Here’s Your Checks and Balances: NSA ‘Continually’ and ‘Systematically’ Violated FISA Court Limits

"Three Strikes" laws definitely don't apply to the NSA's activitiesYesterday evening the Office of the Director of
National Intelligence
released another trove of heavily
redacted documents related to NSA mass data gathering and Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions. The agency acted
in its announcement as though this were an act of magnanimous
behavior by President Barack Obama and not a result of pressure and
lawsuits from privacy groups and information leaked by Edward
Snowden.

Among the releases was the FISC ruling that authorized the
National Security Agency’s effort to collect mass amounts of e-mail
metadata under the George W. Bush administration, an effort that
was ultimately suspended in 2011 (unlike the phone metadata
gathering, which is still going on). Additionally released
documents indicated that the NSA seemed unable to gather metadata
without getting information they weren’t supposed to get, not
matter how many times they’d promise FISC they’d fix the problems.
From the
Associated Press
:

According to court records from 2009, after repeated assurances
the NSA would obey the court’s rules, it acknowledged that it had
collected material improperly. In one instance, the government said
its violations were caused by “poor management, lack of involvement
by compliance officials and lack of internal verification
procedures, not by bad faith.” In another case, the NSA said it
improperly collected information due to a typographical error.

The intelligence court judge, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates,
said in the 2009 case that since the government had repeatedly
offered so many assurances despite the problems continuing, “those
responsible for conducting oversight at the NSA had failed to do so
effectively.” Bates called his conclusion “the most charitable
interpretation possible.”

Eileen Sullivan at the Associated Press does not seem afraid to
cast a subtly critical eye of her own. Note the use of the word
“obvious” in this passage:

After the NSA began the bulk collection program in 2006, one NSA
inspector general’s report said rules already in place were
“adequate” and “in several aspects exceed the terms” of what the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had required. But it
recommended three additional practices be formally adopted. These
included such obvious ideas as not allowing analysts who searched
phone records in the terror database also to approve which numbers
can be searched, and periodically checking the phone numbers that
analysts searched to make sure they had actually been approved.

Spencer Ackerman, who had been reporting on the NSA scandal and
Snowden’s leaks at The Guardian alongside Glenn Greenwald
(and is still doing so there now that Greenwald’s moved on), summed
up the relationship between the NSA and FISC in a tweet:

Read Sullivan’s full report
here
. Ackerman’s analysis of the document dump is
here
.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/19/heres-your-checks-and-balances-nsa-conti
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We May See the End of Obamacare As We Never Knew It, Writes Shikha Dalmia

Happy BarryPresident Barack Obama finally
decided last week to honor his promise of letting people who like
their “junk” insurance policies, keep them. “Period.” In a
rambling, hour-long press conference he said insurers would now be
allowed to restore the plans that he himself had forced them to
cancel because they did not comply with the minimum benefits of the
Affordable Care Act. Whether this will save Democrats from a
shellacking next November remains to be seen, writes Shikha Dalmia.
But this might well be the beginning of the end of Obamacare as we
never knew it.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/19/we-may-see-the-end-of-obamacare-as-we-ne
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A.M. Links: Attack on Iranian Embassy in Beirut Kills at Least 23, Obama Tells Insurance CEOs Obamacare “Fix” May Cost Them, Boston Cops Wary of GPS Tracking

  • Some
    cops in Boston
    are not happy about the prospect of having GPS
    trackers in their cruisers.
  • An Al Qaeda-linked group has claimed responsibility for

    an attack on the Iranian embassy
    in Beirut which has left at
    least 23 people dead.
  • Today is the
    150th anniversary
    of the Gettysburg Address.
  • Obama has told insurance CEOs that his health care
    “fix”
    may cost them. 
  • Rep.
    Hank Johnson
    (D-Ga.) has introduced a bill that would ban
    anyone but law enforcement officials from bringing guns into
    airports.
  • Sen.
    Rand Paul
    (R-Ky.) has said Americans want “someone like
    myself” in 2016. 
  • A
    record number of Americans
    are renouncing their
    citizenship.

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from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/19/am-links-attack-on-iranian-embassy-in-be
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Ronald Bailey Witnesses the "Last Coughs" of a Dying Coal Industry at U.N. Climate Meeting

Warsaw logoThe second week of the 19th
Conference of the Parties (COP-19) to the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) kicked off today. The goal of
the meeting of 10,000 or so participants is to establish a pathway
toward wringing firm commitments out of the 195 signatory countries
to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, chiefly carbon dioxide, by
the COP-21 meeting in Paris in 2015. The climate treaty is intended
to limit the increase in the mean global temperature to no more
than two degrees centigrade above the pre-industrial average.
Watching the festivities, Reason science correspondent
Ronald Bailey wonders if the activists are right that the coal
industry is dying.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/19/ronald-bailey-witnesses-the-last-coughs
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Ronald Bailey Witnesses the “Last Coughs” of a Dying Coal Industry at U.N. Climate Meeting

Warsaw logoThe second week of the 19th
Conference of the Parties (COP-19) to the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) kicked off today. The goal of
the meeting of 10,000 or so participants is to establish a pathway
toward wringing firm commitments out of the 195 signatory countries
to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, chiefly carbon dioxide, by
the COP-21 meeting in Paris in 2015. The climate treaty is intended
to limit the increase in the mean global temperature to no more
than two degrees centigrade above the pre-industrial average.
Watching the festivities, Reason science correspondent
Ronald Bailey wonders if the activists are right that the coal
industry is dying.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/19/ronald-bailey-witnesses-the-last-coughs
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Jerry Brito on Bitcoin: More than Money

