RWS News Director & Host
Brook Hines Political Commentator
Peter Graves Band Leader / Compose Arranger / Producer
Ruti Celli Performer / Composer / Arranger
1. Smile your on Candid Surveillance
Cops caught on surveillance video - eating MJ Brownies and harassing a handicapped store manager at a Dispensary
2. Moderately Interested in your Welfare
Patrick Murphy the “moderate” republican or independent voted against you knowing whether the meat you are eating came from Honduras or China or Fukushima -
3. Net Neutrality In Effect
The new federal rules for net neutrality were allowed to take effect on Friday after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a motion to stay the regulation.
"Petitioners have not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review," the three-judge panel said in its Thursday decision, which allowed the rules to kick in Friday at 12:01 a.m.
The court denied a request for a stay that would have put the regulation on hold until a broader court battle is settled, though it decided that it would expedite the underlying case.
The ruling is not on the final merits of the challenge, but it hands an early victory to net neutrality advocates.
The regulations reclassify Internet service providers as utility companies, giving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more power to regulate them. That includes stopping providers from selectively slowing the speed of online data.
“This is a huge victory for Internet consumers and innovators,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said. “Starting Friday, there will be a referee on the field to keep the Internet fast, fair and open.”
Rep. Anna Eshoo (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, called the ruling “critical validation that the new rules to protect an open Internet are grounded in strong legal footing and can endure future challenges by broadband providers.”
But Thursday evening, Republican lawmakers said the ruling was creating "uncertainty."
“Unfortunately, we are now in for a long, unnecessary wait while the courts determine if the commission was out of bounds," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), communications subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and subcommittee Vice Chairman Bob Latta (R-Ohio) said in a statement.
Industry groups expressed disappointment at the decision not to stay the rules but cheered the ruling that the case should receive faster consideration. “While we’re disappointed the court declined to grant our stay request, we recognize that the bar for obtaining a stay is exceptionally high,” said Walter B. McCormick Jr., the president of the trade group U.S. Telecom, which brought a suit against the law.
“However, the court’s decision to grant expedited briefing shows the gravity of the issues at stake, and will facilitate a quicker path to determining the proper legal treatment for regulating broadband Internet access service.”
The head of CTIA, the main trade group for the wireless industry and a critic of the order, said the group looked “forward to presenting our full case to the court.”
While many in the telecom industry hoped that the rules would be stayed, providers have been taking steps to avoid becoming the targets of complaints when the rules take effect.
Many have signed new interconnection agreements with the "backbone operators" that control the core pathways of the Internet. Many of those operators have said service providers are slowing traffic and have threatened to file complaints with the FCC.
4. SETBACK for Fast Track
Amazing news: Today, the House rejected the Fast Track package.
A key procedural vote failed in the House. This means that the package that would have put the Trans-Pacific Partnership on the fast track to approval did not pass today. This huge win is due to the tremendous public opposition to the TPP that Food & Water Watch supporters were instrumental in communicating to key members of Congress.
Let me be clear: this fight is not over. The threat of TPP — a trade pact that could undermine key consumer, public health and environmental protections — is not gone for good. But we can take a deep breath and know that our hard work paid off today.
5. USA FREEDOM ACT
Thanks for being there. So, you can hear me, I hope, Glenn Greenwald. But how much of the mass surveillance operations Edward Snowden exposed have actually been wound back or curtailed?
GLENN GREENWALD, JOURNALIST: Not very much. The first program that we reported on at The Guardian was the one that caused a huge controversy in the United States, which was the program whereby the US Government was collecting every record of every American’s communications, knowing with whom they communicated, for how long, where physically they were when they were having the communication. That program has been significantly limited as a result of this new law that says the Government shall no longer collect and store this information. But the other programs that we reported on, especially ones involving the central collection of all internet communications for non-Americans, which happened to compose 95 per cent of the planet, remains unaffected by this law.
6. Edward Snowden - noted
Two years on, the difference is profound. In a single month, the N.S.A.’s invasive call-tracking program was declared unlawful by the courts and disowned by Congress. After a White House-appointed oversight board investigation found that this program had not stopped a single terrorist attack, even the president who once defended its propriety and criticized its disclosure has now ordered it terminated.
