Posts tagged FOIA
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
The new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) drone authorization list obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit reveals more than 20 additional public entities allowed to fly drones over the United States.
This news comes as Charlottesville, Virginia passes a resolution banning drones, the entire state of Virginia might pass a drone moratorium, a Justice Department white paper was leaked outlining the supposed legal justification for the drone assassination program, the Obama administration is reportedly going to release legal memos to intelligence committees and the location of a CIA drone base in Saudi Arabia was revealed after two large media outlets withheld it at the government’s request.
This brings the total to 81 public entities authorized by the FAA to fly drones as of October 2012, according to the list obtained by the EFF. Keep in mind, documents obtained by the EFF reveal that drones are already flying over the United States.
Furthermore, we now know the military is operating drones domestically and sharing data with law enforcement, at least one National Guard unit uses drones, the Department of Homeland Security has embraced small spy drones and colleges and universities are offering more drone piloting programs to keep up with this drone boom.
End the Lie contacted the EFF’s media liaison by phone, confirming that this list is not merely applicants but indeed entities that have been authorized to fly drones over America.
Some of the newly approved agencies include the State Department, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and several sheriff’s departments including Canyon County Sheriff’s Office (Idaho), Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (Northwest Oregon), Grand Forks Sheriff’s Department (North Dakota) and King County Sheriff’s Office (covering Seattle, Washington).
Another interesting new addition highlighted by the EFF is the Barona Band of Mission Indians Risk Management Office (near San Diego, California).
Interestingly, Ohio had several new entities approved, including the Medina County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Department of Transportation, Sinclair Community College and Lorain County Community College.
The concerns raised by this new list are legion. One of the most significant concerns is the privacy and civil liberties implications of domestic drone use, especially given the advances in drone technology.
Among the most worrisome advances are: the capability of potentially constant surveillance thanks to solar power and laser-based charging methods, drone-based facial recognition technology, automated tracking systems, a drone-based camera capable of capturing 36 square miles of imagery at once, ultra-stealthy drones and even fully automated weapons systems.
The EFF also points out, “Even the smallest drones can carry a host of surveillance equipment, from video cameras and thermal imaging to GPS tracking and cellphone eavesdropping tools. They can also be equipped with advanced forms of radar detection, license plate cameras, and facial recognition.”
The EFF hopes that the release of the new list will “spur more people to ask their local law enforcement agencies about their drone programs.”
Thanks to a partnership with MuckRock, it’s even easier to request this information from your local agencies.
The EFF is encouraging people to “ask hard questions of government officials about who is funding drone development in their communities and what policies the government will demand agencies follow if they fly drones.”
“We need greater transparency and citizen push-back to protect Americans from privacy-invasive domestic drone use,” the EFF concludes.
About Madison Ruppert
Madison Ruppert is a Los Angeles-based independent journalist and researcher as well as the founder, owner, administrator and editor of EndtheLie.com. He has no affiliations with any government agencies, political parties, non-governmental organizations, or economic schools. He is available for freelance writing assignments and appearances or interviews in any format. He can be reached by emailing Admin@EndtheLie.com
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Gary Franchi interviews James Corbett connecting from Japan on Next News Network on various topics including the future of 3D printing, intellectual property, free speech, upcoming government regulations, local drone surveillance and much more.
If you’re unfamiliar with this technology, a great primer on the subject has been written by Brent Daggett for End the Lie and I highly recommend you take a few minutes to explore some of the other applications of RFID, many of which are nothing short of disturbing.
As is so often done when it comes to surveillance technology, this is being sold to us as something for our own good and the good of our children. This is identical to how the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is pushing their ludicrously unconstitutional license plate surveillance program I detail in the below video:
The Northside Independent School District (NISD) of San Antonio, Texas has already approved the tracking devices and according to local news outlet KVUE, an ABC affiliate, two schools in the district will have the program in place next year.
They characterize the RFID-equipped student IDs as somewhat “like a GPS for teachers and administrators” which will help them pinpoint the location of students around campus.
“Every parent wants us to know where their child is at school,” claimed NISD spokesman Pascual Gonzalez.
I find this claim nothing short of laughable. Never before has this even been an issue, let alone one which “every parent” would be concerned about.
Growing up my parents knew I was at school; they couldn’t care less if I was in the bathroom, the library, a classroom or any other location.
