Daniel Ellsberg defends NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, says whistleblowers like Snowden and Bradley Manning are helping Americans defend their right to privacy.

Jennifer Mattson, GlobalPost, June 10, 2013

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, said Edward Snowden, 29, the whistleblower who exposed a National Security Agency wide-ranging surveillance program, showed “the kind of courage that we expect of people on the battlefield.”

Ellsberg said on Twitter “there has not been in American history a more important leak than Snowden’s,” including his own, during Watergate.

In July 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a former National Security Council consultant and military analyst changed the course of history when he leaked confidential information about the Vietnam War to a reporter at The New York Times. Those documents later became known as The Pentagon Papers.

Snowden, who has fled to Hong Kong, worked for the NSA as a contractor for Dell and Booz Allen over the last four years.
Ellsberg told The Daily Beast:
“The information about unconstitutional activity that he [Snowden] put out could only be reversed or stopped if the public knows about it, and there was absolutely no way for them or most members of Congress to learn about it without him putting it out.
He went on to say that he identifies with Snowden, “his choice, his decision, his performance” and that the 29-year-old is clearly aware of the consequences of his actions.

He said it is clear is that Snowden broke the law and faces possible of prosecution.

Ellsberg had this to say on CNN:

Daniel Ellsberg “I Think They Have Everything And That Is The Recipe For A TYRANNY In This Country!”

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130610/daniel-ellsberg-defends-nsa-whistleblower-edward

Data Surveillance with Global Implications

By Marcel Rosenbach, Holger Stark and Jonathan Stock, Der Spiegel, June 10 2013

The American intelligence director and the White House have finally confirmed what insiders have long known: The Obama administration is spying on the entire world. Politicians in Germany are demanding answers.

South of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, the National Security Agency (NSA), a United States foreign intelligence service, keeps watch over one of its most expensive secrets. Here, on 100,000 square meters (1,100,000 square feet) near the US military’s Camp Williams, the NSA is constructing enormous buildings to house superfast computers. All together, the project will cost around $2 billion (€1.5 billion) and the computers will be capable of storing a gigantic volume of data, at least 5 billion gigabytes. The energy needed to power the cooling system for the servers alone will cost $40 million a year.

Former NSA employees Thomas Drake and Bill Binney told SPIEGEL in March that the facility would soon store personal data on people from all over the world and keep it for decades. This includes emails, Skype conversations, Google searches, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, bank transfers — electronic data of every kind.

“They have everything about you in Utah,” Drake says. “Who decides whether they look at that data? Who decides what they do with it?” Binney, a mathematician who was previously an influential analyst at the NSA, calculates that the servers are large enough to store the entirety of humanity’s electronic communications for the next 100 years — and that, of course, gives his former colleagues plenty of opportunity to read along and listen in.

James Clapper, the country’s director of national intelligence, has confirmed the existence of a large-scale surveillance program. President Barack Obama further explained that Congress authorized the program — but that American citizens are exempt from it.

A top-secret document published last week by the Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian shows where the NSA may be getting the majority of its data. According to the document, which was allegedly leaked by former CIA employee Edward Snowden, the intelligence agency began seeking out direct access to servers belonging to American Internet companies on a wide scale in 2007. The first of these companies to come onboard was Microsoft. Yahoo followed half a year later, then Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype and AOL. The most recent company to declare its willingness to cooperate was Apple, in October 2012, according to the secret government document, which proudly states that this access to data is achieved “directly from the servers” of the companies. Continue reading

US’ “Junior-Partners-in-Empire” also spied by NSA (but worried that data is not shared with them)

Europe outraged but conflicted over NSA surveillance

Indignation was sharp and predictable across Europe – a continent where privacy is revered. Yet anger over revelations of U.S. electronic surveillance was tempered by an indisputable fact: Europe wants the information that American intelligence provides.

That dilemma was clear Tuesday, only days after leaks about two National Security Agency programs that purportedly target foreign messages – including private e-mails, voice and other data transmissions – sent through U.S. Internet providers.

