Mainstream Media Mob Electronic Lynching of Dr. Ben Carson — Attempted Assassination Fails — Limbaugh Unmasked The Perpetrators — The Conservative Right Strikes Back — Videos

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Story 1: Mainstream Media Mob Electronic Lynching of Dr. Ben Carson — Attempted Assassination Fails — Limbaugh Unmasked The Perpetrators — The Conservative Right Strikes Back — Videos

a lie

Ben Carson Thanks ‘Biased’ Media After Raising $3.5 Million In One Week

Ben Carson On Biased Media and Trump This Week FULL Interview

Dr. Ben Carson Talks West Point With Bill O’Reilly

Scrutinizing Ben Carson – Donald Trump – O’Reilly Talking points

Ben Carson Holds Press Conference On West Point Scholarship False Claims (11-6-15)

November 6, 2015: GOP Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson addressed the media this evening on the alleged false claims he made in his book, “Gifted Hands”, including that he received a full scholarship offer to West Point and that he allegedly tried to stab a friend and hit his mother with a hammer.

Ben Carson strikes back at the press

Glenn Beck Exposes Obama’s Fraudulent History and Radicalized Beliefs

Report Questions Ben Carson’s West Point Story, Campaign Pushes Back – Cavuto

Ben Carson: “I was offered a full scholarship to West Point” (Oct 9, 2015) | Charlie Rose

Ben Carson thinks Egypt’s pyramids were built by Joseph

Carson: Egypt’s Pyramids Built To Store Grain

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson stood by his belief that Egypt’s great pyramids were built by the Biblical figure Joseph to store grain, an assertion dismissed by experts. (Nov. 5)

Ben Carson: How I Got into Politics (Oct. 9, 2015) | Charlie Rose

Dr. Benjamin Carson’s Amazing Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast with Obama Present

Fox News: Ben Carson Admits Story About Getting Into West Point Was NOT TRUE

Carson Campaign: Politico Story About West Point Acceptance Not True

The Politico, Lies about Ben Carson

Politico: Carson admits fabricating scholarship story

audio 11/6/15 RUSH LIMBAUGH: POLITICO & MEDIA TRYING TO TAKEDOWN BEN CARSON

Hillary’s Vicious Media Tools Now Getting Brutal On Ben Carson (Limbaugh)

Rush Limbaugh – November 6, 2015 Full Podcast

Rush Limbaugh Explains Why Trump And Carson Are Circling The Top Of The Tier

Rush Limbaugh: Trump is driving the GOP establishment insane

Rush Limbaugh: Only Trump or Carson can stop GOP donor agenda

Dr. Ben Carson’s response to a 10-year old boy-Amazing!

Dr. Carson’s amazing speech at CPAC 2014

INCREDIBLE: DR. BEN CARSON STOPS BY “THE VIEW” AND DEMOLISHES LIBERALISM

RUSH: Dr. Ben Carson Has Everyone In Democrat Party Scared To Death

RUSH LIMBAUGH NAILS IT ABOUT BEN CARSON

“There is not a single person in the media today that could wear Dr. Benjamin Carson’s uniform, whatever uniform he puts on in a day, a business suit, if it’s surgical scrubs, there’s not a single member of the media that could do anything close to what Ben Carson has done with his life. ”

Ben Carson: Debate audience picked up on media bias

Ben Carson on CNN: Full interview, part 1

Ben Carson on CNN: Full interview, part 2

Ben Carson on CNN: Full interview, part 3

Mark Levin – Obama the “Red Diaper Baby”

Unearthed: Obama Admits Mentor Was Communist Agitator Frank Marshall Davis

The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor

(CNN) Andy Martin’s discovery that Obama’s father is communist Frank Marshall Davis

Paul Kengor & Glenn Beck “The Communist” on GBTV Frank Marshall Davis Barack Obama’s Mentor

Van Jones: ‘Ben Carson Bewilders, I Think, Most Black Democrats’

Hillary’s Vicious Media Tools Now Getting Brutal On Ben Carson (Limbaugh)

audio 11/6/15 BEN CARSON TO CNN, “ASK HILLARY THE SAME QUESTIONS”

Poll: Ben Carson is 9 points ahead of Hillary! (Limbaugh)

Psychological Warfare, Credibility

Enemy of the State (1998)

Peggy Lee — Is That All There Is? 1969

Latest Polls

Friday, November 6
Race/Topic   (Click to Sort) Poll Results Spread
Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus CNN/ORC Carson 23, Trump 25, Rubio 13, Cruz 11, Bush 5, Fiorina 4, Jindal 4, Huckabee 2, Christie 3, Kasich 2, Paul 2, Santorum 0, Graham 2, Pataki 0 Trump +2
Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucus CNN/ORC Clinton 55, Sanders 37, O’Malley 3 Clinton +18
President Obama Job Approval Gallup Approve 49, Disapprove 47 Approve +2
President Obama Job Approval Rasmussen Reports Approve 45, Disapprove 54 Disapprove +9
Thursday, November 5
Race/Topic   (Click to Sort) Poll Results Spread
North Carolina Republican Presidential Primary Elon University Carson 31, Trump 19, Rubio 10, Cruz 10, Bush 5, Fiorina 3, Huckabee 3, Kasich 1, Christie 2, Paul 2, Santorum 0, Graham 1, Jindal 0, Walker, Perry Carson +12
North Carolina Democratic Presidential Primary Elon University Clinton 57, Sanders 24, O’Malley 3 Clinton +33
North Carolina: Trump vs. Clinton Elon University Clinton 50, Trump 40 Clinton +10
North Carolina: Carson vs. Clinton Elon University Carson 48, Clinton 44 Carson +4
North Carolina: Rubio vs. Clinton Elon University Rubio 46, Clinton 45 Rubio +1
North Carolina: Bush vs. Clinton Elon University Clinton 47, Bush 43 Clinton +4
North Carolina: Fiorina vs. Clinton Elon University Clinton 48, Fiorina 42 Clinton +6
Michigan: Trump vs. Clinton WXYZ-TV/Detroit Free Press Clinton 46, Trump 38 Clinton +8
Michigan: Carson vs. Clinton WXYZ-TV/Detroit Free Press Carson 46, Clinton 40 Carson +6
Michigan: Trump vs. Sanders WXYZ-TV/Detroit Free Press Sanders 48, Trump 36 Sanders +12
Michigan: Carson vs. Sanders WXYZ-TV/Detroit Free Press Carson 45, Sanders 36 Carson +9
President Obama Job Approval Quinnipiac Approve 42, Disapprove 54 Disapprove +12
President Obama Job Approval Monmouth Approve 44, Disapprove 48 Disapprove +4
President Obama Job Approval Reuters/Ipsos Approve 42, Disapprove 52 Disapprove +10
Congressional Job Approval Monmouth Approve 13, Disapprove 77 Disapprove +64
Direction of Country Monmouth Right Direction 21, Wrong Track 68 Wrong Track +47
Direction of Country Reuters/Ipsos Right Direction 27, Wrong Track 58 Wrong Track +31

LIMBAUGH: CARSON IS VICTIM OF ‘ELECTRONIC LYNCHING’

Media ‘telling an outright lie’ in ‘an assassination attempt’

Talk-radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh shredded Politico and accused the news site and mainstream media of coordinating an “assassination attempt” against Dr. Ben Carson on Friday.

In fact, Limbaugh went even further, calling the onslaught of attacks an “electronic lynching being conducted against the Republican African-American candidate by a majority-white mainstream American liberal media.”

In a damning accusation Friday, Politico claimed Carson’s campaign “admitted he did not tell the truth” about having been accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

A Carson spokesperson made a response to an inquiry by Politico into the veracity of a story in the surgeon’s autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” that the then-17-year-old was offered a full scholarship after a meeting in 1969 with Gen. William Westmoreland in 1969.

Dr. Ben Carson’s inspiring manifesto, “America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great” – $4.95 today only at the WND Superstore!

Politico reported West Point had no record of either Carson’s application or admission.

However, a Carson spokesman told the Daily Caller on Friday, “The Politico story is an outright lie.”

Doug Watts said, “The campaign never admitted to anything,” and Carson “[N]ever said he was admitted or even applied” to West Point.

“I want to show you how this works. I want to share with you some headlines that have run during the course of this program,” Limbaugh said, blasting Politico as a “liar,” and listing the following media reports Friday:

Several of the news outlets – including Politico – amended their original headlines with the Carson campaign called the Politico story “an outright lie.”

In a press conference late Friday, Carson ripped into combative reporters:

If you look at one of the websites that West Point has today, it says government offer for full scholarship to West Point. So they use that very language themselves. So almost 50 years ago, they may have been using that language as well.

They were very impressed with what I had done. I had become the city executive officer in less time than anybody else had ever done that. They were saying, “You would be a tremendous addition to the military, and we can get you into West Point with a full scholarship. I simply said, “I want to be a doctor. I really appreciate it. I’m very flattered.” And I moved on. So it didn’t go on any further than that. …

I think what it shows, and what these kinds of things show, is that there is a desperation on behalf of some to try to find a way to tarnish me because they have been looking through everything. They have been talking to everybody I’ve ever known, everybody I’ve ever seen, [saying], “There’s got to be a scandal. There’s got to be something. He’s having an affair, there’s gotta be something.” They are getting desperate. So next week it’ll be my kindergarten teacher who says that I peed in my pants. I mean, this is just ridiculous. But it’s OK because I totally expect it.

Dr. Carson explained that, as the top ROTC student in Detroit 50 years ago, he was invited to “a number of events because of my position.” In that role, he was invited to meet Gen. Westmoreland.

“That was also a time, as I recall, that several of the high brass told me that I would be somebody that they would be interested in in the military. It was an offer to me. I interpreted it as an offer. … They told me this was available to me because of my accomplishments and that they would be delighted for me to do it. And I told them immediately that my intention was to become a physician. It always has been, and I was very honored but I would not be pursuing that.”

