Archive for USA
For starters, this is not your average crude; but there is a whole lot more you should know.
Getarnt als unbedeutenden Unterabsatz der Haushaltsnotgesetze, welche im Eilverfahren zur Verhinderung der “Fiskalklippe” (vulgo: Staatspleite) in den USA kürzlich verabschiedet wurden, hat sich die Gentechlobby ein Ermächtigungsgesetz erster Güte beschliessen lassen:
President Obama has signed into law the notorious Monsanto Protection Act legislation hidden inside of the Continuing Resolution spending bill, which protects Monsanto and its genetically modified creations from federal courts.
link to which members of Congress got campaign cash from Monsanto
Opponents of genetically modified organisms in food, or GMOs, rail against provision that would limit the courts’ ability to stop food producer Monsanto from growing crops later deemed potentially hazardous – NY Daily News
The Farmer Assurance Provision, a rider slipped into spending bill HR 933, is being blasted as the ‘Monsanto Protection Act.’ Although it would remain in effect for only six months, activists fear the precedent it sets.
via Opponents of genetically modified organisms in food, or GMOs, rail against provision that would limit the courts’ ability to stop food producer Monsanto from growing crops later deemed potentially hazardous – NY Daily News.
Fracking-Opfer in den USA: „Das Leitungswasser taugt nur noch zum Klospülen“ – Rohstoff-Streit in den USA – FOCUS Online – Nachrichten
In den USA wächst der Widerstand gegen die Schiefergasförderung, das sogenannte Fracking.
Die Förderung von Schiefergas bringe in den USA nichts und diese „Seifenblase“ würde demnächst auch platzen, erklärte in einem TV-Interview der Chef des russischen Gas-Konzerns Gazprom Alexej Miller.
Big Wonderland: Natürlich ist es ein absolut heißes Eisen. Es geht um das Thema „Fracking“ und dessen Auswirkungen auf Mensch und Natur
#CISPA is back: 7 Tricks der Netzaktivisten, die das Spionagegesetz verhindern sollen | Digital Sirocco
Das schmeckt Netzaktivisten, die sich ganz allgemein für die Freiheit im Internet und die Privatsphäre des Einzelnen einsetzen, natürlich gar nicht. Sie befürchten, dass CISPA der berüchtigten National Security Agency (NSA) freie Bahn geben würde, quasi die Computer der Menschen ungehindert und direkt anzapfen zu dürfen.
Lehrer und Schulbedienstete im US-Bundesstaat South Dakota dürfen künftig im Klassenzimmer Waffen tragen. Ein entsprechendes Gesetz wurde am Freitag (Ortszeit) in dem Bundesstaat im Norden der USA verabschiedet.
Bundeswirtschaftsminister Philipp Rösler (FDP) will in der Europäischen Union gegen den Widerstand Frankreichs und südlicher EU-Länder ein möglichst weitreichendes Freihandelsabkommen mit den USA erreichen.
Schweiz Magazin – Das Schweizer Nachrichten online Magazin – Diktatur USA: Obama lässt Oppositionelle verhaften
Die US-Polizei hat die Präsidentschaftskandidatin der US- Grünen, Jill Stein und die Vize-Präsidentschaftskandidatin Cheri Honkala, verhaftet. Sie wollten am Abend in der Hofstra Universität an der Präsidentschafts-Debatte mit Mitt Romney und Barack Obama teilnehmen.
Anlass ist das neuerliche Ermächtigungsgesetz im Rahmen des NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) en.wikipedia, welches der Armee weltweit, aber auch in den USA das Recht verbrieft Menschen auf Verdacht einzusperren, diese beliebig lange festzuhalten und alles unter Ausschluss der an sich verfassungsmäßig garantieren Rechte. Offenbar hebelt dieses Gesetz in bösartigster Form nicht nur die amerikanische Verfassung aus, sondern auch die Menschenrechte.
Die USA treiben die Gewinnung von Erdgas aus Schieferplatten mit unbändiger Euphorie voran. Und in Deutschland? Wird diese Chance aufgrund diffuser Umweltbedenken vertändelt. Das ist gut für die Weltwirtschaft, aber schlecht für Europa.
Kein Wunder, dass die Energie-Großverbraucher in der deutschen Industrie neidisch sind – und mit Sorge auf die amerikanischen Konkurrenz schauen. Die börsennotierten US-Konzerne haben einen Bilderbuch-Start in die Bilanzsaison hingelegt. Ein Hauptgrund für das Plus bei den Gewinnen ist billiges Erdgas, das mit sogenannten unkonventionellen Methoden aus dem Boden geholt wird.
mh let me remember what the hell happened to that JFK guy again … wasn’t it some crazy crackpot shooting him in his head ? … what lucky coincidence for the fed…
via (1) Facebook.
