Tags: Police State

FBI Confirms No Major Terrorism Cases Cracked via Unconstitutional Patriot Act Phone Spying

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FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations.

– From the Washington Times article: FBI Admits No Major Cases Cracked with Patriot Act Snooping Powers 

Back in 2013, as debate about the Snowden revelations was at its zenith, I published a post titled NSA Chief Admits “Only One or Perhaps Two” Terror Plots Stopped by Spy Program. Here’s an excerpt:

The Obama administration’s credibility on intelligence suffered another blow Wednesday as the chief of the National Security Agency admitted that officials put out numbers that vastly overstated the counterterrorism successes of the government’s warrantless bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records.

Pressed by the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing, Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.

“One or perhaps two.” Or perhaps zero. The guy has the nerve to say “perhaps.” How do you not know? What a bunch of lying assholes. How the heck does 54 turn into “one or two,” and I’ll tell you something else, I don’t believe the one or two figure for a minute. I mean there’s no way he would say “zero” when he is fighting to keep his petty little Stasi state intact. Furthermore, how about some details here. What was the one plot the NSA foiled? Some teenager throwing firecrackers on the White House lawn? These guys need to get lost already. From the Washington Times:

As time has passed and the years have gone by, it has become increasingly clear that the phone records collection program hasn’t stopped a single terror attack. In fact, a recently published report by the Justice Department’s inspector general admitted as much. This takes on increased significance with parts of the Patriot Act set to automatically sunset on June 1st.

The Washington Times reports:

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The Dissident Dad – A Child’s First Exposure to Protestors

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.32.41 PM“Black Lives Matter” read clearly in large bold letters across several handmade signs at the Austin State Capitol building this past Saturday. My wife and I had been looking for something to do, and ultimately decided to take a tour of the Capitol building, have a picnic on the grass, and stroll around downtown Austin. Little did we know a planned protest was scheduled, which filled up the State Capitol building with fellow anarchists and libertarians, as well as plenty of communists, socialists, and black power enthusiasts. My kids asked what was going on. There was yelling, a higher than normal police presence (although nothing like we’ve seen in other cities), and people running around with large signs.

My instinctive reaction was a mix between annoyance and anger. I don’t like seeing advertisements for further tyranny; like communist logos, socialist demands, and of course, a call for the very statists that have caused all our problems to introduce new laws. However, before I answered my children’s questions as to who they are, what they are doing, and why they are mad, I took a split second to think it through. My answer was that these are people mad at the government because they feel like the government is picking on them for their skin color.

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Tennessee Woman Sentenced to Jail for Not Mowing Her Lawn

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.16.59 PMThe trend of average U.S. citizens being incarcerated by overzealous judges and prosecutors within the police state formerly known as America continues with reckless abandon. In fact, these sorts of cases are becoming so commonplace I simply cannot keep up with all of them. The following story is a perfect followup to my piece earlier today, which shows how American public school students are being arrested or harassed by police for the most minor of infractions, such as wearing too much perfume, sharing a classmates’ chicken nuggets, throwing an eraser or chewing gum.

If you are an adult American slave, you can add not mowing your lawn to the list of prison-worthy crimes in the police state.

From Yahoo News:

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How I Remember September 11, 2001

I wrote the following a year ago today. I’m reposting because it is more important now than ever in light of the most recent war propaganda:

How I Remember September 11, 2001

I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday. I was one year into my Wall Street career. I got up that morning just like every other morning and headed toward Union Square station to get on the subway down to 3 World Financial Center, the headquarters of Lehman Brothers. I had just purchased breakfast in the cafeteria when I saw one of the human resources folks from my floor yelling to evacuate. I was confused but I got my ass downstairs fast. When I got down there I joined the hundreds of others staring in awe skyward at the gaping hole in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. People speculated that a helicopter had hit the building, but I said no way. It looked like a bomb went off to me.

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Picture of the Day – Iraq or the United States? A Photo from Ferguson, Mo

I’m sure all of you have heard about what is going on in Furguson, Mo by now. Nevertheless, often times a picture says a thousand words. Here’s that picture:

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h/t to @radleybalko for the photo.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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License Plate Readers Stir Controversy in California as the NYPD Prepares to Use Drones

One of the many civil liberties related themes I have focused on over the past several years has to do with how emerging technologies can pose a threat, first to our basic 4th Amendment rights, and then ultimately to freedom itself. Two of the most high profile technologies in this regard, and which have extremely high potential for abuse, are license plate readers and drones.