This is the power of an informed public.
Ending the mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen, but it is only the latest product of a change in global awareness. Since 2013, institutions across Europe have ruled similar laws and operations illegal and imposed new restrictions on future activities. The United Nations declared mass surveillance an unambiguous violation of human rights. In Latin America, the efforts of citizens in Brazil led to the Marco Civil, an Internet Bill of Rights. Recognizing the critical role of informed citizens in correcting the excesses of government, the Council of Europe called for new laws to protect whistle-blowers.
7. SNOOPING MORE BETTER
Without public notice or debate, the Obama administration has expanded the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international Internet traffic to search for evidence of malicious computer hacking, according to classified NSA documents.
In mid-2012, Justice Department lawyers wrote two secret memos permitting the spy agency to begin hunting on Internet cables, without a warrant and on American soil, for data linked to computer intrusions originating abroad — including traffic that flows to suspicious Internet addresses or contains malware, the documents show.
The Justice Department allowed the agency to monitor only addresses and “cybersignatures” — patterns associated with computer intrusions — that it could tie to foreign governments. But the documents also note that the NSA sought to target hackers even when it could not establish any links to foreign powers.
The disclosures, based on documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former NSA contractor, and shared with the New York Times and ProPublica, come at a time of unprecedented cyberattacks on American financial institutions, businesses and government agencies, but also of greater scrutiny of secret legal justifications for broader government surveillance.
While the Senate passed legislation this week limiting some of the NSA’s authority, it involved provisions in the U.S.A. Patriot Act and did not apply to the warrantless wiretapping program.
Government officials defended the NSA’s monitoring of suspected hackers as necessary to shield Americans from the increasingly aggressive activities of foreign governments. But critics say it raises difficult trade-offs that should be subject to public debate.
The NSA’s activities run “smack into law enforcement land,” said Jonathan Mayer, a cybersecurity scholar at Stanford Law School who has researched privacy issues and who reviewed several of the documents. “That’s a major policy decision about how to structure cybersecurity in the U.S. and not a conversation that has been had in public.”
It is not clear what standards the agency is using to select targets. It can be hard to know for sure who is behind a particular intrusion — a foreign government or a criminal gang — and the NSA is supposed to focus on foreign intelligence, not law enforcement.
The government can also gather significant volumes of Americans’ information — anything from private emails to trade secrets and business dealings — through Internet surveillance because monitoring the data flowing to a hacker involves copying that information as the hacker steals it.
One internal NSA document notes that agency surveillance activities through “hacker signatures pull in a lot.” Brian Hale, the spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said, “It should come as no surprise that the U.S. government gathers intelligence on foreign powers that attempt to penetrate U.S. networks and steal the private information of U.S. citizens and companies.” He added that “targeting overseas individuals engaging in hostile cyberactivities on behalf of a foreign power is a lawful foreign intelligence purpose.”
The effort is the latest known expansion of the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program, which allows the government to intercept Americans’ cross-border communications if the target is a foreigner abroad. While the NSA has long searched for specific email addresses and phone numbers of foreign intelligence targets, the Obama administration three years ago started allowing the agency to search its communications streams for less-identifying Internet protocol addresses or strings of harmful computer code.
The surveillance activity traces to changes that began after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The government tore down a so-called wall that prevented intelligence and criminal investigators from sharing information about suspected spies and terrorists. The barrier had been erected to protect Americans’ rights because intelligence investigations use lower legal standards than criminal inquiries, but policy makers decided it was too much of an obstacle to terrorism investigations.
The NSA also started the warrantless wiretapping program, which caused an outcry when it was disclosed in 2005. In 2008, under the FISA Amendments Act, Congress legalized the surveillance program so long as the agency targeted only noncitizens abroad. A year later, the new Obama administration began crafting a new cybersecurity policy — including weighing whether the Internet had made the distinction between a spy and a criminal obsolete.