Opfer von Zwangsversteigerungen können in den USA mit einem Geldsegen von Banken rechnen. Zehn Institute, die die Zwangsversteigerungen als Hypothekendienstleister veranlassten, haben sich nach Angaben der Regulierungsbehörde OCC zur Zahlung von 8,5 Milliarden Dollar (rund 6,4 Mrd. Euro) an die Geschädigten verpflichtet.
Idee. Experten und Medien diskutieren aufgeregt über einen möglichen Ausweg aus dem Fiskalstreit – richtig ernst nimmt den Vorschlag des Nobelpreisträgers aber kaum jemand.
Top NSA General Says This New $2 Billion Spy Center Will Definitely Not Snoop On Americans – Business Insider
Maybe you’ve heard of it and maybe you haven’t, but in Bluffdale, Utah alongside one of the largest polygamist sects in America, the NSA is building a one-million-square-foot data collection center — five times the size of the U.S. capital.
An electronic surveillance program was implemented by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks. It was part of the President’s Surveillance Program, which was in turn conducted under the overall umbrella of the War on Terrorism. The NSA, a signals intelligence agency, implemented the program to intercept al Qaeda communications overseas where at least one party is not a U.S. person. In 2005 The New York Times disclosed that technical glitches resulted in some of the intercepts including communications were “purely domestic” in nature, igniting the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.  Later works, such as James Bamford‘s The Shadow Factory, describe how the nature of the domestic surveillance was much, much more widespread than initially disclosed. In a 2011 New Yorker article, former NSA employee Bill Binney said that his colleagues told him that the NSA had begun storing billing and phone records from “everyone in the country.”
The program was named the Terrorist Surveillance Program by the George W. Bush administration in response to the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy following disclosure of the program. It is claimed that this program operated without the judicial oversight mandated by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and legal challenges to the program are currently undergoing judicial review. Because the technical specifics of the program have not been disclosed, it is unclear if the program is subject to FISA. It is unknown if this is the original name of the program; the term was first used publicly by President Bush in a speech on January 23, 2006.
On August 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled the program unconstitutional and illegal. On appeal, the decision was overturned on procedural grounds and the lawsuit was dismissed without addressing the merits of the claims, although one further challenge is still pending in the courts. On January 17, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales informed U.S. Senate leaders by letter  that the program would not be reauthorized by the president, but would be subjected to judicial oversight. “Any electronic surveillance that was occurring as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” according to his letter.
While no specific information has been offered, the Bush Administration has indicated that the wiretapping program targets communications where at least one party is outside the United States, and where it asserts that there are reasonable grounds to believe that one or more parties involved in the communication have ties to al Qaeda. However, anonymous sources have come forward stating a small number of instances where purely domestic calls were intercepted. These sources said the NSA accidentally intercepted these calls, apparently caused by technical glitches in determining whether a communication was in fact “international,” probably due to the use of international cell phones.
The complete details of the program are not known, as the Bush Administration contended that security concerns did not allow it to release details, and limit judicial authorization and review. Implemented sometime after the September 11, 2001, attacks, the existence of the program was not made public until a 2005 New York Times article. Additional details came to light in a May 2006 USA Today article.
President Bush stated that he had reviewed and reauthorized the program approximately every 45 days since it was implemented. The leadership of the intelligence committees of the House or Representatives and Senate were briefed a number of times since initiation of the program. They were not, however, allowed to make notes or confer with others to determine the legal ramifications, or even to mention the existence of the program to the full membership of the intelligence committees. Further, the administration even refused to identify to the public which members of the committees were briefed; it has, however, provided a complete list of these members to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Pen Register Tap
Prominent legal scholar and blogger Orin Kerr has argued that the program is probably not a wiretap or call database, but more likely to be a pen register (or tap and trace) tap. Unlike wiretaps, where the actual content of the call is monitored, or listened to, a pen register is a limited form of wiretap where only basic call data such as originating and receiving telephone numbers, time of call and duration are logged. Because of the limited nature of the data, frequently characterized as “outside the envelope,” pen register taps have much lower legal standards than conventional wiretaps, and are not subject to Fourth Amendment protection.
The only physical evidence of the NSA program are documents accidentally leaked to lawyers for an al-Qaeda front group the Al-Haramain Foundation. These documents contain only logs of phone calls being placed, but not actual transcripts, suggesting the wiretapping program is merely a pen-register tap.
