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Forum Post: In 1975, CIA Director Told Congress That Enemies of America Could Destroy the CIA With FOIA Requests

Posted 6 years ago on March 23, 2014, 3:49 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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In 1975, CIA Director Told Congress That Enemies of America Could Destroy the CIA With FOIA Requests

Sunday, 23 March 2014 13:25
By Matt Stoller, Observations on Credit and Surveillance | Report


In mid-1970s, feminist and peace movement activist Congresswoman Bella Abzug tore through the intel world, fearlessly taking on the CIA and the NSA for surveilling Americans. So I’ve been reading some of her hearings, and it turns out that the dynamics of the intelligence world (in this case the CIA) and its relationship with Congress and the public haven’t changed at all. Today, journalist Jason Leopold is nicknamed a ‘FOIA terrorist’ by a ‘certain government agency’ because he files so many requests so effectively, and sues when they deny him the things to which he is entitled.

This was going on in the 1970s, right after FOIA was amended to allow requests to the intel community. Bella Abzug was one member who helped make that happen, with hearings and legislative initiatives to force various agencies to reveal who they were surveilling.

Abzug’s tenure in Congress was short but incredibly influential - she was nearly redistricted out of her spot in 1972, and eventually was drummed out of politics in 1976. But wow did she leave a mark. Here’s a hearing in 1975 during which she went after the CIA Director, William Colby, for keeping files on peace activists and members of Congress. It’s a remarkable hearing, not just for the stunning and aggressive back and forth between Colby and Abzug, but also for the ass-kissing of the CIA by chief GOP ranking member Sam Steiger and how FOIA and information disclosure became the focal point of tension.

Here are two excerpts.

First, here’s Abzug, who had received her CIA file the night before the hearing. It’s pretty obvious the CIA was fighting disclosures, and only gave her the file at the last minute because it simply had to. The file detailed extensive surveillance of her activities as a member of Congress and as a private attorney, including surveillance of her work when she represented entertainment figures during the House Un-American Activities Committee red-baiting episodes. It also showed violations of attorney-client privilege. Colby responds that CIA surveillance happened to her and three other members of Congress in ‘perfectly natural’ ways, namely because she was talking to foreigners who might be suspicious.


Next, Abzug asks how the CIA was able to get information on her domestic activities with the Women’s Strike for Peace in 1967. Colby replies that the activities were public, to which Abzug says, uh, no internal documents listing membership were not public. Colby plays dumb. I don’t know, he says. Abzug asks if the CIA had spies in peace grups. Colby again plays dumb.

Then libertarian-leaning Arizona Congressman Sam Steiger, best known later in his career for shooting a few defenseless donkeys, interrupts. Abzug, resentfully, concedes to protocol and allows Steiger, “anxious to say something”, to speak. Steiger then goes on to a noxious episode of lavishing praise on Colby for demonstrating the remarkable courage of even showing up to this hearing. Then he wonders aloud if the CIA couldn’t be paralyzed by America’s enemies with FOIA requests, a question to which Colby replies, “That is a real concern I have, Mr. Steiger…”

Which goes to show the CIA always had its horrible ass-kissing defenders in Congress… and intel agencies always hated FOIA and tried to argue that it was an intelligence vulnerability in and of itself…



This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.



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[-] 4 points by LeoYo (5909) 6 years ago

Jimmy Carter believes U.S. is spying on him

"I believe if I send an email, it will be monitored."


By Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News 4 hours ago

Former President Jimmy Carter believes U.S. intelligence agencies are spying on him — so much so, he eschews email to avoid government spies.

"You know, I have felt that my own communications are probably monitored," Carter told NBC's Andrea Mitchell in an interview broadcast Sunday. "And when I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I type or write a letter myself, put it in the post office and mail it.

"I believe if I send an email, it will be monitored," Carter continued.

The 89-year-old said the National Security Agency and others have abused the argument that gathering intelligence is critical to homeland security.

"That has been extremely liberalized and, I think, abused by our own intelligence agencies," Carter said.

The 39th president, however, stopped short of criticizing No. 44 over the handling of the N.S.A. scandal, the crisis in Ukraine or anything else.

"I don't have any criticism of him," Carter said of Obama.

He was asked if the the president ever asks him for advice.

