With the majority of the Democrats caving in to the Bush administration's demands for full immunity for the telecom companies for-profit collusion in the NSA's illegal wiretapping program, it seems to be clear that the Fourth Amendment and federal antiwiretapping laws are no longer enough to keep our communications secure. Laws stating that "thou shalt not listen to your customers phone calls" no longer seem to have any bite. Or at least, they don't as long as teleco lobbying coupled with massive political contributions can turn once critical senators into kindly old men willing to … Read more
In the face of a presidential veto threat, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives pushed off a scheduled vote Wednesday on legislation designed to limit warrantless wiretapping.
The Democratic acquiescence was a victory for President Bush, who said last week that the proposal was unacceptable to him.
Opposition had come from both sides. Republicans had savaged the proposal as harmful to national security. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said on Wednesday that the delay was "bad news for Osama bin Laden and other terrorists," thereby illustrating McCullagh's Law in action. Meanwhile, privacy advocates, including the American … Read more
Finally, here's a phone plan that allows you to switch from the U.S. government's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network to the Unclassified but Sensitive Internet Protocol Router Network with a single keystroke.
The National Security Agency has authorized military and government personnel to order up a bunch of General Dynamics' Sectera Edge secure, wireless smartphones, which will not only allow them to make secure calls but also to e-mail and Web-browse in either classified or unclassified mode.
The phones will still operate right along with everyone else on the existing high-speed Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), … Read more
The Bush administration's remarks about retroactive legal protection for telecommunications companies show Washington has become an even more surreal place than usual.
First, President Bush said on Wednesday that federal law "must grant liability protection to companies who are facing multi-billion-dollar lawsuits only because they are believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend our nation following the 9/11 attacks."
Then Ken Wainstein, the Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division, waxed eloquent with a surfeit of "allegedlys":
Here you have allegedly companies that stepped up and answered the government's request … Read more
Much has been made of an El Paso Times interview last week in which Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell acknowledged the "private sector" has assisted in the president's so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program. Some opponents of the phone-call-and-email-snooping regime promptly pounced on the remarks, suggesting they implicate telephone companies like AT&T and Verizon, which have been accused in numerous lawsuits of consumer privacy violations and illicit cooperation with the Bush administration.
"Now if you play out the suits at the value they're claimed, it would bankrupt these companies," McConnell told the paper, … Read more
Having a free society requires being able to report on and publicly discuss what our government is doing with our tax dollars. This principle is even more important when there are allegations of wrongdoing.
Which is why it's odd to see National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell say that Americans will die because of the discussion of National Security Agency spying in public and in the U.S. Congress.
This is, unfortunately, no exaggeration. Check out this excerpt from an interview that McConnell, a former NSA director, recently gave to the El Paso Times:
Q. So you're saying that … Read more
A federal appeals court on Friday threw out a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and others against the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program.
In a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reversed a federal district court ruling last summer that found the National Security Agency surveillance program violated the U.S. Constitution.
The majority ruled that the ACLU and the collection of journalists, scholars, attorneys and national nonprofit organizations it represented did not have legal standing to bring their case. They had argued that the NSA program was trampling on federal laws … Read more
Pictured here are just some of the many doodads up for grabs at the RSA Security Conference, taking place in San Francisco this week. Once again, our own National Security Agency remains one of the organizations that showed it knows how to make a splash at the show. This year they gave away these handsome blue-and-white tote bags that look like they came straight from a department store.
And, if you waited patiently in line, you could get this commemorative Department of Homeland Security medal. It's actually quite heavy. You can also slip it into your wallet and pretend … Read more