trump can happen to any of us. It is time to take this threat seriously and put the intel agencies back into a properly monitored corral. Otherwise, we will lose this Republic.

https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2019/12/we-were-warned-about-the-deep-state-but-refused-to-listen-by-larry-c-johnson.html

by Larry C Johnson

Larry Johnson-5x7

Many of the critical tools employed in the coup to paint Donald Trump as a tool of the Russians and to manufacture a pretext for removing him from office, were created more than twenty years ago. I am talking about the surveillance state that the American electorate has ignorantly accepted as necessary in order to keep us safe from terrorists. Despite previous warning from whistleblowers like Russ Tice, Bill Binney, Ed Loomis and Kird Wiebe, no action to rein in the surveillance monster was taken until Edward Snowden absconded with the documents exposing the vast amount spying that the U.S. Government is doing to its own citizens. But even those weak efforts to supposedly rein in the NSA proved to be nothing more than mere window dressing.

The spying got worse. Just ask Donald Trump and the members of his campaign that were targeted first by the CIA and NSA and then by the FBI. Fundamental civil rights were trampled.

The real irony in all of this is that Barack Obama, as President, took credit for helping revise the laws in order to prevent the spying exposed by Edward Snowden. But under the Obama Administration, spying on political opponents–both real and perceived–escalated. We know for a fact that journalists, such as James Rosen and Sheryl Atkinson, were targets and their communications and computers attacked by the U.S. Government.

We know, thanks to a memo released by Judge Rosemary Collyer, that “FBI consultants” were making illegal searches of NSA material using the names of Donald Trump, his family and members of his campaign staff.

Some of this NSA material came courtesy of the Brits and their collection on U.S. targets. Some of this material came from the NSA’s own collection and storage of all electronic communications and was obtained using a nifty NSA tool called XKEYSCORE. Listen to Ed Snowden’s description. Also, take time to appreciate the irony that CNN and other journalists were actually trying to report real news. Now they are full blown apologists for the abuse of the intelligence collection tools. 

Six years ago, former NSA Technical Director for Military and Geopolitical Issues, Bill Binney, and Russ Tice, a former NSA analyst, appeared on the PBS News Hour. Once again, they make very clear the enormous nature to the threat to our civil liberties.

Too bad Donald Trump did not listen to their warning.

Given the robust, wide ranging ability of the NSA to probe all communications by any person in the United States, it is remarkable that no real dirt on Donald Trump was ever uncovered. Had such information existed, it would be in the NSA’s storage vaults in Utah and crooked CIA analysts under Brennan’s direction would have found it and used it. But that did not happed. The best the intel folks could fabricate were the salacious claims attributed to reports ostensibly created by former British spy, Christopher Steele. Turns out that the titillating account that Trump hired hookers to perform coprophilia (could of been worse, coprophagia) was nothing more than idle bar talk.

What has happened to Donald Trump can happen to any of us. It is time to take this threat seriously and put the intel agencies back into a properly monitored corral. Otherwise, we will lose this Republic.

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FIB

 

 

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How out of Control Is Our Surveillance State? | Cato Institute

Posted by M. C. on December 23, 2019

Americans deserve a stronger assurance than “hope” that their Fourth Amendment rights are being respected.

https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/how-out-control-our-surveillance-state

By Julian Sanchez

This article appeared on The New York Times on December 18, 2019.
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The F.B.I.’s investigation of the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, we can now say with assurance, was a train wreck. In his report, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz cataloged a damning list of egregious errors, omissions or misrepresentations in filings to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approved nearly a year’s worth of wiretaps on Mr. Page.

Many Republicans have taken this as proof that the investigation was hopelessly contaminated by anti-Trump political bias. That would be the optimistic scenario. Unfortunately, it’s probably much worse than that.