"Unfortunately, the answer is no," Carter said. "President Obama doesn't. But previous presidents have called on me and the Carter Center to take action."

Why not Obama?

"That's a hard question for me to answer, you know, with complete candor," he said. "I think the problem was that in dealing with the issue of peace between Israel and Egypt, the Carter Center [took] a very strong and public position of equal treatment between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And I think this was a sensitive area in which the president didn't want to be involved."

[-] 2 points by pigeonlady (284) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

Wait a minute. You think we should deluge the CIA with FOIA requests -- JUST TO SEE WHAT WILL HAPPEN? GREAT IDEA!! If the aforementioned mayhem and chaos occurs, it can be restructured to a more useful and sound agency, compliant with ideals of American standards and ethics. Who's on it?

[-] 1 points by TonyBuontempo (15) from Jersey City, NJ 6 years ago

I think it is a great idea to engage in any and all action that will disrupt or destroy a terrorist organization like the CIA.

An organization that murders and spies on Americans without due process of law fro the benefit of the Wall Street controlled regime in Washington.

I think anyone that supports this terrorist organization is an enemy of the American people and a traitor to we the people.

The only people in the CIA who deserve our gratitude and protection are the soldiers and freedom fighters of Anonymous who have penetrated this terrorist organization. They are most likely responsible for leaking the Panetta documents.

Take whatever non-violent, civil disobedient action possible to bring it down.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 6 years ago

With International Law in the News, Could We Make the US Comply?

Sunday, 23 March 2014 09:33
By Robert Naiman, Truthout | Op-Ed


I didn't join the chorus ridiculing the U.S. for the hypocrisy of its new romance with international law following the Russian occupation of Crimea. Even prominent Democratic activist Markos Moulitsas mocked Secretary of State Kerry for lecturing Russia on international law after voting for the illegal Iraq war. The hypocrisy charge has gotten good play.

But we shouldn't be completely content with the hypocrisy charge. There's something too easy about the charge of hypocrisy, a reason the charge is so popular. You can denounce someone for being hypocritical without taking a stand on the underlying issue.

If Russia is allowed to violate international law the way that the U.S. and Israel routinely do, it will not make the world more just. Russia may have legitimate grievances and legitimate interests in Ukraine, but as Secretary of State Kerry rightly argued - even if he was a hypocrite while doing so - that doesn't justify violating international law. We don't want to live in the world in which Russia is allowed to join the U.S.-Israel club of international law violators. We want to live in the world in which the U.S. and Israel are held to the same standards of compliance with international law to which the U.S. and Europe are now ostensibly trying to hold Russia.

So far, Europe has proven unable or unwilling to hold the U.S. and Israel to these standards. No European sanctions were imposed on U.S. officials when the U.S. illegally invaded Iraq. No European sanctions have been imposed on Israeli officials for Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank.

In its drone strike policy, the U.S. violates international law. In its Iran sanctions policy, the U.S. violates international law. In its indefinite detention policy, the U.S. violates international law. In its failure to account for the U.S. use of torture during the Bush Administration, the U.S. violates international law. In its arming of Syrian rebels, the U.S. violates international law. There have been no European sanctions against U.S. officials involved in these ongoing violations.

Yet there are things we Americans could do right now to push the U.S. closer to compliance with international law. Right now, the Senate Intelligence Committee could move to declassify its report on the CIA's use of torture, which would be a step toward accountability. Right now, Members of Congress could call on the Obama Administration to stop boycotting talks in the U.N. Human Rights Council on a resolution calling for greater transparency in the U.S. drone strike policy.

And right now, Representatives in the House could sign Representative Jim Moran's letter to President Obama, urging him to protect Iranian civilians' access to medicine from U.S. sanctions, consistent with stated U.S. policy and U.S. law, the interim agreement with Iran, and U.S. obligations under international humanitarian law. You can ask your Representative to sign the Moran letter here.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 6 years ago

Why Did FBI Monitor Occupy Houston, and Then Hide Sniper Plot Against Protest Leaders?

