Secure Liberties

Secure Liberties Newsletter

Covering War, Peace, Militarism and Everything in Between 

Concerns grow that HPSCI and SSCI are hiding dragnet internet surveillance from the rest of Congress, per a new letter from Americans for Prosperity, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action, FreedomWorks and others. They wrote to alert Congressional leaders of their “urgent concerns about possible unauthorized dragnet surveillance of people in the United States, based on alarming statements and actions by leaders of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.”

Brown University: 37-59 million forcibly displaced by “War on Terror.” The disturbing new report also notes: “This exceeds those displaced by every war since 1900, except World War II.” A previous study found the wars cost $6.4 trillion.

$$$ > 4th Amendment? CBP is also buying location data (without a court order) “harvested from ordinary apps installed on peoples’ phones,” according to documents reviewed by Vice. Senator Wyden is expected to release a bill addressing this soon.

Rep. Eshoo demands answers from DNI and NSA over alleged surveillance of Congress, SCOTUS, in a new letter. “The fact that the only thing that stopped Mr. Snowden from wiretapping Members of Congress and Supreme Court Justices was his inability to determine their private email addresses is frightening.” Eshoo asked, among other important questions: “How many Members of Congress, federal judges, Supreme Court Justices, and other employees of the legislative and judicial branches of the federal government has the IC collected information – contents of communications, metadata, or any other information – about in each of the last 10 years?” The letter set a deadline for September 28.

Meanwhile, the government apparently missed its deadline to answer Sens. Leahy and Lee’s questions about domestic surveillance in the absence of Congressional authorization. 

The Progressive Talent Pipeline is now accepting applications for its 2020 cohort. The Pipeline identifies, endorses, trains, and recommends a diverse slate of committed progressives for staff roles in Congress and the executive branch.

Contest for HFAC Chairmanship continues, as Reps. Castro, Meeks, and Sherman vie for the seat. Castro recently joined a progressive foreign policy forum to discuss his priorities (video here).

The debate has moved into the public as Castro has elevated the race into a referendum on foreign policy. In an unprecedented move, Castro has met directly with advocates, while Meeks and Sherman declined.

Be sure to check out these 1033 webinars next week:
Mon. Sep 14, 2020 7:00pm-8:30pm ET 
“Militarization of the Police and the 1033 Program”

Wed. Sep 16, 2020 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
The Wars Are Here: How our Post-9/11 Wars Helped Militarize Our Police 

Kafka Alert: FBI/NSA in 2013: Years of illegal bulk surveillance of domestic telephone records helped in one case9th Circuit Court of Appeals in August 2020: No it didn’t, and even though the program was illegal, and likely unconstitutional, that means the defendant doesn’t get a new trial. Read the full opinion here.

Some National Guard planes over protests were legal, according to a new Pentagon report. The review was narrow, and concluded that the aircraft “‘were not capable of identifying any distinguishing features of people’ and they did not have the capability of collecting information from cellphones or radios” — things that other planes over protests very much can do.
Palantir says people use its services because ‘Their Technical Infrastructure has Failed Them,’ as reported by The Verge. Considering Palantir’s surveillance and other contracts with the government, it seems like the company is tying its value proposition to the outsourcing of government operations.

Cops and Kettles: after years of controversy over whether law enforcement should have access to Amazon’s Ring doorbells’ surveillance feeds, turns out police are also worried they can be used to watch them.

Title says it all: “Google and Facebook Inc. dropped plans for an undersea cable between the U.S. and Hong Kong after the Trump administration said Beijing might use the link to collect information on Americans,” per Bloomberg.

This seems like a good opportunity to bump a couple big stories from earlier in the year:
Watchlists for people with families in other countries: “the ‘transnational’ connection [for inclusion in the watchlist] now includes merely having family in El Salvador.” And the amount of surveillance it subjects a person in the U.S. to is staggering, according to a retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent: “‘This data is a bomb,’ he says. ‘You should have great respect for the damage that it can do.’”

National Security food stamp surveillance“The case against … two Michigan men accused of food stamp fraud, hardly seemed exceptional. But the tool that agents used to investigate them was extraordinary: a secretive surveillance process intended to identify potential spies and terrorists.

It meant that the men, unlike most criminal defendants, were never shown the evidence authorities used to begin investigating them or the information that the Justice Department presented to obtain the original warrant.” 

Any XKCD fans here?

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