There’s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says
Published: 27 maggio 2011Posted in: sicurezza, spionaggio
There’s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says
You may think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) says it’s worse than you’ve heard.
Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. But Wyden says that what Congress will renew is a mere fig leaf for a far broader legal interpretation of the Patriot Act that the government keeps to itself — entirely in secret. Worse, there are hints that the government uses this secret interpretation to gather what one Patriot-watcher calls a “dragnet” for massive amounts of information on private citizens; the government portrays its data-collection efforts much differently.
“We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden tells Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.”
What exactly does Wyden mean by that? As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can’t precisely explain without disclosing classified information. But one component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called “business-records provision,” which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any “tangible things” it deems relevant to a security investigation.
“It is fair to say that the business-records provision is a part of the Patriot Act that I am extremely interested in reforming,” Wyden says. “I know a fair amount about how it’s interpreted, and I am going to keep pushing, as I have, to get more information about how the Patriot Act is being interpreted declassified. I think the public has a right to public debate about it.”
That’s why Wyden and his colleague Sen. Mark Udall offered an amendment on Tuesday to the Patriot Act reauthorization.
The amendment, first reported by Marcy Wheeler, blasts the administration for “secretly reinterpret[ing] public laws and statutes.” It would compel the Attorney General to “publicly disclose the United States Government’s official interpretation of the USA Patriot Act.” And, intriguingly, it refers to “intelligence-collection authorities” embedded in the Patriot Act that the administration briefed the Senate about in February.
Wyden says he “can’t answer” any specific questions about how the government thinks it can use the Patriot Act. That would risk revealing classified information — something Wyden considers an abuse of government secrecy. He believes the techniques themselves should stay secret, but the rationale for using their legal use under Patriot ought to be disclosed.
“I draw a sharp line between the secret interpretation of the law, which I believe is a growing problem, and protecting operations and methods in the intelligence area, which have to be protected,” he says.
Surveillance under the business-records provisions has recently spiked. The Justice Department’s official disclosure on its use of the Patriot Act, delivered to Congress in April, reported that the government asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for approval to collect business records 96 times in 2010 — up from just 21 requests the year before. The court didn’t reject a single request. But it “modified” those requests 43 times, indicating to some Patriot-watchers that a broadening of the provision is underway.
“The FISA Court is a pretty permissive body, so that suggests something novel or particularly aggressive, not just in volume, but in the nature of the request,” says Michelle Richardson, the ACLU’s resident Patriot Act lobbyist. “No one has tipped their hand on this in the slightest. But we’ve come to the conclusion that this is some kind of bulk collection. It wouldn’t be surprising to me if it’s some kind of internet or communication-records dragnet.” (Full disclosure: My fiancée works for the ACLU.)
The FBI deferred comment on any secret interpretation of the Patriot Act to the Justice Department. The Justice Department said it wouldn’t have any comment beyond a bit of March congressional testimony from its top national security official, Todd Hinnen, who presented the type of material collected as far more individualized and specific: “driver’s license records, hotel records, car-rental records, apartment-leasing records, credit card records, and the like.”
But that’s not what Udall sees. He warned in a Tuesday statement about the government’s “unfettered” access to bulk citizen data, like “a cellphone company’s phone records.” In a Senate floor speech on Tuesday, Udall urged Congress to restrict the Patriot Act’s business-records seizures to “terrorism investigations” — something the ostensible counterterrorism measure has never required in its nearly 10-year existence.
Indeed, Hinnen allowed himself an out in his March testimony, saying that the business-record provision “also” enabled “important and highly sensitive intelligence-collection operations” to take place. Wheeler speculates those operations include “using geolocation data from cellphones to collect information on the whereabouts of Americans” — something our sister blog Threat Level has reported on extensively.
It’s worth noting that Wyden is pushing a bill providing greater privacy protections for geolocation info.
For now, Wyden’s considering his options ahead of the Patriot Act vote on Thursday. He wants to compel as much disclosure as he can on the secret interpretation, arguing that a shadow broadening of the Patriot Act sets a dangerous precedent.
