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By John Glover Mar 9, 2014 6:00 AM CT
The amount of debt globally has soared more than 40 percent to $100 trillion since the first signs of the financial crisis as governments borrowed to pull their economies out of recession and companies took advantage of record low interest rates, according to the Bank for International Settlements.
The $30 trillion increase from $70 trillion between mid-2007 and mid-2013 compares with a $3.86 trillion decline in the value of equities to $53.8 trillion in the same period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The jump in debt as measured by the Basel, Switzerland-based BIS in its quarterly review is almost twice the U.S.’s gross domestic product.
Borrowing has soared as central banks suppress benchmark interest rates to spur growth after the U.S. subprime mortgage market collapsed and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s bankruptcy sent the world into its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Yields on all types of bonds, from governments to corporates and mortgages, average about 2 percent, down from more than 4.8 percent in 2007, according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Broad Market Index.
“Given the significant expansion in government spending in recent years, governments (including central, state and local governments) have been the largest debt issuers,” according to Branimir Gruic, an analyst, and Andreas Schrimpf, an economist at the BIS. The organization is owned by 60 central banks and hosts the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, a group of regulators and central bankers that sets global capital standards.
Marketable U.S. government debt outstanding has surged to a record $12 trillion, up from $4.5 trillion at the end of 2007, according to U.S. Treasury data compiled by Bloomberg. Corporate bond sales globally jumped during the period, with issuance totaling more than $21 trillion, Bloomberg data show.
Concerned that high debt loads would cause international investors to avoid their markets, many nations resorted to austerity measures of reduced spending and increased taxes, reining in their economies in the process as they tried to restore the fiscal order they abandoned to fight the worldwide recession.
Adjusting budgets to ignore interest payments, the International Monetary Fund said late last year that the so-called primary deficit in the Group of Seven countries reached an average 5.1 percent in 2010 when also smoothed to ignore large economic swings. The measure will fall to 1.2 percent this year, the IMF predicted.
The unprecedented retrenchments between 2010 and 2013 amounted to 3.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product and 3.3 percent of euro-area GDP, according to Julian Callow, chief international economist at Barclays Plc in London.
The riskiest to the most-creditworthy bonds have returned more than 31 percent since 2007, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data. Treasury and agency debt handed investors gains of 27 percent in the period, while corporate bonds worldwide returned more than 40 percent, the indexes show.
Rand Paul wins CPAC 2014 Presidential Straw Poll C-SPAN
Rand Paul wins CPAC 2014 Presidential Straw Poll C-SPAN
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Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
Rubio and Ryan, GOP leaders in Congress all see big drops in support
Sen. Rand Paul demolished his competition in the 2014 Washington Times/CPAC presidential preference straw poll on Saturday, winning 31 percent of the vote — nearly three times the total of second-place Sen. Ted Cruz.
The poll also found a strong plurality of attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference believe marijuana should be fully legalized, with 41 percent saying it’s time to change the law and tax it. Another 21 percent said it should be legalized only for medicinal purposes, while just 31 percent said it should remain illegal in all cases.
In the presidential poll, Mr. Cruz’s 11 percent was a big improvement for the freshman senator, who won just 4 percent in last year’s straw poll. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson was third with 9 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was fourth with 8 percent in results that signal growing discontent with the GOP establishment in Washington.
Indeed, CPAC voters now have an unfavorable view of Republicans in Congress, with 51 percent saying they disapprove of the job the GOP is doing on Capitol Hill. Just last year the GOP had a 54 percent approval rating, and in 2012 they held a 70 percent approval rating.
But a series of tough votes over the last few months that saw Republican leaders work with President Obama to boost spending and raised the government’s debt limit have deepened a rift between the GOP’s leadership on Capitol Hill and conservative activists around the country.
Enlarge PhotoSen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual … more >
That could be one reason why Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who wrote December’s budget deal that boosted spending in 2014 and 2015, saw his standing with CPAC voters cut in half — from 6 percent support in last year’s presidential straw poll to just 3 percent this year.
Sen. Marco Rubio suffered an even bigger drop, falling from 23 percent and second place in 2013 to seventh place, with 6 percent, this year.
For Mr. Paul, the victory is his second in a row, and he saw his support climb from 25 percent last year to 31 percent this year.
“He is the only true liberty candidate who focuses on civil liberties more than anybody else,” said Al Seltzinger, 36, from Baltimore. “I think the way the nation is going today with the government and the president going against the Constitution that we need someone who holds strict to the Constitution and whose voting record is pretty solid when it comes to the Constitution.”
Mr. Cruz also jumped from just 4 percent last year — when he was a newly sworn-in senator — to his 11 percent this year.
Mr. Carson, who gained prominence with a 27-minute speech challenging Mr. Obama when the two appeared at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, is also on the rise. In last year’s straw poll, taken just after that speech, he garnered 4 percent of the vote, but jumped to 9 percent this year.
“I love Ted Cruz, I love Rand Paul, but Ben Carson is all of the above,” said Jean Carlton, a 71-year-old CPAC attendee who said the doctor’s lack of Washington experience was a big plus.
For his part Mr. Christie, who has faced political troubles back home in New Jersey after his staffers caused a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge to punish a town mayor, seems to be holding steady among activists. He rose from 7 percent last year to 8 percent support this year.
In his speech to the conference on Thursday, Mr. Christie argued that the GOP needs to not only pick a conservative champion, but pick a candidate who can get elected.
“We can’t govern if we can’t win,” he said.
That resonated with some CPAC straw poll voters.
“I think he has the best chance in the general election. I am less optimistic about his chances in the primary, but he seems to be more palatable to Independents and Democrats. I think electability is the main concern,” said Matthew Smith, a 19-year-old student at Yale University.
This year’s straw poll listed 25 potential candidates, which is far more than usual. The high number signals just how wide open the GOP’s presidential contest is with two years to go before the first caucuses and primaries.
On the Democratic side, meanwhile, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton easily leads the rest of her party’s field in national and state polling.
Previous versions of The Washington Times/CPAC poll showed that the audience that gathers in Washington leans younger and more libertarian than the conservative movement throughout the country, which likely gives Mr. Paul a boost with this crowd here.
Indeed, his father, then-Rep. Ron Paul, won the straw poll twice on a similar libertarian-minded message, though he struggled to translate that support into votes when it came to primaries and caucuses.
The straw poll was conducted between Thursday and Saturday afternoon, and 2,459 votes were cast.
Story 3: Diplomatic Agreement — The Budapest Memorandum — Will It Lead To US War With Russia Over Ukraine or More Obama Appeasement? — Videos
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Story 3: Diplomatic Agreement — The Budapest Memorandum — Will It Lead To US War With Russia Over Ukraine or More Obama Appeasement? — Videos
On 1 March 2014, the White House released a press release stating that Russia had breached its obligations to Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum:
President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and which is inconsistent with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act. The United States condemns Russia’s military intervention into Ukrainian territory.
—Office of the Press Secretary
Budapest Memorandums on Security Assurances, 1994
Published December 5, 1994
The Presidents of Ukraine, Russian Federation and United States of America, and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom signed three memorandums (UN Document A/49/765) on December 5, 1994, with the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Through this agreement, these countries (later to include China and France in individual statements) gave national security assurances to Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The Joint Declaration by the Russian Federation and the United States of America of December 4, 2009 confirmed their commitment.
“Welcoming the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear-weapon State,
Taking into account the commitment of Ukraine to eliminate all nuclear weapons from its territory within a specified period of time,
Noting the changes in the world-wide security situation, including the end of the cold war, which have brought about conditions for deep reductions in nuclear forces,
Confirm the following:
1. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine;
2. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or
political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;
3. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind;
4. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear
weapons are used;
5. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm, in the case of Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclearweapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,
except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State;
6. Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America will consult in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments.
This Memorandum will become applicable upon signature.
Signed in four copies having equal validity in the Ukrainian, English and Russian languages.
(Signed) Leonid D. KUCHMA
For the Russian Federation:
(Signed) Boris N. YELTSIN
For the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland:
(Signed) John MAJOR
For the United States of America:
(Signed) William J. CLINTON
U.S./U.K./Ukraine Press Statement on the Budapest Memorandum Meeting
Office of the Spokesperson
March 5, 2014
On 5 March 2014, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a meeting in Paris with the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, William Hague, and the Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Andriy Deshchytsia.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the urgent question of the Budapest Memorandum, the agreement signed by the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Russia in 1994. The United States had conveyed an invitation to the Russian Federation to the meeting. We deeply regret that the Russian Federation declined to attend.
The Budapest Memorandum sets out the obligations of signatories in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons. Under its terms, the three parties commit to refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The Memorandum also obliges the UK, US and Russia to consult in the event of a situation arising where the memorandum commitments are questioned.
Ukraine voluntarily surrendered the world’s third largest nuclear weapons arsenal in exchange for these assurances. The three Governments treat these assurances with utmost seriousness, and expect Russia to as well. Russia has chosen to act unilaterally and militarily. The United Kingdom and United States will continue to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and we commend the new Ukrainian government for not taking actions that might escalate the situation. Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity can only degrade Russia’s international standing and lead to greater political and economic consequences.
In the meeting, the Governments of the United States, United Kingdom and Ukraine discussed steps needed to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and called on Russia to engage in consultations with Ukraine as they have committed to in the Budapest memorandum.
The United States, United Kingdom and Ukraine agreed that direct talks between Ukraine and Russia, facilitated as needed by members of the international community, are crucial to resolving the current situation. They also agreed that international observers should be deployed immediately in Ukraine, especially in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. The three governments reaffirmed the importance of protecting the rights of all Ukrainian citizens, and believed that international observers would help address any concerns regarding irregular forces, military activity and the treatment of all Ukrainians irrespective of their ethnicity or spoken language.
With tensions rising in Crimea and pro-Russian forces controlling the peninsula’s main airports, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has called on Russia to “not violate the Budapest Memorandum.” So what is the “Budapest Memorandum” and what does it have to do with Crimea?
What exactly is the “Budapest Memorandum”?
The “Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances” is a diplomatic memorandum that was signed in December 1994 by Ukraine, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
It is not a formal treaty, but rather, a diplomatic document under which signatories made promises to each other as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Under the memorandum, Ukraine promised to remove all Soviet-era nuclear weapons from its territory, send them to disarmament facilities in Russia, and sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Ukraine kept these promises.
In return, Russia and the Western signatory countries essentially consecrated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine as an independent state. They did so by applying the principles of territorial integrity and nonintervention in 1975 Helsinki Final Act — a Cold War-era treaty signed by 35 states including the Soviet Union — to an independent post-Soviet Ukraine.
Which principles in the Helsinki Final Act, reiterated in the “Budapest Memorandum,” are relevant to the current situation in the Crimea?
In the “Budapest Memorandum,” Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States promised that none of them would ever threaten or use force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine. They also pledged that none of them would ever use economic coercion to subordinate Ukraine to their own interest.
They specifically pledged they would refrain from making each other’s territory the object of military occupation or engage in other uses of force in violation of international law.
All sides agreed that no such occupation or acquisition will be recognized as legal and that the signatories would “consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments.”
Is there anything legally binding about the “Budapest Memorandum” regarding Russia’s obligations to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity?
“That’s actually a much more complex question than it may sound. It is binding in international law, but that doesn’t mean it has any means of enforcement,” says Barry Kellman, a professor of law and director of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University’s College of Law.
“The ‘Budapest Memorandum’ follows the Helsinki Final Act and essentially reiterates its provisions. There are confidence building measures and then a host of other broader obligations – primarily negative obligations. Don’t interfere.”
Kellman concludes that there are a host of other sources of international law that oblige Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity — including the provisions of the CSCE treaty and the UN Charter.
A treaty signed in 1994 by the US and Britain could pull both countries into a war to protect Ukraine if President Putin’s troops cross into the country.
Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine – agreed to the The Budapest Memorandum as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Technically it means that if Russia has invaded Ukraine then it would be difficult for the US and Britain to avoid going to war.
The revelation comes as reports suggest the Kremlin was moving up to 2,000 troops across the Black Sea from Novorossiysk to their fleet base at Sevastopol.
At least 20 men wearing the uniform of the Russian fleet and carrying automatic rifles surrounded a Ukrainian border guard post in a standoff near the port yesterday.
Last night it was still unclear the exact scale of Russian boots on the ground in Crimea or the identity of gunmen who have taken over airports in Simferopol and Sevastopol – though reports suggest they are Russian marines or Moscow- controlled militias.
The action came as President Obama delivered blunt warnings to Moscow.
‘We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,’ he told reporters at the White House.
‘Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing,’ he said in a brief appearance.
‘The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.’
U.S. officials also said the President could scrap plans to attend an international summit in Russia and take negotiations on deepening trade ties with the country off the table in response to Russian involvement in the Ukraine.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel added: “This could be a very dangerous situation if this continues in a provocative way.”
Asked about options in a CBS News interview, he said that “We’re trying to deal with a diplomatic focus, that’s the appropriate, responsible approach.”
Both the U.S. and the UK are advising against all non-essential trips to Ukraine – especially Crimea.
former British Ambassador to Moscow Sir Tony Brenton, who served as British Ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said in an interview that war could be an option ‘if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding.’
NATO also asked Russia not to take action that could escalate tension. However Moscow responded by telling the organization to ‘refrain’ from provocative statements on Ukraine and respect its ‘non-bloc’ status.
Sir Tony Brenton, who served as British Ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said that war could be an option ’if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding.’
It promises to protect Ukraine’s borders, in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.
Kiev has demanded the agreement is activated after insisting their borders had been violated.
In response Mr Brenton said in a BBC radio interview: ‘If indeed this is a Russian invasion of Crimea and if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding then it’s very difficult to avoid the conclusion that we’re going to go to war with Russia’.
Ukraine accused Russia of a ‘military invasion and occupation’, saying Russian troops have taken up positions around a coast guard base and two airports on its strategic Crimea peninsula.
Russia kept silent on the accusations, as the crisis deepened between two of Europe’s largest countries.
Any Russian military incursion in Crimea would dramatically raise the stakes in Ukraine’s conflict, which saw pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych flee last weekend after three months of anti-government protests. Yanukovych vowed Friday at a news conference in Russia to ‘keep fighting for the future of Ukraine,’ though he called any military action ‘unacceptable.’
Moscow has vowed to protect Russian-speaking Ukrainians in Crimea, where it has a major naval base, and Ukraine and the West have warned Russia to stay away.
Russia did not confirm its troops were involved in Friday’s action in Crimea, which would be a major escalation.
In Kiev, Ukraine’s parliament adopted a resolution demanding that Russia halt steps it says are aimed against Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and called for a U.N. Security Council meeting on the crisis.
THE BUDAPEST REFERENDUM
Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances was a international treaty signed on February, 5, 1994, in Budapest.
The diplomatic document saw signatories make promises to each other as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
It was signed by Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine.
The agreement promises to protest Ukraine’s borders in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.
It is not a formal treaty, but rather, a diplomatic document.
It was an unprecedented case in contemporary international life and international law.
Whether is it legally binding in complex.
‘It is binding in international law, but that doesn’t mean it has any means of enforcement,’ says Barry Kellman is a professor of law and director of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University’s College of Law told Radio Free Europe.
‘I can only describe this as a military invasion and occupation,’ Ukraine’s newly named interior minister, Arsen Avakov, wrote in a Facebook post.
The chief of Ukraine’s security council, Andriy Parubiy, seemed to strike a less strident tone later in the day, saying gunmen had tried to ‘seize’ the airports in the Crimean cities of Simferopol and Sevastopol but insisting in comments to the Interfax news agency that ‘de-facto the airports are controlled by the law enforcement bodies of Ukraine.’
Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service also said about 30 Russian marines from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet – which is based in Sevastopol – had taken up position outside the Ukrainian Coast Guard base in the area. It said the marines said they were there to prevent any weapons at the base from being seized by extremists.
Russia’s defense ministry had no comment.
Yanukovych made his first public appearance since fleeing Ukraine in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, not far from the Ukrainian border. It was the first confirmation that he had left the country, and he said he was ‘forced’ to do so only after his family received threats.
‘I intend to keep fighting for the future of Ukraine,’ he said.
Yanukovych said he supports Crimea’s residents who are worried about ‘nationalists’ in Kiev and added that Russia cannot stand by while events in Ukraine unfold. He denied, however, that this amounts to a call for military intervention.
‘Any military action in this situation is unacceptable,’ he said.
Tensions rising: A Russian soldier on an armoured personnel carrier halted on a road in Ukraine around 20 miles from Sebastapol, where there is a large Russian military presence
The prosecutor-general’s office in Kiev said it would seek Yanukovych’s extradition to Ukraine, where he is wanted on suspicion of mass murder in last week’s violent clashes between protesters and police, during which over 80 people were killed.
At the airport serving Simferopol, commercial flights were landing and taking off despite dozens of armed men in military uniforms without markings patrolling with assault rifles. They didn’t stop or search people leaving or entering the airport, and refused to talk to journalists.
One man who identified himself only as Vladimir said the men were part of the Crimean People’s Brigade, which he described as a self-defense unit ensuring that no ‘radicals and fascists’ arrive from other parts of Ukraine. There was no way to verify his account.
The airport deployments came a day after masked gunmen with rocket-propelled grenades and sniper rifles seized the parliament and government offices in Simferopol and raised the Russian flag. Ukrainian police cordoned off the area but didn’t confront the gunmen. They remained in control of the buildings Friday.
The Russian foreign and defense ministries had no comment. Russia’s state RIA Novosti and Interfax cited an unnamed official from the Russian Black Sea Fleet denying involvement, saying Russian servicemen stationed in Crimea have not moved into the airports and denying that the Russian military was in control there.
Tensions between the two countries were high, however. Russia continued with massive combat readiness exercises involving most of its troops in western and southern Russia that it said were unrelated to the Ukraine conflict. The moves were reminiscent of Cold War brinksmanship.
Russian military forces are blockading an airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea, an act Ukraine’s new interior minister has announced branded an ‘armed invasion’
As events in the Crimea region heighten tensions with neighboring Russia, this morning armed men also took over the other main Crimean airport, Simferopol, according to a Facebook post by Mr Avakov
Dozens of armed men in military uniforms without markings were seen patrolling the airport in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea
The move came as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told Ukraine’s new prime minister that the U.S. welcomes the formation of the country’s new government
The Kremlin, in a statement published late Thursday, said President Vladimir Putin had instructed the government to ‘maintain contacts with the counterparts in Kiev in what concerns trade and economic ties between Russia and Ukraine.’
Moscow has been sending mixed signals about Ukraine but pledged to respect its territorial integrity. Putin has long dreamed of pulling Ukraine, a country of 46 million people considered the cradle of Russian civilization, closer into Moscow’s orbit.
Meanwhile, Swiss prosecutors announced they had launched a criminal investigation against Yanukovych and his son Aleksander over ‘aggravated money laundering.’
They said police and Geneva’s chief prosecutor conducted a search and seized documents Thursday at the premises of a company owned by Aleksander Yanukovych.
Ukraine’s ex-President Yanukovych has made his first public appearance since being ousted, telling a news conference that he was going to fight for his country’s future
Switzerland and Austria both said they would freeze any assets Yanukovych and his entourage might have in those countries.
Ukraine’s population is divided in loyalties between Russia and the West, with much of western Ukraine advocating closer ties with the European Union while eastern and southern regions look to Russia for support.
Crimea, a southeastern peninsula of Ukraine that has semi-autonomous status, was seized by Russian forces in the 18th century under Catherine the Great, and was once the crown jewel in Russian and then Soviet empires.
It became part of Ukraine in 1954 when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred jurisdiction from Russia, a move that was a mere formality until the 1991 Soviet collapse meant Crimea landed in an independent Ukraine.
In a bid to shore up Ukraine’s fledgling administration, the International Monetary Fund has said it is ‘ready to respond’ to Ukraine’s bid for financial assistance; Ukraine’s finance ministry has said it needs $35 billion over the next two years to avoid default.
The European Union is also considering emergency loans for a country that is the chief conduit of Russian natural gas to western Europe.
And Putin, in his statement, asked his government to ‘hold consultations with foreign partners including the IMF and the G8 nations to provide financial aid to Ukraine.’
Associated Press journalists approaching the Sevastopol airport found the road leading up to it blocked by two military trucks and a handful of gunmen wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying assault rifles.
A car with Russian military plates was stopped at the roadblock. A man wearing a military uniform with a Russian flag on his sleeve got out of the car and was allowed to enter on foot after a brief discussion with the gunmen.
Fact Check: Could a Little-Known International Agreement With Ukraine Force U.S., Britain Into War With Russia?
The United States and Britain “reaffirmed” their commitment to protect Ukraine’s borders in exchange for the nation giving up its nuclear weapons in a little-known agreement known as the “Budapest Memorandum signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1994.
Sir Tony Brenton, who served as a British ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said war is certainly on the table if it’s determined that the Budapest Memorandum is “legally binding.”
According to the Daily Mail, Kiev has asked that the agreement be honored as it claims its borders have been violated.
“If indeed this is a Russian invasion of Crimea and if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding then it’s very difficult to avoid the conclusion that we’re going to go to war with Russia,” Brenton told BBC radio.
Ukraine has accused Russia of a “military invasion,” though details are still coming in.
The unsettling news comes after President Barack Obama warned Russia about military action in Ukraine on Friday.
The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine … to respect the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.
Reaffirming a “commitment” to Ukraine’s borders and being legally required to go to war are two very different ideas.
There will surely be much debate over whether the Budapest Memorandum is a legally binding agreement requiring action. The U.S. going to war with Russia is likely a last resort for the Obama administration.
Barry Kellman, a professor of law and director of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University’s College of Law, told the website that the answers to questions about whether the agreement is binding are “complex.”
“That’s actually a much more complex question than it may sound. It is binding in international law, but that doesn’t mean it has any means of enforcement,” he said.
“The ‘Budapest Memorandum’ follows the Helsinki Final Act and essentially reiterates its provisions. There are confidence building measures and then a host of other broader obligations – primarily negative obligations. Don’t interfere,” the professor added.
Armed men described as Russian troops took control of key airports in Crimea on Friday and Russian transport planes flew into the strategic region, Ukrainian officials said, an ominous sign of the Kremlin’s iron hand in Ukraine. President Barack Obama bluntly warned Moscow “there will be costs” if it intervenes militarily.
The sudden arrival of men in military uniforms patrolling key strategic facilities prompted Ukraine to accuse Russia of a “military invasion and occupation” – a claim that brought an alarming new dimension to the crisis.
Unidentified armed men patrol outside of Simferopol airport, on February 28, 2014. Ukraine accused today Russia of staging an ‘armed invasion’ of Crimea and appealed to the West to guarantee its territorial integrity after pro-Moscow gunmen took control of the peninsula’s main airport. (Source: AFP PHOTO / VIKTOR DRACHEV VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Obama urged Russia to respect the independence and territory of Ukraine and not try to take advantage of its neighbor, which is undergoing political upheaval.
“Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing,” Obama said.
“Just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic Games, that would invite the condemnation of nations around the world,” he continued. “The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”
The memorandum included security assurances against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine as well as those of Belarus and Kazakhstan. As a result Ukraine gave up the world’s third largest nuclear weapons stockpile between 1994 and 1996.
Following the 2014 Crimean crisis, the US stated that Russian involvement is in breach of its obligations to Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum, and in clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Respect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty within its existing borders.
Refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine.
Refrain from using economic pressure on Ukraine in order to influence its politics.
Seek United Nations Security Council action if nuclear weapons are used against Ukraine.
Refrain from the use of nuclear arms against Ukraine.
Consult with one another if questions arise regarding these commitments.
Under the treaty, the signatories offered Ukraine “security assurances” in exchange for its adhesion to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The memorandum bundled together a set of assurances that Ukraine already held from the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) Final Act, United Nations Charter and Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Ukrainian government nevertheless found it politically valuable to have these assurances in a Ukraine-specific document. 
The Budapest Memorandum was negotiated as a political agreement. It refers to assurances, not defined, but less than a military guarantee of intervention. According to Stephen MacFarlane, a professor of international relations “It gives signatories justification if they take action, but it does not force anyone to act in Ukraine.”
