Tag Archive for: NSA

PODCAST: Pakistani Terrorist Camps in the United States

Listen to this podcast of the January 3, 2016 Lisa Benson Show on KKNT 960 AM Radio – The Patriot. Lisa Benson and New English Review Senior Editor Jerry Gordon co-hosted this show with the assistance of Board of Advisers member, Richard Cutting.

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Foundation of Islam and Democracy and the U.S. Commission for international religious discussed the recently launched Freedom Muslim Reform Movement, the deteriorating situation inside Syria and U.S. failure to contend with NATO ally Turkey under Islamist President Erdogan in the war against ISIS.

Shoshana Bryen, senior director of the Washington, D.C.-based Jewish Policy Center, addressed allegations in a recent Wall Street Journal expose of NSA spying on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, U.S. Congressional Members and American Jewish leaders, Israeli preparedness against ISIS threats in Syria and the Sinai and the tacit cooperation with Egypt and the fascinating understanding struck with Putin’s Russia to contain Hezbollah. We will be posting Bryen’s written responses to these and other questions, separately.

Jamaat ul-Fuqra fbi

FBI agents embracing members of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a Pakistani based terrorist group in the United States.

Ryan Mauro, National Security Analyst at The Clarion Project addressed the terrorist training camps established in both Canada and America by radical Pakistani Sufi Sheik Mubarak ali Gilani, who has not been investigated by the FBI despite his founding a network of Jamaat ul-Fuqra/Muslim of America (MOA) paramilitary camps in both Canada and the U.S. that conveyed extremist Islamist ideology and provided weapons training for prison converts to Islam. These MOA camps fostered a three decade record of attempted assassinations, criminal activities supporting terrorism akin to that of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino massacres. Yet, as Mauro pointed out, Sheik Gilani does not support ISIS.

Our usually astute European listener had these comments on the January 3, 2016 Lisa Benson Show:

To hear Dr. Jasser state the plan to reform the religion of Islam was very interesting. The Sharia Islamic law actually promoted by Sunni Islam is both political and religious. For these extremists their ideology requires them to conquer the world and forcefully ask all the non-Muslims to convert to Islam or become third class citizens of their caliphate.

What Dr. Jasser is proposing is to separate religion state from religion in Islam. A modernized religious law will take a lot of time.  However, this is the only way to advance eliminating extremist Islam from all around the world. Dr. Jasser should not call this reform a new Sharia law, but the New Moslem Religious law. The word Sharia has another meaning for all Moslems. It will be interesting to watch how many mosques and Imams would adopt Dr. Jasser’s propositions because many are still funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Moslem Brotherhood. Let us not forget that Muslim Brotherhood/CAIR members have been engaged by the Administration in such policy considerations.

Dr. Jasser has to be congratulated for the dangerous and wonderful work he is doing.

Wonderful to hear Shoshana Bryen giving her opinion and analysis. The Israelis know that they are being tapped and they know quite well what encryption services they can use for their communications which are Top Secret. Shoshana knows all about what is going on and she writes about it explicitly.

The details that Ryan Mauro provided are diagnostic of the chronic illness of these Islamist Muslim of America camps.  It is unbelievable that the FBI, even with limited resources, has not taken the necessary steps to indict all those who are embedded in these groups. I sincerely hope that there will not be a major terror attack in the US perpetrated by members of these Islamist camps.

I think the radio show is really getting better and better. The American public needs to hear these comments to wake up and contact their law makers in order to have a safe America.

EDITORS NOTE: This podcast originally appeared in the New English Review.

Don’t Listen to Edward Snowden’s Supporters – His Leaks Have Been a Gift to Terrorists by Robin Simcox

So this is the house that Edward Snowden built. The introduction of the Freedom Act last week has now reined in the NSA’s powers, particularly regarding the collection of telephony metadata. As part of this, phone records are now in the hands of private companies, rather than the state. This puts the US in the same situation as the UK and, in reality, senior figures in the US intelligence community are relaxed about this, providing the NSA can access them in a speedy manner.

These reforms that have taken place under the Freedom Act are directly attributable to Snowden’s theft of classified documents two years ago and subsequent distribution to journalists. To find out just how high the cost of this has been, I spoke to a range of senior officials in both the US and UK to try and get an idea of the national security impact of Snowden’s disclosures.