“I’m talking about instances where the government is relying on secret interpretations of what the law says without telling the public what those interpretations are,” Wyden says, “and the reliance on secret interpretations of the law is growing.”
Or someone who wants everyone in the world to hear God’s Word…
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Posted: May 27, 2011 9:20 AM ET
Last Updated: May 27, 2011 7:48 PM ET
Experts are examining several ground holes that have appeared in Quebec City’s Charlesbourg’s district.Experts are examining several ground holes that have appeared in Quebec City’s Charlesbourg’s district. (Radio-Canada)Engineers and geologists are examining dozens of deep holes that appeared in the ground in Quebec City’s north end this week, as residents are being urged to leave their homes for safer locations.
City officials served evacuation papers Wednesday to about 15 homes and one business in Quebec City’s Charlesbourg district, where nearly 40 holes have been reported.
The holes, ranging between five and eight metres wide, have appeared this week in various fields, and on one residential driveway.
Engineers are running three kinds of tests:
Geophysical: Using ultrasound to locate soil anomalies.
Geotechnical: Creating holes in affected areas to evaluate underground sediment.
Laser sweeping: To collect daily topographic data to measure any changes.
The deepest hole is about five metres deep.
Some of the holes have closed, but the remaining gaps are mystifying officials.
“The field is is like, there is nothing, no trees or anything and you see everywhere some holes, some deeper than others, like 30 or 40 holes everywhere on the field. You can see this is not normal. You can see this is a problem on this land,” said city spokesperson François Moisan.
Some of the affected fields used to be sandpits, but experts are running tests with surface radar instruments to analyze the soil.
Evacuation is optional, but strongly recommended, Moisan said.
“The city is very prudent and we ask people to leave their house because there is some danger. We don’t know what kind of danger, we don’t know if it’s a real threat to their property but we prefer to take no chances and ask them to leave.”
A map of the affected area in Quebec City’s Charlesbourg neighbourhood.A map of the affected area in Quebec City’s Charlesbourg neighbourhood. (CBC/Radio-Canada)Moisan estimates at least 40 residents have heeded the optional evacuation recommendation.
Given that there is rain in the forecast, I prefer to spend the weekend in a hotel,” Charlesbourg resident Jonathan Roussel told Radio-Canada.
Other residents who chose to leave their homes are using Red Cross emergency services.
Others, like Pierre Bourdeau, are willing to take the risk and stay put.
“I inspected my house, and there are no fissures, nothing,” he told Radio-Canada. “I’ve never even had water in my basement. Why would I leave?”
The more the John Birch Society attacked communism without naming names (jew bankers financing it for example) the more communism grew…
Robert Welch speech from long ago…
The only answer, either this or keep going down rabbit trails…
2 Chronicles 7:14
…and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land…
A caveat to all hirlings and mercenaries out there… The Almighty God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob also responds to acts of war against His people and His truth, and you have no defence or any countermeasure against Him… (and by the way, He is laughing at you)
Deuteronomy 32:39 (NIV)
… “See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand…
With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward…
Cyber Combat: Act of War
Pentagon Sets Stage for U.S. to Respond to Computer Sabotage With Military Force
By SIOBHAN GORMAN And JULIAN E. BARNES
WASHINGTON—The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.
The Pentagon’s first formal cyber strategy, unclassified portions of which are expected to become public next month, represents an early attempt to grapple with a changing world in which a hacker could pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country’s military.
In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” said a military official.
Recent attacks on the Pentagon’s own systems—as well as the sabotaging of Iran’s nuclear program via the Stuxnet computer worm—have given new urgency to U.S. efforts to develop a more formalized approach to cyber attacks. A key moment occurred in 2008, when at least one U.S. military computer system was penetrated. This weekend Lockheed Martin, a major military contractor, acknowledged that it had been the victim of an infiltration, while playing down its impact.
