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Hometown: Seattle, WA
Member since: Mon Dec 13, 2004, 02:55 AM
Number of posts: 12,232

Journal Archives

Katharine Gun on "Bush’s Foiled NSA Blackmail Scheme," Snowden and current events


In early 2003, as the U.S. and British governments were seeking international acquiescence to their aggressive war on Iraq, an unexpected cog throw into the propaganda machine was the disclosure that the National Security Agency was spying on UN Security Council members in search of blackmail material.


DB: Can you explain the document you released and the significance of the timing?

KG: It was released at the end of January 2003, just before the invasion of Iraq. I saw an email that had been sent from the NSA to GCHQ. It was a request for GCHQ to help the NSA intercept the communications of six nations that sat on the Security Council at that time. It was to intercept their domestic and office telecoms in order to obtain all the information we could about the delegates, which the U.S. could then use to achieve goals favorable to U.S. interests. They called for the whole gamut of information, which made me think they would potentially use the information to blackmail or bribe the U.N. delegates.


DB: We are now seeing extraordinary NSA leaks from Edward Snowden in the British Guardian. What are your thoughts on this?

KG: I think Snowden is probably is a lot more clued-up than I was at the time. My leak was a single issue. Snowden has had a long period of time working within the U.S. intelligence services. He’s obviously a very technically savvy professional. I admire him for taking this tremendous step, which he thought out very carefully and methodically. He has made some very good points. These kinds of issues should be in the public domain because it involves innocent members of the public. We, the public, should be able to have a measure of a say in these matters.

More here about Gun:


Ten years ago, a young Mandarin specialist at GCHQ, the government's surveillance centre in Cheltenham, did something extraordinary. Katharine Gun, a shy and studious 28-year-old who spent her days listening in to obscure Chinese intercepts, decided to tell the world about a secret plan by the US government to spy on the United Nations.

She had received an email in her inbox asking her and her colleagues to help in a vast intelligence "surge" designed to secure a UN resolution to send troops into Iraq. She was horrified and leaked the email to the Observer. As a result of the story the paper published 10 years ago this weekend, she was arrested, lost her job and faced trial under the Official Secrets Act.

The memo from Frank Koza, chief of staff at the "regional targets" section of the National Security Agency, GCHQ's sister organisation in the US, remains shocking in its implications for British sovereignty. Koza was in effect issuing a direct order to the employees of a UK security agency to gather "the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favourable to US goals or to head off surprises". This included a particular focus on the "swing nations" on the security council, Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, "as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters".


As for her own story, she recognises that 10 years on it scarcely registers with the public. I sensed a slight flash of anger as she said: "It's not even a footnote in the history of Iraq." But she said she would still be prepared to give evidence to the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war. "There seems to be this blasé attitude – the spying goes on, everyone does it and so it's nothing to get all hot under the collar about. But this specific instance is the ugly truth of what goes on."

Many more articles here:


The text of the memo:

To: [Recipients withheld]
From: FRANK KOZA, Def Chief of Staff (Regional Targets)
Sent on Jan 31 2003 0:16
Subject: Reflections of Iraq Debate/Votes at UN-RT Actions + Potential for Related Contributions
Importance: HIGH
Top Secret//COMINT//X1

As you've likely heard by now, the Agency is mounting a surge particularly directed at the UN Security Council (UNSC) members (minus US and GBR of course) for insights as to how to membership is reacting to the on-going debate RE: Iraq, plans to vote on any related resolutions, what related policies/ negotiating positions they may be considering, alliances/ dependencies, etc - the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises. In RT, that means a QRC surge effort to revive/ create efforts against UNSC members Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters.

We've also asked ALL RT topi's to emphasize and make sure they pay attention to existing non-UNSC member UN-related and domestic comms for anything useful related to the UNSC deliberations/ debates/ votes. We have a lot of special UN-related diplomatic coverage (various UN delegations) from countries not sitting on the UNSC right now that could contribute related perspectives/ insights/ whatever. We recognize that we can't afford to ignore this possible source.

We'd appreciate your support in getting the word to your analysts who might have similar, more in-direct access to valuable information from accesses in your product lines. I suspect that you'll be hearing more along these lines in formal channels - especially as this effort will probably peak (at least for this specific focus) in the middle of next week, following the SecState's presentation to the UNSC.

