ACLU and Truthout Investigations
Written by Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford Thursday, 29 September 2011 18:01
In the past ten years, the invasive, often discriminatory practices imposed by the Patriot Act and other oppressive policies have become commonplace in America. As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Truthout is teaming up with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts to launch a series of critical analyses and investigative pieces related to privacy, homeland security and surveillance. Through this project, entitled "Ten Years Later: Surveillance in the 'Homeland,'" we hope to reawaken awareness of the true extent of government surveillance, and of the violations routinely carried out in the name of securing the "homeland."
Below is a list of the stories published in this series:
Toward Total Information Awareness
The Advent of the Surveillance Society
Little Brothers are Watching: The Example of Massachusetts
A Nation of "Suspects"
Written by Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford Thursday, 15 September 2011 15:34
How little - yet how much - has changed in the last 40 years. The COINTELPRO papers sound distinctly 21st century as they detail the monitoring of perceived threats to "national security" by the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency (NSA), Secret Service, and the military, as well as the intelligence bureaucracy's war on First Amendment protest activity.
The Church Committee investigation concluded in 1976 that the "unexpressed major premise of the programs was that a law enforcement agency has the duty to do whatever is necessary to combat perceived threats to the existing social and political order." In addition to massive surveillance, assassinations and dirty tricks "by any means necessary" included the creation of NSA "watch lists" of Americans ranging "from members of radical political groups, to celebrities, to ordinary citizens involved in protests against their government," with names submitted by the FBI, Secret Service, military, CIA, and Defense Intelligence Agency. The secret lists, which included people whose activities "may result in civil disturbances or otherwise subvert the national security of the US," were used by the NSA to extract information of "intelligence value" from its stream of intercepted communications.
Written by Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford Tuesday, 13 September 2011 15:15
Early in the morning on March 13, 2008, Australian-born Peter Watchorn, one of the world's foremost harpsichordists, was standing on a subway platform in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with a professional cellist from Australia who had his instrument with him. They were on their way to Logan International Airport to catch a plane.
After going a few stops, all the trains in the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) subway system were brought to a halt while theirs was searched with sniffer dogs.
They thought they still could make their plane when their train started up again and they made it to the connecting bus. But before they reached their terminal, they were hauled off the bus and subjected to an abusive search - by no fewer than eight officers - during which the cello, valued at $250,000, was nearly tipped out of the case.
Written by Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford Wednesday, 07 September 2011 15:30
Ten Years Later: Surveillance in the "Homeland" is a collaborative project with Truthout and ACLU Massachusetts.
It is no secret that the CIA, FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA) bungled a multitude of opportunities to foil the 9/11 plot. There were no fewer than 12 intelligence reports in the three years preceding 9/11 that Osama bin Laden planned to use aircraft as weapons and crash them into buildings in Washington and New York City, information that was included in the president's daily intelligence brief.
In addition to the 2004 report by the 9/11 Commission, the often astonishing list of intelligence failings that contributed to the success of the attacks has been exhaustively documented in a 832-page Joint Intelligence Committee report dated December 11, 2002, with a declassified version released in July 2003; a 400-page report by the Justice Department's Inspector General that was made public in June 2005 after being kept secret for a year; and a secret report by the CIA's Inspector General, with a redacted 19-page executive summary finally released in August 2007. According to these documents, the failure to protect the country was caused by poor judgment, communication lapses, bureaucratic turf wars, insufficient training in legal procedures such as how to use the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor suspected spies and terrorists and how and when to share information, simple incompetence, too few skilled analysts and language specialists, more information than could be processed in a timely fashion, and the fact that the responsibility for sharing information among the CIA, FBI, NSA and other federal agencies had not been clearly spelled out.
Written by Jason Leopold Wednesday, 31 August 2011 23:56
The history of the CIA is replete with examples of agency officials obscuring key details when telling members of Congress about controversial programs. In the 1980s, CIA Director William Casey was famous for mumbling over such points and gruffly reacting when asked to repeat himself.
Other times, the CIA’s official briefing records have clashed with the contemporaneous notes of congressional participants. For instance, former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, D-Florida, says an intelligence document, which claimed he was briefed about the Bush administration’s domestic surveillance program on two dates in 2001 and 2002, was contradicted by his own schedule, which showed that no such briefings took place.
Graham also said that during briefings he did attend, he was never told that the Bush administration planned to spy on American citizens.