Ukraine gave up the world’s third largest nuclear weapons stockpile between 1994 and 1996 in return for “security assurances” from five nuclear powers, including Russia who was seen by Ukraine as the main threat to its territorial integrity. In 2003, Russian construction efforts were seen as an attempt to annex Tuzla Island off the Crimean coast of Ukraine. The Russian threat to Tuzla led to the Ukrainian leadership appealing to NATO for consultations on security, as outlined in the 1997 NATO-Ukraine Charter, without result. The dispute led to negotiations over delimitation of the maritime borders. In a 2012 preliminary agreement, Ukraine and Russia agreed that Tuzla Island would be considered Ukraine’s territory.[needs update]
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia after hosting the Budapest Memorandum Ministerial on the Ukraine crisis in Paris, France, on March 5, 2014.
In February 2014, unidentified troops seized or blockaded various airports, as well as other strategic sites throughout Crimea. Official Ukrainian sources have said that the troops are Russian, attached to the Russian Black Sea Fleet stationed in Crimea, likely placing Russia in violation of the Budapest Memorandum. The Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed the movement of armoured units attached to the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, but asserts that they are acting within the scope of the various agreements between the two countries. Other official Russian sources deny that the units in the area of Sevastopol International Airport, specifically, are attached to the Black Sea Fleet.
On 1 March 2014, the White House released a press release stating that Russia had breached its obligations to Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum:
President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and which is inconsistent with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act. The United States condemns Russia’s military intervention into Ukrainian territory.
In response to the crisis, the Ukrainian parliament has requested that the Memorandum’s signatories reaffirm their commitment to the principles enshrined in the treaty, and further asked that they hold consultations with Ukraine to ease tensions.
Story 1: Warning You Are Being Tracked — The Secret Surveillance Security State — Vidoes
RFID Blocker Sleeves
Katherine Albrecht interview with Campaign for Liberty Part 1
Katherine Albrecht interview with Campaign for Liberty Part 2
Katherine Albrecht interview with Campaign for Liberty Part 3
WARNING RFID FOR EVERYONE
Katherine Albrecht, RFID expert , Genesis Communications Network Radio Host, and Author of the Book Spychips sat down with Steve Vasquez on April 20th to discuss Real Id and the Enhanced Drivers license.
What does it all mean? Legislation for total control and tracking.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 106A-117 of the U.S. Copyright Law
Katherine Albrecht – Spychips THREAT! Resist RFID & Electronic Surveillance!
The Enhanced Driver License: A Dream Realized
Texas Schools Track Students with RFID Chips! (Nanny of the Month, Nov ’12)
TEXAS Students to be TRACKED With MICROCHIPS. PUNISHMENTS For NON COMPLIANCE
RFID Chip Required in Obama’s Health Care Bill
Police State IBM VeriChip RFID Implant + Edible RFID Tracking Chips
The Fight Against the Total Surveillance State in Our Schools
Students in San Antonio are now being required to carry identification cards containing an RFID chip which allows school administrators to track their movements throughout the school day. While some are passively accepting the program, one brave student, Andrea Hernandez, is asserting her right to privacy. As John Whitehead explains in this week’s vodcast, the battle playing out in San Antonio could be the turning point in the resistance to the total surveillance state.
Students Required to Wear MicroChips on School Campus
Advanced RFID Student ID Card Identification System-Student Safety
Story 1: Who Will Be Obama’s Chief of News Police? News Czar — Creepy Tyranny! — Videos
Greta Van Interviews FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai – ” Government Doesn’t Have a Place in the Newsroom “
FCC newsroom study
Krauthammer’s Take: FCC Newsroom Study Latest Effort ‘to Trample on What Rights are Remaining’
FCC Plan For Newsroom Monitors Sparks Constitutional Concern – Wake Up America – America’
Obama’s News Police – WH Pushes FCC To Install Newsroom Spies – Attack On First Amendment
U.S. Plunges in Global Press Freedom Rankings As Obama Wages War on Whistleblowers
The FCC Wades Into the Newsroom
Why is the agency studying ‘perceived station bias’ and asking about coverage choices?
News organizations often disagree about what Americans need to know. MSNBC, for example, apparently believes that traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., is the crisis of our time. Fox News, on the other hand, chooses to cover the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi more heavily than other networks. The American people, for their part, disagree about what they want to watch.
But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.
Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission, where I am a commissioner, does not agree. Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.
The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”
How does the FCC plan to dig up all that information? First, the agency selected eight categories of “critical information” such as the “environment” and “economic opportunities,” that it believes local newscasters should cover. It plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their “news philosophy” and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information.
The FCC also wants to wade into office politics. One question for reporters is: “Have you ever suggested coverage of what you consider a story with critical information for your customers that was rejected by management?” Follow-up questions ask for specifics about how editorial discretion is exercised, as well as the reasoning behind the decisions.
Participation in the Critical Information Needs study is voluntary—in theory. Unlike the opinion surveys that Americans see on a daily basis and either answer or not, as they wish, the FCC’s queries may be hard for the broadcasters to ignore. They would be out of business without an FCC license, which must be renewed every eight years.
This is not the first time the agency has meddled in news coverage. Before Critical Information Needs, there was the FCC’s now-defunct Fairness Doctrine, which began in 1949 and required equal time for contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues. Though the Fairness Doctrine ostensibly aimed to increase the diversity of thought on the airwaves, many stations simply chose to ignore controversial topics altogether, rather than air unwanted content that might cause listeners to change the channel.
The Fairness Doctrine was controversial and led to lawsuits throughout the 1960s and ’70s that argued it infringed upon the freedom of the press. The FCC finally stopped enforcing the policy in 1987, acknowledging that it did not serve the public interest. In 2011 the agency officially took it off the books. But the demise of the Fairness Doctrine has not deterred proponents of newsroom policing, and the CIN study is a first step down the same dangerous path.
The FCC says the study is merely an objective fact-finding mission. The results will inform a report that the FCC must submit to Congress every three years on eliminating barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the communications industry.
This claim is peculiar. How can the news judgments made by editors and station managers impede small businesses from entering the broadcast industry? And why does the CIN study include newspapers when the FCC has no authority to regulate print media?
Should all stations follow MSNBC’s example and cut away from a discussion with a former congresswoman about the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records to offer live coverage of Justin Bieber‘s bond hearing? As a consumer of news, I have an opinion. But my opinion shouldn’t matter more than anyone else’s merely because I happen to work at the FCC.
Mr. Pai is a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.
The last thing we need is the government mucking around with news content.
The title of this Big Brother-ish effort by the Federal Communications Commission sounds innocuous enough: “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs.” But it’s a Trojan horse that puts federal officials in the newsroom, precisely where they shouldn’t be.
Don’t take my word for it. The FCC says it wants to examine “the process by which stories are selected,” as well as “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”
Perceived station bias? Are you kidding me? Government bureaucrats are going to decide whether a newsroom is being fair?
Keep in mind that the commission has the power to renew or reject broadcast television licenses. During Watergate, Richard Nixon’s FCC challenged two TV licenses of stations owned by the Washington Post. So mere information gathering can become a little more serious, given that enormous clout.
As FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai notes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, the commission “plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their ‘news philosophy’ and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information.” The first test is slated for this spring in Columbia, S.C.
I know that television stations are licensed in the public interest. It’s fair for the FCC to examine how much news a station offers, as opposed to lucrative game shows and syndicated reruns. But the content of that news ought to be off-limits.
The Fairness Doctrine, which once required TV and radio stations to offer equal time for opposing points of view, is no more, and good riddance (since it discouraged stations from taking a stand on much of anything). The Obama administration swears it’s not coming back.
How, then, to explain this incursion into the substance of journalism, which seems utterly at odds with the notion of a free and unfettered press?
Now some of the commentary about this is overheated, with talk of an FCC “thought police” and so on. The effort is beginning in a single city. But already there are signs that the commission is backing off.
Adweek reports that “controversial” sections of the study will be “revisited” under new chairman Tom Wheeler. An FCC official told the publication that the agency “has no intention of interfering in the coverage and editorial choices that journalists make. We’re closely reviewing the proposed research design to determine if an alternative approach is merited.”
The FCC should keep its alternative approaches to itself, as even the posing of these questions carries an intimidation factor. The government has no business meddling in how journalism is practiced. And if George W. Bush’s FCC had tried this, it would be a front-page story.
Story 2: The Pronk Pops Show 207, February 10, 2014, Story 1: Snowden Used Automated Web Crawler To Scrap Data From Over 1.7 Million Restricted National Security Agency Files — Videos
Snowden Used Common, Low-Cost Tool To Get NSA Files: Report
Edward Snowden, v 1.0: NSA Whistleblower William Binney Tells All
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things’
Dick Cheney ‘This Week’ Interview – Former Vice President on NSA Spying Revelations and GOP Politics
A Massive Surveillance State Glenn Greenwald Exposes Covert NSA Program Collecting Calls, Emails
Web Crawler – CS101 – Udacity
Web scraping the easy way
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Lecture -39 Search Engine And Web Crawlers: Part-II
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Snowden Used Low-Cost Tool to Best N.S.A.
By DAVID E. SANGER and ERIC SCHMITT
Intelligence officials investigating how Edward J. Snowden gained access to a huge trove of the country’s most highly classified documents say they have determined that he used inexpensive and widely available software to “scrape” the National Security Agency’s networks, and kept at it even after he was briefly challenged by agency officials.
Using “web crawler” software designed to search, index and back up a website, Mr. Snowden “scraped data out of our systems” while he went about his day job, according to a senior intelligence official. “We do not believe this was an individual sitting at a machine and downloading this much material in sequence,” the official said. The process, he added, was “quite automated.”
The findings are striking because the N.S.A.’s mission includes protecting the nation’s most sensitive military and intelligence computer systems from cyberattacks, especially the sophisticated attacks that emanate from Russia and China. Mr. Snowden’s “insider attack,” by contrast, was hardly sophisticated and should have been easily detected, investigators found.
Moreover, Mr. Snowden succeeded nearly three years after the WikiLeaks disclosures, in which military and State Department files, of far less sensitivity, were taken using similar techniques.
Mr. Snowden had broad access to the N.S.A.’s complete files because he was working as a technology contractor for the agency in Hawaii, helping to manage the agency’s computer systems in an outpost that focuses on China and North Korea. A web crawler, also called a spider, automatically moves from website to website, following links embedded in each document, and can be programmed to copy everything in its path.
Mr. Snowden appears to have set the parameters for the searches, including which subjects to look for and how deeply to follow links to documents and other data on the N.S.A.’s internal networks. Intelligence officials told a House hearing last week that he accessed roughly 1.7 million files.
Among the materials prominent in the Snowden files are the agency’s shared “wikis,” databases to which intelligence analysts, operatives and others contributed their knowledge. Some of that material indicates that Mr. Snowden “accessed” the documents. But experts say they may well have been downloaded not by him but by the program acting on his behalf.
Agency officials insist that if Mr. Snowden had been working from N.S.A. headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., which was equipped with monitors designed to detect when a huge volume of data was being accessed and downloaded, he almost certainly would have been caught. But because he worked at an agency outpost that had not yet been upgraded with modern security measures, his copying of what the agency’s newly appointed No. 2 officer, Rick Ledgett, recently called “the keys to the kingdom” raised few alarms.
“Some place had to be last” in getting the security upgrade, said one official familiar with Mr. Snowden’s activities. But he added that Mr. Snowden’s actions had been “challenged a few times.”
In at least one instance when he was questioned, Mr. Snowden provided what were later described to investigators as legitimate-sounding explanations for his activities: As a systems administrator he was responsible for conducting routine network maintenance. That could include backing up the computer systems and moving information to local servers, investigators were told.
But from his first days working as a contractor inside the N.S.A.’s aging underground Oahu facility for Dell, the computer maker, and then at a modern office building on the island for Booz Allen Hamilton, the technology consulting firm that sells and operates computer security services used by the government, Mr. Snowden learned something critical about the N.S.A.’s culture: While the organization built enormously high electronic barriers to keep out foreign invaders, it had rudimentary protections against insiders.
“Once you are inside the assumption is that you are supposed to be there, like in most organizations,” said Richard Bejtlich, the chief security strategist for FireEye, a Silicon Valley computer security firm, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “But that doesn’t explain why they weren’t more vigilant about excessive activity in the system.”
Investigators have yet to answer the question of whether Mr. Snowden happened into an ill-defended outpost of the N.S.A. or sought a job there because he knew it had yet to install the security upgrades that might have stopped him.
“He was either very lucky or very strategic,” one intelligence official said. A new book, “The Snowden Files,” by Luke Harding, a correspondent for The Guardian in London, reports that Mr. Snowden sought his job at Booz Allen because “to get access to a final tranche of documents” he needed “greater security privileges than he enjoyed in his position at Dell.”
Through his lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, Mr. Snowden did not specifically address the government’s theory of how he obtained the files, saying in a statement: “It’s ironic that officials are giving classified information to journalists in an effort to discredit me for giving classified information to journalists. The difference is that I did so to inform the public about the government’s actions, and they’re doing so to misinform the public about mine.”
The N.S.A. declined to comment on its investigation or the security changes it has made since the Snowden disclosures. Other intelligence officials familiar with the findings of the investigations underway — there are at least four — were granted anonymity to discuss the investigations.
In interviews, officials declined to say which web crawler Mr. Snowden had used, or whether he had written some of the software himself. Officials said it functioned like Googlebot, a widely used web crawler that Google developed to find and index new pages on the web. What officials cannot explain is why the presence of such software in a highly classified system was not an obvious tip-off to unauthorized activity.
When inserted with Mr. Snowden’s passwords, the web crawler became especially powerful. Investigators determined he probably had also made use of the passwords of some colleagues or supervisors.
But he was also aided by a culture within the N.S.A., officials say, that “compartmented” relatively little information. As a result, a 29-year-old computer engineer, working from a World War II-era tunnel in Oahu and then from downtown Honolulu, had access to unencrypted files that dealt with information as varied as the bulk collection of domestic phone numbers and the intercepted communications of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and dozens of other leaders.
Officials say web crawlers are almost never used on the N.S.A.’s internal systems, making it all the more inexplicable that the one used by Mr. Snowden did not set off alarms as it copied intelligence and military documents stored in the N.S.A.’s systems and linked through the agency’s internal equivalent of Wikipedia.
The answer, officials and outside experts say, is that no one was looking inside the system in Hawaii for hard-to-explain activity. “The N.S.A. had the solution to this problem in hand, but they simply didn’t push it out fast enough,” said James Lewis, a computer expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has talked extensively with intelligence officials about how the Snowden experience could have been avoided.
Nonetheless, the government had warning that it was vulnerable to such attacks. Similar techniques were used by Chelsea Manning, then known as Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was convicted of turning documents and videos over to WikiLeaks in 2010.
Evidence presented during Private Manning’s court-martial for his role as the source for large archives of military and diplomatic files given to WikiLeaks revealed that he had used a program called “wget” to download the batches of files. That program automates the retrieval of large numbers of files, but it is considered less powerful than the tool Mr. Snowden used.
The program’s use prompted changes in how secret information is handled at the State Department, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies, but recent assessments suggest that those changes may not have gone far enough. For example, arguments have broken out about whether the N.S.A.’s data should all be encrypted “at rest” — when it is stored in servers — to make it harder to search and steal. But that would also make it harder to retrieve for legitimate purposes.
Investigators have found no evidence that Mr. Snowden’s searches were directed by a foreign power, despite suggestions to that effect by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, in recent television appearances and at a hearing last week.
But that leaves open the question of how Mr. Snowden chose the search terms to obtain his trove of documents, and why, according to James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, they yielded a disproportionately large number of documents detailing American military movements, preparations and abilities around the world.
In his statement, Mr. Snowden denied any deliberate effort to gain access to any military information. “They rely on a baseless premise, which is that I was after military information,” Mr. Snowden said.
The head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, told lawmakers last week that Mr. Snowden’s disclosures could tip off adversaries to American military tactics and operations, and force the Pentagon to spend vast sums to safeguard against that. But he admitted a great deal of uncertainty about what Mr. Snowden possessed.
“Everything that he touched, we assume that he took,” said General Flynn, including details of how the military tracks terrorists, of enemies’ vulnerabilities and of American defenses against improvised explosive devices. He added, “We assume the worst case.”
A Web crawler may also be called a Web spider, an ant, an automatic indexer, or (in the FOAF software context) a Web scutter.
Web search engines and some other sites use Web crawling or spidering software to update their web content or indexes of others sites’ web content. Web crawlers can copy all the pages they visit for later processing by a search engine that indexes the downloaded pages so that users can search them much more quickly.
A Web crawler starts with a list of URLs to visit, called the seeds. As the crawler visits these URLs, it identifies all the hyperlinks in the page and adds them to the list of URLs to visit, called the crawl frontier. URLs from the frontier are recursively visited according to a set of policies.
The large volume implies that the crawler can only download a limited number of the Web pages within a given time, so it needs to prioritize its downloads. The high rate of change implies that the pages might have already been updated or even deleted.
The number of possible URLs crawled being generated by server-side software has also made it difficult for web crawlers to avoid retrieving duplicate content. Endless combinations of HTTP GET (URL-based) parameters exist, of which only a small selection will actually return unique content. For example, a simple online photo gallery may offer three options to users, as specified through HTTP GET parameters in the URL. If there exist four ways to sort images, three choices of thumbnail size, two file formats, and an option to disable user-provided content, then the same set of content can be accessed with 48 different URLs, all of which may be linked on the site. This mathematical combination creates a problem for crawlers, as they must sort through endless combinations of relatively minor scripted changes in order to retrieve unique content.
As Edwards et al. noted, “Given that the bandwidth for conducting crawls is neither infinite nor free, it is becoming essential to crawl the Web in not only a scalable, but efficient way, if some reasonable measure of quality or freshness is to be maintained.” A crawler must carefully choose at each step which pages to visit next.
The behavior of a Web crawler is the outcome of a combination of policies:
a selection policy that states which pages to download,
a re-visit policy that states when to check for changes to the pages,
a politeness policy that states how to avoid overloading Web sites, and
Given the current size of the Web, even large search engines cover only a portion of the publicly available part. A 2005 study showed that large-scale search engines index no more than 40-70% of the indexable Web; a previous study by Steve Lawrence and Lee Giles showed that no search engine indexed more than 16% of the Web in 1999. As a crawler always downloads just a fraction of the Web pages, it is highly desirable that the downloaded fraction contains the most relevant pages and not just a random sample of the Web.
This requires a metric of importance for prioritizing Web pages. The importance of a page is a function of its intrinsic quality, its popularity in terms of links or visits, and even of its URL (the latter is the case of vertical search engines restricted to a single top-level domain, or search engines restricted to a fixed Web site). Designing a good selection policy has an added difficulty: it must work with partial information, as the complete set of Web pages is not known during crawling.
Cho et al. made the first study on policies for crawling scheduling. Their data set was a 180,000-pages crawl from the stanford.edu domain, in which a crawling simulation was done with different strategies. The ordering metrics tested were breadth-first, backlink count and partial Pagerank calculations. One of the conclusions was that if the crawler wants to download pages with high Pagerank early during the crawling process, then the partial Pagerank strategy is the better, followed by breadth-first and backlink-count. However, these results are for just a single domain. Cho also wrote his Ph.D. dissertation at Stanford on web crawling.
Najork and Wiener performed an actual crawl on 328 million pages, using breadth-first ordering. They found that a breadth-first crawl captures pages with high Pagerank early in the crawl (but they did not compare this strategy against other strategies). The explanation given by the authors for this result is that “the most important pages have many links to them from numerous hosts, and those links will be found early, regardless of on which host or page the crawl originates.”
Abiteboul designed a crawling strategy based on an algorithm called OPIC (On-line Page Importance Computation). In OPIC, each page is given an initial sum of “cash” that is distributed equally among the pages it points to. It is similar to a Pagerank computation, but it is faster and is only done in one step. An OPIC-driven crawler downloads first the pages in the crawling frontier with higher amounts of “cash”. Experiments were carried in a 100,000-pages synthetic graph with a power-law distribution of in-links. However, there was no comparison with other strategies nor experiments in the real Web.
Boldi et al. used simulation on subsets of the Web of 40 million pages from the .it domain and 100 million pages from the WebBase crawl, testing breadth-first against depth-first, random ordering and an omniscient strategy. The comparison was based on how well PageRank computed on a partial crawl approximates the true PageRank value. Surprisingly, some visits that accumulate PageRank very quickly (most notably, breadth-first and the omniscient visit) provide very poor progressive approximations.
Baeza-Yates et al. used simulation on two subsets of the Web of 3 million pages from the .gr and .cl domain, testing several crawling strategies. They showed that both the OPIC strategy and a strategy that uses the length of the per-site queues are better than breadth-first crawling, and that it is also very effective to use a previous crawl, when it is available, to guide the current one.
Daneshpajouh et al. designed a community based algorithm for discovering good seeds. Their method crawls web pages with high PageRank from different communities in less iteration in comparison with crawl starting from random seeds. One can extract good seed from a previously-crawled-Web graph using this new method. Using these seeds a new crawl can be very effective.
Restricting followed links
A crawler may only want to seek out HTML pages and avoid all other MIME types. In order to request only HTML resources, a crawler may make an HTTP HEAD request to determine a Web resource’s MIME type before requesting the entire resource with a GET request. To avoid making numerous HEAD requests, a crawler may examine the URL and only request a resource if the URL ends with certain characters such as .html, .htm, .asp, .aspx, .php, .jsp, .jspx or a slash. This strategy may cause numerous HTML Web resources to be unintentionally skipped.
Some crawlers may also avoid requesting any resources that have a “?” in them (are dynamically produced) in order to avoid spider traps that may cause the crawler to download an infinite number of URLs from a Web site. This strategy is unreliable if the site uses a rewrite engine to simplify its URLs.
Crawlers usually perform some type of URL normalization in order to avoid crawling the same resource more than once. The term URL normalization, also called URL canonicalization, refers to the process of modifying and standardizing a URL in a consistent manner. There are several types of normalization that may be performed including conversion of URLs to lowercase, removal of “.” and “..” segments, and adding trailing slashes to the non-empty path component.
Some crawlers intend to download as many resources as possible from a particular web site. So path-ascending crawler was introduced that would ascend to every path in each URL that it intends to crawl. For example, when given a seed URL of http://llama.org/hamster/monkey/page.html, it will attempt to crawl /hamster/monkey/, /hamster/, and /. Cothey found that a path-ascending crawler was very effective in finding isolated resources, or resources for which no inbound link would have been found in regular crawling.
Many path-ascending crawlers are also gallery — from a specific page or host.
The importance of a page for a crawler can also be expressed as a function of the similarity of a page to a given query. Web crawlers that attempt to download pages that are similar to each other are called focused crawler or topical crawlers. The concepts of topical and focused crawling were first introduced by Menczer and by Chakrabarti et al.
The main problem in focused crawling is that in the context of a Web crawler, we would like to be able to predict the similarity of the text of a given page to the query before actually downloading the page. A possible predictor is the anchor text of links; this was the approach taken by Pinkerton in the first web crawler of the early days of the Web. Diligenti et al. propose using the complete content of the pages already visited to infer the similarity between the driving query and the pages that have not been visited yet. The performance of a focused crawling depends mostly on the richness of links in the specific topic being searched, and a focused crawling usually relies on a general Web search engine for providing starting points.
An example of the focused crawlers are academic crawlers, which crawls free-access academic related documents, such as the citeseerxbot, which is the crawler of CiteSeerX search engine. Other academic search engines are Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search etc. Because most academic papers are published in PDF formats, such kind of crawler is particularly interested in crawling PDF, PostScript files, Microsoft Word including their zipped formats. Because of this, general open source crawlers, such as Heritrix, must be customized to filter out other MIME types, or a middleware is used to extract these documents out and import them to the focused crawl database and repository. Identifying whether these documents are academic or not is challenging and can add a significant overhead to the crawling process, so this is performed as a post crawling process using machine learning or regular expression algorithms. These academic documents are usually obtained from home pages of faculties and students or from publication page of research institutes. Because academic documents takes only a small faction in the entire web pages, a good seed selection are important in boosting the efficiencies of these web crawlers. Other academic crawlers may download plain text and HTML files, that contains metadata of academic papers, such as titles, papers, and abstracts. This increases the overall number of papers, but a significant fraction may not provide free PDF downloads.