To me, Gonzalez’s claim is so absurd that it is almost hard to believe that anyone would even attempt to use such a nonsensical argument.
What parent cares what particular room their child is in? One legitimate concern might be if your child is ditching school, but an RFID isn’t required for that, there’s this crazy newfangled thing called “attendance” or “roll” which determines if students are present in class.
If I had a child in a public school, I would be much more concerned about him or her being targeted by police, attacked and/or criminalized. The last of my concerns would be if my child was in the restroom at 11:18 AM or where in the cafeteria they were during lunch time.
Any parent who desperately wants to know precisely where their child is at school during every minute of every day would, in my humble opinion, likely benefit from some professional counseling.
By Alex Wilhelm
CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, has just passed the House by a vote of 248 to 168. The vote was largely along partisan lines, with some leaking.
The bill attracted several amendements along the way to passage today, including measures from Rogers concerning the Freedom of Information Act, and the Quayle amendment that dictated information collected could only be used in a set number of circumstances.
However, the bill’s future is murky. It has to get past the Senate, in some form, and then through the desk of the President, who yesterday floated a veto threat of the Act, signaling unhappiness with its potential lack of privacy controls.
Many have found the bill to be troublesome, given that, in their estimation, its language was too broad to be safe. Also that the government could use the mandates and powers contained therein in ways that would be antithetical to privacy, and even in the cause of cyber security, could be too intrusive. TNW joined in their discontent.
We will be covering the bill’s next steps extremely closely. For more, check all of TNW’s CISPA coverage.
For a quick look at the Senate’s version of CISPA, check this article from the EFF. There are two ‘competing’ bills being considered in the Senate that could be reconciled with CISPA. Between the two bills, here’s one o the critical differences, if you want the short version:
[T]he language varies from bill to bill, but for the most part, the strongest restriction on the countermeasures is that there be a “defensive intent” (language that appears in both the Lieberman and McCain bills). The Lieberman bill mentions “modify[ing] or block[ing] data packets,” while the McCain bill is more vague.
By RICHARD LARDNER and TED BRIDIS, AP
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration couldn’t keep pace with the increasing number of people asking for copies of government documents, emails, photographs and more under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of the latest federal data by The Associated Press.
Federal agencies did better last year trying to fulfill requests, but still fell further behind with backlogs, due mostly to surges in immigration records requested from the Homeland Security Department. It released all or portions of the information that citizens, journalists, businesses and others sought — and outright rejected other requests — at about the same rate as the previous two years. The AP analyzed figures over the last three years from 37 of the largest federal departments and agencies.
There was progress: The government responded to more requests than ever in 2011 — more than 576,000 — a 5 percent increase from the year before. Offices less frequently cited legal provisions that allow them to keep records secret, especially emails and documents describing how federal officials make important decisions. Agencies took less time, on average, to turn over records: about one month for requests it considered “simple” and about three months for more complicated requests. And 23 of 37 agencies reduced their individual backlogs of requests or kept buildups from increasing.
The government’s responsiveness under the Freedom of Information Act is widely viewed as a barometer of how transparent federal offices are. Under the law, citizens and foreigners can compel the government to turn over copies of federal records for zero or little cost. Anyone who seeks information through the law is generally supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas. Sunday was the start of Sunshine Week, when news organizations promote open government and freedom of information.
Across the 37 agencies, the government turned over all or parts of the records people sought in about 65 percent of requests that it considered, a minor improvement over last year. It fully rejected more than one-third of requests, also a minor improvement over last year, including cases when it couldn’t find records, a person refused to pay for copies or the request was determined to be improper under the law.
The White House touted its success under its own analysis of how it performed. It said more employees worked to turn over files that people asked for, and it increased the budget for such efforts by $19 million last year. It said cabinet-level agencies that are directly under the White House’s control showed particular improvement. The White House routinely excludes from its assessment instances when it couldn’t find records, a person refused to pay for copies or the request was determined to be improper under the law, and says under this calculation that it released all or parts of records sought in 93 percent of requests.
“It is not surprising to see more FOIA requests sent in to an administration that has emphasized transparency,” White House Spokesman Eric Schultz said. “We’re making a strong effort to keep up with that demand by devoting more resources to it.”
Even as the Obama administration increased its efforts, people submitted 587,815 requests for information in fiscal 2011 at the 37 agencies reviewed by the AP — about an 8 percent increase over the previous year’s figure of 546,445. The administration also agreed more often — in about 25 percent of requests last year — to quickly consider information sought about subjects described as urgent or especially newsworthy. It was the second time in three years that people asked more than half-a-million times for records.