Carson said he “made it clear” in his book that he, in fact, only applied to one college because he had just enough money for one application fee.

When relentlessly pressed about his childhood years, Carson told reporters, “My prediction is that all of you guys trying to pile on is actually going to help me, because, when I go out to these book signings and I see these thousands of people, they say, ‘Don’t let the media get you down. Don’t let them disturb you. Please continue to fight for us.’ They understand that this is a witch hunt. …

“Let me just say one thing. I do not remember this level of scrutiny for one President Barack Obama when he was running. In fact, I remember just the opposite. I remember people just [saying], ‘Oh well, we won’t really talk about that. We won’t talk about that relationship. Well, Frank Marshall Davis, we don’t want to talk about that. Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, we don’t really know him. You know, all the things that Jeremiah Wright was saying, oh, not a big problem.’

“[Obama] goes to Occidental College, doesn’t do all that well, and somehow ends up at Columbia University. His records are sealed. Why are his records sealed? Why are you guys not interested in why his records are sealed? Why are you not interested in that? Let me ask you that. Can somebody tell me why? … Now you’re saying that something that happened with the words ‘a scholarship was offered’ was the big deal, but the president of the United States, his academic records being sealed is not? Tell me how there’s equivalence there.”

Carson told reporters he wouldn’t “sit back and let you be completely unfair without letting the American people know what’s going on.”

He added, “And the American people are waking up to your games.”
 http://www.wnd.com/2015/11/limbaugh-carson-is-victim-of-electronic-lynching/#sXtuGSojLqHGJlxX.99

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2015/11/limbaugh-carson-is-victim-of-electronic-lynching/#sXtuGSojLqHGJlxX.99

New front-runner Ben Carson faces closer scrutiny of his life story

By David Weigel and David A. Fahrenthold

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson — now making the transition from living legend to scrutinized candidate — faced new questions Friday about the way he tells his powerful life story.

For years, Carson has said he was offered a “full scholarship” to the U.S. Military Academy when he was a high-achieving high school Army ROTC cadet in the late 1960s. But Carson never applied to West Point, was never accepted and never received a formal scholarship offer. In fact, West Point does not offer scholarships; all cadets attend free.

The story was first reported Friday by Politico. Carson responded to the resulting controversy by saying that when he spoke of an “offer,” he referred to informal, verbal statements of encouragement from military leaders he met through the ROTC, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps .

“I was told that because of my accomplishments, they would be able to manage to get me into West Point and that I wouldn’t have to pay anything,” Carson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network. He said he decided not to apply and went to Yale University instead to pursue medicine. “There was no application process [at West Point]. I never even started down that path,” Carson said.

Carson’s campaign cast the episode as new evidence of persecution of the candidate by the news media. Tension between Carson and the media came to a boil Friday night in Florida, where at a combative news conference the candidate asked why President Obama had not been subjected to such scrutiny.

 “The words ‘a scholarship was offered’ were a big deal, but the president of the United States’ academic records being sealed is not?” he said.

The original Politico report declared that Carson had “fabricated” a story about “his application and acceptance” at West Point. It also claimed that the candidate had “admitted” the fabrication.

Carson’s campaign vehemently denied those statements.

The Politico story seemed to mischaracterize a small but key detail in the way Carson has told the story. In many cases, Carson implied only that he received a formal offer from West Point. He never said explicitly that he had been accepted or even that he had applied.

“It gives journalism a bad name,” said Armstrong Williams, Carson’s close friend and business manager. “It only fits into Dr. Carson’s narrative of a witch hunt” by the media.

By mid-afternoon, Politico posted a new version of its story that no longer included the wording that Carson had “fabricated” a part of his biography. Later in the day, the news site posted an editor’s note stating that the story should have made clear that Carson never claimed to have applied for admission to West Point.

“We continue to stand by the story,” Politico spokeswoman Lauren Edmonds said in a statement. “We updated it to reflect Ben Carson’s on the record response to the New York Times and other new details, which underscore the validity of our original reporting.”

As the day went on, conservative media voices chimed in to agree with Carson. “It’s almost like the Politico is the official leak machine for the Republican establishment,” Rush Limbaugh said on his syndicated radio show. Radio host and blogger Erick Erickson replaced an entire post about “the beginning of Ben Carson’s end” with one about a “demonstrably false” Politico report.

Carson, 64, achieved worldwide fame for his daring surgeries at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and for his story of rising out of poverty in southwest Detroit. This week, as Carson has challenged Donald Trump for the lead in the Republican presidential primary contest, there has been a new focus on Carson’s personal beliefs and on the way he tells his life story.

First, the Web site BuzzFeed posted a 17-year-old video of a commencement speech in which Carson offers an alternative theory about why the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids. In Carson’s telling, they were not built to be tombs, as historians and archeologists say. Instead, they were built for grain storage, in keeping with the biblical story of Joseph, in which the patriarch counseled the pharaoh to store up grain for years of famine.

Carson told CBS News this week that he still believes that the pyramids were granaries, saying the proof was in sealed chambers inside the structures. “You would need that if you were trying to preserve grain for a long period of time,” he said.

Then, CNN sought to verify a key part of Carson’s life story: that, as a young man in Detroit, he had committed acts of violence, including smashing a boy’s nose with a thrown rock, attempting to stab a friend in the abdomen and threatening his own mother with a hammer during an argument.

CNN interviewed nine people who knew Carson during his childhood and who said that the violent incidents did not fit their recollections of him.

Carson said CNN did not speak with the right people. “I was generally a nice person,” he told the network. “It’s just that I had a very bad temper. So unless you were the victim of that temper, why would you know?”

It was an unusually odd situation: a presidential candidate insisting, in the face of skepticism, that he really did have a history of violence.

The part of Carson’s life at issue Friday — the “offer” he got, or did not get, from West Point — is a story that Carson has told repeatedly in books, interviews and speeches.

He tells it in the context of his rapid rise through high school Army ROTC, which ended with him as the top-ranking cadet in Detroit.

“I was offered a full scholarship to West Point,” Carson wrote in his 1990 memoir, “Gifted Hands.” “I didn’t refuse the scholarship outright, but I let them know that a military career wasn’t where I saw myself going. As overjoyed as I felt to be offered such a scholarship, I wasn’t really tempted. The scholarship would have obligated me to spend four years in military service after I finished college, precluding my chances to go on to medical school.”

In that account and others, Carson seems to rely on loose, broad definitions for the words “offer” and “scholarship.”

In fact, applicants to West Point must be sponsored by a member of Congress or the secretary of the Army. If accepted, they attend tuition-free: There are no “scholarships” at West Point beyond the benefits that all cadets get.

Doug Watts, a spokesman for Carson’s campaign, said Carson never completed the process for acceptance by West Point and never had an official sponsor. Indeed, in “Gifted Hands,” Carson makes clear that he actually applied only to one school: Yale.

“Each college required a ten-dollar non-returnable entrance fee sent with the application,” Carson wrote. “I had exactly ten dollars, so I could apply only to one.”

Still, his campaign spokesman said, it was proper to say Carson had an “offer” of a scholarship because military leaders had told him that his acceptance would be a sure thing.

“He was told by the ROTC commander that he could have an appointment,” Watts said. “Dr. Carson rejected the offer, did not apply or pursue admission. Had he done so, and been accepted, that would have been tantamount to a scholarship, the same that all cadets receive.”

In one of his books, Carson also made a similar claim about a scholarship offer from another school.

“The University of Michigan had offered me a scholarship, but I wanted to go farther from home,” he wrote in his 1999 book, “The Big Picture.”

A spokesman for the University of Michigan, Rick Fitzgerald, said he could not confirm that account. The university no longer has records from that time. Carson’s camp said the scenario was similar to that involving West Point: He had decided to apply elsewhere and never submitted an application.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/newly-minted-frontrunner-ben-carson-faces-new-scrutiny-of-his-life-story/2015/11/06/8877e032-84b8-11e5-8ba6-cec48b74b2a7_story.html

Exclusive: Carson claimed West Point ‘scholarship’ but never applied

Republican hits POLITICO story, later admits to The New York Times he wasn’t offered aid.

11/06/15 11:29 AM EST

Updated 11/06/15 03:42 PM EST

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Friday conceded that he never applied nor was granted admission to West Point and attempted to recast his previous claims of a full scholarship to the military academy — despite numerous public and written statements to the contrary over the last few decades.

West Point has occupied a central place in Carson’s personal story for years. According to a tale told in his book, “Gifted Hands,” the then-17 year old was introduced in 1969 to Gen. William Westmoreland, who had just ended his command of U.S. forces in Vietnam, and the two dined together. That meeting, according to Carson’s telling, was followed by the offer of a “full scholarship” to the military academy.

Story Continued Below

West Point, however, has no record of Carson applying, much less being extended admission.

“In 1969, those who would have completed the entire process would have received their acceptance letters from the Army Adjutant General,” said Theresa Brinkerhoff, a spokeswoman for the academy. She said West Point has no records that indicate Carson even began the application process. “If he chose to pursue (the application process), then we would have records indicating such,” she said.

When presented by POLITICO with these facts, Carson’s campaign conceded he never applied.

“Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit,” campaign manager Barry Bennett wrote in an email to POLITICO. “In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. He believes it was at a banquet. He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer.”

“He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors,” Bennett added. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”

In an interview with The New York Times following the POLITICO story, Mr. Carson said: “I don’t remember all the specific details. Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told that someone like me – they could get a scholarship to West Point. But I made it clear I was going to pursue a career in medicine.”

“It was, you know, an informal ‘with a record like yours we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point.’”

Carson would have needed to seek admission in order to receive an offer of free education from West Point. Also, according to West Point, there is no such thing as a “full scholarship” to the military academy, as Carson represented in his book.