Thanks for your help

Fake storefronts prepared for G8

With G8 soon to start, thought it would be timely to post this:

Suffering Under Austerity, Northern Ireland Puts Up Fake Storefronts For G8 Summit


When leaders of the world’s eight largest economies convene in Northern Ireland next month for a summit of the G8, they’ll be surrounded by fictitious prosperity. As the Irish Times’ Dan Keenan explained to Public Radio International on Wednesday, the town of Enniskillen is erecting facades over vacant storefronts to simulate active businesses in a place Keenan says “has suffered terribly as a result of the credit crisis and the resulting recession.”

In all, Keenan reported in the Times, “More than 100 properties within range of the sumptuous Lough Erne resort which hosts the world’s wealthiest leaders, have been tidied up, painted or power-hosed.” The effort covers up the grimmer reality of a place more vulnerable to austerity than much of the rest of the United Kingdom, where child poverty is substantially higher than in the rest of the country. After three years of harmful austerity under Prime Minister David Cameron, the G8 summit will be the first shot of stimulus County Fermanagh’s economy has received in a long time. The Toronto Star puts the hoped-for spending injection at just under $60 million U.S., but notes that Toronto’s experience hosting a G20 summit in 2010 cost many times that much, and left “scars” on the city.


Dan Keenan: These are basically empty shops that are being now made to look as if they are thriving businesses, and they’ve done that in a very clever fashion indeed.

Werman: How do they do it?

Keenan: What they’ve done is they have filled the shop front window with a picture of what was the business before it went bankrupt or closed. In other words, grocery shops, butcher shops, pharmacies, you name it, they have placed large photographs in the windows that if you were driving past and glanced out the window, it would look as if this was a thriving business. It’s an attempt really by the local authority to make the place look as positive as possible for the visiting G8 leaders and their entourages, and it’s really tried to put a mask on a recession that has really hit this part of Ireland really very badly indeed.


Keenan: This is one big initiative really stemming from the Foreign Office in London. This is David Cameron’s gig. It’s his invitation, it’s his decision to host the G8 in County Fermanagh, which is, don’t forget, part of the United Kingdom. It’s also on the island of Ireland, it’s in Northern Ireland, but he will be the hosting head of government and it’s his say so. Much of the money that has been spent in and around the host town of Enniskillen, about more than £300,000 worth, that’s getting on from half a million dollars, the bulk of the cash and certainly the driving force behind the plans to tidy up the place, that’s all coming from London.

Also on deep underlying concerns regarding the 4th Amendment and privacy

The reason I looked up the Maryland ruling is because I'm seeing it cited frequently here and since I'm not a lawyer, I realized I had no context for the case and the decision or who voted for or against it. That's different than in current cases since information about Justices and their stance is fresh in our minds. When we see cases such as Citizens United and/or see that Scalia and Ginsburg voted differently on cases, that provides insight on what direction decisions likely took.

In looking up Maryland, I had to look up some of the justices since I couldn't remember or didn't know their views.

But some did catch my eye, two being Rehnquist and Marshall in the same way Scalia and Ginsburg would now.

And like Scalia and Ginsburg often do, Rehnquist and Marshall were on different sides. Having read the above, I would agree with Marshall and on his larger concerns as well as the more specific ones.

Laws can and do change and passing a law that had as part of its base, a contested (and I believe poor) decision by Scotus does not make the situation better. "Legal" it may be at this time, but many laws which were once viewed as legal have later been struck down or changed because they were unconstitutional or otherwise flawed.

Pen Register Act

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was passed in 1986 (Pub. L. No. 99-508, 100 Stat. 1848). There were three main provisions or Titles to the ECPA. Title III created the Pen Register Act, which included restrictions on private and law enforcement uses of pen registers. Private parties were generally restricted from using them unless they met one of the exceptions, which included an exception for the business providing the communication if it needed to do so to ensure the proper functioning of its business.

For law enforcement agencies to get a pen register approved for surveillance, they must get a court order from a judge. According to 18 U.S.C. § 3123(a)(1), the "court shall enter an ex parte order authorizing the installation and use of a pen register or trap and trace device anywhere within the United States, if the court finds that the attorney for the Government has certified to the court that the information likely to be obtained by such installation and use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation."[6] Thus, a government attorney only needs to certify that information will 'likely' be obtained in relation to an 'ongoing criminal investigation'. This is the lowest requirement for receiving a court order under any of the ECPA's three titles. This is because in Smith v. Maryland, the Supreme Court ruled that use of a pen register does not constitute a search. The ruling held that only the content of a conversation should receive full constitutional protection under the right to privacy, since pen registers do not intercept conversation, they do not pose as much threat to this right.

