DOJ Spied On Associated Press’s Telephone Records To Track Down Whistleblowers
Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department secretly obtained two months worth of telephone records of the Associated Press, reports the Associated Press.
The AP calls the DOJ’s action an “unprecedented intrusion.”
Here is what news agency Reuters reported.
According to the Guardian, the Obama administration wanted to find out the source of an “alleged Yemen terrorist plot story.”
Here is a report by Think Progress on the background of the DOJ’s action. According to them, the AP’s reporting on a foiled terrorist plot in Yemen “put AQAP [Al-Quida in the Arabic Peninsula] on notice that the CIA had a window into their activities.”
Here is the ACLU’s statement on the matter.
Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project said the following:
Obtaining a broad range of telephone records in order to ferret out a government leaker is an unacceptable abuse of power. Freedom of the press is a pillar of our democracy, and that freedom often depends on confidential communications between reporters and their sources.
“The Law Behind the A.P. Phone-Record Scandal.” (Lynn Oberlander, New Yorker, 2013/05/14)
“Outrage Grows Over Justice Department Seizure of Associated Press Phone Records.” (Greg Mitchell, The Nation via Alternet, 2013/05/14)
Provide wiretapping capabilities to hand over your (customers’) data to the FBI or be fined, Google and Facebook
The Washington Post reports on a government task proposal that aims to punish tech companies for not providing wiretapping capabilities for law enforcement officials. The FBI, which is the driving force behind this push for more more surveillance, justifies its demands with the need to counter a “going dark” problem, a “gap between authority and capability” in regards to online surveillance. The FBI mentions not just terrorism, as might seem likely briefly after the Boston Marathon Bombing, but also transnational narcotrafficking and child prostitution.
If successful, this initiative would not only concern Internet giants such as Google or Facebook, but potentially any tech company that collects user data. And that includes practically any new free-to-use online service.
This initiative by the FBI takes place in the context of a much larger secretive push towards extensive online surveillance (see below).
“Proposal seeks to fine tech companies for noncompliance with wiretap orders.” (Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, 2013/04/29)
“U.S. gives big, secret push to Internet surveillance.” (Declan McCullagh, CNET, 2013/04/24)
“Internetüberwachung in den USA: Strafen für Unternehmen, die keine Daten liefern?” (Andrea Jonjic, Netzpolitik.org, 30.04.2013)
“USA: Mit geheimen Anweisungen das Internet überwachen.” (Andrea Jonjic, Netzpolitik.org, 26.04.2013)
House Democrats Want To See Legal Basis For Drone Strikes
First, on March 6, 2013, Tea Party Senator Rand Paul filibustered the confirmation of John Brennan for the director ofthe CIA.
A few days later (March 11, 2013), a small group of progressive Democrats around Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) are calling out President Obama on the issue of drone strikes.
They demand to be provided with a full legal basis for drone strikes, rejecting the notion that it is acceptable to sentence to death American citizens based on secret law.
According to Raw Story, these representatives are especially concerned about US drone policy in regards to the following points:
- no geographical boundaries
- secrecy about who approves kill lists
- a vague definition of ‘imminent threat’ to justify drone strikes
“The Civilian Impact of Drone Strikes: Unexamined Costs, Unanswered Questions.” – A report by the Center for Civilians In Conflict at Columbia Law School. The page also links to various press articles based on the report.