If the F.B.I. botched its applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Mr. Page because of political bias, after all, problems of the sort Mr. Horowitz identified are most likely unique to this case. The bureau obtains about 1,500 FISA warrants each year, and an overwhelming majority have no connection to domestic politics. The solution is also similarly simple: Toss out the bad apples who acted on political motives and add a few layers of safeguards for the tiny fraction of cases that are designated “sensitive investigative matters” because they do intersect with politics.

 

That might be a reasonable response if we were confident the Page investigation represented an outlier or aberration. The chilling reality, however, is that we have no idea whether that’s the case.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, zeroed in on this point. When she asked Mr. Horowitz whether finding mistakes in a FISA application was “a fairly unusual occurrence,” he responded, “I would hope so.”

Americans deserve a stronger assurance than “hope” that their Fourth Amendment rights are being respected. The sheer quantity of serious defects in the FISA applications targeting Mr. Page — which officials consistently told Mr. Horowitz received far more review than normal, because agents understood the applications would doubtless attract controversy and scrutiny — raises an obvious and disturbing question: If they’re this sloppy with a target involved in a presidential campaign, how bad is it in ordinary cases, which the public will never learn about and which are unlikely to ever be the topic of congressional hearings?

We needn’t worry so much about that, of course, if the defects of the Page warrants were products of political animus against the Trump campaign. But the report provides very little reason to think that’s the case. The case for supposing bias is the culprit here leans heavily on the former F.B.I. agent Peter Strzok, now notorious for a voluminous history of text messages denigrating Mr. Trump and suggesting that he would not become president because “we will stop it.” But while Mr. Strzok played a supervisory role in the earliest stage of the Page investigation, it’s hard to tie him to the specific problems Mr. Horowitz identifies. As the report notes, Mr. Strzok “was not the primary or sole decision maker on any investigative step” and at one point opposed FISA monitoring of another Trump campaign staff member that case agents proposed. Moreover, the problems Mr. Horowitz documented in the initial FISA application filed under Mr. Strzok’s watch were significantly less serious than the outrageous omissions and misrepresentations to the court that occurred in the subsequent applications to renew the wiretap, after Mr. Strzok’s role in the investigation had ended.

With one significant exception — an F.B.I. lawyer responsible for improperly altering an email related to the final renewal application — Mr. Horowitz didn’t find signs of Mr. Strzok’s intense animus among others who worked on the FISA warrants. The report notes that among the huge quantity of internal communications reviewed, the inspector general identified “a small number of text messages and instant messages” in which members of the investigation team “discussed political issues and candidates,” but that these “did not raise significant questions of potential bias or improper motivation.”

If there’s an explanation for the errors Mr. Horowitz documents suggested by his reports, it’s not political bias. It’s confirmation bias.

The F.B.I.’s interest in Mr. Page — and its suspicions that he might be a Russian intelligence asset — predated his involvement in presidential politics. He had reportedly been the target of a FISA warrant in 2014 and was the focus of yet another counterintelligence investigation opened in April 2016 by the F.B.I.’s notoriously Trump-friendly New York field office, months before the bureau started an inquiry into potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia’s election interference operation. When investigators got wind of Christopher Steele’s notorious dossier, which made Mr. Page a pivotal figure in a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between Mr. Trump and the Kremlin, it would have seemed like confirmation of what they already suspected.

Having adopted this theory, investigators began to exhibit classic signs of confirmation bias, readily absorbing new information that fit the model they’d built, while overlooking or explaining away facts that didn’t fit. The worst misrepresentations to the court that Mr. Horowitz uncovered are sins of omission — new information the bureau obtained as the investigation progressed that should have led it to question previous representations it had made to the court.

The many layers of review FISA applications go through — laid out in a set of rules known as the Woods Procedures — were ill equipped to detect this sort of problem, because the Woods Procedures focus on confirming that facts in the application match documents in the F.B.I.’s case file. But you can’t fact check a claim that doesn’t exist — which means the process is bad at detecting important information that has been left out. Officials who reviewed later applications also told Mr. Horowitz that they typically focused on the new information in each submission. That means assertions they’d made early on ended up effectively being taken for granted: Nobody was revisiting early assumptions to see whether they still held up in the face of new data.