(PRISON PLANET) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has followed in the footsteps of the DHS in looking to hire a private contractor that will monitor news coverage of the agency’s activities on a 24/7 basis.
“FEMA is planning to award a 100% small business set-aside contract to a media monitoring firm that can monitor, archive and measure all local news in “major Nielsen markets,” all nationally broadcast news and all cable outlets for their news coverage of FEMA activities in the field across the U.S.,”reports Government Security News.
The program is similar in nature to a Department of Homeland Security monitoring effort that stoked controversy and a congressional hearing after it emerged that the DHS had hired an outside contractor, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, to monitor social media outlets along with a list of websites, on a “24/7/365 basis,” in order to uncover “any media reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government and the Department.”
This included monitoring remarks by residents of Standish, Michigan in “newspaper comment talkbacks, local blogs, Twitter posts, and publicly available Facebook posts,” to gage the response to a plan to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to a local prison.
Although the FEMA contract does not specifically mention the monitoring of blogs and comments made by Internet users, it does call for the program to “Monitor the effectiveness of public affairs messaging,” which implies that feedback from citizens regarding FEMA’s activities will be part of the process.
The FEMA contract for the monitoring service explains that the agency is looking for information on “media statistics including the audience exposure and publicity value” for news items related to FEMA.
Concerned about its reputation in the eyes of American citizens who are growing increasingly wary of big government, this is not the first time FEMA has reached out to try and massage its image following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which “evoked some of the harshest criticism the agency has ever faced.”
As we exclusively reported in 2006, a story that was later confirmed by KSLA news agency the following year, FEMA has created ‘Clergy Response Teams’ trained by the federal government to “quell dissent” and pacify citizens to obey the government in the event of a declaration of martial law.
The program recruited pastors and other religious representatives to become secret police enforcers who teach their congregations to “obey the government” in preparation for the implementation of martial law, property and firearm seizures, mass vaccination programs and forced relocation.
Even in the absence of such emergencies, the federal government has already announced that it is actively monitoring social media for signs of “social unrest”, in a bid to pre-empt any sign of civil dislocation within the United States.
Representatives from the Department of Homeland Security yesterday stonewalled a Congressional hearing into the DHS’ monitoring of news and social media by refusing to give specific answers on what measures were being taken to prevent the program creating a “chilling effect” whereby people would be afraid to leave negative comments in online forums for fear of retribution.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, who obtained 300 documents via a FOIA requestdetailing how the DHS was tracking websites like the Drudge Report, Huffington Post, Facebook and Twitter, submitted a statement to the Subcommittee Hearing arguing that “The DHS monitoring of social networks and media organizations is entirely without legal basis and threatens important free speech and expression rights.”
Watch a KSLA report on FEMA’s ‘Clergy Response Teams’ below.
Uploaded by GlobalResearchTV on Feb 18, 2012
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation posted a Request for Information last month calling on IT companies to demonstrate their ability to design software for monitoring, mapping and analyzing social media.
Find out more about the history of government spying and propaganda through social media on this week’s edition of Behind the Headlines.
by: J. D. Heyes
How out-of-hand has the “war on terror” become? So much so that now, the Department of Homeland Security has taken to monitoring social media Web sites trolling for would-be terrorists, as if the world’s most dangerous killers were Tweeting their plans.
Only, DHS isn’t just trolling for terrorists by monitoring Twitter and Facebook. No, the department – which at least one presidential contender, Rep. Ron Paul, believes is out of control – is wasting valuable and limited assets evaluating media reports, organizations and news sites like The Drudge Report for anti-government attitudes and social unrest.
But wait, you ask. What does monitoring American-based Web sites and social media applications have to do with the war on terror? Probably nothing, but you may remember that the Department of Homeland Security was born out of legislation passed immediately after the 9/11 attacks to protect “the American people from terrorist threats.”
First Amendment, anyone?
You’re not the only one who isn’t buying the spying. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a watchdog organization looking to protect civil liberties, privacy, the First Amendment and constitutional values in an increasingly interconnected world, has convinced a House subcommittee that the DHS activity is suspicious enough to warrant closer examination. The hearings come on the heels of the group’s acquisition of some 300 pages of DHS documents resulting from a Freedom of Information Act request which lay bare the agency’s “intelligence gathering” activities online.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s monitoring of political dissent has no legal basis and is contrary to core First Amendment principles,” says EPIC’s director, Ginger McCall, who says a government agency that monitors what ordinary Americans are saying about federal policies goes too far, and has direct implications on freedom of speech.
