The Senate’s New Anti-Encryption Bill Is Even Worse Than EARN IT, and That’s Saying Something – Activist Post

the-senate’s-new-anti-encryption-bill-is-even-worse-than-earn-it,-and-that’s-saying-something-–-activist-post

25-06-20 07:15:00,

By Andrew Crocker

Right now, we rely on secure technologies like never before—to cope with the pandemic, to organize and march in the streets, and much more. Yet, now is the moment some members of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees have chosen to try to effectively outlaw encryption in those very technologies.

The new Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act—introduced this week by Senators Graham, Blackburn, and Cotton—ignores expert consensus and public opinion, which is unfortunately par for the course. But the bill is actually even more out of touch with reality than many other recent anti-encryption bills. Since January, we’ve been fighting the EARN IT Act, a dangerous anti-speech and anti-security bill that would hand a government commission, led by the Attorney General, the power to determine “best practices” online. It’s easy to see how that bill would enable an attack on service providers who provide encrypted communications, because the commission would be headed by Attorney General William Barr, who’s made his opposition to encrypted communications crystal clear. The best that EARN IT’s sponsors can muster in defense is that the bill itself doesn’t use the word “encryption”—asking us to trust that the commission won’t touch encryption.

But if EARN IT attempts to avoid acknowledging the elephant in the room, the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act puts it at the center of a three-ring circus. The new bill doesn’t bother with commissions or best practices. Instead, it would give the Justice Department the ability to require that manufacturers of encrypted devices and operating systems, communications providers, and many others must have the ability to decrypt data upon request. In other words, a backdoor.

The bill is sweeping in scope. It gives the government the ability to demand these backdoors in connection with a wide range of surveillance orders in criminal and national security cases, including Section 215 of the Patriot Act, a surveillance law so controversial that Congress can’t agree whether it should be reauthorized.

Worse yet, the bill requires companies to figure out for themselves how to comply with a decryption directive. Their only grounds to resist is to show it would be “technically impossible.” While that might seem like a concession to the long-standing expert consensus that technologists simply can’t build a “lawful access” mechanism that only the government can use,

 » Lees verder

US Senate Quietly Approves $38 Billion for Israel Amid Historic Economic Downturn – Global Research

us-senate-quietly-approves-$38-billion-for-israel-amid-historic-economic-downturn-–-global-research

25-05-20 10:31:00,

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee quietly passed a bill yesterday to give Israel a minimum of $38 billion over the next ten years despite the ongoing devastation to the U.S. economy caused by the coronavirus.

The bill – S.3176 –  will now go before the full Senate. Since the legislation has already been passed by the House of Representatives, if the Senate passes the bill, it will then go to the president to be signed into law.

The bill was passed by the committee under two unusual circumstances and with almost no public awareness.

First, Senate Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idaho) refused to allow a live stream of the meeting, despite the fact that the Senate Rules panel had recommended that extra efforts be taken to ensure public transparency while the Capitol is closed to the public and the presence of reporters is severely limited. The Senate’s Press Gallery Standing Committee of Correspondents had objected strongly to Risch’s decision.

Second, the bill was passed without being named, debated, or even discussed, even though it would set into law the largest such aid package in U.S. history. There has been no mention of the bill by most media in the United States.

The massive package is particularly noteworthy in light of the current devastation to the American taxpayers who will be footing the bill – over $10 million per day. In recent months approximately 30 million Americans have lost jobs, 100,000 small businesses have already closed forever, and over seven million are at risk of doing so.

The bill was voted on as part of a package of 15 bills that were voted on “en bloc” (all together).

After Senator Kaine said he didn’t know what the list contained, Risch responded: “I’m not trying to pull anything here… this was circulated among the staff.”

Risch then rapidly listed the numbers but did not give the titles. There was then a voice vote and the motion passed unanimously.

Democratic members of the committee had voiced strong objections to blocking a live stream of the meeting because of a different agenda item.

 » Lees verder

As Americans lose their jobs, Senate gears up to give Israel A MINIMUM of $38 billion over 10 years

as-americans-lose-their-jobs,-senate-gears-up-to-give-israel-a-minimum-of-$38-billion-over-10-years

24-05-20 10:37:00,

With the US economy reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed to give Israel a minimum of $3.8 billion in military aid per year. A full vote on the gift is expected soon.