On May 10, 2006, USA Today reported that the NSA has had a separate, previously undisclosed program in place since 9/11 to build a database of information about calls placed within the United States, including phone numbers, and the date and duration of the calls. According to the article, phone companies AT&T, Verizon, and Bell South disclosed the records to the NSA, while Qwest did not. The article quotes an unnamed source that “it’s the largest database ever assembled in the world.” Most reports indicate that this program is different from the Terrorist Surveillance Program. The administration has not confirmed the existence of this aspect of the program.
December 16, 2005
On December 16, 2005, The New York Times printed a story asserting that following 9/11, “President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying” as part of the War on Terror.
Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible “dirty numbers” linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.
According to the Times:
The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan refused to comment on the story on December 16, exclaiming “there’s a reason why we don’t get into discussing ongoing intelligence activities, because it could compromise our efforts to prevent attacks from happening.”  The next morning, the president gave a live eight-minute television address instead of his normal weekly radio address, during which he addressed the wiretap story directly:
I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks.
In the address, President Bush implied he had approved the tracing of domestic calls originating or terminating overseas, stating the program would “make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time.” He forcefully defended his actions as “crucial to our national security” and claimed that the American people expected him to “do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties” as long as there was a “continuing threat” from al Qaeda. The president also had harsh words for those who broke the story, saying that they acted illegally. “The unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk,” he said.
The FBI began an investigation into the leaks surrounding this program in 2005, with 25 agents and 5 prosecutors on the case. 
January 1, 2006
On January 1, 2006, The New York Times printed a story revealing that aspects of the program were suspended for weeks in 2004. The Times story said the U.S. Attorney General’s office, then headed by John Ashcroft, balked in 2004 when asked to give approval of the program, and that then Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey “played a part in overseeing the reforms that were put in place in 2004.” According to the Times, however, the oversight by the NSA shift supervisor continued to be unfettered by any pre-approval requirement. The story also pointed out that even some NSA employees thought that the warrantless surveillance program was illegal.
The Times had withheld the article from publication for over a year. Both editor in chief Bill Keller and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. were summoned by the president and White House officials to persuade the paper not to publish the story. The Times ran the story shortly before it would have been scooped by publication of its own reporter’s book. The Times ombudsman speculates that the reason the backstory isn’t being revealed is to protect sources. Russ Tice claims he was a source for the story.
January 3, 2006
On January 3, the independent news program Democracy Now!, and later on January 10 ABC news ran a story that according to NSA whistleblower Russell Tice, the number of Americans affected by the range of NSA surveillance programs could be in the millions if the full extent of secret NSA programs is considered:
Tice says the technology exists to track and sort through every domestic and international phone call as they are switched through centers, such as one in New York, and to search for key words or phrases that a terrorist might use. “If you picked the word ‘jihad’ out of a conversation,” Tice said, “the technology exists that you focus in on that conversation, and you pull it out of the system for processing.” According to Tice, intelligence analysts use the information to develop graphs that resemble spiderwebs linking one suspect’s phone number to hundreds or even thousands more. “That would mean for most Americans that if they conducted, or you know, placed an overseas communication, more than likely they were sucked into that vacuum,” Tice said.
January 17, 2006
On January 17 the New York Times reported, “more than a dozen current and former law-enforcement and counterterrorism officials,” some of whom knew of the domestic spying program, “said the torrent of tips [from NSA wiretapping] led them to few potential terrorists inside the country they did not know of from other sources and diverted agents from counterterrorism work they viewed as more productive.”
February 5, 2006
On February 5, The Washington Post noted that “fewer than 10 U.S. citizens or residents a year, according to an authoritative account, have aroused enough suspicion during warrantless eavesdropping to justify interception of their (purely) domestic calls, as well. That step still requires a warrant from a federal judge, for which the government must supply evidence of probable cause.” Also in the article: “The minimum legal definition of probable cause, said a government official who has studied the program closely, is that evidence used to support eavesdropping ought to turn out to be ‘right for one out of every two guys at least.’ Those who devised the surveillance plan, the official said, ‘knew they could never meet that standard—that’s why they didn’t go through'” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Also on February 5, USA Today ran a story reporting that according to seven telecommunications executives, the NSA had secured the cooperation of the main telecommunications companies in charge of international phone calls, including AT&T, MCI, and Sprint, in its efforts to eavesdrop without warrants on international calls.
May 22, 2006
Legality of the program
The NSA’s electronic surveillance operations are governed primarily by four legal sources: the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA); Executive Order 12333; and United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18. The primary legal challenge to the program currently in US courts is the suit brought by the Al-Haramain Foundation. All other challenges to the program have been dismissed by U.S. courts.