Quantifying the damage that has been done is not always easy. If a terror suspect dropped off the radar post-June 2013, it could not always be proved it was because of what he had learned from Snowden; perhaps the timing was a coincidence. Regardless, there are trends emerging.

Firstly, a series of ongoing intelligence operations had to be abandoned. They had been predicated on the pre-June 2013 assumption that they could take place without fear of discovery or attribution. Snowden removed that element of doubt, so the operations were scrapped.

Secondly, there is the knowledge that state adversaries have gone to town on the methodologies that the Snowden files revealed. There is significant fear that China and Russia, for example, have taken stock of Western intelligence agencies’ own cyber strategies and are now going to deploy them back against the US and its allies.

When it comes to stopping terrorist attacks, groups that seek to harm the West also now have an advanced understanding about our capacity to stop them. A video released in January onto a jihadist online platform explained just some of what mujahideen fighters had taken from Snowden: “All mobile phone providers use the same software, your device continuously is in contact with the nearest tower,” it says. “Your different coordinates are tracked and stored. All your calls, messages and internet history are stored in this same place […] With his phone, tablet or laptop the enemy can listen/record all conversations and meetings.”

The video also provided advice on how to avoid detection, listing software packages that protect against surveillance and where to acquire them from.

Snowden’s disclosures have led to changes in the way that terrorists communicate. One senior US intelligence official told me that, post-Snowden, this was the “most significant change” that had taken place and others have corroborated that this shift has occurred. Speaking in November 2013, then-Chair of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Mike Rogers, said that Snowden’s disclosures had allowed three different al-Qaeda affiliates to change the way they communicate.

One of the drivers behind this are Snowden’s disclosures regarding Section 702, which governs the interception of communications of foreign nationals based outside the US, in order to acquire foreign intelligence relating to national security, foreign affairs and national defence. Snowden allowed terrorists to wise up to the fact that even if you are sitting in Yemen and emailing Somalia, your communications will still often pass through the US. He also allowed them to figure out which companies were complying with the US government in giving access to this data. Terrorist groups quickly switched communication service providers or dropped off the electronic radar altogether.

Snowden’s actions have also led to terrorist groups developing new encryption technology. Experts at GCHQ talk of how cracking the communications of a high value national security target can take three times as long as it once did. That can mean the difference between life and death. Yet it’s not just terrorists who Snowden has strengthened. In Britain, GCHQ’s ability to monitor crime gangs – including those involved in people trafficking and drugs – has been reduced by a quarter.

To Snowden’s supporters, such things are usually irrelevant. But for everybody else, what should concern us is that the damage we know Snowden caused so far could actually just be scratching the surface. As Sir John Sawers, the former head of MI6, said earlier this year, “Snowden threw a massive rock in the pool and the ripples haven’t stopped yet.”

These ripples occur at a time the threat to the West from a variety of state and non-state actors grows. While we may be getting an idea of the damage Snowden caused in the past, there is still ample reason to fear what more he could cause in the future.




Robin Simcox is the national security fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, a foreign policy think tank in London.

RELATED ARTICLE: Poverty Isn’t the Root Cause of Jihadist Terrorism. Here’s What Is.

Court: NSA’s Mass Surveillance Is Illegal: The 2nd Circuit strikes down bulk collection of U.S. phone records by JULIAN SANCHEZ

In a ruling certain to profoundly shape the ongoing debate over surveillance reform in Congress, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today held that the National Security Agency’s indiscriminate collection of Americans’ telephone calling records exceeds the legal authority granted by the Patriot Act’s controversial section 215, which is set to expire at the end of this month.

Legislation to reform and constrain that authority, the USA Freedom Act, has drawn broad bipartisan support, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stubbornly pressed ahead with a bill to reauthorize §215 without any changes. But the Second Circuit ruling gives even defenders of the NSA program powerful reasons to support reform.

McConnell and other reform opponents have consistently insisted, in defiance of overwhelming evidence, that the NSA program is an essential tool in the fight against terrorism, and that any reform would hinder efforts to keep Americans safe — a claim rejected even by the leaders of the intelligence community. (Talk about being more Catholic than the Pope!) . . .

