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President Barack Obama, followed by Chaplain Colonel J. Wesley Smith and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, walks towards the podium during the transfer of remains ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Sept. 14, 2012, marking the return to the
Still Life with Deciders and Instruments of Policy
This is the second in a series of essays to be written by Left Flank Daily Kos users providing substantive critiques of Hillary Clinton. Today's entry comes from koNko —Armando

U.S. presidents enjoy special powers in the domain of foreign policy. These powers are not unlimited or absolute, but as commander-in-chief and head of an executive branch containing the apparatus and instruments of foreign policy, presidents set principles of doctrine that guide policy and action, and largely pre-determine policy and treaties put forward to Congress.

They also exercise personal judgment taking executive actions that have expanded since 9/11, now including such controversial powers as authorizing increased electronic surveillance at home and abroad and the use of drones to execute people on foreign soil without due process, arguably, acts of war.

In these roles, presidents have great powers to do good or harm, setting wheels in motion not easy to brake, and often taking actions with unforeseen or unintended consequences for the nation and the world. To call it a grave responsibility is understatement.

Why then is the public so often careless and disengaged from foreign policy debates until events poke us in the eye to remind us how these complex policies, actions and events directly affect our lives, sometimes profoundly? And why do we so often put blind trust in leaders we assume to share our interests and possess the knowledge and judgment to make wise decisions absent evidence of either? Should we not be more critical?

After the fold, let's consider the positions and credentials of Hillary Rodham Clinton, declared candidate and presumed Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential election.

Poll

Clinton on Foreign Policy:

17%501 votes
37%1111 votes
22%671 votes
11%347 votes
10%296 votes

| 2927 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading

The Washington Post is reporting that Maryland State Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby has found probable case to file homicide charges in the death of Freddie Gray.

Baltimore prosecutor: Probable cause to file criminal charges in Gray’s death

BALTIMORE —State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said Friday she has probable cause to file criminal charges in the much publicized death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray who died while in police custody.

Six officers, including a lieutenant and a sergeant, have been suspended after the incident. Gray suffered a spinal injury and died after riding in a police transport van that made several stops.

On Thursday, Baltimore’s police officials said they turned over their initial report to prosecutors — a day earlier than expected.

At a morning news conference, Mosby said the medical examiner had ruled Gray’s death a homicide.

- snip -

Mosby said Gray requested an inhaler during the van ride and that he began to flail and was held “against his will.” She said officers failed to establish probable cause for his arrest in the first place.

Officers “illegally arrested Mr. Gray,” she said.

She also expressed her sympathies to the Gray family and said she had meet with them, assuring them would seek justice in the case.

I just wanted to get this important news out and leave discussion to the comments.

UPDATE

There is a Front Page diary by Barbara Morrill ......

Baltimore State's Attorney: Freddie Gray's death was a homicide and criminal charges will be pursued

Suggest to take the comments there.  Thanks for reading.

Discuss

This will be quick: news services are reporting a Germanwings Flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf has gone down in the French Pyrenees Alps after take-off with 142 passengers and 6 crew aboard.

The crash site has been verified by helicopter and is in a rugged and inaccessible area, with debris scattered and an assumption of no survivors.

The Guardian - Lead Story

A passenger plane for the airline Germanwings flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf has crashed in a remote and mountainous area of southern France, officials have confirmed.

The Airbus A320 making the flight for Lufthansa’s lowcost arm, Germanwings, crashed near the small mountain village of Barcelonette in the southern Alps. It had made a distress call at 10.47am then disappeared off the radar at around 11.20am, Le Figaro reported.

At least 142 passengers and six crew-members on board. Spain’s airport operator confirmed Spanish nationals were on board but would not say how many. A spokesman for France’s interior ministry said the passenger manifest was being verified.

The plane crashed at 2,000 metres altitude in the Alps, in the commune of Meolans-Revels. Gilles Gravier, president of Tourism in the Val d’Allos ski resort area, said nothing of the crash had been heard from the pistes in his village. He said 400 gendarmes, firefighters and emergency search and rescue personnel had been mobilised but the zone was “extremely difficult” to get to.