The report will also spark a debate over a range of sensitive issues the Pentagon left unaddressed, including whether the U.S. can ever be certain about an attack’s origin, and how to define when computer sabotage is serious enough to constitute an act of war. These questions have already been a topic of dispute within the military.
One idea gaining momentum at the Pentagon is the notion of “equivalence.” If a cyber attack produces the death, damage, destruction or high-level disruption that a traditional military attack would cause, then it would be a candidate for a “use of force” consideration, which could merit retaliation.
The War on Cyber Attacks
Attacks of varying severity have rattled nations in recent years.
June 2009: First version of Stuxnet virus starts spreading, eventually sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program. Some experts suspect it was an Israeli attempt, possibly with American help.
November 2008: A computer virus believed to have originated in Russia succeeds in penetrating at least one classified U.S. military computer network.
August 2008: Online attack on websites of Georgian government agencies and financial institutions at start of brief war between Russia and Georgia.
May 2007: Attack on Estonian banking and government websites occurs that is similar to the later one in Georgia but has greater impact because Estonia is more dependent on online banking.
The Pentagon’s document runs about 30 pages in its classified version and 12 pages in the unclassified one. It concludes that the Laws of Armed Conflict—derived from various treaties and customs that, over the years, have come to guide the conduct of war and proportionality of response—apply in cyberspace as in traditional warfare, according to three defense officials who have read the document. The document goes on to describe the Defense Department’s dependence on information technology and why it must forge partnerships with other nations and private industry to protect infrastructure.
The strategy will also state the importance of synchronizing U.S. cyber-war doctrine with that of its allies, and will set out principles for new security policies. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization took an initial step last year when it decided that, in the event of a cyber attack on an ally, it would convene a group to “consult together” on the attacks, but they wouldn’t be required to help each other respond. The group hasn’t yet met to confer on a cyber incident.
Pentagon officials believe the most-sophisticated computer attacks require the resources of a government. For instance, the weapons used in a major technological assault, such as taking down a power grid, would likely have been developed with state support, Pentagon officials say.
The move to formalize the Pentagon’s thinking was borne of the military’s realization the U.S. has been slow to build up defenses against these kinds of attacks, even as civilian and military infrastructure has grown more dependent on the Internet. The military established a new command last year, headed by the director of the National Security Agency, to consolidate military network security and attack efforts.
The Pentagon itself was rattled by the 2008 attack, a breach significant enough that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs briefed then-President George W. Bush. At the time, Pentagon officials said they believed the attack originated in Russia, although didn’t say whether they believed the attacks were connected to the government. Russia has denied involvement.
The Rules of Armed Conflict that guide traditional wars are derived from a series of international treaties, such as the Geneva Conventions, as well as practices that the U.S. and other nations consider customary international law. But cyber warfare isn’t covered by existing treaties. So military officials say they want to seek a consensus among allies about how to proceed.
“Act of war” is a political phrase, not a legal term, said Charles Dunlap, a retired Air Force Major General and professor at Duke University law school. Gen. Dunlap argues cyber attacks that have a violent effect are the legal equivalent of armed attacks, or what the military calls a “use of force.”
“A cyber attack is governed by basically the same rules as any other kind of attack if the effects of it are essentially the same,” Gen. Dunlap said Monday. The U.S. would need to show that the cyber weapon used had an effect that was the equivalent of a conventional attack.
James Lewis, a computer-security specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has advised the Obama administration, said Pentagon officials are currently figuring out what kind of cyber attack would constitute a use of force. Many military planners believe the trigger for retaliation should be the amount of damage—actual or attempted—caused by the attack.
For instance, if computer sabotage shut down as much commerce as would a naval blockade, it could be considered an act of war that justifies retaliation, Mr. Lewis said. Gauges would include “death, damage, destruction or a high level of disruption” he said.
Culpability, military planners argue in internal Pentagon debates, depends on the degree to which the attack, or the weapons themselves, can be linked to a foreign government. That’s a tricky prospect at the best of times.