“Reliance on legal authorities that make theoretical distinctions between armed attacks, terrorism and criminal activity may prove impractical,” the White House National Security Council wrote in a classified annex to a policy report in May 2009, which was included in the NSA’s internal files.
About that time, the documents show, the NSA — whose mission includes protecting military and intelligence networks against intruders — proposed using the warrantless surveillance program for cybersecurity purposes. The agency received “guidance on targeting using the signatures” from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, according to an internal newsletter.
In May and July 2012, according to an internal timeline, the Justice Department granted its secret approval for the searches of cybersignatures and Internet addresses. The Justice Department tied that authority to a pre-existing approval by the secret surveillance court permitting the government to use the program to monitor foreign governments.
That limit meant the NSA had to have some evidence for believing that the hackers were working for a specific foreign power. That rule, the NSA soon complained, left a “huge collection gap against cyberthreats to the nation” because it is often hard to know exactly who is behind an intrusion, according to an agency newsletter. Different computer intruders can use the same piece of malware, take steps to hide their location or pretend to be someone else.
So the NSA, in 2012, began pressing to go back to the surveillance court and seek permission to use the program explicitly for cybersecurity purposes. That way, it could monitor international communications for any “malicious cyberactivity,” even if it did not yet know who was behind the attack.
The newsletter described the further expansion as one of “highest priorities” of the NSA director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander. However, a former senior intelligence official said that the government never asked the court to grant that authority.
Meanwhile, the FBI in 2011 had obtained a new kind of wiretap order from the secret surveillance court for cybersecurity investigations, permitting it to target Internet data flowing to or from specific Internet addresses linked to certain governments.
To carry out the orders, the FBI negotiated in 2012 to use the NSA’s system for monitoring Internet traffic crossing “chokepoints operated by U.S. providers through which international communications enter and leave the United States,” according to a 2012 NSA document. The NSA would send the intercepted traffic to the bureau’s “cyberdata repository” in Quantico, Virginia.
8. FBI may not be listening but they sure are WATCHING
WASHINGTON (AP) — Scores of low-flying planes circling American cities are part of a civilian air force operated by the FBI and obscured behind fictitious companies, The Associated Press has learned.
The AP traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights in 11 states over a 30-day period since late April, orbiting both major cities and rural areas. At least 115 planes, including 90 Cessna aircraft, were mentioned in a federal budget document from 2009.
For decades, the planes have provided support to FBI surveillance operations on the ground. But now the aircraft are equipped with high-tech cameras, and in rare circumstances, technology capable of tracking thousands of cellphones, raising questions about how these surveillance flights affect Americans' privacy.
"It's important that federal law enforcement personnel have the tools they need to find and catch criminals," said Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "But whenever an operation may also monitor the activities of Americans who are not the intended target, we must make darn sure that safeguards are in place to protect the civil liberties of innocent Americans."
The FBI says the planes are not equipped or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance. The surveillance equipment is used for ongoing investigations, the FBI says, generally without a judge's approval.
The FBI confirmed for the first time the wide-scale use of the aircraft, which the AP traced to at least 13 fake companies, such as FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services.
"The FBI's aviation program is not secret," spokesman Christopher Allen said in a statement. "Specific aircraft and their capabilities are protected for operational security purposes."
The front companies are used to protect the safety of the pilots, the agency said. That setup also shields the identity of the aircraft so that suspects on the ground don't know they're being followed.
The FBI is not the only federal law enforcement agency to take such measures.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has its own planes, also registered to fake companies, according to a 2011 Justice Department inspector general report. At the time, the DEA had 92 aircraft in its fleet. And since 2007, the U.S. Marshals Service has operated an aerial surveillance program with its own fleet equipped with technology that can capture data from thousands of cellphones, the Wall Street Journal reported last year.
In the FBI's case, one of its fake companies shares a post office box with the Justice Department, creating a link between the companies and the FBI through publicly available Federal Aviation Administration records.
Basic aspects of the FBI's program are withheld from the public in censored versions of official reports from the Justice Department's inspector general, and the FBI also has been careful not to reveal its surveillance flights in court documents. The agency will not say how many planes are currently in its fleet.
