Thought this was an excellent article. This is why this matters.
In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an “executive coup” against the US constitution.
Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.
The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: “It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp.”
For the president then to say that there is judicial oversight is nonsense – as is the alleged oversight function of the intelligence committees in Congress. Not for the first time – as with issues of torture, kidnapping, detention, assassination by drones and death squads –they have shown themselves to be thoroughly co-opted by the agencies they supposedly monitor. They are also black holes for information that the public needs to know.
The fact that congressional leaders were “briefed” on this and went along with it, without any open debate, hearings, staff analysis, or any real chance for effective dissent, only shows how broken the system of checks and balances is in this country.
Obviously, the United States is not now a police state. But given the extent of this invasion of people’s privacy, we do have the full electronic and legislative infrastructure of such a state. If, for instance, there was now a war that led to a large-scale anti-war movement – like the one we had against the war in Vietnam – or, more likely, if we suffered one more attack on the scale of 9/11, I fear for our democracy. These powers are extremely dangerous.
I agree that this is likely the most important leak in US history. I think the program was the most secret thing we have done since the Manhatten project.
The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, MfS), commonly known as the Stasi (IPA: [ˈʃtɑːziː]) (abbreviation German: Staatssicherheit, literally State Security), was the official state security service of the German Democratic Republic or GDR, colloquially known as East Germany. It has been described as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies in the world. The Stasi was headquartered in East Berlin, with an extensive complex in Berlin-Lichtenberg and several smaller facilities throughout the city. The Stasi motto was “Schild und Schwert der Partei” (Shield and Sword of the Party), that is the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). Several Stasi officials were prosecuted for their crimes after 1990.
Inside Al Qaeda summit
I still find the timing of the embassy shit downs and worldwide terror alert to be a tad suspicious. It seemed to deflect and deflate the NSA spying info as well as saying “See what we can do-The System works”.
On August 7, The Daily Beast first reported that intelligence officials had learned of a remote conference between senior al Qaeda leaders, as well as representatives from al Qaeda branches in Iraq, the Maghreb, and Southeast Asia. The conversations that occurred on the conference, put together with other communications intelligence, prompted the Obama administration to take drastic security precautions to address a vague but seemingly imminent threat on western interests being planned by the terrorist organization.
The Daily Beast has learned new details about the conference, including that it was conducted over a secure Internet messaging system and that U.S. and Yemeni officials learned about it after intercepting the communications of an al Qaeda courier, who was subsequently captured by Yemen’s National Security Bureau with help from the CIA.
Earlier this summer, the al Qaeda courier began uploading messages to a series of encrypted accounts containing minutes of what appeared to be have been an important meeting. A U.S. intelligence agency was able to exploit a flaw in the courier’s operational security, intercepting the digital packets and locating the courier, according to two U.S. intelligence officials and one U.S. official who reviewed the intelligence. All three officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
The courier remains in Yemeni custody. According to the three U.S. officials, Yemeni intelligence discovered a treasure trove of information in the courier’s possession, including not only meeting minutes but an actual web recording of the seven-hour, Internet-based al Qaeda conference between the organization’s top leaders and representatives of its many affiliates and aspiring affiliates.
The conference was conducted in classical Arabic and included proxies and leaders from al Qaeda’s regional branches as well as the heads of the group’s various committees. Some participants in the conference joined via a video connection, others communicated only through audio and still others in the conference communicated via text. The discussion ranged from routine business affairs to theological matters, according the two U.S. intelligence officials, who analyzed the intelligence haul from the courier.
The US government has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQ over the last three years to secure access to and influence over Britain’s intelligence gathering programmes.
The top secret payments are set out in documents which make clear that the Americans expect a return on the investment, and that GCHQ has to work hard to meet their demands. “GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight,” a GCHQ strategy briefing said.
The funding underlines the closeness of the relationship between GCHQ and its US equivalent, the National Security Agency. But it will raise fears about the hold Washington has over the UK’s biggest and most important intelligence agency, and whether Britain’s dependency on the NSA has become too great.
In one revealing document from 2010, GCHQ acknowledged that the US had “raised a number of issues with regards to meeting NSA’s minimum expectations”. It said GCHQ “still remains short of the full NSA ask”.
Guardian editors on Tuesday revealed why and how the newspaper destroyed computer hard drives containing copies of some of the secret files leaked by Edward Snowden.
The decision was taken after a threat of legal action by the government that could have stopped reporting on the extent of American and British government surveillance revealed by the documents.
It resulted in one of the stranger episodes in the history of digital-age journalism. On Saturday 20 July, in a deserted basement of the Guardian’s King’s Cross offices, a senior editor and a Guardian computer expert used angle grinders and other tools to pulverise the hard drives and memory chips on which the encrypted files had been stored.
As they worked they were watched by technicians from Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) who took notes and photographs, but who left empty-handed.
The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, had earlier informed government officials that other copies of the files existed outside the country and that the Guardian was neither the sole recipient nor steward of the files leaked by Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor. But the government insisted that the material be either destroyed or surrendered.
Twelve days after the destruction of the files the Guardian reported on US funding of GCHQ eavesdropping operations and published a portrait of working life in the British agency’s huge “doughnut” building in Cheltenham. Guardian US, based and edited in New York, has also continued to report on evidence of NSA co-operation with US telecommunications corporations to maximise the collection of data on internet and phone users around the world.