The US unemployment rate now stands at 14.7 percent, the worst figure since records began. Nearly 39 million Americans have lost their jobs since the coronavirus reached US shores in late January, and the Congressional Budget Office warned on Tuesday that the US economy won’t recover from its current contraction until after next year. Moreover, the federal government’s financial relief packages to date have pushed national debt past a record $25 trillion.

You wouldn’t think there was anything wrong if you asked Senator Marco Rubio though. The Florida Republican and his colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee quietly approved a bill on Thursday to guarantee Israel a minimum of $38 billion in military aid over the next ten years, despite the economic shambles at home.

Also on rt.com
Washington State conned out of a likely ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ by Nigerian scammers

Passed unanimously, the bill now heads to the Senate floor for a full vote. 

Though authored by Rubio – a Republican of hawkish persuasion – the bill aims to legally codify a promise made by former President Barack Obama in 2016. Under the terms agreed to by Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Jewish state would not seek any additional funds beyond the annual $3.8 billion. Indeed, when Congress voted on an earlier version of Rubio’s bill in 2018, that figure was set as a cap. The 2018 bill was eventually rolled into another Middle East security bill the following year, which was left to die in the Democrat-controlled House. 

Now, with Rubio once again pushing the bill, the spending cap has been removed. In the version passed by the Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, the US will send “not less than” $3.3 billion in direct military aid and $500 million in funding for missile defense programs every year for the next decade.

Also on rt.com
US billionaire wealth skyrockets to over $3 TRILLION during pandemic

Rubio boasted on Thursday that the bill “strengthens our nation’s strategic security alliance with Israel,

 » Lees verder

Senate Approves Spy Bill, Possible Link to Pending Covid-19 Actions – Activist Post

senate-approves-spy-bill,-possible-link-to-pending-covid-19-actions-–-activist-post

15-05-20 07:30:00,

By Janet Phelan

In a vote of 80-16, the US Senate yesterday approved HR 6172, which reauthorizes several surveillance authorities originally passed into law via the USA PATRIOT Act as temporary measures. HR 6172 cements the collection of business records, the “roving wiretap provision,” and the so-called “lone wolf provision,” which allows the surveillance of those with no known connection to terrorist organizations. While the FBI has testified to the Congress that the “lone wolf provision” has never been used, this is widely thought to be inaccurate and that this provision is the authority under which US citizens, activists and journalists, are being widely surveilled.

Several amendments were proposed to the Senate, only one of which passed. Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, had proposed an amendment which would guarantee the participation of an Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) in cases involving requests for permission from FISA to surveil political figures, religious organizations and the press. This amendment passed by a vote of 77-19.

The Wyden-Daines amendment would have restricted the collection of browser activity and internet search history. This amendment also failed.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) had proposed a widely publicized amendment which would prohibit the surveillance of American citizens, excluding Americans from the provisions involving wiretapping and data collection tools authorized by the FISA court.  This amendment went down in flames, receiving 11 yea votes and 85 votes against.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Paul had this to say about HR 6172:

To those of us that prize the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, the Patriot Act is a violation of our most precious rights. The Patriot Act, in the end, is not patriotic. The Patriot Act makes an unholy and unconstitutional exchange of liberty for a false sense of security.

The failure of Paul’s amendment points to an uncomfortable reality: it is appearing more and more that our government is dedicated to the surveillance of Americans. With Osama Bin Laden dead and ISIS under siege, one would wonder what is so compelling about the phone calls, internet activity and more of a growing number of American citizens who are now watchlisted.

 » Lees verder

Senate votes down anti-surveillance amendment, as both parties back warrantless spying on Americans’ browser history

senate-votes-down-anti-surveillance-amendment,-as-both-parties-back-warrantless-spying-on-americans’-browser-history

14-05-20 07:50:00,

The US Senate has voted down an amendment that would limit surveillance of Americans’ internet records. Apparently, the true divide in Washington is not between Democrat and Republican, but those for or against the police state.

The US Senate met on Wednesday to debate the reauthorization of some provisions of the USA Freedom Act, an expansive domestic surveillance bill that expired in March. As Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought the Act to the floor, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced an amendment that would explicitly bar law enforcement from snooping on Americans’ internet browsing and search histories without a warrant.

Prior to the vote, McConnell had urged his colleagues to reject the amendment. When votes were cast on Wednesday, ten Democratic senators heeded McConnell’s words, bringing the final vote to 59 Yeas and 37 Nays. One more positive vote would have given the amendment the three-fifths majority it needed to pass.

