TSA spends $900m on useless “behavior” program

According to a Government Accountability Office report, the Transportation Security Agency has blown through nearly $900 million on an ineffective behavioral training program designed to teach TSA agents how to spot potential terrorists based on their mannerisms.  Fewer than 1% of passengers spotted by TSA agents have been arrested and accused of terrorist activity.

A federal review of the program has offered no evidence that the costly program has enhanced the United States’ ability to stop terrorism before it starts, leading to the GAO’s recommendation that the government cut the program entirely.  The GAO accused the government of rolling out an expensive program without a reasonable expectation of its effectiveness, typical of many government initiatives.

The program supposedly trains TSA officers to spot suspicious behavior in a crowd of people, distinguishing between normal activity exhibited by passengers simply stressed out by travel and from a nervous person intent on committing a terrorist act.

The program has cost taxpayers $878 million since its inception in 2007.

Read the entire report here.

 

Group responsible for FBI theft comes forward

FBI_Badge_&_gunThe New York Times published an article detailing the account of a group of antiwar dissidents more than 40 years ago and their plan to break into an FBI building in Pennsylvania.  Their plan was to uncover and publicize documents that directly prove FBI corruption.

Their plan worked.

The documents revealed the true motivations of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover at the time, who now has a building named in his honor.  Hoover’s intent was to scare those critical of the war effort, and “get the point across there is an F.B.I. agent behind every mailbox.”  How lovely.

The article details how meticulously the group planned the attack.  They spent months observing the office.  They memorized the schedules of residents in the area.  One of the group’s female members posed as a job hunter in search of opportunities at the FBI for women.  In truth, she was looking around inside the FBI building for apparent signs of a security system.

Read the entire article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/us/burglars-who-took-on-fbi-abandon-shadows.html

Rally to protest mass surveillance in D.C. Oct 26th

The heroic revelations made by whistleblower Edward Snowden have let the world know: The NSA is watching you and has undermined the fabric of the Internet. Its overreaching surveillance creates a climate of fear, chills free speech, and violates our basic human rights — your Fourth Amendment right to privacy.

But a movement is building to change all this.

The Libertarian Party was among the first groups to join a growing coalition of organizations operating under the umbrella Stop Watching Us, which aims to stop the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass surveillance of Americans.

The coalition will hold a rally in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 26, 2013, on the 12th anniversary of the signing of the Patriot Act. Thousands of people from across the political spectrum are expected to unite in Washington, D.C., to demand: Stop watching us, protest mass surveillance!

Speakers at the rally will include 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson. A march before the rally, music, and other festivities are planned for the day.

Show your determination to stop government surveillance and come to Washington, D.C., on Oct. 26. For more details about the rally, visit: https://rally.stopwatching.us/

Invasive view into American’s data too easy at the NSA

the-nsa-trained-edward-snowden-to-be-an-elite-hackerIn an interview with ABCNews, the reporter that initially made public information about the National Security Agency’s true surveillance powers said that even the lowest-level NSA analyst at the data collection agency has virtually unrestricted access to trillions of telephone calls and emails from the American people.

Guardian Reporter Glenn Greenwald said that analysts use very simple “supermarket-like” screens that perform powerful and wide-reaching searches based on telephone numbers, email or IP addresses for any data that the NSA has managed to collect.  “It searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you’ve entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future.”

Greenwald mentioned that although so-called FISA legal restrictions supposedly constrain what analysts search for, no real technical mechanism exists that would prevent any search.  “And it’s all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst,” he said.

Although the NSA strongly denies such easy availability of data – and even the tracking of some of it – top secret security documents revealed (read: Snowden) last week suggest that the NSA not only tracks telephone calls and emails, but tracks absolutely everything sent over the wires of the Internet’s transnational fiber optic lines.

Greenwald wants the NSA to respond to these accusations when they testify before the Senate on Wednesday and flatly deny the existence of these described programs in front of Congress and the American people.