Critics of the Bush administration have regularly compared the current NSA surveillance program to those of Richard Nixon during the Vietnam War (i.e., Operation Shamrock, Operation Minaret, Church committee). However, these programs occurred prior to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was passed into law in response to widespread concern over these abuses of domestic surveillance activities. According to opponents of this program that is exactly what the current program is doing and why FISA was enacted.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit against the program in 2006 on behalf of journalists, scholars, and lawyers. In the initial trial, U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor on August 17, 2006, ruled the program was unconstitutional and imposed an injunction against it. The Justice Department filed an appeal within hours of the ruling and requested a stay of the injunction pending appeal. While opposing the stay, the ACLU agreed to delay implementation of the injunction until September 7 to allow time for the judge to hear the appeal. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dismissed the case without addressing the merits of the claims, holding 2–1 that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the suit.
When classified details were leaked to the press at some point in 2005, critics began to question the legality of the program. The crux of the debate over legality is twofold, the main issues being
- Are the parameters of this program subject to FISA and
- If so, did the president have authority, inherent or otherwise, to bypass FISA.
FISA explicitly covers “electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence information” performed within the United States, and there is no court decision supporting the theory that the president’s constitutional authority allows him to override statutory law. This was emphasized by fourteen constitutional law scholars, including the dean of Yale Law School and the former deans of Stanford Law School and the University of Chicago Law School:
- “The argument that conduct undertaken by the commander in chief that has some relevance to ‘engaging the enemy’ is immune from congressional regulation finds no support in, and is directly contradicted by, both case law and historical precedent. Every time the Supreme Court has confronted a statute limiting the commander in chief’s authority, it has upheld the statute. No precedent holds that the president, when acting as commander in chief, is free to disregard an Act of Congress, much less a criminal statute enacted by Congress, that was designed specifically to restrain the president as such.” (Emphasis in original.)
The American Bar Association, the Congressional Research Service, former congressional representative of New York Elizabeth Holtzman, former White House Counsel John Dean, and lawyer/author Jennifer van Bergen have also criticized the administration’s justification for conducting electronic surveillance within the U.S. without first obtaining warrants as contrary to current U.S. law.       President Bush’s former Assistant Deputy Attorney General for national security issues, David Kris, and five former FISC judges, one of whom resigned in protest, have also voiced their doubts as to the legality of a program bypassing FISA  Stanford’s Chip Pitts has usefully distinguished between the core NSA eavesdropping program, the data mining program, and the use of National Security Letters to clarify that each continues to present serious legal problems despite the government’s supposedly bringing them within the relevant laws.
- Hepting v. AT&T
- NSA warrantless surveillance controversy
- Mass surveillance
- Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act
- Stellar Wind (code name)
- Trailblazer Project
- Utah Data Center
- William Binney
- Thomas Andrews Drake
- Ed Loomis
- Diane Roark, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staffer
- Russ Tice
- Thomas Tamm
- J. Kirk Wiebe
- James Risen and Eric Lichtblau (2005-12-21). “Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls”. New York Times. Retrieved 2006-05-28.
- The Secret Sharer, Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, May 23 2011, retrieved 2011 May 16
- Fox still echoing administration’s “terrorist surveillance program” label; regional newspapers follow suit Media Matters for America, February 08, 2006
- Media Matters – AP picks up White House’s “terrorist surveillance program” terminology
- “Court dismisses lawsuit on spying”. Reuters. July 6, 2007.
- http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070117/ts_nm/surveillance_bush_dc_3 bad link as of Aug 19, 2007
- Cauley, Leslie (May 10, 2006). “NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls”. USA Today. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
- http://www.usdoj.gov/ag/speeches/2006/ag_speech_060206.html Statement of Hon. Alberto R. Gonzales, attorney general, February 6, 2006
- David Corn
- The Volokh Conspiracy
- “Top Secret: We’re Wiretapping You”. Wired. March 5, 2007.
- Froomkin, Dan (May 19, 2006). “A Change of Subject”. Washington Post. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
- James Risen, Eric Lichtblau (December 16, 2005). “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts”. The New York Times.
- “Press Briefing by Scott McClellan” (Press release). White House. December 16, 2005. “C-SPAN”. White House/Executive. Retrieved January 31, 2006.
- “President’s Radio Address” (Press release). The White House. December 17, 2005.
- Associated Press (December 18, 2005). “US eavesdropping program ‘saves lives’: Bush”. Sydney Morning Herald.
- Scott Shane (11 June 2010). “Obama Takes a Hard Line Against Leaks to Press”. The New York Times.