The Web has a very dynamic nature, and crawling a fraction of the Web can take weeks or months. By the time a Web crawler has finished its crawl, many events could have happened, including creations, updates and deletions.
From the search engine’s point of view, there is a cost associated with not detecting an event, and thus having an outdated copy of a resource. The most-used cost functions are freshness and age.
Freshness: This is a binary measure that indicates whether the local copy is accurate or not. The freshness of a page p in the repository at time t is defined as:
Age: This is a measure that indicates how outdated the local copy is. The age of a page p in the repository, at time t is defined as:
Coffmanet al. worked with a definition of the objective of a Web crawler that is equivalent to freshness, but use a different wording: they propose that a crawler must minimize the fraction of time pages remain outdated. They also noted that the problem of Web crawling can be modeled as a multiple-queue, single-server polling system, on which the Web crawler is the server and the Web sites are the queues. Page modifications are the arrival of the customers, and switch-over times are the interval between page accesses to a single Web site. Under this model, mean waiting time for a customer in the polling system is equivalent to the average age for the Web crawler.
The objective of the crawler is to keep the average freshness of pages in its collection as high as possible, or to keep the average age of pages as low as possible. These objectives are not equivalent: in the first case, the crawler is just concerned with how many pages are out-dated, while in the second case, the crawler is concerned with how old the local copies of pages are.
Two simple re-visiting policies were studied by Cho and Garcia-Molina:
Uniform policy: This involves re-visiting all pages in the collection with the same frequency, regardless of their rates of change.
Proportional policy: This involves re-visiting more often the pages that change more frequently. The visiting frequency is directly proportional to the (estimated) change frequency.
(In both cases, the repeated crawling order of pages can be done either in a random or a fixed order.)
Cho and Garcia-Molina proved the surprising result that, in terms of average freshness, the uniform policy outperforms the proportional policy in both a simulated Web and a real Web crawl. Intuitively, the reasoning is that, as web crawlers have a limit to how many pages they can crawl in a given time frame, (1) they will allocate too many new crawls to rapidly changing pages at the expense of less frequently updating pages, and (2) the freshness of rapidly changing pages lasts for shorter period than that of less frequently changing pages. In other words, a proportional policy allocates more resources to crawling frequently updating pages, but experiences less overall freshness time from them.
To improve freshness, the crawler should penalize the elements that change too often. The optimal re-visiting policy is neither the uniform policy nor the proportional policy. The optimal method for keeping average freshness high includes ignoring the pages that change too often, and the optimal for keeping average age low is to use access frequencies that monotonically (and sub-linearly) increase with the rate of change of each page. In both cases, the optimal is closer to the uniform policy than to the proportional policy: as Coffmanet al. note, “in order to minimize the expected obsolescence time, the accesses to any particular page should be kept as evenly spaced as possible”. Explicit formulas for the re-visit policy are not attainable in general, but they are obtained numerically, as they depend on the distribution of page changes. Cho and Garcia-Molina show that the exponential distribution is a good fit for describing page changes, while Ipeirotiset al. show how to use statistical tools to discover parameters that affect this distribution. Note that the re-visiting policies considered here regard all pages as homogeneous in terms of quality (“all pages on the Web are worth the same”), something that is not a realistic scenario, so further information about the Web page quality should be included to achieve a better crawling policy.
Crawlers can retrieve data much quicker and in greater depth than human searchers, so they can have a crippling impact on the performance of a site. Needless to say, if a single crawler is performing multiple requests per second and/or downloading large files, a server would have a hard time keeping up with requests from multiple crawlers.
As noted by Koster, the use of Web crawlers is useful for a number of tasks, but comes with a price for the general community. The costs of using Web crawlers include:
network resources, as crawlers require considerable bandwidth and operate with a high degree of parallelism during a long period of time;
server overload, especially if the frequency of accesses to a given server is too high;
poorly written crawlers, which can crash servers or routers, or which download pages they cannot handle; and
personal crawlers that, if deployed by too many users, can disrupt networks and Web servers.
A partial solution to these problems is the robots exclusion protocol, also known as the robots.txt protocol that is a standard for administrators to indicate which parts of their Web servers should not be accessed by crawlers. This standard does not include a suggestion for the interval of visits to the same server, even though this interval is the most effective way of avoiding server overload. Recently commercial search engines like Google, Ask Jeeves, MSN and Yahoo! Search are able to use an extra “Crawl-delay:” parameter in the robots.txt file to indicate the number of seconds to delay between requests.
The first proposed interval between successive pageloads was 60 seconds. However, if pages were downloaded at this rate from a website with more than 100,000 pages over a perfect connection with zero latency and infinite bandwidth, it would take more than 2 months to download only that entire Web site; also, only a fraction of the resources from that Web server would be used. This does not seem acceptable.
Cho uses 10 seconds as an interval for accesses, and the WIRE crawler uses 15 seconds as the default. The MercatorWeb crawler follows an adaptive politeness policy: if it took t seconds to download a document from a given server, the crawler waits for 10t seconds before downloading the next page. Dill et al. use 1 second.
For those using Web crawlers for research purposes, a more detailed cost-benefit analysis is needed and ethical considerations should be taken into account when deciding where to crawl and how fast to crawl.
Anecdotal evidence from access logs shows that access intervals from known crawlers vary between 20 seconds and 3–4 minutes. It is worth noticing that even when being very polite, and taking all the safeguards to avoid overloading Web servers, some complaints from Web server administrators are received. Brin and Page note that: “… running a crawler which connects to more than half a million servers (…) generates a fair amount of e-mail and phone calls. Because of the vast number of people coming on line, there are always those who do not know what a crawler is, because this is the first one they have seen.”
A parallel crawler is a crawler that runs multiple processes in parallel. The goal is to maximize the download rate while minimizing the overhead from parallelization and to avoid repeated downloads of the same page. To avoid downloading the same page more than once, the crawling system requires a policy for assigning the new URLs discovered during the crawling process, as the same URL can be found by two different crawling processes.
High-level architecture of a standard Web crawler
A crawler must not only have a good crawling strategy, as noted in the previous sections, but it should also have a highly optimized architecture.
While it is fairly easy to build a slow crawler that downloads a few pages per second for a short period of time, building a high-performance system that can download hundreds of millions of pages over several weeks presents a number of challenges in system design, I/O and network efficiency, and robustness and manageability.
Web crawlers are a central part of search engines, and details on their algorithms and architecture are kept as business secrets. When crawler designs are published, there is often an important lack of detail that prevents others from reproducing the work. There are also emerging concerns about “search engine spamming“, which prevent major search engines from publishing their ranking algorithms.
Web crawlers typically identify themselves to a Web server by using the User-agent field of an HTTP request. Web site administrators typically examine their Web servers‘ log and use the user agent field to determine which crawlers have visited the web server and how often. The user agent field may include a URL where the Web site administrator may find out more information about the crawler. Examining Web server log is tedious task therefore some administrators use tools such as CrawlTrack or SEO Crawlytics to identify, track and verify Web crawlers. Spambots and other malicious Web crawlers are unlikely to place identifying information in the user agent field, or they may mask their identity as a browser or other well-known crawler.
It is important for Web crawlers to identify themselves so that Web site administrators can contact the owner if needed. In some cases, crawlers may be accidentally trapped in a crawler trap or they may be overloading a Web server with requests, and the owner needs to stop the crawler. Identification is also useful for administrators that are interested in knowing when they may expect their Web pages to be indexed by a particular search engine.
Crawling the deep web
A vast amount of web pages lie in the deep or invisible web. These pages are typically only accessible by submitting queries to a database, and regular crawlers are unable to find these pages if there are no links that point to them. Google’s Sitemaps protocol and mod oai are intended to allow discovery of these deep-Web resources.
Deep web crawling also multiplies the number of web links to be crawled. Some crawlers only take some of the URLs in <a href="URL"> form. In some cases, such as the Googlebot, Web crawling is done on all text contained inside the hypertext content, tags, or text.
Strategic approaches may be taken to target deep Web content. With a technique called screen scraping, specialized software may be customized to automatically and repeatedly query a given Web form with the intention of aggregating the resulting data. Such software can be used to span multiple Web forms across multiple Websites. Data extracted from the results of one Web form submission can be taken and applied as input to another Web form thus establishing continuity across the Deep Web in a way not possible with traditional web crawlers.
Pages built on AJAX are among those causing problems to web crawlers. Google has proposed a format of AJAX calls that their bot can recognize and index
Web crawler bias
A recent study based on a large scale analysis of robots.txt files showed that certain web crawlers were preferred over others, with Googlebot being the most preferred web crawler.
The following is a list of published crawler architectures for general-purpose crawlers (excluding focused web crawlers), with a brief description that includes the names given to the different components and outstanding features:
Googlebot is described in some detail, but the reference is only about an early version of its architecture, which was based in C++ and Python. The crawler was integrated with the indexing process, because text parsing was done for full-text indexing and also for URL extraction. There is a URL server that sends lists of URLs to be fetched by several crawling processes. During parsing, the URLs found were passed to a URL server that checked if the URL have been previously seen. If not, the URL was added to the queue of the URL server.
PolyBot is a distributed crawler written in C++ and Python, which is composed of a “crawl manager”, one or more “downloaders” and one or more “DNS resolvers”. Collected URLs are added to a queue on disk, and processed later to search for seen URLs in batch mode. The politeness policy considers both third and second level domains (e.g.: http://www.example.com and www2.example.com are third level domains) because third level domains are usually hosted by the same Web server.
RBSE was the first published web crawler. It was based on two programs: the first program, “spider” maintains a queue in a relational database, and the second program “mite“, is a modified wwwASCII browser that downloads the pages from the Web.
WebCrawler was used to build the first publicly available full-text index of a subset of the Web. It was based on lib-WWW to download pages, and another program to parse and order URLs for breadth-first exploration of the Web graph. It also included a real-time crawler that followed links based on the similarity of the anchor text with the provided query.
World Wide Web Worm was a crawler used to build a simple index of document titles and URLs. The index could be searched by using the grepUnix command.
WebFountain is a distributed, modular crawler similar to Mercator but written in C++. It features a “controller” machine that coordinates a series of “ant” machines. After repeatedly downloading pages, a change rate is inferred for each page and a non-linear programming method must be used to solve the equation system for maximizing freshness. The authors recommend to use this crawling order in the early stages of the crawl, and then switch to a uniform crawling order, in which all pages are being visited with the same frequency.
WebRACE is a crawling and caching module implemented in Java, and used as a part of a more generic system called eRACE. The system receives requests from users for downloading web pages, so the crawler acts in part as a smart proxy server. The system also handles requests for “subscriptions” to Web pages that must be monitored: when the pages change, they must be downloaded by the crawler and the subscriber must be notified. The most outstanding feature of WebRACE is that, while most crawlers start with a set of “seed” URLs, WebRACE is continuously receiving new starting URLs to crawl from.
In addition to the specific crawler architectures listed above, there are general crawler architectures published by Cho and Chakrabarti.
Web scraping is closely related to web indexing, which indexes information on the web using a bot or web crawler and is a universal technique adopted by most search engines. In contrast, web scraping focuses more on the transformation of unstructured data on the web, typically in HTML format, into structured data that can be stored and analyzed in a central local database or spreadsheet. Web scraping is also related to web automation, which simulates human browsing using computer software. Uses of web scraping include online price comparison, contact scraping, weather data monitoring, website change detection, research, web mashup and web data integration.
Web scraping is the process of automatically collecting information from the World Wide Web. It is a field with active developments sharing a common goal with the semantic web vision, an ambitious initiative that still requires breakthroughs in text processing, semantic understanding, artificial intelligence and human-computer interactions. Web scraping, instead, favors practical solutions based on existing technologies that are often entirely ad hoc. Therefore, there are different levels of automation that existing web-scraping technologies can provide:
Human copy-and-paste: Sometimes even the best web-scraping technology cannot replace a human’s manual examination and copy-and-paste, and sometimes this may be the only workable solution when the websites for scraping explicitly set up barriers to prevent machine automation.
Text grepping and regular expression matching: A simple yet powerful approach to extract information from web pages can be based on the UNIX grep command or regular expression-matching facilities of programming languages (for instance Perl or Python).
HTML parsers. Many websites have large collections of pages generated dynamically from an underlying structured source like a database. Data of the same category are typically encoded into similar pages by a common script or template. In data mining, a program that detects such templates in a particular information source, extracts its content and translates it into a relational form called a wrapper. Wrapper generation algorithms assume that input pages of a wrapper induction system conform to a common template and that they can be easily identified in terms of a URL common scheme.. Moreover, some semi-structured data query languages, such as XQuery and the HTQL, can be used to parse HTML pages and to retrieve and transform page content.
DOM parsing: By embedding a full-fledged web browser, such as the Internet Explorer or the Mozilla browser control, programs can retrieve the dynamic content generated by client-side scripts. These browser controls also parse web pages into a DOM tree, based on which programs can retrieve parts of the pages.
Web-scraping software: There are many software tools available that can be used to customize web-scraping solutions. This software may attempt to automatically recognize the data structure of a page or provide a recording interface that removes the necessity to manually write web-scraping code, or some scripting functions that can be used to extract and transform content, and database interfaces that can store the scraped data in local databases.
Vertical aggregation platforms: There are several companies that have developed vertical specific harvesting platforms. These platforms create and monitor a multitude of “bots” for specific verticals with no man-in-the-loop,[clarification needed] and no work related to a specific target site. The preparation involves establishing the knowledge base for the entire vertical and then the platform creates the bots automatically. The platform’s robustness is measured by the quality of the information it retrieves (usually number of fields) and its scalability (how quick it can scale up to hundreds or thousands of sites). This scalability is mostly used to target the Long Tail of sites that common aggregators find complicated or too labor-intensive to harvest content from.
Semantic annotation recognizing: The pages being scraped may embrace metadata or semantic markups and annotations, which can be used to locate specific data snippets. If the annotations are embedded in the pages, as Microformat does, this technique can be viewed as a special case of DOM parsing. In another case, the annotations, organized into a semantic layer, are stored and managed separately from the web pages, so the scrapers can retrieve data schema and instructions from this layer before scraping the pages.
Computer vision web-page analyzers. There are efforts using machine learning and computer vision that attempt to identify and extract information from web pages by interpreting pages visually as a human being might.
One of the first major tests of screen scraping involved American Airlines, and a firm called FareChase. AA successfully obtained an injunction from a Texas trial court, stopping FareChase from selling software that enables users to compare online fares if it also searches AA’s website. The airline argued that FareChase’s websearch software trespassed on AA’s servers when it collected the publicly available data. FareChase filed an appeal in March 2003. By June, FareChase and AA agreed to settle and the appeal was dropped.
Southwest Airlines has also challenged screen-scraping practices, and has involved both FareChase and another firm, Outtask, in a legal claim. Southwest Airlines charged that the screen-scraping is Illegal since it is an example of “Computer Fraud and Abuse” and has led to “Damage and Loss” and “Unauthorized Access” of Southwest’s site. It also constitutes “Interference with Business Relations”, “Trespass”, and “Harmful Access by Computer”. They also claimed that screen-scraping constitutes what is legally known as “Misappropriation and Unjust Enrichment”, as well as being a breach of the web site’s user agreement. Outtask denied all these claims, claiming that the prevailing law in this case should be US Copyright law, and that under copyright, the pieces of information being scraped would not be subject to copyright protection. Although the cases were never resolved in the Supreme Court of the United States, FareChase was eventually shuttered by parent company Yahoo!, and Outtask was purchased by travel expense company Concur.
Although these are early scraping decisions, and the theories of liability are not uniform, it is difficult to ignore a pattern emerging that the courts are prepared to protect proprietary content on commercial sites from uses which are undesirable to the owners of such sites. However, the degree of protection for such content is not settled, and will depend on the type of access made by the scraper, the amount of information accessed and copied, the degree to which the access adversely affects the site owner’s system and the types and manner of prohibitions on such conduct.
Outside of the United States, in February 2006, the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court (Copenhagen) ruled that systematic crawling, indexing, and deep linking by portal site ofir.dk of real estate site Home.dk does not conflict with Danish law or the database directive of the European Union.
In 2009 Facebook won one of the first copyright suits against a known web scraper. This laid the groundwork for numerous lawsuits that tie any web scraping with a direct copyright violation and very clear monetary damages. The most recent case being AP v Meltwater, where the courts stripped what is referred to as fair use on the internet.
In a February 2010 case complicated by matters of jurisdiction, Ireland’s An Ard-Chúirt delivered a verdict that illustrates the inchoate state of developing case law. In the case of Ryanair Ltd v Billigfluege.de GmbH, Ireland’s High Court ruled Ryanair’s “click-wrap” agreement to be legally binding. In contrast to the findings of the United States District Court Eastern District of Virginia and those of the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court, Mr. Justice Michael Hanna ruled that the hyperlink to Ryanair’s terms and conditions was plainly visible, and that placing the onus on the user to agree to terms and conditions in order to gain access to online services is sufficient to comprise a contractual relationship. Where here may be another legal issue, of data non-valid or incorrect information, as most of data mixed with lot of “Junk” or “Spam”. Where with respect to data ware house there are: may be limitation of query interface, inconsistence output and rapid change in data by admin without any notice.  The decision is under appeal in Ireland’s Supreme Court, the Cúirt Uachtarach na hÉireann.
In Australia, the Spam Act 2003 outlaws some forms of web harvesting, although this only applies to email addresses.
Technical measures to stop bots
The administrator of a website can use various measures to stop or slow a bot. Some techniques include:
Blocking an IP address. This will also block all browsing from that address.
Disabling any web service API that the website’s system might expose.
Bots sometimes declare who they are (using user agent strings) and can be blocked on that basis (using robots.txt); ‘googlebot‘ is an example. Some bots make no distinction between themselves and a human browser.
Bots can be blocked by excess traffic monitoring.
Bots can sometimes be blocked with tools to verify that it is a real person accessing the site, like a CAPTCHA. Bots are sometimes coded to explicitly break specific Captcha patterns.
Commercial anti-bot services: Companies offer anti-bot and anti-scraping services for websites. A few web application firewalls have limited bot detection capabilities as well.
Locating bots with a honeypot or other method to identify the IP addresses of automated crawlers.
Story 1: Democrats Lose 50 Year War on Poverty Start 100 Year War on Work: Millennial Moocher Mania — Grow The Government Shrink The Economy and Employment! — Progressive Permanent Poverty People — Videos Videos
The Chicago professor examined the law’s incentives for the poor not to get a job or work harder, and this week Beltway budgeteers agreed.
By JOSEPH RAGO
In September, two weeks before the Affordable Care Act was due to launch, President Obama declared that “there’s no serious evidence that the law . . . is holding back economic growth.” As for repealing ObamaCare, he added, “That’s not an agenda for economic growth. You’re not going to meet an economist who says that that’s a number-one priority in terms of boosting growth and jobs in this country—at least not a serious economist.”
In a way, Mr. Obama had a point: “Never met him,” says economist Casey Mulligan. If the unfamiliarity is mutual, the confusion is all presidential. Mr. Mulligan studies how government choices influence the incentives and rewards for work—and many more people may recognize the University of Chicago professor as a serious economist after this week. That’s because, more than anyone, Mr. Mulligan is responsible for the still-raging furor over the Congressional Budget Office’s conclusion that ObamaCare will, in fact, harm growth and jobs.
Rarely are political tempers so raw over an 11-page appendix to a dense budget projection for the next decade. But then the CBO—Congress’s official fiscal scorekeeper, widely revered by Democrats and Republicans alike as the gold standard of economic analysis—reported that by 2024 the equivalent of 2.5 million Americans who were otherwise willing and able to work before ObamaCare will work less or not at all as a result of ObamaCare.
As the CBO admits, that’s a “substantially larger” and “considerably higher” subtraction to the labor force than the mere 800,000 the budget office estimated in 2010. The overall level of labor will fall by 1.5% to 2% over the decade, the CBO figures.
Mr. Mulligan’s empirical research puts the best estimate of the contraction at 3%. The CBO still has some of the economics wrong, he said in a phone interview Thursday, “but, boy, it’s a lot better to be off by a factor of two than a factor of six.”
The CBO’s intellectual conversion is all the more notable for accepting Mr. Mulligan’s premise, which is that what economists call “implicit marginal tax rates” in ObamaCare make work less financially valuable for lower-income Americans. Because the insurance subsidies are tied to income and phase out as cash wages rise, some people will have the incentive to remain poorer in order to continue capturing higher benefits. Another way of putting it is that taking away benefits has the same effect as a direct tax, so lower-income workers are discouraged from climbing the income ladder by working harder, logging extra hours, taking a promotion or investing in their future earnings through job training or education.
The CBO works in mysterious ways, but its commentary and a footnote suggest that two National Bureau of Economic Research papers Mr. Mulligan published last August were “roughly” the most important drivers of this revision to its model. In short, the CBO has pulled this economist’s arguments and analysis from the fringes to center of the health-care debate.
For his part, Mr. Mulligan declines to take too much credit. “I’m not an expert in that town, Washington,” he says, “but I showed them my work and I know they listened, carefully.”
At a February 2013 hearing he pointed out several discrepancies between the CBO’s marginal-tax-rate work and its health-care work, and, he says, “That couldn’t persist forever. There would have to be a time where they would reconcile those two approaches somehow.” More to the point, “I knew eventually it would be acknowledged that when you pay people for being low income you are going to have more low-income people.”
Mr. Mulligan thinks the CBO deserves particular credit for learning and then revising the old 800,000 number, not least because so many liberals cited it to dispute the claims of ObamaCare’s critics. The new finding might have prompted a debate about the marginal tax rates confronting the poor, but—well, it didn’t.
Instead, liberals have turned to claiming that ObamaCare’s missing workers will be a gift to society. Since employers aren’t cutting jobs per se through layoffs or hourly take-backs, people are merely choosing rationally to supply less labor. Thanks to ObamaCare, we’re told, Americans can finally quit the salt mines and blacking factories and retire early, or spend more time with the children, or become artists.
Mr. Mulligan reserves particular scorn for the economists making this “eliminated from the drudgery of labor market” argument, which he views as a form of trahison des clercs. “I don’t know what their intentions are,” he says, choosing his words carefully, “but it looks like they’re trying to leverage the lack of economic education in their audience by making these sorts of points.”
A job, Mr. Mulligan explains, “is a transaction between buyers and sellers. When a transaction doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. We know that it doesn’t matter on which side of the market you put the disincentives, the results are the same. . . . In this case you’re putting an implicit tax on work for households, and employers aren’t willing to compensate the households enough so they’ll still work.” Jobs can be destroyed by sellers (workers) as much as buyers (businesses).
He adds: “I can understand something like cigarettes and people believe that there’s too much smoking, so we put a tax on cigarettes, so people smoke less, and we say that’s a good thing. OK. But are we saying we were working too much before? Is that the new argument? I mean make up your mind. We’ve been complaining for six years now that there’s not enough work being done. . . . Even before the recession there was too little work in the economy. Now all of a sudden we wake up and say we’re glad that people are working less? We’re pursuing our dreams?”
The larger betrayal, Mr. Mulligan argues, is that the same economists now praising the great shrinking workforce used to claim that ObamaCare would expand the labor market.
He points to a 2011 letter organized by Harvard’s David Cutler and the University of Chicago’s Harold Pollack, signed by dozens of left-leaning economists including Nobel laureates, stating “our strong conclusion” that ObamaCare will strengthen the economy and create 250,000 to 400,000 jobs annually. (Mr. Cutler has since qualified and walked back some of his claims.)
“Why didn’t they say, no, we didn’t mean the labor market’s going to get bigger. We mean it’s going to get smaller in a good way,” Mr. Mulligan wonders. “I’m unhappy with that, to be honest, as an American, as an economist. Those kind of conclusions are tarnishing the field of economics, which is a great, maybe the greatest, field. They’re sure not making it look good by doing stuff like that.”
Mr. Mulligan’s investigation into the Affordable Care Act builds on his earlier work studying the 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka the stimulus.
