Archive for Justice Department

NYT and Texas Republican Senator agree Obama’s US Kill List the Most Radical Power a Government Can Seize

Posted in Civil Rights, Obama, terrorism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2012 by saynsumthn

Congress is finally standing up to President Barack Obama on targeted killing. Almost a year after three American citizens were killed in US drone strikes, legislators are pushing the administration to explain why it believes it’s legal to kill American terror suspects overseas.

Congress is considering two measures that would compel the Obama administration to show members of Congress what Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) calls Obama’s “license to kill”: internal memos outlining the legal justification for killing Americans overseas without charge or trial. Legislators have been asking administration officials to release the documents for nearly a year, raising the issue multiple times in hearings and letters. But the new proposals, including one from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) first flagged by blogger Marcy Wheeler and another in a separate intelligence bill, aren’t requests—they would mandate disclosure. That shift shows both Republicans and Democrats are growing impatient with the lack of transparency on targeted killings.

The New York Times has confirmed the existence of a secret memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)—the branch of the government that tells the president whether what he wants to do is legal—outlining the legal basis for the targeted killing program.

Below is an interesting piece by the New York Times on this topic…When the New York Times and a Texas Senator agree- we need to pay attention !

John Cornyn Makes Sense
By ANDREW ROSENTHAL

I don’t often find myself in agreement with Senator John Cornyn, the Texas Republican. But he’s rightfully fed up with the secrecy surrounding the Obama administration’s targeted killing program, and he’s now pushing a measure to force greater disclosure.

Here’s the background: In public speeches (though not in a court of law) the administration has claimed the right to decide, without any Congressional or judicial review, which people, including American citizens, represent an imminent terrorist threat to the United States and have them killed – by soldiers on the ground in other nations, or by drones.

It’s an open secret that, as a part of this program, Mr. Obama ordered the killing of Anwar al Awlaki, an American-born Islamic cleric who was urging jihad against the United States. He was killed in a drone attack that also killed Samir Khan, another American citizen. Mr. Awlaki’s 16-year-old son was killed in a separate attack.

It’s also an open secret that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel prepared a memo outlining the legal rationale for the program—but, officially, the administration refuses to acknowledge that the memo even exists.

We’ve seen this kind of dangerous over-reach in the not-distant past. And Mr. Obama was highly critical of President George W. Bush’s vision of an imperial executive who could give legal sanction to torture, to warrantless wiretapping, to indefinite detention without charges. Mr. Bush also resisted providing documents and explanations to Congress and sneered at the notion of judicial oversight.

Mr. Cornyn certainly did not introduce bills to compel Mr. Bush to turn over documents on his extra-legal activities. But in this particular case I’m glad he’s been inconsistent. Mr. Cornyn’s measure, an amendment to an intelligence bill, would compel Mr. Obama to turn over the OLC memo to legislators.

I’m not certain the amendment—which isn’t a request but a mandate for disclosure—passes muster on the separation of powers, but Mr. Obama has brought this on himself. The Times, going a bit further than Mr. Cornyn, is party to a lawsuit seeking public disclosure of the OLC memo (rather than disclosure to Congress). The ACLU, going a bit further than The Times, is also seeking disclosure of the specific documents justifying the Awlaki killing. (That seems like a stretch since they certainly contain highly sensitive intelligence.) But though the administration may find reasons to shrug off The Times and the ACLU, there’s truly no excuse for withholding any of those papers from Congress.

Big Brother’s Minions are watching: Cell phone companies retain info on you for up to 7 years

Posted in Big Brother, Privacy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2011 by saynsumthn

Posted 9/30/11

WASHINGTON (WLS) – A leaked document from the Justice Department intended for law enforcement officials describes the length of time major cellphone companies retain sensitive customer data, including text message details and content.

Wired magazine reported that T-Mobile keeps a list of users’ text message recipients for up to five years and AT&T for up to seven years, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ) document dated August 2010.

Wired lists the retention periods of other carriers’ data, such as who keeps call detail records the longest (AT&T: up to seven years) and post-paid bill copies the longest (AT&T and Sprint: up to seven years).

Verizon Wireless is the only carrier that keeps text contents, although for three to five days.

The document, entitled “Retention Periods of Major Cellular Service Providers,” was obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union in North Carolina through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Jeffrey Nelson, a Verizon Wireless spokesman, said in an email to ABC News that the company would not comment on the details in the report.

But, he said, “Verizon Wireless keeps data for various periods of time in order to provide services to our customers, including responding to customer inquiries about their own accounts. We take the privacy of our customers very seriously, and have policies and procedures in place to safeguard customer information.”

Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T, said the company addresses data retention in its privacy policy. AT&T’s privacy policy states the company retains personal information (including name, address, telephone number, email address, Social Security number and financial account number) “only as long as needed for business, tax or legal purposes, after which we destroy it by making it unreadable or undecipherable.”

Its privacy policy says it may provide personal information to non-AT&T companies or other third parties for purposes such as responding to 911 calls and other emergencies; complying with court orders and other legal process; assisting with identity verification, and to prevent fraud and identity theft; enforcing AT&T’s agreements and property rights; and “obtaining payment for products and services that appear on your AT&T billing statements, including the transfer or sale of delinquent accounts to third parties for collection.”

Jason Gertzen, a spokesman for Sprint, said the company “respects and protects the privacy and security of the personal information of our customers.”

“Responding to public safety or law enforcement requests is not unique to Sprint. We act as good stewards of our customers’ personal information while also meeting our obligations to law enforcement agencies,” he said in an email to ABC News. “Different categories of data are retained for varying lengths of time depending on the type and sensitivity of data, the applicable laws and regulations governing the retention of such data and the business purpose of the data.”
ABC News Radio contributed to this report.