- James Risen, Eric Lichtblau (January 1, 2006). “Justice Deputy Resisted Parts of Spy Program”. New York Times.
- Calame, Byron (January 1, 2006). “Behind the Eavesdropping Story, a Loud Silence”. The New York Times.
- “Slate”. Why NSA whistle-blower Russ Tice may be right. Retrieved January 17, 2006.
- “NSA Whistleblower Alleges Illegal Spying”. ABCNews. January 10, 2006.
- LOWELL BERGMAN, ERIC LICHTBLAU, SCOTT SHANE and DON VAN NATTA Jr. (January 17, 2006). “Spy Agency Data After Sept. 11 Led F.B.I. to Dead Ends”. The New York Times.
- Barton Gellman, Dafna Linzer and Carol D. Leonnig (February 5, 2006). “Surveillance Net Yields Few Suspects – NSA’s Hunt for Terrorists Scrutinizes Thousands of Americans, but Most Are Later Cleared”. The Washington Post. pp. A01.
- Cauley, Leslie; Diamond, John (February 2, 2006). “Telecoms let NSA spy on calls”. USA Today. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
- “NSA Spying: Hold the Phone”. Newsweek. May 22, 2006.
- “Why We Published the AT&T Docs”. Wired News. May 22, 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-27.
- David Alan Jordan. Decrypting the Fourth Amendment: Warrantless NSA Surveillance and the Enhanced Expectation of Privacy Provided by Encrypted Voice over Internet Protocol. Boston College Law Review. May, 2006. Last access date January 23, 2007
- Leonnig, Carol D. (March 2, 2006). “Saudi Group Alleges Wiretapping by U.S.: Defunct Charity’s Suit Details Eavesdropping”. Washington Post. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
- George W. Bush as the New Richard M. Nixon: Both Wiretapped Illegally, and Impeachable; Both Claimed That a President May Violate Congress’ Laws to Protect National Security By JOHN W. DEAN, FindLaw, December 30, 2005
- Sarah Karush. Judge Finds NSA Program Unconstitutional. Associated Press. August 18, 2006. Last access date August 18, 2006
- Sarah Karush. Feds Appeal Ruling on Surveillance. Associated Press. August 18, 2006. Last access date August 18, 2006.
- Letter to Congress regarding FISA and NSA, fourteen constitutional law scholars, February 2, 2006; p. 5
- The Impeachment of George W. Bush by Elizabeth Holtzman, The Nation, January 11, 2006
- Time for a Special Prosecutor Bush’s NSA Spying Program Violates the Law By JENNIFER VAN BERGEN, CounterPunch, March 4 / 5, 2006
- AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION ADOPTED BY THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES, February 13, 2006
- Lawyers Group Criticizes Surveillance Program Washington Post, February 14, 2006
- Judges on Secretive Panel Speak Out on Spy Program By ERIC LICHTBLAU, The New York Times, March 29, 2006
- Chip Pitts (March 15, 2007). “The End of Illegal Domestic Spying? Don’t Count on It”. Wash. Spec...
- The Program, by Laura Poitras, New York Times, August 22, 2012.
- Giving In to the Surveillance State, by Shane Harris, New York Times, August 22, 2012.
- WhiteHouse.gov: “Setting the Record Straight”
- thewall.civiblog.org: “Yale Law Professor Harold Hongju Koh Statement 28 February 2006 to Senate Judiciary Committee re Wartime Executive Power and legal limits of NSA Surveillance Authority”
- thewall.civiblog.org: “Harvard Law Professor Laurence H. Tribe’s 6 January 2006 Letter to Rep. Conyers re: legal limits of NSA Domestic Surveillance – House Judiciary Democratic Congressional Briefing – 20 January 2006”
- thewall.civiblog.org: “Congressional Research Service – Presidential Authority to Conduct Warrantless Electronic Surveillance to Gather Foreign Intelligence Information by Elizabeth B. Bazan and Jennifer K. Elsea, January 5, 2006” (HTML)
- thewall.civiblog.org: “Congressional Research Service – Statutory Procedures Under Which Congress Is To Be Informed of U.S. Intelligence Activities, Including Covert Actions by Alfred Cumming, January 18, 2006” (HTML)
- thewall.civiblog.org: “EFF Class Action Complaint (Initial Filing) against AT&T” (HTML)
- thewall.civiblog.org: “ACLU Complaint (Initial Filing) against the NSA Central Security Service and Lieutenant General Keith B. Alexander”
- thewall.civiblog.org: “Big Brother Is Watching You Part 2 – collection of mirrored USA Today Print coverage, May 11, 2006”
- thewall.civiblog.org: “NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls – from collection of mirrored USA Today Print coverage, May 11, 2006”
- thewall.civiblog.org: “Questions and answers about the NSA phone record collection program – from collection of mirrored USA Today Print coverage, May 11, 2006”
- thewall.civiblog.org: “Fractured phone system consolidating once again – from collection of mirrored USA Today Print coverage, May 11, 2006”
- thewall.civiblog.org: “TIA Lives On – Shane Harris, National Journal – February 23, 2006 (mirrored with permission)”
Trailblazer was a United States National Security Agency (NSA) program intended to develop a capability to analyze data carried on communications networks like the Internet. It was intended to track entities using communication methods such as cell phones and e-mail. It ran over budget, failed to accomplish critical goals, and was cancelled.