An application to West Point begins with a nomination by a member of Congress or another prominent government or military official. After that, a rigorous vetting process begins. If offered admission, all costs are covered for all students; indeed there are no “full scholarships,” per se.

The statement from Carson’s campaign manager on Friday went on to say: “There are ‘Service Connected’ nominations for stellar High School ROTC appointments. Again he was the top ROTC student in Detroit. I would argue strongly that an Appointment is indeed an amazing full scholarship. Having ran several Congressional Offices I am very familiar with the Nomination process.

“Again though his Senior Commander was in touch with West Point and told Dr. Carson he could get in, Dr. Carson did not seek admission.”

Ben Carson has repeatedly claimed he was offered a full scholarship from West Point. He conveys the story in at least two other books, “You Have a Brain” and “Take the Risk.” Carson repeated his West Point claim as recently as Aug. 13, when he fielded questions from supporters on Facebook.

And in October, Carson shared the story with Charlie Rose: “I had a goal of achieving the office of city executive officer [in JROTC]. Well, no one had ever done that in that amount of time … Long story short, it worked, I did it. I was offered full scholarship to West Point, got to meet General Westmoreland, go to Congressional Medal dinners, but decided really my pathway would be medicine.”

The Carson campaign pushed back against POLTICO’s story after its publication, with Carson himself telling Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The Brody File” that the media “will go through all lengths trying to discredit me.” According to a tweet from the show, Carson said, of the mainstream media, “they’ll ask my kindergarten teacher, ‘did I ever wet my pants.’”

The concession from Carson’s campaign comes as serious questions about other points of fact in Carson’s personal narrative are questioned, including the seminal episode in which he claimed to have attempted to stab a close friend. Similarly, details have emerged that cast doubt on the nature of Carson’s encounter with one of the most prominent military men of that era.

The West Point spokeswoman said it certainly is possible Carson talked with Westmoreland, and perhaps the general even encouraged him to apply to West Point. However, she said, the general would have explained the benefits of a West Point education without guaranteeing him entry.

In “Gifted Hands,” Carson says he excelled in his ROTC program at Detroit’s Southwestern High School, earning the respect of his superiors — just a couple years after anger problems led him to try to murder a friend. He attained the rank of second lieutenant by his senior year of high school and became the student leader of the city’s ROTC programs.

In May of his senior year, he was chosen to march in the city’s Memorial Day parade.

“I felt so proud, my chest bursting with ribbons and braids of every kind. To make it more wonderful, we had important visitors that day. Two soldiers who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Viet Nam were present,” he wrote. “More exciting to me, General William Westmoreland (very prominent in the Viet Nam war) attended with an impressive entourage. Afterward, Sgt. Hunt” — his high school ROTC director — “introduced me to General Westmoreland, and I had dinner with him and the Congressional Medal winners. Later I was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”

But, according to records of Westmoreland’s schedule that were provided by the U.S. Army, the general did not visit Detroit around Memorial Day in 1969 or have dinner with Carson. In fact, the general’s records suggest he was in Washington that day and played tennis at 6:45 p.m.

There are, however, several reports of an event in February of that year, similar to the one Carson described. Then, Westmoreland was the featured guest at a 1,500-person banquet to celebrate Medal of Honor recipient Dwight Johnson. The event drew prominent guests, including the governor at the time, the mayor of Detroit, the president of Ford Motor Company and nine previous Medal of Honor awardees, according to an Associated Press account of the event.

Carson, a leader of the city’s ROTC program at the time, may have been among the invited guests at the $10-a-plate event.

Carson’s later retelling of the events in this period of his life downplays his meeting with Westmoreland and that event’s link to a West Point acceptance. In his January 2015 book, “You Have a Brain,” — a book geared toward teenagers — Carson again recalls his rapid rise through his high school ROTC program to become the top student officer in the city.

“That position allowed me the chance to meet four-star general William Westmoreland, who had commanded all American forces in Vietnam before being promoted to Army Chief of Staff at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.,” he wrote. “I also represented the Junior ROTC at a dinner for Congressional Medal of Honor winners, marched at the front of Detroit’s Memorial Day parade as head of an ROTC contingent, and was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”

Carson has said he turned down the supposed offer of admission because he knew he wanted to be a doctor and attending West Point would have required four years of military service after graduation.

Cecil Murphey, who ghostwrote “Gifted Hands,” told POLITICO that his memory of Carson’s exchange with Westmoreland was hazy.

“My gut response is that it was not a private meeting, but there were others there,” he said in an email. “The general took a liking to Ben and opened doors.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/11/ben-carson-west-point-215598#ixzz3qkUVQcJd

Ben Carson admits he lied about West Point scholarship, insists stories about troubled childhood are true

BY MEG WAGNER

Ben Carson admitted Friday that he lied about earning a prestigious scholarship to West Point while controversy over the validity of his troubled kid-to-renowned doctor narrative reached a crescendo.

The 2016 GOP candidate said he fabricated a part of his 1996 autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” in which he claimed he was given a “full scholarship” to the U.S. Military Academy just hours after he rebuked accusations that he lied about his violent outbursts as a child and teenager.

In the nearly 20-year-old book, Carson boasted about his transformation from rage-filled boy to refined neurosurgeon, describing how he once tried to hit his mother with a hammer and attempted to stab one of his friends to death.

His former classmates, however, said they don’t remember the Republican as a rough kid.

BEN CARSON STILL THINKS JOSEPH BUILT PYRAMIDS TO STORE GRAIN 

“I don’t know nothing about that,” Gerald Ware, Carson’s classmate at Detroit’s Southwestern High School, told CNN. “It would have been all over the whole school.”

PHOTO TAKEN OCT. 28, 2015BRENNAN LINSLEY/AP

Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson claimed in his 1996 book that he had a violent childhood full of moments of ‘pathological anger.’

CNN spoke with nine people Carson grew up with. Not one remembered the Republican’s self-proclaimed violent outbursts.

While Carson slammed the CNN report, calling it a “bunch of lies” and “pathetic,” he did admit that there is at least one falsehood in the book: A story about how Gen. William Westmoreland offered the then-17-year-old a full-ride to West Point.

Carson said that as the leader of his high school’s Junior ROTC program, he attended a 1969 Memorial Day dinner for Congressional Medal of Honor winners. There, he met with General Westmoreland.

“Later I was offered a full scholarship to West Point,” he wrote.

BEN CARSON OVERTAKES TRUMP IN NATIONAL POLLING AVERAGE 

Carson may have met Westmoreland at the 1969 banquet — which was held in February, not May — but the general would not have promised the student a scholarship, West Point told POLITICO. All costs are covered for admitted West Point students, so “full ride” scholarships don’t exist.

Carson was “introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors” at a banquet, Carson’s campaign manager Barry Bennett said. While they may have discussed application process, Carson never applied or received a scholarship.

Instead, he attended Yale University before going on to the University of Michigan’s medical school.

West Point said it has no records of Carson applying to or enrolling in the academy.

Carson admitted he “doesn’t remember all the specific details” of meeting Westmoreland.

Ben Carson’s Violent Childhood Called Into Question as Classmates Don’t Remember
NY Daily News

“Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told someone like me – they could get a scholarship to West Point,” Carson told the New York Times.

Despite the scholarship lie, Carson defended the rest of the book Friday, saying all the stories about his violent childhood are true.

In the 19-year-old book, Carson claimed he once tried to strike his mother with a hammer as they argued over clothing. His brother Curtis stepped in and disarmed the boy before he could physically harm their mother.

Carson also said he physically attacked at least two of his school friends.

In the seventh grade he hit a boy named Jerry with a lock after he teased Carson for saying something “stupid” in English class.

Carson wrote that he was given a MIKE GROLL/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Carson wrote that he was given a “full scholarship” to West Point.

“I swung at him, lock in hand. The blow slammed into his forehead, and he groaned, staggering backward, blood seeping from a three-inch gash,” Carson wrote.

Two years later, in the ninth grade, he tried to stab a friend who he identified in the book only as “Bob.” The blade stuck Bob’s belt buckle, breaking the blade and leaving the teen unharmed.

“I was trying to kill somebody,” Carson wrote of the knife attack, calling it a moment of “pathological anger.”

The teenage Carson ran to the bathroom after the failed stabbing and prayed. Since then, he has never had a problem with his temper, he claimed in the book.

Carson’s classmates remembered him as introverted and studious — someone who was more likely to be found in the library than in the middle of a schoolyard fight.

Carson's classmates have described him as a quiet, shy student, not an angry young man.

Carson’s classmates have described him as a quiet, shy student, not an angry young man.

“He was a quiet, shy kid, not too outgoing,” said his junior high and high school classmate Jerry Dixon. “Bennie stayed home a lot or went to the library to work.”

Dixon said he is not the Jerry the doctor-turned-politician beat with a lock — and said he had never even heard of such an incident.

Carson refused to reveal the names of his victims in a Friday interview on CNN, saying to name them would be “victimizing.”

He admitted that he changed the names in his autobiography, but maintained both “Bob” and “Jerry” are real people who will only be identified if they chose to come forward on their own.

“Tell me what makes you think you’re going to find those specific people?” Carson asked CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “What is your methodology? Because I don’t understand it.”

Carson’s campaign adviser Armstrong Williams also refused to identify the candidate’s alleged victims or provide any kind of documentation showing disciplinary actions for his claimed school fights.

“Why would anyone cooperate with your obvious witch hunt?” Armstrong Williams wrote to CNN in an email last week, the day before Halloween. “No comment and moving on…… Happy Halloween!!!!!”

Donald Trump quickly weighed in on his rival’s controversy.

“The Carson story is either a total fabrication or, if true, even worse-trying to hit mother over the head with a hammer or stabbing friend!” he tweeted Thursday.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ben-carson-violent-childhood-called-question-article-1.2425591

Ben Carson Says He Was Never Accepted to West Point

Photo
Ben Carson prepared to board his campaign bus after appearing at a book signing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Thursday.