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 12:26
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! | Video Interview


Transparency activist Ryan Shapiro discusses a growing controversy over the FBI's monitoring of Occupy Houston in 2011. The case centers on what the FBI knew about an alleged assassination plot against Occupy leaders and why it failed to share this information. The plot was first revealed in a heavily redacted document obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund through a FOIA request. The document mentioned an individual "planned to engage in sniper attacks against protesters in Houston, Texas." When Shapiro asked for more details, the FBI said it found 17 pages of pertinent records and gave him five of them, with some information redacted. Shapiro sued, alleging the FBI had improperly invoked FOIA exemptions. Last week, Federal District Judge Rosemary Collyer agreed with Shapiro, ruling the FBI had to explain why it withheld the records.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to talk about your work around animal rights activism and getting information, but I want to first turn to Occupy Houston. You have been working on getting information from the FBI around Occupy Houston. The particular issue focuses on what the FBI knew about an alleged assassination plot in 2011 against leaders of Occupy Houston and why it failed to share this information. The plot was first revealed in a heavily redacted document obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice through a FOIA request. It read, quote, "An identified [REDACTED] as of October planned to engage in sniper attacks against protestors in Houston, Texas if deemed necessary," unquote. When our guest, Ryan Shapiro, asked for more details, the FBI said it found 17 pages of pertinent records and gave him five of them with some information redacted. So, Ryan Shapiro, you sued, alleging the FBI had improperly invoked FOIA exemptions.

Last week, Federal District Judge Rosemary Collyer seemed to agree with you, when she ruled the FBI had to explain why it withheld records. She made reference in her ruling to David Hardy, the head of the FBI's FOIA division, writing, quote, "At no point does Mr. Hardy supply specific facts as to the basis for FBI's belief that the Occupy protesters might have been engaged in terroristic or other criminal activity. ... Neither the word 'terrorism' nor the phrase 'advocating the overthrow of the government' are talismanic, especially where FBI purports to be investigating individuals who ostensibly are engaged in protected First Amendment activity."

Ryan Shapiro, explain what the judge ruled and what "talismanic" means.

RYAN SHAPIRO: Absolutely. First I should say that this is a really weird and crazy story, and I'm still trying to make sense of it, and I'm working with my attorney, Jeffrey Light, and the journalist Jason Leopold to that end. But the judge's ruling is terrific on this point.

So, basically, the FBI said, "We found 17 pages, but we're only going to give you five of them, because national security." And the FBI alleged, and David Hardy, the head of the FOIA division of the FBI, asserted in his declaration to the court that the records were exempt from FOIA because they were part of the FBI's investigation, a national security-oriented terrorism investigation of Occupy Houston protesters for potential terrorist activity, including advocating the overthrow of government. And David Hardy provided no evidence to back up his claim. He just said the words, because so often—as is sadly the case, so often judges are tremendously deferential to the FBI and to other intelligence and security agencies in these sorts of FOIA questions, because the FBI tells the judges, "You're not qualified to decide whether or not this constitutes a threat to national security to release, so we're going to tell you that it does, and you should defer to us."

In this case, Judge Collyer made a wonderful ruling and said, "No, you can't just say the words. The words aren't just talismans—terrorism, national security. You have to back them up. You can't just wave them around like magic and expect us—expect the court to give you what you want." And so now the judge has required the FBI to provide substantiation for their seemingly preposterous claims that Occupy Houston were terrorists advocating the overthrow of government. And the FBI has until April 9 to provide this support. They can do it openly or they can do an ex parte in camera declaration, so a secret submission to the judge where she can review the documents herself.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about this assassination attempt against Occupy activists?

RYAN SHAPIRO: Yes, absolutely. As I said, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what's going on there, but what I want to know is, first of all—so my requests here are in part inspired because I want to know what the role of the FBI is in coordinating the response to the Occupy movement, why the FBI considered the Occupy movement a terrorist threat, and I also want to know why the FBI didn't inform the protesters of this tremendous threat against them. As Kade Crockford at the ACLU recently said, if the targets of this plot had been Wall Street bankers, I think we can all safely assume that the FBI would have picked up the phone.

AMY GOODMAN: And called them.

RYAN SHAPIRO: And called them, yes, absolutely. So—and, finally, I want to know—and because this is how it appears in the documents—of course, they're heavily redacted, so we're not sure—but why was the FBI appearing to pay far more attention to peaceful protesters in their investigation than to the actual terrorists who were plotting to kill those protesters?