NSA whistleblowers J. Kirk Wiebe, William Binney, Ed Loomis, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staffer Diane Roark complained to the Department of Defense’s Inspector General (IG) about waste, fraud, and abuse in the program, and the fact that a successful operating prototype existed, but was ignored when the Trailblazer program was launched. The complaint was accepted by the IG and an investigation began that lasted until mid-2005 when the final results were issued. The results were largely hidden, as the report given to the public was heavily (90%) redacted, while the original report was heavily classified, thus restricting the ability of most people to see it.
The people who filed the IG complaint were later raided by armed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents. While the Government threatened to prosecute all who signed the IG report, it ultimately chose to pursue an NSA Senior Executive — Thomas A. Drake — who helped with the report internally to NSA and who had spoken with a reporter about the project. Drake was later charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. His defenders claimed this was retaliation. The charges against him were later dropped, and he agreed to plead guilty to having committed a misdemeanor under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, something that Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project (which helped represent him) called an “act of civil disobedience“.
Trailblazer was chosen over a similar program named ThinThread, a less costly project which had been designed with built-in privacy protections for United States citizens. Trailblazer was later linked to the NSA electronic surveillance program and the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.
In 2002 a consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was chosen by the NSA to produce a technology demonstration platform in a contract worth $280 million. Project participants included Boeing, Computer Sciences Corporation, and Booz Allen Hamilton. The project was overseen by NSA Deputy Director William B. Black, Jr., an NSA worker who had gone to SAIC, and then been re-hired back to NSA by NSA director Michael Hayden in 2000. SAIC had also hired a former NSA director to its management; Bobby Inman. SAIC also participated in the concept definition phase of Trailblazer.
The NSA Inspector General issued a report on Trailblazer that “discussed improperly based contract cost increases, non-conformance in the management of the Statement of Work, and excessive labor rates for contractor personnel.” 
In 2004 the DoD IG report criticized the program (see the Whistleblowing section below). It said that the “NSA ‘disregarded solutions to urgent national security needs'” and “that TRAILBLAZER was poorly executed and overly expensive …” Several contractors for the project were worried about cooperating with DoD’s audit for fear of “management reprisal.” The Director of NSA “nonconcurred” with several statements in the IG audit, and the report contains a discussion of those disagreements.
In 2005, NSA director Michael Hayden told a Senate hearing that the Trailblazer program was several hundred million dollars over budget and years behind schedule. In 2006 the program was shut down. Several anonymous NSA sources told Hosenball of Newsweek later on that the project was a “wasteful failure”.
According to a 2011 New Yorker article, in the early days of the project several NSA employees met with Diane S Roark, an NSA budget expert on the House Intelligence Committee. They aired their grievances about Trailblazer. In response, NSA director Michael Hayden sent out a memo saying that “individuals, in a session with our congressional overseers, took a position in direct opposition to one that we had corporately decided to follow … Actions contrary to our decisions will have a serious adverse effect on our efforts to transform N.S.A., and I cannot tolerate them.”
In September 2002, several people filed a complaint with the Department of Defense IG’s office regarding problems with Trailblazer: they included Roark (aforementioned), ex-NSA senior analysts Bill Binney, Kirk Wiebe, and Senior Computer Systems Analyst Ed Loomis, who had quit the agency over concerns about its mismanagement of acquisition and allegedly illegal domestic spying. A major source for the report was NSA senior officer Thomas Andrews Drake. Drake had been complaining to his superiors for some time about problems at the agency, and about the superiority of ThinThread over Trailblazer, for example, at protecting privacy. Drake gave info to DoD during its investigation of the matter. Roark also went to her boss at the House committee, Porter Goss, about problems, but was rebuffed. She also attempted to contact William Renquist, the Supreme Court Chief Justice at the time.