The brief 2008 war between Russia and Georgia included a cyber attack that disrupted the websites of Georgian government agencies and financial institutions. The damage wasn’t permanent but did disrupt communication early in the war.
A subsequent NATO study said it was too hard to apply the laws of armed conflict to that cyber attack because both the perpetrator and impact were unclear. At the time, Georgia blamed its neighbor, Russia, which denied any involvement.
Much also remains unknown about one of the best-known cyber weapons, the Stuxnet computer virus that sabotaged some of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges. While some experts suspect it was an Israeli attack, because of coding characteristics, possibly with American assistance, that hasn’t been proven. Iran was the location of only 60% of the infections, according to a study by the computer security firm Symantec. Other locations included Indonesia, India, Pakistan and the U.S.
Officials from Israel and the U.S. have declined to comment on the allegations.
Defense officials refuse to discuss potential cyber adversaries, although military and intelligence officials say they have identified previous attacks originating in Russia and China. A 2009 government-sponsored report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said that China’s People’s Liberation Army has its own computer warriors, the equivalent of the American National Security Agency.
That’s why military planners believe the best way to deter major attacks is to hold countries that build cyber weapons responsible for their use. A parallel, outside experts say, is the George W. Bush administration’s policy of holding foreign governments accountable for harboring terrorist organizations, a policy that led to the U.S. military campaign to oust the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.
Write to Siobhan Gorman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Psalm 2:4-6 (NIV) What the Almighty thinks of antichristian government…
… The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
Malachi 4:3 (comeuppance is coming)
… And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts…
Eclipse over Norway…
Rare treat coming: Three eclipses in June and July
Two partial solar eclipses and one total lunar eclipse due
By Geoff Gaherty, Starry Night Education
updated 5/30/2011 2:32:56 PM ET
Over the next month, the world will experience three eclipses: two partial solar eclipses a month apart and one total lunar eclipse exactly in between, and it all starts with a so-called “midnight” eclipse of the sun.
A solar eclipse at midnight? How is such a thing possible?
It can happen near midsummer in the high Arctic, the land of the midnight sun. And it will happen this week on June 1 and 2, visible in the northernmost reaches of North America, Europe, and Asia. [ Photos: The First Solar Eclipse of 2011 ]
These two solar eclipse sky maps available here detail what observers could see during some of the upcoming eclipses of the sun and moon in June.
‘Midnight’ solar eclipse of June 2
The eclipse begins on Thursday, June 2, at dawn in northern China and Siberia, then moves across the Arctic, crossing the International Date Line and ending in the early evening of Wednesday, June 1, in northeastern Canada. [ 2011 Solar and Lunar Eclipse Skywatching Guide]
That’s right: The eclipse begins on Thursday and ends on Wednesday because of the International Date Line. Because observers in northern Russia and Scandinavia will be observing it over the North Pole, they will actually see it in what is, for them, the middle of the night of June 1 and 2.
Solar eclipse no one will see on July 1
Exactly a month later, on Friday, July 1, an equally bizarre eclipse will occur in the Antarctic.
Because this is the southern winter, the sun will be below the horizon for almost all of Antarctica, except for a small uninhabited stretch of coast due south of Madagascar. The only place the eclipse will clear the horizon will be in a small area of the Southern Ocean, far to the south of South Africa. [ Solar Eclipse Photos: The View From Space ]
Chances are that this eclipse will be witnessed only by penguins and sea birds.
Lunar eclipse of June 15
Exactly halfway in between these two partial solar eclipses, there will be a total eclipse of the moon on Wednesday, June 15. [ Blood Red Moon: 2010’s Total Lunar Eclipse]
The eclipse will be visible for millions of people in Africa, the Middle East and southwestern Asia. It will be visible as the moon rises in the early evening in South America and Europe, and as the moon sets before dawn in eastern Asia and Australia.
Unfortunately, it will not be visible anywhere at all in North America.
This article was provided to SPACE.com byStarry Night Education, the leader in space science curriculum solutions. Follow Starry Night on Twitter @StarryNightEdu.