Legislation

The lead story in Wired magazine for April exposed the Stellar Wind program for its intended purpose: to spy on every jot and tittle of every American citizen’s life all the way down to his “pocket litter:” parking-lot stubs, receipts from McDonalds, tickets from his haircut at Cost Cutters, as well as all the way up to the content of his every e-mail, every Google search, every telephone or cellphone conversation.

 

In the little town of Bluffdale, Utah, between the Wasatch Range and the Oquirrh Mountains, the National Security Agency (NSA) is building what will be the nation's largest spy center, reports Wired, a print magazine and online publication reporting on technological developments and their effects, including electronic privacy. Dubbed the Utah Data Center, the project is already employing thousands of hardhat workers in its construction and will soon have some 10,000 construction workers building a data center that will be more than five times the size of the nation's capitol, Wired reports.

 

The good news is that in the near future governments, including our own, may no longer be planting bugs or tapping phones to spy on people. The bad news is they won't have to. New surveillance technology has been developed that will enable the CIA and other agencies to keep its eyes and ears on what people are watching and listening to by a series of connected gadgets activated when a movie is downloaded or a Web radio station is turned on.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is not afraid of congressional oversight into its domestic spying program.  Last week, DHS Chief Privacy Officer Mary Ellen Callahan and Director of Operations Coordination and Planning Richard Chavez testified before the House Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Intelligence, and their testimony was alarming to those concerned about the near constant assault by the federal government on the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment in particular.
 
 

Did you pay cash for that latte this morning at the Starbuck's drive-through? Well, that smiling lady who handed you your frothy espresso and your change may have been taking down your license plate as you drove off —  before jumping on the phone to report your "suspicious activity" to the FBI.

 

U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning was formally charged on Thursday under the Espionage Act (18 USC Chapter 37) with 22 crimes, including aiding the enemy.  In what is described as “the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history,” Manning is accused of passing over 700,000 documents and video clips to WikiLeaks, the widely known website devoted to exposing government corruption throughout the world.

 

“Parents are useless. The state is God.” That, says NaturalNews.com editor Mike Adams, was the message conveyed when a North Carolina state agent told a preschooler the lunch her mother had packed for her was insufficiently nutritious and made her eat chicken nuggets instead. In fact, according to Carolina Journal, the agent found the lunch of every single child in the class wanting and forced them all to consume school cafeteria food — which must have had the kids wondering what they had done to deserve such cruel and unusual punishment.
 
 

In a formal "request for information," the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asked software companies for a digital tool that would systematically scan the entire social media realm to find potential terrorist-related threats and intelligence information. While hundreds of intelligence analysts are already probing overseas Facebook and Twitter posts, U.S. law enforcement officials claim digital software could sift through more data than humans ever could.

 

Though the Republican presidential debates have garnered much of the media spotlight of late, controversies such as those surrounding the Transportation Safety Administration are still very much alive. And one man who is determined to keep up the battle against the TSA's unconstitutional overreach is Texas State Rep. David Simpson, who has just filed for reelection. If elected to the 2013 biennial legislature, he has promised to reintroduce his signature bill from the 2011 session, the anti-groping Traveler Dignity Act.

 

Another day, another sticky-fingered Transportation Security Administration agent caught stealing from airline passengers: According to the Associated Press, 31-year-old Alexandra Schmid, a TSA screener at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, allegedly helped herself to a cool $5,000 from a passenger’s jacket as it passed along an X-ray conveyor belt on February 1. The passenger, a native of Bangladesh, noticed the money was missing as soon as he retrieved his jacket, at which point he reported the theft.

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