Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Privacy

NSA’s Spy Program “Stellar Wind” Exposed

MILSTAR: A communication satellite

The lead story in Wired magazine for April exposed the Stellar Wind program for its intended purpose: to spy on every jot and tittle of every American citizen’s life all the way down to his “pocket litter:” parking-lot stubs, receipts from McDonald’s, tickets from his haircut at Cost Cutters, as well as all the way up to the content of his every e-mail, every Google search, every telephone or cellphone conversation.

Stellar Wind is the code name for an effort approved by President George W. Bush following the September 11, 2001 attacks to mine a large database of communications of American citizens but which was allegedly terminated when Congress pushed back against it.

However, the National Security Agency, awash with funds provided by Congress, is nearly finished constructing its Utah Data Center as the collection point for data provided from around the country and around the world. Its purpose: “to intercept, decipher, analyze and store vast swaths of the world’s communications…[including] all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls and Google searches.” In other words, according to James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, when the $2 billion facility (consisting of four 25,000 square-foot buildings full of computer servers and their air conditioning units plus a 900,000 square-foot building to house its technical and administration people) is completed in September, 2013,

virtually everything one communicates through any traceable medium, or any record of one’s existence in the electronic medium, which these days is everything, will…become the property of the US government to deal with as its sees fit.

William Binney, a former NSA crypto-mathematician who quit NSA after he realized it was openly and deliberately ignoring privacy limitations built into the Constitution, said in an interview with Bamford, holding his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are this far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”

Binney headed up a team that built the infrastructure to spy on everyone all the time and, at the time, recommended that NSA install its “tapping gear” only at the nation’s “landing sites”—physical locations where fiber optic cables come ashore—to limit its eavesdropping to international communications only and preserving Americans’ right to privacy. But NSA ignored Binney’s recommendation and instead decided to

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Rich Americans Are Fleeing the Country

James Cameron speaking at TED 2010.

When Hollywood film director James Cameron (AvatarTitanicTerminatorannounced that he was moving to New Zealand, preppers, fiscal doomsayers, and alarmists had a field day in deciphering his motives for moving, ultimately deciding that Cameron was moving so that he is better able to weather the massive monetary upheaval that is upcoming or he is escaping U.S. taxes and regulations.

Marc Slavo, as an example, suggested ulterior motives other than those stated by Cameron: “While the move for the Canadian-born Cameron may initially be perceived as a rejection or denouncement of American policies and ideals…[he] may have ulterior motivations as evidenced by where he’s planning on moving and what he’s planning on doing once he gets there.”

The Associated Press reported that Cameron successfully applied to buy 2,500 acres of farmland and he “intend[s] to reside indefinitely in New Zealand and [is] acquiring the property to reside on and operate as a working farm.” Slavo is skeptical in light of Cameron’s lack of need to be working at all, having made in excess of $250 million last year, according to Salon magazine.

And Slavo is not persuaded that Cameron’s real reason is to be closer to the New Zealand headquarters of Weta Digital, which won an Oscar for its special effects in the movie Avatar. Nor is he persuaded that Cameron wants to be there solely to direct the sequel to Avatar scheduled to begin later this year. Slavo instead is thinking that Cameron knows that

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Drones: Newest Tool of the Surveillance State

English: Air Force officials are seeking volun...

Evidence that New York City is considering using drones to keep an eye on its citizens is growing, according to Don Dahler of New York’s CBS Channel 2. Dahler quoted an email it obtained indicating that a detective in the New York Police Department’s counterterrorism division asked the Federal Aviation Administration “about the use of unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs] as a law enforcement tool.”

Dahler noted that NYPD commissioner Joe Kelly suggested that drones would be useful: “In an extreme situation, you would [then] have some means to take down a plane.” A spokesman for the NYPD admitted that “We’re always looking at technology. Drones aren’t that exotic anymore. Brookstone sells them. We’ve looked at them but haven’t tested or deployed any [yet].”

A retired officer from the department said that the use of drones would help protect the police from physical danger: “Not only would it be a form of surveillance gathering to protect the public, it also in many respects removes the officers…from harm’s way.”

