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Archive for July 9th, 2013

FISA judge condemns the court

Posted by Charles II on July 9, 2013

Dan Roberts, The Guardian:

A former federal judge who granted government surveillance requests has broken ranks to criticise the system of secret courts as unfit for purpose in the wake of recent revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

James Robertson, who retired from the District of Columbia circuit in 2010, was one of a select group of judges who presided over the so-called Fisa courts, set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which are intended to provide legal oversight and protect against unnecessary privacy intrusions.

But he says he was shocked to hear of recent changes to allow more sweeping authorisations of programmes such as the gathering of US phone records, and called for a reform of the system to allow counter-arguments to be heard.

Nothing new to see here, folks. Move along.


Posted in NSA eavesdropping, wiretapping | 2 Comments »

Snowden in Oz; Brazilian fallout continues; FISA court operates lawlessly; Susan Webber Wright resurfaces

Posted by Charles II on July 9, 2013


Ex-NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden has disclosed his first set of documents outlining Australia’s role in NSA surveillance programs, picking out four facilities in the country that contribute heavily to US spying.

The locations of dozens of the US’s and associated countries signal collection sites have been revealed by Snowden, who leaked classified National Security Agency maps to US journalist Glenn Greenwald, which were then published in the Brazilian newspaper “O Globo.”

The sites all play a role in the collection of data and interception of internet traffic and telecommunications on a global level.

Australian centers involved in the NSA’s data collection program, codenamed X-Keyscore, include Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap in central Australia and three Australian Signals Directorate facilities: the Shoal Bay Receiving Station in the country’s north, the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Facility on the west coast, and the naval communications station HMAS Harman outside the capital, Canberra.

New Zealand also plays a role, with the Government Security Communications Bureau facility at Waihopai, on the northern point of South Island, also contributing to the program.

X-Keyscore is described as a “national Intelligence collection mission system” by US intelligence expert William Arkin, according to Australian newspaper ‘Age.’ It processes all signals prior to being delivered to various “production lines” that deal with more specific issues including the exploration of different types of data for close scrutiny.

The different subdivisions are entitled Nucleon (voice), Pinwale (video), Mainway (call records) and Marina (internet records).

Speaking of O Globo, several articles have appeared.
Brazil should offer Snowden asylum, Brazilian senators argue:

Senator Requião (PMDB-PR) called the whistleblower a “Hero” and lamented that other countries on the continent have offered asylum to Snowden, while Brazil, which was the target of espionage, did not. Senator Eduardo Suplicy (PT-SP) supported the complaint of his colleague.

Glenn Greenwald, Roberto Kaz and Roberto José Casado:

One aspect that stands out in the documents is that, according to them, the United States does not seem to be interested only in military affairs but also in trade secrets – “oil” in Venezuela and “energy” in Mexico, according to a listing produced NSA in the first half of this year (see above).

Colombia was the second priority target in Latin America over the past five years – after Brazil and Mexico – in spying activity of the National Security Agency. Agency documents,

Over the weekend, Eric Lichtblau of the NYT reported on the FISA court and how it produces unreviewable decisions based on the presentation by one side, the government:

Created by Congress in 1978 as a check against wiretapping abuses by the government, the court meets in a secure, nondescript room in the federal courthouse in Washington. All of the current 11 judges, who serve seven-year terms, were appointed to the special court by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and 10 of them were nominated to the bench by Republican presidents.

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post did a brilliant segment on the FISA court on Maddow. He named (8:05m) the judges: Reggie Walton, Rosemary Collyer, Claire Eagan, Martin Feldman, Thomas Hogan, Mary McLaughlin, Michael Mosman, Dennis Saylor, Susan Wright, and James Zagel. Susan Webber Wright is the judge involved in the torment of Susan McDougal in Whitewater, as well as the Paula Jones trial.

What are the odds that one of the linchpins of the assault on democracy that culminated in the impeachment of Bill Clinton would end up on the FISA court, free to issue opinions unreviewable by the Congress or the Supreme Court, decisions that bear on the basic liberties of Americans and which the FISA court has issued–without listening to any opposing party–like a rubber stamp?

Posted in Brazil, NSA eavesdropping, wiretapping | 4 Comments »

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