Florent Plazy, director of the local ski school ESF, confirmed the area was hard to access even for mountain walkers.

Eric Ciotti, the head of the regional council, said search-and-rescue teams were headed to the crash site but Pierre-Henry Brandet, the interior ministry spokesman, told BFM television that he expected “an extremely long and extremely difficult” operation because of the area’s remoteness.

The French president, François Hollande, said it was likely there were no survivors.

The Guardian - Live Blog

Before going down the pilot made distress calls and appears to have been fighting for control and attempting a controlled landing after recovering from a sudden loss of air speed.

IOW, he seemed to be following the first priority of "Aviate - Navigate - Communicate".

Peace.

Continue Reading

Questioning Obama's sanity and Chinese motives has little basis in fact.

Since the announcement of the US-China agreement on GHG emissions reduction, there has been much debate on Daily Kos about the prospects of this leading to concrete changes as well as questioning China's motives and Mr. Obama's judgement.

Some skepticism is well-grounded and reasonable in the sense it recognizes the political roadblocks Mr. Obama faces with a Congress opposed in majority to making national commitments on GHG reductions and Clean Energy targets that will only get worse in the near term, and on the significant technical and economic challenges both the US and China face to make good on their commitments.

But other criticisms seem to be informed more by misconceptions, misinformation and prejudice rather than facts.

In particular, the ideas that Mr. Obama has somehow foolishly given away the store to China, or that Chinese are dishonest, misleading and playing games with no intention of meeting commitments, seems to have infected the popular narrative on both the Right and Left.

Some basic facts about accomplishments by the US and China during the Obama Administration, including data on clean energy investment and capacity installed in the period of 2009-2013 makes it clear how mistaken such assumptions are. Lets look at this and then reconsider some of the questions.

Clean Energy Investment in the G-20 2009 - 2013

The US and China are the No. 1 and No. 2 nations in the world not just in economic terms but also Greenhouse Gas emissions and, more recently, investment in renewable, clean energy.

A reliable source of information on Clean Energy investment, capacity and policy is the annual report Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race? jointly published by Pew Charitable Trusts and Bloomberg New Energy.  The reports survey the activities of the G-20 nations who dominate global economics and GHG emissions, and provide detailed analysis of global and national trends including a profile of each nation. This is the source of data used in the charts below and I strongly recommend you read least the most recent report if not all.

2013 Edition (PDF)
2012 Edition (PDF)
2011 Edition (PDF)
2010 Edition (PDF)
2009 Edition (PDF)

In the charts, I use the most current data from these reports, as statistics from any given report may be subsequently adjusted upward or downward.

Charts

G20 Clean Energy Investment by Country 2009-2013
Above is aggregate investment in clean energy by country 2009 - 2013. Although China and USA lead, relative to their economies and GHG emissions countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain and South Africa invested more intensively or at a faster rate of growth. See the report for year by year breakdowns.
Clean Energy Investment Top 5 2009-2013
Above is a year by year breakdown of clean energy investment by the Top 5 spenders. China was No.1 four of five years and No.2 one year, while the US mirrored this in the No.2 and No.1 position. Japanese investment notably accelerated following the Fukushima incident while German and UK investments declined as the protracted economic recession in Europe constrained spending and feed-in tariffs in Germany moderated.
G20 Installed Clean Energy By Country By Year 2009-2013
Above is installed (operating) clean energy by country by year. The rapidly accelerating trajectory of Chinese and US capacity reflects projects coming to fruition and both countries hitting stride as the costs of renewables (particularly wind and solar) decline and become competitive with fossil fuels. The rate dip in China's trajectory in 2012 reflected momentary over-saturation of wind projects completed ahead of grid connections, not an unusual situation in developing countries. The rate dip in US trajectory in 2013 reflects the expiration of solar investment credits (policy action needed). Germany, despite moderating investment, shows the steady progress of maturing policy and markets, and example for other to follow.
G20 Total Installed Clean Energy Year on Year 2009-2013
Our final chart shows total clean energy capacity in the G-20 year by year. Clearly clean energy is taking root and beginning to mature as an industry so there is no reason the industry cannot accelerate if there is the political will to make it happen. Time to speed-up or die failing.

