Category Archives: Cybersecurity

From the Pentagon Papers to Trump: How the government gained the upper hand against leakers

 

Margot Susca, American University School of Communication

In October 1969, a national security official named Daniel Ellsberg began secretly photocopying 7,000 classified Vietnam War documents. He had become increasingly frustrated with the systematic deception of top U.S. leaders who sought to publicly escalate a war that, privately, they knew was unwinnable.

In March 1971 he leaked the documents – what would became known as the Pentagon Papers – to a New York Times reporter. The newspaper ended up publishing a series of articles that exposed tactical and policy missteps by three administrations on a range of subjects, from covert operations to confusion over troop deployments. Continue reading

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‘Today Is a Great Day’: After 7 Years, Chelsea Manning Takes First Steps of Freedom

Army whistleblower’s release celebrated as “a victory for human rights and the future of freedom of expression”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-17-2017

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning, released from a federal military prison on Wednesday, tweeted this image with the message: “First steps of freedom!!” (Photo: Twitpic/@xychelsea)

“Today is a great day!”

That’s the message from supporters of U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who on Wednesday, after seven years in military prison, is a free woman.

“After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived,” Manning said in a statement upon her release: “I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past. I’m figuring things out right now—which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me,” she said.  Continue reading

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House Intel Committee Gives Trump Monday Deadline for Wiretapping Proof

“The only question is why the president would make up such a thing,” says Rep. Adam Schiff of California

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-12-2017

The White House has been asked by lawmakers to produce evidence of President Donald Trump’s wiretapping claims.

Leading members of the House Intelligence Committee have demanded that President Donald Trump provide evidence by Monday of his claim that Trump Tower was wiretapped—possibly by former President Barack Obama.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that committee chairman, Devin Nunes of California, and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff of California, made the request in a letter sent to the White House last week.

Other lawmakers have made similar demands, including U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), as Common Dreams reported Wednesday.  Continue reading

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Feds Drop Charges in Child Porn Case to Protect Secrets

By . Published 3-9-2017 by The Anti-Media

Official FBI flag. Photo: Public domain

Washington, D.C. — In a case that’s drawn criticism from multiple angles, last week federal prosecutors in Washington state dropped all charges against a man who allegedly downloaded child pornography from a website that was infiltrated, taken over, and allegedly even improved by the FBI.

The site, Playpen, operated on a platform designed to mask the real identities of its users, as Gizmodo explained Monday:

“The site in question operated on the Tor network, a system used to anonymize web activity. The network makes use of a special web browser that conceals people’s identities and location by routing their internet connections through a complex series of computers and encrypting data in the process.” Continue reading

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The FBI’s New FOIA Policy Is a Big Step Backward

By Fiona Morgan. Published 2-26-2017 by Free Press

Dust off your fax machine. The FBI is planning to take a big step backward for government transparency.

As of March 1, the Bureau will no longer accept Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests via email. Anyone seeking public records from the FBI will have to use a new online portal — or send requests via fax or snail mail.

Online FOIA portals may seem like a good idea in theory, but government agencies make them difficult to use — with way too many burdensome requirements.

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Lawmakers Feel the Heat as Resistance Shows Up in Droves to Town Halls

Overflow crowds and tough questions marked Saturday’s Congressional recess events around the country

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-18-2017

“This is what the resistance looks like,” Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan wrote Saturday on Twitter. (Photo: Rep. Mark Pocan/Twitter)

Energized crowds in New York, South Carolina, and Wisconsin on Saturday morning gave lawmakers a hint of what awaits them in their home districts during the upcoming Congressional recess.

The Buffalo News reported that “[h]uge crowds of raucous progressives and quieter conservatives overwhelmed [Republican] Rep. Tom Reed’s town hall meetings in Ashville and Cherry Creek Saturday morning, with the progressives repeatedly interrupting and shouting down the congressman’s comments as he tried to defend Republican plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.”

In Ashville, N.Y., so many people showed up that the meeting had to be moved outside to a parking lot.  Continue reading

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8 Things Congress Has Done While Everyone was Distracted by Trump

By . Published 2-14-2017 by The Anti-Media

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

While we were distracted by the onslaught of executive orders President Trump pushed through during his first two weeks in office, legislators in Congress were busy quietly introducing legislation to bolster his top-down moves.

Here’s what you missed:

1. A House Panel Voted to Terminate the Election Assistance Commission

The House Administration Committee voted 6-3 in favor Republican Congressman Gregg Harper’s bill to terminate the Election Assistance Commission. The EAC, which was created in response to the contentious 2000 Florida election results as part of the Help America Vote Act, is a bipartisan commission that certifies voting machines and is responsible for making sure they cannot be hacked. Continue reading

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Why whistleblowers are essential to democracy

In a functioning democracy, it is absolutely crucial for power to be held to account. For this we need whistleblowers.

By Rebecca Sentance. Published 2-3-2017 by openDemocracy

Free Chelsea Manning.Grafitti in Vienna, Austria, 2014. Wikicommons/smuconlaw.

On January 17, 2017, whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence was commuted to seven years from her date of arrest, in one of President Obama’s last acts before leaving office. At the time of her commutation, Private Manning had spent more time behind bars than any other person in US history who had disclosed information considered to be in the public interest.

The information leaked by Chelsea Manning – videos, diplomatic cables and reports relating to the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan – exposed corruption and human rights abuses, and is widely regarded to have been a catalyst for the Arab Spring that began in December 2010. Continue reading

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House GOP Quietly Moves to Kill Commission Charged With Securing Elections

House Committee also voted to abolish public financing for presidential elections

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-7-2017

Tuesday’s votes by GOP committee members, as The Nation’s Ari Berman put it, are “more proof of how the GOP’s real agenda is to make it harder to vote.” (Photo: Keith Ivey/cc/flickr)

Amid national outrage over possible foreign interference in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump’s own lies about so-called voter fraud, House Republicans on Tuesday quietly advanced two bills that “could profoundly impact the way we administer and finance national elections,” watchdogs are warning.

The GOP-dominated Committee on House Administration voted along party lines to approve the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Termination Act (HR 634), which would abolish the only “federal agency charged with upgrading our voting systems” and “helping to protect our elections from hacking,” as Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at NYU School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice, put it. Continue reading

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Top 5 Stories You Missed in 2016 While Everyone Mourned Dead Celebrities

By Jake Anderson. Published 1-3-2017 by The Anti-Media

Photo: Chris Barker

First of all, let me confess that I shed some tears when David Bowie died. I know all 20+ of his albums by heart, and it felt like a piece of my childhood had disappeared. A few years ago, when Philip Seymour Hoffman died, I also cried. It’s a strange emotional symbiosis that occurs when you mourn for a deceased celebrity, and the point of this article is not to cast aspersions. However, 2016 has basically become known as the year a bunch of celebrities died, so there’s no better time to assess the phenomenon (and make sure it doesn’t distract us from other issues).

Over Christmas weekend, millions of people mourned the loss of George Michael and Carrie Fisher. They were advocates for gay rights and mental illness, respectively, and the nation reeled from the passing of two beloved iconic figures. Earlier this year, music legend Prince passed away, devastating tens of millions of fans for whom the musician represented everything from their adolescence in the 1980s to political statements of gender-bending. The list of celebrities who died in 2016 is extensive and, for some, unnerving. Continue reading

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