Tag Archives: Security

27 Groups Urge Congress to Close FBI ‘Backdoor Search’ Loophole

“Ending this unconstitutional practice is imperative to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance does not swallow Americans’ privacy rights.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-26-2021

Demonstrators march in protest against government mass surveillance in Washington, D.C. on October 26, 2013. Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/CC

Over two dozen advocacy groups on Monday sent a letter urging members of Congress to back a measure that, if enacted, would close the so-called “backdoor search” loophole that allows warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens’ data by government agencies including the FBI and CIA.

The letter (pdf), led by Demand Progress and signed by 27 groups, calls on House leaders to support an amendment to H.R. 4505—the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2022—proposed by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio). Continue reading

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Reality Winner’s Release From Federal Prison Met With Calls for Full Pardon for the NSA Whistleblower

Winner will serve the rest of her five-year sentence under the supervision of a halfway house.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-14-2021

Screenshot: ABC News

Press freedom advocates were among those celebrating the release of former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner on Monday after her attorney announced Winner had been transferred from federal prison to a halfway house.

Alison Grinter Allen, Winner’s lawyer, said the legal team is continuing to pursue a full pardon from President Joe Biden.
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Cracks in the Middle East’s stability grow wider as US influence wanes

With the region experiencing social unrest, greater influence of Russia and China, and Israel’s increasing independence, the future is uncertain

By Paul Rogers  Published 5-29-2021 by openDemocracy

A Palestinian making art out of an unexploded Israeli missile. Photo: Wajd/Twitter

The reopening of the US Consulate in East Jerusalem, which reverses one of Trump’s key moves against the Palestinian Authority, was the most significant outcome of the US secretary of state Antony Blinken’s four-state visit to the Middle East this week.

President Joe Biden’s top diplomat also announced immediate support for reconstruction in Gaza, while maintaining strong support for Israel. Yet Blinken has not proposed new peace talks, nor has he engaged with Hamas, which the US and Israel still deem to be a terrorist organisation. Instead, his quick tour through Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo and Amman was mainly focused on consolidating the ceasefire. If it helps, good, but it still does nothing to address the underlying issues. Continue reading

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Sheriffs in more militarized counties reap election rewards

When local law enforcement agencies get military surplus equipment, like armored vehicles, local sheriffs are more likely to get reelected. AP Photo/David Goldman

Christos Mavridis, Middlesex University; Maurizio Zanardi, University of Surrey, and Orestis Troumpounis, Lancaster University

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The big idea

Sheriffs in counties that get more military surplus equipment from a federal program have a better chance of getting reelected than sheriffs whose counties get less equipment, or less lethal equipment, from the same program, our new research shows.

Through a federal program aimed at fighting drug trafficking and terrorism and improving border security, thousands of law enforcement agencies around the country have gotten billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment, including bulletproof vests, helicopters, robots, firearms and ammunition, and armored vehicles. Continue reading

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Israeli Bombs Destroy Gaza Media Center; AP, Al-Jazeera, Others Taken Out

Israel destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and other media outlets on Saturday, the latest step by Israel to silence reporting.

By Common Dreams  Published 5-15-2021

Photo: Evakatrina/Twitter

Israeli bombs destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and other media outlets on Saturday, the latest step by Israel to silence reporting from Gaza amid its military bombardment. The  Israeli air raid totally demolished the structure. Continue reading

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Privacy Champions Urge Passage of ‘Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale’ Act

“Intelligence and law enforcement agencies must come to understand that the American people are off limits to warrantless mass surveillance, no matter how it is done.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-21-2021

Phpto: Microsiervos/flickr/CC

Federal agencies have taken advantage of legal loopholes to collect massive amounts of personal information from cell phone and internet users without congressional or judicial authorization for years, but that practice is being challenged by a bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers who introduced legislation on Wednesday that would prevent the U.S. government from buying individuals’ information from data brokers without a court order.

Led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a group of 20 senators introduced the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act (pdf) in the upper chamber of Congress. Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) also unveiled an equivalent bill in the House. Continue reading

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‘Racist, Unconstitutional, and Anti-Democratic’: Florida Senate Passes GOP Anti-Protest Bill

“This bill is a disgrace to our state.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-16-2021

George Floyd protests in Miami, Florida on June 6, 2020. Photo: Mike Shaheen/Wikimedia Commons/CC

After Florida’s Senate Republicans on Thursday passed an undemocratic anti-protest bill—expected to be signed into law by its chief proponent, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, as early as next week—the state’s ACLU chapter condemned GOP lawmakers for “aiming to shut down political speech they disagree with in a direct attack on the First Amendment and at the cost of Black and Brown people.”

House Bill 1 “is racist, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic, plain and simple,” Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement. Continue reading

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Dozens of House Dems and Progressive Groups Push Biden to Curb Militarization of Police

“It is absurd that the Pentagon has so much funding they can send their ‘excess’ weaponry to police departments around the country. We need to demilitarize our police and defund the Pentagon now.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-7-2021

A SWAT vehicle, Fulton County Sheriff. Photo: Pinterest

Backed by more than 50 progressive advocacy groups, dozens of House Democrats are urging President Joe Biden to issue an executive order to prevent the transfer of military-grade weaponry from the Pentagon to federal, tribal, state, and local police departments.

In a letter (pdf) sent to the White House on Tuesday afternoon, 29 lawmakers, led by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), argue that taking executive action to reform the Defense Department’s 1033 program “is a reasonable step towards demilitarizing our police forces while preserving the safety of our communities.” Continue reading

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Judge Rejects Application of Israeli Law in Landmark Defamation Case Against Palestinian Activist

“What this judge brilliantly uncovered is that Israeli law is inherently inconsistent with American values.” — Attorney Haytham Faraj

By Alan Macleod,  Published 3-10-2021 by MintPress News

Pictured left is a photo of Rumshiskaya taken for an IDF promotional campaign, and right, a photo of Nafal

A Palestinian-American activist has vowed to continue fighting Apartheid after winning a court case brought against her in the U.S. by a former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldier. Suhair Nafal was facing a defamation suit over a 2018 Facebook post condemning the murder that summer of Palestinian nurse Razan al-Najjar during the Great March of Return. The case was brought by Israeli-American Rebecca Rumshiskaya, who was seeking $6 million in damages after Nafal described her as “evil” for joining the Israeli military.

Bizarrely, Rumshiskaya was also attempting to convince the California court to try Nafal under Israeli law. The attempt backfired, however, as Orange County Superior Court Judge Craig Griffin rejected the suit, even ordering Rumshiskaya to pay Nafal’s legal costs under anti-SLAPP laws, effectively deeming it an attempt to intimidate Nafal into silence. Continue reading

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US, Allies Drop 46 Bombs Per Day for 20 Years, New CODEPINK Research Reveals

The United States has been at war for nearly every year of its existence as an independent nation, fighting in 227 years of its 244-year history.

By Alan Macleod  Published 3-5-2021 by MintPress News

Saddam Hussein’s former castle in Mosul, 2019. Photo: Levi Clancy/Wikimedia Commons/CC

The United States and its allies have dropped at least 326,000 bombs and missiles on countries in the greater Middle East/ North Africa region since 2001. That is the conclusion of new research by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies of anti-war group CODEPINK.

Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen are the countries that have felt the worst of the violence, but Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Palestine and Somalia have also been targeted. The total amounts to an average of 46 bombs dropped per day over the last 20 years. Continue reading

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