Ben Carson prepared to board his campaign bus after appearing at a book signing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Thursday.Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A report on Friday said Ben Carson had acknowledged never having applied to West Point, raising questions about his repeated assertions that he had turned down a scholarship to attend the military academy.

According to the report, in Politico, West Point had no record that Mr. Carson, who has been leading in some national polls in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, had applied. When Politico approached Mr. Carson’s campaign with the information, his campaign manager, Barry Bennett, in a statement, explained that Mr. Carson had considered an offer to receive help getting an appointment to the academy, but he did not apply.

In repeated references to West Point over the years, Mr. Carson has strongly implied that he had a standing offer to attend.

In his statement, Mr. Bennett said, “Dr. Carson was the top R.O.T.C. student in the City of Detroit.”

Referring to Gen. William C. Westmoreland, the Army chief of staff at the time, Mr. Bennett added: “In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. He believes it was at a banquet. He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as R.O.T.C. city executive officer.”

“He was introduced to folks from West Point by his R.O.T.C. supervisors,” Mr. Bennett said. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in R.O.T.C. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”

In an interview with The New York Times on Friday, Mr. Carson said: “I don’t remember all the specific details. Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told that someone like me – they could get a scholarship to West Point. But I made it clear I was going to pursue a career in medicine.”

“It was, you know, an informal ‘with a record like yours we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point.’”

Mr. Carson has recounted the episode of being offered a scholarship at various points in telling his triumphant personal story. (Technically, West Point does not offer scholarships; it is free to attend.)

In his recent book, “You Have a Brain,” Mr. Carson described how he decided which college to attend: “I still had the scholarship offer from West Point as a result of my R.O.T.C. achievements.”

More recently, in a Facebook post in August responding to a question, he wrote that he had been “thrilled to get an offer from West Point.”

“But I knew medicine is what I wanted to do. So I applied to only one school. (it was all the money I had). I applied to Yale and thank God they accepted me. I often wonder what might have happened had they said no.”

The revelation came just a couple of days after a CNN report questioned the accuracy of Mr. Carson’s accounts of violent episodes in his youth, which are central to his often-told story of personal redemption through faith and hard work, one that has made him a favorite of evangelical Christian voters. On Friday, shortly before the Politico report was published, Mr. Carson attacked the CNN report as a “bunch of lies.”

http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/11/06/ben-carson-west-point/

Ben Carson defends his telling of an informal offer from West Point

By David Weigel

Ben Carson defended his long-told story of a “scholarship” to West Point today, responding to scrutiny by saying that he merely had received an “informal” offer of a free ride to the military academy.

“Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told that someone like me [could] get a scholarship to West Point,” Carson told the New York Times. “It was, you know, an informal ‘with a record like yours we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point.'”

Allies of the former neurosurgeon, who has slowly risen to the top of 2016 Republican primary polls, had been making a similar case all day. The argument — which depends on a careful parsing of verbs — is that he never applied, even after being told he’d be a sure-thing candidate. The point, which found many takers in conservative media, was that the controversy could be dismissed as a witch hunt.

That reasoning came together Friday morning, after Politico published a story titled “Ben Carson admits fabricating West Point scholarship.” After confirming that Carson had never applied to West Point, and that a meeting Carson described with Gen. William Westmoreland apparently did not happen when the candidate had claimed, the story quoted Carson campaign manager Barry Bennett’s new explanation.

“He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors,” Bennett said. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”

[The Fix: Ben Carson didn’t get a ‘full scholarship’ from West Point. That’s a big problem for his campaign.]

West Point cadets must be sponsored by a member of Congress or the Secretary of the Army. But Doug Watts, a spokesman for the campaign, said that Carson never completed — nor claimed to have completed — the process for acceptance into West Point, and those never had an official sponsor.

“He was told by the ROTC Commander that he could have an appointment,” explained Watts. “Dr. Carson rejected the offer, did not apply or pursue admission. Had he done so, and been accepted, that would have been tantamount to a scholarship, the same that all cadets receive.”

In an interview, Carson’s close friend Armstrong Williams argued that Politico had written a false headline off of Bennett’s accurate quote.

“In the story itself, the campaign does not say Dr. Carson applied to West Point,” Williams said of Politico. “Dr. Carson boasts about his scores in ROTC. Westmoreland encourages him to apply. As Dr. Carson says, they were impressed by his scores, but he never applied. They said to him, we could get you in. This guy got into Yale — obviously he could have got in. The headline was a fabrication.”

Carson, whose steady rise to the top of presidential primary polls has started to draw media scrutiny his way, is depending on a loose interpretation of the word “scholarship.” There is no tuition at West Point; there is no equivalent of a “scholarship” as generally understood at most universities. In his memoir “Gifted Hands” and in anecdotes about the offer, Carson never says that he “applied,” only that some “scholarship” came his way after a meeting with Westmoreland and “congressional medal winners.”

“I was offered a full scholarship to West Point,” Carson wrote. “I didn’t refuse the scholarship outright, but I let them know that a military career wasn’t where I saw myself going. As overjoyed as I felt to be offered such a scholarship, I wasn’t really tempted. The scholarship would have obligated me to spend four years in military service after I finished college, precluding my chances to go on to medical school.”

That description of the offer came with its own problems — it is not, for example, impossible for a West Point graduate to complete his service, then become a doctor. But Carson’s allies insist that the gap between “applying” and being offered a “scholarship” debunks the Politico story. Indeed, in “Gifted Hands,” Carson repeatedly described how he had only $10 to submit with a college application, limiting his choices.

“Each college required a ten-dollar non-returnable entrance fee sent with the application,” Carson wrote. “I had exactly ten dollars, so I could apply only to one.”

In an August 2015 Facebook post, Carson described that situation again, to tell a questioner that he applied only to Yale.

“I was the highest student ROTC member in Detroit and was thrilled to get an offer from West Point,” wrote Carson. “But I knew medicine is what I wanted to do. So I applied to only one school. (It was all the money I had). I applied to Yale and thank God they accepted me.”

Williams, who had not spoken to Carson since Politico’s story went online, insisted that it was “shoddy journalism” and oversold what Carson himself had claimed.

“It gives journalism a bad name,” said Williams. “It only fits into Dr. Carson’s narrative of a witch hunt.”

On Friday afternoon, conservative talkers like Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt, and Sean Hannity criticized the coverage that had made Carson out as a dissembler. But at least one of his rivals sense a political opportunity in the scrum.

“Well, I think it’s really the beginning of the end,” said Donald Trump in an interview.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/11/06/ben-carsons-allies-defend-west-point-story-he-got-an-offer-did-not-apply/

Ben Carson’s ‘West Point’ story isn’t totally accurate. Here’s why that could be a problem.

By Chris Cillizza

Ben Carson’s admission Friday to Politico that he had not been offered and accepted a full scholarship to West Point could be a major problem for a presidential candidate whose appeal is almost entirely built on his remarkable personal story.

In two of his books — the popular “Gifted Hands” as well as a newer book entitled “You Have a Brain” — Carson tells the West Point story as part of his aspirational life that began in poverty in Detroit and continued through a decorated career as a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon.

Now we know that story is, at best, somewhat misleading. It is of course possible that Carson was either led to believe he might have been given a scholarship to the military academy if he had applied or simply misunderstood a conversation he participated in. That is the direction the Carson team appears to be headed, saying in a statement of his meeting with then-Gen. William Westmoreland: “He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer.”

Regardless of whether the West Point story is a simple misunderstanding or something more nefarious, what it will do is raise this simple question: What else in Ben Carson’s remarkable biography might not be totally, 100 percent accurate?

Even before the West Point story broke, Carson was dealing with suggestions that his recounting of his tough childhood highlighted by a terrible temper and a series of altercations with his mother — among other people — might not be true.

CNN report, which was based on interviews with nine people who knew Carson as a young man, argues that the violent portrait he paints of himself doesn’t jibe with the person they knew. “All of the people interviewed expressed surprise about the incidents Carson has described,” reads the CNN story. “No one challenged the stories directly. Some of those interviewed expressed skepticism, but noted that they could not know what had happened behind closed doors.”

Carson spent Thursday insisting that the people who were directly involved in these purported attacks weren’t the people that CNN had spoken to and, therefore, the report had no merit.

Now, with the West Point story raging, Carson will come under even more pressure to explain some of the fuzzier parts of his personal biography. And if any other inconsistencies or outright falsehoods come out amid that heightened scrutiny, it could spell curtains for a Carson campaign that has just moved into the pole position in the Republican primary race.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/11/06/ben-carson-didnt-get-a-full-scholarship-west-point-thats-a-big-problem-for-his-campaign/

With question over West Point offer, Ben Carson feels the glare of the front-runner’s spotlight

Timothy M. Phelps

retired Baltimore neurosurgeon Ben Carson has reached the top in several recent national polls, he is also experiencing new scrutiny as a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

On Friday, his name dominated political news with a Politico report that his campaign “admits fabricating a West Point scholarship” in his autobiography, though that reference was later taken out of the story. The story also quoted a West Point spokeswoman as saying the famous military academy had no record of an application from Carson.

Barry Bennett, Carson’s campaign manager, said in an interview that Carson’s book,“Gifted Hands,” was accurate when Carson wrote, “I was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”

“I would not have used the word ‘full scholarship.’ I would have said ‘nomination,’ but it’s not a fabrication, it’s not a lie,” Bennett said in an interview. At West Point, tuition and other expenses are paid by the government.

Bennett said that Carson, who he said was the top high school Junior ROTC officer in Detroit, was offered a nomination to West Point by ROTC officials in the city. He said he did not have names, but that the campaign and others are trying to locate them to corroborate Carson’s story.

Later, Carson told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that his account of the West Point episode “could have been more clarified. I told it as I understood it.”

Also, Theresa Brinkerhoff, the chief of media relations at West Point, said that a comment she made to Politico was “misconstrued.”