Fifty-nine members of the Senate just voted in favor of my amendment to block warrantless government surveillance of Americans’ browser history. It failed by just one vote. McConnell is that much closer to giving Bill Barr the green light to spy on Americans’ private information. https://t.co/IV5ERbte48

— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) May 13, 2020

The 10 Democrats who joined GOP in defeating amendment to stop FBI warrantless surveillance of web browser history: Carper, Casey, Feinstein, Hassan, Jones, Kaine, Manchin, Shaheen, Warner and Whitehorse. Joined 2 Republicans & a Democrat in not showing up to vote: Bernie Sanders

— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) May 13, 2020

Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) railed against the reauthorization of the USA Freedom Act in February, yet didn’t cast a vote on Wednesday. Online, commenters raged at the progressive kingpin for his absence. 

As someone who supports Sanders, this one hurts deep. There’s no excuse from anyone who didn’t vote or voted no. Now McConnell’s going to allow Barr to go commit fascist overwatch on our search histories.

— Tomiwa Onasoga (@TommyTheIllest) May 13, 2020

Yet surveillance is not a partisan issue. As often as Democrats are presented as the party of civil liberties and Republicans as the party of the ‘forever war’,

 » Lees verder

The New Senate $480 Economic Stimulus Bill. A “Social Safety Net” for Banks and Billionaires – Global Research

the-new-senate-$480-economic-stimulus-bill.-a-“social-safety-net”-for-banks-and-billionaires-–-global-research

22-04-20 05:02:00,

Republicans and Dems serve privileged interests exclusively on major issues, differing only rhetorically for political reasons.

At a time of economic shutdown with growing millions of Americans out of work, congressional focus is largely on helping monied interests.

It’s unclear how much Payroll Protection Program (PPP) money is going to workers.

On Tuesday, CNBC reported that small businesses getting this funding “are among the lucky few,” adding:

“Business owners must now decide how to spend their money” — to retain workers or use it for other expenses to stay solvent.

“Some (recipient firms) are delaying disbursement(s)” because other priorities take precedence.

Some large companies are getting funds earmarked for small ones.

An estimated three-fourths of small businesses applied to the Small Business Administration for forgivable loans.

About 80% of applications haven’t been processed. Most small businesses needing financial help haven’t gotten it.

It’s unclear how many will be helped while economic hard times continue, countless numbers likely to be left out entirely.

Many won’t survive because of economic shutdown, jobs for their workers to be permanently gone.

Complicating things further is that millions of unemployed US workers aren’t getting their unemployment checks.

Weeks after applying for benefits, they remain in limbo. One frustrated unemployed worker said she may be homeless before help arrives.

About 22 million Americans applied for benefits, applications for millions more remaining to be processed, many others likely to apply as layoffs and furloughs continue.

One economist called the backlog a “peak load problem. The system is overloaded” and can’t keep up with the huge volume.

In Ohio, processing claims for eligible workers was delayed until mid-May.

In hindsight when current economic shutdown and COVD-19 outbreaks end, evidence may show the death toll to be higher from untreated commonplace major illnesses, deprivation, and despair than from the novel coronavirus.

Yet little or nothing is reported about an issue too important to ignore, what’s unaddressed by Congress and the White House.

There’s no federal funding to treat the sick, house the homeless, or feed the hungry.

Yet major banks and other corporate favorites got trillions of dollars in free money — an unprecedented wealth transfer scheme from ordinary people to privileged ones.

 » Lees verder

Senate Sends Mammoth $738BN Defense Bill To Trump’s Desk, Creating Space Force

senate-sends-mammoth-$738bn-defense-bill-to-trump’s-desk,-creating-space-force

18-12-19 10:07:00,

The U.S. Senate has joined the House of Representatives in passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, and it will now go to the White House where President Trump is expected to sign it into law.

The Senate passed the massive $738 billion defense spending bill on Tuesday, which as we previously noted when it cleared the House last week, also officially establishes the president’s much sought after ‘Space Force’ as a sixth branch of the military.

A second package of bills is expected to also go speedily through both bodies of Congress before the Senate leaves for the holiday, with the White House indicating Trump will sign them both into law.

File image of the NDAA 2018 signing ceremony, via the AP.

The Senate vote was 86-8 in favor of the mammoth NDAA, which passed after a significant compromise, as The Hill summarizes:

The $738 billion bill — which authorizes spending and lays out policy guidelines for the Pentagon — includes a high-profile deal that grants federal employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave in exchange for creating Trump’s “Space Force.”

