Google says increasing the FBI’s powers set out in search warrants would raise ‘monumental’ legal concerns that should be decided by Congress
The Guardian, By Ed Pilkington, February 18
New York – Google is boldly opposing an attempt by the US Justice Department to expand federal powers to search and seize digital data, warning that the changes would open the door to US “government hacking of any facility” in the world.
In a strongly worded submission to the Washington committee that is considering the proposed changes, Google says that increasing the FBI’s powers set out in search warrants would raise “monumental and highly complex constitutional, legal and geopolitical concerns that should be left to Congress to decide”.
The search giant warns that under updated proposals, FBI agents would be able to carry out covert raids on servers no matter where they were situated, giving the US government unfettered global access to vast amounts of private information.
Washington — Although the government’s warrantless surveillance program is associated with the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has gradually become a significant player in administering it, a newly declassified report shows.
In 2008, according to the report, the F.B.I. assumed the power to review email accounts the N.S.A. wanted to collect through the “Prism” system, which collects emails of foreigners from providers like Yahoo and Google. The bureau’s top lawyer, Valerie E. Caproni, who is now a Federal District Court judge, developed procedures to make sure no such accounts belonged to Americans.
Then, in October 2009, the F.B.I. started retaining copies of unprocessed communications gathered without a warrant to analyze for its own purposes. And in April 2012, the bureau began nominating new email accounts and phone numbers belonging to foreigners for collection, including through the N.S.A.’s “upstream” system, which collects communications transiting network switches.
That information is in a 231-page study by the Justice Department’s inspector general about the F.B.I.’s activities under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which authorized the surveillance program. The report was entirely classified [PDF] when completed in September 2012. But the government has now made a semi-redacted version of the report public in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by The New York Times.
The New York Times has published an unredacted version of the famous “suicide letter” from the FBI to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter, recently discovered by historian and professor Beverly Gage, is a disturbing document. But it’s also something that everyone in the United States should read, because it demonstrates exactly what lengths the intelligence community is willing to go to—and what happens when they take the fruits of the surveillance they’ve done and unleash it on a target.
The anonymous letter was the result of the FBI’s comprehensive surveillance and harassment strategy against Dr. King, which included bugging his hotel rooms, photographic surveillance, and physical observation of King’s movements by FBI agents. The agency also attempted to break up his marriage by sending selectively edited “personal moments he shared with friends and women” to his wife.
Portions of the letter had been previously redacted. One of these portions contains a claim that the letter was written by another African-American: “King, look into your heart. You know you are a complete fraud and a great liability to all us Negroes.” It goes on to say “We will now have to depend on our older leaders like Wilkins, a man of character and thank God we have others like him. But you are done.” This line is key, because part of the FBI’s strategy was to try to fracture movements and pit leaders against one another.
Maybe the FBI got lucky. Maybe Dzhokhar Tsarnaev carried his cell phone with him to his last hideout under a tarpaulin that covered a boat housed in someone’s backyard in Boston. Maybe Tsarnaev threw the cell phone away earlier, but the police found it. Maybe Tsarnaev left his phone in his apartment, however unlikely that is. And of course, all of this is contingent on Tsarnaev never deleting some critical text messages to his friends.
It was these text messages that have gotten his friends into trouble. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, two Kazakhstan college friends of Tsarnaev, responded to a text sent by Tsarnaev that said “If yu want yu can go to my room and take what’s there.” The text was sent three days after the Boston Marathon bombings. The two did as suggested, according to the FBI, and removed Tsarnaev’s laptop, a thumb drive, a bag of partially opened explosives, Vaseline, and other evidence that is highly incriminating for someone suspected of setting off a bomb that killed three people and injured over 260 others.
The two 19-year old students are in jail following an indictment handed down by a grand jury, charging both with a conspiracy to obstruct justice. If convicted, they face a sentence up to 25 years in prison and then deportation.
MANCHESTER, Tenn. — U.S. Attorney Bill Killian was greeted with shouts of “traitor,” “serpent,” and calls to “resign” or “go home” Tuesday night at an event aimed at improving relations between local residents and their Muslim neighbors. Killian and Kenneth Moore, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Knoxville office, were featured speakers before a hostile crowd of well over 300 at the “Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society” event at the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center.
There’s nothing quite like a cadre of Jesus-loving, God-fearing, Muslim-hating, righteous White Patriots to make you understand the power of ignorance and hatred. And few do ignorance and hatred better than the fine, upstanding Christian White Folks in Tennessee, who live in mortal terror of creeping Sharia, halal meat, and Muslim prayer rugs. Evidently lacking the self-awareness to recognize that their unhinged, frothing-at-the-mouth hatred of any and all things Muslim portrays them as a collective exercise in self-parody (or performance art), the Angry White Folks in Manchester were in fine form.
I try (often with varying degrees of success) to refrain from using words like “stupid,” “ignorant,” or “foolish,” but try as I might, I can’t find another way to describe the racist zealots who attended this meeting. Evidently, to their way of thinking, freedom of religion and speech covers their insults directed at Islam and Muslims…but it doesn’t extend to Muslims. You’ll have to correct me if I miss the mark here, but I don’t recall language in the Bill of Rights that limited its applicability to only Conservative White Christians.