“NSA ads and surveillance free”… who’s next? WE ARE!

NSA cooperation: OK for e-mail, IM companies?

Musharraf Declares State of Emergency

Tacoma Anarchist Bookfair Accused Of Being “Homeland Security Threat”

NSA cooperation: OK for e-mail, IM companies?
A new Senate bill would protect not only telephone companies from lawsuits claiming illegal cooperation with the National Security Agency. It would retroactively immunize e-mail providers, search engines, Internet service providers and instant-messaging services too.
Oct 22, 2007
By Declan McCullagh

The broad language appears in new legislation that a Senate committee approved by a 13-to-2 vote on Thursday during a meeting closed to the press and public. It enjoys the support of the panel’s Democrats and Republicans.

It goes further in crafting an impenetrable legal shield than similar proposals in the House of Representatives, such as the so-called Restore Act (PDF), which immunizes only “communications service providers.” Bowing to pressure from President Bush, House Democrats postponed a vote on the Restore Act last week.

The broader Senate bill (PDF) would sweep in Web sites, e-mail providers and more. “My suspicion is the scope of the immunity provision is the most revealing way to assess the scope of the underlying authority,” said Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

The disparity is striking because telecommunications companies–not major providers of Web-based services like Google, Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft–have been frequently named as complicit in illegal NSA surveillance. Yet under the Senate proposal, those companies would become immune from any lawsuits.

“Private companies who received legal assurances from the highest levels of government should not be dragged through the courts for their help with national security,” Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.V.), the Intelligence Committee chairman and the bill’s primary Democratic sponsor, said in a statement. “The onus is on the administration, not the companies, to ensure that the request is on strong legal footing, and if it is not, it is the administration that should be held accountable.”

A demand for retroactive immunity
After news reports said AT&T and other major telecommunications carriers opened their networks to the NSA after September 11, 2001, dozens of civil lawsuits were filed. A decision on whether the lawsuits will be permitted to proceed is expected from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco at any time.

President Bush has insisted on retroactive legal immunity, and the Justice Department on Friday gave the Senate bill a preliminary thumbs-up, though it said further changes will likely be necessary before it’s satisfied.

“The bill has many good components, and we appreciate the serious work done on this bill in the Senate Intelligence Committee,” spokesman Dean Boyd said. “We appreciate that the bill has strong liability provisions.”

The Senate bill overrides every other law, including state laws, criminal laws and privacy laws, when saying that lawsuits against companies must be “promptly” dismissed, as long as the attorney general certifies that the cooperation was authorized. The definition covers any company that has “access” to “electronic communications” that are stored or in transit. It would almost certainly pull the plug on the 9th Circuit lawsuits, including the one brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation last year.

While some information has dribbled out regarding how companies like AT&T allegedly worked hand in hand with the NSA, less is known about how much cooperation might take place with e-mail and instant-messaging providers.

Some companies, including Yahoo and Google, refused to comment in a survey conducted by CNET News.com last year that asked: “Have you turned over information or opened up your networks to the NSA without being compelled by law?” Others, like Comcast and BellSouth, did reply in the negative.

During an appearance before a congressional committee last year about Chinese Internet censorship, Yahoo was pressed by Rep. Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, about whether it would cooperate with the NSA in the absence of legal authorization. Yahoo’s general counsel, Michael Callahan, said the company would not provide law enforcement with e-mail without “proper legal process.” But when asked whether Yahoo’s requirements would be lowered if the NSA requested e-mail, Callahan refused to comment.

Still, there’s no evidence that any extralegal cooperation has ever taken place, and some of the same companies have taken very public steps to protect their customers’ privacy in the past. Google fought the Justice Department’s subpoena for excerpts from its database, and an EarthLink attorney was the first person to publicly disclose the existence of the FBI’s Carnivore surveillance system.

The Senate bill’s immunization would extend to companies involved with surveillance beyond that requested by the NSA. It says Internet companies cannot be held liable for secretly cooperating with the CIA, the Defense Department, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, the Treasury Department, Homeland Security and other intelligence-related organizations that may be even more shadowy.

One type of immunization would extend from September 11, 2001, to January 17, 2007, the day the Justice Department announced that the secret NSA program would be revamped and brought under the scrutiny of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The other immunization grant would continue into the future.

