Read more »
This Op/Ed was written by Jesselyn Radack, Homeland Security director of the Government Accountability Project. It appeared in several media outlets throughout the country, including: Aurora Sentinel (CO), New Britain Herald News (CT), Litchfield Register Citizen (CT), Burlington Hawk Eye (IA), Bemidji Pioneer (MN), Bristol Press (CT), Aberdeen Daily World (WA), Fall River Herald News (MA), and Huntingdon Daily News (PA).
The Obama administration is proceeding with a Bush administration-devised plan to use the National Security Agency in screening government computer traffic on private-sector networks, with AT&T slated to be the test site. This classified pilot program, “Einstein 3,” takes the two worst offenders from Bush’s secret surveillance program and puts them in charge of scrutinizing all Internet traffic going to or from federal government agencies.
Supposedly, Einstein 3 is meant to protect government networks from hackers. But if Einstein 3 is only meant to be an intrusion detection system, then why will it monitor outgoing communications?
Read more »
This Op-Ed was written by Jesselyn Radack, GAP Homeland Security Director. It has appeared in several news outlets throughout the country, including: Detroit News, Austin American Statesman, Arizona Daily Star, and the Wilmington News Journal (DE).
Cyber security is a real issue, as evidenced by the virus behind July 4 cyber attacks that hobbled government and business websites in the United States and South Korea. It originated from Internet provider addresses in 16 countries and targeted, among others, the White House and the New York Stock Exchange.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration has chosen to combat it in a move that runs counter to its pledge to be transparent. The administration reportedly is proceeding with a Bush-era plan to use the National Security Agency to screen government computer traffic on private-sector networks. AT&T is slated to be the likely test site. This classified pilot program, dubbed "Einstein 3," is developed but not yet rolled out. It takes two offenders from President Bush's contentious secret surveillance program and puts them in charge of scrutinizing all Internet traffic going to or from federal government agencies.
Read more »
Written by Telecom whistleblower Mark Klein and whistleblower and GAP client Babak Pasdar
In 2005, the exposure of a sprawling domestic spying program shocked the nation. President George W. Bush directly authorized the violation of the law and the Constitution by spying on citizen phone calls and e-mails without a warrant. People were shocked and appalled at the flouting of our civil liberties. The backlash against this perceived "Big Brother" world we were entering was palpable; sure enough, the next election cycle saw great turnover of the president's party.
However, the scandal may end on July 8, with no one held responsible, when the U.S. Senate is expected to ignore the corporate violation of civil liberties and approve a bill that provides retroactive immunity to the telephone companies that allowed the Bush administration to spy on customers without a warrant.
By letting the Bush administration continue to spy on innocent citizens, by legalizing the illegal spying regime he secretly ordered in 2001, by expanding secret surveillance powers even further and by granting telecoms retroactive immunity, Congress is set to deal a blow to the Constitution itself.
Underlying this debate is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which was enacted to curb Watergate-era abuses. The act created a special secret court to which the government had to apply for individualized surveillance warrants involving foreign intelligence, thereby providing some very limited oversight of eavesdropping and upholding the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Read more »
Written by GAP President Louis Clark
President Bush has joked about wanting to torture whistleblowers, stating he would like to string them “up by their thumbs. The same way we do with prisoners in Guantanamo!” Now that whistleblowers have exposed the torture that his administration essentially condoned at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and other places, Bush’s joke now seems ironic. But a greater irony exists surrounding the president’s core position that his national security practices have kept America safe. Whistleblower disclosures have steadily eroded this assertion.
Despite bad jokes and rhetoric, he has failed to shut national security whistleblowers up. Veto threats for Congressional bills that would protect whistleblowers, and “signing statements” pledging to ignore similar provisions of enacted legislation have not succeeded in imposing the kind of massive secrecy he sought. In fact, one whistleblower after another has torn holes in the fabric of his legitimacy and legacy, exposing incompetence, illegality, and massive privacy violations.
Society is fortunate that these whistleblowing patriots with national security concerns refuse to remain silent despite threats of retribution. Such courageous individuals are responding positively to their own inner voices of conscience and personal sense of justice. They will not be complicit in allowing unchecked abuses of authority and illegality to triumph. Consider the cases:
Read more »
The following op-ed was written by GAP Homeland Security Director Jesselyn Radack
One of the most viable challenges to the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program is a lawsuit brought in federal court in Oregon by an Islamic charity, the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, that alleges that it was subject to secret surveillance. In this case, unlike in the other National Security Agency (NSA) cases, the plaintiffs can demonstrate that the government actually listened to their conversations. That's because, as the Treasury Department was preparing to freeze the organization's assets, it inadvertently sent Al-Haramain attorneys an NSA log, classified as "Top Secret," of intercepted calls.
The case involves the controversial and much-discussed "state secrets privilege" – the topic of an April 28 New Yorker piece by Patrick Radden Keefe.However, little attention has been paid to the serious legal ethics issues raised by the Al-Haramain case – which I will consider in this column.
The Rulings in the Al-Haramain Case on the State Secrets Issue
The Justice Department initially moved to dismiss the Al-Haramain case on the ground that it was foreclosed by the state secrets privilege. The district court denied the motion, but held that the NSA call log was protected by the privilege, even despite its inadvertent disclosure. However, the district court allowed Al-Haramain to file in camera affidavits in which the attorneys who had received copies of the document attested to its contents.(An "in camera" submission is for the court's eyes alone, not the public's.)
Read more »
Op-ed by GAP client Babak Pasdar
In October 2003, I led a rapid deployment team for a major wireless carrier responsible for overhauling its security system. For the past year and a half, I have anonymously briefed Congress and nongovernment organizations about my observations, going public last month with crucial public interest information: An unknown third party using a mysterious "Quantico Circuit" has provided the federal government with unfettered access to everything on the carrier's network.
Recognizing this critical security breach and taking preliminary correction steps, my attempts at implementing controls and logging were blocked and rebutted with threats and admonishments by carrier executives. Despite ready capabilities, the company had opted not to protect itself and its customers.
Unfettered access to the carrier's systems offers powerful information. All calls and data communications including e-mail, Web, text messages, pictures and videos are attainable in real-time. Any person could be physically located, and billing records including names, financial information, contacts and behavioral data, are accessible. Tracking abilities have expanded to subscriber desktops with new "smartphones" -- unnecessarily requiring personal log on credentials to business and personal computers to deliver e-mail, contact and calendaring information. This entrusts private information with the carrier that goes far beyond mobile phone usage.
Read more »
by GAP President Louis Clark. This op-ed also ran in the Topeka Capital-Journal and United States Guantanamo News.
A new book may shed light on President George W. Bush's true feelings toward whistleblowers, or at least toward those "leakers" who expose his administration's alleged illegal and questionable activity. According to the former Canadian prime minister's chief of staff, Mr. Bush explained how he would personally handle government leaks. Reportedly, Mr. Bush stated, "If I catch anyone who leaks in my government, I would like to string them up by the thumbs. The same way we do with prisoners in Guantanamo."
Although we can hope he was joking, the context of the statement and subsequent events demand that a hard look be taken at this remark. At the time of the meeting, March 2002, then-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was in the midst of a whistleblower-exposed public scandal that would eventually sweep his party from power. Mr. Bush was at the height of his popularly, only to experience a similar crippling erosion of his public standing because of both anonymous and public whistleblowers.
It is ironic that Mr. Bush would cite the federal government's mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay for metaphorical purposes. At the time, few people other than the president knew how detainees were being abused at the facility. Two years after the start of the Iraq war, conscientious soldiers began to expose the routine torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and the Guantanamo alarms soon followed.