Drake’s own boss, Maureen Baginski, the third-highest officer at NSA, quit partly over concerns about the legality of its behavior.
In 2005, the DoD IG produced a report on the result of its investigation of the complaint of Roark and the others in 2002. This report was not released to the public, but it has been described as very negative. Mayer writes that it hastened the closure of Trailblazer, which was at the time in trouble from congress for being over budget.
In November 2005, Drake contacted Siobhan Gorman, a reporter of the Baltimore Sun. Gorman wrote several articles about problems at the NSA, including articles on Trailblazer. This series got her an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
In 2005, President George W. Bush ordered the FBI to find whoever had disclosed information about the NSA electronic surveillance program and its disclosure in the New York Times. Eventually, this investigation led to the people who had filed the 2002 DoD IG request, even though they had nothing to do with the New York Times disclosure. In 2007, the houses of Roark, Binney, and Wiebe were raided by armed FBI agents. According to Mayer, Binney claims the FBI pointed guns at his head and that of his wife. Wiebe said it reminded him of the Soviet Union. None of these people were ever charged with any crime. Four months later, Drake was raided in November 2007 and his computers and documents were confiscated.
In 2010 Drake was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges of obstructing justice, providing false information, and violating the Espionage Act of 1917, part of President Barack Obama‘s crackdown on whistleblowers and “leakers”. The government tried to get Roark to testify to a conspiracy, and made similar requests to Drake, offering him a plea bargain. They both refused.
In June 2011, the ten original charges against Drake were dropped, instead he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
- NSA warrantless surveillance controversy
- NSA electronic surveillance program
- Information Awareness Office
- Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act
- Telecommunications data retention
- Mass surveillance
- The First Circle, Alexander Solzhenytsin
Gorman’s Baltimore Sun series
- Little-known contractor has close ties with staff of NSA January 29, 2006
- System Error, January 29, 2006
- GAO head stymied in quest to audit anti-terror efforts, February 04, 2006
- Computer ills hinder NSA, February 26, 2006
- Freshly briefed lawmakers to question Hayden today, May 18, 2006, with Gwyneth K. Shaw
- Second-ranking NSA official forced out of job by director May 31, 2006
- “NSA killed system that sifted phone data legally”. baltimoresun.com. 2006-05-17. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
- “NSA datamining pushes tech envelope”. PhysOrg.com. May 25, 2006.
- Mayer, Jane (May 23, 2011). “The Secret Sharer”. The New Yorker. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
- James Bamford, The Shadow Factory, Doubleday, 2008, chapter “Trailblazer”.
- Too Classified to Try Myth in Failed Drake Prosecution, Jesselyn Radack, DailyKos, 6/11/11
- “Search Top Secret America’s Database of Private Spooks” (html). Wired. 2010-07-19. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- Gorman, Siobhan (2006-05-31). “Second-ranking NSA official forced out of job by director”. Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- “Little-known contractor has close ties with staff of NSA”. The Baltimore Sun. 2006-01-29. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- Bamford, Shadow Factory, Doubleday, 2008, p201
- Patience Wait (October 21, 2002). “SAIC team gets demonstration phase of Trailblazer”. Washington Technology.
- “SAIC Team Wins National Security Agency TRAILBLAZER Contract”. SAIC. October 21, 2002.
- POGO Obtains Pentagon Inspector General Report Associated With NSA Whistleblower Tom Drake, By Nick Schwellenbach, Project on Government Oversight, 2011 6 22, http://pogo.typepad.com
- Please see the DoD audit of the Trailblazer program, available here: File:Redacted-dod-oig-audit-requirements-for-the.pdf on Page 38 of the report.
- See the IG report, linked in the article.
- Martin Sieff (August 18, 2005). “NSA’s New Boss Puts Faith In Hi Tech Fixes”. Space War.
- Mark Hosenball (April 16, 2010). “Exclusive: House Republican Staffer Introduced Alleged NSA Leaker to Reporter”. Declassified. Newsweek.com. Retrieved Apr 17, 2010.
- Indictment Continues Obama Administration’s War on Leaks ,Shane Harris, washingtonian, 01/25/2011, retrieved 3/9/11
- Ellen Nakashima, with Greg Miller & Julie Tate (2010-07-14). “Former NSA executive Thomas A. Drake may pay high price for media leak”. Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
- Greg Miller, Spencer S. Hsu and Ellen Nakashima, with Carol D. Leonnig, Howard Kurtz and staff researcher Julie Tate (April 16, 2010). “Former NSA official allegedly leaked material to media”. Washington Post. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
- Martin Sieff (August 18, 2005). “NSA’s New Boss Puts Faith In Hi Tech Fixes”. Space War.
