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The Internet Archive, a project to create a digital library of the web for posterity, successfully fought a secret government Patriot Act order for records about one of its patrons and won the right to make the order public, civil liberties groups announced Wednesday morning.
On November 26, 2007, the FBI served a controversial National Security Letter (.pdf) on the Internet Archive's founder Brewster Kahle, asking for records about one of the library's registered users, asking for the user's name, address and activity on the site.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Internet Archive's lawyers, fought the NSL, challenging its constitutionality in a December 14 complaint (.pdf) to a federal court in San Francisco. The FBI agreed on April 21 to withdraw the letter and unseal the court case, making some of the documents available to the public.
Feds Monitoring Calls and E-Mails Sans Warrant The Federal government has finally admitted that something is going on, which anyone involved in studying freedom and privacy issues already knows perfectly well. We know that the droids in the silk suits have been listening in on us whenever they feel like it for years, tapping our phones and planting electronic bugs in our homes, without any legal restraint whatsoever. Whenever they want to use something against us in court that they pick up on an illegal wiretap, they simply take a back-dated paper to a judge and legalize it. For all practical purposes, where freedom loving citizens are concerned, there has never been any protection at all against unrestricted wiretapping and eavedropping by the secret police. E-mail is even simpler to monitor, dating back to the DCS-100 (Carnivore) boxes which were installed at every American internet service provider the week after 9/11. White nationalist dissident Matt Hale was sentenced to forty years in prison for typing a single sentence in an AOL Instant Message chat. ("I cannot be involved in this" was somehow translated for a black jury as "Go kill a Federal judge.") Nonetheless, it's interesting to hear the Feds own up to the fact that right after 9/11, President Bush secretly authorized American law enforcement agencies to eavesdrop electronically on American citizens inside the United States without even the fig-leaf of a secret warrant from one of the System's corrupt judges. Now faceless men in silk suits can wiretap and eavesdrop whoever they way, whenever they want, and however they want, and none shall say them nay. One wonders why Bush even bothered with the usual 9/11 mantra this time? Even before 9/11, has anyone ever heard of a single request from the Feds for a wiretap warrant being refused by one of the tyrants in the black robes? They just rubber-stamp anything the FBI sets in front of them anyway. If there were ever any problem, they FBI could always go to the secret FISA court in Washington DC, which has never turned down a single warrant request in the 28 years of its existence. But under a presidential order signed in 2002, intelligence agencies have monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants. The big difference in this latest practice is that unauthorized spying on American citizens is now allowed not only to the United States government's usual domestic terrorism agencies (i.e. agencies that terrorize ordinary Americans), the FBI and ATF, but now the CIA and National Security Agency can also spy on ordinary Americans with no supervision whatsoever. From there it's only a step to allowing such outfits as the Israeli Mossad access to wiretap information or other spying facilities, as if they don't do it unofficially already. For all practical purposes, anyone can wiretap you, monitor your e-mail, and spy on you in any way they please. Some years ago, the Supreme Court mysteriously discovered a previously non-existent "right to privacy" when they were looking for an excuse to legalize infanticide. One wonders whether or not this wonderful "right to privacy" will have any effect on the kind of unlimited Federal government spying which has gone on for years, but which the neo-con regime in Washington now no longer even bothers to conceal.
Former AT&T technician Mark Klein and internet expert Brian Reid describe an NSA listening room that Klein discovered while working at the company's operations center. In "Spying on the Home Front" FRONTLINE talks to intelligence insiders and asks: Is the Bush administration's domestic war on terrorism jeopardizing our civil liberties? Coming May 15 to PBS and online at www.pbs.org... In "Spying on the Home Front," coming May. 15, 2007 at 9pm (check local listings) Reporter Hedrick Smith presents new material on how the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program works and examines clashing viewpoints on whether the President has violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and infringed on constitutional protections. In another dramatic story, the program shows how the FBI vacuumed up records on 250,000 ordinary Americans who chose Las Vegas as the destination for their Christmas-New Year's holiday, and the subsequent revelation that the FBI has misused National Security Letters to gather information. Probing such projects as Total Information Awareness, and its little known successors, Smith discloses that even former government intelligence officials now worry that the combination of new security threats, advances in communications technologies, and radical interpretations of presidential authority may be threatening the privacy of American