I’m no luddite saying that these technologies should be banned. In fact, I can certainly see reasonable uses for both within a broad range of society. However, I am saying that unless we have an engaged citizenry holding public officials’ feet to the fire, these technologies will certainly be abused and before you know it you’ll find yourself in Room 101 staring down at a ravenous rat army wishing you had said something earlier.

The biggest challenge we face is that the general public has become so dumbed down, distracted and confused when it comes to the most existential issues we face as a society. Rather than focusing on key issues that really matter, the mainstream media largely blows up and obsesses over immaterial, yet emotionally charged events that don’t mean anything in the larger scheme of things.

License plate readers and drones are two great examples of this dilemma. Both have been advancing into our lives in an increasing manner and most people don’t have the slightest clue. How can people have informed opinions on such keys issues when they have no idea what is happening around them.

Let’s start with the license plate scanners. Before reading further, I suggest going back and checking out my post from earlier this year: How the Repo Industry is Collecting Data on Virtually Every Car in America.

Now that you are sufficiently disturbed about the extent to which your privacy is being violated day in and day out, let’s focus on some good news. The fact that there is now a bill in the California state legislature that will attempt to put some boundaries around this technology.

We learn from CBS News that:

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The FBI Admits its Primary Focus is NOT Law Enforcement

Recently, the FBI made a significant change to its self-proclaimed primary focus in its fact sheet from “law enforcement” to “national security.” This change merely confirms what I and countless others have claimed to be true for quite some time. That the entire regulatory, security and intelligence apparatus of these United States has been redirected away from protecting the Constitution and the rule of law, toward a narrow focus on protecting the economic and social positions of the oligarch class at all costs under the guise of a “war on terror.” We have seen many signs of cronyism at the FBI for decades now, something most accurately pointed out in the priceless image “All My Heroes Have FBI Files.”

While this change to the FBI fact sheet is just confirmation of something we already knew, it’s still mind-boggling to see it shoved right in our faces:

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TechDirt covered this story well. Here are some excerpts:

A couple years ago, it was revealed that the FBI noted in one of its “counterterrorism training manuals” that FBI agents could “bend or suspend the law and impinge upon the freedoms of others,” which seemed kind of odd for a government agency who claimed its “primary function” was “law enforcement.” You’d think that playing by the rules would be kind of important. However, as John Hudson at Foreign Policy has noted, at some point last summer, the FBI quietly changed its fact sheet, so that it no longer says that “law enforcement” is its primary function, replacing it with “national security.”

Of course, I thought we already had a “national security” agency — known as the “National Security Agency.” Of course, while this may seem like a minor change, as the article notes, it is the reality behind the scenes. The FBI massively beefed up resources focused on “counterterrorism” and… then let all sorts of other crimes slide. Including crimes much more likely to impact Americans, like financial/white collar fraud.

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Dangerous Freedom vs. Peaceful Slavery

Over the weekend a close friend sent me the following image, which was found spray-painted somewhere in Brooklyn:

Peacefulslavery

The words above reflect a state of mind and disposition that has been expressed by philosophers and revolutionaries for thousands of years. It is not a novel or new concept, but it is a concept that seems to have been forgotten across much of these United States. The population has largely been domesticated and this is the primary reason why there has been such little pushback to the global oligarchs looting the landscape. A pathetically large percentage of the population would rather not think, they’d prefer to be told what to believe. They would rather not have any risk in their lives, they’d prefer to have shiny gadgets handed to them. They would rather not explore the wonderful expansive world around them, they’d rather sit on the couch and watch television.

Planet earth is a truly incredible place. Majestic mountains, glistening and seemingly endless blue seas, powerful dense forests. Its beauty is too profound for me to accurately put into words. At the same time, there are terrible tsunamis, horrific hurricanes, devastating floods and countless other natural disasters that pose a constant deadly threat.

I moved to Colorado in December 2010 for many reasons, but one of the main ones was the burning desire to get away from the big city. As a kid who had grown up in Manhattan and spent 90% of my life in that environment, I felt a deep longing to move closer to nature and vast open spaces. When weather permits I like to go on lengthy hikes at least once or twice a week. On essentially all of these hikes there are both bears and mountain lions active, amongst a host of other creatures. I mention the first two because of their ability to do severe bodily harm to me at any moment should they choose to. Being aware of such dangerous animals creates a sense of fear but also thrill. Do I carry a gun on my hikes? No, I don’t. Do I want the Colorado state government to go into the woods and hunt down all the bears and mountain lions so that I can be 100% sure of my safety? Of course not. I understand this part of the world is wild and potentially dangerous, and that’s a large part of what I love about it.

