US Gov Monitoring Email / Internet Traffic


Dormant account
Mar 31, 2006
For Your Eyes Only?

Wired said:
AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers' internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against the company.

Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the EFF's lawsuit this week. That class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco last January, alleges that AT&T violated federal and state laws by surreptitiously allowing the government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants.

PBS tv show NOW has a great 25 minute, streaming online show, about this issue affecting our privacy.

PBS said:
This week, NOW reports on new evidence suggesting the existence of a secret government program that intercepts millions of private e-mails each day in the name of terrorist surveillance. News about the alleged program came to light when a former AT&T employee, Mark Klein, blew the whistle on what he believes to be a large-scale installation of secret Internet monitoring equipment deep inside AT&T's San Francisco office. The equipment, he contends, was created at the request of the U.S. government to spy on e-mail traffic across the entire Internet. Though the government and AT&T refuse to address the issue directly, Klein backs up his charges with internal company documents and personal photos.
Criminal Defense Lawyer Nancy Hollander, who represents several Muslim-Americans, feels her confidential e-mails are anything but secure. "I've personally never been afraid of my government until now. And now I feel personally afraid that I could be locked up tomorrow," she told NOW.

Who might be eyeing the hundreds of millions of e-mails Americans send out each day, and to what end?

Also this week, David Brancaccio talks to John Yoo, the former Bush Administration lawyer who was a key figure in granting the President expansive powers in the wake of September 11th. "There's no doubt that, in wartime, Presidents exercise much broader power than they do in peacetime," Yoo tells NOW. He also says President Bush has "tried to not go too far," in increasing such powers, as compared to previous administrations in wartime.

Link to the NOW homepage :
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Link to the TV show :
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The show is also availabable for download in audio only format, on the website.

Related Links:
Wired: Whistle-Blower's Evidence, Uncut :
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Wired: Wiretap Whistle-Blower's Account :
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Wired: Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room :
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Let's not forget that w/UIGEA the gov't has pressed the banks into 'service' so that they monitor all our banking transactions -- heaven forbid we should send $50 out of the country to spin a few reels. It's all for our own good. Makes you feel safe and secure and all warm and fuzzy inside doesn't it?

Nothing like living in a country that spies on its own citizens.

Let's not forget that w/UIGEA the gov't has pressed the banks into 'service' so that they monitor all our banking transactions -- heaven forbid we should send $50 out of the country to spin a few reels.

They are starting to monitor everything now. People need to get fed up and revolt!:mad:

It's all for our own good. Makes you feel safe and secure and all warm and fuzzy inside doesn't it?

Nothing like living in a country that spies on its own citizens.


They have done a lot of this crap post 9/11. Under the guise of protecting the citizens from terrorism. I am not afraid of terrorists one bit. I am afraid of other americans. And I am scared to death of my government.:mad:

And the dumbass American public just "ho-hums it."
Could you imagine....

If enough people were to take all of their money out of banks? Hmmm....that would be interesting.
In today's news...

Article is
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FBI criticized for Patriot Act use By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer
41 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - An internal Justice Department report accuses the FBI of underreporting its use of the Patriot Act to force telecommunications and financial firms to turn over customer information in suspected terrorism cases, according to officials familiar with its findings.

Shoddy bookkeeping and records management led to the problems, said one government official familiar with the report. The official said FBI agents appeared to be overwhelmed by the volume of demands for information over a two-year period.

"They lost track," said the official who like others interviewed late Thursday spoke on condition of anonymity because the report had not been released.

The errors are outlined by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine in an audit to be released on Friday. The audit requirement was added to the Patriot Act by Congress over the objections of the Bush administration.

The FBI in 2005 reported to Congress that its agents had delivered a total of 9,254 national security letters seeking e-mail, telephone or financial information on 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents over the previous two years. Fine's report, according to officials, says that number was underreported by 20 percent.

It was unclear late Thursday whether the omissions could be considered a criminal offense. One government official who read the report said it concluded the problems appeared to be unintentional and that FBI agents would probably face administrative sanctions instead of criminal charges.

The FBI has taken steps to correct some of the problems, the official said.

The Justice Department, already facing congressional criticism over its firing of eight U.S. attorneys, began notifying lawmakers of the audit's damning contents late Thursday. Spokesmen at the Justice Department and FBI declined to immediately comment on the findings.

FBI Director Robert Mueller was to brief reporters on the audit Friday morning, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was expected to answer questions about it at a privacy rights event in Washington several hours later.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees the FBI, called the reported findings "a profoundly disturbing breach of public trust."

"Somebody has a lot of explaining to do," said Schumer, D-N.Y.

Fine's audit also says the FBI failed to send follow-up subpoenas to telecommunications firms that were told to expect them, the officials said.

Those cases involved so-called exigent letters to alert the firms that subpoenas would be issued shortly to gather more information, the officials said. But in many examples, the subpoenas were never sent, the officials said.

The FBI has since caught up with those omissions, either with national security letters or subpoenas, one official said.

National security letters have been the subject of legal battles in two federal courts because recipients were barred from telling anyone about them.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Bush administration over what the watchdog group described as the security letter's gag on free speech.

Last May, a federal appeals judge in New York warned that government's ability to force companies to turn over information about its customers and keep quiet about it was probably unconstitutional.
This gets even creepier.... Essentially the same story as above with a couple more details. See bolded below.

Mistakes in FBI use of power to get records: report Fri Mar 9, 1:53 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The FBI improperly obtained credit reports and other information on individuals through errors in using its power to investigate terrorism or espionage suspects, the Washington Post reported, citing a U.S. Justice Department audit.