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Ryan Shapiro. He has been called a "FOIA superhero" for his skill in obtaining government records using the Freedom of Information Act. Today we are revealing on Democracy Now! he is suing several federal agencies, a lawsuit that was just filed today, including the NSA, for their failure to comply with FOIA requests regarding former South African President Nelson Mandela. Ryan Shapiro is a Ph.D. candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he's received tens of thousands of FBI files on the animal rights movement, which is what we're going to take up next. His dissertation, called "Bodies at War: Animals, Science, and National Security in the United States," the FBI has called a threat to national security. We'll ask Ryan Shapiro why. Stay with us.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 3 points by TonyBuontempo (15) from Jersey City, NJ 6 years ago

I think they were hiding it because the corporate allies of the regime in Washington were behind the assassination plan.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 6 years ago

Privacy Tools: Mask Your Location

Tuesday, 25 March 2014 10:04
By Julia Angwin, ProPublica | Report


In the course of writing my book, Dragnet Nation, I tried various strategies to protect my privacy. In this series of book excerpts and adaptations, I distill the lessons from my privacy experiments into tips for readers.

"Where R U?" There's a reason that is among the most common text messages of the modern age.

Location is one of the most revealing pieces of information about us. In 2013, researchers found that four instances of a person's location at a given point in time were enough to uniquely identify 95 percent of the individuals they examined. "Human mobility traces are highly unique," the researchers wrote. "Mobility data is among the most sensitive data currently being collected."

Location is also predictive. In another study, researchers at Microsoft were able to use location data to predict where people would be in the future. Wednesdays were the easiest to predict, and weekends the hardest. "While your location in the distant future is in general highly independent of your recent location," the researchers wrote, "it is likely to be a good predictor of your location exactly one week from now."

To mask my location I took several steps:

1) When browsing the Web, I tried to use the Tor Browser as often as possible. Tor anonymizes the location — known as the IP Address — that you computer transmits automatically to every website you visit. It's amazing to see how revealing your IP address can be — this site pinpoints my location exactly.

Tor bounces your Internet traffic around the world so that your computer's location is masked. However, because your traffic is bouncing around the world, using Tor can slow down your Web browsing. Click the Tor button on this graphic to see how Tor protects your location from potential eavesdroppers.

2) Masking my location when using my cellphone was more difficult. I turned off 'location services' for my apps. And I tried to opt out from companies that track cellphone users via the Wi-Fi signal emitted by their phone.

I identified 58 companies that appeared to be in the mobile location tracking business — ranging from advertisers to wireless carriers. Of those, only 11 offered opt-outs — which I attempted to complete. Here is the chart of the folks I found that offered opt outs.



Privacy Policy

Opt Out Link

Information Required

DataXu Advertising Link Link Cookie Drawbridge Advertising Link Link Cookie Sense Networks Advertising Link Link Device ID Euclid Analytics Analytics Link Link MAC address Flurry Analytics Link Link Device ID and UDID Mixpanel Analytics Link Link Cookie Nomi Analytics Link Link MAC address AT&T Wireless Link Link via your AT&T account Sprint Wireless Link Link Via your Sprint account Verizon Wirless Wireless Link Link via your Verizon account T-Mobile Wireless Link Link Cookie

The Future of Privacy Forum has also built a location opt-out site, which as of today, offers opt-outs from 11 location tracking companies.

Ultimately, I decided that turning off my Wi-Fi signal was a more effective opt-out.

3) When I really do not want my location to be tracked, I throw my phone into a Faraday cage — a bag that blocks it from transmitting signals to Wi-Fi or the cellphone tower. I use this one from OffPocket, but any Faraday cage will do.

Of course, this also means that I can't use my phone. So, like most of my privacy fixes, it is a highly imperfect solution.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 6 years ago

Invasion of the Data Snatchers

Tuesday, 25 March 2014 09:21
By Catherine Crump and Matthew Harwood, TomDispatch | News Analysis

Big Data and the Internet of Things Means the Surveillance of Everything

Estimates vary, but by 2020 there could be over 30 billion devices connected to the Internet. Once dumb, they will have smartened up thanks to sensors and other technologies embedded in them and, thanks to your machines, your life will quite literally have gone online.

The implications are revolutionary. Your smart refrigerator will keep an inventory of food items, noting when they go bad. Your smart thermostat will learn your habits and adjust the temperature to your liking. Smart lights will illuminate dangerous parking garages, even as they keep an “eye” out for suspicious activity.