The Keynesian economists who dominate Mr. Obama’s Washington are preoccupied by demand, and their explanation for persistently high post-recession unemployment is weak demand for goods and thus demand for labor. Mr. Mulligan, by contrast, studies the supply of labor and attributes the state of the economy in large part to the expansion of the entitlement and welfare state, such as the surge in food stamps, unemployment benefits, Medicaid and other safety-net programs. As these benefits were enriched and extended to more people by the stimulus, he argues in his 2012 book “The Redistribution Recession,” they were responsible for about half the drop in work hours since 2007, and possibly more.
The nearby chart tracks marginal tax rates over time for nonelderly household heads and spouses with median earnings. This index is a population-weighted average over various ages, jobs, employment decisions like full-time versus part-time. Basically, the chart shows the extra taxes paid and government benefits foregone as a result of earning an extra dollar of income.
The stimulus caused a spike in marginal rates, but at least it was temporary. ObamaCare will bring them permanently into the 47% range, or seven percentage points higher than in early 2007. Mr. Mulligan says the main response to his calculations is that people “didn’t realize the cumulative effect of these things together as a package to discourage work.”
Mr. Mulligan is uncomfortable speculating about whether the benefits of this shift outweigh the costs. Perhaps the public was willing to trade market efficiency for more income security after the 2008 crisis. “As an economist I can’t argue with that,” he says. “The thing that I argue with is the denial that there is a trade-off. I argue with the denial that if you pay unemployed people you’re going to get more unemployed people. There are consequences of that. That doesn’t mean the consequences aren’t worth paying. But you can’t deny the consequences for the labor market.”
One major risk is slower economic growth over time as people leave the workforce and contribute less to national prosperity. Another is that social programs with high marginal rates end up perpetuating the problems they’re supposed to be alleviating.
So amid the current wave of liberal ObamaCare denial about these realities, how did Mr. Mulligan end up conducting such “unconventional” research?
“Unconventional?” he asks with more than a little disbelief. “It’s not unconventional at all. The critique I get is that it’s not complicated enough.”
Well, then how come the CBO’s adoption of his insights is causing such a ruckus?
“I would phrase the question a little differently,” Mr. Mulligan responds, “which is: Why didn’t conventional economic analysis make its way to Washington? Why was I the only delivery boy? Why wasn’t there a laundry list?” The charitable explanation, he says, is that there was “a general lack of awareness” and economists simply didn’t realize everything that government was doing to undermine incentives for work. “You have to dig into it and see it,” he explains. “The Affordable Care Act’s not going to come and shake you out of your bed and say, ‘Look what’s in me.’ “
Judging by their reaction to the CBO report, the less charitable explanation is that liberals would have preferred that the public never found out.
Mr. Rago is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.
Lawmakers Spar Over CBO’s U.S. Health-Law Findings
Questions Over Impact on Workforce Create ‘Hysteria’ on Capitol Hill
A new report outlining the effect of the Affordable Care Act on the labor market continued to reverberate on Capitol Hill Wednesday, with lawmakers in both parties saying the findings bolstered their view of how the law would play out.
Republicans at a House Budget Committee hearing said the report, released Tuesday, shows the health law will drive people out of the work force. Democrats countered that the report shows the law will give workers flexibility to leave jobs they are locked into because of health-care benefits.
The sparring came in response to a Congressional Budget Office analysis concluding that subsidies in the law, combined with easier access to health care, would create incentives for many Americans to cut their work hours, leading to a net reduction of 1.5% to 2% from 2017 through 2024. This would be the equivalent of reducing the labor force by 2.5 million workers in 2024, the CBO found.
“The effects we estimated are almost entirely choices by people,” CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf said at the hearing. He said, for example, that the labor changes wouldn’t be driven by employers cutting jobs, but rather workers deciding to cut back on their hours to take care of their children, parents, or to pursue other interests.
The report struck a chord in Washington. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.) said at the hearing that the analysis by CBO, a nonpartisan agency that advises Congress, had caused “hysteria.”
Many Republicans said the CBO confirmed their long-held belief that the law would have a direct impact on the labor market and harm economic growth. They said it would expedite the decline in labor-force participation, which is expected to worsen in coming years as more aging Americans drop out of the work force.
“These changes—they disproportionately affect low-wage workers,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) said. “Translation: Washington is making the poverty trap worse.”
Democrats on Wednesday said the study confirmed their belief that the law would free many Americans from a phenomenon known as “job lock,” or the idea that people don’t change their jobs for fear of losing their health benefits.
“More Americans will be able to voluntarily, choose—choose—to work fewer hours or not take a job because they don’t depend on that job any more for the provision of health insurance,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) said. “Before the Affordable Care Act, if you lost your job, you lost your health insurance.”
Mr. Elmendorf stressed that the law’s impact on the labor market could be difficult to predict. He agreed, for example, with one Republican lawmaker who said that by reducing the number of hours worked by many Americans, it would reduce overall wages and lower the amount of money people paid in taxes from 2017 through 2024.
But he also agreed with a Democratic lawmaker who said the law could—in the short-term—create some new jobs by freeing up disposable income from workers who previously had to set aside money for health coverage.
The law’s impact on the labor market has drawn the focus of researchers since it was passed, in part because the law makes so many changes to health-care delivery that its broader economic impacts have proved difficult to predict.
A 2013 study by researchers at Northwestern University, Columbia University and the University of Chicago estimated the Affordable Care Act’s impact could be particularly acute, including among Americans who are near retirement and hang on to jobs to retain health care before they qualify for Medicare at age 65.
The study found the new law “creates a nonemployer option for health insurance that is going to be fairly priced for a large number of Americans, and that hasn’t been available,” said Craig Garthwaite, an assistant professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and one of the study’s co-authors.
But he said there is a trade-off to the broader access to health care, and said “there should be some pause for concern here about any policies that actually weaken labor-force attachment.”
CBO Report Forecasts More People Will Opt to Work Less as They Seek Coverage Through Affordable Care Act
By LOUISE RADNOFSKY and DAMIAN PALETTA
The new health law is projected to reduce the total number of hours Americans work by the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time jobs in 2021, a bigger impact on the workforce than previously expected, according to a nonpartisan congressional report.
The analysis, by the Congressional Budget Office, says a key factor is people scaling back how much they work and instead getting health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The agency had earlier forecast the labor-force impact would be the equivalent of 800,000 workers in 2021.
Because the CBO estimated that the changes would be a result of workers’ choices, it said the law, President Barack Obama‘s signature initiative, wouldn’t lead to a rise in the unemployment rate. But the labor-force impact could slow growth in future years, though the precise impact is uncertain.
Social programs in the United States
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Social Security Administration, created in 1935, was the first major federal welfare agency and continues to be the most prominent.
The programs vary in eligibility requirements and are provided by various organizations on a federal, state, local and private level. They help to provide food, shelter, education, healthcare and money to U.S. citizens through primary and secondary education, subsidies of college education, unemployment disability insurance, subsidies for eligible low-wage workers, subsidies for housing, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, pensions for eligible persons and health insurance programs that cover public employees. The Social Security system is the largest and most prominent social aid program.Medicare is another prominent program.
Not including Social Security and Medicare, Congress allocated almost $717 billion in Federal funds in 2010 plus $210 billion was allocated in state funds ($927 billion total) for means tested welfare programs in the United States–later (after 2010) expenditures are unknown but higher. As of 2011, the public social spending-to-GDP ratio in the United States was below the OECD average.
Total Social Security and Medicare expenditures in 2013 were $1.3 trillion, 8.4% of the $16.3 trillion GNP (2013) and 37% of the total Federal expenditure budget of $3.684 trillion.
In addition to government expenditures private welfare spending in the United States is thought to be about 10% of the U.S. GDP or another $1.6 trillion.
[hide]Characteristics of Households by Quintile 2010
Earners Per Household
Married couples (%)
Single Parents or Single (%)
Ages of Householders
65 years +
Work Status householders (%)
Worked Full Time (%)
Worked Part Time (%)
Did Not Work (%)
Education of Householders (%)
Less than High School
High School or some College
Bachelor’s degree or Higher
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Social programs have been implemented to promote a variety of societal goals, including alleviating the effects of poverty on those earning or receiving low income or encountering serious medical problems, and ensuring retired people have a basic standard of living.
Eligibility for welfare benefits depends on a variety of factors, including gross and net income, family size, pregnancy, homelessness, unemployment, and serious medical conditions like blindness, kidney failure or AIDS.
Drug Testing for applicants
Drug testing in order for potential recipients to receive welfare has become an increasingly controversial topic. Richard Hudson, a Republican from North Carolina claims he pushes for drug screening as a matter of “moral obligation” and that testing should be enforced as a way for the United States government to discourage drug usage.  Others claim that ordering the needy to drug test “stereotypes, stigmatizes, and criminalizes” them without need.  States that currently require drug tests to be performed in order to receive public assistance include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah.
A chart showing the overall decline of average monthly welfare benefits (AFDC then TANF) per recipient 1962–2006 (in 2006 dollars).
Some have argued that welfare has come to be associated with poverty. Martin Gilens, assistant professor of Political Science at Yale University, argues that blacks have overwhelmingly dominated images of poverty over the last few decades and states that “white Americans with the most exaggerated misunderstandings of the racial composition of the poor are the most likely to oppose welfare”. This perception possibly perpetuates negative racial stereotypes and could increase Americans’ opposition and racialization of welfare policies.
In FY 2010, African-American families comprised 31.9% of TANF families, white families comprised 31.8%, and 30.0% were Hispanic. Since the implementation of TANF, the percentage of Hispanic families has increased, while the percentages of white and black families have decreased. In FY 1997, African-American families represented 37.3% of TANF recipient families, white families 34.5%, and Hispanic families 22.5%. The population as a whole is composed of 63.7% whites, 16.3% Hispanic, 12.5% African-American, 4.8% Asian and 2.9% other races. TANF programs at a cost of about $20.0 billion (2013) have decreased in use as Earned Income Tax Credits, Medicaid grants, food stamps (SNAP),Supplemental Security Income (SSI), child nutrition programs (CHIP), housing assistance, Feeding Programs (WIC & CSFP) along with about 70 more programs have increase to over $700.0 billion more in 2013.
In 2002, total U.S. social welfare expenditure constitutes over 35% of GDP, with purely public expenditure constituting 21%, publicly supported but privately provided welfare services constituting 10% of GDP and purely private services constituting 4% of GDP. This compared to the “welfare” states of France and Sweden where welfare spending ranges from 30% to 35% of GDP.
The Great Recession made a large impact on welfare spending. In a 2011 article, Forbes reported, “The best estimate of the cost of the 185 federal means tested welfare programs for 2010 for the federal government alone is $717 billion, up a third since 2008, according to the Heritage Foundation. Counting state spending of about $210 million, total welfare spending for 2010 reached over $920 billion, up nearly one-fourth since 2008 (24.3%)”–and increasing fast. The previous decade had seen a 60% decrease in the number of people receiving welfare benefits, beginning with the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, but spending did not decrease proportionally during that time period.
Impact of social programs
[hide]Average Incomes and Taxes
CBO Study 2009*
Tax rate %3
Taxes Pd. 5
Source: Congressional Budget Office Study
1. Market Income = All wages, tips, incomes etc. as listed on Income tax form
2. Federal Transfers = all EITC, CTC, medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), Social Security, SSI etc. received
3. Average tax rate includes all Social Security, Medicare, income, business income, excise, etc. taxes.
4. Net Federal taxes paid in dollars
5. Percent of all federal taxes paid
6. #W = Average number of workers per household in this quintile
7. % Net Income = percentage of all national income each quintile receives after taxes and transfers.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, social programs significantly raise the standard of living for low-income Americans, particularly the elderly. The poorest 20% of American households earn a before-tax average of only $7,600 – less than half of the federal poverty line. Social programs increase those households’ before-tax income to $30,500. Social Security and Medicare are responsible for two-thirds of that increase.
Public Health nursing made available through child welfare services, 1935.
Federal Social Welfare programs
Colonial legislatures and later State governments adopted legislation patterned after the English “poor” laws. Aid to veterans, often free grants of land, and pensions for widows and handicapped veterans, have been offered in all U.S. wars. Following World War I, provisions were made for a full-scale system of hospital and medical care benefits for veterans. By 1929, workers’ compensation laws were in effect in all but four States. These state laws made industry and businesses responsible for the costs of compensating workers or their survivors when the worker was injured or killed in connection with his or her job. Retirement programs for mainly State and local government paid teachers, police officers, and fire fighters—date back to the 19th century. All these social programs were far from universal and varied considerably from one state to another.
Prior to the Great Depression the United States had social programs that mostly centered around individual efforts, family efforts, church charities, business workers compensation, life insurance and sick leave programs along with some state tax supported social programs. The misery and poverty of the great depression threatened to overwhelm all these programs. The severe Depression of the 1930s made Federal action almost a necessity, as neither the States and the local communities, businesses and industries, nor private charities had the financial resources to cope with the growing need among the American people. Beginning in 1932, the Federal Government first made loans, then grants, to States to pay for direct relief and work relief. After that, special Federal emergency relief like the Civilian Conservation Corps and other public works programs were started. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s administration proposed to Congress federal social relief programs and a federally sponsored retirement program. Congress followed by the passage of the 37 page Social Security Act, signed into law August 14, 1935 and “effective” by 1939–just as World War II began. This program was expanded several times over the years.
After the Great Society legislation of the 1960s, for the first time a person who was not elderly or disabled could receive need-based aid from the federal government.[dubious – discuss] Aid could include general welfare payments, health care through Medicaid, food stamps, special payments for pregnant women and young mothers, and federal and state housing benefits.
In 1968, 4.1% of families were headed by a woman receiving welfare assistance; by 1980, the percentage increased to 10%. In the 1970s, California was the U.S. state with the most generous welfare system. Virtually all food stamp costs are paid by the federal government. In 2008, 28.7 percent of the households headed by single women were considered poor.
Welfare reform (1990s)
Before the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, welfare assistance was “once considered an open-ended right,” but welfare reform converted it “into a finite program built to provide short-term cash assistance and steer people quickly into jobs.” Prior to reform, states were given “limitless” money by the federal government, increasing per family on welfare, under the 60-year-old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. This gave states no incentive to direct welfare funds to the neediest recipients or to encourage individuals to go off welfare benefits (the state lost federal money when someone left the system). Nationwide, one child in seven received AFDC funds, which mostly went to single mothers.
In 1996, under the Bill Clintonadministration, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which gave more control of the welfare system to the states though there are basic requirements the states need to meet with regards to welfare services. Still, most states offer basic assistance, such as health care, food assistance, child care assistance, unemployment, cash aid, and housing assistance. After reforms, which President Clinton said would “end welfare as we know it,”amounts from the federal government were given out in a flat rate per state based on population.
Each state must meet certain criteria to ensure recipients are being encouraged to work themselves out of welfare. The new program is called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). It encourages states to require some sort of employment search in exchange for providing funds to individuals, and imposes a five-year lifetime limit on cash assistance. The bill restricts welfare from most legal immigrants and increased financial assistance for child care. The federal government also maintains an emergency $2 billion TANF fund to assist states that may have rising unemployment.
Following these changes, millions of people left the welfare rolls (a 60% drop overall), employment rose, and the child poverty rate was reduced. A 2007 Congressional Budget Office study found that incomes in affected families rose by 35%. The reforms were “widely applauded” after “bitter protest.”The Times called the reform “one of the few undisputed triumphs of American government in the past 20 years.”
Critics of the reforms sometimes point out that the massive decrease of people on the welfare rolls during the 1990s wasn’t due to a rise in actual gainful employment in this population, but rather, was due almost exclusively to their offloading into workfare, giving them a different classification than classic welfare recipient. The late 1990s were also considered an unusually strong economic time, and critics voiced their concern about what would happen in an economic downturn.
National Revieweditorialized that the Economic Stimulus Act of 2009 will reverse the welfare-to-work provisions that Bill Clinton signed in the 1990s, and will again base federal grants to states on the number of people signed up for welfare rather than at a flat rate. One of the experts who worked on the 1996 bill said that the provisions would lead to the largest one-year increase in welfare spending in American history. The House bill provides $4 billion to pay 80% of states’ welfare caseloads. Although each state received $16.5 billion annually from the federal government as welfare rolls dropped, they spent the rest of the block grant on other types of assistance rather than saving it for worse economic times.
[hide]Spending on largest Welfare Programs
Federal Spending 2003-2013*
Medicaid Grants to States
Food Stamps (SNAP)
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Child Nutrition Program (CHIP)
Support Payments to States, TANF
Feeding Programs (WIC & CSFP)
Low Income Home Energy Assistance
* Spending in millions of dollars
The following is a short timeline of welfare in the United States:
1880s–1890s: Attempts were made to move poor people from work yards to poor houses if they were in search of relief funds.
1893–1894: Attempts were made at the first unemployment payments, but were unsuccessful due to the 1893–1894recession.
1932: The Great Depression had gotten worse and the first attempts to fund relief failed. The “Emergency Relief Act”, which gave local governments $300 million, was passed into law.
WIA Adult Employment and Training
formerly JTPA IIA Training for
Disadvantaged Adults & Youth
Food Stamp Employment
and Training Program
Native American Training
TANF Block Grant Services
Title XX Social Services Block Grant
Community Service Block Grant
Social Services for
Refugees Asylees and Humanitarian Cases
Safe and Stable Families
Title III Aging Americans Act
Legal Services Block Grant
Emergency Food and Shelter Program
Healthy Marriage and
Responsible Fatherhood Grants
Independent Living (Chafee
Foster Care Independence Program)
Independent Living Training Vouchers
Maternal, Infants and
Children Home Visitation
CHILD CARE AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT
Child Development Block Grant
Childcare Entitlement to the States
TANF Block Grant Child Care
CHILD CARE & CHILD DEVELOPMENT TOTAL
Community Development Block Grant
and Related Development Funds
Administration (Dept. of Commerce)
Appalachian Regional Development
Enterprise Communities Renewal
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TOTAL
TOTAL in millions (2011)
Social Security OASDI (2013)
TOTAL in millions
* Spending in millions of dollars
2.3 Trillion Dollar Total of Social Security, Medicare and Means Tested Welfare
is low since latest 2013 means tested data not available but 2013
“real” TOTAL will be higher
The Social Security program mainly refers to the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program, and possibly the unemployment insurance program. Retirement Insurance Benefits (RIB), also known as Old-age Insurance Benefits, are a form of social insurance payments made by the U.S. Social Security Administration paid based upon the attainment old age (62 or older).
Unemployment insurance, also known as unemployment compensation, provides for money, from the United States and the state collected from employers, to workers who have become unemployed through no fault of their own. The unemployment benefits are run by each state with different state defined criteria for duration, percent of income paid, etc.. Nearly all require the recipient to document their search for employment to continue receiving benefits. Extensions of time for receiving benefits are sometimes offered for extensive work unemployment. These extra benefits are usually in the form of loans from the federal government that have to be repaid by each state.
Medicare is a social insurance program administered by the United States government, providing health insurance coverage to people who are aged 65 and over; to those who are under 65 and are permanently physically disabled or who have a congenital physical disability; or to those who meet other special criteria like the End Stage Renal Disease program (ESRD). Medicare in the United States somewhat resembles a single-payer health care system but is not. Before Medicare, only 51% of people aged 65 and older had health care coverage, and nearly 30% lived below the federal poverty level.
Medicaid is a health program for certain people and families with low incomes and resources. It is a means-tested program that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and is managed by the states. People served by Medicaid are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, including low-income adults, their children, and people with certain disabilities. Poverty alone does not necessarily qualify someone for Medicaid. Medicaid is the largest source of funding for medical and health-related services for people with limited income in the United States.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a program administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children. The program was designed to cover uninsured children in families with incomes that are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid.
Per capita spending on tertiary education is among the highest in the world. Public education is managed by individual states, municipalities and regional school districts. As in all developed countries, primary and secondary education is free, universal and mandatory. Parents do have the option of home-schooling their children, though some states, such as California (until a 2008 legal ruling overturned this requirement), require parents to obtain teaching credentials before doing so. Experimental programs give lower-income parents the option of using government issued vouchers to send their kids to private rather than public schools in some states/regions.
As of 2007, more than 80% of all primary and secondary students were enrolled in public schools, including 75% of those from households with incomes in the top 5%. Public schools commonly offer after-school programs and the government subsidizes private after school programs, such as the Boys & Girls Club. While pre-school education is subsidized as well, through programs such as Head Start, many Americans still find themselves unable to take advantage of them. Some education critics have therefore proposed creating a comprehensive transfer system to make pre-school education universal, pointing out that the financial returns alone would compensate for the cost.
Tertiary education is not free, but is subsidized by individual states and the federal government. Some of the costs at public institutions is carried by the state.
The government also provides grants, scholarships and subsidized loans to most students. Those who do not qualify for any type of aid, can obtain a government guaranteed loan and tuition can often be deducted from the federal income tax. Despite subsidized attendance cost at public institutions and tax deductions, however, tuition costs have risen at three times the rate of median household income since 1982. In fear that many future Americans might be excluded from tertiary education, progressive Democrats have proposed increasing financial aid and subsidizing an increased share of attendance costs. Some Democratic politicians and political groups have also proposed to make public tertiary education free of charge, i.e. subsidizing 100% of attendance cost.
In the U.S., financial assistance for food purchasing for low- and no-income people is provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. This federal aid program is administered by the Food and Nutrition Serviceof the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but benefits are distributed by the individual U.S. states. It is historically and commonly known as the Food Stamp Program, though all legal references to “stamp” and “coupon” have been replaced by “EBT” and “card,” referring to the refillable, plastic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards that replaced the paper “food stamp” coupons. To be eligible for SNAP benefits, the recipients must have incomes below 130 percent of the poverty line, and also own few assets. Since the economic downturn began in 2008, the use of food stamps has increased.
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a type of United States Federal assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to states in order to provide a daily subsidized food service for an estimated 3.2 million children and 112,000 elderly or mentally or physically impaired adults in non-residential, day-care settings.
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Lawmakers ‘Disturbed and Angered’ After Classified Briefing Reveals Extent of Snowden Defense Leaks
Leading members of the House Armed Services Committee emerged from a classified briefing on the Edward Snowden leaks Wednesday afternoon “shocked” at the amount of information he reportedly leaked beyond the NSA surveillance programs.
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the Armed Service panel’s Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee and also a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said the briefing on the defense consequences of Snowden’s leaks was “very highly classified,” and therefore details couldn’t be discussed.
Thornberry did say that lawmakers “left the briefing disturbed and angered” after hearing that the leaks by the former Booz Allen Hamilton employee “went well beyond programs associated with the NSA and data collection.”
He characterized the leaks as so severe that they “compromise military capability and defense of the country” and “could cost lives” — while they “will certainly cost billions to repair.”
“His actions were espionage, plain and simple,” Thornberry said.
Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) read his statement rather than making comments on the fly “because of the seriousness of this issue and the sensitivity” of the information they’d just heard.
“Ed Snowden isn’t a whistleblower; he’s a traitor,” McKeon said.
No matter what opinion people hold of the data collection programs, he added, people should be “shocked and outraged to find that a substantial amount of the information has nothing to do with the NSA.”
“He’s given our enemies an edge and put American lives at risk,” said the chairman.
McKeon said Americans should “demand” that Snowden be “brought to justice” and not be extended any sort of deal by the government.
Sessions Warns House GOP: Immigration Bill Is Bad Politics, Bad Policy
Offers a better way forward.
By DANIEL HALPER
Yesterday afternoon, before President Obama’s State of the Union Address, Senator Jeff Sessions’ staff hand-delivered to each Republican member of the House an important memo on the so-called immigration reform bill being debated on Capital Hill. The 3-page document, written by Sessions, argues that pushing the current immigration legislation forward is bad politics, bad policy, and that there’s a better way for Republicans.
Sessions believes House Republicans are at risk of falling into President Obama’s trap. “[A]ccording to news reports, House Republican leaders are instead turning 2014 into a headlong rush towards Gang-of-Eight style ‘immigration reform,’” writes Sessions. “They are reportedly drafting an immigration plan that is uncomfortably similar to a ‘piecemeal’ repackaging of the disastrous Senate plan—and even privately negotiating a final package with Democrat activists before consulting with their own members.”