- “Eight questions for Daniel Ellsberg”. The Economist. 2010-07-31. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
- Scott Shane,Obama Steps Up the Prosecution of Media Leaks, New York Times, June 12, 2010, A1.
- Scott Shane (11 June 2010). “Obama Takes a Hard Line Against Leaks to Press”. The New York Times.
- Wired News (14 July 2010). “NSA Executive Leaked After Official Reporting Process Failed Him”. Wired News. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
- Why WikiLeaks? Exhibit A: Thomas Drake – Government Accountability Project Jesselyn Radack, retrieved from http://www.whistleblower.org on 2011 03 10
- “Former NSA Senior Executive Charged with Illegally Retaining Classified Information, Obstructing Justice and Making False Statements”. Justice News (United States Department of Justice). April 15, 2010. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
- Checkpoint Washington – Setback in case against accused NSA leaker, Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, 2010 Nov, retrieved from voices.washingtonpost.com on 2011 03 10
Der Überwachungsstaat ist keine Fiktion, sagen drei, die für US-Regierung und NSA arbeiteten. Beim Kongress des CCC erzählen sie, warum sie Whistleblower wurden.
Nicht so leicht zu verstehen, die USA zu Beginn der zweiten Amtsperiode des Pragmatikers Barack Obama. Die Nation kriegt vieles nicht auf die Reihe. Die Republikaner blockieren den Haushalt, die wirtschaftliche Ungleichheit wächst. Schusswaffengewalt wird trotz Obamas mitfühlender Reden weitgehend als unlösbares Problem eingestuft. Das Auftreten der US-Delegation beim Weltklimagipfel in Doha war ein Trauerspiel. Und New York und New Jersey können sich trotz Dauerverkehrsstau Richtung Manhattan nicht auf den Bau eines zusätzlichen Tunnels unter dem Hudson einigen.
This is what the financial lobbying looks like in the US… hopefully we’ll have some clearer data about Brussels lobbying soon.
In a bizarre twist in the war between Japan’s whaling industry and the activist group Sea Shepherd, a court in the U.S. has granted an injunction to the Japanese fleet, restraining the environmental extremists from any attacks during this seasons hunt in the Southern Ocean. Paul Watson, the renown leader of Sea Shepherd, said the result was “astonishing,” after the decision was handed down from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
Die Behörden wollen den US-Kongress davon überzeugen, dass Mobilfunkbetreiber alle Textnachrichten mindestens zwei Jahre lang speichern müssen, damit sie als Beweismaterial bei Ermittlungen dienen können.
Beim Horse-Soring werden Pferden durch Mißhandlungen sowie durch mechanische oder chemische Hilfsmittel bewußt Schmerzen zugefügt, um besonders spektakuläre Bewegungen zu erzwingen
Seit Anfang März läuft in den USA ein Prozess gegen den Tennesse Walking Horse-Trainer Jackie McConnell sowie mehrere Komplizen. Nun hat der Sender ABC eine Reportage mit bislang unveröffentlichtem Videomaterial gezeigt, das die unfassbaren Grausamkeiten dokumentiert.
Wenn es nach dem Willen der amerikanischen Bankenaufsicht geht, werden die als Basel III bekannten Finanzmarktregeln nicht in Kraft treten. Viel zu kompliziert sei das Vertragswerk.
Schattenbanken setzten im Vorjahr 67 Billionen Dollar um, unterliegen aber nicht der Bankenaufsicht. Das größte parallele Bankensystem haben die USA.
weiter lesen via Jahresbilanz: Die Billionen-Umsätze der Schattenbanken « DiePresse.com.
A southern Colorado man under investigation for his handling of protected wild horses has admitted to state regulators that he shipped animals out of Colorado in violation of brand inspection laws, officials said.
In a new investigation, ProPublica reporter Dave Philipps tracks what happens to many of the wild horses rounded up in the western United States by the Bureau of Land Management. A little-known livestock hauler named Tom Davis is buying almost all of the horses the bureau removes from the wild, in a program meant to maintain a sustainable balance among the herds. Like all buyers in the program, Davis signs a contract promising the animals will not be slaughtered and insists he finds them good homes. But Davis is a longtime advocate of horse slaughter, and he refuses to disclose where the horses end up. Animal welfare advocates fear the horses he buys are being sent to the killing floor. [includes rush transcript]
Six years after the White House first started running amok on the computer networks of its adversaries, US President Barack Obama has signed off on a top-secret order that finally offers blueprints for the Pentagon’s cyberwars.