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 More evesdroping and phone tapping

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PostSubject: More evesdroping and phone tapping   Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:20 am

This report is from demcracynow .org. Anew york basd radio program of the few remaining public radio stations in the country.
Congress Grants Bush Broad Surveillance Powers
The Democrat-led Congress handed President Bush a major legislative victory this weekend when it voted to broadly expand the government's authority to eavesdrop without warrant on the international telephone calls and email messages of American citizens. After weeks of pressure from President Bush, both the House and Senate approved rewriting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The legislation was rushed through Congress in the last days before the August recess . On Friday the Senate passed the bill by a 60 to 28 vote. 16 Democrats voted in favor of the measure. Then on Saturday 41 Democrats joined Republicans to pass the bill in the House. The new legislation moves the power to approve international surveillance from a special intelligence court to the attorney general and the director of national intelligence. Critics say the bill also gives the Bush administration the power to order the nation's telecommunication providers to create permanent spying outposts for the federal government. Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies said Congress has more or less legalized the National Security Agency's warrantless spying program.
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PostSubject: Re: More evesdroping and phone tapping   Mon Aug 06, 2007 3:17 pm

Hi, Twohawks!

Magi and I love DemocracyNow!

The passage of this today is another milestone down the long pike to a dictatorship and America losing all of its freedoms.

In reading about this, it "seems" (and I say that lightly) to involve overseas (or "foreign") communications and spying with fiber optic cables.

But, it "hit" me, Twohawks... isn't the whole internet... international? Is the internet now subject to open spying, and it's "legal"? :shock:
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PostSubject: Re: More evesdroping and phone tapping   Mon Aug 06, 2007 7:19 pm

Oops, Twohawks... I just found this about the new eavesdropping law and... the internet.


Analysis: New Law Gives Government Six Months to Turn Internet and Phone Systems into Permanent Spying Architecture - UPDATED

By Ryan Singel August 06, 2007 | 2:11:02 AM

A new law expanding the government's spying powers gives the Bush Administration a six-month window to install possibly permanent back doors in the nation's communication networks. The legislation was passed hurriedly by Congress over the weekend and signed into law Sunday by President Bush.

The bill, known as the Protect America Act, removes the prohibition on warrantless spying on Americans abroad and gives the government wide powers to order communication service providers such as cell phone companies and ISPs to make their networks available to government eavesdroppers.

The Administration pushed for passage of the changes to close what it called a "surveillance gap," referring to a long-standing feature of the nation's surveillance laws that required the government to get court approval to capture communications inside the United States.

While the nation's spy laws have been continually loosened since 9/11, the Administration never pushed for the right to tap the nation's domestic communication networks until a secret court recently struck down a key pillar of the government's secret spying program.

The Administration argues that the world's communication networks now route many foreign to foreign calls and emails through switches in the United States.

Prior to the law's passage, the nation's spy agencies, such as the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, didn't need any court approval to spy on foreigners so long as the wiretaps were outside the United States.

Now, those agencies are free to order services like Skype, cell phone companies and arguably even search engines to comply with secret spy orders to create back doors in domestic communication networks for the nation's spooks. While it's unclear whether the wiretapping can be used for domestic purposes, the law only requires that the programs that give rise to such orders have a "significant purpose" of foreign intelligence gathering.

The law:

Defines the act of reading and listening into American's phone calls and internet communications when they are "reasonably believed" to be outside the country as not surveillance.

Gives the government 6 months of extended powers to issue orders to "communication service providers," to help with spying that "concerns persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States." The language doesn't require the surveillance to only target people outside the United States, only that some of it does.

Forces Communication Service providers to comply secretly, though they can challenge the orders to the secret Foreign Intelligence Court. Individuals or companies given such orders will be paid for their cooperation and can not be sued for complying.

Makes any program or orders launched in the next six months perpetually renewable after the six month "sunset" of the new powers last for a year after being authorized.

Grandfathers in the the current secret surveillance program -- sometimes referred to as the Terrorist Surveillance Program -- and any others that have been blessed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Requires the Attorney General to submit to the secret surveillance court its reasons why these programs aren't considered domestic spying programs, but the court can only throw out those reasons if it finds that they are "clearly erroneous."

Requires the Attorney General to tell Congress twice a year about any incidents of surveillance abuse and give statistics about how many surveillance programs were started and how many directives were issued.

Makes no mention of the Inspector General, who uncovered abuses of the Patriot Act by the FBI after being ordered by Congress to audit the use of powerful self-issued subpoenas, is not mentioned in the bill.

In short, the law gives the Administration the power to order the nation's communication service providers -- which range from Gmail, AOL IM, Twitter, Skype, traditional phone companies, ISPs, internet backbone providers, Federal Express, and social networks -- to create possibly permanent spying outposts for the federal government.

These outposts need only to have a "significant" purpose of spying on foreigners, would be nearly immune to challenge by lawsuit, and have no court supervision over their extent or implementation.

Abuses of the outposts will be monitored only by the Justice Department, which has already been found to have underreported abuses of other surveillance powers to Congress.

In related international news, Zimbabwe's repressive dictator Robert Mugabe also won passage of a law allowing the government to turn that nation's communication infrastructure into a gigantic, secret microphone.

UPDATE: This analysis originally said that the orders entered under the new rules could be renewed indefinitely. That is not accurate. I conflated the ability of the government to continue indefinitely the programs under way under FISA before the law was signed, with the section that says that the programs under the new law go for a full year, despite the 6 month sunset.

That said, if a future bill includes the same grandfather clause that this bill has, the spying outposts could easily permanent.

Those interested in seeing how I made this mistake, look at Section 6 of the bill. I regret the error.

UPDATE 2: James Risen, the New York Times reporter who broke the story of the warrantless wiretapping program, has an analysis piece here.

Photo: Room 641A at AT&T's internet switching facility in San Francisco. Former AT&T technician Mark Klein says the room is a secret internet spying outpost for the government.

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