If this explains why the Page investigation went increasingly off the rails, it’s an explanation that has little to do with partisan politics at its heart. But that would mean there’s little reason to think the Page investigation is special in this respect. There’s an urgent need, then, for the inspector general to do more such “deep dives” and figure out just how pervasive the problem really is.

Fortunately, the inspector general is already taking a first step in this direction, having begun a review that will “examine the F.B.I.’s compliance with the Woods Procedures in FISA applications that target U.S. persons.” But in itself, that’s not enough: While Mr. Horowitz found violations of the Woods Procedures in the Page case, they weren’t the most serious distortions. Those occurred precisely because the Woods Procedures aren’t well calibrated to catch material facts that get left out. To do that, you’d need to do the kind of intensive and comprehensive case-by-case review conducted in the Horowitz review, not just run Woods vetting a second time to see whether the results tally.

Doing this sort of deep dive for a representative sample of FISA applications will, of course, be both expensive and extremely time consuming. But it’s well worth it to find out just how badly our surveillance state is broken.

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JFK-CIA

 

 

 

 

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How Surveillance and Propaganda Work in ‘the Free World’ — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on November 13, 2019

The statistics obtained by Caught on Camera and comparitech differ markedly from those in the Bloomberg story which was retailed throughout the Western world by many news outlets, who increasingly refer to the West as “the Free World”. Comparitech records that as at August 2019 Moscow, with a population of 12.4 million, had 146,000 (not 200,000) cameras, while London’s 9 million citizens were being watched by 627,707 cameras.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/11/12/how-surveillance-and-propaganda-work-in-the-free-world/

  Brian Cloughley

A Bloomberg report of October 22 was concise and uncompromising in declaring Russia to be a surveillance state. Harking back to the good old days of the Cold War, as is increasingly the practice in much of the Western media, Bloomberg recounted that “The fourth of 10 basic rules Western spies followed when trying to infiltrate Russia’s capital during the Cold War — don’t look back because you’re never alone — is more apt than ever. Only these days it’s not just foreigners who are being tracked, but all 12.6 million Muscovites, too. Officials in Moscow have spent the last few years methodically assembling one of the most comprehensive video-surveillance operations in the world. The public-private network of as many as 200,000 cameras records 1.5 billion hours of footage a year that can be accessed by 16,000 government employees, intelligence officers and law-enforcement personnel.”

Terrifying, one might think. Straight out of Orwell’s 1984, that dystopian prediction of what the world could become, as noted in one description of how the face of the state’s symbolic leader, Big Brother, “gazes at you silently out of posters and billboards. His imposing presence establishes the sense of an all-seeing eye. The idea that he is always watching from the shadows imposes a kind of social order. You know not to speak out against The Party — because big brother is watching… The face always appears with the phrase Big Brother is watching you. As if you could forget.” Such is the terrifying Bloomberg picture of Moscow where there are supposedly 200,000 video cameras. You can’t blow your nose without it being seen. And wait for the next phase, in which Big Brother will hear you laugh.

In line with the Western approach, there is little mention of surveillance in other cities, but the website ‘Caught on Camera’ has analysed world-wide practices. It reports that there are some 25 million closed-circuit surveillance cameras world-wide and “the United Kingdom [with 4 million cameras] has more CCTV activity than any other European country, per capita… surprisingly, the Wandsworth borough in London in particular has more CCTV cameras than Boston, Dublin, Johannesburg and San Francisco put together. It is estimated there are 500,000 cameras dotted around London. The average person living in London will be recorded on camera 300 times in one day.”