At its core, Bitcoin is a completely
decentralized ledger system. It can be thought of as a massive
online version of an accountant’s book in which transactions are
recorded by deducting from one account and adding to another. Jerry
Brito believes this digital protocol promises to change more than
just the future of currency—despite government attempts to rein it
in.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/19/jerry-brito-on-bitcoin-more-than-money
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Brickbat: On My List

Earlier this year, an Illinois
court freed Carl Chatman from prison on rape charges after
prosecutors said they now doubted the credibility of the woman who
accused him of rape and were no
longer certain that a crime even occurred
. He had served 10
years of a 30-year sentence. But his legal troubles weren’t over.
As he was getting ready for church recently, Berwyn police arrested
him for being an unregistered sex offender after they discovered
his name on the state’s sex offender registry. They released him
after prosecutors said his name should not have been on that list.
The Illinois State Police, which maintains the database, said they
would remove his name but could not explain why it was on
there.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/19/brickbat-on-my-list
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Latest Bitcoin Scare: It Funds Assassination of Politicians!

Reason 24/7Many years ago, a man named
Jim Bell wrote
the essay “Assassination
Politics
” about setting up an anonymous online market for
funding hits on control freak government officials and discouraging
people from working within the machinery of the state. Bell ended
up on certain government officials’ radar, as a result, and was
soon busted for harassment of government officials, and
certainly not for exercising his free speech rights,
whatever you or I might suspect. His essay just sort of languished,
as the years went by… And then came Bitcoin…And Tor.

And don’t you know, now there’s an Assassination Market inspired
by Assassination Politics?

Writes
Andy Greenberg at Forbes
:

As Bitcoin becomes an increasingly popular form of digital cash,
the cryptocurrency is being accepted in exchange for everything
from socks to sushi to heroin. If one anarchist has his way, it’ll
soon be used to buy murder, too.

Last month I received an encrypted email from someone calling
himself by the pseudonym Kuwabatake Sanjuro, who pointed me towards
his recent creation: The website Assassination Market, a
crowdfunding service that lets anyone anonymously contribute
bitcoins towards a bounty on the head of any government official–a
kind of Kickstarter for political assassinations. According to
Assassination Market’s rules, if someone on its hit list is
killed–and yes, Sanjuro hopes that many targets will be–any hitman
who can prove he or she was responsible receives the collected
funds.

For now, the site’s rewards are small but not insignificant. In
the four months that Assassination Market has been online, six
targets have been submitted by users, and bounties have been
collected ranging from ten bitcoins for the murder of NSA director
Keith Alexander and 40 bitcoins for the assassination of President
Barack Obama to 124.14 bitcoins–the largest current bounty on
the site–targeting Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal
Reserve and public enemy number one for many of Bitcoin’s
anti-banking-system users. At Bitcoin’s current rapidly rising
exchanges rate, that’s nearly $75,000 for Bernanke’s would-be
killer.

If you think Silk Road upset the feds, you ain’t seen nothin’
yet.

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from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/18/latest-bitcoin-scare-it-funds-assassinat
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America on Way to Energy Independence Despite Fed Gov’t, Obama Policies

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds:

In his weekly radio address, President Obama more or less
took credit for America’s dramatic shift to becoming the world’s
largest energy producer, even as American carbon emissions dropped.
But the headline provided by Investor’s Business
Daily
was more accurate: “Obama: Domestic oil production surges
despite my best efforts.”

In fact, the federal government has limited drilling on federal
land, and taken other steps to make oil production in America
harder. But as Wall Street Journal reporter
Gregory Zuckerman reports in his new book, The
Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire
Wildcatters
, the changes — horizontal drilling and hydraulic
fracturing, or “fracking” — were brought about by a bunch of
outsiders working on their own, without help from either the feds
or from Big Oil….

“[W]ildcatters” were able to do something
that the federal government, despite programs ranging
from synfuels to Solyndra, wasn’t: They produced
cheap energy and a big step toward energy independence.

Thanks to the fracking revolution, the air is cleaner, gas is
cheaper, and petro-state dictatorships have less geopolitical
influence. But this happened not as a result of some big-government
program, but as the result of individuals staking their lives and
fortunes on a risky venture, one that, as Zuckerman notes, made
some rich but left others near bankruptcy.


Whole col here.

Reason on
fracking.

What the Frack is Going On? The Truth About
Fracking:

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/18/america-on-way-to-energy-independence-de
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America on Way to Energy Independence Despite Fed Gov't, Obama Policies

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds:

In his weekly radio address, President Obama more or less
took credit for America’s dramatic shift to becoming the world’s
largest energy producer, even as American carbon emissions dropped.
But the headline provided by Investor’s Business
Daily
was more accurate: “Obama: Domestic oil production surges
despite my best efforts.”

In fact, the federal government has limited drilling on federal
land, and taken other steps to make oil production in America
harder. But as Wall Street Journal reporter
Gregory Zuckerman reports in his new book, The
Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire
Wildcatters
, the changes — horizontal drilling and hydraulic
fracturing, or “fracking” — were brought about by a bunch of
outsiders working on their own, without help from either the feds
or from Big Oil….

“[W]ildcatters” were able to do something
that the federal government, despite programs ranging
from synfuels to Solyndra, wasn’t: They produced
cheap energy and a big step toward energy independence.

Thanks to the fracking revolution, the air is cleaner, gas is
cheaper, and petro-state dictatorships have less geopolitical
influence. But this happened not as a result of some big-government
program, but as the result of individuals staking their lives and
fortunes on a risky venture, one that, as Zuckerman notes, made
some rich but left others near bankruptcy.


Whole col here.

Reason on
fracking.

What the Frack is Going On? The Truth About
Fracking:

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/18/america-on-way-to-energy-independence-de
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