Politico wrote that West Point had no record of Carson applying to the academy, but Brinkerhoff said in an interview that the academy does not keep records beyond three years if a candidate does not attend the school. The academy has no way of knowing whether Carson applied, Brinkerhoff said.

In the end, Bennett confirmed that Carson had not applied. In his book, Carson wrote that he never had any interest in any career other than medicine. “I remembered the scholarship offer from West Point. A teaching career? Business? None of these areas held any real interest,” he said.

Clearly, however, Carson has left an impression that the offer to go to the academy came from West Point itself. On Facebook in August, Carson took a question from someone named Bill, who “wanted to know if it was true that I was offered a slot at West Point after high school. Bill, that is true. I was the highest student ROTC member in Detroit and was thrilled to get an offer from West Point. But I knew medicine is what I wanted to do. So I applied to only one school.”

Carson went to Yale.

Carson was also involved in a contentious interview Friday morning on CNN. Anchor Alisyn Camerota badgered him about reports by the network that it had been unable to locate some childhood friends or family members Carson mentions having assaulted in his autobiography.

In his book, Carson says he once tried to stab a person he refers to as Bob. On Friday, Carson told CNN that person was really a family member by another name who did not want to be identified. Other childhood friends mentioned in the book could decide for themselves whether to come forward, he said.

Bennett said the political attacks were a function of national polls over the past week showing him ahead of Donald Trump and all other Republicans for the nomination.

“Somewhere, there is a panicked candidate running for the Republican presidential nomination who is spreading a lot of dirt,” Bennett said.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-ben-carson-20151106-story.html

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Plan A (Awful) Hillary Clinton, Plan B (Bad): Joe Biden, Plan C (California): Jerry Brown, Plan D (Dumb): Bernie Sanders — Obama’s Legacy: The Destruction of Democratic Party — Rupert Murdoch Says Biden Very Likely To Win Nomination and Hard To Beat — Videos

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‘Run, Joe, run!’ Adoring Pittsburgh crowd enthusiastically encourages Joe Biden to run for president

  • Joe Biden given a rapturous welcome by Pittsburgh steelworkers at rally
  • The Vice President gave a rousing speech blaming America’s ills on stagnant wages and an unfair tax code that favors the wealthy
  • Biden, who is still grieving his son, Beau, jogged through the crowd 
  • Biden’s popularity numbers are on par with Trump’s 

Hearing chants of ‘run Joe, run,’ Vice President Joe Biden marched in Pittsburgh’s annual Labor Day parade on Monday as speculation swirled about a potential entry into the Democratic presidential campaign.

The vice president donned a black-and-gold United Steelworkers union hat and told hundreds of union members that the gap between the wealthy and poor was hurting the nation.

The 72-year-old exuberantly jogged through the crowd of supportive well-wishers, who were urging him to join the race for president.

‘Give it a go, Joe!’ shouted one woman.

Scroll down for video 

Joe Biden rouses crowd at Pittsburgh rally

Vice President Joe Biden revved up the crowd at a steelworkers union event in Pittsburgh on Sunday

Joe Biden rouses crowd at Pittsburgh rally
Joe Biden rouses crowd at Pittsburgh rally

Biden was greeted with shouts of ‘Run, Joe, run!’ encouraging him to run for president

Recent polls suggest that those who are abandoning Hillary Clinton back Biden for president, according to CNN.

But Biden deflected questions as to whether or not he would enter the fray, only saying ‘I am definitely going to run part of this parade, I feel like I am home right now.’

But he had much more to say in his speech in front of the union.

‘It used to be when productivity went up in America, everybody got a chance to share,’ said Biden. ‘They got a piece of the action… Why in God’s name should a man or a woman working in a steel mill make $50,000 a year when someone on Wall Street makes millions of dollars a year?’

In introducing Biden for his speech, Trumka and United Steelworkers union chief Leo Gerard gave strong praise to Biden, who was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Biden praises unions as he addressees crowds on Labor Day

Joe Biden rouses crowd at Pittsburgh rally

Joe Biden rouses crowd at Pittsburgh rally

The adoring crowd flocked around the sprightly 72-year-old, who is still reeling from his son Beau’s death in May, but who looked happy and healthy at the rally

Fans clamored for selfies with the VP, who tends to be known for his verbal gaffes

Fans clamored for selfies with the VP, who tends to be known for his verbal gaffes

‘He has never let us down,’ said Gerard.

Biden, in his speech, said the tax code is to blame for the rich getting a bigger piece of the economic pie.

‘The tax code’s not fair. It’s simply not fair,’ Biden said in a city long associated with organized labor. ‘The wealthy aren’t paying their fair share. There used to be one America.’

Biden greeted United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard (right) who said Biden has never let steelworkers down

Biden greeted United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard (right) who said Biden has never let steelworkers down

Biden was cagey about whether he would run for POTUS but he had no issue with jogging through the streets of Pittsburgh 

Biden was cagey about whether he would run for POTUS but he had no issue with jogging through the streets of Pittsburgh

When asked point-blank by young local business owner Chris Fuget asked whether he would announce a 2016 run, the Vice President coyly said, ‘I haven’t made that decision yet,’ according to CNN.

There was some disappointment in the crowd that he didn’t throw his hat into the ring.

‘We thought today might have been the day,’ said Pittsburgh union worker Jack Gaffrey.

'It's hope,' the VP said about the enthusiastic response the crowd gave him 

‘It’s hope,’ the VP said about the enthusiastic response the crowd gave him

His entry could jumble a Democratic contest that has seen front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton’s lead diminish in early states against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who describes himself as a democratic socialist.

Biden, however, said last week he wasn’t certain if he and his family had the ’emotional energy’ for another campaign. Biden’s eldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer in May.

Biden blamed America's ills on the tax code which favors the wealthy as well as low and stagnant wages

Biden blamed America’s ills on the tax code which favors the wealthy as well as low and stagnant wages

But AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who walked the parade route with Biden, said the vice president got a strong response from the city’s workers.

‘If you’re looking for energy, this is a great place to get energy today,’ the labor leader said.

Asked what he made of the overwhelmingly warm response Pittsburgh gave him, he replied, ‘It’s hope.’

'I am definitely going to run part of this parade,' Biden said and then made good his promise

‘I am definitely going to run part of this parade,’ Biden said and then made good his promise

In a new NBC/Marist poll of New Hampshire primary voters released on Sunday, Biden had support from 16 percent of Democratic voters.

That’s half the total of Clinton, who herself trailed front runner Sanders by nine points in New Hampshire, a state where Bill and Hillary Clinton have deep ties.

In Iowa, Clinton saw her lead over Sanders decline by half and now leads him by 37 percent to 20 precent with Biden at 20 percent.

But Biden still isn’t as quite popular as GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

The reality star billionaire beats him by a narrow margin in a new national poll 44 percent to 42 percent, according to SurveyUSA.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3225543/Run-Joe-run-Pittsburgh-crowd-enthusiastically-encourages-Joe-Biden-run-president.html

The Best Second Choice

Forget Sanders and Biden, the Democrats’ best 2016 backup is California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a news conference about transportation in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015.

The best bet.

By Aug. 21, 2015 | 10:40 a.m. EDT+ MoreIn assessing Hillary Clinton’s chances of being the 2016 Democratic nominee, Sean Trende hits the nail squarely on the head: “Absent an indictment, she remains the solid favorite for the nomination.” Yes, you read that correctly: “absent an indictment.”

In any other year, with any other candidate, that phrase would be ludicrous. How could a party be so solidly behind a person who is so publicly balancing on a razor’s edge between shady practices andillegal dealings? While there are many reasons for this, three stand out and are worth remembering before asking the next logical question: If not her, then who?

First, two large “anti-in-party” midterm elections decimated the Democrats’ bench. Surviving Democratic statewide elected officials are few and far between. And those who are there need more time to acquire political experience and develop a national reputation.

Second, Clinton has been perceived by her fellow partisans as the next in line for the nomination since the day she conceded the 2008 nomination contest to then-Sen. Barack Obama. That year’s epic contest ended with an unspoken but widely understood deal between the two warring factions of Democratic activists: Support for Obama in 2008 will lead to support for Clinton as his successor. This was a tough pill for Clinton’s backers to take because they had been expecting Clinton to become the party’s next nominee since the day John Kerry lost in 2004. But they accepted the trade because they had no choice.

Third, Clinton is not only unique because her gender combines with the Democratic Party’s sincere desire to follow the first African-American president with the first female one (a right time, right place confluence of dynamics, if you will), but also because the country experienced tremendous economic prosperity during her husband’s tenure in the White House and Democrats largely believe that fact will redound favorably on her candidacy.

Of course, her being a Clinton is also a challenge for her campaign. Aside from the dynasty knock, the Clintons have long rankled the feathers of other Democrats, and it was this “anti-Clinton” sentiment thatObama exploited to full benefit in 2008.

Nevertheless, it’s this strange brew of partisan expectations and political realities that have likely kept Clinton’s (older, but no less ambitious) Democratic opponents on the sidelines. If she were indicted, though, all bets are off and the problem of surfeit ambition would likely arise.

Setting aside the unknown probability of an indictment and the known likelihood of Clinton securing the Democratic presidential nomination before next spring, the question of who could possibly replace her is an interesting one to consider.

At the moment, progressive Democrats are increasingly rallying around one of her few declared opponents, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. But his far-left policy stances and past voting record make him a weak general election candidate. Democrats know this; it’s highly unlikely that the party establishment would support him to become the nominee.

There’s also the undeclared, but publicly ruminating Vice President Joe Biden. Despite his gaffe-pronereputation, most reports suggest that he is the party’s preferred second choice.

Still, if Clinton’s candidacy were to implode, I don’t imagine Biden would be on a glide path to the nomination (unless Obama were to endorse him). Secretary of State John Kerry might decide his time is now. As he lost the 2004 election by fewer than 120,000 votes from Ohio, he can legitimately argue he’s been a better candidate than Biden in past presidential races.

