Tag Archives: NSA

CIA, NSA Aren’t the Only Federal Agencies Violating Privacy

Wikileaks’ recent dump of classified information related to the CIA’s secret hacking operations has once again sparked a conversation about privacy in the digital age. While similar secret surveillance programs like the NSA’s PRISM have been in the public eye for years, other government agencies that mishandle millions of Americans’ private information in the light of day are often left unchecked.

Take the U.S. Census Bureau, for example. Since 2005, Census has selected approximately three million Americans annually to complete the American Community Survey (ACS), collecting information on the nation’s “demographic, social, economic, and housing characteristics.” While there’s no question that the ACS collects some valuable information, the intrusive nature of the survey and the poor security measures with which Census handles respondents’ personal information should be a cause for concern no less so than any surveillance by the CIA or NSA.

The methods used by Census Bureau employees can vary in the degree to which they violate a person’s privacy. Some may only receive letters in the mail, appealing to the person’s sense of community, with a veiled threat if they do not comply. Others have received a personal visit from a Census employee, often resulting in pressure or downright intimidation to complete the survey.

Take Kimberly Hayes of Sapulpa, Oklahoma. After being threatened with a fine by mail for refusing to fill out the form because “some of the questions made her uncomfortable,” a man sent by Census visited her home unannounced in the hopes of getting her to complete the ACS. The man “started walking around and was looking in windows,” according to Hayes.

Continue reading at The American Spectator 

Snowden Claims “All Governments Break the Law,” Comments on Russian Hysteria

Dearborn, a town in Michigan with fewer than 100,000 residents, has one of the largest Muslim populations in the U.S. An astounding number of people in Dearborn are on the U.S. government’s watch list. That these two exist at once should come as no surprise, said writer Jeremy Scahill, as he opened the eighth episode of Intercepted and began interviews with Muslim rapper Kayem and Edward Snowden.

With Kayem, he talked about the surveillance state and targeting of Muslims. Kayem talked about how he’s been needlessly harassed, forced to go through insane scrutiny during airport security (which recently went so far as to prevent him from boarding), and placed on watchlists. He joked that he tells friends, “If something happens and I’m in the news…I didn’t do it!” laughing about the degree to which he’s been wrongfully targeted as a Muslim-American. Scahill chimed in.“The ‘Shaggy’ defense––it wasn’t me!” they laugh, as they found a way to mix glorious hip hop references into an otherwise-difficult conversation.

As the interview progressed and Snowden appeared via video call, Scahill’s questions centered around Russia hysteria and the rise of Trump. Snowden gave many familiar answers related to the value of transparency and the clear constitutional problems associated with mass data collection. Snowden’s thoughts on Trump, though, were less alarmist in comparison to many political observers––perhaps because every aspect of mass surveillance is alarming, Snowden remains unsurprised by the alarm of someone like Trump being elected.

“This isn’t actually new,” reminded Snowden, reinforcing the idea that unchecked abuse of power has pretty much always been happening––this time, though, the Trump administration is “so inept” that they’re honest about their wrongdoing or so bad at hiding it that it’s clearly visible to us. Perhaps visibility of power expansion and incompetence, although awful in the short term, can invigorate longer term structural change.

“All governments lie,” Snowden continued, “and all governments break the law.” If anything, the transparency with which we see the incompetence of the Trump administration might remind us that limited power is always better than its rampant, unchecked alternative. The problem is deeper though––many government officials, despite wrongdoing, have never seen the inside of a courtroom in a criminal proceeding.

But part of the problem with the current administration––and mainstream media reporting––is unbridled Russia hysteria. “MSNBC has basically transformed into a Cold War opponent of the Soviet Union,” laughed Scahill.

Snowden is no stranger to Russia-related fear mongering. When critics fabricated theories about his connection to Russia after the U.S. revoked his passport mid-transit to Latin America, his credibility was put on the line––with no evidence presented by said critics. In an effort to smear him, he was painted as a potential NSA contractor-turned-Russian spy.

Although frustrating, Snowden made it clear that he thinks skepticism is good. Reducing standards for evidence tends to be a bad thing and being conscientious arbiters of which information is true and false is crucial. But both Scahill and Snowden remained fiercely critical of the media’s handling of Russia-related topics, talking about how Russia has been an easy scapegoat for the past few years, given Cold War history, lack of public trust in Putin, and general uneasiness about the Putin administration’s unpredictability.

This makes even more sense put into the context of recent events: as of this month, Politico has started a histrionic Russia timeline, politicians and journalists have been quick to discredit Wikileaks’ trove of CIA documents due to Russian connections, and MSNBC has been fixating on Trump’s relationship with Russia, at the expense of other news. Many in the media are thoughtlessly jumping to quick conclusions about Russia instead of accurately assessing the foreign policy landscape. When hysteria wins, we all lose. Perhaps we should heed Snowden’s advice and be better skeptics, clear-headed arbiters of fact and fiction intent on thinking for ourselves.


Liz Wolfe is Young Voices’ managing editor.

Advocate Ryan Hagemann quoted in The Intercept on cybersecurity

Advocate Ryan Hagemann was quoted in The Intercept, where he commented on the Cybersecurity Act of 2015.

“We certainly would have liked more time to bring this issue to the attention of libertarians and conservatives. Unfortunately, the way the final bill was conferenced — keeping Chairman McCaul out of any substantive discussions and disregarding many of his concerns around the reconciliation process — moved it quicker than we anticipated,” wrote Ryan Hagemann of the Niskanen Center in an email to The Intercept.

Read the full article here.

Advocate Patrick Published in Reason on Mike Rogers

Advocate Patrick Hannaford was published in Reason one staunch NSA supporter’s turn to talk radio.

The good news is that the National Security Agency (NSA) will no longer be able to count Rogers as one of its loudest and most influential supporter in Congress. The bad news is that Rogers will be able to continue spreading his sycophantic support for all things Orwellian, albeit as one among many pro-surveillance, pro-torture shock jocks.

You can read the entire piece here.

If you’d like to book Patrick or any other Advocate, please contact Young Voices.

Advocate Sarah Published in Townhall.com

Young Voices Advocate Sarah Harvard was published in Townhall.com about NSA surveillance.

There is a long road ahead of President Obama if he wants to win the trust of the American people. His rhetoric is no longer enough to capture the heart of the American people. He must take action and implement reforms through his executive power and jurisdiction of the NSA.

Read the rest of the piece here.

If you’d like to speak with or book Sarah or any of our other Advocates, please contact Young Voices now.