A few notable points from the ruling itself: Echoing the reasoning of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s extremely thorough report on §215, the Second Circuit rejected the tortured legal logic underpinning both the NSA telephone program and a now-defunct program that gathered international Internet metadata in bulk.

The government had persuaded the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to interpret an authority to get records “relevant to an authorized investigation” as permitting collection of entire vast databases of information, the overwhelming majority of which are clearly not relevant to any investigation, on the premise that this allows NSA to later search for specific records that arerelevant.

As the court noted, this not only defies common sense, but it is wildly inconsistent with the way the standard of “relevance” — which governs subpoenas and court orders used in routine criminal investigations — has been interpreted for decades.

If every American’s phone records are “relevant” to counterterrorism investigations, after all, why wouldn’t those and other records be similarly “relevant” to investigations aiming to ferret out narcotics traffickers or fraudsters or tax cheats?

Past cases invoked by the government, in which courts have blessed relatively broad subpoenas under a standard of “relevance” only underscore how unprecedented the NSA’s interpretation of that standard truly is — since even the broadest such subpoenas fall dramatically short of the indiscriminate, indefinite hoovering the agency is now engaged in.

The court also quickly dispatched arguments that the plaintiffs here lacked standing to challenge the NSA program.

In general, parties seeking to challenge government action must demonstrate they’ve been harmed in some concrete way — which presents a significant hurdle when the government operates behind a thick veil of secrecy. Since documents disclosed to press by Edward Snowden — and the government’s own subsequent admissions — leave little question that the plaintiffs’ phone records are indeed being obtained, however, there’s no need for a further showing that those records were subsequently reviewed or used against the plaintiffs.

That’s critical because advocates of broad surveillance powers have often sought to argue that the mere collection of information, even on a massive scale, does not raise privacy concerns — and the focus should instead be on whether the information is used appropriately.

The court here makes plain that the unauthorized collection of data — placing it in the control and discretion of the government — is itself a privacy harm.

Finally, the court repudiated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s strained use of the doctrine of legislative ratification to bless the NSA program.

Under this theory — reasonable enough in most cases — when courts have interpreted some statutory language in a particular way, legislatures are presumed to incorporate that interpretation when they use similar language in subsequent laws.

The FISC reasoned that Congress had therefore effectively “ratified” the NSA telephone program, and the sweeping legal theory behind it, by repeatedly reauthorizing §215.

But as the court pointed out — somewhat more diplomatically — it’s absurd to apply that doctrine to surveillance programs and legal interpretations that were (until the Snowden leaks) secret, even from many members of Congress, let alone the general public.

While the court didn’t reach the crucial question of whether the program violates the Fourth Amendment, the ruling gives civil libertarians good reason to hope that a massive and egregious violation of every American’s privacy will finally come to an end.

Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, studying technology, privacy, and civil liberties, with a focus on national security and intelligence surveillance. Julian Sanchez is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, where a version of this post first appeared.

America’s Electronic Police State by Wendy McElroy

Big Brother is not only watching, but gathering more power.

The modern surveillance state is referred to as an electronic police state because it uses technology to monitor people in order to detect and punish dissent. The authorities exert social control through spying, harsh law enforcement, and by regulating “privileges” such as the ability to travel. But all of this starts with surveillance.

Information is power. Imagine if agents of the State didn’t know where you live. How could it collect property taxes, arrest you, conscript you or your children, or record phone calls? Imagine if the State did not know your finances. How could it snatch your money, garnish your wages, freeze accounts, or confiscate gold? Total information is total power. That’s why the surveillance state views privacy itself as an indication of crime—not as one of violence, but as a crime against the State.

Beyond the NSA

The National Security Agency (NSA) keeps making headlines as the quintessential force behind the American surveillance state. Civil rights advocates should be equally concerned about a quieter but no less insidious manifestation: the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

The NCTC coordinates at least 17 federal and local intelligence agencies through fusion centers that amass information on average Americans. A fusion center is a physical location at which data is processed and shared with government agencies. Fusion centers also receive “tip line” information from public workers, such as firefighters, who report “suspicious” behavior observed during their interaction with people. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) began creating the centers in 2003. To date, there are seventy-eight acknowledged fusion centers.