UAVs, or drones, have benefitted enormously from advances in technology. Increasingly used in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to target terrorists, drones can take photographs of license plates and citizens’ faces from elevations of 10,000 feet. They are essentially silent and can be maneuvered by the operator located miles away in a small government cubicle. They can fly at night and take pictures using infrared and ultra-violet technology. They can stay in the air up to 20 hours at a stretch, with improvements using solar panels likely to extend such operations around the clock. The drones’ technology can see through dust storms and roofs and walls of buildings, and even below the earth’s surface. In other words, drones’ capabilities mean there is no place to hide.

This capability extends the reach of the surveillance state even beyond the

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Judge Rules Americans Can Be Forced to Testify Against Themselves

MSI laptop computer

Judge Robert Blackburn of the U.S. District Court of Colorado ruled on Monday that a defendant must decrypt her laptop computer so that prosecutors can open the files containing data they need to complete building their case against her.

On May 14, 2010, the federal government executed search warrants at the home of Ramona Fricosu in Peyton, Colorado, looking for evidence in a case involving bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering as part of a real estate scam in which she and a partner were allegedly involved. During the search they removed a laptop computer which was encrypted with PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) software. When attempts by the government to open the files failed, they asked her to open the files for them. Following advice from her attorney, Phil DuBois, she turned them down, claiming protection under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.

DuBois says that the final deposition of the case will have a major impact on individual privacy in the digital age: The defendant can’t be obligated to help the government interpret those files which could be used against her in court.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, say that inability to obtain data from encrypted files would “harm the public interest” by allowing potential criminals to hide evidence that would defeat their efforts to prosecute them.

In the Fricosu case, the prosecutors claim that

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New York’s Long-Distance Body Scanners Violate 4th Amendment

New York City, Manhattan, Murray Hill : NYPD N...

New York Police Commissioner Joe Kelly is considering the latest in technology—Terahertz Imaging Detection (TID)—to be mounted on police cars and allowing them to roam the streets of New York looking for people carrying guns. The NYPD, sometimes referred to as the world’s “seventh largest army” with 35,000 uniformed officers, already does a brisk business frisking potential suspects, with little pushback. In the first quarter of last year, 161,000 New Yorkers were stopped and interrogated, with more than nine out of 10 of them found to be innocent. And there are cameras already in place everywhere: in Manhattan alone there are more than 2,000 surveillance cameras watching for alleged miscreants.

But the new technology will avoid the necessity of doing public pat-downs because it would allow officers to note, from their cruisers, who is carrying heat. The technology, effective up to 16 feet (with improvements in longer scans already being tested), measures body heat and indicates any “blockages” of that heat by metal obstructions, assumed in most cases to be handguns carried on the person. What it can do is “allow the NYPD to conduct illegal searches by means of scanning anyone walking the streets of New York,” according to the report at RT.com. “Any object on your person could be privy to the eyes of the detector, and any suspicious screens can prompt police officers to search someone on suspicion of having a gun, or anything else, under their clothes.”

Commissioner Kelly assured investigators that the scanners would be used only in what he calls “reasonably suspicious circumstances.” That’s a long way from the language in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says:

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Pentagon: Cyberattack an Act of War

Matrix Code

Image by My Melting Brain via Flickr

Following up on the publication of the “International Strategy for Cyberspace” by the Obama administration last month, the Pentagon clarified and expanded upon its intention to consider a computer attack as equivalent to a more traditional act of war.

The White House’s strategy made clear that:

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Supreme Court: Corporations Are Persons without Personal Privacy

The current United States Supreme Court, the h...

Image via Wikipedia

When the Supreme Court was given the opportunity to extend the realm of privacy for corporations, it failed, 8-0. The case of FCC v. AT&T, which began nearly seven years ago, concerned a malfeasance by AT&T and schools in New London, Connecticut, and was resolved, briefly, by the payment of a fine to the FCC.

In 2005, however, CompTel, a trade association made up of some of AT&T’s competitors, petitioned the FCC under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to release the information they had gathered in the course of the investigation. The obvious purpose was to

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Bill of Rights Slows Government Probe of WikiLeaks

Julian Assange

Image by Poster Boy NYC via Flickr

On Tuesday, the quiet subterranean fishing expedition by the government into the WikiLeaks document disclosures last fall came to light for the first time in the courtroom of U. S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan in Alexandria, Virginia. In its search for incriminating evidence, the government demanded that Twitter release information about three suspects linked to WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange:

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Freedom of Information Act: Shield or Bludgeon?