The European Union’s top justice official, Viviane Reding, said she would demand that the United States afford EU citizens the same rights as Americans when it comes to data protection. Hannes Swoboda, a Socialist leader in the European Parliament, said the purported surveillance showed that the U.S. “is just doing what it wants.”At the same time, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich confirmed that his government regularly receives tips from the United States on Islamic extremists – and he doesn’t expect the Americans to tell him where they got the information. Continue reading

The Whistleblower: “I Can’t Allow the US Government to Destroy Privacy and Basic Liberties”


Jun 9, 2013

The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA’s history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadow

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, and in Hong Kong The Guardian, Sunday 9 June 2013

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. “I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”

He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, only that doing so will distract attention from the issues raised by his disclosures. “I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me.” Continue reading

Political Prisoner Alert — Bradley Manning Trial: An American Hero Gets Court-Martialed On June 3

by Erin Lahman in Politics, PolicyMic

bradley, manning, trial:, an, american, hero, gets, court martialed, on, june, 3,

Bradley Manning Trial An American Hero Gets Court Martialed On June 3

On June 3, the highly anticipated court-martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was arrested in July 2010, will take place. A previous PolicyMic article delivered specific details on the over 700,000 government documents and pieces of classified military information Manning allegedly leaked. According to the article, “Manning is charged with leaking hundreds-of-thousands of classified documents to the website WikiLeaks.”

Manning is an American hero who made the decision to leak these classified documents as a service to the general public. He testified, “I believe that if the general public had access to the information, this could spark a domestic debate as to the role of the military and foreign policy in general.” He added, “I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience.”

In a January 2013 ruling, Military Judge Colonel Denise Lind awarded Manning a 112-day reduction in any eventual sentence due to being subjected to excessively harsh treatment while in military detention. A month later, Judge Lind accepted Bradley Manning’s guilty pleas of 10 lesser charges that he misused classified information, though he denied “aiding the enemy.” A guilty sentence to “aiding the enemy” could languish him military prison for the remainder of his life.

Bradley Manning released the video, “Collateral Murder,” to WikiLeaks and he explained, “The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.” He went on, “They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote ‘dead bastards’ unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers.” Continue reading

Assata Shakur Becomes the First Woman Added to FBI’s Most Wanted List

Assata Shakur

Madeleine Davies
As of yesterday, former Black Panther and member of the Black Liberation Army Assata Shakur became the first-ever woman to be added to the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list. She is currently 66 years old and living in Cuba where she has been granted political asylum.

In May of 1973, Shakur was in a car that was pulled over by police on the New Jersey highway. A shootout occurred, resulting in the deaths of her companion and fellow activist Zayd Malik Shakur and State Trooper Werner Foerster. Assata Shakur was wounded in the gunfight, having been shot twice. Accounts of what happened that night differ greatly — surviving Trooper James Harper (also wounded) claimed that Zayd Malik Shakur began firing when they asked him to step out of the vehicle whereas Assata Shakur attests that the police fired first, even after she had her hands in the air.

Shakur was convicted of Foerster’s murder and sentenced to a life in prison. In 1979, with the help of allies, she was able to escape from confinement and flee to Cuba where she still lives and calls herself a “20th century escaped slave.” Continue reading

US: FBI, the Manufactured “Official Story”, and “Manufacturing Terrorists”

[The Official Story as told by FBI spokespeople, and repeated by the uncritical media, is "White House defends FBI query into Boston suspect (Associated Press, 22 April 2013) -- The White House is defending the FBI's performance in its 2011 inquiry into Tamerlan Tsarnaev (tsahr-NEYE'-ehv) one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings....White House spokesman Jay Carney says it's clear that the FBI followed up on information it received about Tsarnaev. He says the FBI interviewed him and his relatives and didn't find any domestic or foreign terrorism activity.....The Russian FSB intelligence security service told the FBI in early 2011 about information that Tsarnaev was a follower of radical Islam. The FBI says it conducted interviews and provided the results in the summer of 2011. The bureau says it also checked U.S. government databases and other information to look into his telephone communications, possible use of radical online sites, personal associations, and travel and education history."  But, given the history of COINTELPRO, and of post-911 FBI entrapment schemes and political Islamophobic campaigns, many are skeptical of the official story.  Was the Boston Marathon bombing either an FBI-manufactured-jihad or an event which was FBI-known but not prevented, for political reasons?  Has any major news media demanded the FBI records including the Tsarnaev files, the FBI agent/interviewer and "Tsarnaev handler" notes?  The corporate media has been such a loyal and uncritical, un-investigative propagandist for the ever-changing and offically manufactured story, it is important to take a look at sharply critical views and background, such as these given below. -- Frontlines ed.]

