Snooping the Dog

August 19, 2013

135460_600A bit overcast this way-too-early Monday here on California’s north coast, with a near-full-moon brightening the skies — and it was another really, really short weekend.
Just two days to recover from five days is just bad math.

And I want the NSA to know right up front — I Googled you!
So fuck off, assholes!

(Illustration found here).

The US and the world in its wake is going to shit in a wire basket — ordinary, church-going folks under surveillance:

A Southern California church has joined 18 other organizations in filing a lawsuit against the National Security Agency, claiming its electronic surveillance program violates the First Amendment right of association.
“The argument is not necessarily that we have been spied upon, but simply the fact the government might be spying on us is creating a chilling effect,” said Reverend Rick Hoyt, with the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles.

“We have drawn the line far too close to the side of paranoia and security and willingness to lose fundamental freedoms I think are important to us,” Hoyt said.

Well, that’s just those Unitarians — J. Edgar was always after them, Joe McCarthy, and the rest of those mindless, follow-the-cue-ball dumb shits who are scared of shadows looming everywhere.
And for goodness sake — Fox News! A segment entitled, ‘Has the NSA gone Amok?
If these clowns at Fox are questioning all this snooping shit, then something real-crazy is going down.
First the Unitarians…then us.
Or maybe friends and family.

And yesterday, the Unitarians were proved right — a “chilling effect.”
From CBS :

The partner of a journalist who received leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden was detained for nearly nine hours Sunday under anti-terror legislation at Heathrow Airport, triggering claims that authorities are trying to interfere with reporting on the issue.
David Miranda, the partner of Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, was held for nearly the maximum time authorities are allowed to detain individuals under the Terrorism Act’s Schedule 7, which authorizes security agencies to stop and question people at borders.
Greenwald said Miranda’s cellphone, laptops and memory sticks were confiscated.

The Home Office says in a report released last year that more than 97 percent of those questioned under Schedule 7 are detained for less than an hour.
Less than a tenth of 1 percent are held for more than six hours.
Some 230,236 people were questioned under Schedule 7 from April 2009 through March 2012.
Schedule 7 is designed to help authorities determine whether people crossing U.K. borders have been involved in the “commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism,” according to the Home Office report.
Border agents are not required to have reasonable suspicion before detaining a traveler.

Officials in the UK are more than a bit alarmed:

Labour MP Tom Watson said he was shocked at the news and called for it to be made clear if any ministers were involved in authorising the detention.
He said: “It’s almost impossible, even without full knowledge of the case, to conclude that Glenn Greenwald’s partner was a terrorist suspect.
“I think that we need to know if any ministers knew about this decision, and exactly who authorised it.
“The clause in this act is not meant to be used as a catch-all that can be used in this way.”

No shit!

Greenwald, who can be overbearing and a bit obnoxious at times, is still one of the better, and most-respected,  investigative journalists on the planet, responded to the incident in the UK’s Guardian:

The stated purpose of this law, as the name suggests, is to question people about terrorism.
The detention power, claims the UK government, is used “to determine whether that person is or has been involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.”
But they obviously had zero suspicion that David was associated with a terrorist organization or involved in any terrorist plot.
Instead, they spent their time interrogating him about the NSA reporting which Laura Poitras, the Guardian and I are doing, as well the content of the electronic products he was carrying.
They completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism: a potent reminder of how often governments lie when they claim that they need powers to stop “the terrorists”, and how dangerous it is to vest unchecked power with political officials in its name.
Worse, they kept David detained right up until the last minute: for the full 9 hours, something they very rarely do.
Only at the last minute did they finally release him.
We spent all day — as every hour passed — worried that he would be arrested and charged under a terrorism statute.
This was obviously designed to send a message of intimidation to those of us working journalistically on reporting on the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ.
Before letting him go, they seized numerous possessions of his, including his laptop, his cellphone, various video game consoles, DVDs, USB sticks, and other materials.
They did not say when they would return any of it, or if they would.
This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism.
It’s bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources.
It’s worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth.
But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic.
Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they felt threatened by.
But the UK puppets and their owners in the US national security state obviously are unconstrained by even those minimal scruples.

WikiLeaks Tweeted: Congratulations UK gov! You just made Glenn Greenwald as pissed off as Julian Assange. Smart move there.

Seemingly, there’s no one real smart here. The trade-off between human rights and terrorism has become an ugly, and terrible no-man’s land.
Marcy Wheeler adds:

Aside from the outrage over the treatment of a partner of a British newspaper’s employee, consider what it means that the UK used their terrorism law to detain Miranda (had he been transiting the US, they wouldn’t have needed to use the transparently false claim of terrorism — they can and do subject people to this treatment for no reason all the time).
Does this mean the US and UK are both treating the investigation into the leak of classified information as terrorism now?
If so, does that mean the US is using its counterterrorism authorities to investigate Greenwald and Snowden?
Have they used the dragnet database to find their contacts?

But it significantly discredits both their effort to counter Greenwald and their counterterrorism efforts.
If they’ll use terrorism to prevent further embarrassment, it’s really just a tool to go after dissidents.
Two more thoughts.
First, remember that someone already stole a laptop from Greenwald’s home in Rio.
I thought it unlikely then that the US or an ally did so.
I think the chances are slightly higher now.
Also, I wonder how Dilma Rousseff will respond to this, especially with growing actions in Brazil against US spying.
She had been moving away from the sphere of the Bolivarists in Latin America (and has a US state visit planned for this fall).
But the British just treated a Brazilian citizen with the same kind of egregious treatment Europe gave to Evo Morales.
Will she respond?

This story seemingly has no real end — at least in the fashion that most of us would like, and what most of us want, despite the hard-core right of the NSA to peer into everything we all do, and maybe, think.
Snoop dog that watch-cat, dude.

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