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"The NSL basically allows the FBI to demand extremely sensitive personal information about innocent people without any prior court approval, often in total secrecy without any meaningful judicial review," Melissa Goodman, one of the attorneys representing the Internet Archive, said during a telephone conference with reporters. "It makes you wonder about the hundreds of thousands of other NSLs that have never been challenged and we know there are many."
The FBI withdrew the NSL after the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represented the Internet Archive, filed a complaint (PDF) arguing that the Patriot Act statute that expanded the use of NSLs was unconstitutional.
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.
Telecom Whistleblower Discovers Circuit that Allows Access to All Systems on Wireless Carrier -- Phone Calls, Text Messages, Emails and More
Babak Pasdar is a computer security expert who was hired in 2003 to help restructure the tech infrastructure at a major wireless telecommunications company. What he found shocked him. The company had set up a system that gave a third party, presumably a governmental entity, access to every communication coming through that company's infrastructure. This means every email, internet use, document transmission, video, text message, as well as the ability to listen to and record any phone call.