Cheryl SealSenate, NSA Take US two Giant Steps Closer to Police StateSat Jun 10, 2006 10:37HEre are two truly frightening developments - moves being slipped under the national radar as all media attention is plastered to the Al-Zarqawi diversion.
NSA Now Plans to Spy on Internet Social Networks to Profile Citizens
From "New Scientist" magazine, June 9, 2006: "New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon’s National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology - specifically the forthcoming “semantic web” championed by the web standards organisation W3C - to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.
"...The Congressional Research Service, which advises the US legislature, says phone companies that surrendered call records may have acted illegally. However, the White House insists that the terrorist threat makes existing wire-tapping legislation out of date and is urging Congress not to investigate the NSA’s action.
Meanwhile, the NSA is pursuing its plans to tap the web, since phone logs have limited scope. They can only be used to build a very basic picture of someone’s contact network, a process sometimes called “connecting the dots”. Clusters of people in highly connected groups become apparent, as do people with few connections who appear to be the intermediaries between such groups. The idea is to see by how many links or “degrees” separate people from, say, a member of a blacklisted organisation."
"Yeah, I can just imagine where this will go - that little old lady in the bird-watching club owns a pair of binoculars so they'd better put her on the "list" (she could use them to scope out terrorist targets!), along with the pumpkin-growing kid from the 4-H club who just bought a 50-lb bag of fertilizer.
Senate Intelligence (what an oxymoron!) Committee Quietly Pushes Bill that Would Place Bush Spies Above the Law
UPI reports: " A little-noticed proposal from the Senate Intelligence Committee would exempt federal agencies from important provisions of the Privacy Act in the name of the war against terrorism. The committee`s annual authorization bill, unanimously reported to the full Senate last month, would initiate a three-year 'pilot program' during which U.S. intelligence agencies would be able to access personal information about Americans held by other federal departments or agencies if it is believed relevant to counter-terrorism or counter-proliferation.
"In the wake of recent revelations about the administration`s use of data-mining and warrantless surveillance of telephone and internet communications in pursuit of the nation`s terrorist enemies, the provision seems certain to be controversial.'If this is enacted, the Privacy Act will look like Swiss cheese,' ACLU legislative counsel Tim Sparapani told United Press International.
Sparapani said he was not reassured by the role the law envisages for the president`s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which would monitor the program and report to congressional intelligence committees as the three year sunset approached.
'The board is stacked, four (Republicans) to one (Democrat),' he said. 'It is not truly independent' because it is inside President Bush`s executive office, which put it 'under the thumb of the president and his advisers,' according to Sparapani."
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