The next stop for the Senate bill is the Judiciary Committee. It’s unclear exactly when that panel will take up the bill, but it’s not going to be this week, a Democratic committee aide said Monday. That uncertainty exists largely because members of that panel have requested–but still have not received–sufficient information about how the Bush administration’s spying programs worked and what involvement telephone companies had, the aide added.

In addition, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), a 2008 presidential hopeful, has vowed to take a procedural step that would prevent the bill from going to a vote, as long as it cloaks corporations with legal protections.

“I will do everything in my power to stop Congress from shielding this president’s agenda of secrecy, deception and blatant unlawfulness,” he said in a statement last week. Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, the top senators on the Judiciary Committee, both have expressed skepticism about retroactive immunity.

Under existing law, electronic communications providers already are exempted from all liability–as long as the attorney general has delivered a “certification in writing that no warrant or court order is required by law.”

Other sections of the Senate bill permit the attorney general and the national-intelligence director to sign off on wiretaps without court approval. They could authorize such snooping for up to a year, provided that the target is “reasonably believed to be outside the United States” and a U.S. person isn’t being “intentionally” targeted in the process.

Musharraf Declares State of Emergency
November 3, 2007

The Pakistani leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, declared a state of emergency on Saturday night, suspending the country’s Constitution, blacking out all independent television news reports and filling the streets of the capital with police officers and soldiers.

The move appeared to be an effort by General Musharraf to reassert his fading power in the face of growing opposition from the country’s Supreme Court, civilian political parties and hard-line Islamists. Pakistan’s Supreme Court was expected to rule within days on the legality of General Musharraf’s re-election last month as the country’s president, which opposition groups have said was improper.

The emergency declaration was in direct defiance of repeated calls this week from senior American officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, not to do so. A day earlier, the senior American military commander in the Middle East, Admiral William J. Fallon, told General Musharraf and his top generals in a meeting here that declaring emergency rule would jeopardize the extensive American financial support for the Pakistani military.

Ms. Rice personally intervened twice in the past four months to try to keep General Musharraf from imposing emergency rule, telephoning him at 2 a.m. Pakistani time in August. On Saturday, while traveling to Turkey for an Iraq security conference, she reinforced that message, saying, “I think it would be quite obvious that the United States wouldn’t be supportive of extra-constitutional means.”

Soon after independent television stations went blank in the capital, just after 5 p.m., dozens of police forces surrounded the Supreme Court building, with justices still inside, as well as the chief justice’s home. The justices were ordered to sign a “provisional constitutional order” enabling the emergency decree, according to Western diplomats, with the government leaving implicit that any justices failing to do so would be dismissed.

At least 6 of the court’s 11 justices gathered in the court and rejected the order, according to an aide to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Aitzaz Ahsan, a prominent lawyer, who led protests against General Musharraf this spring, was detained by the police after saying that opposition groups would announce a schedule on Monday of nationwide strikes and protests.

Before being detained, he accused General Musharraf of “criminal flouting of the Constitution,” adding that “the people and the lawyers cannot be suspended.”

General Musharraf was expected to speak on national television late on Saturday evening. Pakistani government officials said Friday that emergency rule could be justified because of clashes in the past week between security forces and Islamic militants in the Swat Valley, in the North-West Frontier Province, and because of the increasing number of suicide attacks against military and police installations.

As of 9 p.m., Chief Justice Chaudhry and the other justices had gone to their homes, surrounded by police and with the phone lines cut, witnesses and officials said.

Analysts said the emergency-rule decree in effect was the declaring of martial law, because there were no constitutional provisions allowing for such an order. “This is the imposition of real military rule, because there is no Constitution and Pakistan is being run under provisional constitutional order issued by Musharraf as the army chief, not as the president of Pakistan,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, an expert on Pakistani military affairs.

General Musharraf resorted to military power to gain the presidency in October 1999 when he staged a bloodless coup, and Mr. Rizvi said this was a return to those measures. “This is the first time Musharraf has brought in military rule to sustain himself in power,” he said. “He felt threatened by the Supreme Court.”