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The Official Tsarnaev Story Makes No Sense

by Craig Murray – April 22, 2013

There are gaping holes in the official story of the Boston bombings.

We are asked to believe that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was identified by the Russian government as an extremist Dagestani or Chechen Islamist terrorist, and they were so concerned about it that in late 2010 they asked the US government to take action. At that time, the US and Russia did not normally have a security cooperation relationship over the Caucasus, particularly following the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008. For the Russians to ask the Americans for assistance, Tsarnaev must have been high on their list of worries.

In early 2011 the FBI interview Tsarnaev and trawl his papers and computers but apparently – remarkably for somebody allegedly radicalised by internet – the habitually paranoid FBI find nothing of concern.

So far, so weird. But now this gets utterly incredible. In 2012 Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who is of such concern to Russian security, is able to fly to Russia and pass through the airport security checks of the world’s most thoroughly and brutally efficient security services without being picked up. He is then able to proceed to Dagestan – right at the heart of the world’s heaviest military occupation and the world’s most far reaching secret police surveillance – again without being intercepted, and he is able there to go through some form of terror training or further Islamist indoctrination. He then flies out again without any intervention by the Russian security services. Continue reading

Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy

New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent

, guardian.co.uk, Saturday 29 December 2012
Occupy Oakland clashes

[Police used teargas to drive back protesters following an attempt by the Occupy supporters to shut down the city of Oakland. Photograph: Noah Berger/AP]

It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens. Continue reading

Tracking Hate Crimes, Tracking the FBI’s Crimes

[Ever since the criminal/hate massacre of Sikhs took place on August 5, 2012, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, the shock and anger at that horrifying murderous act by a white-supremacist gunman has fueled an intense discussion and debate within the Sikh community and South Asians, and among all who stand in solidarity and in common humanity with the targeted Sikh community.  Some have argued that Sikhs should embrace the FBI and other instruments of government repression, and try to get the FBI to take action against fascist attackers.  Others have said that Sikhs should draw more closely together, and join forces with all victims of white supremacy, of racial profiling, of Islamophobia and of xenophobia, in more determined and forceful community alliances.  While some have argued combining these methods, others have argued the incompatability of these two strategies, because of the key role the FBI has played in both supporting and initiating attacks (racial and Islamophic profiling programs) on targeted communities and activists of (non-white) color and (non-Cristian) religion.  The following is from a Sikh blog, The Langar Hall. -- Frontlines ed.]

The Oak Creek community mourns the loss of the shooting victims from the Oak Creek Sikh temple at a group wake and visitation service in the Oak Creek High School gymnasium on Friday.

September 18th, 2012

Over the last month since the horrific tragedy in Oak Creek, WI, Sikh civil rights organizations and other leaders in the community seem to have come to a consensus on what our collective demand should be to move forward — getting the FBI to track hate crimes against Sikhs.  A few weeks ago Valarie Kaur wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled, “Sikhs deserve the dignity of being a statistic,” in which she convincingly articulates the basic argument that many are making:

The FBI tracks all hate crimes on Form 1-699, the Hate Crime Incident Report. Statistics collected on this form allow law enforcement officials to analyze trends in hate crimes and allocate resources appropriately. But under the FBI’s current tracking system, there is no category for anti-Sikh hate crimes. The religious identity of the eight people shot in Oak Creek will not appear as a statistic in the FBI’s data collection. As a Sikh American who hears the rising fear and concerns in my community, I join the Sikh Coalition and Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) in calling for the FBI to change its policy and track hate crimes against Sikhs.

We’ve all probably gotten numerous action alerts to sign petitions, call our Senators, and, most recently, to attend tomorrow’s Senate hearing on hate violence in Washington, DC.  The Sikh Coalition’s email advisory today about tomorrow’s hearing begins, “Be Present and Request that the FBI Track Hate Crimes Against Sikhs.”

It seems like a sensible request.  The FBI is a government agency responsible for investigating hate crimes, so of course they should be looking specifically at attacks targeting Sikhs and have a category to enable them to do so.  While I am sympathetic to this cause, I am a bit troubled by it, or have some questions about it, as well. Continue reading

Los Angeles: FBI Sting Lawsuit Blocked by “State Secrets” Doctrine

Behind this plaque are the “state secrets” of Islamophobic and racially profiled sting operations–endorsed as unchallengable and unquestionable by the courts

It was like a James O’Keefe hidden camera operation gone wrong: In 2006, despite no evidence of wrongdoing, the FBI sent informant Craig Monteilh to spy on a California mosque, only to have Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, the guy Monteilh was trying to convince to launch a fake terrorist operation, report the informant to the authorities. (Naturally, in 2009 the FBI then unsuccessfully tried to prosecute Niazi anyway).

The Monteilh-Niazi incident was part of “Operation Flex,” an FBI counterterrorism program that involved surveillance of the Muslim community in Southern California. Three local Muslims, Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, Ali Uddin Malik, and Yasser AbdelRahim, sued the FBI in February 2011 arguing that the FBI violated their constitutional rights. The Obama administration responded by invoking the state secrets doctrine, which often serves as a sort of get-out-of-court-free card for the government, and asking Judge Cormac J. Carney to dismiss the case because it would force disclosure of materials that could jeopardize national security. Carney did just that on Wednesday, accepting the government’s argument that the case would endanger state secrets. In doing so, Carney dismissed the plaintiffs’ argument that embracing the state secrets doctrine in the Monteilh case would lead to a state of affairs where “any practice, no matter how abusive, may be immunized from legal challenge by being labeled as ‘counterterrorism’ and ‘state secrets.'”

“Such a claim assumes that courts simply rubber stamp the Executive’s assertion of the state secrets privilege. That is not the case here,” Carney wrote. “The Court has engaged in rigorous judicial scrutiny of the Government’s assertion of privilege and thoroughly reviewed the public and classified filings with a skeptical eye.”

The case involves two key elements of the Obama administration’s approach to national security: The use of FBI informants and fake terror plots and the aggressive use of the state secrets doctrine to keep its counterterrorism operations secret. As Trevor Aaronson reported in his award-winning story for the September/October 2011 issue of Mother Jones, “With three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings.” Continue reading

FBI: Fabricating threats, false prosecutions, and fear-mongering–in the name of security

The FBI’s ‘Islamic Terrorism’ Fraud

By Sherwood Ross | Aletho News | July 2, 2012

Nearly every major post-9/11 terrorism-related prosecution has involved a sting operation at the center of which is a government informant, The Nation magazine reports.

The publication cites the findings of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School. The Center has tracked 138 terrorism or national security prosecutions involving informants since 2001.

As the informants work for money or a reduction of their own criminal charges, their testimony may well be tainted. What’s particularly distressing, writes Petra Bartosiewicz, a New York City journalist in the July 2nd issue of the magazine, is that the FBI informants “have crossed the line from merely observing potential criminal behavior to encouraging and assisting people to participate in plots that are largely scripted by the FBI itself.”

The reporter explains that “Under the FBI’s guiding hand, the informants provide the weapons, suggest the targets and even initiate the inflammatory political rhetoric that later elevates the charges to the level of terrorism.” Continue reading

The Feds are watching — badly

[US imperialist xenophobia translates into bizarre and concentrated cultural ignorance, especially when replicated by aggressive, repressive government bureaucracies.  The harm inflicted on targeted communities is beyond measure.  This investigative report from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, an alternative weekly newspaper, traces the details of some recent revelations. -- Frontlines ed.]

by Yael Chanoff and Natalie Orenstein, San Francisco Bay Guardian, June 26, 2012

The FBI’s modern snoop program is racist, xenophobic, misdirected, dangerous — and really, really stupid

Muslims, the Internet — what isn’t the government spying on?

So, you’re a law enforcement officer in training for participation on a local Joint Terrorism Task Force. Or a student at the United States Military Academy at West Point, involved in the counterterrorism training program developed in partnership with the FBI. Or you’re an FBI agent training up to deal with terrorist threats.

Get ready for FBI training in dealing with Arab and Muslim populations.

Take note that “Western cultural values” include “rational, straight line thinking” and a tendency to “identify problems and solve them through logical decision-making process” — while “Arab cultural values” are “emotional based” and “facts are colored by emotion and subjectivity.”

Be advised that Arabs have “no concept of privacy” and “no concept of ‘constructive criticism'” and that in Arab culture it is “acceptable to interrupt conversations to convey information or make requests.”

“Westerners think, act, then feel,” an FBI powerpoint briefing notes, while “Arabs feel, act, then think.”

Those are some of the most dramatic examples of racial profiling and outright racist stereotyping revealed in thousands of pages of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Bay Guardian, the ACLU of Northern California and the Asian Law Caucus.

The documents show a pattern of cultural insensitivity, sometimes bordering on the ridiculous, not only tolerated by promoted as official instructions by the FBI. The records also show a broad pattern of surveillance of people who have engaged in no criminal activity and aren’t even suspected of crimes, but have been targeted because of their race or religion.

Pieces of this story have come out over the past year as the ACLU has charged the FBI with racial profiling and Attorney General Eric Holder has insisted it’s not happening. And some of the documents — which are not always properly dated — may be a few years old.

But none of it is ancient history: All of the material has been used by the FBI in the past few years, under the Obama administration.

This is the first complete report with the full details on a pattern of behavior that is, at the very least, disturbing — and in some parts, reminiscent of the notorious (and widely discredited) COINTELPRO program that sought to undermine and disrupt political groups in the 1960s.

The information suggests that the federal government is using methods that are not only imprecise and xenophobic but utterly ineffective in protecting the American public.

“This is the worst way to pursue security,” Hatem Bazian, professor of Near East Studies at UC Berkeley, told us.

CULTURAL STEREOTYPES

Dozens of documents attempt to describe “Arabs and Muslims” but other groups aren’t left out of the sweeping stereotyping and blatant racism and xenophobia that the FBI has used in its training guides. One training presentation is titled “The Chinese.” The materials give such tips as “informality is perceived as disrespectful.” The presentation warns “expect your gift (money) to be refused” but advises to give “a simple gift with significant meaning- tangerines or oranges (with stems/leaves.)” But “never give a clock as a gift! (death!)”

And if those in the training on “The Chinese” find themselves in “interactions with the opposite sex,” then “touching, too many compliments, may imply a romantic liaison is desired — be careful!” Continue reading

Commemorating the US Government Murder of Black Revolutionary Fred Hampton, 42 years ago (12/4/69)

Fred Hampton: “Live for the People, Die for the People”

Forty-two years ago, on December 4th, 1969, Chicago police raided Black Panther Fred Hampton’s apartment and shot and killed him in his bed.

He was just twenty-one years old.

Fred Hampton was born on August 30, 1948, in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in Maywood, a suburb to the west of the city. Following his graduation, Hampton became active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), assuming leadership of the Youth Council of the organization’s West Suburban Branch. In his capacity as an NAACP youth organizer, Hampton began to show signs of his natural leadership abilities; from a community of 27,000, he was able to muster a youth group 500-members strong.

