40 percent of Americans think security is more important than civil liberty

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Freedom? Or security?

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

Staff Report

By all historical accounts, Benjamin Franklin always chose his words carefully, and while his quote on liberty and security appears to have mutated a bit over the years, the essence of what he said remains true.

But those words apparently ring hollow with many Americans, who now believe it’s OK for the government to sacrifice freedoms to fight terrorism, according to a new national survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

And about half of Americans think it is acceptable to allow warrantless government analysis of internet activities and communications — even of American citizens — in order to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, but about 3 in 10 are against this type of government investigation. Continue reading

Federal court says NSA’s domestic spying is illegal

Leaked information on NSA surveillance is only the tip of the iceberg. Domestic intelligence gathering operations are much more pervasive than most Americans realize, several U.S. senators say.

Leaked information on NSA surveillance is only the tip of the iceberg. Domestic intelligence gathering operations are much more pervasive than most Americans realize, several U.S. senators say.

Will Congress tackle meaningful reform of Patriot Act?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Putting domestic surveillance and national security in a historical context, a panel of federal judges this week said the bulk collection of telephone data by U.S. spy agencies is illegal.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals said that Section 215 of the Patriot Act doesn’t authorize the government to gather Americans’ sensitive information on such a massive scale.

The case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union in June 2013, immediately after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden disclosed the existence of the program. Continue reading

Newly declassified documents offer partial explanation for dragnet-style domestic spying

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Intelligence officials are publishing a Tumblr to “provides immediate, ongoing and direct access to factual information related to the lawful foreign surveillance activities carried out by the U.S. Intelligence Community.”

Documents related to bulk collection of email data remains classified

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Newly declassified intelligence documents related to NSA telephone data collection show that the agency’s compliance and oversight mechanisms may simply been overwhelmed by the massive amount of data coming — “operational momentum,” as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described in a statement accompanying the release of the documents.

According to Clapper, the agency responded by ramping up compliance and oversight efforts by more than quadrupling personnel associated with making sure the data collection program doesn’t violate the law. Clapper’s office has also established a Tumblr blog to provide access to some limited information about intelligence activities.

“This increase was designed to address changes in technology and authorities and reflects a commitment on the part of the Intelligence Community and the rest of the Government to ensuring that intelligence activities are conducted responsibly and subject to the rule of law,” Clapper said in his statement.

U.S. Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who serve on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the release of the documents will help Americans understand the scope of the violations. According to Wyden and Udall, the documents show that intelligence agencies can gather information “without engaging in the dragnet surveillance of huge numbers of law-abiding Americans.” Continue reading

Court acknowledges that government made ‘substantial misrepresentations’ of surveillance programs

Released FISA Court document raises Fourth Amendment issues

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A heavily redacted FISA Court ruling from 2011 confirms that U.S. spy agencies have been violating the privacy rights of American citizens.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Far from just passively collecting long lists of telephone numbers, U.S. spy agencies actively worked to intercept communications by tapping into fiber-optic cables, going well beyond the bounds of programs authorized by a secret intelligence court.

The revelations came this week, as intelligence officials released a previously classified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Activities court ruling confirming what had already been leaked via other sources — that the government is spying on Americans with no connection to terrorism. The document shows that the NSA acquires more than 250 million internet communications each year. Continue reading

Latest NSA revelations just ‘the tip of the iceberg’

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The NSA broke the law thousands of times as it spied on Americans and foreigners during the past year.

Senators say Americans deserve more transparency

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — While Obama administration officials have acknowledged that the National Security Agency may have made some mistakes in the course of its widespread and invasive surveillance, new documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the agency overstepped its bounds, and broke the law, thousands of times just in the past year.

The Washington Post reported on the revelations of an internal NSA audit based on documents provided by Snowden. The NSA violations were widely reported in the press this week and drew a sharp response from a pair of U.S. Senators who have been watch-dogging the intelligence agency.

Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden, who serve on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the latest revelations are still just the tip of the iceberg. Continue reading

Obama addresses domestic spying concerns

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President Barack Obama.

President pledges more transparency and reform of Patriot Act

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — President Obama tackled the domestic spying controversy head-on during an Aug. 9 press conference, saying he will push for increased transparency and reforms in U.S. intelligence programs.

Obama spelled out four specific steps aimed at addressing issues raised by critics in Congress and at rebuilding public confidence in the intelligence community.

Obama said he wants to reform the PATRIOT Act and push U.S. spy agencies to declassify more information about data-gathering programs.

He said the White House will also take input from outside groups in a review of intelligence and communications technologies. Continue reading

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