It’s bad politics, Sessions writes. “In the rush to pass an immigration bill, there has been a near absence of any serious thought about the conditions facing American workers. The last 40 years has been a period of record immigration to the U.S., with the last 10 years seeing more new arrivals than any prior 10- year period in history. This trend has coincided with wage stagnation, enormous growth in welfare programs, and a shrinking workforce participation rate. A sensible, conservative approach would focus on lifting those living here today, both immigrant and native-born, out of poverty and into the middle class—before doubling or tripling the level of immigration into the U.S.
A sensible immigration policy would also listen to the opinion of the American people. Not the opinions of the paid-for consultants trotted out with their agenda-driven polls to GOP member meetings—but the actual, honest opinion of the people who sent us here. There is a reason why none of the corporate-funded ads for amnesty breathe a word about doubling immigration levels. According to Rasmussen Reports, working and middle class Americans strongly oppose large expansions of our already generous immigration system. Those earning under $30,000 prefer a reduction to an increase by an overwhelming 3-1 margin.
And bad policy, the senator from Alabama details. “Coordinating with a small group of the nation’s most powerful special interests, last year President Obama and Senate Democrats forced through an immigration bill which can only be described as a hammer blow to the American middle class. Not only would it grant work permits to millions of illegal immigrants at a time of record joblessness, it would also double the annual flow of new immigrant workers and provide green cards to more than 30 million permanent residents over the next decade. These new workers, mostly lesser-skilled, will compete for jobs in every sector, industry, and occupation in the U.S. economy.”
He adds, “House Republicans, in crafting immigration principles, should reply to the President’s immigration campaign with a simple message: our focus is to help unemployed Americans get back to work—not to grant amnesty or to answer the whims of immigration activists and CEOs. In turn, that message could be joined with a detailed and unifying policy agenda for accomplishing that moral and social objective.”
As for Sessions’ “Better Agenda,” he lays it out very precisely:
The GOP’s 2014 agenda should not be to assist the President in passing his immigration plan. Rather, it should be a consuming focus on restoring hope and opportunity to millions of discouraged workers. The GOP’s 2014 agenda should be a national effort—announced proudly and boldly—to reduce the welfare rolls and get America back to work, including:
More American energy that creates good-paying jobs right here in the U.S.
A more competitive tax and regulatory code that allows U.S. businesses and workers tocompete on a level global playing field
A trade policy that increases U.S. exports and expands domestic manufacturing
An immigration policy that serves the interests of the American people
Converting the welfare office into a job training center
Making government leaner and more accountable to U.S. taxpayers
Restoring economic confidence by continuing our effort to balance the federal budget
An all-out immigration push is inimical to these goals.
Rep. Ryan: GOP Looking at Legal Status, Chance for Citizenship
Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), a leading GOP advocate for tackling immigration, confirmed Wednesday that Republicans are looking to give illegal immigrants legal status right away, with the chance for a green card—and citizenship—down the line.
Officials familiar with the planning had said as much before. But Mr. Ryan is the first member of the GOP leadership to lay out the Republican vision publicly.
At issue is how to handle more than 11 million people already in the U.S. illegally. Most House Republicans oppose the Senate approach, whereby all qualified illegal immigrants would first win legal status, then have the chance to apply for legal permanent residence (also known as a green card), and then for citizenship. House Republicans call that a “special path to citizenship” that is unavailable to those who followed the law.
First, illegal immigrants would be offered a “probationary” status, allowing them to work while the government tightened border security and interior enforcement. Officials have explained that this would allow people to work legally while they wait for permanent legal status. (Officials have explained that this group could revert to illegal status if enforcement benchmarks are not met.)
Mr. Ryan said it would make sure that the Obama administration went ahead with the enforcement provisions. “We want to make sure that we write a law that he can’t avoid,” Mr. Ryan said.
After that, they would be eligible for a “regular work permit,” he said.
“If those things are met, you satisfy the terms of your probation, you’re not on welfare, you pay a fine, you learn English and civics, and the border’s been secured and interior enforcement independently verified, then you can get a regular work permit,” he said.
At that point, this group could apply for green cards using the same system available to any newcomer.
“That’s the kind of process we envision,” he said. “Which is not a special pathway to citizenship and it’s not going to automatically in any way give an undocumented immigrant citizenship.”
Some Democrats and immigration advocates have signaled that they could accept this approach, depending on the details. It’s unclear whether enough Republicans would feel the same. The idea will get its first full airing on Thursday afternoon, when House Republicans are scheduled to discuss immigration at their retreat in Cambridge, Md.
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The House Republican leadership’s broad framework for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws will call this week for a path to legal status — but not citizenship — for many of the 11 million adult immigrants who are in the country illegally, according to aides who have seen the party’s statement of principles. For immigrants brought to the United States illegally as young children, the Republicans would offer a path to citizenship.
But even before the document is unveiled later, some of the party’s leading strategists and conservative voices are urging that the immigration push be abandoned, or delayed until next year, to avoid an internal party rupture before the midterm elections.
“It’s one of the few things that could actually disrupt what looks like a strong Republican year,” said William Kristol, editor of the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, calling an immigration push “a recipe for disaster.”
At the same time, Republicans have seen their support from Latinos plummet precisely because of their stance on immigration, and the “statement of principles,” barely more than a page, is intended to try to reverse that trajectory.
The statement of principles criticizes the American higher education system for educating some of the world’s best and brightest students only to lose them to their home countries because they cannot obtain green cards; insists that Republicans demand that current immigration laws be enforced before illegal immigrants are granted legal status; and mentions that some kind of triggers must be included in an immigration overhaul to ensure that borders are secured first, said Republican officials who have seen the principles.
With concern already brewing among conservatives who call any form of legal status “amnesty,” the document has the feel more of an attempt to test the waters than a blueprint for action. House Republican leaders will circulate it at a three-day retreat for their members that begins Wednesday on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Several pro-immigration organizations that have been briefed on the guidelines say they are not intended to serve as a conservative starting point for future negotiations, but as a gauge of how far to the left House Republicans are willing to move.
The principles say that Republicans do not support a “special path to citizenship,” but make an exception for the “Dreamers,” the immigrants brought into the country illegally as children, quoting a 2013 speech by Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader. “One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents,” Mr. Cantor said at the time. “It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home.”
Even ardent proponents of an immigration-law overhaul are, at best, cautiously optimistic. In June, a broad immigration overhaul — with a 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants now in the country illegally, and stricter border security provisions that would have to be in place before the immigrants could gain legal status — passed the Senate with bipartisan support. But that legislation has largely stalled in the Republican-controlled House, where Mr. Boehner has rejected any negotiations with the Senate over its comprehensive bill.
“This is obviously a long, hard road,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat, who helped negotiate the Senate bill, “but I think since August, the number on the other side vehemently opposed has stayed the same, the number who think it should go forward has grown, and numbers in the wide middle are less opposed than they used to be. But that doesn’t guarantee an outcome one way or another.”
Republican Party leaders, backed strongly by business groups, have said an overhaul is critical if they are to repair their political position with Latino and other immigrant voters.
Barry Jackson, Mr. Boehner’s former chief of staff, is consulting for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which supports an overhaul that expands high-technology visas and guest worker programs.
But immigration is less of an issue during midterm elections, when immigrants are not as likely to vote and House members in safe districts are insulated somewhat from the wrath of more moderate swing voters. Often the biggest threats to Republicans are primary challenges from more conservative candidates who say that changing the immigration status of someone who is in the country illegally amounts to amnesty for a lawbreaker.
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AMC movie theater calls “federal agents” to arrest a Google Glass user
By: Julie Strietelmeier
A long time Gadgeteer reader contacted me today through Google Hangouts to tell me that he had a story that he thought I’d be interested in reading. He then forwarded me a long email with a story from a very good friend of his. It was such a surprising story that I asked if I could have permission to post it here on The Gadgeteer. I ended up communicating with the author of the story and have posted it here for everyone to read…
I have been using Google Glass for about 2 months now, and about 2 weeks ago I got prescription lenses for the glasses. So in the past two weeks I was wearing Google Glass all the time. There were no stories to write about, until yesterday (1/18/2014).
I went to AMC (Easton Mall, Columbus, OH) to watch a movie with my wife (non- Google Glass user). It is the theater we go to every week, so it has probably been the third time I’ve been there wearing Google Glass, and the AMC employees (guy tearing tickets at the entrance, girl at the concession stand) have asked me about Glass in the past and I have told them how awesome Glass is with every occasion.
Because I don’t want Glass to distract me during the movie, I turn them off (but since my prescription lenses are on the frame, I still wear them). About an hour into the movie (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), a guy comes near my seat, shoves a badge that had some sort of a shield on it, yanks the Google Glass off my face and says “follow me outside immediately”. It was quite embarrassing and outside of the theater there were about 5-10 cops and mall cops. Since I didn’t catch his name in the dark of the theater, I asked to see his badge again and I asked what was the problem and I asked for my Glass back. The response was “you see all these cops you know we are legit, we are with the ‘federal service’ and you have been caught illegally taping the movie”.
I was surprised by this and as I was obviously just having a nice Saturday evening night out with my wife and not taping anything whether legally or illegally, I tried to explain that this is a misunderstanding. I tried to explain that he’s holding rather expensive hardware that costed me $1500 for Google Glass and over $600 for the prescription glasses. The response was that I was searched and more stuff was taken away from me (specifically my personal phone, my work phone – both of which were turned off, and my wallet). After an embarrassing 20-30 minutes outside the movie theater, me and my wife were conducted into two separate rooms in the “management” office of Easton Mall, where the guy with the badge introduced himself again and showed me a different ID. His partner introduced herself too and showed me a similar looking badge. I was by that time, too flustered to remember their names (as a matter of fact, now, over 30 hours later I am still shaking when recounting the facts).
What followed was over an hour of the “feds” telling me I am not under arrest, and that this is a “voluntary interview”, but if I choose not to cooperate bad things may happen to me (is it legal for authorities to threaten people like that?). I kept telling them that Glass has a USB port and not only did I allow them, I actually insist they connect to it and see that there was nothing but personal photos with my wife and my dog on it. I also insisted they look at my phone too and clear things out, but they wanted to talk first. They wanted to know who I am, where I live, where I work, how much I’m making, how many computers I have at home, why am I recording the movie, who am I going to give the recording to, why don’t I just give up the guy up the chain, ’cause they are not interested in me. Over and over and over again.
I kept telling them that I wasn’t recording anything – my Glass was off, they insisted they saw it on. I told them there would be a light coming out the little screen if Glass was on, and I could show them that, but they insisted that I cannot touch my Glass for the fear “I will erase the evidence against me that was on Glass”. I didn’t have the intuition to tell them that Glass gets really warm if it records for more than a few minutes and my glasses were not warm. They wanted to know where I got Glass and how did I came by having it. I told them I applied about 1000 times to get in the explorer program, and eventually I was selected, and I got the Glass from Google. I offered to show them receipt and Google Glass website if they would allow me to access any computer with internet. Of course, that was not an option. Then they wanted to know what does Google ask of me in exchange for Glass, how much is Google paying me, who is my boss and why am I recording the movie.
Eventually, after a long time somebody came with a laptop and an USB cable at which point he told me it was my last chance to come clean. I repeated for the hundredth time there is nothing to come clean about and this is a big misunderstanding so the FBI guy finally connected my Glass to the computer, downloaded all my personal photos and started going though them one by one (although they are dated and it was obvious there was nothing on my Glass that was from the time period they accused me of recording). Then they went through my phone, and 5 minutes later they concluded I had done nothing wrong.
I asked why didn’t they just take those five minutes at the beginning of the interrogation and they just left the room. A guy who claimed his name is Bob Hope (he gave me his business card) came in the room, and said he was with the Movie Association and they have problems with piracy at that specific theater and that specific movie. He gave me two free movie passes “so I can see the movie again”. I asked if they thought my Google Glass was such a big piracy machine, why didn’t they ask me not to wear them in the theater? I would have probably sat five or six rows closer to the screen (as I didn’t have any other pair of prescription glasses with me) and none of this would have happened. All he said was AMC called him, and he called the FBI and “here are two more passes for my troubles”. I would have been fine with “I’m sorry this happened, please accept our apologies”. Four free passes just infuriated me.
Considering it was 11:27pm when this happened, and the movie started at 7.45, I guess 3 and a half hours of my time and the scare my wife went through (who didn’t know what was going on as nobody bothered to tell her) is worth about 30 bucks in the eyes of the Movie Association and the federal militia (sorry, I cannot think of other derogatory words). I think I should sue them for this, but I don’t have the time or the energy to deal with “who is my boss – they don’t want me, they want the big guy” again, so I just spilled the beans on this forum, for other to learn from my experience.
I guess until people get more familiar with Google Glass and understand what they are, one should not wear them to the movies. I wish they would have said something before I went to the movies, but it may be my mistake for assuming that if I went and watched movies two times wearing Glass with no incident the third time there won’t be any incident either. As for the federal agents and their level of comprehension… I guess if they deal with petty criminals every day, everybody starts looking like a petty criminal. Again, I wish they would have listened when I told them how to verify I did nothing illegal, or at least apologize afterwards, but hey… this is the free country everybody praises. Somewhere else might be even worse.
Crazy huh? His story read like something out of the Jack Ryan movie that he and his wife had gone to see. Are there any other Google Glass users out there that have been treated badly just for your wearable tech? If not, are you reconsidering wearing a pair to the next movie you attend?
Wow, this article has completely blown up our web server due to the traffic. I just wanted to follow up with a few comments and info. First of all, I’m not a journalist, I’m a tech geek writer. Posting this article has given me a good learning lesson though, which I’ll use if I ever post a similar article in the future.
I have been criticized for not citing my sources and following up with the theater to verify that the story was true. I didn’t feel the need at the time because the person who gave me the story is a long time Gadgeteer reader and works in law enforcement. I felt 100% confident the story was not a hoax. I did however call the theater in question and tried to get in touch with someone there for a comment. My calls went unanswered.
After the article was posted. Rob Jackson of Phandroid posted his take on the article and asked me for the author’s contact info. With the author’s permission, I forwarded that info and Rob followed up with some questions and answers that he posted on his site. Take a look for more info on this story:
I just received info from the author with regards to the agents that questioned him:
For the sake of having all the facts right.
I have been trying to find out who the agents that “interviewed” me at
AMC were, so I asked help from a guy I know at FBI. I worked with this
guy in the past when I was employed at a webhosting company. He did
some digging, and he tells me the “federal agents”
talking to me were DHS.
The title of the article has been changed to reflect the recent update from the author that it was actually the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) who detained him and not the FBI as he originally thought.
The story has been confirmed. I just received this email from the author:
I spoke with a reporter from Columbus Dispatch, who obtained a
statement from DHS and forwarded it to me. Here it is:
On Jan. 18, special agents with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations
and local authorities briefly interviewed a man suspected of using an
electronic recording device to record a film at an AMC theater in
Columbus. The man, who voluntarily answered questions, confirmed to
authorities that the suspected recording device was also a pair of
prescription eye glasses in which the recording function had been
inactive. No further action was taken.
Khaalid Walls, ICE spokesman
Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Google Glass at the movies gets man interrogated
A man wearing Google Glass in an Ohio movie theater says the FBI pulled him out and accused him of recording the movie with his device.
There are enemies of the state, and then there are enemies of Jack Ryan.
A Google Glass wearer has told an extraordinary story of going to his local movie theater in Ohio and allegedly being accosted by the FBI for wearing his device.
Google Glass wearers, beware.(Credit: Federal Bureau of Investigations)
He was, he said, wearing Google Glass. His wife accompanied him, Glass-less.
What allegedly transpired was macabre. He wrote that it was not the first time he’d worn Glass to that theater.
However, an hour into the movie: “A guy comes near my seat, shoves a badge that had some sort of a shield on it, yanks the Google Glass off my face and says ‘follow me outside immediately.’”
Outside, he said, was a group of policemen. T.U. says that the man who dragged him out explained he was from the “federal service.”
What was the Glass-wearer’s alleged crime? He was, he said, being accused of recording the movie on his device.
I tried to explain that he’s holding rather expensive hardware that costed me $1500 for Google Glass and over $600 for the prescription glasses. The response was that I was searched and more stuff was taken away from me (specifically my personal phone, my work phone – both of which were turned off, and my wallet).
T.U. insisted that he wasn’t recording anything. The Glass was off. He wasn’t believed.
I kept telling them that I wasn’t recording anything — my Glass was off, they insisted they saw it on. I told them there would be a light coming out the little screen if Glass was on, and I could show them that, but they insisted that I cannot touch my Glass for the fear ‘I will erase the evidence against me that was on Glass’
T.U. said that he was happy for his Google Glass to be hooked up to a laptop to prove there was nothing recorded on it.
The FBI guy finally connected my Glass to the computer, downloaded all my personal photos and started going though them one by one (although they are dated and it was obvious there was nothing on my Glass that was from the time period they accused me of recording). Then they went through my phone, and 5 minutes later they concluded I had done nothing wrong.
Finally, T.U. said that the FBI left and a man from the “Movie Association” entered and told him that they’d had trouble with people recording at that theater. He says he was offered free movie passes to see the Jack Ryan movie again.
In the comments section of her piece, the Gadgeteer’s Julie Strietelmeier insisted: “I talked to the author and know his friend who has frequented The Gadgeteer for years. I believe them and the story.”
I have contacted AMC in an attempt to confirm that the substance of this story is true and will update, should I hear. It will be interesting to see if an anti-Google Glass stance is, indeed, AMC policy.
This is merely the latest incident in which Google Glass has caused consternation. Some bars and restaurants have banned wearers. Only last week, software developer Cecilia Abadie won her case against a ticket for driving while Glassing. Just as T.U. claimed, she said hers was turned off.
T.U. seemed merely relieved that the ordeal — which he said lasted more than three hours — was over. Still, he said he wished someone had told him that wearing Glass at the movie theater wasn’t allowed.
As for the “federal service,” he wasn’t impressed with their alleged lack of understanding about Google Glass. He wrote: “I guess if they deal with petty criminals every day, everybody starts looking like a petty criminal.”
Google Glass is becoming anything but petty.
Google Glass moviegoer detained for hours on suspicion of piracy
A man attending a movie on Saturday at an AMC theater in Columbus, Ohio was pulled from a theater, detained, and questioned for over two hours by US Dept. of Homeland Security special agents tasked with fighting piracy – all for wearing Google Glass.
The man, who asked to remain anonymous, said that about an hour into a 19:45 EST showing of ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,’ a man who flashed an official-looking badge “yank[ed] the Google Glass” off his face, asking him to exit the theater. The man was attending the film with his wife at the AMC theater at Easton Town Center.
Two officers then ordered him to hand over his wallet and both his work and personal cell phones, according to tech site The Gadgeteer. The man said he was questioned for 20 or 30 minutes on why he was attempting to record the film. Because he had recently added prescription lenses to his Google Glass, the 35-year-old man wore them into the movie. The device has a voice-activated computer and does have an attached camera.
“I said, ‘Want me to prove I’m not recording the movie? It’s very easy,’” the man told the Columbus Dispatch on Tuesday. He said he indicated to the agents that Google Glass has a USB port where the device can be reviewed. “There’s nothing but pictures of my wife and my dog on it,” he told the agents.
The agents declined, electing to detain and question the man in a downstairs “management” office for around two hours, repeatedly asking the same questions again and again. The man says he was asked who he was working for, how many computers he had at home, why he had attempted to record the film, and “why don’t I just give up the guy up the chain.” The agents, of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), finally reviewed the device to see there was no material of interest. He was allowed to leave just after 23:00 EST, with two free movie passes.
The Columbus Dispatch learned the agents were from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, which is tasked with combating piracy and counterfeit goods.
ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said the unit and local authorities “briefly interviewed a man suspected of using an electronic recording device to record a film.”
“The man, who voluntarily answered questions, confirmed to authorities that the suspected recording device was also a pair of prescription eye glasses in which the recording function had been inactive. No further action was taken,” Walls said in a statement.
An AMC spokesman said the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) was at the same theater last weekend when the man wearing Google Glass was pointed out. An MPAA representative flagged the man thought to be recording the film for the Department of Homeland Security.
“While we’re huge fans of technology and innovation, wearing a device that has the capability to record video is not appropriate at the movie theater,” AMC’s Ryan Noonan said.
The MPAA said in a statement that it has not seen any reason to believe that Google Glass poses a threat that could lead to film piracy.
The man said he acquired Google Glass in November during Google’s exclusive offer, known as the Explorer program. He and around 30,000 others have paid US$1,500 to test-run the device before it is released to the public later this year. In addition, the prescription lenses cost him $600.
He said he regrets wearing Glass to a movie, despite having done so in the recent past at the same theater without issue.
“I realize it’s stupid to have a device with a camera pointed at the screen,” he said. “But I didn’t even think of it, because I don’t use Google Glass to record other people.”
oogle promises that Glass, its new augmented reality eyepiece, will open up a new world of hands-free computing — a way to search, translate, record video, and take photographs without having to press buttons or rummage through pockets to retrieve a smartphone or tablet.
There are lots of potential applications. To start things off, Google lists cooking, cycling, skiing, golf, and firefighting — physical activities where holding a device is impractical if not impossible. But really, it was only a matter of time before people began using it for sex.
The first attempt, an app called Tits and Glass, allowed Glass users to stream pornographic images to their headset. The app was promptly banned from Google’s app store, but was recently reinstated.
Now a new app for Glass developed by Lebanese product design student Sherif Maktabi and called Sex with Google Glass lets couples use the wearable technology to record their intimate activities, and — if both partners are wearing a headset — even see sex through their partner’s eyes by streaming the view from their respective devices.
The app is controlled through groan-worthy voice commands. For example, saying “Ok Glass, it’s time” begins the recording process. Once sex is over, recording is ended by the voice command “Ok Glass, pull out.” Video can be replayed for up to five hours before being automatically deleted from the app.
Frankly, I think the idea of having sex while watching a stream from the perspective of your partner sounds narcissistic at best, and mildly disturbing at worst, so I highly doubt that this feature will become immensely popular. And putting a barrier of technology between partners may prove a turnoff and intimacy killer for many.
But Glass as a tool to easily record or stream homemade porn? There is probably a big market for this kind of thing.
Concerns about morals or privacy aside, it’s important to remember that porn is a big driver of technology adoption. The adult film industry has been at the forefront of technology for years, at least since it picked VHS over Betamax. Technological innovations pioneered by the porn industryinclude online payment systems, streaming video and video chat, DVD, and HD video formats.
It’s hard to say at this point if augmented reality computing will usurp smartphones, tablets, and laptops, or if it will remain a niche activity. But if augmented reality computing like Google Glass is really going to take off and become a market leader, it should be expected that sex and porn will be a key driver of adoption. The fact that some people are already using Google Glass for sex paints a rosy picture for the technology in the longer term.
The head of the U.S. Africa Command, General Carter Ham, told the House Committee on Armed Services in June 2013, according to recently declassified testimony, that Benghazi was immediately considered an attack.
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Benghazi attack: New report shows the real scandal isn’t what Obama called it
By Ryan Teague Beckwith,
The fight over Benghazi isn’t going away, but the reason for the fight may be changing.
In the days after the deadly attack on a U.S. mission in Libya, the political fight centered on whether President Obama had called it terrorism and whether it was a planned or spontaneous attack.
A new bipartisan Senate report released Wednesday, however, focuses more on the failure of the State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies for not preventing the attack.
The report shows several major problems:
• The State Department did not increase security at its sites despite warnings of possible violence.
• The CIA did not share information about the existence of its outpost with the U.S. military.
• The CIA and the State Department were not working out of the same location.
• Libyans charged with protecting the compound did not do their job.
The report doesn’t touch on the more political aspects of the 2012 attack, which led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and two others. But six Republican senators added a separate note to the report criticizing the Obama administration for delaying the report and for not being transparent.
“Information has been withheld from the Committee because of the ‘ongoing criminal investigation’ into the attacks, in an apparent effort to shield certain government agencies from congressional oversight or potential embarrassment,” they wrote.
But the fact that their criticisms come up as an addendum to the report instead of in the report itself shows the controversy about what happened at Benghazi is shifting in D.C.
Pentagon labeled Benghazi a terrorist attack as Obama administration wavered: newly declassified testimony
Gen. Carter Ham’s newly declassified testimony before the House suggests the prospect of an out-of-control demonstration was not raised by Defense officials and that they immediately considered the incident an attack.