The statistics obtained by Caught on Camera and comparitech differ markedly from those in the Bloomberg story which was retailed throughout the Western world by many news outlets, who increasingly refer to the West as “the Free World”. Comparitech records that as at August 2019 Moscow, with a population of 12.4 million, had 146,000 (not 200,000) cameras, while London’s 9 million citizens were being watched by 627,707 cameras. The picture (if one may use that word) is slightly slanted. To put it another way, London has 68 cameras for each 1,000 people, and the ratios elsewhere are enlightening: Shanghai 113 (China is in treble figures in three cities); Atlanta (Ga) 15; Chicago 13; Baghdad, Sydney and Dubai 12; Moscow and Berlin 11; and St Petersburg, Canberra and Washington DC tie at 5.

The slanting doesn’t stop there, because there are other ways of attacking Russia, spearheaded by such as the Washington Post, which highlighted the Bloomberg surveillance tale. The Post behaves like Big Brother focusing on Winston Smith, the hapless victim/hero of 1984 whose job it is “to rewrite the reports in newspapers of the past to conform with the present reality.” There is an eerie resonance in this, because the Post’s reportage on Russia verges on the obsessively censorious, while it avoids mention of anything remotely positive.

Understandably, the Post relies heavily on such sources as “Meduza, a Latvia-based online news outlet that covers the Kremlin” which reported that the Russian government “passed a law earlier this year that lets Vladimir Putin take all the country’s Internet traffic off the World Wide Web if he decrees that there’s an ‘emergency’.”

The fact that the intelligence services of the West have worked for a long time to devise strategies and tactics to destroy internet services in Russia and many other countries is neither here nor there, but it is important for Western propaganda purposes to condemn Russia for taking measures to counter the manoeuvres of the West’s cyberwar agencies. The Post emphasised that arrangements were made by various Russian ministries and agencies, including the Emergencies Ministry and the Federal Security Service which “is the successor to the KGB, where Putin was once an officer.”

The absurdity of that needlessly-injected personal point is amusing in a way, and serves to highlight the unending reiteration of detail intended to set the western public against Russia. Naturally, there is exclusion of information that could lead to audiences approving of Russia in any way.

The news site Axios states it aims to “deliver the cleanest, smartest, most efficient and trust-worthy experience for readers and advertisers alike” but when it comes to Russia it appears that there could be a bit of selectivity in that delivery. For example, in October the UK’s Guardian newspaper reported approvingly that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), alcohol consumption in Russia “has dropped by 43% since 2003” and commented that the WHO had “put the decrease down to a series of measures brought in under the sport-loving president, Vladimir Putin, including restrictions on alcohol sales and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.” But Axios didn’t report it quite like that.

The Guardian also noted that “The last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, led an anti-alcohol campaign with partial prohibition, which brought down consumption from the mid-1980s until 1990. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, alcohol consumption exploded, continuing to rise until the start of the 2000s. Under Putin, Russia has introduced measures including a ban on shops selling any alcohol after 11 pm, increases in the minimum retail price of spirits and an advertising blackout.” The result has been “increased life expectancies in Russia, which reached a historic peak in 2018, at 78 years for women and 68 years for men. In the early 1990s, male life expectancy was just 57 years.”

This is an amazing societal development. In no other country has there been a comparable initiative that resulted in such a massive and positive shift in community habits.

The BBC was more coy than the Guardian about allocating approval for the remarkable success of the programme, and confined itself to reporting that the WHO “attributed the decline to a series of alcohol-control measures implemented by the state, and a push towards healthy lifestyles.” There was no reference to President Putin, and indeed the credit went elsewhere, because “alcohol-control measures introduced under former President Dmitry Medvedev included advertising restrictions, increased taxes on alcohol and a ban on alcohol sales between certain hours.”

Axios followed suit, and ‘Radio Free Europe’ didn’t mention Presidents Putin, Medvedev or Gorbachev, retailing simply that the “decline in consumption was due to “alcohol-control measures introduced at the beginning of the 2000s.” There were no reports of the achievement in US mainstream outlets or the UK’s resolutely right-wing anti-Russia media. (The Guardian doesn’t carry a Russian flag; it merely reports without xenophobic bias.)