Some Observations, and Questions Reconsidered

A few things are obvious:

•  Clean energy has become a global industry and global market, and operates as a global enterprise. Back-yard experimenters don't generate Billions of dollars in revenue.

•  The US, despite policy gridlock, has made significant progress and hit critical mass during Obama's term, and this was largely due to executive actions at the federal level and policy at state and local levels; Congress is behind the curve and gets ZERO credit.

•  China is the largest market for clean energy and will remain so for years. China adopted national policies and goals for clean energy at the start of the Hu administration jump-starting an industry with exports while experimenting with small to medium scale deployment projects to feel the way; since the late 00's it has accelerated the pace of investment and will turn a corner in 2014 when clean energy overtakes coal in new capacity.

•  Despite the cyclic nature of energy markets driven by economic and policy cycles, the renewables market for wind and solar has taken root globally and is gradually finding it's footing.

On that basis, we can conclude not only that clean energy is not a passing fancy, but can see that where it reaches critical mass in a market such as Germany, it produces virtuous cycles of productive investment and returns to society.

Now let's reconsider questions raised (on Daily Kos):

•  Is Obama making promises he cannot keep? Well, unless the Kenyan succeeds in sending Congressional Republicans to the Obamacare/Net Neutrality work camps, he's got just 2 years to make things happen, so people might have a point. But that's what leaders do - point the way, lead the charge and finally watch from behind. The guy was badass this past week and that's my 2¢. Now YOU need to do your part: call your Congress-critter, you have one, I don't.

•  Has Obama lost his mind and given away the farm to China? No. Two leaders agreed to team-up together to lead where they have a responsibility to do so. Each country will be responsible to hold up it's end of the bargain. This didn't happen in a day but over years as the product of a joint working group dating from late 2009 and it was a long and difficult path. If China (or the US) were not making real progress there would be no deal. No 13-dimensional chess, just work.

•  True/False: "China doesn't have to do anything until 2030 and can back out at any time". Um ... kids, this is an adult discussion. Are you thinking they plan to do nothing and then magically throw a switch 2029 December 31? Or that they will be throwing billions invested down the drain on a whim because "Commies"? Please, leave this to Red State. Refer to the chart above, more than US$ 250 billion investment by China over 5 years and the rate is accelerating.

•  True/False; "Chinese don't care about the world they only want to get things for themselves" (really, someone said this). True! Like most Chinese, I selfishly want clean air for myself and my family and a future for my 7 year old daughter. The world be damned, I'm going to get that. All Chinese are like this. BEWARE, Kossacks.

•  True/Fasle: "The Communist Regime is just doing this to control the people; they are only doing this to stay in power" (really, people said this and not in a snarky way). Well, to quote one of the people saying so: "[sigh]". Most certainly environmental issues are at the forefront of public debate in China and have for several years for obvious reasons I don't have to explain. In fact, it's a rare case where a leader (Hu Jintao) came into office with a "vision thing" about "science" and championed clean energy to the point he was accused of running the economy off the rails (sound familiar?) with his wonkish "net negative GDP due to environmental costs" stuff. Yes, the people are now demanding a clean environment and the government better give it to them if they want to stay in power. Hint-Hint. Wink-Wink. DNC take note.

I think that just about covers the main objections I read, but if you have more questions or comments of course they are welcome, this is the internet.

Thanks for reading.

Poll

US-China Agreement:

80%16 votes
10%2 votes
5%1 votes

| 20 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

To the wire negotiations reverse downward spiral in co-operation

WaPo: China, U.S. agree to limit greenhouse gases
LA Times: U.S. and Chinese leaders make major breakthrough on climate change
The Guardian: China and US announce landmark carbon deal

Link Adds:

Joint Announcement from White House Briefing Rooom
Guardian Live Blog with reactions

The breaking news from APEC in Beijing today is that, hot on the heels of an IT Tariffs reduction deal, the US and China have agreed to substantial limits of greenhouse gas emissions over the next few years setting the stage for further progress in the next round of UN climate negotiations in Lima, Peru, in December.

