Archive for the ‘NSA’ Category

Key Provisions of Patriot Act Expire Today

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Patriot-ACTWASHINGTON — The government’s ability/authority to collect personal phone records in the hunt for terrorists expired at 12:01 a.m. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, blocked an extension of the program during an unusual Sunday session of the Senate.
The Senate had already signaled that it was ready to curtail the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection program with new legislation that would shift the storage of telephone records from the government to the phone companies. The House overwhelmingly passed that bill last month. Senators voted, 77 to 17, on Sunday to take up the House bill.

Mr. McConnell, also of Kentucky, relented Sunday, setting up a final round of votes on Tuesday or Wednesday that will most likely send a compromise version of the House bill to President Obama for his signature. Even Mr. Paul, using the procedural weapon of an objection, will not be able to stop it.

“Little by little, we’ve allowed our freedom to slip away,” Mr. Paul said on floor.

The expiration of [un]patriotic authority demonstrates a profound shift in American attitudes since the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when national security ruled both parties. Fourteen years after that attack, Americans have finally awaken to privacy concerns stemming from both the vast expansion of communication collection systems.

Three key provisions of the Patriot Act have expired that will stop collection of newly created logs of Americans’ phone calls in bulk. No longer can the F.B.I. invoke the Patriot Act to obtain, for new investigations purposes, or wiretap orders that continue after a suspect changes phones, wiretap orders for a “lone wolf” terrorism suspect not linked to a group, or court orders to obtain business records relevant to an investigation.

The Justice Department may invoke a grandfather clause for ongoing investigations.

Democrats and the libertarian wing of the Republican Party used the shift in the national mood to end the program supported by Mitch McConnell and other chicken hawks. The moment also put Mitch at odds with Mr. Paul, whom he has endorsed for president.

Rand Paul’s effort clearly angered many of his Republican colleagues, who met without him an hour before the Senate began to vote Sunday night. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona said Mr. Paul was not fit for the White House job he seeks.

The USA Freedom Act will overhaul the Patriot Act and scale back the bulk collection of phone records revealed by Mr. Snowden. Under this bill, sweeps that had operated under the guise of so-called national security letters issued by the F.B.I. would end. All data will be stored by the phone companies and could be retrieved by intelligence agencies only after approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.

President Obama have made dire warnings in recent days about the perils of letting the law expire and called for immediate approval of a surveillance bill passed by the House.

NSA’s PRISM Into Your Life

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Patriot-ACTEdward Snowden, 29, is the source of leaks over an NSA surveillance program. He’s a defense contractor, a high school dropout, and he worked his way into the most secretive computers in U.S. intelligence – now he is on the run for blowing those secrets wide open. He may never live in the United States as a free man again.

In a recent interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, Snowden revealed himself as the source of outing the massive effort by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to track cell phone calls and monitor the e-mail and Internet traffic of virtually every Americans.

Snowden said his conscious was bothering him and he just wanted the public to know what the government was doing.

What’s next for Snowden as a hell storm encircles him? Some are calling him a traitor, others consider him a hero. One thing for sure, his revelations has stirred a firestorm about the secretive PRISM government program.

Another important question relates to trusted companies like facebook who have basically lied to their customers and quickly gave private customer information to the government. How safe is your personal information entrusted to various companies?

“Even if you’re not doing anything wrong you’re being watched and recorded,” he said. Snowden told The Guardian he had access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community and undercover assets around the world. These facts have moved some in congress to call for his head, as they claim, this information is an attack on the United States.

Snowden fled to Hong Kong three weeks ago after copying one last set of documents.

133604_600Before his leak of U.S. intelligence, Snowden worked for a major U.S. government contractor, in Hawaii, earning a $200,000 salary and enjoying the beautiful state with his girlfriend.

He told The Guardian, “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

Many disagree and point out that we expect the government to honor our privacy, but we also expect the government to protect us from more terrorist attacks.

President Barack Obama insists his administration is not spying on U.S. citizens; it’s only looking for information on terrorists. Wing-nuts and Obama/Government haters are using the incident to wave the anti-Obama and anti-Government banner. The ACLU is leading the fight in regards to violations of civil liberties.

Snowden is hopeful that Hong Kong’s climate of free speech will protect him, but there’s no guarantee he won’t be sent back to the United States and face a lifetime in an American prison. Have we traded civil liberty for security?

NOTE: Since this story was posted, Snowden has been held up in Russia for months.