The bloated budget did receive backlash from senate fiscal conservatives, however. The Hill continues:

But the trade off for paid parental leave — and the large tab — earned the defense policy bill backlash from fiscal conservatives in the Senate. 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argued that the bill included “bad compromises” that had “nothing to do with the national defense.” 

Though the DoD initially requested $72 million for the Space Force in 2020, and the NDAA authorized that, the spending bill actually only allocates $40 million.

The administration previously said it expects the newly established Space Force to cost $8 billion over the next 5 years, so clearly the NDAA funding appears severely “limited” in that regard. 

It’s part of a broader $1.4 trillion spending plan approved by the House also on Tuesday that appropriates approximately the same $738 billion spending for defense. 

Last week Trump let it be known he plans to sign the legislation “immediately”

 » Lees verder

US VERDAD Act: Senate Support for Regime Change in Venezuela – Global Research

us-verdad-act-senate-support-for-regime-change-in-venezuela-8211-global-research

04-04-19 11:25:00,

Seeking dominance over all other nations is imperialism’s defining feature – by brute force if other tactics fail.

With no end of it in prospect, they continue on the phony pretexts of humanitarian intervention, responsibility to protect, and democracy building – a notion US policymakers revile, tolerating it nowhere, especially not at home and in oil-rich Venezuela, Bolivarianism considered the threat of a good example.

On Wednesday, 15 bipartisan neocon Senators introduced the so-called Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance and Development (VERDAD) Act (sic) – supporting regime change in the hemisphere’s preeminent democracy they want eliminated.

The bipartisan gang of 15 includes John Barraso, Michael Bennett, Ben Cardin, Bill Cassidy, Chris Coons, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Dick Durbin, Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley, Tim Kaine, Marco Rubio, Jeanne Shaheen, and Todd Young.

The measure calls for providing another $200 million for regime change efforts, $200 million more to Colombia and Brazil, blood money for hardening their support for the scheme, on the phony pretext of providing support for Venezuelan “refugees” in their countries.

The measure has nothing to do with “restor(ing) democracy and prosperity” in Venezuela (sic), nothing to do with humanitarian aid (sic), everything to do with supporting the Trump regime’s diabolical coup plot.

Other provisions call for revoking visas for relatives of illegally sanctioned Venezuelans and removing sanctions from others willing to recognize designated puppet/usurper in waiting Guaido.

The legislation urges nations complicit with the coup plot to act against Maduro’s legitimate government the same way.

It requires support from international financial institutions to fully go along with the scheme. It calls for State, Treasury and Justice Departments to wage toughened financial war on Venezuela.

It doesn’t provide temporary protected status (TPS) for undocumented Venezuelans in the US – adhering to Trump’s hardline position against aliens of the wrong race, ethnicity, and/or religion in the country.

Passage of the measure in both houses overwhelmingly and signed into law by Trump is virtually certain. Menendez said the following about the legislation:

“(T)he United States Congress is coming together in a bipartisan manner to put teeth behind our support for the Venezuelan people (sic) as they seek to restore democracy (sic) and address a humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented proportions in our hemisphere (sic).”

Rubio has been waging near-daily Twitter war on Venezuela,

 » Lees verder

First Senate Bill of 2019 Would Give Israel Billions of Dollars, Combat BDS – Global Research

first-senate-bill-of-2019-would-give-israel-billions-of-dollars-combat-bds-8211-global-research

29-01-19 03:25:00,

Senator Rubio

The first Senate bill of 2019 would finalize a $38 billion aid package to Israel, combat BDS, and rebut Trump’s attempt to withdraw troops from Syria….

***

According to Marco Rubio, the first bill the 2019 U.S. Senate will take up is one that is focused on Israel. His twitter announcement shows a number of people suggesting that he should instead focus on getting the U.S. government running.

The four-part bill, designated S.1, is composed of measures on behalf of Israel that Congress tried and failed to pass in 2018. Some were pioneered by AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The first component is the “Ileana Ros-Lehtinen United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2019” – the 2018 text can be seen here. This would give Israel $33 billion over the next ten years in addition to the $5.5 billion enacted in last year’s defense spending bill. This is reportedly the largest military aid package in U.S. history. The bill was held up by Senator Rand Paul, who threatened a filibuster against it. Most Americans feel the U.S. already gives Israel too much money.

Unlike the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that the Obama administration negotiated with Israel in 2016, this would make the $38 billion a floor rather than a ceiling and cements it into law (an MOU is non-binding). It also provides Israel additional perks, including calling for NASA to work with Israel’s space agency, despite Israel’s alleged acquisition of classified U.S. research.