While complete details of the proposed deal have yet to be released and may not be for days, some key points of the agreement include:

•  China to cap its carbon emissions by 2030 or sooner
•  China to increase non-fossil fuels to 20 percent of energy mix by 2030
•  US to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025
•  US & China to resume cooperation on green energy technology development

Speaking on the sidelines, Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli stated China would put forth a plan in early 2015 to cap on its greenhouse gases “as soon as possible” and scale back emissions thereafter.

Since first agreeing to cooperate on climate following Obama's first trip to China in 2009, only sporadic progress has been made in bilateral cooperation in the sector, and while neither side abandoned the effort, numerous political set-backs including adversarial negotiating positions in UN negotiations, punitive tariffs against Chinese made PV Solar Panels by the US (despite a net positive trade balance in clean energy in favor of the US) and various other political, territorial and economic frictions made any substantial progress seem unlikely.

The goals for both will be quite challenging to meet, perhaps for different reasons. In the US, political gridlock is bound to slow progress and will depend greatly on the American public recognizing the benefits and embracing change Congress has failed to. In China, still a developing country in many areas and over dependent on coal not just for basic energy but for infrastructure materials like steel and concrete, it will require solving some technological problems and also the political will to double-down on it's already aggressive investment in renewable energy.

Says The Times:

“History may look back and say this was the turning point on climate,” said U.S. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), ranking member of the House Energy Committee.

The deal was immediately challenged by Obama’s Republican critics on Capitol Hill, who have pledged to make it a priority to roll back the president’s measures on the environment when they assume the majority in Congress next year. The White House did not immediately say whether Obama will propose legislation or use his executive powers to enact changes without lawmakers, though his environmental team expects a fight on the kinds of regulations necessary to carry out his newly set goals.

“This unrealistic plan, that the president would dump on his successor, would ensure higher utility rates and far fewer jobs,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in a statement.

- snip -

China is now by far the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and carbon emissions per capita have reached the level of the European Union. Its severe air pollution has become a source of domestic discontent and international embarrassment that Chinese leaders can no longer ignore, said Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at People’s University in Beijing.

“Climate change is now Chinese business. It’s not just someone from the outside pressing” us, he said.

China is investing heavily in renewable and nuclear energy, and the economy is slowing. By some estimates, China’s coal consumption this year might actually drop 1% to 2%, for the first time in decades. Beijing wants to shift its economic model toward one of less rapid, more “sustainable” growth and more sophisticated, less-polluting industries.



And The Post:

The scale of construction for China to meet its goals is huge even by Chinese standards. It must add 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero-emission generating capacity by 2030 — more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to the total electricity generating capacity of the United States.

- snip -

And to meet its target, the United States will need to double the pace of carbon pollution reduction from 1.2 percent per year on average from 2005 to 2020 to 2.3 to 2.8 percent per year between 2020 and 2025.

But Xi and Obama have both made climate measures a priority.



From The Guardian:

Tao Wang, climate scholar at the Tsinghua-Carnegie Center for Global Policy in Beijing, said: “It is a very good sign for both countries and injects strong momentum [into negotiations] but the targets are not ambitious enough and there is room for both countries to negotiate an improvement.

“That figure isn’t high because China aims to reach about 15% by 2020, so it is only a five percentage point increase in 10 years, and given the huge growth in renewables it should be higher.”

Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, which promotes sustainable resource management, said the announcements would “inject a jolt of momentum in the lead up to a global climate agreement in Paris”.

“It’s a new day to have the leaders of the US and China stand shoulder to shoulder and make significant commitments to curb their country’s emissions,” he said.

Li Shuo, of Greenpeace East Asia, said the announcement showed that the world’s “two biggest emitters have come to the realisation that they are bound together and have to take actions together”.