The planes are equipped with technology that can capture video of unrelated criminal activity on the ground that could be handed over to prosecutions. One of the planes, photographed in flight last week by the AP in northern Virginia, bristled with unusual antennas under its fuselage and a camera on its left side.
Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they're not making a call or in public. Officials said that practice, which mimics cell towers and gets phones to reveal basic subscriber information, is used in only limited situations.
"These are not your grandparents' surveillance aircraft," said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union. Stanley said the flights are significant "if the federal government is maintaining a fleet of aircraft whose purpose is to circle over American cities, especially with the technology we know can be attached to those aircraft."
Those rules, which are heavily redacted in publicly available documents, limit the types of equipment the agency can use, as well as the justifications and duration of the surveillance.
Evolving technology can record higher-quality video from long distances, even at night, and can capture certain identifying information from cellphones using a device known as a "cell-site simulator" — or Stingray, to use one of the product's brand names. These can trick pinpointed cellphones into revealing identification numbers of subscribers, including those not suspected of a crime.
The FBI has recently begun obtaining court orders to use this technology. Previously, the Obama administration had been directing local authorities through secret agreements not to reveal their own use of the devices, even encouraging prosecutors to drop cases rather than disclose the technology's use in open court.
Officials say cellphone surveillance from FBI aircraft was rarely used.
Details confirmed by the FBI about its air force track closely with published reports since at least 2003 that a government surveillance program might be behind suspicious-looking planes slowly circling neighborhoods.
One such plane was spotted during the recent disturbance in Baltimore that followed the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who sustained grievous injuries while in police custody. In that instance, the FBI was helping local police with aerial support, which it occasionally does when asked. Those types of requests are reviewed by senior FBI officials.
During the past few weeks, the AP tracked planes from the FBI's fleet on more than 100 flights over at least 11 states plus the District of Columbia, most with Cessna 182T Skylane aircraft. These included parts of Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Seattle and Southern California.
Some flights orbited large, enclosed buildings for extended periods where aerial photography would be less effective than electronic signals collection. Those included above Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
David Gomez, a former FBI agent who oversaw parts of the aviation surveillance program over the course of his career, said the FBI surveillance aircraft are used to assist surveillance on the ground. For example, if a plane is following a suspect in a vehicle, an FBI ground surveillance team can lag behind so as not to blow their cover, Gomez said.
After The Washington Post revealed flights by two planes circling over Baltimore in early May, the AP began analyzing detailed flight data and aircraft-ownership registrations that shared similar addresses and flight patterns. That review found that some FBI missions circled above at least 40,000 residents during a single flight over Anaheim, California, in late May, according to Census data and records provided by the website FlightRadar24.com.
Most flight patterns occurred in counter-clockwise orbits up to several miles wide and roughly one mile above the ground at slow speeds. A 2003 newsletter from the company FLIR Systems Inc., which makes camera technology such as seen on the planes, described flying slowly in left-handed patterns.
Gomez said the aircraft circle to the left because the pilot sits on the left side. He said different flight formations are used depending on circumstances on the ground, such as whether a suspect is on the move.
The FBI asked the AP not to disclose the names of the fake companies it uncovered, saying that would saddle taxpayers with the expense of creating new cover companies to shield the government's involvement, and could endanger the planes and integrity of the surveillance missions. The AP declined the FBI's request because the companies' names — as well as common addresses linked to the Justice Department — are listed on public documents and in government databases.
Recently, independent journalists and websites have cited companies traced to post office boxes in Virginia, including one shared with the Justice Department.
Included on most aircraft registrations is a mysterious name, Robert Lindley. He is listed as chief executive and has at least three distinct signatures among the companies. Two documents include a signature for Robert Taylor, which is strikingly similar to one of Lindley's three handwriting patterns.
The FBI would not say whether Lindley is a U.S. government employee. The AP unsuccessfully tried to reach Lindley at phone numbers registered to people of the same name in the Washington area.
Law enforcement officials said Justice Department lawyers approved the decision to create fictitious companies and that the Federal Aviation Administration was aware of the practice. The FBI has been doing this since at least the late 1980s, according to a 1990 report by the then-General Accounting Office.