By Leslie Larson
The Obama administration was wary to label the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi as an act of terrorism but declassified testimony from a top Pentagon official indicates there was little ambiguity among Defense Department players that terrorism was the likely motive.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice represented the Obama administration in discussing the incident in the aftermath of the attack, suggesting the death of Ambassador Chris Stephens and three Americans came as the result of a protest over an incendiary viral video blasting the prophet Mohammad and was not a preplanned act of terrorism.
Rice appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” CNN’s “State of the Union,” NBC’s “Meet The Press,” “Fox News Sunday” and ABC’s “This Week” on Sep. 16, 2012, to speak on behalf of the President and she repeated the belief that the incident was a “spontaneous” mob uprising and not “a preplanned, premeditated attack.”
“This is not an expression of hostility in the broadest sense toward the United States or to U.S. policy,” she stated.
Republicans pounced on Rice’s analysis, claiming she was placating extremists and not adequately representing the national security threat to the American people.
Ham, whose partially redacted transcript was declassified by the House on Monday, said at the 2013 hearing that he was alerted to the incident 15 minutes after it erupted at 9:42 p.m. Libya Time (3:42 p.m. EST) on Sep. 11, 2012.
“When we saw a rocket-propelled grenade attack, what appeared to be pretty well aimed small arms fire — again, this is all coming second and third hand through unclassified, you know, commercial cellphones for the most part initially. To me, it started to become clear pretty quickly that this was certainly a terrorist attack and not just not something sporadic,” he stated.
Ham served as head of the United States Africa Command, which manages U.S. military operations in Africa. He served in that capacity from March 2011 to April 2013.
He describes how as soon as AFRICOM learned of the attack, the command control repositioned a drone to the consulate to gather intelligence on the ground movements. The unmanned, unarmed surveillance aircraft was ordered to be diverted to the Benghazi site at 9:59 p.m. Libya Time, 17 minutes after the attack.
According to the timeline, at 10:32 p.m. Libya Time, Ham briefed then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before they traveled to the White House for a pre-scheduled meeting with Obama, during which they briefed Obama on the situation.
During Ham’s briefing with Panetta and Dempsey, before they left for the White House, he said there was a “peripheral” discussion as to the cause but added, “We knew at that initial meeting, we knew that a U.S. facility had been attacked and was under attack.”
“I am not aware of (a demonstration), sir. It became pretty apparent to me, and I think to most at Africa Command pretty shortly after this attack began, that this was an attack,” he told Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
“We knew at that point that we had two individuals, Ambassador Stevens and Mr. Smith (a Foreign Service information officer), unaccounted for. And so the focus of our effort at that point was gaining understanding of what the situation was. And then we started very quickly to think about, you know, the possibility of a U.S. ambassador being held hostage in a foreign land and what does that mean,” Ham said during his House testimony.
The testimony includes a reference to an Ops Alert announcing the attack that was received in the White House Situation Room at 10:05 p.m. Libya time, but Ham was not privy to what details the alert included.
Panetta’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February similarly stated the early belief that the episode was an attack.
“There was no question in my mind that this was a terrorist attack,” Panetta said of his early assessment of the situation on the ground in Benghazi.
Ham’s version of events could discredit the accounts from some Obama officials who were hesitant to state the security threat posed by the attack.
In particular, Rice has been accused of misleading the American public with her statements that the incident was a protest run amok rather than terrorism.
In May 2013, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also implicated in an ABC News report that claimed a State Department official urged the CIA and White House to avoid describing the event as an act of terrorism in public statements.
Susan Rice went on TV talk shows days after the Benghazi attack to speak on behalf of the President. She repeated the belief that the incident was a ‘spontaneous’ mob uprising and not ‘a preplanned, premeditated attack.’
Leaked emails show that then State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland suggested that a CIA memo on Benghazi not include any reference of links to al-Qaeda and the intelligence warnings in the months preceding the attack.
Nuland wrote in protest to the CIA description, saying it “could be abused by members (of Congress) to beat up on the State Department for not paying attention to warnings,” in an email to the White House and the CIA, according to ABC.
The intelligence memo was the basis for Rice’s public statements in September 2012.
The PR spin to describe the attack as spontaneous rather than pre-planned was seen as a move to protect the State Department from being blamed for not adequately providing security and anticipating the attack.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denied any wrongdoing in Rice’s description of the episode, telling the press in May that Rice didn’t have “hard, concrete evidence” to suggest terrorism.
“It was simply a reflection of we did not, and the intelligence community did not, and others within the administration did not, jump to conclusions about who was responsible before we had an investigation to find out the facts,” he said of Rice’s highly criticized assessment of the situation.
Her behavior in the aftermath of the tragedy displeased Congress and is largely to blame for her failure to be appointed Secretary of State after Clinton’s retirement in Obama’s second term.
Instead, Rice was appointed to the role of National Security adviser.
Clinton has defended Rice and said the root motive for the attack was not an important detail to focus on.
“We had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or because of guys out for a walk one night and decided to go kill some Americans? At this point what difference does it make, Senator?” Clinton said at a tense Senate hearing in January 2013.
Clinton, a likely contender in the 2016 White House bid, remains defensive as the “Benghazi stain” continues to haunt her legacy.
As a young CIA officer, Patrick McCarthy witnesses first-hand JFK’s political immaturity and personal recklessness. When Kennedy is elected in 1960, Patrick fears that Kennedy is unprepared to lead the nation in the height of the Cold War. After the near catastrophic events of the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Patriots, a shadowy group of powerful men, decide to take action before Kennedy’s next political blunder destroys the country. Patrick’s devotion to protecting his country ensnares him in the conspiracy to assassinate the president. After the assassination, Patrick assists in orchestrating the Warren Commission cover-up. He realizes too late that he has been duped by those he trusted. Years later, the House Select Committee on Assassinations reopens the investigation and subpoenas Patrick to testify. Patrick grapples with the decision to reveal the truth-a truth which will re-write American history and destroy the reputations and fortunes of some of America’s most powerful men.
KENNEDY MUST BE KILLED chronicles the life of Patrick McCarthy from the time he arrives in postwar Washington D.C. as an idealistic, patriotic young man to that fateful day on the grassy knoll when he destroys the heart of the nation. It is a story about one man’s love for his country, love for his wife and family, and an act of betrayal that causes him to lose everything that he holds dear.
The Men Who Killed Kennedy: Part 1 The Coup d’Etat
The Men Who Killed Kennedy is a video documentary series by Nigel Turner that originally aired in 1988 in England with two one-hour segments about the John F. Kennedy assassination. The United States corporation, Arts & Entertainment Company, purchased the rights to the original two segments. Three one-hour segments were added in 1991. A sixth segment was added in 1995. Finally, three additional hourly segments were added by the History Channel in November 2003. The ninth segment, titled “The Guilty Men”, directly implicated Lyndon B. Johnson. Within days, Johnson’s widow, Lady Bird Johnson, more of his surviving associates, ex-President Jimmy Carter, and the lone, living Warren Commission commissioner and ex-President Gerald R. Ford immediately complained to the History Channel. They subsequently threatened legal action against Arts & Entertainment Company, owner of the History Channel. “The Guilty Men” segment was completely withdrawn by the History Channel. Also during the series, French prisoner Christian David named Lucien Sarti as one of three French criminals hired to carry out the assassination of Kennedy, when he was interviewed by author Anthony Summers. This claim is one of the most strongly investigated theories presented on the show.
The Men Who Killed Kennedy: Part 2 The Forces of Darkness
The Men Who Killed Kennedy: Part 3 The Cover-Up
The Men Who Killed Kennedy: Part 4 The Patsy
The Men Who Killed Kennedy, Part 5
The Men Who Killed Kennedy, Part 6
The Men Who Killed Kennedy – Part 7 – The Smoking Guns
The Men Who Killed Kennedy – Part 8 – The Love Affair
The Men Who Killed Kennedy – Part 9 – The Guilty Men
The Men Who Killed Kennedy is a video documentary series by Nigel Turner that originally aired in 1988 in England with two one-hour segments about the John F. Kennedy assassination. The United States corporation, Arts & Entertainment Company, purchased the rights to the original two segments. Three one-hour segments were added in 1991. A sixth segment was added in 1995. Finally, three additional hourly segments were added by the History Channel in November 2003. The ninth segment, titled “The Guilty Men”, directly implicated Lyndon B. Johnson. Within days, Johnson’s widow, Lady Bird Johnson, more of his surviving associates, ex-President Jimmy Carter, and the lone, living Warren Commission commissioner and ex-President Gerald R. Ford immediately complained to the History Channel. They subsequently threatened legal action against Arts & Entertainment Company, owner of the History Channel. “The Guilty Men” segment was completely withdrawn by the History Channel. Also during the series, French prisoner Christian David named Lucien Sarti as one of three French criminals hired to carry out the assassination of Kennedy, when he was interviewed by author Anthony Summers. This claim is one of the most strongly investigated theories presented on the show.
The Men Who Killed Kennedy
The Men Who Killed Kennedy is a United Kingdom ITV video documentary series by Nigel Turner about the John F. Kennedy assassination. Originally broadcast in 1988 in two parts (with a subsequent studio discussion), it was rebroadcast in 1991 re-edited to three parts with additional material, and a fourth episode added in 1995. The addition of three further episodes in 2003 caused great controversy, particularly in the final episode implicating Lyndon Johnson, and the withdrawal of these additional episodes.
Broadcast history and critical response
1988 to 2003
The Men Who Killed Kennedy began with two 50-minute segments originally aired on 25 October 1988 in the United Kingdom, entitled simply Part One and Part Two. The programmes were produced by Central Television for the ITV network, and was followed three weeks later with a studio discussion on the issues titled The Story Continues, chaired by broadcaster Peter Sissons.
The original broadcast was controversial in Britain. The episodes identified three men as the assassins of Kennedy as three men, deceased drug trafficker Lucien Sarti and two living men. All three were later revealed to have strong alibis: Sarti was undergoing medical treatment in France, another was in prison at the time, and the third had been in the French Navy. One of the two living men threatened to sue, and Central Television’s own subsequent investigation into the allegations revealed they were “total nonsense”. Turner justified his failure to interview one of the accused on the grounds that the individual was “too dangerous”. Turner was censured by the British Parliament. An unsuccessful attempt was made to revoke the franchise of Central Television under British laws against broadcasting inaccuracies, but the Independent Broadcasting Authority did force Central Television to produce a third episode dedicated to the false allegations, aired November 16, 1988, which was later referred to as a “studio crucifixion” of Turner and his inaccuracies. This was the first time the IBA had taken such an action.
The United States corporation, Arts & Entertainment Company, purchased the rights to the original two segments. In 1989, the series was nominated for a Flaherty Documentary Award. In November 1991, the series was re-edited with additional material and divided into three 50-minute programmes, which were also shown by ITV on consecutive nights. An additional episode appeared in 1995. The series typically aired in November every year and from time to time during the year.
In November 2003, three additional segments (“The Final Chapter”) were added by the History Channel, entitled, respectively, “The Smoking Guns”, “The Love Affair” and “The Guilty Men”.
“The Love Affair” focussed on the claims of Judyth Vary Baker to have been Lee Harvey Oswald‘s lover in 1963, and to have worked with Oswald and others to develop a cancer-causing biological weapon as part of a CIA plan to assassinate Fidel Castro.
The third of these additional segments – “The Guilty Men” – was based substantially on the book Blood, Money & Power: How L.B.J. Killed J.F.K by Barr McClellan. The book and the episode directly implicates former U. S. President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) and its airing in 2003 created an outcry among Johnson’s surviving associates, including Johnson’s widow, Lady Bird Johnson, journalistBill Moyers, Jack Valenti (longtime president of the Motion Picture Association of America), Jimmy Carter, and the last-living (at the time of the outcry) Warren Commission member Gerald R. Ford. These Johnson supporters lodged complaints of libel with the History Channel, and subsequently threatened legal action against Arts & Entertainment Company, owner of the History Channel. The History Channel responded by assembling a panel of three historians, Robert Dallek, Stanley Kutler, and Thomas Sugrue. On a program aired April 7, 2004, titles “The Guilty Man: A Historical Review,” the panel agreed that the documentary was not credible and should not have aired. The History Channel issued a statement saying, in part, “The History Channel recognizes that ‘The Guilty Men’ failed to offer viewers context and perspective, and fell short of the high standards that the network sets for itself. The History Channel apologizes to its viewers and to Mrs. Johnson and her family for airing the show.” The channel said it would not show the episode again. Author Barr McClellan, on whose work the episode was largely based, complained that he had tried to cooperate with the reviewing historians to discuss his evidence with them, and had been ignored.
Malcolm Liggett, a retired economics professor, sued A&E regarding the episode “The Smoking Guns,” which claimed Liggett was involved in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Liggett and A&E reached a settlement, which required that a letter by Liggett be read on the show History Center.
David Browne of Entertainment Weekly described the documentary as “well-researched, but still farfetched”. Addressing “The Guilty Men” episode, Dorothy Rabinowitz of The Wall Street Journal called it a “primitive piece of conspiracy-mongering” and wrote that “…the documentary’s ever deepening mess of charges and motives is never less than clear about its main point — that Lyndon Johnson personally arranged the murder not only of the president, but also seven other people, including his own sister.”
The first two episodes were followed by “The Story Continues” (16 November 1988), a critical studio discussion about them. The final episode was followed by a critical review, “The Guilty Men: A Historical Review.” (7 April 2004).
Through a PRISM, Darkly – Everything we know about NSA spying [30c3]
Published on Dec 30, 2013
Through a PRISM, Darkly
Everything we know about NSA spying
From Stellar Wind to PRISM, Boundless Informant to EvilOlive, the NSA spying programs are shrouded in secrecy and rubber-stamped by secret opinions from a court that meets in a faraday cage. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Kurt Opsahl explains the known facts about how the programs operate and the laws and regulations the U.S. government asserts allows the NSA to spy on you.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil society organization, has been litigating against the NSA spying program for the better part of a decade. EFF has collected and reviewed dozens of documents, from the original NY Times stories in 2005 and the first AT&T whistleblower in 2006, through the latest documents released in the Guardian or obtained through EFF’s Freedom of Information (government transparency) litigation. EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl’s lecture will describe how the NSA spying program works, the underlying technologies, the targeting procedures (how they decide who to focus on), the minimization procedures (how they decide which information to discard), and help you makes sense of the many code names and acronyms in the news. He will also discuss the legal and policy ramifications that have become part of the public debate following the recent disclosures, and what you can do about it. After summarizing the programs, technologies, and legal/policy framework in the lecture, the audience can ask questions.
Speaker: Kurt Opsahl
Event: 30th Chaos Communication Congress [30c3] by the Chaos Computer Club [CCC]
Location: Congress Centrum Hamburg (CCH); Am Dammtor; Marseiller Straße; 20355 Hamburg; Germany
Glenn Becks “SURVEILLANCE STATE”
Inside the NSA
Ed Snowden, NSA, and Fairy Tales
AT&T Spying On Internet Traffic
For years the National Securities Agency, has been spying on each & every keystroke. The national headquarters of AT&T is in Missouri, where ex-employees describe a secret room. The program is called “Splitter Cut-In & Test Procedure.”
NSA Whistle-Blower Tells All – Op-Docs: The Program
The filmmaker Laura Poitras profiles William Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency who helped design a top-secret program he says is broadly collecting Americans’ personal data.
NSA Whistleblower: Everyone in US under virtual surveillance, all info stored, no matter the post
He told you so: Bill Binney talks NSA leaks
William Benny – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)
‘After 9/11 NSA had secret deal with White House’
The story of Whistleblower Thomas Drake
Whistleblowers, Part Two: Thomas Drake
NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake speaks at National Press Club – March 15, 2013
Meet Edward Snowden: NSA PRISM Whistleblower
The Truth About Edward Snowden
N.S.A. Spying: Why Does It Matter?
Inside The NSA~Americas Cyber Secrets
NSA Whistleblower Exposes Obama’s Dragnet
AT&T whistleblower against immunity for Bush spy program-1/2
AT&T Whistleblower Urges Against Immunity for Telecoms in Bush Spy Program
The Senate is expected to vote on a controversial measure to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act tomorrow. The legislation would rewrite the nation’s surveillance laws and authorize the National Security Agency’s secret program of warrantless wiretapping. We speak with Mark Klein, a technician with AT&T for over twenty-two years. In 2006 Klein leaked internal AT&T documents that revealed the company had set up a secret room in its San Francisco office to give the National Security Agency access to its fiber optic internet cables.
AT&T whistleblower against immunity for Bush spy program-2/2
Enemy Of The State 1998 (1080p) (Full movie)
Background Articles and Videos
Stellar Wind was the open secret code name for four surveillance programs by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) during the presidency of George W. Bush and revealed by Thomas Tamm to The New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau. The operation was approved by President George W. Bush shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001. Stellar Wind was succeeded during the presidency of Barack Obama by four major lines of intelligence collection in the territorial United States, together capable of spanning the full range of modern telecommunications.
The program’s activities involved data mining of a large database of the communications of American citizens, including e-mail communications, phone conversations, financial transactions, and Internet activity. William Binney, a retired Technical Leader with the NSA, discussed some of the architectural and operational elements of the program at the 2012 Chaos Communication Congress.
There were internal disputes within the Justice Department about the legality of the program, because data are collected for large numbers of people, not just the subjects of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.
During the Bush Administration, the Stellar Wind cases were referred to by FBI agents as “pizza cases” because many seemingly suspicious cases turned out to be food takeout orders. According to Mueller, approximately 99 percent of the cases led nowhere, but “it’s that other 1% that we’ve got to be concerned about”. One of the known uses of these data were the creation of suspicious activity reports, or “SARS”, about people suspected of terrorist activities. It was one of these reports that revealed former New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s use of prostitutes, even though he was not suspected of terrorist activities.
In March 2012 Wired magazine published “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)” talking about a vast new NSA facility in Utah and says “For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail,” naming the official William Binney, a former NSA code breaker. Binney went on to say that the NSA had highly secured rooms that tap into major switches, and satellite communications at both AT&T and Verizon. The article suggested that the otherwise dispatched Stellar Wind is actually an active program.
PRISM is a clandestine national security electronic surveillance program operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007.[Notes 1]PRISM is a government codename for a data collection effort known officially as US-984XN. It is operated under the supervision of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The existence of the program was leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published by The Guardian and The Washington Post on June 6, 2013.
A document included in the leak indicated that the PRISM SIGAD was “the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports.” The President’s Daily Brief, an all-source intelligence product, cited PRISM data as a source in 1,477 items in 2012. The leaked information came to light one day after the revelation that the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had been requiring the telecommunications company Verizon to turn over to the NSA logs tracking all of its customers’ telephone calls on an ongoing daily basis.
According to the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, PRISM cannot be used to intentionally target any Americans or anyone in the United States. Clapper said a special court, Congress, and the executive branch oversee the program and extensive procedures ensure the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of data accidentally collected about Americans is kept to a minimum. Clapper issued a statement and “fact sheet” to correct what he characterized as “significant misimpressions” in articles by The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers.
Slide showing that much of the world’s communications flow through the US
Details of information collected via PRISM
PRISM is a “Special Source Operation” in the tradition of NSA’s intelligence alliances with as many as 100 trusted U.S. companies since the 1970s. A prior program, the Terrorist Surveillance Program, was implemented in the wake of the September 11 attacks under the George W. Bush Administration but was widely criticized and had its legality questioned, because it was conducted without approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). PRISM was authorized by an order of the FISC. Its creation was enabled by the Protect America Act of 2007 under President Bush and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which legally immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with US intelligence collection and was renewed by Congress under President Obama in 2012 for five years until December 2017. According to The Register, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 “specifically authorizes intelligence agencies to monitor the phone, email, and other communications of U.S. citizens for up to a week without obtaining a warrant” when one of the parties is outside the U.S.
PRISM was first publicly revealed on June 6, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Washington Post and The Guardian by American Edward Snowden. The leaked documents included 41 PowerPoint slides, four of which were published in news articles. The documents identified several technology companies as participants in the PRISM program, including (date of joining PRISM in parentheses) Microsoft (2007), Yahoo! (2008), Google (2009), Facebook (2009), Paltalk (2009), YouTube (2010), AOL (2011), Skype (2011), and Apple (2012). The speaker’s notes in the briefing document reviewed by The Washington Post indicated that “98 percent of PRISM production is based on Yahoo, Google and Microsoft.”
The slide presentation stated that much of the world’s electronic communications pass through the United States, because electronic communications data tend to follow the least expensive route rather than the most physically direct route, and the bulk of the world’s internet infrastructure is based in the United States. The presentation noted that these facts provide United States intelligence analysts with opportunities for intercepting the communications of foreign targets as their electronic data pass into or through the United States.
According to The Washington Post, the intelligence analysts search PRISM data using terms intended to identify suspicious communications of targets whom the analysts suspect with at least 51 percent confidence to not be United States citizens, but in the process, communication data of some United States citizens are also collected unintentionally. Training materials for analysts tell them that while they should periodically report such accidental collection of non-foreign United States data, “it’s nothing to worry about.”
Response from companies
The original Washington Post and Guardian articles reporting on PRISM noted that one of the leaked briefing documents said PRISM involves collection of data “directly from the servers” of several major internet services providers.
Initial Public Statements
Corporate executives of several companies identified in the leaked documents told The Guardian that they had no knowledge of the PRISM program in particular and also denied making information available to the government on the scale alleged by news reports. Statements of several of the companies named in the leaked documents were reported by TechCrunch and The Washington Post as follows:
Slide listing companies and the date that PRISM collection began
Microsoft: “We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it.”
Yahoo!: “Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.” “Of the hundreds of millions of users we serve, an infinitesimal percentage will ever be the subject of a government data collection directive.”
Facebook: “We do not provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers. When Facebook is asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by law.”
Google: “Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a backdoor for the government to access private user data.” “[A]ny suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.”
Apple: “We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”
Dropbox: “We’ve seen reports that Dropbox might be asked to participate in a government program called PRISM. We are not part of any such program and remain committed to protecting our users’ privacy.”
In response to the technology companies’ denials of the NSA being able to directly access the companies’ servers, The New York Times reported that sources had stated the NSA was gathering the surveillance data from the companies using other technical means in response to court orders for specific sets of data.The Washington Post suggested, “It is possible that the conflict between the PRISM slides and the company spokesmen is the result of imprecision on the part of the NSA author. In another classified report obtained by The Post, the arrangement is described as allowing ‘collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,’ rather than directly to company servers.” “[I]n context, ‘direct’ is more likely to mean that the NSA is receiving data sent to them deliberately by the tech companies, as opposed to intercepting communications as they’re transmitted to some other destination.
“If these companies received an order under the FISA amendments act, they are forbidden by law from disclosing having received the order and disclosing any information about the order at all,” Mark Rumold, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told ABC News.
Slide showing two different sources of NSA data collection. The first source the fiber optic cables of the internet handled by the Upstream program and the second source the servers of major internet companies handled by PRISM.
On May 28, 2013, Google was ordered by United States District Court Judge Susan Illston to comply with a National Security Letter issued by the FBI to provide user data without a warrant. Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in an interview with VentureBeat said, “I certainly appreciate that Google put out a transparency report, but it appears that the transparency didn’t include this. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were subject to a gag order.”
The New York Times reported on June 7, 2013, that “Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations.” The other companies held discussions with national security personnel on how to make data available more efficiently and securely. In some cases, these companies made modifications to their systems in support of the intelligence collection effort. The dialogues have continued in recent months, as General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has met with executives including those at Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Intel. These details on the discussions provide insight into the disparity between initial descriptions of the government program including a training slide which states “Collection directly from the servers” and the companies’ denials.
While providing data in response to a legitimate FISA request approved by FISC is a legal requirement, modifying systems to make it easier for the government to collect the data is not. This is why Twitter could legally decline to provide an enhanced mechanism for data transmission. Other than Twitter, the companies were effectively asked to construct a locked mailbox and provide the key to the government, people briefed on the negotiations said. Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information. Google does not provide a lockbox system, but instead transmits required data by hand delivery or secure FTP.