Another component of the bill is the “Combatting BDS Act of 2019” (the text of the previous version is here). This allows state and local governments to prohibit contracting with any entity that participates in BDS, the boycott of Israel over Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. Many groups and individuals oppose the bill on the ground that it violates freedom of speech. AIPAC is a strong supporter of such legislation.

A third component is “The United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Extension Act,” which would provide money to Jordan.

 » Lees verder

U.S. Senate’s First Bill, in Midst of Shutdown, is a Bipartisan Defense of the Israeli Government from Boycotts

us.-senates-first-bill-in-midst-of-shutdown-is-a-bipartisan-defense-of-the-israeli-government-from-boycotts

06-01-19 12:07:00,

When each new Congress is gaveled into session, the chambers attach symbolic importance to the first piece of legislation to be considered. For that reason, it bears the lofty designation of H.R.1 in the House, and S.1 in the Senate.

In the newly controlled Democratic House, H.R.1 – meant to signal the new majority’s priorities – is an anti-corruption bill that combines election and campaign finance reform, strengthening of voting rights, and matching public funds for small-dollar candidates. In the new 2017 Senate, the GOP-controlled S.1 was a bill, called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” that, among other provisions, cut various forms of corporate taxes.

But in the 2019 GOP-controlled Senate, the first bill to be considered – S.1 – is not designed to protect American workers, bolster U.S. companies, or address the various debates over border security and immigration. It’s not a bill to open the government. Instead, according to multiple sources involved in the legislative process, S.1 will be a compendium containing a handful of foreign-policy related measures, a main one of which is a provision, with Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio as a lead sponsor, to defend the Israeli government. The bill is a top legislative priority for AIPAC.

In the previous Congress, that measure was known as S.170, and it gives state and local governments explicit legal authority to boycott any U.S. companies which themselves are participating in a boycott against Israel. As the Intercept reported last month, 26 states now have enacted some version of a law to punish or otherwise sanction entities which participate in or support the boycott of Israel, while similar laws are pending in at least 13 additional states. Rubio’s bill is designed to strengthen the legal basis to defend those Israel-protecting laws from constitutional challenge.

Punishment aimed at companies which choose to boycott Israel can also sweep up individual American citizens in its punitive net, because individual contractors often work for state or local governments under the auspices of a sole proprietorship or some other business entity. That was the case with Texas elementary school speech pathologist Bahia Amawi, who lost her job working with autistic and speech-impaired children in Austin because she refused to promise not to boycott goods produced in Israel and/or illegal Israeli settlements.

 » Lees verder

“It’s Not Enough”: US Senate Proposes New Bill To Ban Arms Sales To Saudi Arabia

8220it8217s-not-enough8221-us-senate-proposes-new-bill-to-ban-arms-sales-to-saudi-arabia

16-11-18 01:51:00,

After previously on Thursday the Senate killed a proposal by Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) to block $300 million in US arms sales to Bahrain a key Saudi coalition ally in the Yemen war  Senators proposed another bill that would suspend all US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and block the refueling of Saudi warplanes bombing Yemen.

Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, led by Bob Menendez (R-New Jersey) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) introduced the “Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2018” — also with the sponsorship of three Democrats — to hold the Saudis accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump previously brokered a $110bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Sen. Menendez had previously argued that Bahrain was a “critical ally” especially as the US Navy bases its Fifth Feel there, and that the missile systems the US provides the tiny GCC country had nothing to do with the military campaign in Yemen.

One of Sen. Paul’s supporters,  Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), argued that “It is long overdue that we end U.S. complicity in Saudi Arabia’s atrocities,” and said, “We must end all U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen now.” Paul’s resolution failed 77-21 as it faced a veto threat from the White House and as its opposition argued Bahrain is the wrong target and needed US missile and anti-tank systems to curtail the threat from Iran. 

Menendez said the just announced sanctions against 17 Saudi nationals introduced by the White House were “not enough” in response to Khashoggi’s death to ensure Riyadh properly investigates and ends its criminal behavior. Menendez described his bill as “putting teeth behind these demands with regular oversight, sanctions and suspension of weapons sales and refueling support.”

On Senate floor, @RandPaul decries lack of press coverage on #Yemen: “Your tax dollars are supporting this war,” he said. Senate should debate whether it should aid Saudi Arabia, he says, arguing that “the prerogative to declare war is Congress’s.”