At the Warsaw climate talks in 2013 nations were encouraged to draw up post-2020 climate plans by the first quarter of 2015, ahead of the final negotiations for a post-2020 global pact late in the year.

The White House statement said: “Together the US and China account for over one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s joint announcement, the culmination of months of bilateral dialogue, highlights the critical role the two countries must play in addressing climate change.

“The actions they announced are part of the longer range effort to achieve the deep decarbonisation of the global economy over time. These actions will also inject momentum into the global climate negotiations on the road to reaching a successful new climate agreement next year in Paris.”

Just in the nick of time. Thank you Mr. Obama and Mr. Xi.

It's been a long day here and I'm off to take a dinner break, but will be back later for comments.

Break out the non-GMO organic Champagne, this is worth toasting.

干杯

Poll

Your thoughts?

32%71 votes
41%91 votes
26%59 votes

| 221 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 05:58 AM PST

Selling Fear Did Not Work

by koNko

For Dems.

Over the fold I promise to be brief.

Poll

Um ....

90%30 votes
6%2 votes
3%1 votes

| 33 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading

Sat Aug 02, 2014 at 09:35 AM PDT

Troll Army Occupies ReaganBook

by koNko

Trigger Warning: Graphic Images of Ronald Reagan Below

Via: Ars Technica, The Daily Beast, Raw Story and Right Wing Watch

This week, in an appalling example of Man's Inhumanity to Conservative Idiots, a band of Lefty Trolls capable of answering the question "What color is the ocean?" mounted a coordinated dDOSTCI attack against fledgeling reactionary conservative social media site ReaganBook.


Opening several or even many fraudulent user accounts, Troll posts spiked traffic, overloading servers and moderators at the center of the Conservative Blogosphere resulting in the worst national IT disaster since Project ORCA buckled under the strain of dozens of Romney campaign workers logging-on in a single day.


Using false credentials such as Yahoo email accounts, Trolls besieged ReaganBook creating new accounts under (apparently) fictitious names such as "Vladimir Putin", "Dick Cheney", "Sarah Palin", "Manuel Noriega", "Ben Ghazi", "Al Zheimers", "Ayn Randy", "Zombie Reagan" and even "Ronald Reagan", then creating groups such as "Cut Dicks for Christ" and posting pornographic images, for Heaven's sake.


Founded as a "Facebook for Patriots” by Ohio Republican Janet Porter, President of Faith2Action, “a pro-life, pro-family” organization that aims to “ADVANCE the cause of Christ and the kingdom of God”, ReaganBook quickly attracted 36 members who heard the clarion call:

Faith2Action President Janet Porter told attendees at the Ohio Liberty Coalition’s “Reload 4 Liberty” event that Facebook has been censoring people like anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera.

Porter lamented that “while tomorrow Facebook employees are gathering to go march at the gay pride parade in San Francisco,” they are censoring people with “unpopular opinions.”

She then described ReaganBook as a social network that tears down walls like President Reagan.

“We’re tearing down walls of tyranny and censorship,” she said.

In response to the attack, site moderators circled their wagons in the pioneering spirit of the Donner Party to fend off the savages, and mission accomplished, raised a victory flag:
Thank you to all those who participated in the pre-release of
ReaganBook.com Your participation is helping us build a more secure
site. Thank you! Please be patient while we make the necessary changes
to keep the site free from obscenity, pornography, and those intent on
the destruction of life, liberty, and the family. We will be opening
the doors again soon with additional protections in place. As Reagan
taught us, trust, but verify.

–Management

Tear down the walls !

Ronnie would be proud.


Poll

"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronnie R. - Pure Evil:

0%0 votes
42%32 votes
2%2 votes
2%2 votes
8%6 votes
13%10 votes
6%5 votes
10%8 votes
4%3 votes
6%5 votes
2%2 votes

| 75 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

Yesterday, 2014.07.17, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 lost contact with flight controlers over Ukraine because, as we have learned, it was hit by a ground to air missile, exploding in a fireball mid-air before crashing to earth killing 298 civilian passengers abroad.