But by far, the Democrats’ strongest septuagenarian is California Gov. Jerry Brown. He has vast political experience. He’s well-liked across the Democratic Party. He continues to enjoy high approval ratings and has widely been perceived as an effective governor.

He’d also offer the Democrats two key talking points Sanders, Biden and Kerry can’t: He’s a Washington outsider and he knows how to make government work because he’s served four terms in the top executive office in California. Further, he has a more than two-decade long reputation of being the “anti-Clinton,” which would not only likely endear him to Sanders’ supporters, but would also place him in good stead were the party needing to wash its hands of all things Clinton in the wake of an indictment.

So while Brown’s candidacy may be a far-fetched possibility, from my view, he’s the best “second choice” for Democrats to mount a competitive general election campaign. But then, all of us Brownsfrom California tend to view politics rather unconventionally.

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/lara-brown/2015/08/21/jerry-brown-is-the-democrats-best-choice-to-replace-clinton

GINGRICH: JERRY BROWN COULD ENTER PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Former Speaker of the House and 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told CNN on Monday that California Gov. Jerry Brown could enter the presidential race.

“If Hillary starts to implode you will see a vacuum that you have not seen in many, many years,” Gingrich told Fox News’ Greta van Susteren on her show, On the Record, speculating that Clinton’s mounting scandals could cost her the race.

“[Former New York mayor Michael] Bloomberg, if he shifts, Jerry Brown–I mean, you just don’t know. [Senator]

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) 15% …” Gingrich suggested.Gingrich also suggested that Secretary of State John Kerry might run, along with Vice President Joe Biden.

Brown has run for president three times before. He would be 78 years old in 2016, and has suggested that age might be an obstacle to a run, though he has not entirely ruled out a fourth attempt at the Oval Office.

He is, however, among the most popular and successful Democratic governors in the United States, and has more experience than anyone else in the field, currently or potentially.

Gingrich said that Hillary’s main worry will be socialist

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 16%, who is running for the Democratic Party nomination.

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Nobody Does It Better Spying On People of The World — National Security Agency — Turnkey Tyranny Turned On The American People — NSA Budget $100 Billion Plus Paid By The American People — The Patriot Act Expires On June 1, 2015 — Both Republican and Democratic Parties Will Renew It! — Secret Security Surveillance State — Alive, Well and Growing — Videos

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Story 1: Nobody Does It Better Spying On People of The World — National Security Agency — Turnkey Tyranny Turned On The American People — NSA Budget $100 Billion Plus Paid By The American People — The Patriot Act Expires On June 1, 2015 — Both Republican and Democratic Parties Will Renew It! — Secret Security Surveillance State —  Alive, Well and Growing — Videos

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment originally enforced the notion that “each man’s home is his castle”, secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government.  It protects against arbitrary arrests, and is the basis of the law regarding search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance, as well as being central to many other criminal law topics and to privacy law.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/fourth_amendment

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THE COMPUTERS ARE LISTENING

HOW THE NSA CONVERTS SPOKEN WORDS INTO SEARCHABLE TEXT

Most people realize that emails and other digital communications they once considered private can now become part of their permanent record.

But even as they increasingly use apps that understand what they say, most people don’t realize that the words they speak are not so private anymore, either.

Top-secret documents from the archive of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency can now automatically recognize the content within phone calls by creating rough transcripts and phonetic representations that can be easily searched and stored.

The documents show NSA analysts celebrating the development of what they called “Google for Voice” nearly a decade ago.

Though perfect transcription of natural conversation apparently remains the Intelligence Community’s “holy grail,” the Snowden documentsdescribe extensive use of keyword searching as well as computer programs designed to analyze and “extract” the content of voice conversations, and even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest.

The documents include vivid examples of the use of speech recognition in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in Latin America. But they leave unclear exactly how widely the spy agency uses this ability, particularly in programs that pick up considerable amounts of conversations that include people who live in or are citizens of the United States.

Spying on international telephone calls has always been a staple of NSA surveillance, but the requirement that an actual person do the listening meant it was effectively limited to a tiny percentage of the total traffic. By leveraging advances in automated speech recognition, the NSA has entered the era of bulk listening.

And this has happened with no apparent public oversight, hearings or legislative action. Congress hasn’t shown signs of even knowing that it’s going on.

The USA Freedom Act — the surveillance reform bill that Congress is currently debating — doesn’t address the topic at all. The bill would end an NSA program that does not collect voice content: the government’s bulk collection of domestic calling data, showing who called who and for how long.

Even if becomes law, the bill would leave in place a multitude of mechanisms exposed by Snowden that scoop up vast amounts of innocent people’s text and voice communications in the U.S. and across the globe.

Civil liberty experts contacted by The Intercept said the NSA’s speech-to-text capabilities are a disturbing example of the privacy invasions that are becoming possible as our analog world transitions to a digital one.

“I think people don’t understand that the economics of surveillance have totally changed,” Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, told The Intercept.

“Once you have this capability, then the question is: How will it be deployed? Can you temporarily cache all American phone calls, transcribe all the phone calls, and do text searching of the content of the calls?” she said. “It may not be what they are doing right now, but they’ll be able to do it.”

And, she asked: “How would we ever know if they change the policy?”

Indeed, NSA officials have been secretive about their ability to convert speech to text, and how widely they use it, leaving open any number of possibilities.

That secrecy is the key, Granick said. “We don’t have any idea how many innocent people are being affected, or how many of those innocent people are also Americans.”

I Can Search Against It

NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who was trained as a voice processing crypto-linguist and worked at the agency until 2008, told The Intercept that he saw a huge push after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks to turn the massive amounts of voice communications being collected into something more useful.

Human listening was clearly not going to be the solution. “There weren’t enough ears,” he said.

The transcripts that emerged from the new systems weren’t perfect, he said. “But even if it’s not 100 percent, I can still get a lot more information. It’s far more accessible. I can search against it.”

Converting speech to text makes it easier for the NSA to see what it has collected and stored, according to Drake. “The breakthrough was being able to do it on a vast scale,” he said.

More Data, More Power, Better Performance

The Defense Department, through its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), started funding academic and commercial research into speech recognition in the early 1970s.

What emerged were several systems to turn speech into text, all of which slowly but gradually improved as they were able to work with more data and at faster speeds.

In a brief interview, Dan Kaufman, director of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office, indicated that the government’s ability to automate transcription is still limited.

Kaufman says that automated transcription of phone conversation is “super hard,” because “there’s a lot of noise on the signal” and “it’s informal as hell.”

“I would tell you we are not very good at that,” he said.

In an ideal environment like a news broadcast, he said, “we’re getting pretty good at being able to do these types of translations.”

A 2008 document from the Snowden archive shows that  transcribing news broadcasts was already working well seven years ago, using a program called Enhanced Video Text and Audio Processing:

(U//FOUO) EViTAP is a fully-automated news monitoring tool. The key feature of this Intelink-SBU-hosted tool is that it analyzes news in six languages, including Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish, English, and Farsi/Persian. “How does it work?” you may ask. It integrates Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) which provides transcripts of the spoken audio. Next, machine translation of the ASR transcript translates the native language transcript to English. Voila! Technology is amazing.

A version of the system the NSA uses is now even available commercially.

Experts in speech recognition say that in the last decade or so, the pace of technological improvement has been explosive. As information storage became cheaper and more efficient, technology companies were able to store massive amounts of voice data on their servers, allowing them to continually update and improve the models. Enormous processors, tuned as “deep neural networks” that detect patterns like human brains do, produce much cleaner transcripts.

And the Snowden documents show that the same kinds of leaps forward seen in commercial speech-to-text products have also been happening in secret at the NSA, fueled by the agency’s singular access to astronomical processing power and its own vast data archives.

In fact, the NSA has been repeatedly releasing new and improved speech recognition systems for more than a decade.

The first-generation tool, which made keyword-searching of vast amounts of voice content possible, was rolled out in 2004 and code-named RHINEHART.

“Voice word search technology allows analysts to find and prioritize intercept based on its intelligence content,” says an internal 2006 NSA memo entitled “For Media Mining, the Future Is Now!

The memo says that intelligence analysts involved in counterterrorism were able to identify terms related to bomb-making materials, like “detonator” and “hydrogen peroxide,” as well as place names like “Baghdad” or people like “Musharaf.”

RHINEHART was “designed to support both real-time searches, in which incoming data is automatically searched by a designated set of dictionaries, and retrospective searches, in which analysts can repeatedly search over months of past traffic,” the memo explains (emphasis in original).

As of 2006, RHINEHART was operating “across a wide variety of missions and languages” and was “used throughout the NSA/CSS [Central Security Service] Enterprise.”

But even then, a newer, more sophisticated product was already being rolled out by the NSA’s Human Language Technology (HLT) program office. The new system, called VoiceRT, was first introduced in Baghdad, and “designed to index and tag 1 million cuts per day.”

The goal, according to another 2006 memo, was to use voice processing technology to be able “index, tag and graph,” all intercepted communications. “Using HLT services, a single analyst will be able to sort through millions of cuts per day and focus on only the small percentage that is relevant,” the memo states.

A 2009 memo from the NSA’s British partner, GCHQ, describes how “NSA have had the BBN speech-to-text system Byblos running at Fort Meade for at least 10 years. (Initially they also had Dragon.) During this period they have invested heavily in producing their own corpora of transcribed Sigint in both American English and an increasing range of other languages.” (GCHQ also noted that it had its own small corpora of transcribed voice communications, most of which happened to be “Northern Irish accented speech.”)

VoiceRT, in turn, was surpassed a few years after its launch. According to the intelligence community’s “Black Budget” for fiscal year 2013, VoiceRT was decommissioned and replaced in 2011 and 2012, so that by 2013, NSA could operationalize a new system. This system, apparently called SPIRITFIRE, could handle more data, faster. SPIRITFIRE would be “a more robust voice processing capability based on speech-to-text keyword search and paired dialogue transcription.”

