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Mike Rogers’ Plan To ‘Stop’ Bulk Collection Of Phone Records Riddled With Dangerous Loopholes That Will Expand Surveillance

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | April 1, 2014

Now that people have had a chance to go through the proposal by Reps. Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger to “stop” the bulk phone record collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, they’re finding more and more things to be concerned about. We had noted some potential easter eggs in there for law enforcement, but the deeper people look, the worse it gets. Trevor Timm notes that the bill is really a trojan horse to expand surveillance capabilities, while pretending to end them.

Curiously, a large majority of the House bill focuses on new ways for the government to collect data from “electronic communications service providers” – also known as the internet companies. Why is a bill that’s supposedly about ending bulk collection of phone-call data focused on more collection of data from internet companies?

From there, we turn to Julian Sanchez, who has given one of the most thorough explanations of what’s actually in the bill, noting that it fails to really end the bulk collection of phone records while also potentially massively expanding other surveillance capabilities.

First, the HPSCI bill’s seemingly broad prohibition on bulk collection turns out to be riddled with ambiguities and potential loopholes. The fuzzy definition of “specific identifiers” leaves the door open to collection that’s extremely broad even if not completely indiscriminate. Because the provision dealing with “call detail records” applies only to &sect:215 and the provision dealing with “electronic communications records” excludes telephony records, the law does not bar the bulk collection of telephony records under FISA provisions other than §215. The prohibition on non-specific acquisition of other communications “records” probably does not preclude bulk collection under the FISA pen register provision that was previously used for the NSA Internet metadata dragnet. And, of course, none of these prohibitions apply to National Security Letters. If the government wanted to keep collecting metadata in bulk, it would have plenty of ways to do so within the parameters of this statute given a modicum of creative lawyering—at least if the FISC were to continue being as accommodating as it has been in the past.

Second, something like the novel authority created here may well be necessary to enable fast and flexible acquisition of targeted records without dragnet collection. However, once we get down to details—and even leaving aside the question of ex-post versus ex-ante judicial approval—this authority is in some respects broader than either the current §215 telephony program, the president’s proposal, or the pre-Snowden understanding of the FISA business records authority. Critically, it eliminates the required link to a predicated investigation—which, in the case of U.S. persons, must be for counterterror or counterespionage purposes.

In other words, this appears to be a superficial attempt to end bulk collection “under this program,” while at the same time knocking down a bunch of barriers to much broader bulk collection under other authorities, with less oversight and fewer ways to push back against abuse. Did anyone really expect anything different from the NSA’s two biggest defenders in the House?

April 1, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feinstein And Rogers Try To Scare Americans With Ooga Booga Terrorism Threats

333587_Dianne Feinstein

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | December 2, 2013

It appears that the heads of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers, are recognizing that their strategy for keeping their co-dependent relationship with the NSA going is failing and that the American public and an increasingly large segment of Congress no longer believes their bogus claims. Perhaps that’s because every time they open their mouths, it takes all of about an hour before many of their claims are completely debunked, if not outright mocked for obviously being bogus. So their latest strategy? To basically yell “Ooga Booga Terrorists!” as loud as they can to try to scare people based on absolutely nothing.

Feinstein and Rogers did a little dance on Sunday political TV shows insisting that “the terrorism threat is increasing” and we’re all going to die if we stop trying to make sure the NSA actually, you know, respects the Constitution. Asked if we were “safer” now than a year or two years ago, Feinstein kicked off the FUD:

“I don’t think so,” Feinstein replied. “I think terror is up worldwide, the statistics indicate that. The fatalities are way up. The numbers are way up. There are new bombs, very big bombs. Trucks being reinforced for those bombs. There are bombs that go through magnetometers. The bomb maker is still alive. There are more groups than ever. And there is huge malevolence out there.”

And Rogers quickly followed:

“I absolutely agree that we’re not safer today for the same very reasons,” he said. “So the pressure on our intelligence services to get it right to prevent an attack are enormous. And it’s getting more difficult.”

Of course, Feinstein’s claim that “terror is up worldwide” is — as is so often the case with her (and Rogers’) claims about terrorism — sorta true, but highly misleading. Yes, recent stats show an uptick in terrorist attacks and fatalities in 2012 — but you can also see that it’s highly variable. Earlier in the year, before the 2012 numbers came out, people were commenting on the fact that terror attacks and fatalities around the globe had been on the decline since 2007. Terrorism is highly variable and dependent on a few big successful attacks. Furthermore, if we look at attacks on the US, we find that there have basically been next to none in the US since 2001. You could make the case that 16 people have died in US “terrorist” attacks since 2001 (including the 13 soldiers killed by Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood), but you have to have a very broad definition of terrorism to do so.

Nearly all of the “terrorist” attacks in that original report that Feinstein is obviously relying on, appear to take place in areas that are considered war zones: Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. And, um, I hate to bring this part up, but part of the reason why those are war zones is because, you know, the US invaded both places. This isn’t to say that there aren’t terrorists out there who would like to attack the US. There clearly are. But it seems highly misleading to make the claims that both Feinstein and Rogers are making here, as the “data” they’re talking about don’t show any heightened risk in the US at all.

Either way, this whole thing — having both appear together, both making vague “we’re all going to die” statements without any details to back it up combined with an exceptionally misleading use of statistics — suggests that this is the typical FUD. It’s Feinstein and Rogers shouting “terror” in a crowded theater, because they know that they’ve already lost public opinion on this, and are quickly losing Congress as well.

December 2, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rep. Mike Rogers Threatens Extrajudicial Execution

By Daniel McAdams | Neocon Watch | October 4, 2013

Mike Rogers

The US State Department every year releases its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, arrogating to itself the right to judge how the rest of the world measures up to US standards of respect for human rights.

One of the key measurements the US uses to determine whether the rest of the world is up to its stated standards of human rights protection is whether the country engages in “extrajudicial executions,” i.e. the state killing people without a legal trial. Needless to say, countries which engage in or promote extrajudicial killing are considered among the worst of the human rights abusers.

At a Washington Post sponsored panel yesterday on cybersecurity attended by former NSA/CIA chief Michael Hayden and by current Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers (R-MI), Hayden quipped that while NSA leaker Edward Snowden is on the consideration list for a European Human Rights Award, he had “also thought of nominating Mr. Snowden, but it was for a different list.”

Considering the input that Hayden had over the US administration’s “kill list,” the implication was fairly clear. One might imagine what among some at least was (hopefully) nervous laughter.

Is it funny to joke about killing someone when everyone knows you have had the power to make it happen? At least Hayden made the comment while he was no longer serving in a position where he could call out the drones.

What is worse, however, was the reaction of the neoconservative warmonger and enemy of civil liberties, Chairman Mike Rogers. To Hayden’s confession that he had thought of putting Snowden on “a different list,” Rogers did not miss a beat.

“I can help you with that,” Rogers said.

It is incredible to imagine that an individual in such a powerful position as is Mike Rogers — not just a Member of Congress but the Chairman of the Committee that coordinates with the CIA, NSA, and the rest of the Intelligence Community on matters covert and operational — would even if perhaps in a lighthearted moment make such a deeply disturbing comment.

Killing is so casual to people like Rogers.

It is the kind of thing that — were the US not the authors — would be written up in a report on human rights abuses and threats to the rule of law.

October 7, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Comments Off on Rep. Mike Rogers Threatens Extrajudicial Execution