“The language in the documents makes it quite clear that they are looking for media reports that are critical of the agency and the U.S. government more broadly,” she said. “This is entirely outside of the bounds of the agency’s statutory duties.”
EPIC says documents it has obtained show that DHS has used contractors to monitor Twitter, Facebook, Hulu, Wikileaks, Drudge and other news sites including the Huffington Post. The documents reveal that the contractors were required to provide DHS with reaction regarding potential “threats and hazards,” as well as any media reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government and the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.) ability to prevent, protect and respond, to recovery efforts or activities related to any crisis or events which impact National Planning Scenarios.”
The program should also highlight “both positive and negative reports on FEMA, C.I.A., C.B.P., ICE, etc., as well as organizations outside of D.H.S.,” the documents said.
Looking over your shoulder
Now, DHS officials admit that, yes, the agency was monitoring the Web for any negative opinion of the government. But they said the operation was only undertaken as a one-and-done test, then quickly dropped, because it didn’t meet “operational requirements or privacy standards” which “expressly prohibit reporting on individuals’ First Amendment activities.”
“We believe that .. ah .. if even at the highest levels there was not detailed operational knowledge, there has to be accountability with respect to anybody in the (___________) engaging in his kind of activity, not just a dangerous escalation but part of a pattern of dangerous and reckless behavior by the(_____________).”
That was the Prez speaking. Whom do you suppose the Prez was talking about?? In view of the furor surrounding the gun running scandal, and DoJ’s seemingly transparent efforts to be opaque in response to the congressional inquiry into how we got where we got, do you suppose it could be Eric Holder’s Justice Department?? If you believe that, you are wrong. If you suggested that the references might be to the Iranian Government, you would be correct. Interesting…
Instead of a conversation like the foregoing about the behavior of the Justice Department, all we hear from our Chief Community Organizer is praise about what a good job they are doing. They are upstanding and we stand behind them. Could that possibly looked upon as a double standard?? Wow!! Talk about loyalty to your troops… Misplaced loyalty?? Or could it simply be the Chicago ethos showing??
Never mind giving the Black Panthers a pass. Never mind the “gun running scandal”. Never mind the lack of responses to legitimate congressional questions. Never mind the Marc Rich pardon recommended to Slick Willy. Never mind the allegations that equal rights is a one way street in the Holder Justice department. Never mind the DoJ proposal for a law that would legalize government Agencies to lie (yes, lie) about the existence of FOIA requested information. Unfortunately for the DoJ- but not the taxpayers, word of that idea “got out” and they have since put the idea back on the shelf. We need to watch carefully that this idea doesn’t get inserted into some other legislation (any other legislation) whether it is primarily DoJ legislation or focused on another Department (sort of like taking over the student loan program which was buried in the health care legislation). How do you spell honesty and integrity?? Sounds like a completely new and not so novel concept for the Eric Holder Justice Department. We can only wonder about the integrity of an administration that would like to legalize lying. Surely if very many of them had been losing much sleep over the less than forthcoming behavior they have demonstrated since taking over the government this proposal would surely have surfaced sooner. So what does that suggest about these folks?? Hmmm…
Of course as seems to be the case so often lately with the anointed one, perhaps the situation can be handled with an Executive Order just like a lot of other things that congress would not agree to are being handled. Clearly the New Haven firefighters were lucky to have their case heard before the current purveyors of “justice” showed up.
When the then Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi told us to go ahead and pass Obama Care so we could find out what was in it, a lot of folks thought she was being “cute”. Turns out that she was right (bite your tongue); that’s exactly what happened and we are slowly but surely finding out what was in it. One of the things that we recently discovered was in the Obamacare legislation was the takeover of the Student Loan program by the federal government. Student loans in health care legislation?? Yes!! And even better yet, they can run it with no further recourse to Congress. Between slipping things like that into legislation and simply circumventing Congress and the Judicial Branch of Government administratively (think Health & Human Services’ Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Dept. of Energy’ Secretary Steven Chu; and Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar) we may no longer need a congress. If we could only get a few more folks emulating Sebelius, Chu and Salazar, we could probably reduce the U.S. Congress to naming Post Offices (a job they might even be able to handle) – which, when you stop to think about it, would probably result in a large improvement in Congressional productivity. If any congressional improvement was reported in percentages, it would likely be an astronomical number.