Extensive Use Abroad

Voice communications can be collected by the NSA whether they are being sent by regular phone lines, over cellular networks, or through voice-over-internet services. Previously released documents from the Snowden archive describe enormous efforts by the NSA during the last decade to get access to voice-over-internet content like Skype calls, for instance. And other documents in the archive chronicle the agency’s adjustment to the fact that an increasingly large percentage of conversations, even those that start as landline or mobile calls, end up as digitized packets flying through the same fiber-optic cables that the NSA taps so effectively for other data and voice communications.

The Snowden archive, as searched and analyzed by The Intercept, documents extensive use of speech-to-text by the NSA to search through international voice intercepts — particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Mexico and Latin America.

For example, speech-to-text was a key but previously unheralded element of the sophisticated analytical program known as the Real Time Regional Gateway (RTRG), which started in 2005 when newly appointed NSA chief Keith B. Alexander, according to the Washington Post, “wanted everything: Every Iraqi text message, phone call and e-mail that could be vacuumed up by the agency’s powerful computers.”

The Real Time Regional Gateway was credited with playing a role in “breaking up Iraqi insurgent networks and significantly reducing the monthly death toll from improvised explosive devices.” The indexing and searching of “voice cuts” was deployed to Iraq in 2006. By 2008, RTRG was operational in Afghanistan as well.

A slide from a June 2006 NSA powerpoint presentation described the role of VoiceRT:

VoiceRT: Index/Search of Voice Cuts

Keyword spotting extended to Iranian intercepts as well. A 2006 memoreported that RHINEHART had been used successfully by Persian-speaking analysts who “searched for the words ‘negotiations’ or ‘America’ in their traffic, and RHINEHART located a very important call that was transcribed verbatim providing information on an important Iranian target’s discussion of the formation of a the new Iraqi government.”

According to a 2011 memo, “How is Human Language Technology (HLT) Progressing?“, NSA that year deployed “HLT Labs” to Afghanistan, NSA facilities in Texas and Georgia, and listening posts in Latin America run by the Special Collection Service, a joint NSA/CIA unit that operates out of embassies and other locations.

“Spanish is the most mature of our speech-to-text analytics,” the memo says, noting that the NSA and its Special Collections Service sites in Latin America, have had “great success searching for Spanish keywords.”

The memo offers an example from NSA Texas, where an analyst newly trained on the system used a keyword search to find previously unreported information on a target involved in drug-trafficking. In another case, an official at a Special Collection Service site in Latin America “was able to find foreign intelligence regarding a Cuban official in a fraction of the usual time.”

In a 2011 article, “Finding Nuggets — Quickly — in a Heap of Voice Collection, From Mexico to Afghanistan,” an intelligence analysis technical director from NSA Texas described the “rare life-changing instance” when he learned about human language technology, and its ability to “find the exact traffic of interest within a mass of collection.”

Analysts in Texas found the new technology a boon for spying. “From finding tunnels in Tijuana, identifying bomb threats in the streets of Mexico City, or shedding light on the shooting of US Customs officials in Potosi, Mexico, the technology did what it advertised: It accelerated the process of finding relevant intelligence when time was of the essence,” he wrote. (Emphasis in original.)

The author of the memo was also part of a team that introduced the technology to military leaders in Afghanistan. “From Kandahar to Kabul, we have traveled the country explaining NSA leaders’ vision and introducing SIGINT teams to what HLT analytics can do today and to what is still needed to make this technology a game-changing success,” the memo reads.

Extent of Domestic Use Remains Unknown

What’s less clear from the archive is how extensively this capability is used to transcribe or otherwise index and search voice conversations that primarily involve what the NSA terms “U.S. persons.”

The NSA did not answer a series of detailed questions about automated speech recognition, even though an NSA “classification guide” that is part of the Snowden archive explicitly states that “The fact that NSA/CSS has created HLT models” for speech-to-text processing as well as gender, language and voice recognition, is “UNCLASSIFIED.”

Also unclassified: The fact that the processing can sort and prioritize audio files for human linguists, and that the statistical models are regularly being improved and updated based on actual intercepts. By contrast, because they’ve been tuned using actual intercepts, the specific parameters of the systems are highly classified.

“The National Security Agency employs a variety of technologies in the course of its authorized foreign-intelligence mission,” spokesperson Vanee’ Vines wrote in an email to The Intercept. “These capabilities, operated by NSA’s dedicated professionals and overseen by multiple internal and external authorities, help to deter threats from international terrorists, human traffickers, cyber criminals, and others who seek to harm our citizens and allies.”

Vines did not respond to the specific questions about privacy protections in place related to the processing of domestic or domestic-to-international voice communications. But she wrote that “NSA always applies rigorous protections designed to safeguard the privacy not only of U.S. persons, but also of foreigners abroad, as directed by the President in January 2014.”

The presidentially appointed but independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) didn’t mention speech-to-text technology in itspublic reports.

“I’m not going to get into whether any program does or does not have that capability,” PCLOB chairman David Medine told The Intercept.

His board’s reports, he said, contained only information that the intelligence community agreed could be declassified.

“We went to the intelligence community and asked them to declassify a significant amount of material,” he said. The “vast majority” of that material was declassified, he said. But not all — including “facts that we thought could be declassified without compromising national security.”

Hypothetically, Medine said, the ability to turn voice into text would raise significant privacy concerns. And it would also raise questions about how the intelligence agencies “minimize” the retention and dissemination of material— particularly involving U.S. persons — that doesn’t include information they’re explicitly allowed to keep.

“Obviously it increases the ability of the government to process information from more calls,” Medine said. “It would also allow the government to listen in on more calls, which would raise more of the kind of privacy issues that the board has raised in the past.”

“I’m not saying the government does or doesn’t do it,” he said, “just that these would be the consequences.”

A New Learning Curve

Speech recognition expert Bhiksha Raj likens the current era to the early days of the Internet, when people didn’t fully realize how the things they typed would last forever.

“When I started using the Internet in the 90s, I was just posting stuff,” said Raj, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute. “It never struck me that 20 years later I could go Google myself and pull all this up. Imagine if I posted something on alt.binaries.pictures.erotica or something like that, and now that post is going to embarrass me forever.”

The same is increasingly becoming the case with voice communication, he said. And the stakes are even higher, given that the majority of the world’s communication has historically been conducted by voice, and it has traditionally been considered a private mode of communication.

“People still aren’t realizing quite the magnitude that the problem could get to,” Raj said. “And it’s not just surveillance,” he said. “People are using voice services all the time. And where does the voice go? It’s sitting somewhere. It’s going somewhere. You’re living on trust.” He added: “Right now I don’t think you can trust anybody.”

The Need for New Rules

Kim Taipale, executive director of the Stilwell Center for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology Policy, is one of several people who tried a decade ago to get policymakers to recognize that existing surveillance law doesn’t adequately deal with new global communication networks and advanced technologies including  speech recognition.

“Things aren’t ephemeral anymore,” Taipale told The Intercept. “We’re living in a world where many things that were fleeting in the analog world are now on the permanent record. The question then becomes: what are the consequences of that and what are the rules going to be to deal with those consequences?”

Realistically, Taipale said, “the ability of the government to search voice communication in bulk is one of the things we may have to live with under some circumstances going forward.” But there at least need to be “clear public rules and effective oversight to make sure that the information is only used for appropriate law-enforcement or national security purposes consistent with Constitutional principles.”

Ultimately, Taipale said, a system where computers flag suspicious voice communications could be less invasive than one where people do the listening, given the potential for human abuse and misuse to lead to privacy violations. “Automated analysis has different privacy implications,” he said.

But to Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, the distinction between a human listening and a computer listening is irrelevant in terms of privacy, possible consequences, and a chilling effect on speech.

“What people care about in the end, and what creates chilling effects in the end, are consequences,” he said. “I think that over time, people would learn to fear computerized eavesdropping just as much as they fear eavesdropping by humans, because of the consequences that it could bring.”

Indeed, computer listening could raise new concerns. One of the internal NSA memos from 2006 says an “important enhancement under development is the ability for this HLT capability to predict what intercepted data might be of interest to analysts based on the analysts’ past behavior.”

Citing Amazon’s ability to not just track but predict buyer preferences, the memo says that an NSA system designed to flag interesting intercepts “offers the promise of presenting analysts with highly enriched sorting of their traffic.”

To Phillip Rogaway, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Davis, keyword-search is probably the “least of our problems.” In an email to The Intercept, Rogaway warned that “When the NSA identifies someone as ‘interesting’ based on contemporary NLP [Natural Language Processing] methods, it might be that there is no human-understandable explanation as to why beyond: ‘his corpus of discourse resembles those of others whom we thought interesting’; or the conceptual opposite: ‘his discourse looks or sounds different from most people’s.’”

If the algorithms NSA computers use to identify threats are too complex for humans to understand, Rogaway wrote, “it will be impossible to understand the contours of the surveillance apparatus by which one is judged.  All that people will be able to do is to try your best to behave just like everyone else.”

Next: The NSA’s best kept open secret.

Readers with information or insight into these programs are encouraged to get in touch, either by email, or anonymously via SecureDrop.

Documents published with this article:

Research on the Snowden archive was conducted by Intercept researcher Andrew Fishman

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/05/05/nsa-speech-recognition-snowden-searchable-text/

 

Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act

EFF sued the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the 10th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act in October 2011 for answers about “secret interpretations” of a controversial section of the law. In June 2013, a leaked FISA court order publicly revealed that “secret interpretation”: the government was using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect the phone records of virtually every person in the United States.