Top secret NSA slide reveals more data collection mechanisms

Americans recently learned about the PRISM program run by the National Security Agency that collects data – knowingly or unknowingly – from some of the largest Internet and telecommunications providers in the United States.  A newly uncovered slide from an NSA document, however, reveals yet another mechanism by which the agency collects data.

The slide, classified “TOP SECRET//SI//ORCON//NOFORN”, details both the PRISM program and so-called “Upstream” capabilities where the agency taps into high-capacity transnational fiber optic lines that run under the ocean.  It instructs the intelligence analyst to use both mechanism when spying on Americans.  The slide also includes circles that may suggest collection points, but details regarding the capabilities and facilities that enable the collection remain unclear.

What is clear, however, is how sophisticated our government’s network of surveillance and data collection mechanisms really are.  No wonder our government just finished construction on a large NSA data processing center near Camp Williams, Utah, designed to collect and store trillions of terabytes of data on the American people.

If you like the surveillance state, you’ll love E-Verify

From massive NSA spying, to IRS targeting of the administration’s political opponents, to collection and sharing of our health care information as part of Obamacare, it seems every day we learn of another assault on our privacy. Sadly, this week the Senate took another significant, if little-noticed, step toward creating an authoritarian surveillance state. Buried in the immigration bill is a national identification system called mandatory E-Verify.

The Senate did not spend much time discussing E-Verify, and what little discussion took place was mostly bipartisan praise for its effectiveness as a tool for preventing illegal immigrants from obtaining employment. It is a tragedy that mandatory E-Verify is not receiving more attention, as it will impact nearly every American’s privacy and liberty.

The mandatory E-Verify system requires Americans to carry a “tamper-proof” social security card. Before they can legally begin a job, American citizens will have to show the card to their prospective employer, who will then have to verify their identity and eligibility to hold a job in the US by running the information through the newly-created federal E-Verify database. The database will contain photographs taken from passport files and state driver’s licenses. The law gives federal bureaucrats broad discretion in adding other “biometric” identifiers to the database. It also gives the bureaucracy broad authority to determine what features the “tamper proof” card should contain.

Regardless of one’s views on immigration, the idea that we should have to ask permission from the federal government before taking a job ought to be offensive to all Americans. Under this system, many Americans will be denied the opportunity for work. The E-Verify database will falsely identify thousands as “ineligible,” forcing many to lose job opportunities while challenging government computer inaccuracies. E-Verify will also impose additional compliance costs on American businesses, at a time when they are struggling with Obamacare implementation and other regulations.

According to David Bier of Competitive Enterprise Institute, there is nothing stopping the use of E-Verify for purposes unrelated to work verification, and these expanded uses could be authorized by agency rule-making or executive order. So it is not inconceivable that, should this bill pass, the day may come when you are not be able to board an airplane or exercise your second amendment rights without being run through the E-Verify database. It is not outside the realm of possibility that the personal health care information that will soon be collected by the IRS and shared with other federal agencies as part of Obamacare will also be linked to the E-Verify system.

Those who dismiss these concerns as paranoid should consider that the same charges were leveled at those who warned that the PATRIOT Act could lead to the government collecting our phone records and spying on our Internet usage. Just as the PATRIOT Act was only supposed to be used against terrorists but is now used to bypass constitutional protections in matters having noting to do with terrorism or national security, the national ID/mandatory E-Verify database will not only be used to prevent illegal immigrants from gaining employment. Instead, it will eventually be used as another tool to monitor and control the American people.

The recent revelations of the extent of National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans, plus recent stories of IRS targeting Tea Party and similar groups for special scrutiny, demonstrates the dangers of trusting government with this type of power. Creation of a federal database with photos and possibly other “biometric” information about American citizens is a great leap forward for the surveillance state. All Americans who still care about limited government and individual liberty should strongly oppose E-Verify.