Homeland Security

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  Computer Program Reveals Fbi, Cia Edited Wikipedia EntriesAugust 19, 2007 08:29 A new scanning program has revealed that the FBI and CIA have been editing Wikipedia entries on topics ranging from the Iraq war to Guantanamo.

WikiScanner, developed by CalTech graduate student Virgil Griffith, has traced editorial changes made to the online encyclopedia to FBI and CIA computers, including the removal of satellite imagery of the Guantanamo prison camp on the island of Cuba, where the United States has detained suspected terrorists since 2002, and redactions of articles on the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The program revealed that the CIA edited entries about its former director, William Colby, altering details of his career, and that a graphic on casualties in Iraq was manipulated to downplay the figures.

A number of commercial companies were also found to have edited entries related to them, in clear violation of Wikipedia's editorial guidelines that disqualify people or organizations from editing articles that concern them directly.

However, a spokeswoman for Wikipedia's parent company, Wikimedia, said the online encyclopedia was in any event self-correcting, and that any misleading entries are usually quickly rectified.

The FBI did not have any comment, and the CIA insisted that all of its computers are used responsibly.

  Tools for War on Terrorism are UndemocraticAugust 14, 2007 11:28 The U.S. Congress decision to give broad authority to American intelligence agencies to monitor global communications that transit the U.S. is bad for democracy, violates individual privacy and deals a crushing blow to civil liberties. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic house speaker, is right on target when she says the measure “does violence to the Constitution of the United States.”

The great danger of the bill is that it allows the wiretapping of almost any call, email or other communication going overseas that originates in the U.S. without the democratic oversight of the courts or Congress. Furthermore, the U.S. government can now wiretap conversations between individuals inside the U.S. and correspondents abroad without a search warrant -- an important protection against abuse.

The other dangerous aspect of this new measure is that it gives the U.S. administration greater power to force telecommunications companies to cooperate with wiretapping operations.

One cannot justify undemocratic measures to fight terrorism -- not only does it undermine the basic tenets of the democracy, the Constitution and basic human rights, it also undermines the very supposed basis of the “war on terror” -- to defend democracy.
  President'S Warrantless Wiretapping Powers ExtendedAugust 06, 2007 21:11 Intelligence agencies can monitor electronic communications without a warrant, provided that a high-ranking public servant signs off on it beforehand, or in the case of imminent danger, within 72 hours.
The new powers originate from a bill that President George W. Bush signed Sunday. The powers, which some critics call "warrantless wiretapping," expire in six months. In the meantime, some elected representatives have indicated they will attempt to develop different long-term strategies for surveillance.

Bush promoted the new law to deal with limitations and criticisms of intelligence agencies' activities since 2001. Two New York Times reporters, now under investigation by the FBI, broke the story late in 2005 that investigators had been intercepting communications without first obtaining court orders from a secret court under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The administration argued it had powers to authorize the surveillance on several grounds. Still, critics lambasted the White House's position, claiming it violated Americans' Fourth Amendment rights, which guarantee protections against illegal search and seizure. The White House also claims that foreign terrorist suspects were targeted, not American citizens, but several groups both ends of the political spectrum -- the John Birch Society and the American Civil Liberties Union, among others -- said Americans' conversations and e-mail communications were monitored in the process.

The Protect America Act, passed and took effect over the weekend, with little public debate. It makes clear -- at least for the time being -- that intelligence agents can monitor communications without a warrant, as long as one party is believed to be outside of the United States.
  Nypd Surveillance Files Ordered ReleasedAugust 06, 2007 20:58 The city must release hundreds of pages of documents related to police surveillance of protesters prior to the 2004 Republican National Convention, but they will be allowed to black out some information, a judge ruled Monday.

The city had sought to keep secret field intelligence reports prepared by undercover police officers, but U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV called for the city to turn over those and other documents to lawyers representing hundreds of protesters challenging their arrests.

For the most part, Francis rejected city arguments that the documents were not relevant and were protected by law enforcement privilege. He did, however, say some documents and information were not pertinent and could be withheld or redacted.

Francis said they could be released in redacted form to hide the identities of undercover officers and confidential police tactics and strategies.

"Information is not privileged simply because it was obtained as a result of an undercover investigation," he wrote. "Information is privileged only when its disclosure would interfere with legitimate law enforcement interests."

  Congress Seeks Eavesdropping PactAugust 03, 2007 13:12 The US Congress was trying to reach a last-minute deal on Friday to allow the Bush administration to continue an eavesdropping programme that was previously determined to be illegal.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill were struggling to craft compromise legislation before the summer recess to modernise the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa). Enacted after Watergate, the law requires the administration to seek approval from a special intelligence court to eavesdrop on Americans.

The National Security Agency has for decades eavesdropped on the conversations of foreigners outside the US. After the September 11 attacks, however, George W. Bush authorised the agency to intercept the communications of Americans with suspected links to ­terrorism.

  Gonzales An Issue In Surveillance Law Upgrade - Cnn.ComAugust 02, 2007 21:09 White House officials and Democratic congressional leaders are still trying to work out differences to modernize the law on monitoring communications between suspected terrorists.

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell says the rules for monitoring communications need to change.

But beyond technical and legal issues, embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is one of the sticking points.

The Bush administration wants Congress to act on the proposal before it leaves on its August recess at the end of the week, citing concerns about a heightened terror threat.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and congressional Democrats have exchanged proposals that would amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, and allow for surveillance of foreign targets.

The Bush administration wants FISA updated because terrorists are using technology to communicate -- such as the Internet and cellular phones -- that didn't exist when it was enacted in 1978.

In a July 27 letter to the congressional leadership obtained by CNN, McConnell urged quick action because of the "urgency of the situation" and the need to close "critical gaps in our intelligence capability in the short term."

One of the sticking points involves intercepted communications where one end turns out to be in the United States.

  Interim Wiretap Plan ProposedAugust 01, 2007 23:36 A Democratic proposal that would expand federal surveillance powers for six months avoids the sensitive question of whether telecommunications companies should be absolved of legal liabilities for aiding the government's intelligence activities.

The interim legislation, proposed yesterday by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, would give the Bush administration expanded powers to monitor telecommunications traffic as part of its counterterrorism efforts.

The proposal, which still is being negotiated with the administration and doesn't yet have the full support of some key Democrats such as Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, would need to gain sweeping approval from the Senate and House this week to be approved before Congress leaves for its August recess. Last night, senior Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Kit Bond of Missouri offered their own interim fix to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on behalf of the administration. Their plan differed from the Democratic plan in key elements, including how much say Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would have in devising rules for surveillance.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have pursued civil cases against telephone companies, including AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., alleging that the companies violated privacy laws by turning over customer information to federal investigators. At least one company, Qwest Communications International Inc., resisted the surveillance requests because they came without court orders.