Friday, October 19, 2012

Setback for secret Big Brother database

Court orders release in program that excludes typical privacy safeguards


The federal government has been told by a judge to start producing copies of documents in an open government case brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center over a nationwide plan to integrate within the government a comprehensive database about Americans.

The organization confirmed in a statement today that the order involves its case against the Office of Director of National Intelligence, in which EPIC wants information about Washington’s strategy to integrate databases inside the government “without the legal safeguards typically in place for personal data.”

The court ordered the agency to disclose the procedures it has establish to safeguard privacy rights, EPIC said.

The lawsuit wants information from the office, an executive branch operation under the control of the Obama White House, about its plan to collect database information about Americans from the CIA, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

EPIC, which for nearly 20 years has focused its attention on the civil liberties, privacy, First Amendment and constitutional issues related to electronic data, said under Washington’s revised guidelines, “The ODNI plans to obtain and integrate databases containing detailed personal information from across the federal government.

“The data will be kept for up to five years without the legal safeguards typically in place for personal data held by government agencies,” the organization explained.

The complaint was filed under the Freedom of Information Act after the Obama administration didn’t respond to questions from the group about how it plans to collect personal data “from across the federal government” and how the privacy of Americans will be protected.

The complaint explains that the New York Times documented earlier this year that Attorney General Eric Holder set up guidelines for the National Counterterrorism Center, a division of ODNI, regarding privacy.

The changes, the complaint explained, “would relax restrictions on how ODNI analysts may retrieve, store, and search information about Americans.”

“The revised NCTC guidelines allow the NCTC to copy entire datasets in other federal agencies and to analyze the aggregate data,” the complaint, dated Aug. 1, says.

While the federal ageny not only would be allowed to collect and analyze the data, it also would be allowed to “supplement incomplete information to the extent additional information becomes available.”

“Under the NCTC guidelines, the NCTC may permanently retain, use, or disseminate data if it is ‘reasonably believed to constitute terrorism information,’ defined to mean if, ‘based on the knowledge and experience of counterterrorism analysts as well as the factual and practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent persons act, there are facts giving rise to a reasonable, articulable suspicion that the information is terrorism information.”

The ODNI is part of an intelligence coalition that includes Air Force Intelligence, Army Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, Coast Guard Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Marine Corps Intelligence, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, National Security Agency and Navy Intelligence.

The privacy center wants records regarding the way the Obama administration will correct inaccurate or unreliable information, how workers are trained to handle the private information, whether there has been any abuse of the system, and what safeguards and oversight mechanisms are in place.

While the data requests have been acknowledged, no information has been forthcoming, meaning that the administration office “has failed to comply with statutory deadlines and failed to make responsive records available to EPIC.”

Additionally, there’s been no explanation on what data the CIA, which is supposed to be operating only on foreign soil, has on American citizens.

Alarmingly, there have been multiple reports that top key intelligence officials in the Department of Homeland Security and elsewhere believe supporters of third-party presidential candidates, advocates of the Constitution and pro-lifers may be terrorists.

A DHS-funded study  by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START, “Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1970-2008,” noted that nearly one-third of all terrorist attacks from 1970 to 2008 occurred in five metropolitan counties run by Democrats.
The counties were Manhattan, Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The report went on to list groups by ideology, such as right-wing, left-wing, religious and single-issue.

Interestingly, key data regarding Islamic terrorism is missing from the report.

On Page 22, Table 4 lists “hot spots” for religious terrorism by decade. For the 1990s, it shows there was no religious terrorism in New York or Los Angeles and only two terrorist attacks during the 2000s.

Patrick Poole, writing in PJ Media, noted that the report apparently does not consider the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to be terrorism. Also omitted was a 1994 shooting by Rashid Baz, who killed 16-year-old Jewish student Ari Halberstam and attempted to murder dozens more in a van on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The report also ignores the 2002 shooting at the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport.

Following the attack, which killed two and wounded four others, the FBI and Justice Department concluded that the shooter, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, was an Egyptian terrorist who wanted to be a Muslim martyr.

Also, by cutting the report off at 2007, it was able to omit events such as the Fort Hood massacre by Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 people and wounded 29 others, and the attack at the Little Rock Army recruiting center in which a Muslim convert shot soldiers in front of a recruiting office.

Examples of what START considered to be “right wing” include “groups that believe that one’s personal and/or national ‘way of life’ is under attack and is either already lost or that the threat is imminent.” The report also goes on to describe right-wing terrorists as those who are reverent of individual liberty and suspicious of centralized federal authority.

Under such a definition, the Founding Fathers might have been considered right-wing terrorists.

WND has reported the DHS issued another report listing returning veterans and Christians who believed in end-time prophecies as potentially dangerous right-wing extremists.

A report issued by the Missouri Information Analysis Center warned law enforcement agencies to watch for individuals with bumper stickers for third-party political candidates such as Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin. It also identified opponents of illegal immigration, abortion and federal taxes as possibly harboring radical ideologies.

EPIC also said the government, in another case, has been told to start releasing information about its plans to monitor the Internet in a strategy some believe may “run afoul of privacy laws forbidding government surveillance of private Internet traffic.”

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