Thursday, June 06, 2013
Star-Advertiser omits story on Obama admin massive phone spying
by Larry Geller
Checking the Guardian breaking news app on my phone yesterday I was surprised to see an actual FISA court order posted by the newspaper. It’s clearly marked “Top Secret,” but there it was.
As the Guardian reported in a series of related stories, the Obama administration, in this case the FBI, is essentially collecting phone records of essentially any and all Americans without probable cause.
And there was the top secret court order on my smartphone! Clearly this news was big, and would not be “disappeared,” so I needn’t write about it.
But it was disappeared by our one remaining daily newspaper. That’s worthy of note. A check of Google News shows that other papers, network news, and many Internet sources continue to develop the story—while Honolulu readers remain in the dark. It’s not that they didn’t have space for the story—the front page has a giant graphic that could easily have been shrunk a bit. Nor was the story “after deadline”: I emailed it from my phone to my desktop computer at 3:11 p.m. yesterday afternoon.
The Guardian’s revelation follows on the heels of last week’s AP phone records scandal, which continues to develop as well.
Worse than the Bush administration?
Politicians and civil liberties campaigners described the disclosures, revealed by the Guardian on Wednesday, as the most sweeping intrusion into private data they had ever seen by the US government.
But the Obama administration, while declining to comment on the specific order, said the practice was "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States".
[The Guardian (UK), White House defends NSA phone records collection as 'critical tool', 6/6/2013]
The spying on ordinary citizens has also dredged up discussion of Obama’s rampant hypocrisy since gaining office:
Barack Obama built up much of his electoral base as a critic of George W Bush's policies, from war to surveillance. In office, he has pursued many of the same policies even more vigorously, and nowhere is this more true than in his hoarding of executive power. The administration's collection of phone records data, and its legal defences thereof, illustrate the problem acutely.
In opposition, Obama criticised Bush's policy of spying on citizens' phone calls – under the rubric of the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Programme – and threatened to filibuster a bill being pushed through the Senate in 2008 to retroactively legalise the practice. He voted for the bill, but protested that he was doing so reluctantly. He claimed to oppose the attempt to give legal cover to the previous administration and the companies colluding in its actions.
Yet, once in office, Obama continued the policy of intrusion on a vast and indiscriminate scale. …
[The Guardian (UK), Obama's Verizon phone records collection carries on Bush's work, 6/6/2013]
For extended coverage of the story, see today’s Democracy Now, either on the web or on Olelo channel 54 at 11 p.m. tonight.
Democracy Now also has a segment on the secrecy surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks. TPP was discussed (in secret, of course) at the APEC 2011 conference held in Honolulu.
The Obama administration is facing increasing scrutiny for the extreme secrecy surrounding negotiations around a sweeping new trade deal that could rewrite the nation’s laws on everything from healthcare and Internet freedom to food safety and the financial markets. The latest negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were recently held behind closed doors in Lima, Peru, but the Obama administration has rejected calls to release the current text. Even members of Congress have complained about being shut out of the negotiation process. Last year, a leaked chapter from the draft agreement outlined how the TPP would allow foreign corporations operating in the United States to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its rulings.
[Democracy Now, Obama-Backed Trans-Pacific Partnership Expands Corporate Lawsuits Against Nations for Lost Profits, 6/6/2013]
The Advertiser covered phone taps at the new telephone switching facility in Kaka'ako, circa 2004. Self-powered, always on phone taps. The Advertiser also cover the suit filed by local resident against Hawaiian TelCom for invasion of privacy for using the phone taps full time. Circa 2005