Post-PRISM Transparency Reports
In response to the publicity surrounding media reports of data-sharing, several companies requested permission to reveal more public information about the nature and scope of information provided in response to National Security requests.
On June 14, 2013, Facebook reported that the U.S. Government had authorized the communication of “about these numbers in aggregate, and as a range.” In a press release posted to their web site, Facebook reported, “For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) – was between 9,000 and 10,000.” Facebook further reported that the requests impacted “between 18,000 and 19,000″ user accounts, a “tiny fraction of one percent” of more than 1.1 billion active user accounts.
Microsoft reported that for the same period, it received “between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts from U.S. governmental entities (including local, state and federal)” which impacted “a tiny fraction of Microsoft’s global customer base”.
Google issued a statement criticizing the requirement that data be reported in aggregated form, stating that lumping national security requests with criminal request data would be “a step backwards” from its previous, more detailed practices on its site transparency report. The company said that it would continue to seek government permission to publish the number and extent of FISA requests.
Response from United States government
Shortly after publication of the reports by The Guardian and The Washington Post, the United States Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, on June 7 released a statement confirming that for nearly six years the government of the United States had been using large internet services companies such as Google and Facebook to collect information on foreigners outside the United States as a defense against national security threats. The statement read in part, “The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They contain numerous inaccuracies.” He went on to say, “Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.” Clapper concluded his statement by stating “The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.” On March 12, 2013, Clapper had told the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the NSA does “not wittingly” collect any type of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans. In an NBC News interview, Clapper said he answered Senator Wyden’s question in the “least untruthful manner by saying no”.
Clapper also stated that “the NSA collects the phone data in broad swaths, because collecting it (in) a narrow fashion would make it harder to identify terrorism-related communications. The information collected lets the government, over time, make connections about terrorist activities. The program doesn’t let the U.S. listen to people’s calls, but only includes information like call length and telephone numbers dialed.”
On June 8, 2013, Clapper said “the surveillance activities published in The Guardian and The Washington Post are lawful and conducted under authorities widely known and discussed, and fully debated and authorized by Congress.” The fact sheet described PRISM as “an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government’s statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a).”
The National Intelligence fact sheet further stated that “the United States Government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers. All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.” It said that the Attorney General provides FISA Court rulings and semi-annual reports about PRISM activities to Congress, “provid[ing] an unprecedented degree of accountability and transparency.”
The President of the United States, Barack Obama, said on June 7 “What you’ve got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress. Bipartisan majorities have approved them. Congress is continually briefed on how these are conducted. There are a whole range of safeguards involved. And federal judges are overseeing the entire program throughout.” He also said, “You can’t have 100 percent security and then also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”
In separate statements, senior (not mentioned by name in source) Obama administration officials said that Congress had been briefed 13 times on the programs since 2009.
In contrast to their swift and forceful reactions the previous day to allegations that the government had been conducting surveillance of United States citizens’ telephone records, Congressional leaders initially had little to say about the PRISM program the day after leaked information about the program was published. Several lawmakers declined to discuss PRISM, citing its top-secret classification, and others said that they had not been aware of the program. After statements had been released by the President and the Director of National Intelligence, some lawmakers began to comment:
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
June 9 “We passed the Patriot Act. We passed specific provisions of the act that allowed for this program to take place, to be enacted in operation,”
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee
June 9 “These programs are within the law”, “part of our obligation is keeping Americans safe”, “Human intelligence isn’t going to do it”.
June 9 “Here’s the rub: the instances where this has produced good — has disrupted plots, prevented terrorist attacks, is all classified, that’s what’s so hard about this.”
June 11 “It went fine…we asked him[ Keith Alexander ] to declassify things because it would be helpful (for people and lawmakers to better understand the intelligence programs).” “I’ve just got to see if the information gets declassified. I’m sure people will find it very interesting.”
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), member of Senate Intelligence Committee and past member of Homeland Security Committee
June 11 “I had, along with Joe Lieberman, a monthly threat briefing, but I did not have access to this highly compartmentalized information” and “How can you ask when you don’t know the program exists?”
Representative John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House of Representatives
June 11 “He’s a traitor” (referring to Edward Snowden)
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), principal sponsor of the Patriot Act
June 9, “This is well beyond what the Patriot Act allows.” “President Obama’s claim that ‘this is the most transparent administration in history’ has once again proven false. In fact, it appears that no administration has ever peered more closely or intimately into the lives of innocent Americans.”
Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), a Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
June 9 “One of the things that we’re charged with is keeping America safe and keeping our civil liberties and privacy intact. I think we have done both in this particular case,”
June 9 “Within the last few years this program was used to stop a program, excuse me, to stop a terrorist attack in the United States we know that. It’s, it’s, it’s important, it fills in a little seam that we have and it’s used to make sure that there is not an international nexus to any terrorism event that they may believe is ongoing in the United States. So in that regard it is a very valuable thing,”
Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)
June 9 “I don’t think the American public knows the extent or knew the extent to which they were being surveilled and their data was being collected.” “I think we ought to reopen the Patriot Act and put some limits on the amount of data that the National Security (Agency) is collecting,” “It ought to remain sacred, and there’s got to be a balance here. That is what I’m aiming for. Let’s have the debate, let’s be transparent, let’s open this up”.
Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN)
June 10 “We have no idea when they [ FISA ] meet, we have no idea what their judgments are”,
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
June 6 “When the Senate rushed through a last-minute extension of the FISA Amendments Act late last year, I insisted on a vote on my amendment (SA 3436) to require stronger protections on business records and prohibiting the kind of data-mining this case has revealed. Just last month, I introduced S.1037, the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act,”
June 9 “I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level. I’m going to be asking the Internet providers and all of the phone companies: ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit.”
Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
June 9 “We will be receiving secret briefings and we will be asking, I know I’m going to be asking to get more information. I want to make sure that what they’re doing is harvesting information that is necessary to keep us safe and not simply going into everybody’s private telephone conversations and Facebook and communications. I mean one of the, you know the terrorists win when you debilitate freedom of expression and privacy.”
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) has not acknowledged, denied or confirmed any involvement in the PRISM program at this time. It has not issued any press statement or release relating to the current situation and uncertainty.
Applicable law and practice
On June 8, 2013, the Director of National Intelligence issued a fact sheet stating that PRISM “is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program”, but rather computer software used to facilitate the collection of foreign intelligence information “under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a).” Section 702 provides that “the Attorney General [A.G.] and the Director of National Intelligence [DNI] may authorize jointly, for a period of up to 1 year from the effective date of the authorization, the targeting of persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information.” In order to authorize the targeting, the A.G. and DNI need to get an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) pursuant to Section 702 or certify that “intelligence important to the national security of the United States may be lost or not timely acquired and time does not permit the issuance of an order.” When asking for an order, the A.G. and DNI must certify to FISC that “a significant purpose of the acquisition is to obtain foreign intelligence information.” They do not need to specify which facilities or property that the targeting will be directed at.
After getting a FISC order or determining that there are emergency circumstances, the A.G. and DNI can direct an electronic communication service provider to give them access to information or facilities to carry out the targeting and keep the targeting secret. The provider then has the option to: (1) comply with the directive; (2) reject it; or (3) challenge it to FISC.
If the provider complies with the directive, it is released from liability to its users for providing the information and reimbursed for the cost of providing it.
If the provider rejects the directive, the A.G. may request an order from FISC to enforce it. A provider that fails to comply with FISC’s order can be punished with contempt of court.
Finally, a provider can petition FISC to reject the directive. In case FISC denies the petition and orders the provider to comply with the directive, the provider risks contempt of court if it refuses to comply with FISC’s order. The provider can appeal FISC’s denial to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review and then appeal the Court of Review’s decision to the Supreme Court by a writ of certiorari for review under seal.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the FISA Courts had been put in place to oversee intelligence operations in the period after the death of J. Edgar Hoover. Beverly Gage of Slate said, “When they were created, these new mechanisms were supposed to stop the kinds of abuses that men like Hoover had engineered. Instead, it now looks as if they have come to function as rubber stamps for the expansive ambitions of the intelligence community. J. Edgar Hoover no longer rules Washington, but it turns out we didn’t need him anyway.”
Involvement of other countries
The Australian government has said it will investigate the impact of the PRISM program and the use of the Pine Gap surveillance facility on the privacy of Australian citizens.
Canada’s national cryptologic agency, the Communications Security Establishment, said that commenting on PRISM “would undermine CSE’s ability to carry out its mandate”. Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart lamented Canada’s standards when it comes to protecting personal online privacy stating “We have fallen too far behind,” Stoddart wrote in her report. “While other nations’ data protection authorities have the legal power to make binding orders, levy hefty fines and take meaningful action in the event of serious data breaches, we are restricted to a ‘soft’ approach: persuasion, encouragement and, at the most, the potential to publish the names of transgressors in the public interest.” And, “when push comes to shove,” Stoddart wrote, “short of a costly and time-consuming court battle, we have no power to enforce our recommendations.”
Germany did not receive any raw PRISM data, according to a Reuters report.
Israeli newspaper Calcalist discussed the Business Insider article about the possible involvement of technologies from two secretive Israeli companies in the PRISM program – Verint Systems and Narus.
In New Zealand, University of Otago information science Associate Professor Hank Wolfe said that “under what was unofficially known as the Five Eyes Alliance, New Zealand and other governments, including the United States, Australia, Canada, and Britain, dealt with internal spying by saying they didn’t do it. But they have all the partners doing it for them and then they share all the information.”
In the United Kingdom, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has had access to the PRISM program on or before June 2010 and wrote 197 reports with it in 2012 alone. PRISM may have allowed GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material.
The neutrality of this section is disputed. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (June 2013)
The New York Times editorial board charged that the Obama administration “has now lost all credibility on this issue,” and lamented that “for years, members of Congress ignored evidence that domestic intelligence-gathering had grown beyond their control, and, even now, few seem disturbed to learn that every detail about the public’s calling and texting habits now reside in a N.S.A. database.”
Republican and former member of Congress Ron Paul said, “We should be thankful for individuals like Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald who see injustice being carried out by their own government and speak out, despite the risk…. They have done a great service to the American people by exposing the truth about what our government is doing in secret.” Paul denounced the government’s secret surveillance program: “The government does not need to know more about what we are doing…. We need to know more about what the government is doing.” He called Congress “derelict in giving that much power to the government,” and said that had he been elected president, he would have ordered searches only when there was probable cause of a crime having been committed, which he said was not how the PRISM program was being operated.
In response to Obama administration arguments that it could stop terrorism in the cases of Najibullah Zazi and David Headley, Ed Pilkington and Nicholas Watt of The Guardian said in regards to the role of PRISM and Boundless Informant interviews with parties involved in the Zazi scheme and court documents lodged in the United States and the United Kingdom indicated that “conventional” surveillance methods such as “old-fashioned tip-offs” of the British intelligence services initiated the investigation into the Zazi case. An anonymous former CIA agent said that in regards to the Headley case, “That’s nonsense. It played no role at all in the Headley case. That’s not the way it happened at all.” Pilkington and Watt concluded that the data-mining programs “played a relatively minor role in the interception of the two plots.” Michael Daly of The Daily Beast stated that even though Tamerlan Tsarnaev had visited Inspire and even though Russian intelligence officials alerted U.S. intelligence officials about Tsarnaev, PRISM did not prevent him from carrying out the Boston bombings, and that the initial evidence implicating him came from his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and not from federal intelligence. In addition Daly pointed to the fact that Faisal Shahzad visited Inspire but that federal authorities did not stop his attempted terrorist plot. Daly concluded “The problem is not just what the National Security Agency is gathering at the risk of our privacy but what it is apparently unable to monitor at the risk of our safety.” In addition, political commentator Bill O’Reilly criticized the government, saying that PRISM did not stop the Boston bombings.
In a blog post, David Simon, the creator of The Wire, compared the NSA’s programs, including PRISM, to a 1980s effort by the City of Baltimore to add dialed number recorders to all pay phones to know which individuals were being called by the callers; the city believed that drug traffickers were using pay phones and pagers, and a municipal judge allowed the city to place the recorders. The placement of the dialers formed the basis of the show’s first season. Simon argued that the media attention regarding the NSA programs is a “faux scandal.” George Takei, an actor who had experienced Japanese American internment, said that due to his memories of the internment, he felt concern towards the NSA surveillance programs that had been revealed.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an international non-profit digital-rights group based in the U.S., is hosting a tool, by which an American resident can write to their government representatives regarding their opposition to mass spying.
On June 11, 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the NSA citing that PRISM “violates Americans’ constitutional rights of free speech, association, and privacy”.
Reactions of Internet users in China were mixed between viewing a loss of freedom worldwide and seeing state surveillance coming out of secrecy. The story broke just before US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in California. When asked about NSA hacking China, the spokeswoman of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China said “China strongly advocates cybersecurity”. The party-owned newspaper Liberation Daily described this surveillance like Nineteen Eighty-Four-style. Hong Kong legislators Gary Fan and Claudia Mo wrote a letter to Obama, stating “the revelations of blanket surveillance of global communications by the world’s leading democracy have damaged the image of the U.S. among freedom-loving peoples around the world.”
Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, called PRISM “a violation of EU laws”.
Protests at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin
The German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Peter Schaar, condemned the program as “monstrous”. He further added that White House claims do “not reassure me at all” and that “given the large number of German users of Google, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft services, I expect the German government […] is committed to clarification and limitation of surveillance.” Steffen Seibert, press secretary of the Chancellor’s office, announced that Angela Merkel will put these issues on the agenda of the talks with Barack Obama during his pending visit in Berlin.
The Italian president of the Guarantor for the protection of personal data, Antonello Soro, said that the surveillance dragnet “would not be legal in Italy” and would be “contrary to the principles of our legislation and would represent a very serious violation”.
William Hague, the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, dismissed accusations that British security agencies had been circumventing British law by using information gathered on British citizens by Prism saying, “Any data obtained by us from the United States involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards.” David Cameron said Britain’s spy agencies that received data collected from PRISM acted within the law: “I’m satisfied that we have intelligence agencies that do a fantastically important job for this country to keep us safe, and they operate within the law.” Malcolm Rifkind, the chairman of parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, said that if the British intelligence agencies were seeking to know the content of emails about people living in the UK, then they actually have to get lawful authority. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office was more cautious, saying it would investigate PRISM alongside other European data agencies: “There are real issues about the extent to which U.S. law agencies can access personal data of UK and other European citizens. Aspects of U.S. law under which companies can be compelled to provide information to U.S. agencies potentially conflict with European data protection law, including the UK’s own Data Protection Act. The ICO has raised this with its European counterparts, and the issue is being considered by the European Commission, who are in discussions with the U.S. Government.”
Ai Weiwei, a Chinese dissident, said “Even though we know governments do all kinds of things I was shocked by the information about the US surveillance operation, Prism. To me, it’s abusively using government powers to interfere in individuals’ privacy. This is an important moment for international society to reconsider and protect individual rights.”
Kim Dotcom, a German-Finnish Internet entrepreneur who owned Megaupload, which was closed by the U.S. federal government, said “We should heed warnings from Snowden because the prospect of an Orwellian society outweighs whatever security benefits we derive from Prism or Five Eyes.” The Hong Kong law firm representing Dotcom expressed a fear that the communication between Dotcom and the firm had been compromised by U.S. intelligence programs.
Russia has offered to consider an asylum request from Edward Snowden.
Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said “We knew about their past efforts to trace our system. We have used our technical resources to foil their efforts and have been able to stop them from succeeding so far.”
A parallel program, code-named BLARNEY, gathers up metadata as it streams past choke points along the backbone of the Internet. BLARNEY’s summary, set down in the slides alongside a cartoon insignia of a shamrock and a leprechaun hat, describes it as “an ongoing collection program that leverages IC [intelligence community] and commercial partnerships to gain access and exploit foreign intelligence obtained from global networks.”
A related program, a big data visualization system based on cloud computing and free and open-source software (FOSS) technology known as “Boundless Informant”, was disclosed in documents leaked to The Guardian and reported on June 8, 2013. A leaked, top secret map allegedly produced by Boundless Informant revealed the extent of NSA surveillance in the U.S.
ThinThread is the name of a project that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) pursued during the 1990s, according to a May 17, 2006 article in The Baltimore Sun. The program involved wiretapping and sophisticated analysis of the resulting data, but according to the article, the program was discontinued three weeks before the September 11, 2001 attacks due to the changes in priorities and the consolidation of U.S. intelligence authority. The “change in priority” consisted of the decision made by the director of NSA General Michael V. Hayden to go with a concept called Trailblazer, despite the fact that ThinThread was a working prototype that protected the privacy of U.S. citizens.
ThinThread was dismissed and replaced by the Trailblazer Project, which lacked the privacy protections. A consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was awarded a $280 million contract to develop Trailblazer in 2002.
Trailblazer was a United States National Security Agency (NSA) program intended to develop a capability to analyze data carried on communications networks like the Internet. It was intended to track entities using communication methods such as cell phones and e-mail. It ran over budget, failed to accomplish critical goals, and was cancelled.
NSA whistleblowers J. Kirk Wiebe, William Binney, Ed Loomis, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staffer Diane Roark complained to the Department of Defense’s Inspector General (IG) about waste, fraud, and abuse in the program, and the fact that a successful operating prototype existed, but was ignored when the Trailblazer program was launched. The complaint was accepted by the IG and an investigation began that lasted until mid-2005 when the final results were issued. The results were largely hidden, as the report given to the public was heavily (90%) redacted, while the original report was heavily classified, thus restricting the ability of most people to see it.
The people who filed the IG complaint were later raided by armed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents. While the Government threatened to prosecute all who signed the IG report, it ultimately chose to pursue an NSA Senior Executive — Thomas Andrews Drake — who helped with the report internally to NSA and who had spoken with a reporter about the project. Drake was later charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. His defenders claimed this was retaliation. The charges against him were later dropped, and he agreed to plead guilty to having committed a misdemeanor under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, something that Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project (which helped represent him) called an “act of civil disobedience”.
Trailblazer was chosen over a similar program named ThinThread, a less costly project which had been designed with built-in privacy protections for United States citizens. Trailblazer was later linked to the NSA electronic surveillance program and the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.
In 2002 a consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was chosen by the NSA to produce a technology demonstration platform in a contract worth $280 million. Project participants included Boeing, Computer Sciences Corporation, and Booz Allen Hamilton. The project was overseen by NSA Deputy Director William B. Black, Jr., an NSA worker who had gone to SAIC, and then been re-hired back to NSA by NSA director Michael Hayden in 2000. SAIC had also hired a former NSA director to its management; Bobby Inman. SAIC also participated in the concept definition phase of Trailblazer.
Redacted version of the DoD Inspector General audit, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Project on Government Oversight and others. 
The NSA Inspector General issued a report on Trailblazer that “discussed improperly based contract cost increases, non-conformance in the management of the Statement of Work, and excessive labor rates for contractor personnel.” 
In 2004 the DoD IG report criticized the program (see the Whistleblowing section below). It said that the “NSA ‘disregarded solutions to urgent national security needs’” and “that TRAILBLAZER was poorly executed and overly expensive …” Several contractors for the project were worried about cooperating with DoD’s audit for fear of “management reprisal.” The Director of NSA “nonconcurred” with several statements in the IG audit, and the report contains a discussion of those disagreements.
In 2005, NSA director Michael Hayden told a Senate hearing that the Trailblazer program was several hundred million dollars over budget and years behind schedule. In 2006 the program was shut down, after having cost billions of US Dollars. Several anonymous NSA sources told Hosenball of Newsweek later on that the project was a “wasteful failure”.
The new project replacing Trailblazer is called Turbulence.
According to a 2011 New Yorker article, in the early days of the project several NSA employees met with Diane S Roark, an NSA budget expert on the House Intelligence Committee. They aired their grievances about Trailblazer. In response, NSA director Michael Hayden sent out a memo saying that “individuals, in a session with our congressional overseers, took a position in direct opposition to one that we had corporately decided to follow … Actions contrary to our decisions will have a serious adverse effect on our efforts to transform N.S.A., and I cannot tolerate them.”
In September 2002, several people filed a complaint with the Department of Defense IG’s office regarding problems with Trailblazer: they included Roark (aforementioned), ex-NSA senior analysts Bill Binney, Kirk Wiebe, and Senior Computer Systems Analyst Ed Loomis, who had quit the agency over concerns about its mismanagement of acquisition and allegedly illegal domestic spying. A major source for the report was NSA senior officer Thomas Andrews Drake. Drake had been complaining to his superiors for some time about problems at the agency, and about the superiority of ThinThread over Trailblazer, for example, at protecting privacy. Drake gave info to DoD during its investigation of the matter. Roark also went to her boss at the House committee, Porter Goss, about problems, but was rebuffed. She also attempted to contact William Renquist, the Supreme Court Chief Justice at the time.
Drake’s own boss, Maureen Baginski, the third-highest officer at NSA, quit partly over concerns about the legality of its behavior.
In 2003, the NSA IG (not the DoD IG) had declared Trailblazer an expensive failure. It had cost more than $1 billion.
In 2005, the DoD IG produced a report on the result of its investigation of the complaint of Roark and the others in 2002. This report was not released to the public, but it has been described as very negative. Mayer writes that it hastened the closure of Trailblazer, which was at the time in trouble from congress for being over budget.
In November 2005, Drake contacted Siobhan Gorman, a reporter of The Baltimore Sun. Gorman wrote several articles about problems at the NSA, including articles on Trailblazer. This series got her an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
In 2005, President George W. Bush ordered the FBI to find whoever had disclosed information about the NSA electronic surveillance program and its disclosure in the New York Times. Eventually, this investigation led to the people who had filed the 2002 DoD IG request, even though they had nothing to do with the New York Times disclosure. In 2007, the houses of Roark, Binney, and Wiebe were raided by armed FBI agents. According to Mayer, Binney claims the FBI pointed guns at his head and that of his wife. Wiebe said it reminded him of the Soviet Union. None of these people were ever charged with any crime. Four months later, Drake was raided in November 2007 and his computers and documents were confiscated.
In 2010 Drake was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges of obstructing justice, providing false information, and violating the Espionage Act of 1917, part of President Barack Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers and “leakers”. The government tried to get Roark to testify to a conspiracy, and made similar requests to Drake, offering him a plea bargain. They both refused.
In June 2011, the ten original charges against Drake were dropped, instead he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
Boundless Informant is a big data analysis and data visualization system used by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) to give NSA managers summaries of NSA’s world wide data collection activities. It is described in an unclassified, For Official Use Only Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) memo published by The Guardian. According to a Top Secret heat map display also published by The Guardian and allegedly produced by the Boundless Informant program, almost 3 billion data elements from inside the United States were captured by NSA over a 30-day period ending in March 2013.
Data analyzed by Boundless Informant includes electronic surveillance program records (DNI) and telephone call metadata records (DNR) stored in an NSA data archive called GM-PLACE. It does not include FISA data, according to the FAQ memo. PRISM, a government codename for a collection effort known officially as US-984XN, which was revealed at the same time as Boundless Informant, is one source of DNR data. According to the map, Boundless Informant summarizes data records from 504 separate DNR and DNI collection sources (SIGADs). In the map, countries that are under surveillance are assigned a color from green, representing least coverage to red, most intensive.
Slide showing that much of the world’s communications flow through the US.
Intelligence gathered by the United States government inside the United States or specifically targeting US citizens is legally required to be gathered in compliance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) and under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court).
NSA global data mining projects have existed for decades, but recent programs of intelligence gathering and analysis that include data gathered from inside the United States such as PRISM were enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under President Obama in December 2012.
Boundless Informant was first publicly revealed on June 8, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Guardian. The newspaper identified its informant, at his request, as Edward Snowden, who worked at the NSA for the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
According to published slides, Boundless Informant leverages Free and Open Source Software—and is therefore “available to all NSA developers”—and corporate services hosted in the cloud. The tool uses HDFS, MapReduce, and Cloudbase for data processing.
Legality and FISA Amendments Act of 2008
The FISA Amendments Act (FAA) Section 702 is referenced in PRISM documents detailing the electronic interception, capture and analysis of metadata. Many reports and letters of concern written by members of Congress suggest that this section of FAA in particular is legally and constitutionally problematic, such as by targeting U.S. persons, insofar as “Collections occur in U.S.” as published documents indicate.