The stated purpose of fusion centers is to prevent terrorist acts. But, for years, investigations have revealed that the monitoring has been used to exert social control and punish political opposition. In 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published a report titled, “What’s Wrong with Fusion Centers?” One problem? Mission creep. The scope of their “protective” mission has “quickly expanded” to include the vague category of “all hazards.” The “types of information” gathered were also broadened to include non-criminal public- and private-sector data.

Two years later, the ACLU issued another paper that sketched the impact of this broadening mission. The ACLU quoted a bulletin from the North Central Texas Fusion System; law enforcement officers were told it was “imperative” to report on the behavior of their local lobbying groups, including Muslim civil rights organizations and antiwar groups.

Despite warnings, the fusion centers continue to collect data on the “suspicious activities” of non-criminals. In September 2013, the ACLU provided information from “actual Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) summaries obtained from California fusion centers.” Included in the SARs were Middle Eastern males who bought pallets of water, a professor who photographed buildings for his art class, a Middle Eastern male physician whom a neighbor called “unfriendly,” and protesters who were concerned about the use of police force.

If ever one were inclined to let such activities pass because those being watched have been Muslim, remember that power rarely restricts itself to any stated goal. As the definition of potential terrorist groups has been expanded to include groups such as the Tea Party, it has become evident that the line between terror group and political opposition has blurred.

The fusion centers share many characteristics of a surveillance state with the NSA. These characteristics include a disregard for civil rights, secret records, the use of informants, little to no transparency, the targeting of political opponents, and an ever-expanding mission.

In at least one sense, the fusion centers are more typical of the surveillance state. Since Edward Snowden’s revelations, the NSA has been under a spotlight that reduces its ability to hide activities such as the warrantless recording of emails and phone calls. But fusion centers still function with little visibility. The NSA is subjected to public controversy, with civil liberty groups pushing to rein in its power. By contrast, the fusion centers are comparatively invisible, which allows them to operate covertly in a manner more typical of a surveillance state.

J. Edgar would be proud

The surveillance state was rooted in a desire to stifle political discussion, not to thwart criminal acts. In his book J. Edgar Hoover and the Anti-Interventionists, historian Douglas M. Charles traced the birth of pervasive surveillance back to the Great Debate on whether America should enter World War II. Specifically, Roosevelt wanted to support the war and to silence powerful anti-interventionists like the aviator-hero Charles Lindbergh. Thus, Hoover focused on the America First Committee (AFC) in which Lindbergh and several senators were prominent.

Hoover, director of the FBI from 1924 to his death in 1972, is the founding father of the American surveillance state. It arose because national security allegedly required constant vigilance against “the enemy,” external and internal. The internal enemy could be individuals or a concept, like communism or terrorism.

As head of the Bureau of Investigation (later the FBI), Hoover initiated the policies of extreme secrecy that bypassed the oversight of data collection. Ironically, Hoover had assumed leadership with a public pledge to end the agency’s civil liberty violations. Like surveillance agencies before and since, however, the FBI’s public statements directly contradicted its acts. For example, Hoover quietly coordinated with local police in much the same manner as the current fusion centers do. Information on a “suspect’s” sexual preferences (especially homosexuality), reports on his children and other family, as well as other sensitive data went into unofficial files that were labeled “personal, confidential”; these were inaccessible to unapproved eyes. When tidbits from the secret files were shared, the standard method was through a memo that had no letterhead, no signature, nor any other indication of the recipient or sender.

After December 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor), America’s entry into the war became inevitable. Fearing a reduction in his power, Hoover claimed the AFC had gone underground even though the organization had clearly disbanded. Thus, Hoover continued surveillance by lying about the need to counter active subversion.

The gambit worked. Indeed, Roosevelt and subsequent Presidents were eager to weaken their opponents. The FBI’s growth was phenomenal. Charles explains, “In 1934 the FBI employed 391 agents and a support staff of 451 and was appropriated $2,589,500…. In 1945, the FBI had 4,370 agents, 7,422 support staff and an appropriation of $44,197,146.” It embraced illegal wiretapping and trespass, mail monitoring, anonymous informants, pointed investigations by government agencies such as the IRS, the selective enforcement of law, and FBI plants in targeted groups.

