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New effort launched to curb NSA snooping

EFF version of NSA logo

Civil liberties advocates created their own version of the NSA logo to make their point. Image courtesy Electronic Frontier Foundation.

‘We have now seen that secret, domestic surveillance programs at the National Security Agency have crossed the line’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Along with colleagues from Wisconsin and Oregon, Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is leading a new effort to curb overly eager spy agencies from invading the privacy and abusing the civil liberties of people who have absolutely no connection with terrorism.

Udall and U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)  introduced the Freedoms and Privacy Act of 2013, legislation that strengthens transparency, oversight and accountability on National Security Agency domestic surveillance.

“Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, we learned about the importance of sharing information about international terrorism between intelligence agencies and law enforcement,” Udall said. “But we need to ensure that any personal information collected on innocent Americans with no connection to terrorism or espionage is shared appropriately with law enforcement entities. We need strong, appropriate privacy protections,” he said. Continue reading

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Lawmakers want to curb spy agency abuses

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Congress to consider intelligence-gathering reforms.

Reforms needed to restore public confidence

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from the U.S. House and Senate want to ban bulk collection of Americans’ records, shield Americans from warrantless searches of their communications and install a constitutional advocate to argue significant cases before the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court.

The Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act would halt the erosion of constitutional liberties resulting from invasive surveillance activities and the secret legal interpretations that have allowed this surveillance to proliferate, according Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and other supporters of the bill, including Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). 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

Congress moves to limit NSA data collection

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The more spy agencies say they’re not listening to phone calls, the more we know they probably are.

Proposed bill would require some transparency

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Following a lively congressional hearing on the far-reaching surveillance and data-gathering of the U.S. intelligence apparatus, House lawmakers launched a bipartisan push to reign in the out-of-control spy agencies.

The proposed legislation  would restrict the federal government’s ability under the Patriot Act to collect information on Americans who are not connected to an ongoing investigation. The bill also requires that secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court to share its opinions with Congress and to provide summaries to the American public.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) joined Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Chairman of the House Liberty Caucus, and Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, today to announce the introduction of H.R. 2399, the Limiting Internet and Blanket Electronic Review of Telecommunications and Email Act (LIBERT-E Act). Continue reading

U.S, security chief quizzed on warrantless surveillance

A Cold War listening station near Berlin.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The so-called war on terror has resulted in a fundamental change in U.S. policies on interrogations and surveillance, with most civil rights advocates claiming that the government has gone too far in the name of security.

Those excesses include 2008 provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that enable the government to conduct warrantless surveillance and searches of communications like emails and phone calls.

Because the operations conducted by the government under those provisions is shrouded in secrecy, nobody really knows how many communications have been intercepted and read. Continue reading

Udall highlights concerns about Pakistan and domestic abuse of intelligence laws during a pair of Senate hearings

Sen. Mark Udall.

$31 billion in U.S. aid dollars lost to fraud and corruption; concerns remain that some of the money is funding terrorism

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Sen. Mark Udall continued to push on foreign policy issues during a Senate Armed Services Committee this week, pressing Pentagon leaders on issues related to military involvement in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Udall expressed concerns about providing military aid to Pakistan and questioned Pakistan’s commitment to shared security goals with the U.S. In a discussion with newly appointed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, Udall said Pakistan has often played both sides, and highlighted recent reports of blatant corruption and fraud in the country.

“At times it appears that Pakistan and its leadership are playing the roles of both arsonist and fireman, and that’s problematic,” Udall said. “Our mission in Afghanistan relies on the Pakistanis in many ways, but we cannot tolerate actions that jeopardize our efforts or place our personnel and the mission at risk.” Continue reading

Colorado: Udall seeks more transparency on spying laws

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall.

Two senators ask for an unclassified explanation of the government’s geolocation collection authority and Details on FISA Amendments Act interpretations

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Government should be more transparent about how it uses existing intelligence laws to spy on people, Sen. Mark Udall said in a recent letter to the James R. Clapper, Jr., director of national intelligence.

Along with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, Udall said the Senate should take a close look at how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has been interpreted and implemented. The act was signed into law in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter. It was passed by Congress partly as the result of investigations into espionage abuses by the Nixon administration.

We believe that the debate over these initiatives will be better informed if Congress and the public are provided with more unclassified information about how these initiatives will affect current intelligence authorities and activities,” Wyden and Udall wrote in the letter.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden.

The two Democrats requested unclassified information that will be at issue as Congress debates the FISA Amendments Act, due for extension in 2012. They want more information on a 2007 statement by the Office of Management and Budget’s that it would “likely be impossible” to count the number of people whose communications were reviewed by government agents.

There have also been recurring violations of the FISA Amendments Act, and Wyden and Udall also want to determine whether or not the law has been used to collect communications of law abiding Americans. Wyden and Udall earlier this year called for the declassification of secret interpretations of the Patriot Act.

The Senators also asked for information on another increasingly talked-about area of surveillance law involving the use of geolocation data. Taking into account recent advances in geolocation technology, the increasing ease in secret tracking capabilities of individuals on an ongoing, 24/7 basis and law enforcement’s utilization of this technology, Wyden and Udall identified conflicting judicial rulings on the legality of the government surreptitiously tracking an individual’s movements using a mobile electronic device.   Continue reading

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