The WHO Case Study provides an admirably detailed timeline of legislature and other developments concerning Russia’s successful drive against alcohol abuse, recording, for example, that in 2018 there was a “presidential decree on ‘National Purposes and Strategic Development Challenges of the Russian Federation until 2024’… including in the field of public health. The aim is to increase life expectancy to 78 years by 2024 and to 80 years by 2030, as well as the proportion of citizens leading a healthy lifestyle and systematically engaging in physical activities and sports.”

Don’t expect such an initiative to be praised or even mentioned by the Western media. Big Brother prefers to slant the cameras.

 

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CCTV: New guidance for household security cameras - Telegraph

 

 

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Are You a Woman Traveling Alone? Marriott Might Be Watching You.

Posted by M. C. on February 5, 2019

Under pressure from the federal government and driven by persistent myths about the nature and prevalence of sex trafficking, hotel chains like Marriott have become the new frontiers of the surveillance state. Like the indiscriminate spying campaigns that grew out of the 9/11 attacks, it’s an effort based on panic, profiling, and stereotypes, and it is nearly certain to ensnare more innocents than it helps…

https://reason.com/archives/2019/02/05/hotel-surveillance-state-sex-trafficking

When a tweet accused Marriott Hotels of “working with the feds and keeping [an] eye on any women who are traveling alone,” training staff to “spot an escort,” and “not allowing some women [to] drink at the bar alone,” Marriott’s official account proudly confirmed the observation: “You are correct. Marriott employees all over the world are being trained to help spot sex trafficking at our hotels.”…

But the deserved dustup points to a much bigger issue than unusually watchful hotel staff. It’s part of a Homeland Security-backed coalition using human-trafficking myths and War on Terror tactics to encourage citizen spying and the development of new digital surveillance tools.

However well-intentioned, the surveillance tactics that have been adopted by hotel chains are part of a disturbing partnership between hospitality businesses, federal law enforcement, and rent-seeking nonprofits that increasingly seeks to track the movements and whereabouts of people, especially women, all over the country. Under pressure from the federal government and driven by persistent myths about the nature and prevalence of sex trafficking, hotel chains like Marriott have become the new frontiers of the surveillance state. Like the indiscriminate spying campaigns that grew out of the 9/11 attacks, it’s an effort based on panic, profiling, and stereotypes, and it is nearly certain to ensnare more innocents than it helps… Read the rest of this entry »

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CIA’s ‘surveillance state’ is operating against us all | TheHill

Posted by M. C. on November 26, 2018

https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/414804-surveillance-state-is-alive-well-and-operating-against-us-all

BY SHARYL ATTKISSON

Maybe you once thought the CIA wasn’t supposed to spy on Americans here in the United States.

That concept is so yesteryear.

Over time, the CIA upper echelon has secretly developed all kinds of policy statements and legal rationales to justify routine, widespread surveillance on U.S. soil of citizens who aren’t suspected of terrorism or being a spy.

The latest outrage is found in newly declassified documents from 2014. They reveal the CIA not only intercepted emails of U.S. citizens but they were emails of the most sensitive kind — written to Congress and involving whistleblowers reporting alleged wrongdoing within the Intelligence Community.

The disclosures, kept secret until now, are two letters of “congressional notification” from the Intelligence Community inspector general at the time, Charles McCullough. He stated that during “routine counterintelligence monitoring of government computer systems,” the CIA collected emails between congressional staff and the CIA’s head of whistleblowing and source protection… Read the rest of this entry »

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Seamus Bruner: Comey-Mueller ‘Cash in Through the Revolving Door’ of the Swamp

Posted by M. C. on August 26, 2018

Schweizer concluded, “What Seamus shows is this pattern where, when Mueller is in the private sector and Comey is in government, there seem to be contracts and resources that flow in that direction, as well. It’s kind of a tag team arrangement that these two have. It speaks to the financial underbelly that exists even at the Department of Justice. … There are lots of ways in which these officials self-enrich themselves.”

https://www.breitbart.com/big-journalism/2018/08/23/seamus-bruner-comey-mueller-cash-in-swamp/

by Robert Kraychik

Seamus Bruner, Government Accountability Institute (GAI) researcher and author of Compromised: How Money and Politics Drive FBI Corruptionexplained how former FBI Directors James Comey and Robert Mueller leveraged their government positions to enrich themselves. He joined Peter Schweizer, GAI president and Breitbart News senior editor-at-large, for a Wednesday interview with Sean Hannity.

