Tag Archives: Senate Intelligence Committee

Activists To Bombard Congress With Faxes To Fight Cybersecurity Bill

“CISPA is back,” warns the website of Fight For The Future, an advocacy group that has challenged controversial bills like CISPA, SOPA, and PIPA in the past. Senate Bill 754, known as CISA, is one of the latest cybersecurity bills and is reportedly headed to the Senate floor as early as next month.

Fight for the Future and other privacy advocates, frustrated with bills such as CISPA and CISA continuing to appear in legislation despite widespread public opposition and numerous deferments, are implementing a mostly obsolete method of data transmission to send a clear message to Congress.

Groups including Fight For The Future and Access have teamed up to initiate a large-scale campaign to send thousands of faxes to every member of the U.S. Senate. Eight phone lines have been programmed to convert emails and tweets with the hashtag FaxBigBrother into separate faxes to be sent to Congress.

“Groups like Fight for the Future have sent [Congress] millions of emails, and they still don’t seem to get it,” Fight for the Future’s Evan Greer told The Guardian.

[quote_center]“Maybe they don’t get it because they’re stuck in 1984, and we figured we’d use some 80’s technology to try to get our point across.”[/quote_center]

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a co-author of CISA and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has called this bill “a critical step to confront one of the most dire national and economic threats we face: cyber attacks.” Feinstein claimed that CISA would protect against cyberattacks using “purely voluntary information sharing” between the private sector and the government regarding cybersecurity threats.

Senators Ron Wyden (D-Or.) and Mark Udall (D-Co.) have voiced their opposition to CISA, pointing out that in the past “the federal government has exploited loopholes to collect Americans’ private information in the name of security.” Wyden and Udall worried that CISA “lacks adequate protections for the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans, and that it will not materially improve cybersecurity.”

According to Fight For The Future, CISA is a “dirty deal between government and corporate giants.” The website FaxBigBrother describes CISA as “a massive bribe” from the federal government: “They will give corporations immunity for breaking virtually any law if they do so while providing the NSA, DHS, DEA, and local police surveillance access to everyone’s data in exchange for getting away with crimes, like fraud, money laundering, or illegal wiretapping.”


CIA Inspector General Who Revealed Hacking of Senate Computers, Resigns

On Monday, the Central Intelligence Agency announced that Inspector General David Buckley, who revealed that the agency had hacked into computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program, will resign on January 31, to “pursue an opportunity in the private sector.

According to Reuters, officials at both the CIA and on Capitol Hill claimed Buckley’s departure was “unrelated to politics or anything he had investigated.”

However, Christopher Anders, the senior legislative counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington D.C., called the timing of Buckley’s resignation unfortunate.

The CIA inspector general is one of the few people who has tried to impose some accountability on the CIA at a time when the White House and many in Congress are failing to do their oversight jobs,” Anders said.

The executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, Danielle Brian, agreed about the ill-timed departure, and said during his time as inspector general, Buckley “raised some serious concerns about the conduct of the CIA in trying to thwart the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

The lack of repercussions is very troubling and his departure so soon afterwards is troublesome,” Brian said.

Reuters reported that Buckley’s “most public action as CIA inspector general” occurred last July when he issued a report on the dispute between CIA director John Brennan and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Brennan had complained that Feinstein “acted in a manner inconsistent” with the understanding between the CIA and the committee, in order to access a “special computer network set up to share documents about the agency’s involvement in harsh treatment of detained militants.”

According to the National Journal, the release of Buckley’s report “represented a stunning rebuke of the CIA and Director Brennan, who had emphatically denied allegations” from Senator Feinstein that the agency had “accessed her panel’s computers in order to remove certain documents.

Feinstein commended Buckley for serving with “distinction and integrity” during his four years as inspector general for the CIA. “It is critically important to have a strong, independent inspector general at the CIA due to the nature of the work done there,” said Feinstein. “Mr. Buckley filled the role admirably.”

Brennan released a statement, saying that Buckley’s resignation was planned, and that he was leaving the agency on good terms.

David has served the CIA and the American public as our inspector general for more than four years,” said Brennan. “Throughout his tenure, he has demonstrated independence, integrity, and sound judgment in promoting efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability at CIA.


Senate Removes Drone Strike Disclosure From Intelligence Bill

Washington-  The United States Senate has removed a vital section of a major intelligence bill that would have compelled the Obama administration to publicly disclose the number of people killed or injured by US drone strikes.

The removal of Section 312 from the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 was partially due to opposition from director of national intelligence James Clapper, who wrote in a letter to the Senate that such disclosures would “require context and be drafted carefully so as to protect against the disclosure of intelligence sources and methods or other classified information.” Clapper also wrote that “the Executive Branch is currently exploring ways in which it can provide the American people more information about the United States’ use of force outside areas of active hostilities.”

Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was the originator of the drone disclosure provision but also agreed to remove it. Feinstein, a supporter of drone strikes, said in 2013 that the number of civilians killed by drones has been in the “single digits”.  That estimate has been challenged by many, including U.N. Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson, who told NBC News that civilian casualty numbers are in the hundreds.

The section of the intelligence bill that has been removed would have offered more transparency that Obama has promised in his campaign and throughout his presidency. Critics of the removal of the drone strike disclosure consider this action discouraging. “How many people have to die for Congress to take even a small step toward transparency?” asked Zeke Johnson, Amnesty International’s human rights program director. “It’s stunning that after all these years we still don’t know how many people the Obama administration has killed with drones.”

Amnesty International USA director Steven W. Hawkins said that “a basic report on the number of people killed shouldn’t be too much to ask.”

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Senate Intelligence Committee: CIA Misled Public, Government About Interrogation Program

A 6,300-page report by the Senate Intelligence Committee suggests that the CIA misled the government as well as the public concerning its interrogation program and its effectiveness. The report is based on interviews with various U.S. officials and chronologies of many detainees suspected of terrorism.

“The CIA conflated what was gotten when, which led them to misrepresent the effectiveness of the program,” said one official.

Also included in the report are cases in which the CIA ordered harsh interrogation procedures for detained terrorist suspects despite being told by experts that the detainees had no new information to reveal.

There were techniques being used that had not been authorized by the Justice Department, such as repeated dunking of a suspect in ice water in Afghanistan. In one incident, CIA employees left their jobs at a secret prison in Thailand because they were troubled by the interrogation practices occurring there.

The report also alleges that “enhanced interrogation techniques” had very little to do with finding and killing Osama bin Laden, and that a great deal of information had been collected from suspects by officials before using tactics such as waterboarding. “The CIA described [the program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” said one official. “Was that actually true? The answer is no.”

This report was finished in 2012 but remains classified. Senate Intelligence Committee lawmakers are to vote on sending a 500-page executive summary to President Obama for declassification.