Two typical signs at Boulder trailheads:

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The same could be said for the world at large and society itself. Beyond the obvious reality that we are all going to die anyway, there is the point that no matter how hard you try to avoid harm or hard times, those things can come to your doorstep any time they choose. At the end of the day, it really isn’t up to you. What is up to you is how you spend each day. The things you think about, the stuff you create, the people you love. All of those things can only reach their highest potential in a free society.

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Why I Will Never, Ever, Go Back to the United States by Niels Gerson Lohman

I have been cursed at a Chinese border. In Dubai, my passport was studied by three veiled women for over an hour and my suitcase completely dismembered. In the Philippines I had to bribe someone in order to get my visa extended for a few days. Borders, they can be tough, especially in countries known for corruption.

But never, ever, will I return to the United States of America.

– Excerpt from a must read article by Niels Gerson Lohman

Recently, one of my best friends from college had a horrific experience at the Canadian border. He told me he would write about his experience and allow me to post it on this site, so I hope to have that up in the near future. In the meantime, please take the time to read the story of Niels Gerson Lohman, a Dutch writer, designer and musician who had such a horrific experience at the border he has vowed to never return to these United States. This is an utter embarrassment and reminds me a lot of one of the more popular posts ever on this site:  Why I’m Leaving America by Michael Fielding.

From the Huffington Post:

After a year of traveling, I had planned a last, short trip. I was going to take the train from Montreal to New Orleans. The travels I had been undertaking earlier this year had brought me to places that were meant to form the background of my second novel.

This trip, however, was for my dad. He, a trumpet player, loved New Orleans and had died a year ago. It felt like the first sensible trip I undertook this year. I had been searching for ways to forget about the last hours at his deathbed. He had been ill for 15 years and his body just would not give up. It was a violent sight. I had decided the trip to New Orleans would put an end to those memories.

The customs officer walked by and asked everybody on the train a few questions. Where they were from, where they were heading. The usual stuff. Everybody who was not a U.S. or Canadian citizen was to head for the dining car to fill in an additional green form.

I had not finished my novel yet, but my passport was complete. It was filled with pretty stamps. He did not like the stamps.

First, he saw my Sri Lankan stamp. The customs officer raised his eyebrows.

“Sri Lanka, what were you doing over there?”

“Surfing. Traveling. My best friend lives there. He is an architect.”

The officer flipped on, seemingly satisfied. Secondly, he found my stamps from Singapore and Malaysia.

“What were you doing over there? Singapore and Malaysia? Aren’t those countries Islamic?”

Looking over my shoulder, his eyes searched for his colleague’s confirmation.

“Malaysia, I think so, yeah. But not Singapore. It’s a melting pot. A very futuristic city. Airconditioned to the ceiling. To Singapore I went mostly for the food, to be honest.”

“Sure.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Nothing. And how about Malaysia?”

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Meet SIBIOS: Argentina’s Massive, Orwellian Biometric Database

Two years ago, the UK dismantled their national ID scheme and shredded their National Identity Registry in response to great public outcry over the privacy-invasive program. Unfortunately privacy protections have been less rosy elsewhere. In Argentina, the national ID fight was lost some time ago. A law enacted during the military dictatorship forced all individuals to obtain a government-mandated ID. Now, they are in the process of enhancing its mandatory National Registry of Persons (RENAPER) with biometric data such as fingerprints and digitized faces. The government plans to repurpose this database in order to facilitate “easyaccess” to law enforcement by merging this data into a new, security-focused integrated system. This raises the specter of mass surveillance, as Argentinean law enforcement will have access to mass repositories of citizen information and be able to leverage existing facial recognition and fingerprint matching technologies in order to identify any citizen anywhere.

– From the EFF’s must read article: Biometrics in Argentina: Mass Surveillance as a State Policy

The above passage was written in early 2012, but I had never taken the time to look into Argentina’s burgeoning and extremely creepy biometric database until now. It takes on increased importance to Americans now that Apple has rolled out its iPhone 5NsA.

Don’t worry though, Apple is a private company and they’d never work with the NSA or anything…

The video below is the promotional video of the Biometric ID Database in Argentina, and is an epic example of state propaganda.

Because the Argentine government has such a storied history of doing the right thing…

In Liberty,
Mike

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