“This is a familiar story [about] the revolving door; turning public service into self service,” said Bruner. “We followed the money. We followed it to the top, and we found that these choir boys or boy scouts — as the media likes to depict them — James Comey and Robert Mueller, they’re really no better than anyone else in the swamp. They use their public service [and] their contacts and they cash in through the revolving door.”

Bruner described Lockheed Martin’s — the country’s largest national defense and security contractor — hiring of James Comey in 2005 to the dual position of general counsel and senior vice president as unusual. Comey was 44 at the time and without requisite corporate experience.

Listen to the discussions below: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Rutherford Institute :: Government Eyes Are Watching You: We Are All Prisoners of the Surveillance State |

Posted by M. C. on June 21, 2018

I seem to recognize the analogy!

You want to be free? Break out of the circle.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/government_eyes_are_watching_you_we_are_all_prisoners_of_the_surveillance_state

By John W. Whitehead

“We’re run by the Pentagon, we’re run by Madison Avenue, we’re run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don’t revolt we’ll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche…. As long as we go out and buy stuff, we’re at their mercy… We all live in a little Village. Your Village may be different from other people’s Villages, but we are all prisoners.”— Patrick McGoohan

First broadcast in America 50 years ago, The Prisoner—a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka”—confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.

Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village. The Village is an idyllic setting with parks and green fields, recreational activities and even a butler.

While luxurious and resort-like, the Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Republican Rand Paul and Democrat Ron Wyden take on the mass surveillance state | Rare

Posted by M. C. on December 14, 2017

They’re agin it.

http://rare.us/rare-politics/populist/republican-rand-paul-and-democrat-ron-wyden-take-on-the-mass-surveillance-state/

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) discussed the dangers of governmental spying during a Monday night event at George Washington University.

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The US Surveillance State – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 3, 2017

https://lewrockwell.com/2017/04/no_author/us-surveillance-state/

Let us return to the point of sale.  It isn’t simply for “inventory.”  The main reason these corporations claim to store your demographics is for “marketing purposes,” but all of them are (at a minimum) “back-doored” by the NSA and other agencies who are scanning your information.  They also have that cellular telephone to work with…the one that transmits a “pulse” every 4 seconds and stores information…metadata for large groups of people or geographic peculiarities…and personal information.

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The Surveillance State Behind Russia-gate

Posted by M. C. on March 30, 2017

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/03/surveillance-state-behind-russia-gate.html

This news presents Trump with an unwelcome but unavoidable choice: confront those who have kept him in the dark about such rogue activities or live fearfully in their shadow. (The latter was the path chosen by President Obama. Will Trump choose the road less traveled?).

As those paying rudimentary attention to modern methods of surveillance know, “wiretapping” is passé. But Trump’s use of the word allowed FBI and Department of Justice officials and their counterparts at the National Security Agency to swear on a stack of bibles that the FBI, DOJ, and NSA have been unable to uncover any evidence within their particular institutions of such “wiretapping.”

The real question is: Were Trump and his associates surveilled? Wake up, America. Was no one paying attention to the disclosures from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 when he exposed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as a liar for denying that the NSA engaged in bulk collection of communications inside the United States.

The reality is that EVERYONE, including the President, is surveilled. The technology enabling bulk collection would have made the late demented FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s mouth water.

Late demented J Edgar Hoover is right. And the media says Putin is bad!

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