And, or course, we already know how out of step with the country the Supreme Court is, having been told that during the Prez’ first State of the Union Message. They apparently still haven’t figured out that the Constitution is a “living document” and should be treated as such (meaning that if we find something in it that is inconvenient to comply with, we should simply change it (maybe even with an Executive Order). All we would have to do is put something into some legislation (around page 459 would probably be about right) allowing Supreme court decisions to be overridden with Executive Orders – the “checks and balances” intent (just another inconvenience) of the founders not withstanding. Then the next thing we should do would be to issue an Executive Order cancelling the XXII Amendment. With the authority to override Supreme Court decisions with Executive Orders, there would be no further need for a Supreme Court. By deleting Article III, (another executive order??) we should be able to free up enough money to allow the anointed one to purchase enough votes to allow him to stay in office as long as he desires. If you don’t know what the XXII Amendment says, go look it up – or take my word for it that it is the Amendment that currently limits a President to two terms
But wait. How about an alternative?? How about finding the Prez a new job, one for which the Prez may even be qualified?? How about pushing the Prez for election as the UN Secretary General where he could take on organizing the entire global community instead of just the U.S.- something seemingly better suited to his “global” outlook.. We could start a PAC and call it BOUNCE (Barack Obama United Nations Chief Executive). It seems likely that there would be bipartisan support of this proposition. The Liberals trying to exalt their savior – and the conservatives trying to get rid of him. If we were to do that, there is one thing about which we must be really careful. That would be irrevocably committing to any particular continuing level of US funding of the U.N. – just in case we later decide to quit bankrolling that den of thieves. Hmmm…
Ten Years After the Patriot Act, a Look at Three of the Most Dangerous Provisions Affecting Ordinary Americans0
October 26, 2011 – 12:23pm | By Trevor Timm
Ten years ago today, in the name of protecting national security and guarding against terrorism, President George W. Bush signed into law some of the most sweeping changes to search and surveillance law in modern American history. Unfortunately known as the USA PATRIOT Act, many of its provisions incorporate decidedly unpatriotic principles barred by the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution. Provisions of the PATRIOT Act have been used to target innocent Americans and are widely used in investigations that have nothing to do with national security.
Much of the PATRIOT Act was a wish list of changes to surveillance law that Congress had previously rejected because of civil liberties concerns. When reintroduced as the PATRIOT Act after September 11th, those changes — and others — passed with only limited congressional debate.
Just what sort of powers does the PATRIOT Act grant law enforcement when it comes to surveillance and sidestepping due process? Here are three provisions of the PATRIOT Act that were sold to the American public as necessary anti-terrorism measures, but are now used in ways that infringe on ordinary citizens’ rights:
1. SECTION 215 – “ANY TANGIBLE THING”
Under this provision, the FBI can obtain secret court orders for business records and other “tangible things” so long as the FBI says that the records are sought “for an authorized investigation . . . to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.” The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court must issue the order if the FBI so certifies, even when there are no facts to back it up. These “things” can include basically anything—driver’s license records, hotel records, car-rental records, apartment-leasing records, credit card records, books, documents, Internet history, and more. Adding insult to injury, Section 215 orders come with a “gag ” prohibiting the recipient from telling anyone, ever, that they received one.
As the New York Times reported, the government may now be using Section 215 orders to obtain “private information about people who have no link to a terrorism or espionage case.” The Justice Department has refused to disclose how they are interpreting the provision, but we do have some indication of how they are using Section 215. While not going into detail, Senator Mark Udall indicated the FBI believes it to allows them “unfettered” access to innocent Americans’ private data, like “a cellphone company’s phone records” in bulk form. The government’s use of these secret orders is sharply increasing — from 21 orders in 2009 to 96 orders in 2010, an increase of over 400% — and according to a brand new report from the Washington Post, 80% of those requests are for Internet records.
Today, EFF sued the Justice Department to turn over records related to the government’s secret interpretation and use of Section 215, regarding which Senator Ron Wyden, like Senator Udall, has offered ominous warnings: “When the American people find out about how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act,” said Wyden on the Senate floor in May, “they are going to be stunned and they are going to be angry.”