Passengers and crew included citizens of at least 10 nations, including 2 members of an Australian family that lost other family members in the crash MH370 and up to 100 AIDS researchers on the way to a symposium in Melbourne, Australia.

Around the world, people have reacted in shock to the tragedy and outrage at the prospect that innocent people in a civilian aircraft have become the latest victims of the conflict in Ukraine, whether by design by deliberate targeting or by “misadventure” by mistaking a civilian plane as a military aircraft of an adversary.

Quite rightly, people and governments around the world are calling for accountability for those responsible including whomever provided the weapons used.

Many, it seems, have already decided who is responsible and that the path leads to Vladimir Putin’s door (a strong possibility), some, angrily accusing him of crimes against humanity and demanding he face charges in an international court.

Even here on Daily Kos.

What I find troubling is this: it was not very long ago that some of these same people were calling for the US to supply military aid, weapons and even boots on the ground in this most recent of proxy wars waged between world powers including the Russian Federation and USA, opposite numbers in the New Cold War.

After the fold, I should like to ask some questions.

Continue Reading

About that awesome time I was an "extremist":

My extremist profile:

• foreign national/foreign resident
• Linux user/coder
• occasional Linux Journal reader
• occasional Tor/TAILS user (past tense)
• occasional i2pMessenger user
• frequently read, write, email & blog on subject of security, encryption & anonymization
• frequently participate in forums on subject of security, encryption & anonymization

So how do I know this identifies me as member of an "extremist forum" and qualifies me for tracking by XKeyscore, potentially subjecting my communications to deep packet inspection?

Because these news stories published by Tagesschau [English] and Der Erste [English] ... [with English summary articles here, here, here, here, here and here] describe how NSA targets certain Tor relays to identify Tor and TAILS users as well as tracking the users of various websites and on-line forums and blogs that discuss these subjects using rules that exclude "5 Eyes" citizens/residents but fingerprint others for tracking.

In other words, if you merely read about these subjects on-line you are considered a suspect, "extremist" and fair game.

And, specifically, I know this because  ......

...... this section of published XKeyscore code says so:



As I've said here on numerous occasions, it is rather foolish to assume that any encryption or anonymization scheme is totally foolproof, either to brute force hacking (difficult for high level encryption) or other forms of hacks including social engineering.

Now I'm unhappy to be proven right again: in this case, given enough resources, identification of assets (Tor servers) and just some good old mass surveillance (filtering the traffic to/from sites where the subjects are discussed) users or potential users can be identified and then passively tracked by security agencies, and then data collected and stored for future use.

Keep in mind that, under the present rules, NSA treats any traffic that is encrypted, regardless of the origin, as "Foreign" and fair game.

And it would seem, if you are outside of the 5 Eyes countries (USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand), just reading about these subject in an open public forum can get you tagged as an "extremist" and subject to invasive, deep packet inspection.

Warning Daily Kos Members - be on the lookout for Tor and TAILS users, Linux users or readers of Linux Journal that maybe cruising the Internet:


Poll

So? I am ....

24%6 votes
4%1 votes
0%0 votes
20%5 votes
24%6 votes
28%7 votes

| 25 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

Sure. I know what you are thinking:

"The TPP will not make us surfs subservient enough, and besides, it will be debated in public for at least 20 minutes before it is ratified by Multinational Corporations Congress, so we may have to think about it. Disappointing."
Fear not. International Bankers to the rescue. They have a plan. And you have a place in it, Serf.

2014.06.19 Wikileaks leaked a secret draft of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Annex, a document that outlines rules the parties to the secret negotiation intend to supersede the WTO and status quo of national laws that would conflict with it.

But if you think this sounds like a replay of the TPP, you are wrong, because negotiation of this agreement has not only been conducted secretively, but has been classified and is intended to remain so. Enter Wikileaks, with appropriate drama.

Rejoice! After the fold is something for everyone. You were enjoying your Sunday too much.

