NSA, CIA, FBI, and Bush Use Patriot Act to Kill the First and Fourth Amendment

Politics No Comments

The allowance of the reunification of at&t is beginning to make more sense everyday.
I have remained silent on this topic for far too long, I cannot bite my tongue any longer.

Yesterday, Brian Ross, of ABC News posted a startling entry to his blog.
An anonymous government source warned him that the NSA was looking at his call logs to find the source of leaks inside the CIA.

“Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters
for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post,
are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.”

Shockingly, today he reports that the FBI admits to monitoring phone records of reporters.

“It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration,” said a senior federal official.

….

“Officials say the FBI makes extensive use of a new provision of the Patriot Act which allows agents to seek information with what are called National Security Letters (NSL).

The NSLs are a version of an administrative subpoena and are not signed by a judge. Under the law, a phone company receiving a NSL for phone records must provide them and may not divulge to the customer that the records have been given to the government.”

This catches the administration in yet another lie. Time and time again, we are told that the wiretapping is solely used to catch terrorist, and is only used on foreign calls. Yet, here we see that they are indeed monitoring domestic calls, and they are using the technology for other purposes than finding terrorists, because if the CIA leaks are coming from terrorists, we have larger problems on our hands.

This undermines everything this country was founded on. Since it is apparent that the current administration apparently failed to do their homework in high school and read the Bill of Rights, I will post the relevant Amendments below:

Amendment I

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Amendment IV

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Now for translation:
The First Amendment is basically saying that the government may not limit free speech, and that press can not be silenced. Yet, here the government is watching the press, trying to scare informants from talking with the press, and worse, shrouding the whole thing as “Classified Information”, so that the press can be threatened with prosecution.

I am not advocating for one moment, that government officials who leak classified information that endangers American lives should not be prosecuted for treason. However, this is not the heart of the matter of this issue. For starters, no warrant was obtained. The CIA could easily file for a warrant for the reports phone records over a specified period of time. This prevents the government of have free reign and simply mining for information as is the case here. Secondly, there has to be some oversight in the government, otherwise the executive branch could just deem everything classified, even if it did not affect national security. The current administration knew that congress and the courts would not approve these actions, so it decided to simply side-step congress and the judiciary entirely. This prevents any sort of oversight which protects the rights of innocent Americans. It also shifts and unprecedented amount of power to the executive branch, as it allows the president to declare anything he doesn’t want congress or the judiciary to know as “Classified.”

The Fourth Amendment states that everyone has the right to privacy, in their homes, papers (which would include telephone calls), and other personal belongings. It specifically states that a person’s belongings (in this case telephone data and records) cannot be searched without a warrant. The administration is side-stepping the warrants using National Security Letters. This prevents judicial (or any other form) of oversight, and threatens the separation of power provided by the Constitution.

Let’s, assume for a moment that you truly believe the NSA is only collecting phone numbers, not other call information. If this is the case, why can’t they subpoena this information as it is contained in your phone bill? Instead, the major telephone companies have this Narus hardware installed. As outlined in this excellent article by Hannibal from Ars Technica on May 11, 2006, the Narus hardware has the following capabilities:

  • Law enforcement has shown that they consider any
    transactional data arising from voice communications—either POTS (plain
    old telephone system), cellular, or VoIP—to be fair game and to be covered by a much lower threshold than “probable cause.”
  • In
    the absence of up-to-date laws, the POTS-based definition of
    “transactional information” is being stretched to fit new forms of data
    arising from new forms of communication (e.g. location data arising
    from cell phone calls).
  • The NSA, for its part, has gone
    further and demonstrated that they consider such transactional data to
    be theirs to snoop, aggregate, and mine without any kind of court order
    at all.
  • This transactional data can be correlated to
    specific end users by indexing their phone number(s) into a wide array
    of commercially available databases that cover many other aspects of
    our financial and private lives.
  • The NSA also has in place
    the ability to collect “transactional information” for IP-based
    communications, like Web sessions, email, FTP, VoIP, and more.

As you can see they are mining much more than simply phone records. Anyone who believes they are not really needs to review the Narus Product Page, then wake up and smell the coffee.

Americans are facing a massive erosion of rights and I am afraid many of us are asleep at the wheel.

For those of you who believe that the government should arrest the informants, because they are in someway jeopardizing national security by revealing “Classified” government programs, I will leave you with a quote spoken once again by Hannibal over at Ars Technica in a new article he wrote this morning. Please read his articles, as well as Brian Ross’, for more information about the topic of this post.

“I just want to make a quick point, in response to the inevitable objection that what Arkin and others have done is “treason” because they’re revealing secret information on tools and methods that could be used against the country: when it comes to infosec, security through obscurity is a small peg on which to hang the safety of a nation.”

at&t – Your world. Obfuscated.

Tech No Comments

at&t. Your world. Obfuscated.This one has me reaching for the Advil.

Digital Trends is reporting that today, AT&T announced that they will be re-branding Cingular Wireless as… you guess it, AT&T Wireless. Again.

For those of you not keeping score at home, I decided to layout a basic history of events that lead us to this point. This list of events is surely not complete, and some of the events have been reordered for clarity, but this should give everyone a clear understanding of the lunacy that got us here.

So, without further ado….

1 ) AT&T creates a wireless division which they call, AT&T Wireless.
2 ) AT&T Wireless spins off of AT&T into a separate company.
3 ) Bellsouth and SBC roll their wireless companies together into a new company called “Cingular.”
4 ) Cingular buys AT&T Wireless for $41 Billion. They then spend an estimated $4 Billion advertising the merger.
5 ) SBC (60% owner of Cingular) purchases AT&T (parent company) for $16 Billion.
6 ) SBC renames themselves at&t (lowercase).
7 ) “at&t” (SBC) purchases co-owner of Cingular, BellSouth, for $67 Billion.
8 ) at&t (consisting of the former SBC, AT&T, Bellsouth, Cingular, and AT&T Wireless) renames Cingular Wireless “at&t Wireless” and spends another $2 Billion advertising the change

Let’s not forget this list doesn’t even cover the original antiturst split of “Ma Bell”, which led to the creation of companies like SBC and BellSouth in the first place.

That is a lot of zeros folks.
No wonder AT&T wants to create a tiered Internet, and charge companies like Google, Vonage, and Amazon to use “Their pipes.” Someone has to pay those bills, and my bets are on Joe Consumer.