The findings prompted an "incensed" Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to order the FBI to place new safeguards over its use of so-called national-security letters to secretly demand telephone, e-mail and financial records, the Post said in its Friday edition.

"These past mistakes will not be tolerated," Gonzales spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos was quoted as telling the Post. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

National-security letters allow the FBI to compel the release of private information such as communications or financial records without getting authority from a judge or grand jury. Their use has grown exponentially since the September 11 attacks, the Post said.

Critics have accused President George W. Bush's administration of weakening civil liberties protections in its war on terrorism.

The congressionally mandated audit found that in 2005 alone, the FBI issued more than 19,000 national security letters amounting to 47,000 separate requests for information, the Post said.
In their sampling of 293 letters, investigators found that 22 errors were possible violations of department rules and some were potential violations of law, the Post reported, citing officials with access to the audit.

The FBI identified 26 potential violations in other cases in the audit, which was limited to 77 case files in four FBI field offices, the Post said. It said officials believe the 48 known problems may be the tip of the iceberg in a "shoddy" internal oversight system, but that the problems were not deliberate.

In at least two cases cited by the newspaper, the investigators found that the FBI obtained full credit reports whereas the security letters could only be used to obtain summary information.

In other cases, telephone companies, banks or Internet providers responded with detailed personal information about customers that the letters do not permit to be released, the article said.

A Justice Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity told the paper that Gonzales learned of the findings three weeks ago. He "was incensed when he was told the contents of the report," the official was quoted as saying.

And to think when I was talking about such things way back when Washington State passed that B.S. law, I was basically famed a nut case.

Well, I guess I get to say.......I TOLD YOU THIS CRAP WAS COMING!
Lawmakers threaten FBI over spy powers

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Lawmakers threaten FBI over spy powers By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, Associated Press Writer
37 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Republicans and Democrats sternly warned the FBI on Tuesday that it could lose its broad power to collect telephone, e-mail and financial records to hunt terrorists after revelations of widespread abuses of the authority detailed in a recent internal investigation.

Their threats came as the Justice Department's chief watchdog, Glenn A. Fine, told the House Judiciary Committee that the FBI engaged in widespread and serious misuse of its authority in illegally collecting the information from Americans and foreigners through so-called national security letters.

If the FBI doesn't move swiftly to correct the mistakes and problems revealed last week in Fine's 130-page report, "you probably won't have NSL authority," said Rep. Dan Lungren (news, bio, voting record), R-Calif., a supporter of the power, referring to the data requests by their initials.

"From the attorney general on down, you should be ashamed of yourself," said Rep. Darrell Issa (news, bio, voting record), R-Calif. "We stretched to try to give you the tools necessary to make America safe, and it is very, very clear that you've abused that trust."

If Congress revokes some of the expansive law enforcement powers it granted in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Issa said, "America may be less safe, but the Constitution will be more secure, and it will be because of your failure to deal with this in a serious fashion."

The FBI's failure to establish sufficient controls or oversight for collecting the information constituted "serious and unacceptable" failures, Fine told the committee.

Democrats called Fine's findings an example of how the Justice Department has used broad counterterrorism authorities to trample on privacy rights.

"This was a serious breach of trust," said Rep. John Conyers (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., the Judiciary chairman. "The department had converted this tool into a handy shortcut to illegally gather vast amounts of private information while at the same time significantly underreporting its activities to Congress."

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., said Congress should revise the USA Patriot Act, which substantially loosened controls over the letters.

"We do not trust government always to be run by angels, especially not this administration," Nadler said. "It is not enough to mandate that the FBI fix internal management problems and recordkeeping, because the statute itself authorizes the unchecked collection of information on innocent Americans."

Some Republicans, however, said the FBI's expanded spying powers were vital to tracking terrorists.

"The problem is enforcement of the law, not the law itself," said Rep. Lamar Smith (news, bio, voting record) of Texas, the panel's senior GOP member. "We need to be vigilant to make sure these problems are fixed."

Fine said he did not believe the problems were intentional, although he acknowledged he could not rule that out.

"We believe the misuses and the problems we found generally were the product of mistakes, carelessness, confusion, sloppiness lack of training, lack of adequate guidance and lack of adequate oversight," Fine said.

"It really was unacceptable and inexcusable what happened here," he added under questioning.

Valerie Caproni, the FBI's general counsel, said she took responsibility for the abuses and believed they could be fixed in a matter of months.

"We're going to have to work to get the trust of this committee back, and we know that's what we have to do, and we're going to do it," she said.

In a review of headquarters files and a sampling of just four of the FBI's 56 field offices, Fine found 48 violations of law or presidential directives during between 2003 and 2005, including failure to get proper authorization, making improper requests and unauthorized collection of telephone or Internet e-mail records. He estimated that "a significant number of ... violations throughout the FBI have not been identified or reported."

The bureau has launched an audit of all 56 field offices to determine the full extent of the problem. The Senate Judiciary Committee is to hear Wednesday from Fine on his findings, and will likely question FBI Director Robert Mueller on it at a broader hearing March 27.

In 1986, Congress first authorized FBI agents to obtain electronic records without approval from a judge using national security letters. The letters can be used to acquire e-mails, telephone, travel records and financial information, like credit and bank transactions.

In 2001, the Patriot Act eliminated any requirement that the records belong to someone under suspicion. Now an innocent person's records can be obtained if FBI field agents consider them merely relevant to an ongoing terrorism or spying investigation.

Fine's review, authorized by Congress over Bush administration objections, concluded the number of national security letters requested by the FBI skyrocketed after the Patriot Act became law in 2001.

Fine found more than 700 cases in which FBI agents obtained telephone records through "exigent letters" which asserted that grand jury subpoenas had been requested for the data, when in fact such subpoenas never been sought.

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