Poll

Evil pure and simple:

71%110 votes
4%7 votes
0%1 votes
22%35 votes

| 153 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading

Bipartisan majority cuts funding for warrantless spying on Americans and bans insertion of "Backdoor" surveillance measures on IT products and services

In an unexpected late vote Thursday 2014.06.19, a significant majority in the US House of Representatives voted to pass a bipartisan amendment to Military Funding Bill H.R. 4870 that defunds NSA and CIA surveillance operations targeting US Citizens except under certain emergency circumstances and to ban insertion of so-called "Backdoor" hardware or software hacks in IT products and services, which have come to haunt US IT Corporations.

The bill, co-sponsored by Reps. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and others, was introduced as an amendment to a military funding in a tactical move clearly designed to bypass review by the Intelligence Committee, which typically acts as a proxy to defend Intel agency interests.

While the bill still needs to pass in the Senate, where it could be defanged or rejected, attaching it to a 2015 funding bill, the sponsors have improved chances to enact the rules as at least stop-gap measures until more substantial amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which it applies to.

In essence, the bill:

•  Prohibits using US Citizens as "selectors" for electronic surveillance except in the exceptional instances out lined in Section II. Notably, this does NOT apply to persons designated as "non-US persons" by the "51% rule" mandated by FISA.

•  Prohibits government officials or employees from inserting, or requiring other parties to insert hardware or software to facilitate clandestine "Backdoor" surveillance used against any US persons.  While this might seem to allow such methods to be used against foreign persons, in practice it would be impossible to exclude the potential impact on US persons except in very narrowly targeted circumstances.

The latter comes hot on the heels of revelations, this week, by Der Spiegal, that the NSA's Special Source Operations (SSO) gave plausible deniability cover to non-governmental "witting partners" in "exciting joint ventures" who aided the WHARPDRIVE program to tap optical cables, instructing them to lie and remove taps when discovered by third parties.





After the fold, the text of the bills and the usual fun poll for lovers of evil.

Poll

Best couple in the Obnoxious & Evil Masquerade Ball:

7%2 votes
28%8 votes
25%7 votes
3%1 votes
35%10 votes

| 28 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading

Ruling rejects 3rd Party Doctrine underpining warrantless metatdata collection

On Wednesday, 2014.06.11, the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals made a landmark ruling in United States v. Davis, Case No. 12-12928, effectively prohibiting the use of cell phone tracking metadata obtained without a court warrant, and opening the door to similar rulings in cases where internet metadata is at stake, including the passive and active interception of such data by the NSA.

While the ruling only applies at present to the 3 states of the court's jurisdiction - Florida, Georgia, and Alabama - it could have wide ranging effects and was lauded by civil liberties and constitutional lawyers as an important affirmation of 4th Amendment protections.

Writing in Just Security, Jennifer Granick, Civil Liberties Director at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, stated:

Today, the Eleventh Circuit rejected the exceedingly common law enforcement practice of warrantlessly tracking suspects’ physical location using cell phone tower data. The opinion, United States v. Davis, is both welcome and overdue. Defendants who have and will be physically tracked without a warrant have new legal support to challenge that surveillance. Additionally, because the case involved stored cell site data, Davis undermines the government’s legal arguments that other warrantless “metadata” collection practices are constitutional. [ ... ]

Other bulk “metadata” collection programs have included Internet transactional records, financial transactions and more. The similarities between these categories of information, consumer expectations and knowledge, and the phone numbers dialed in Smith is even more attenuated. Davis, by refusing to apply Smith [Smith v. Maryland] and Miller [United States v. Miller] in a stored phone records case, has taken a giant step away from the legal justification propping up many of the government’s targeted and bulk metadata collection practices.

Over the fold, let's explore some key points and how this could impact indiscriminate warrantless collection and use of electronic data.
Poll

OK, this time I'm going to make it easy - Ultimate Evil =

47%34 votes
0%0 votes
4%3 votes
0%0 votes
48%35 votes

| 72 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading
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