By Adi Robertson
The presentation of Polk Award for national security reporting, which Poitras and Greenwald accepted alongside The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill and The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman, marked the pair’s first visit to the United States since the initial leaks from Edward Snowden were published nearly a year ago. Immediately after the leaks, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) called for Greenwald’s arrest and prosecution, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper obliquely referred to journalists who helped Snowden as “accomplices” during a Senate hearing in January. But the mood has calmed, and Greenwald now views the practical risk of returning as low, he told reporters in a press conference after the awards luncheon. Despite this, he says officials “deliberately created an environment where they wanted us to think there was a risk,” refusing to tell Greenwald’s lawyers whether he might be indicted…
As the Obama administration plans to phase out its phone records database, Greenwald is skeptical. “I would like to see the debate be about not whether the US should be collecting metadata under a specific provision of the Patriot Act, Section 215, but the broader question of whether we want to empower the government to monitor and surveil people who are suspected of absolutely no wrongdoing,” he says. And he’s unsurprised that Obama opted to renew the program in its current form while waiting for changes. “President Obama likes to parade around as some sort of King Solomon figure in between the excesses of the NSA and those who are raising concerns about it,” he says. “The reality is that he presided over this out of control system for five years … I think he is one of the obstacles to reform, not a vehicle for it.”
Read the Rest @ Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras return to US, blame government for climate of fear | The Verge.
”Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people. When the people give way, their deceivers, betrayers, and destroyers press upon them so fast, that there is no resisting afterwards. The nature of the encroachment upon the American constitution is such, as to grow every day more and more encroaching. Like a cancer, it eats faster and faster every hour. The revenue creates pensioners, and the pensioners urge for more revenue. The people grow less steady, spirited, and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependents and expectants, until virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity, and frugality, become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow up the whole society. “
~ John Adams, Novanglus Letters, 1774
Related Article @ John Adams thought he could see arbitrary power emerging
By Cindy Cohn & Parker Higgins
Yesterday, President Obama announced a series of reforms to address abuses by the National Security Agency. We were heartened to see Obama recognized that the NSA has gone too far in trampling the privacy rights of people worldwide. In his speech, the President ensured that National Security Letters would not come with perpetual gag orders, brought new levels of transparency and fairness to the FISA court, and ended bulk collection of telephone records by the NSA. However, there is still much more to be done.
We’ve put together a scorecard showing how Obama’s announcements stack up against 12 common sense fixes that should be a minimum for reforming NSA surveillance. Each necessary reform was worth 1 point, and we were willing to award partial credit for steps in the right direction. On that scale, President Obama racked up 3.5 points out of a possible 12.
Read the Rest @ Rating Obama’s NSA Reform Plan: EFF Scorecard Explained.
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Friday took a swipe at Edward Snowden, the former U.S. spy contractor whose revelations about American surveillance practices tarnished relations with foreign allies and prompted reforms in Washington.
… “If any individual who objects to government policy can take it into their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will not be able to keep our people safe, or conduct foreign policy,” Obama said.
“Moreover, the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come.”
By Brendan Bordelon
President Barack Obama put lawmakers on notice during his first official cabinet meeting of the year, telling his top deputies that his 2014 agenda will move forward whether Congress votes for it or not. On Tuesday morning, the White House press corps was allowed to film part of a meeting between the president and his cabinet officials. Obama’s opening remarks focused on his desire to pass comprehensive immigration reform and extend unemployment benefits. “Congress is going to be busy,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to working with Democrats and Republicans, House members and Senate members, to try to continue to advance the economic recovery, and to provide additional avenues of opportunity for everybody.” But if Congress balks, Obama promised he’s prepared to go it alone.
Read the Rest @ Obama: ‘I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone’ [VIDEO] | The Daily Caller
Surprise surprise, Obama, part of the executive branch ready to overstep his bounds and legislate all by himself? Yet another contradiction from what Candidate Obama promised…?
By Oliver Knox
In a stinging rebuke to President Barack Obama’s surveillance policies, a federal judge on Monday branded the National Security Agency’s mass collection of Americans’ telephone data “almost Orwellian” and likely a violation of the Constitution. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden cheered the ruling… “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘abitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” Leon wrote.
As many have stated from the start, the FOURTH AMENDMENT protects us from these NSA abuses…. – Mr Blacksheep
By Josh Gerstein
A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency’s phone surveillance program is likely unconstitutional, Politico reports.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon said that the agency’s controversial program, first unveiled by former government contractor Edward Snowden earlier this year, appears to violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which states that the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”
By Jon Fingas
The NSA may say that its phone surveillance efforts focus on metadata rather than the associated calls, but we now know that the agency can listen to many of those conversations whenever it wants. Documents leaked to the Washington Post by Edward Snowden confirm that the NSA can decode GSM-based cellphone calls without obtaining the encryption keys. The ability isn\’t surprising when GSM has known weaknesses, but the document suggests that the NSA (and potentially other US agencies) can easily process cellphone calls worldwide. Not surprisingly, the intelligence branch argues that such cracking is necessary — folks on both sides of the law use encryption to hide information, after all.
via NSA can decode many GSM cellphone calls.
The great aim of the struggle for liberty has been equality before the law. This equality under the rules which the state enforces may be supplemented by a similar equality of the rules that men voluntarily obey in their relations with one another. This extention of the principle of equality to the rules of moral and social conduct is the chief expression of what is commonly called the democratic spirit–and probably that aspect of it that does most to make inoffensive the inequalities that liberty necessarily produces.
Equality of the general rules of law and conduct, however, is the only kind of equality conducive to liberty and the only equality which we can secure without destroying liberty. Not only has liberty nothing to do with any other sort of equality, but it is even bound to produce inequality in many respects. This is the necessary result and part of the justification of individual liberty: if the result of individual liberty did not demonstrate that some manners of living are more successful than others, much of the case for it would vanish.
“As usurpation is the exercise of power, which another hath a right to; so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which no body can have a right to. And this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private separate advantage. When the governor, however intitled, makes not the law, but his will, the rule; and his commands and actions are not directed to the preservation of the properties of his people, but the satisfaction of his own ambition, revenge, covetousness, or any other irregular passion…