Some have argued that the government should be required to present "specific and articulable facts" showing that the information to be gathered is relevant and material to an ongoing investigation. This is the standard used by Title II of the ECPA with regard to the contents of stored communications. And others believe probable cause should be required; Daniel Solove, Petricia Bellia, and Dierdre Mulligan say a warrant and probable cause should be necessary, and Paul Ohm argues that standard of proof should be replaced/reworked for electronic communications altogether.[7]

The Pen Register Act did not include an exclusionary rule. While there were civil remedies for violations of the Act, evidence gained in violation of the Act can still be used against a defendant in court. There have also been calls for congress to add an exclusionary rule to the Pen Register Act, as this would make it more analogous to traditional Fourth Amendment protections. The penalty for violating the Pen Register Act is a misdemeanor, and it carries a prison sentence of not more than one year.[8]

I think including the dissent leads to more accuracy.

While the conservatives on the Supreme Court (joined by Stevens) argued this did not violate the 4th amendment and won due to numbers, the most liberal members in the dissent, argued that this did violate the 4th amendment.

So, although this did become law, it is still entirely valid to agree with these liberal Justices that this violates the 4th amendment.

From the link I posted above:

Mr. JUSTICE MARSHALL, with whom Mr. JUSTICE BRENNAN joins, dissenting.

The Court concludes that because individuals have no actual or legitimate expectation of privacy in information they voluntarily relinquish to telephone companies, the use of pen registers by government agents is immune from Fourth Amendment scrutiny. Since I remain convinced that constitutional protections are not abrogated whenever a person apprises another of facts valuable in criminal investigations, see, e. g., United States v. White, 401 U.S. 745, 786 -790 (1971) (Harlan, J., dissenting); id., at 795-796 (MARSHALL, J., dissenting); California Bankers Assn. v. Shultz, 416 U.S. 21, 95 -96 (1974) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting); United States v. Miller, 425 U.S. 435, 455 -456 (1976) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting), I respectfully dissent.

Applying the standards set forth in Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 361 (1967) (Harlan, J., concurring), the Court first determines that telephone subscribers have no subjective expectations of privacy concerning the numbers they dial. To reach this conclusion, the Court posits that individuals somehow infer from the long-distance listings on their phone bills, and from the cryptic assurances of "help" in tracing obscene [442 U.S. 735, 749] calls included in "most" phone books, that pen registers are regularly used for recording local calls. See ante, at 742-743. But even assuming, as I do not, that individuals "typically know" that a phone company monitors calls for internal reasons, ante, at 743, 1 it does not follow that they expect this information to be made available to the public in general or the government in particular. Privacy is not a discrete commodity, possessed absolutely or not at all. Those who disclose certain facts to a bank or phone company for a limited business purpose need not assume that this information will be released to other persons for other purposes. See California Bankers Assn. v. Shultz, supra, at 95-96 (MARSHALL, J., dissenting).

The crux of the Court's holding, however, is that whatever expectation of privacy petitioner may in fact have entertained regarding his calls, it is not one "society is prepared to recognize as `reasonable.'" Ante, at 743. In so ruling, the Court determines that individuals who convey information to third parties have "assumed the risk" of disclosure to the government. Ante, at 744, 745. This analysis is misconceived in two critical respects.

Implicit in the concept of assumption of risk is some notion of choice. At least in the third-party consensual surveillance cases, which first incorporated risk analysis into Fourth Amendment doctrine, the defendant presumably had exercised some discretion in deciding who should enjoy his confidential communications. See, e. g., Lopez v. United States, 373 U.S. 427, 439 (1963); Hoffa v. United States, 385 U.S. 293, 302 -303 (1966); United States v. White, supra, at 751-752 [442 U.S. 735, 750] (plurality opinion). By contrast here, unless a person is prepared to forgo use of what for many has become a personal or professional necessity, he cannot help but accept the risk of surveillance. Cf. Lopez v. United States, supra, at 465-466 (BRENNAN, J., dissenting). It is idle to speak of "assuming" risks in contexts where, as a practical mater, individuals have no realistic alternative.

More fundamentally, to make risk analysis dispositive in assessing the reasonableness of privacy expectations would allow the government to define the scope of Fourth Amendment protections. For example, law enforcement officials, simply by announcing their intent to monitor the content of random samples of first-class mail or private phone conversations, could put the public on notice of the risks they would thereafter assume in such communications. See Amsterdam, Perspectives on the Fourth Amendment, 58 Minn. L. Rev. 349, 384, 407 (1974). Yet, although acknowledging this implication of its analysis, the Court is willing to concede only that, in some circumstances, a further "normative inquiry would be proper." Ante, at 740-741, n. 5. No meaningful effort is made to explain what those circumstances might be, or why this case is not among them.