Look, it's AT&T!

Image by fordsbasement via Flickr

The Supreme Court is about to hear arguments in the case of FCC v. AT&T which could have significant negative impacts on privately-held companies as well as public and private corporations.

It began in 2004 when AT&T discovered that it might have overcharged the federal government for some work it was doing under the E-Rate program (to bring technology to classrooms) in New London, Connecticut. When it notified the FCC of the possible over-billing, the FCC launched a full investigation, requiring (and receiving) all manner of

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Top Secret America: Expensive, Chaotic and Dangerous

Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Image via Wikipedia

Last July the Washington Post published a three-part story on “the huge security buildup in the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.” This week, the Post published “Monitoring America,” the fourth installment of its “Top Secret America” series, describing security efforts at the local level.

After two years of research, hundreds of interviews, and thousands of hours poring over documents, the Washington Post investigation was unable to determine anything for sure—except, of course, that the security system is massive:

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WikiLeaks: Asking the Right Questions

Julian Assange (2)

Image by bbwbryant via Flickr

Nearly everyone with an internet connection knows the website WikiLeaks.org to be the notorious publisher of inconvenient truths about the secret machinations of government and military operations. Scarcely fewer know that the founder, Julian Assange, was arrested last week in London. Only a few are asking the right questions.

In an interview in April, Assange was quite forthright about his intentions. He said:

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Hoplophobia is Curable!

pistol Smith & Wesson Sigma SW9F

Image via Wikipedia

Jennifer Willis exhibited all the symptoms of hoplophobia in explaining her return to sanity in her article in Salon magazine, “I Was Anti-gun, Until I Got Stalked.”

I’m afraid of guns…I abhor them. I used to date a guy who owned a handgun … I made him move [his] small gun safe…to another room….

The idea of owning a gun made me sick to my stomach … I dreamed that people were pointing double-barreled shotguns at me.

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Removing “Technical” Obstacles to Surveillance

Navstar-2F satellite of the Global Positioning...

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Buried in an otherwise innocuous-appearing article in the New York Times about wiretapping was this chilling sentence: “The issue [of surveillance of individuals by law enforcement agencies] has added importance because [these technologies] developed by the United States to hunt for terrorists and drug traffickers can also be used by repressive regimes to hunt for political dissidents” [emphasis added].

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Wiretapping Your Emails

privacy

Image by alancleaver_2000 via Flickr

As communications technology has raced ahead of government attempts to tame it, in the name of law enforcement, the Obama administration, the FBI, the Department of Justice, the National Security Agency and other government agencies have been meeting for months to come up with regulations that would allow broadening government powers to intercept, read, and analyze Internet messages, and then prosecute perceived violations of law. Arguments by proponents of further incursions into citizens’ privacy initially sound reasonable: new technology, and private citizens’ use of the Internet for private communications, have exceeded government’s ability to keep up, and consequently its ability to monitor, track and follow people is “going dark,” unless something is done.

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2010 Census: Much More than Simple Enumeration

Logo for the 2010 United States Census.

Image via Wikipedia

The Census Bureau is facing an uphill battle to obtain all the information being demanded in the short form arriving in the mail at every household in the country, starting this week. As usual, the government is making a simple task complicated by reaching far beyond what the Constitution allows. Article I, Section 2 states:

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Cell Phones, Big Brother and the 4th Amendment

Cell Phone

Image by JonJon2k8 via Flickr

The Obama Justice Department is appealing a lower court decision that requires it to provide “probable cause” before it can track cellphone users. The DOJ wants instead to operate under a lower standard for tracking cellphone users, based on a reasonable belief that such information is “relevant to a…criminal investigation.”

Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan wrote: “Where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, intrusion on that right by the Government for investigatory purposes requires that the Government obtain a warrant by demonstrating to the Court that it has probable cause, i.e., that it make a showing of a fair probability of evidence of criminal activity.”

Police have been tapping into the locations of cellphones thousands of times a year.

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.
Copyright © 2018 Bob Adelmann