Prior to the revelations, several senators warned that the DOJ was using Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to support what government attorneys called a “sensitive collection program,” targeting large numbers of Americans. The language of Section 215 allows for secret court orders to collect “tangible things” that could be relevant to a government investigation – a far lower threshold and more expansive reach than a warrant based on probable cause.  The list of possible “tangible things” the government can obtain is seemingly limitless, and could include everything from driver’s license records to Internet browsing patterns.

In response to a court order in our lawsuit, in September 2013, the government released hundreds of pages of previously secret FISA documents detailing the court’s interpretation of Section 215, including an opinion excoriating the NSA for misusing its mass surveillance database for years. In October 2013, the government released a second batch of documents related to Section 215, which showed, among other things, that the NSA had collected cell site location without notifying its oversight committees in Congress or the FISA court.

EFF’s lawsuit came after the DOJ failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on the interpretation and use of Section 215.  The suit demanded records describing the types of “tangible things” that have been collected so far, the legal basis for the “sensitive collection program,” and information on the how many people have been affected by Section 215 orders.

The lawsuit remains ongoing.

https://www.eff.org/foia/section-215-usa-patriot-act

Background Articles and Videos

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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
EventID: 5255
Event: 30th Chaos Communication Congress [30c3] by the Chaos Computer Club [CCC]
Location: Congress Centrum Hamburg (CCH); Am Dammtor; Marseiller Straße; 20355 Hamburg; Germany
Language: english

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

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.[1] The operation was approved by President George W. Bush shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001.[2] 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.[3]

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.[1] 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.[4]

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.[4]

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”.[2] 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.[1]

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.[5] The article suggested that the otherwise dispatched Stellar Wind is actually an active program.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar_Wind_%28code_name%29

PRISM

PRISM is a clandestine national security electronic surveillance program operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007.[1][2][3][Notes 1] PRISM is a government codename for a data collection effort known officially as US-984XN.[8][9] It is operated under the supervision of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[10] 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.”[11] The President’s Daily Brief, an all-source intelligence product, cited PRISM data as a source in 1,477 items in 2012.[12] 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.[13][14]

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.[15] Clapper issued a statement and “fact sheet”[16] to correct what he characterized as “significant misimpressions” in articles by The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers.[17]

History

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.[1] 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).[18][19][20][21] PRISM was authorized by an order of the FISC.[11] 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.[2][22] 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.[22]

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.[2][1] The leaked documents included 41 PowerPoint slides, four of which were published in news articles.[1][2] 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).[23] 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.”[1]

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.[11] 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.[2][11]

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.[1] 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.”[1]

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.[2][1]

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.[2][24] Statements of several of the companies named in the leaked documents were reported by TechCrunch and The Washington Post as follows:[25][26]

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.”[25]
  • Yahoo!: “Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”[25] “Of the hundreds of millions of users we serve, an infinitesimal percentage will ever be the subject of a government data collection directive.”[26]
  • 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.”[25]
  • 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.”[25] “[A]ny suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.”[26]
  • 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.”[27]
  • 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.”[25]

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.[13] 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.”[1] “[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.[26]

“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.[28]

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.[29]

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.[30] 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.”[31]

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.”[32] The other companies held discussions with national security personnel on how to make data available more efficiently and securely.[32] In some cases, these companies made modifications to their systems in support of the intelligence collection effort.[32] 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.[32] 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”[29] and the companies’ denials.[32]

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.[32] 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.[32] Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information.[32] Google does not provide a lockbox system, but instead transmits required data by hand delivery or secure FTP.[33]

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.[34]

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”.[35]

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.[36]

Response from United States government

Executive branch

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.[13] 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.”[37] 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.”[37] 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.”[37] 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.[38] In an NBC News interview, Clapper said he answered Senator Wyden’s question in the “least untruthful manner by saying no”.[39]

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.”[15]

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.”[40][10] 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).”[10]

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.”[10]

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.”[41] 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.”[41]

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.[42]

Legislative branch

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,[43] and others said that they had not been aware of the program.[44] 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,”[45]

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”.[46]
  • 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.”[47]
  • 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.”[48]

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?”[49]

Representative John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House of Representatives

  • June 11 “He’s a traitor”[50] (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.”[51] “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.”[51]

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,”[46]
  • 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,”[52]

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”.[46]

Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN)

  • June 10 “We have no idea when they [ FISA ] meet, we have no idea what their judgments are”,[53]

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,”[54]
  • 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.”[45]

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.”[52]

Judicial branch

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).”[10] 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.”[55] 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.”[55] 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.”[55] They do not need to specify which facilities or property that the targeting will be directed at.[55]

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.[55] 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.[55]

If the provider rejects the directive, the A.G. may request an order from FISC to enforce it.[55] A provider that fails to comply with FISC’s order can be punished with contempt of court.[55]

Finally, a provider can petition FISC to reject the directive.[55] 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.[55] 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.[55]

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.”[56]

Involvement of other countries

Australia

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.[57]

Canada

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.”[58]

Germany

Germany did not receive any raw PRISM data, according to a Reuters report.[59]

Israel

Israeli newspaper Calcalist discussed[60] the Business Insider article[61] about the possible involvement of technologies from two secretive Israeli companies in the PRISM program – Verint Systems and Narus.

New Zealand

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.”[62]

United Kingdom

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.[63][64]

Domestic response

Unbalanced scales.svg
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,”[65] 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.”[66]

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.”[67] 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.”[67] 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.[68]

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.[69] 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.”[69] Pilkington and Watt concluded that the data-mining programs “played a relatively minor role in the interception of the two plots.”[69] 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.”[70] In addition, political commentator Bill O’Reilly criticized the government, saying that PRISM did not stop the Boston bombings.[71]

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;[72] 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.”[72][73] 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.[74]

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.[75]

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”.[76]

International response

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.[77][78] 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”.[79] The party-owned newspaper Liberation Daily described this surveillance like Nineteen Eighty-Four-style.[80] 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.”[81]

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, called PRISM “a violation of EU laws”.[82]

Protests at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

The German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Peter Schaar, condemned the program as “monstrous”.[83] 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.[84]

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”.[85]

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[86] saying, “Any data obtained by us from the United States involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards.”[86] 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.”[86][87] 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.[87] 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.”[82]

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.”[88]

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.”[89] 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.[90]

Russia has offered to consider an asylum request from Edward Snowden.[91]

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.”[92][93]

Related government Internet surveillance programs

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.”[94]

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.[95]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_%28surveillance_program%29

ThinThread

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] A consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was awarded a $280 million contract to develop Trailblazer in 2002.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ThinThread

Trailblazer

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.[1][2] 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.[3][4] 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”.[5]

Background

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.[4][3] Trailblazer was later linked to the NSA electronic surveillance program and the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.[3]

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.[6][7][8] SAIC had also hired a former NSA director to its management; Bobby Inman.[9] SAIC also participated in the concept definition phase of Trailblazer.[10][11]

Redacted version of the DoD Inspector General audit, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Project on Government Oversight and others. [12][5]

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.” [13]

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.”[5] The Director of NSA “nonconcurred” with several statements in the IG audit, and the report contains a discussion of those disagreements.[14]

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.[15] In 2006 the program was shut down,[3] after having cost billions of US Dollars.[16] Several anonymous NSA sources told Hosenball of Newsweek later on that the project was a “wasteful failure”.[17]

The new project replacing Trailblazer is called Turbulence.[3]

Whistleblowing

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.”[3]

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.[3][18][19] 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.[19] Drake gave info to DoD during its investigation of the matter.[19] Roark also went to her boss at the House committee, Porter Goss, about problems, but was rebuffed.[20] She also attempted to contact William Renquist, the Supreme Court Chief Justice at the time.[19]

Drake’s own boss, Maureen Baginski, the third-highest officer at NSA, quit partly over concerns about the legality of its behavior.[3]

In 2003, the NSA IG (not the DoD IG)[19] had declared Trailblazer an expensive failure.[21] It had cost more than $1 billion.[8][22][23]

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.[18] Mayer writes that it hastened the closure of Trailblazer, which was at the time in trouble from congress for being over budget.[3]

In November 2005, Drake contacted Siobhan Gorman, a reporter of The Baltimore Sun.[24][17][25] 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.[17]

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.[3][18] 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,[17][26][27] part of President Barack Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers and “leakers”.[24][17][28][18] 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.[3]

In June 2011, the ten original charges against Drake were dropped, instead he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.[5]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AXwwSq_me4

Boundless Informant

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.[1] It is described in an unclassified, For Official Use Only Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) memo published by The Guardian.[2] 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.[3][4]

History

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).[5][6][7]

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.[8]

Boundless Informant was first publicly revealed on June 8, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Guardian.[1][9] The newspaper identified its informant, at his request, as Edward Snowden, who worked at the NSA for the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.[10]

Technology

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.[11]

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.[12][13][14][15]

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.”[16]

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.[17][18]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundless_Informant

ECHELON

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[1] (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, referred to by a number of abbreviations, including AUSCANNZUKUS[1] and Five Eyes).[2][3] It has also been described as the only software system which controls the download and dissemination of the intercept of commercial satellite trunk communications.[4]

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.[5]

The system has been reported in a number of public sources.[6] Its capabilities and political implications were investigated by a committee of the European Parliament during 2000 and 2001 with a report published in 2001,[5] and by author James Bamford in his books on the National Security Agency of the United States.[4] 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.[5]

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.

Organization

UKUSA Community
Map of UKUSA Community countries with Ireland

Australia
Canada
New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States of America

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.[5]

Capabilities

The ability to intercept communications depends on the medium used, be it radio, satellite, microwave, cellular or fiber-optic.[5] During World War II and through the 1950s, high frequency (“short wave”) radio was widely used for military and diplomatic communication,[7] and could be intercepted at great distances.[5] 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.”[5]

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.[8] 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%.[5] Even in less-developed parts of the world, communications satellites are used largely for point-to-multipoint applications, such as video.[9] Thus, the majority of communications can no longer be intercepted by earth stations; they can only be collec