A roundup of recent news snippets:
– Washington: House Approves Military Spending Bill – AP – May 26, 2011 – The House on Thursday approved a $690 billion defense bill that limits President Obama’s authority on reducing nuclear weapons and deciding what to do with terrorist suspects. The measure would provide a 1.6 percent increase in military pay, finance an array of aircraft, ships and submarines and meet the Pentagon’s request for $119 billion to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
– Obama signs 4-year Patriot Act extension in France – May 27, 2011 –WASHINGTON — Congress on Thursday passed a four-year extension of post-Sept. 11 powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists. […] lawmakers rejected attempts to temper the law enforcement powers to ensure that individual liberties are not abused. […] Minutes before the midnight deadline, the White House said Obama had signed the bill. […] Congress bumped up against the deadline mainly because of the stubborn resistance from a single senator, Republican freshman Rand Paul of Kentucky, who saw the terrorist-hunting powers as an abuse of privacy rights. Paul held up the final vote for several days while he demanded a chance to change the bill to diminish the government’s ability to monitor individual actions. The bill passed the Senate 72-23. […] Paul argued that in the rush to meet the terrorist threat in 2001 Congress enacted a Patriot Act that tramples on individual liberties. He had some backing from liberal Democrats and civil liberties groups who have long contended the law gives the government authority to spy on innocent citizens. […]
– IntelDaily: Thirty-two Signs That The Entire World Is Being Transformed Into A Futuristic Big Brother Prison Grid – May 25, 2011 – by Michael T. Snyder – Do you want your children and grandchildren to live in a futuristic “big brother” control grid where everything they do is watched, recorded, tracked and tightly controlled? Well, that is exactly where things are headed. We witnessed some really bad totalitarian regimes during the 20th century, but what is coming is going to be far more restrictive than any of the despots of the past ever dreamed was possible. Today, nearly every government on earth is tightening their grip on their citizens. Paranoia has become standard operating procedure all over the planet and nobody is to be trusted. Global politicians will give speeches about liberty and freedom even as they undermine them at every turn. There are very, very few nations on the planet where liberty and freedom are increasing. Instead, almost everywhere you turn the “control grid” is getting tighter. Governments don’t want us gathering together and interacting with one another. Instead, they want us to work our tails off to support the system, they want us enslaved financially and constantly drowning in debt, and they want us addicted to television and other forms of entertainment. They want us as numb and docile as possible. Meanwhile, all over the globe they continue to construct a futuristic “big brother” control grid that will ensure that they will always be able to control us. Sadly, this is not the plot to some post-apocalyptic science fiction movie. This is really happening. When you read the list below, each of the 32 signs may not seem to be all that significant individually. However, when they are all taken together, they paint a truly frightening picture…. Continue reading.
– New Yorker Magazine: A REPORTER AT LARGE – The Secret Sharer – Is Thomas Drake an enemy of the state? – by Jane Mayer – May 23, 2011 – On June 13th, a fifty-four-year-old former government employee named Thomas Drake is scheduled to appear in a courtroom in Baltimore, where he will face some of the gravest charges that can be brought against an American citizen. A former senior executive at the National Security Agency, the government’s electronic-espionage service, he is accused, in essence, of being an enemy of the state. According to a ten-count indictment delivered against him in April, 2010, Drake violated the Espionage Act—the 1917 statute that was used to convict Aldrich Ames, the C.I.A. officer who, in the eighties and nineties, sold U.S. intelligence to the K.G.B., enabling the Kremlin to assassinate informants. In 2007, the indictment says, Drake willfully retained top-secret defense documents that he had sworn an oath to protect, sneaking them out of the intelligence agency’s headquarters, at Fort Meade, Maryland, and taking them home, for the purpose of “unauthorized disclosure.” The aim of this scheme, the indictment says, was to leak government secrets to an unnamed newspaper reporter, who is identifiable as Siobhan Gorman, of the Baltimore Sun. Gorman wrote a prize-winning series of articles for the Sun about financial waste, bureaucratic dysfunction, and dubious legal practices in N.S.A. counterterrorism programs. Drake is also charged with obstructing justice and lying to federal law-enforcement agents. If he is convicted on all counts, he could receive a prison term of thirty-five years. […] When President Barack Obama took office, in 2009, he championed the cause of government transparency, and spoke admiringly of whistle-blowers, whom he described as “often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government.” But the Obama Administration has pursued leak prosecutions with a surprising relentlessness. Including the Drake case, it has been using the Espionage Act to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national-security leaks—more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous Administrations combined. […] Gabriel Schoenfeld, a conservative political scientist at the Hudson Institute, who, in his book “Necessary Secrets” (2010), argues for more stringent protection of classified information, says, “Ironically, Obama has presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history—even more so than Nixon. […]” Read more.
And last but not least, from right down in the Salt Lake valley…:
– NSA to Modernize With Cloud and Crypto Centers – May 26, 2011: – By Darlene Storm, Computerworld – Top dog and CIO of the super secret NSA, Lonny Anderson, spoke with Federal News Radio about NSA’s mission and how it will use the cloud and new crypto centers to modernize the shadowy eyes and ears responsible for global eavesdropping and America’s national defense.
If knowledge is power, then no one is more powerful than the National Security Agency. A motto for the shadowy eyes and ears responsible for America’s national defense is “technology never sleeps.” It takes a 24/7/365 global workforce to support the NSA’s mission. When thought of that way, it’s easier to understand how the NSA slurps up as much data every six hours as is stored in the entire Library of Congress. Imagine collecting about 74 terabytes of raw data every six hours, or enough data to fill four Library of Congress centers every 24 hours! How could the super secret spook agency stockpile that much surveillance every day? Think along the lines of 75,000 men and women eavesdropping on the world by way of 12 satellites circling the globe, 50 aircraft modified to electronically eavesdrop, and every U.S. attack submarine having NSA intercept personnel onboard to make the most of electronic surveillance.
According to author and historian Matthew Aid, “The USS Jimmy Carter submarine works exclusively for NSA tapping cables under the water.” In an interview with 60 Minutes, Aid explained more about how the NSA electronically collects intelligence.
NSA’s chief information officer (CIO) Lonny Anderson talked with Federal News Radio’s Jason Millerabout the NSA’s mission, the three new state-of-the-art NSA cryptological centers in Hawaii, Georgia and Texas, as well as how efficiencies in IT with the cloud will help modernize the secretive intelligence agency.
NSA’s massive 65 megawatt data center is on 240-acres at the National Guard facility in Camp Williams, Utah. The self sustaining complex will have 1 million square feet of enclosed space with 100,000 square feet of working computer space. […] It is supposed to be capable of storing staggering amounts of surveillance data […] Are you paranoid yet?” Anderson said the Utah data center will support the Obama administration’s Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) as well as support the Intelligence Community (IC). It will have new tech and very efficient tech, designed with NSA’s future needs in mind. It will be used to assist Homeland Security, but Anderson said the NSA only helps DHS when asked. […] Much more at: http://www.pcworld.com/article/228800/nsa_to_modernize_with_cloud_and_crypto_centers.html
– Peace out.