The Cold War built upon the information-gathering infrastructure. The Cold War’s extensive data sharing with foreign governments was also rooted in pre-WWII politics. “A hallmark of the Second World War, Cold War, and War on Terrorism, the intimate intelligence relationship between the United States and Great Britain had its origins during the Great Debate,” writes Charles.

Hoover’s secret files on political figures made him virtually untouchable. After his death, however, the FBI came under concerted attack for its domestic surveillance. The public was particularly outraged by revelations of how the FBI had targeted popular heroes such as the civil rights leader Martin Luther King. After the famous August civil rights 1963 march during which King delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, a top Hoover aide wrote in an internal memo, “In the light of King’s powerful demagogic speech … We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security.” Surveillance of King increased. Among other “information” gathered, the FBI taped an adulterous sexual encounter, which anonymously appeared in the mailbox of King’s wife.

FBI investigations into politically-oriented groups were officially restricted. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and passage of the PATRIOT Act, however, the FBI and other agencies gained the ability to conduct political domestic surveillance. The surveillance state that had been rooted in war and political maneuvering was given new life by the same two factors. It was also given power of which Hoover could only have dreamed.

The ACLU declared in yet another report (2008), “There appears to be an effort by the federal government to coerce states into exempting their fusion centers from state open government laws. For those living in Virginia, it’s already too late; the Virginia General Assembly passed a law … exempting the state’s fusion center from the Freedom of Information Act. According to comments by the commander of the Virginia State Police Criminal Intelligence Division and the administrative head of the center, the federal government pressured Virginia into passing the law…. There is a real danger fusion centers will become a ‘one-way mirror’ in which citizens are subject to ever-greater scrutiny by the authorities, even while the authorities are increasingly protected from scrutiny by the public.”

Since then, State surveillance has become more secretive and increasingly exempt from both oversight and accountability. Fusion centers now reach into private databases such as Accurate, Choice Point, Lexis-Nexus, Locate Plus, insurance claims, and credit reports. They access millions of government files like DMV records. Why is this important? Various laws have been adopted to prevent the maintenance of databases on average Americans, but if fusion centers access the existing files, especially private ones, they can bypass those laws.

The foregoing is a description of electronic totalitarianism. If its creation is invisible to many people, then it manifests yet another characteristic of a police state: People do not believe their freedom is gone until there is a knock on the door—one that comes in the middle of the night.


Contributing editor Wendy McElroy is an author and the editor of ifeminists.com.

The Essence of Senator Rand Paul in Ten Minutes

This video provides a glimpse of the essence of Senator Rand Paul (R-KY): Filibuster, NSA Surveillance, IRS Scandal, Benghazi and Syria Hearings, Foreign Affairs, Balanced Budget Amendment, Economic Freedom Zones, Defund Obamacare and Individual Liberties.


Mind control 2013: Who is really controlling your mind?

Mind control is the subject of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four“, which has regained popularity. Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dystopian novel published in 1949. The Oceanian province of Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain) is a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public mind control, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (Ingsoc) under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking as thoughtcrimes.

As George Orwell wrote, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

Citizens globally are concerned about their governments spying on them. Others are concerned about media pushing an agenda rather than holding government accountable. Recent scandals like the NSA gathering data on hundreds of millions of US citizens and our allies is front page news. In many cases the NSA, FBI and CIA are accessing personal information which is stored by phone companies, web hosts and social media sites such as: Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. Governments want this data and many of these same media giants will share it based on court orders or voluntarily.

So who controls the present?

Geo-Intelligence posted an infographic (below) to show who controls major print publications, media, Internet sites and entertainment outlets in the United States. These few “privileged Inner Party elite” can influence how you think about everything from the purchase of laundry detergent to your social and political behavior. What you read, hear and watch is controlled by about forty organizations. When they work in concert with government and freely share your information it can violate civil liberties according to the ACLU.

Take a quick look at this infographic, you will be surprised who is involved in “public mind control”.

For a larger view click on the image.

George Orwell wrote, “In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy.”

There is online a free full version of the movie Nineteen Eighty-Four released in 1954, click here to watch it. Below is the trailer to the movie Nineteen Eighty-Four release in 1984 and available on DVD: