RNC vs Peter King on the NSA

The Republican National Committee last week made the blatantly hypocritical move of adopting a resolution condemning what they called unconstitutional NSA surveillance programs. This from the same party that defended illegal surveillance under Bush (though to be fair, Bush isn't black). Rep. Peter King is hopping mad about it because he may be wrong, but he's consistently wrong. … [Read more...]

When the FBI Tried to Make MLK Commit Suicide

As the nation celebrated Martin Luther King Day on Monday, Danielle Cadet gave an important reminder of the dangers of illegal surveillance by the government and the nefarious uses it can be put to, recalling how the FBI bugged King's home and office and used information it gained to try to make him commit suicide. … [Read more...]

What Obama Didn’t Do on the NSA Reforms

Geoffrey Stone, the University of Chicago law school professor who served on President Obama's review group on the NSA and privacy, thinks that the president's recent speech and immediate reforms are important steps in reining in illegal surveillance. In particular, he praises him for the decision to require the NSA to get warrants from the FISA court to access any metadata that is archived. But he also points out an important reform he refused to endorse: … [Read more...]

Obama’s Mostly Meaningless NSA ‘Reforms’

President Obama gave what was billed as a very important speech on Friday that included a new presidential directive to rein in the NSA's data mining programs and provide more safeguards for privacy. It was, predictably, a mostly meaningless collection of surface reforms that change very little. … [Read more...]

Study: NSA Metadata Mining No Help in Preventing Terrorism

A new study from the New America Foundation of 225 terrorism cases concludes that the NSA's cell phone metadata mining program has done nothing to prevent terrorism. In fact, only 4 times in all of those cases did the NSA use any authority under Section 215 of the Patriot Act at all. … [Read more...]

A Tale of Two Court Rulings

In the last couple weeks, two separate judges have ruled on the NSA's cell phone data mining operation. One of them, a Bush appointee, said the program is clearly unconstitutional; the other, a Clinton nominee, said the program is clearly constitutional. Andrew Cohen notes that the two rulings are almost completely opposite one another in every way. … [Read more...]

No, Edward Snowden Should Not Come Back

I've heard a lot of people, including some of the alleged liberals in Congress (I'm looking at you, Mark Udall) make the argument that if Edward Snowden really thinks he was a legitimate whistleblower, he should return to the United States to stand trial and make the argument that what he did was in the common good. But as Trevor Timm points out, it's an argument he wouldn't even be allowed to make. … [Read more...]

No, the NSA Didn’t Lie!

President Obama's National Security Advisor Susan Rice told 60 Minutes that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper didn't lie to Congress when he told them that the federal government was not collecting data on virtually all Americans. … [Read more...]

Don’t Think You Can Be Appalled Anymore?

In case you think that you're jaded and cynical enough that you can't be stunned into silence before, this might do it. It left my jaw agape. Data brokers will sell lists of the names of rape victims, HIV-positive people and domestic assault victims, among others. … [Read more...]

The NSA Commission’s Report is Released

The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, created by President Obama in the wake of the Snowden revelations, has released its 300 page report. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but Amy Davidson has a summary of its positions and recommendations. … [Read more...]

NSA Review Panel to Advocate Real Reform?

Politico has an article on the now-completed report by the commission appointed by President Obama to make recommendations after Edward Snowden revealed just how intrusive and clearly illegal the NSA's data mining operations have become. And the article claims that the commission may be recommending real reform, though not as much as critics would like. … [Read more...]

Fed. Judge: NSA Metadata Collection Unconstitutional

A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit filed over the NSA's bulk collection of cell phone metadata violates the Fourth Amendment, but that ruling was stayed immediately to give the government the chance to appeal it to a higher court. But the language in the ruling is very important and spot on. … [Read more...]