Mr. Chaudhry has been the focal point of the opposition to General Musharraf since the president fired him from the post last Boosted by support from lawyers, judges and a wide public following, Mr. Chaudhry led a street-style political campaign against his summary firing that helped fuel the growing popular sentiment against General Musharraf.

The Supreme Court reinstated Mr. Chaudhry this summer, and in September the Supreme Court ruled in favor of General Musharraf, saying he could run for re-election while still in uniform.

But the focus was again on Mr. Chaudhry this week as the deadline drew closer for a decision on the legality of General Musharraf’s re-election on Oct. 6 by the national Parliament and four provincial assemblies.

Rumors were rife in Islamabad, the capital, all week that the court might decide against the president or give a muddied verdict that would leave his position as president unclear.

This evening, several lawyers and journalists said they believed that the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, left Pakistan on Thursday for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates after realizing that General Musharraf was planning some form of martial law.

Aides to Ms. Bhutto said she planned to fly back to Pakistan on Wednesday evening, immediately after hearing the emergency declaration was made. Members of her political party condemned the emergency order.

Ms. Bhutto, who returned to Pakistan in mid-October under an arrangement brokered by the United States and Britain, warned the government on Wednesday that she was opposed to emergency rule. “If emergency is imposed, people will come out and resist it,” she said.

She returned to Pakistan on Oct. 18 for the first time in eight years on the understanding that she would take part in elections expected early next year. The Bush administration hoped that Ms. Bhutto would bring a democratic face to Pakistan even as it continued under the rule of General Musharraf, who has pledged to give up his military post after being sworn in for another presidential term on Nov. 15.

Tacoma Anarchist Bookfair Accused Of Being “Homeland Security Threat”
November 02 2007

Dear Fellow Human Beings,

At 3 PM, on Friday, November 2nd, the landlord of the building which houses the Pitch Pipe Infoshop received a call from a Tacoma PD lieutenant. He told her that the Infoshop and the Anarchist Bookfair which it is holding this Saturday and Sunday is a homeland security threat and will be monitored by police for the entire weekend. The landlord then approached residents of the building and threatened eviction. As of now, no one is threatened with a sudden eviction.

This is a direct attack on the part of the government against those it disagrees with. The government is attempting to destroy and stop the protests planned for the 9th and 10th of November against the existence of the ICE detention center. It is attempting to shroud the bookfair in a cloud of fear and discourage people from attending. EVERYONE SHOULD STILL ATTEND! We will not allow this attack on our lives from the government.

Tomorrow the Infoshop collective will be keeping a cautious eye out for any infiltrators. There will be a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for infiltrators. In order to better help identify any infiltrators, do not speak about instigations and do not take aggressive actions towards the police. DO NOT DO THESE THINGS NEAR THE HOUSE! We can not have anything happening near the house. Do not venture off somewhere with someone you do not trust. Stay with those you are completely tight with. Any and all infiltrators that are caught will be treated like infiltrators. ALL AFFINITY GROUP MEETINGS ARE CLOSED MEETINGS! PERIOD!

The government just threatened us with the same apparatus that we are fighting against: The Department Of Homeland Security. The same apparatus that is keeping people locked in cages in the Detention Center while we write this. They absolutely can not have protests like the ones planned for the 9th and 10th of November against their fascist infrastructure. Beyond this, the military is bringing a shipment of Strykers back through (supposedly) Olympia on Monday. One thing is clear: they are frightened of us.

The Tacoma PD encouraged the Downtown Merchants Guild to remove all portable items from their storefronts and asked the business owners to be the “eyes and ears” of the police and report any suspicious activity. The police stated that potential actions might be directed at shutting down the Tacoma Link Light Rail or towards destroying property. What reason they have to believe this we do not know but are anxious to find out. As to why they are telling everyone these things the answer is simple: they wish to forcibly stop the protests against ICE by whatever means necessary. Plus, they are terrified of so many anarchists being in the area for the glorious homecoming of their killing machines from overseas.

We can not back down from this. Do not let their petty tactics sway you from coming to the Bookfair or to the protests on the 9th and 10th. This is nothing but them attempting to stifle the energy at our backs. Everyone in the area should come together and not allow another one of these attacks. Because if they feel as if they have succeeded in pushing our efforts back, they will not hesitate to do the same to other groups who push against the grain.

The Pitch Pipe Infoshop Collective