Hampton was quickly attracted to the Black Panthers’ ten-point program of a mix of black self-determination and certain elements of Maoism. Continue reading

When Illegitimate Authority Dictates, the choice is Submission or Defiance

Opinions:”How the Patriot Act stripped me of my free-speech rights”

By Nicholas Merrill, Published in The Washington Post, October 25
Sometime in 2012, I will begin the ninth year of my life under an FBI gag order, which began when I received what is known as a national security letter at the small Internet service provider I owned. On that day in 2004 (the exact date is redacted from court papers, so I can’t reveal it), an FBI agent came to my office and handed me a letter. It demanded that I turn over information about one of my clients and forbade me from telling “any person” that the government had approached me.National security letters are issued by the FBI, not a judge, to obtain phone, computer, and banking information. Instead of complying, I spoke with a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union and filed a constitutional challenge against the NSL provision of the Patriot Act, which was signed into law 10 years ago Wednesday.

A decade later, much of the government’s surveillance policy remains shrouded in secrecy, making it impossible for the American public to engage in a meaningful debate on the effectiveness or wisdom of various practices. The government has used NSLs to collect private information on hundreds of thousands of people. I am the only person from the telecommunications industry who received one to ever challenge in court the legality of the warrantless NSL searches and the associated gag order and to be subsequently (partially) un-gagged.In 2004, it wasn’t at all clear whether the FBI would charge me with a crime for telling the ACLU about the letter, or for telling the court clerk about it when I filed my lawsuit as “John Doe.” I was unable to tell my family, friends, colleagues or my company’s clients, and I had to lie about where I was going when I visited my attorneys. During that time my father was battling cancer and, in 2008, he succumbed to his illness. I was never able to tell him what I was going through.

For years, the government implausibly claimed that if I were able to identify myself as the plaintiff in the case, irreparable damage to national security would result. But I did not believe then, nor do I believe now, that the FBI’s gag order was motivated by legitimate national security concerns. It was motivated by a desire to insulate the FBI from public criticism and oversight.

In 2007, this newspaper made an exception to its policy against anonymous op-eds and published a piece I wrote about my predicament. In August 2010, the government agreed to a settlement, and I was finally allowed to reveal my name to the public in connection with my case, but I am still prevented — under the threat of imprisonment — from discussing any fact that was redacted in the thousands of pages of court documents, including the target of the investigation or what information was sought.

I don’t believe that it’s right for Americans’ free speech rights to be bound by perpetual gag orders that can’t be meaningfully challenged in a court of law. The courts agreed, but the NSLs and the gag orders live on. Now the FBI is supposed to notify NSL recipients that they can challenge a gag order — but the government refuses to say how the court’s ruling has been put into practice, or how many gag orders have been issued, challenged or reversed. This information is especially important since internal Justice Department investigations have found widespread violations of NSL rules by the FBI.

During the recent debate to reauthorize sections of the Patriot Act, two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee — Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) — warned that the government is interpreting the law to conduct surveillance that does not follow from a plain reading of the text. “When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry,” Wyden said. As someone who had to keep silent and live a lie for the better part of a decade, in the false name of “national security,” I know he’s right.

The writer is executive director of the Calyx Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes “best practices” with regard to privacy and freedom of expression in the telecommunications industry.

FBI’s racial profiling of targeted communities in the name of “national security”

ACLU in NY accuses FBI of racial profiling

By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press, October 20, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union accused the FBI on Thursday of abusing increased powers it was given after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by collecting and analyzing racial and ethnic demographic information across the country based on widespread stereotypes.

The civil rights group based findings in its report on documents obtained from the FBI through Freedom Of Information Act requests made last year through 34 ACLU affiliates. It said the partially redacted documents put on its website show the FBI crossed the line in its assessment of Arab Americans in Michigan, blacks in Georgia, Chinese and Russian-Americans in California and large groups of Hispanic communities in Michigan.

“The FBI’s own documents confirm our worst fears about how it is using its overly expansive surveillance and racial profiling authority,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project. “The FBI has targeted minority American communities around the country for investigation based not on suspicion of actual wrongdoing but on the crudest stereotypes about which groups commit different types of crimes.” Continue reading