In my view, whether privacy expectations are legitimate within the meaning of Katz depends not on the risks an individual can be presumed to accept when imparting information to third parties, but on the risks he should be forced to assume in a free and open society. By its terms, the constitutional prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures assigns to the judiciary some prescriptive responsibility. As Mr. Justice Harlan, who formulated the standard the Court applies today, himself recognized: "[s]ince it is the task of the law to form and project, as well as mirror and reflect, we should not . . . merely recite . . . risks without examining the desirability of saddling them upon society." United States v. White, supra, at 786 (dissenting opinion). In making this [442 U.S. 735, 751] assessment, courts must evaluate the "intrinsic character" of investigative practices with reference to the basic values underlying the Fourth Amendment. California Bankers Assn. v. Shultz, 416 U.S., at 95 (MARSHALL, J., dissenting). And for those "extensive intrusions that significantly jeopardize [individuals'] sense of security . . ., more than self-restraint by law enforcement officials is required." United States v. White, 401 U.S., at 786 (Harlan, J., dissenting).

The use of pen registers, I believe, constitutes such an extensive intrusion. To hold otherwise ignores the vital role telephonic communication plays in our personal and professional relationships, see Katz v. United States, 389 U.S., at 352 , as well as the First and Fourth Amendment interests implicated by unfettered official surveillance. Privacy in placing calls is of value not only to those engaged in criminal activity. The prospect of unregulated governmental monitoring will undoubtedly prove disturbing even to those with nothing illicit to hide. Many individuals, including members of unpopular political organizations or journalists with confidential sources, may legitimately wish to avoid disclosure of their personal contacts. See NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449, 463 (1958); Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665, 695 (1972); id., at 728-734 (STEWART, J., dissenting). Permitting governmental access to telephone records on less than probable cause may thus impede certain forms of political affiliation and journalistic endeavor that are the hallmark of a truly free society. Particularly given the Government's previous reliance on warrantless telephonic surveillance to trace reporters' sources and monitor protected political activity, 2 I am unwilling to insulate use of pen registers from independent judicial review. [442 U.S. 735, 752]

Just as one who enters a public telephone booth is "entitled to assume that the words he utters into the mouthpiece will not be broadcast to the world," Katz v. United States, supra, at 352, so too, he should be entitled to assume that the numbers he dials in the privacy of his home will be recorded, if at all, solely for the phone company's business purposes. Accordingly, I would require law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant before they enlist telephone companies to secure information otherwise beyond the government's reach.

[ Footnote 1 ] Lacking the Court's apparently exhaustive knowledge of this Nation's telephone books and the reading habits of telephone subscribers, see ante, at 742-743, I decline to assume general public awareness of how obscene phone calls are traced. Nor am I persuaded that the scope of Fourth Amendment protection should turn on the concededly "esoteric functions" of pen registers in corporate billing, ante, at 742, functions with which subscribers are unlikely to have intimate familiarity.

Justices Brennan, Marshall and Stewart dissented


BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C. J., and WHITE, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. STEWART, J., post, p. 746, and MARSHALL, J., post, p. 748, filed dissenting opinions, in which BRENNAN, J., joined. POWELL, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

I think Thurgood Marshall would be appalled, though sadly not surprised, to see where this has led and to see people on a liberal forum defending this.

There's such an ugliness at the core of this, the authoritarianism, the chilling of speech,

The denial of any right to privacy, the profiteering.

I doubt any of our tax dollars were returned after Trailblazer was shut down.

And now we are to trust that private contractors such as Booz Allen are suddenly conducting such a project competently and ethically? And divert ever more funding from social programs that actually enhance all of our safety to this?

Excellent post, Junkdrawer.

This helps explain Clapper's distinction in backtracking an earlier statement


Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday that he stood by what he told Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in March when he said that the National Security Agency does not “wittingly” collect data on millions of Americans.
“What I said was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens’ e-mails. I stand by that,” Clapper told National Journal in a telephone interview.
On March 12, at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wyden asked Clapper: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper responded: “No, sir.” When Wyden followed up by asking, “It does not?” Clapper said: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect—but not wittingly.” Clapper did not specify at the time that he was referring to e-mail. [my emphasis]
Clapper’s lie — that he took Wyden’s “collected any type of data at all” to mean “voyeuristically pore through emails” — is all the worse for how bad a non-sequitur it is. Caught in a lie, the head of our Intelligence Community responded with word salad.

Maybe he was thinking of that incident when he added the "voyeuristically" which was not part of his original testimony.
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