The ACLU has asserted the following regarding the FAA: “Regardless of abuses, the problem with the FAA is more fundamental: the statute itself is unconstitutional.”
Senator Rand Paul is introducing new legislation called the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013 to stop the NSA or other agencies of the United States government from violating the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution using technology and big data information systems like PRISM and Boundless Informant.
ECHELON is a name used in global media and in popular culture to describe a signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis network operated on behalf of the five signatory states to the UKUSA Security Agreement (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, referred to by a number of abbreviations, including AUSCANNZUKUS and Five Eyes). It has also been described as the only software system which controls the download and dissemination of the intercept of commercial satellite trunk communications.
ECHELON, according to information in the European Parliament document, “On the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON interception system)” was created to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies during the Cold War in the early 1960s.
The system has been reported in a number of public sources. Its capabilities and political implications were investigated by a committee of the European Parliament during 2000 and 2001 with a report published in 2001, and by author James Bamford in his books on the National Security Agency of the United States. The European Parliament stated in its report that the term ECHELON is used in a number of contexts, but that the evidence presented indicates that it was the name for a signals intelligence collection system. The report concludes that, on the basis of information presented, ECHELON was capable of interception and content inspection of telephone calls, fax, e-mail and other data traffic globally through the interception of communication bearers including satellite transmission, public switched telephone networks (which once carried most Internet traffic) and microwave links.
Bamford describes the system as the software controlling the collection and distribution of civilian telecommunications traffic conveyed using communication satellites, with the collection being undertaken by ground stations located in the footprint of the downlink leg.
The UKUSA intelligence community was assessed by the European Parliament (EP) in 2000 to include the signals intelligence agencies of each of the member states:
the Government Communications Headquarters of the United Kingdom,
the National Security Agency of the United States,
the Communications Security Establishment of Canada,
the Defence Signals Directorate of Australia, and
the Government Communications Security Bureau of New Zealand.
the National SIGINT Organisation (NSO) of The Netherlands
The EP report concluded that it seemed likely that ECHELON is a method of sorting captured signal traffic, rather than a comprehensive analysis tool.
The ability to intercept communications depends on the medium used, be it radio, satellite, microwave, cellular or fiber-optic. During World War II and through the 1950s, high frequency (“short wave”) radio was widely used for military and diplomatic communication, and could be intercepted at great distances. The rise of geostationary communications satellites in the 1960s presented new possibilities for intercepting international communications. The report to the European Parliament of 2001 states: “If UKUSA states operate listening stations in the relevant regions of the earth, in principle they can intercept all telephone, fax and data traffic transmitted via such satellites.”
The role of satellites in point-to-point voice and data communications has largely been supplanted by fiber optics; in 2006, 99% of the world’s long-distance voice and data traffic was carried over optical-fiber. The proportion of international communications accounted for by satellite links is said to have decreased substantially over the past few years[when?] in Central Europe to an amount between 0.4% and 5%. Even in less-developed parts of the world, communications satellites are used largely for point-to-multipoint applications, such as video. Thus, the majority of communications can no longer be intercepted by earth stations; they can only be collected by tapping cables and intercepting line-of-sight microwave signals, which is possible only to a limited extent.
One method of interception is to place equipment at locations where fiber optic communications are switched. For the Internet, much of the switching occurs at relatively few sites. There have been reports of one such intercept site, Room 641A, in the United States. In the past[when?] much Internet traffic was routed through the U.S. and the UK, but this has changed; for example, in 2000, 95% of intra-German Internet communications was routed via the DE-CIX Internet exchange point in Frankfurt. A comprehensive worldwide surveillance network is possible only if clandestine intercept sites are installed in the territory of friendly nations, and/or if local authorities cooperate. The report to the European Parliament points out that interception of private communications by foreign intelligence services is not necessarily limited to the U.S. or British foreign intelligence services.
Most reports on ECHELON focus on satellite interception; testimony before the European Parliament indicated that separate but similar UK-US systems are in place to monitor communication through undersea cables, microwave transmissions and other lines.
See also: Industrial espionage
Intelligence monitoring of citizens, and their communications, in the area covered by the AUSCANNZUKUS security agreement has caused concern. British journalist Duncan Campbell and New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager asserted in the 1990s that the United States was exploiting ECHELON traffic for industrial espionage, rather than military and diplomatic purposes. Examples alleged by the journalists include the gear-less wind turbine technology designed by the German firm Enercon and the speech technology developed by the Belgian firm Lernout & Hauspie. An article in the US newspaper Baltimore Sun reported in 1995 that European aerospace company Airbus lost a $6 billion contract with Saudi Arabia in 1994 after the US National Security Agency reported that Airbus officials had been bribing Saudi officials to secure the contract.
In 2001, the Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System recommended to the European Parliament that citizens of member states routinely use cryptography in their communications to protect their privacy, because economic espionage with ECHELON has been conducted by the US intelligence agencies.
Bamford provides an alternative view, highlighting that legislation prohibits the use of intercepted communications for commercial purposes, although he does not elaborate on how intercepted communications are used as part of an all-source intelligence process.
According to its website, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is “a high technology organization … on the frontiers of communications and data processing”. In 1999 the Australian Senate Joint Standing Committee on Treaties was told by Professor Desmond Ball that the Pine Gap facility was used as a ground station for a satellite-based interception network. The satellites were said to be large radio dishes between 20 and 100 meters in diameter in geostationary orbits. The original purpose of the network was to monitor the telemetry from 1970s Soviet weapons, air defence radar, communications satellites and ground based microwave communications.
The European Parliament’s Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System stated: “It seems likely, in view of the evidence and the consistent pattern of statements from a very wide range of individuals and organisations, including American sources, that its name is in fact ECHELON, although this is a relatively minor detail.” The U.S. intelligence community uses many code names (see, for example, CIA cryptonym).
Former NSA employee Margaret Newsham claims that she worked on the configuration and installation of software that makes up the ECHELON system while employed at Lockheed Martin, for whom she worked from 1974 to 1984 in Sunnyvale, California, US, and in Menwith Hill, England, UK. At that time, according to Newsham, the code name ECHELON was NSA’s term for the computer network itself. Lockheed called it P415. The software programs were called SILKWORTH and SIRE. A satellite named VORTEX intercepted communications. An image available on the internet of a fragment apparently torn from a job description shows Echelon listed along with several other code names.
The 2001 European Parliamentary (EP) report lists several ground stations as possibly belonging to, or participating in, the ECHELON network. These include:
Likely satellite intercept stations
The following stations are listed in the EP report (p. 54 ff) as likely to have, or to have had, a role in intercepting transmissions from telecommunications satellites:
Hong Kong (since closed)
Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (Geraldton, Western Australia)
Menwith Hill (Yorkshire, U.K.) Map (reportedly the largest Echelon facility)
Misawa Air Base (Japan) Map
GCHQ Bude, formerly known as GCHQ CSO Morwenstow, (Cornwall, U.K.) Map
Pine Gap (Northern Territory, Australia – close to Alice Springs) Map
Sugar Grove (West Virginia, U.S.) Map
Yakima Training Center (Washington, U.S.) Map
GCSB Waihopai (New Zealand)
GCSB Tangimoana (New Zealand)
CFS Leitrim (Ontario, Canada)
Teufelsberg (Berlin, Germany) (closed 1992)
Other potentially related stations
The following stations are listed in the EP report (p. 57 ff) as ones whose roles “cannot be clearly established”:
Ayios Nikolaos (Cyprus – U.K.)
Bad Aibling Station (Bad Aibling, Germany – U.S.)
relocated to Griesheim in 2004
deactivated in 2008
Buckley Air Force Base (Aurora, Colorado)
Fort Gordon (Georgia, U.S.)
Gander (Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada)
Guam (Pacific Ocean, U.S.)
Kunia Regional SIGINT Operations Center (Hawaii, U.S.)
Lackland Air Force Base, Medina Annex (San Antonio, Texas)
Room 641A is a telecommunication interception facility operated by AT&T for the U.S. National Security Agency that commenced operations in 2003 and was exposed in 2006.
Room 641A is located in the SBC Communications building at 611 Folsom Street, San Francisco, three floors of which were occupied by AT&T before SBC purchased AT&T. The room was referred to in internal AT&T documents as the SG3 [Study Group 3] Secure Room. It is fed by fiber optic lines from beam splitters installed in fiber optic trunks carrying Internet backbone traffic and, as analyzed by J. Scott Marcus, a former CTO for GTE and a former adviser to the FCC, who has access to all Internet traffic that passes through the building, and therefore “the capability to enable surveillance and analysis of internet content on a massive scale, including both overseas and purely domestic traffic.” Former director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group, William Binney, has estimated that 10 to 20 such facilities have been installed throughout the United States.
The room measures about 24 by 48 feet (7.3 by 15 m) and contains several racks of equipment, including a Narus STA 6400, a device designed to intercept and analyze Internet communications at very high speeds.
The very existence of the room was revealed by a former AT&T technician, Mark Klein, and was the subject of a 2006 class action lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T. Klein claims he was told that similar black rooms are operated at other facilities around the country.
Room 641A and the controversies surrounding it were subjects of an episode of Frontline, the current affairs documentary program on PBS. It was originally broadcast on May 15, 2007. It was also featured on PBS’s NOW on March 14, 2008. The room was also covered in the PBS Nova episode “The Spy Factory”.
Basic diagram of how the alleged wiretapping was accomplished. From EFF court filings
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T on January 31, 2006, accusing the telecommunication company of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in a massive, illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans’ communications. On July 20, 2006, a federal judge denied the government’s and AT&T’s motions to dismiss the case, chiefly on the ground of the States Secrets Privilege, allowing the lawsuit to go forward. On August 15, 2007, the case was heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and was dismissed on December 29, 2011 based on a retroactive grant of immunity by Congress for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the government. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. A different case by the EFF was filed on September 18, 2008, titled Jewel v. NSA.
PRISM: A clandestine national security electronic surveillance program operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) which can target customers of participating corporations outside or inside the United States
Main Core: A personal and financial database storing information of millions of U.S. citizens believed to be threats to national security. The data mostly comes from the NSA, FBI, CIA, as well as other government sources.
Glenn Greenwald: The NSA Can “Literally Watch Every Keystroke You Make”
A history of NSA wiretapping, Prism, Edward Snowden, William Binney and Thomas Drake – Truthloader
Spying On Americans By NSA Prism Collection Details Rand Paul On Hannity
NSA and the One Trillion Dollar scam [Empire]
The Truth About Edward Snowden
Vindication for Snowden? Obama Panel Backs Major Curbs on NSA Surveillance, Phone Record Data Mining
A White House-appointed task force has proposed a series of curbs on key National Security Agency surveillance operations exposed by Edward Snowden. On Thursday, the panel recommended the NSA halt its bulk collection of billions of U.S. phone call records, citing ‘potential risks to public trust, personal privacy, and civil liberty.’ The panel says telecommunications providers or a private third party should store the records instead. The panel also calls for banning the NSA from ‘undermining encryption’ and criticizes its use of computer programming flaws to mount cyber-attacks. And it backs the creation of an independent review board to monitor government programs for potential violations of civil liberties. We discuss the panel’s findings with two guests: Ben Wizner, Snowden’s legal advisor and director o
Construction of the NCI supercomputer – timelapse video
NSA’s Largest Spy Center Located in Utah (What you need to know)
What You Should Know About The New NSA Utah Data Center
How NSA Spys On You With Utah Data Center Super Computer
The End of Internet Privacy? Glenn Greenwald On Secret NSA Program to Crack Online Encryption
NSA and the One Trillion Dollar scam [Empire]
NSA seeks to build quantum computer that could crack most types of encryption
By Steven Rich and Barton Gellman, Updated: Thursday, January 2, 4:00 PM
In room-size metal boxes, secure against electromagnetic leaks, the National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.
According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program titled, “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park.
The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the scientific community, with revolutionary implications for fields like medicine as well as for the NSA’s code-breaking mission. With such technology, all forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to protect state secrets.
Physicists and computer scientists have long speculated whether the NSA’s efforts are more advanced than those of the best civilian labs. Although the full extent of the agency’s research remains unknown, the documents provided by Snowden suggest that the NSA is no closer to success than others in the scientific community.
“It seems improbable that the NSA could be that far ahead of the open world without anybody knowing it,” said Scott Aaronson, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT.
The NSA appears to regard itself as running neck and neck with quantum computing labs sponsored by the European Union and the Swiss government, with steady progress but little prospect of an immediate breakthrough.
“The geographic scope has narrowed from a global effort to a discrete focus on the European Union and Switzerland,” one NSA document states.
Seth Lloyd, professor of quantum mechanical engineering at MIT, said the NSA’s focus is not misplaced. “The E.U. and Switzerland have made significant advances over the last decade and have caught up to the U.S. in quantum computing technology,” he said.
The NSA declined to comment for this story.
The documents, however, indicate that the agency carries out some of its research in large, shielded rooms known as Faraday cages, which are designed to prevent electromagnetic energy from coming in or out. Those, according to one brief description, are required “to keep delicate quantum computing experiments running.”
The basic principle underlying quantum computing is known as “quantum superposition,” the idea that an object simultaneously exists in all states. A classical computer uses binary bits, which are either zeroes or ones. A quantum computer uses quantum bits, or qubits, which are simultaneously zero and one.
This seeming impossibility is part of the mystery that lies at the heart of quantum theory, which even theoretical physicists say no one completely understands.
“If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics,” said the late Nobel laureate Richard Feynman, who is widely regarded as the pioneer in quantum computing.
Here’s how it works, in theory: While a classical computer, however fast, must do one calculation at a time, a quantum computer can sometimes avoid having to make calculations that are unnecessary to solving a problem. That allows it to home in on the correct answer much more quickly and efficiently.
Quantum computing is so difficult to attain because of the fragile nature of such computers. In theory, the building blocks of such a computer might include individual atoms, photons or electrons. To maintain the quantum nature of the computer, these particles would need to be carefully isolated from their external environments.
“Quantum computers are extremely delicate, so if you don’t protect them from their environment, then the computation will be useless,” said Daniel Lidar, a professor of electrical engineering and the director of the Center for Quantum Information Science and Technology at the University of Southern California.
A working quantum computer would open the door to easily breaking the strongest encryption tools in use today, including a standard known as RSA, named for the initials of its creators. RSA scrambles communications, making them unreadable to anyone but the intended recipient, without requiring the use of a shared password. It is commonly used in Web browsers to secure financial transactions and in encrypted e-mails. RSA is used because of the difficulty of factoring the product of two large prime numbers. Breaking the encryption involves finding those two numbers. This cannot be done in a reasonable amount of time on a classical computer.
In 2009, computer scientists using classical methods were able to discover the primes within a 768-bit number, but it took almost two years and hundreds of computers to factor it. The scientists estimated that it would take 1,000 times longer to break a 1,024-bit encryption key, which is commonly used for online transactions.
A large-scale quantum computer, however, could theoretically break a 1,024-bit encryption much faster. Some leading Internet companies are moving to 2,048-bit keys, but even those are thought to be vulnerable to rapid decryption with a quantum computer.
Quantum computers have many applications for today’s scientific community, including the creation of artificial intelligence. But the NSA fears the implications for national security.
“The application of quantum technologies to encryption algorithms threatens to dramatically impact the US government’s ability to both protect its communications and eavesdrop on the communications of foreign governments,” according to an internal document provided by Snowden.
Experts are not sure how feasible a quantum computer is in the near future. A decade ago, some experts said that developing a large quantum computer was likely 10 to 100 years in the future. Five years ago, Lloyd said the goal was at least 10 years away.
Last year, Jeff Forshaw, a professor at the University of Manchester, told Britain’s Guardian newspaper, “It is probably too soon to speculate on when the first full-scale quantum computer will be built but recent progress indicates that there is every reason to be optimistic.”
“I don’t think we’re likely to have the type of quantum computer the NSA wants within at least five years, in the absence of a significant breakthrough maybe much longer,” Lloyd told the Post in a recent interview.
However, some companies claim to already be producing small quantum computers. A Canadian company, D-Wave Systems , says it has been making quantum computers since 2009. In 2012, it sold a $10 million version to Google, NASA and the Universities Space Research Association, according to news reports.
That quantum computer, however, would never be useful for breaking public key encryption like RSA.
“Even if everything they’re claiming is correct, that computer, by its design, cannot run Shor’s algorithm,” said Matthew Green, a research professor at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, referring to the algorithm that could be used to break encryption like RSA.
Experts believe that one of the largest hurdles to breaking encryption with a quantum computer is building a computer with enough qubits, which is difficult given the very fragile state of quantum computers. By the end of September, the NSA expected to be able to have some basic building blocks, which it described in a document as “dynamical decoupling and complete quantum control on two semiconductor qubits.”
“That’s a great step, but it’s a pretty small step on the road to building a large-scale quantum computer,” Lloyd said.
A quantum computer capable of breaking cryptography would need hundreds or thousands more qubits than that.
The budget for the National Intelligence Program, commonly referred to as the “black budget,” details the “Penetrating Hard Targets” project and noted that this step “will enable initial scaling towards large systems in related and follow-on efforts.”
Another project, called the “Owning the Net,” is using quantum research to support the creation of new quantum-based attacks on encryptions like RSA, documents show.
“The irony of quantum computing is that if you can imagine someone building a quantum computer that can break encryption a few decades into the future, then you need to be worried right now,” Lidar said.
Glenn Greenwald: The NSA Can “Literally Watch Every Keystroke You Make”
Spiegel has revealed new details about a secretive hacking unit inside the National Security Agency called the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO. The unit was created in 1997 to hack into global communications traffic. Hackers inside the TAO have developed a way to break into computers running Microsoft Windows by gaining passive access to machines when users report program crashes to Microsoft. In addition, with help from the CIA and FBI, the NSA has the ability to intercept computers and other electronic accessories purchased online in order to secretly insert spyware and components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies. American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer and journalist Glenn Greenwald join us to discuss the latest revelations, along with the future of Edward Snowden, who has recently offered to assist U.S. targets Germany and Brazil with their respective probes into NSA spying.
TAO Revealed: The NSA’s ‘top secret weapon’
‘NSA’s goal is elimination of privacy worldwide’ – Greenwald to EU (FULL SPEECH)
Glenn Greenwald and Ruth Marcus Get in Explosive Exchange over Snowden and ‘Horrible’ D.C. Media
How The NSA Hacks Your iPhone (Presenting DROPOUT JEEP)
Following up on the latest stunning revelations released yesterday by German Spiegel which exposed the spy agency’s 50 page catalog of “backdoor penetration techniques“, today during a speech given by Jacob Applebaum (@ioerror) at the 30th Chaos Communication Congress, a new bombshell emerged: specifically the complete and detailed description of how the NSA bugs, remotely, your iPhone. The way the NSA accomplishes this is using software known as Dropout Jeep, which it describes as follows: “DROPOUT JEEP is a software implant for the Apple iPhone that utilizes modular mission applications to provide specific SIGINT functionality. This functionality includes the ability to remotely push/pull files from the device. SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, etc. Command, control and data exfiltration can occur over SMS messaging or a GPRS data connection. All communications with the implant will be covert and encrypted.”
The flowchart of how the NSA makes your iPhone its iPhone is presented below:
NSA ROC operator
Load specified module
Send data request
iPhone accepts request
Retrieves required SIGINT data
Encrypt and send exfil data
What is perhaps just as disturbing is the following rhetorical sequence from Applebaum:
“Do you think Apple helped them build that? I don’t know. I hope Apple will clarify that. Here’s the problem: I don’t really believe that Apple didn’t help them, I can’t really prove it but [the NSA] literally claim that anytime they target an iOS device that it will succeed for implantation. Either they have a huge collection of exploits that work against Apple products, meaning that they are hoarding information about critical systems that American companies produce and sabotaging them, or Apple sabotaged it themselves. Not sure which one it is. I’d like to believe that since Apple didn’t join the PRISM program until after Steve Jobs died, that maybe it’s just that they write shitty software. We know that’s true.”
Or, Apple’s software is hardly “shitty” even if it seems like that to the vast majority of experts (kinda like the Fed’s various programs), and in fact it achieves precisely what it is meant to achieve.
How ironic would it be if Blackberry, left for dead by virtually everyone, began marketing its products as the only smartphone that does not allow the NSA access to one’s data (and did so accordingly). Since pretty much everything else it has tried has failed, we don’t see the downside to this hail mary attempt to strike back at Big Brother and maybe make some money, by doing the right thing for once.
We urge readers to watch the full one hour speech by Jacob Applebaum to realize just how massive Big Brother truly is, but those who want to just listen to the section on Apple can do so beginning 44 minutes 30 seconds in the presentation below.
CNN’s Christmas Present For President Obama: Record Low Obamacare Poll Numbers
Brit Hume on Obama’s 43% Approval Rating: ‘I think these chickens are coming home to roost!’
MSNBC: Obama Poll Numbers At All Time Lows, Dragging Down 2014 Democrats
New Poll: Obamacare Approval Sinks To 31% Down 12 Points Since Oct – Rolling Collapses – Varney
ABC: New Poll Numbers Brutal For Obama
What you missed on Washington Week: Obama’s poll numbers slipping
Democratic senator says Obamacare could have ‘meltdown,’ hurt party
President Barack Obama’s healthcare law could have a “meltdown” and make it difficult for his Democratic Party to keep control of the U.S. Senate next year if ongoing problems with the program are not resolved, a Democratic senator said on Sunday.
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has urged delaying a penalty for people who do not enroll for health insurance in 2014 under the law, told CNN that a transitional year was needed for the complex healthcare program, commonly known as Obamacare, to work.
“If it’s so much more expensive than what we anticipated and if the coverage is not as good as what we had, you’ve got a complete meltdown at that time,” Manchin told CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
“It falls of its own weight, if basically the cost becomes more than we can absorb, absolutely.”
The White House has been scrambling for months to control the damage from the botched October 1 launch of the law, formally called the Affordable Care Act, which aimed at making sure that millions of Americans without health insurance are able to receive medical coverage.
There have been complaints from consumers about higher premiums than they previously had to pay for health insurance after their old plans were canceled because of new standards under the law, as well as lingering problems with the main web portal used to sign up for insurance, HealthCare.gov.
Manchin said Senate Democrats who are up for re-election next year are “feeling the weight” of the program’s woes and could have trouble keeping their majority in the chamber.
Republicans have been highlighting the healthcare law’s difficulties as they seek to gain the six seats they would need to win control of the 100-member Senate.
“It needs to turn around,” Manchin said of Obamacare. “I’m not going to say that I think we will lose it (the Senate). It’s going to be extremely challenging. We have some very good people who are truly there, I believe, for the right reason. They’re going to be challenged for the wrong reason.”
Obama acknowledged on Friday that that the bungled launch of the healthcare law was his biggest mistake of 2013. His public approval numbers have dropped to historic lows over the law’s debut.
The president said more than 1 million people have signed up so far for new coverage under Obamacare through HealthCare.gov, which services 36 states, and 14 state-run marketplaces.
A day earlier, Obama’s administration said people whose insurance plans were canceled because of the law may claim a “hardship exemption” to the requirement that all Americans must have coverage by March 31 next year or face a penalty.
Manchin, a conservative Democrat whose state of West Virginia has been increasingly trending Republican, has made no secret of his frustration over the program’s fits and starts.
Last month he introduced legislation to delay by a year the $95 penalty for failing to sign up for health insurance, saying Americans should not be penalized while Obamacare is going through its “transition period.”
Manchin does not face re-election next year, but some Democrats who do have also urged changes to the program, such as extending the open enrollment period beyond the March 31 deadline. One third of the Senate is re-elected every two years.
Segment 1: Republican Senators and Representatives Traitors To The Principle of Fiscal Responsibility and Conservative and Tea Party Movement — Republican Conservative, Libertarian and Tea Party Base Will Take Out The Republican Budget Big Interventionist Government Spenders — Videos
US budget deal clears key Senate hurdle
Boehner lashes out at conservative groups over fragile budget deal
Budget Deal Exposes GOP Split Fox News Sunday Panel w Chris Wallace
Senate Republicans split over budget deal
Budget Deal Disappointment: Dr. Coburn on Morning Joe 12/11/2013
Grover Norquist – President of Americans for Tax Reform