Techno-evangelists have a nice catchphrase for this future utopia of machines and the never-ending stream of information, known as Big Data, it produces: the Internet of Things. So abstract. So inoffensive. Ultimately, so meaningless.

A future Internet of Things does have the potential to offer real benefits, but the dark side of that seemingly shiny coin is this: companies will increasingly know all there is to know about you. Most people are already aware that virtually everything a typical person does on the Internet is tracked. In the not-too-distant future, however, real space will be increasingly like cyberspace, thanks to our headlong rush toward that Internet of Things. With the rise of the networked device, what people do in their homes, in their cars, in stores, and within their communities will be monitored and analyzed in ever more intrusive ways by corporations and, by extension, the government.

And one more thing: in cyberspace it is at least theoretically possible to log off. In your own well-wired home, there will be no “opt out.”

You can almost hear the ominous narrator’s voice from an old “Twilight Zone” episode saying, “Soon the net will close around all of us. There will be no escape.”

Except it’s no longer science fiction. It’s our barely distant present.

Home Invasion

"[W]e estimate that only one percent of things that could have an IP address do have an IP address today, so we like to say that ninety-nine percent of the world is still asleep," Padmasree Warrior, Cisco's Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, told the Silicon Valley Summit in December. "It’s up to our imaginations to figure out what will happen when the ninety-nine percent wakes up."

Yes, imagine it. Welcome to a world where everything you do is collected, stored, analyzed, and, more often than not, packaged and sold to strangers -- including government agencies.

In January, Google announced its $3.2 billion purchase of Nest, a company that manufactures intelligent smoke detectors and thermostats. The signal couldn’t be clearer. Google believes Nest’s vision of the “conscious home” will prove profitable indeed. And there’s no denying how cool the technology is. Nest’s smoke detector, for instance, can differentiate between burnt toast and true danger. In the wee hours, it will conveniently shine its nightlight as you groggily shuffle to the toilet. It speaks rather than beeps. If there’s a problem, it can contact the fire department.

The fact that these technologies are so cool and potentially useful shouldn’t, however, blind us to their invasiveness as they operate 24/7, silently gathering data on everything we do. Will companies even tell consumers what information they’re gathering? Will consumers have the ability to determine what they’re comfortable with? Will companies sell or share data gathered from your home to third parties? And how will companies protect that data from hackers and other miscreants?

The dangers aren’t theoretical. In November, the British tech blogger Doctorbeet discovered that his new LG Smart TV was snooping on him. Every time he changed the channel, his activity was logged and transmitted unencrypted to LG. Doctorbeet checked the TV’s option screen and found that the setting “collection of watching info” was turned on by default. Being a techie, he turned it off, but it didn’t matter. The information continued to flow to the company anyway.

As more and more household devices -- your television, your thermostat, your refrigerator -- connect to the Internet, device manufacturers will undoubtedly follow a model of comprehensive data collection and possibly infinite storage. (And don’t count on them offering you an opt-out either.) They have seen the giants of the online world -- the Googles, the Facebooks -- make money off their users’ personal data and they want a cut of the spoils. Your home will know your secrets, and chances are it will have loose lips.

The result: more and more of what happens behind closed doors will be open to scrutiny by parties you would never invite into your home. After all, the Drug Enforcement Administration already subpoenas utility company records to determine if electricity consumption in specific homes is consistent with a marijuana-growing operation. What will come next? Will eating habits collected by smart fridges be repackaged and sold to healthcare or insurance companies as predictors of obesity or other health problems -- and so a reasonable basis for determining premiums? Will smart lights inform drug companies of insomniac owners?

Keep in mind that when such data flows are being scrutinized, you’ll no longer be able to pull down the shades, not when the Peeping Toms of the twenty-first century come packaged in glossy, alluring boxes. Many people will just be doing what Americans have always done -- upgrading their appliances. It may not initially dawn on them that they are also installing surveillance equipment targeted at them. And companies have obvious incentives to obscure this fact as much as possible.

As the “conscious home” becomes a reality, we will all have to make a crucial and conscious decision for ourselves: Will I let this device into my home? Renters may not have that option. And eventually there may only be internet-enabled appliances.

Commercial Stalking