— lesley clark (@lesleyclark) November 15, 2018

And Graham said, “This legislation is an important way to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for various acts in Yemen as well as the death of Jamal Khashoggi.”

However,

 » Lees verder

US Senate Calls On Julian Assange To Testify

US Senate Calls On Julian Assange To Testify

08-08-18 03:28:00,

Julian Assange has been asked to testify before the US Senate Intelligence Committee as part of their Russia investigation, according to a letter signed by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA) posted by the official WikiLeaks Twitter account.

The letter, delivered to Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, reads in part “As part of the inquiry, the Committee requests that you make yourself available for a closed interview with bipartisan Committee staff at a mutually agreeable time and location.” 

BREAKING: US Senate Intelligence Committee calls editor @JulianAssange to testify. Letter delivered via US embassy in London. WikiLeaks’ legal team say they are “considering the offer but testimony must conform to a high ethical standard”. Also: https://t.co/pPf0GTjTlp pic.twitter.com/TrDKkCKVBx

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 8, 2018

Wikileaks’ says their legal team is “considering the offer but testimony must conform to a high ethical standard,” after which the whistleblower organization added a tweet linking to a list of 10 Democratic Senators who demanded in late June that Assange’s asylum be revoked in violation of international law: 

Of note: https://t.co/pAFas2fgKn

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 8, 2018

WikiLeaks also tweeted a link to a Human Rights Watch article: “UK Should Reject Extraditing Julian Assange to US,” which reads in part: 

It has been six years since Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, fled to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to seek asylum from possible extradition to the United States to face indictment under the US Espionage Act. 

At the time, Assange, an Australian national, was wanted by Sweden for questioning over sexual offense allegations. Assange had also broken the terms of his UK bail. Since then, he has become even more controversial, having published US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails and internal emails from Democratic Party officials.

While some admire and others despise Assange, no one should be prosecuted under the antiquated Espionage Act for publishing leaked government documents. That 1917 statute was designed to punish people who leaked secrets to a foreign government, not to the media, and allows no defense or mitigation of punishment on the basis that public interest served by some leaks may outweigh any harm to national security.

 » Lees verder

Senate Democrats Are Circulating Plans For Government Takeover Of The Internet

Senate Democrats Are Circulating Plans For Government Takeover Of The Internet

08-08-18 10:00:00,

Authored by Elizabeth Nolan Brown via Reason.com,

All your base are belong to us.

A leaked memo circulating among Senate Democrats contains a host of bonkers authoritarian proposals for regulating digital platforms, purportedly as a way to get tough on Russian bots and fake news.

To save American trust in “our institutions, democracy, free press, and markets,” it suggests, we need unprecedented and undemocratic government intervention into online press and markets, including “comprehensive (GDPR-like) data protection legislation” of the sort enacted in the E.U.

Titled “Potential Policy Proposals for Regulation of Social Media and Technology Firms,” the draft policy paper – penned by Sen. Mark Warner and leaked by an unknown source to Axios – the paper starts out by noting that Russians have long spread disinformation, including when “the Soviets tried to spread ‘fake news’ denigrating Martin Luther King” (here he fails to mention that the Americans in charge at the time did the same). But NOW IT’S DIFFERENT, because technology.

“Today’s tools seem almost built for Russian disinformation techniques,” Warner opines. And the ones to come, he assures us, will be even worse.

Here’s how Warner is suggesting we deal:

Mandatory location verification. The paper suggests forcing social media platforms to authenticate and disclose the geographic origin of all user accounts or posts.

Mandatory identity verification: The paper suggests forcing social media and tech platforms to authenticate user identities and only allow “authentic” accounts (“inauthentic accounts not only pose threats to our democratic process…but undermine the integrity of digital markets”), with “failure to appropriately address inauthentic account activity” punishable as “a violation of both SEC disclosure rules and/or Section 5 of the [Federal Trade Commission] Act.”

Bot labeling: Warner’s paper suggests forcing companies to somehow label bots or be penalized (no word from Warner on how this is remotely feasible)

Define popular tech as “essential facilities.” These would be subject to all sorts of heightened rules and controls, says the paper, offering Google Maps as an example of the kinds of apps or platforms that might count.

 » Lees verder

The Senate Just Gave the Pentagon an $82 Billion Boost. That’s More Money Than Russia’s Entire Military Budget. | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization

The Senate Just Gave the Pentagon an $82 Billion Boost. That’s More Money Than Russia’s Entire Military Budget. | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization

24-06-18 05:52:00,

There are few bipartisan projects in Congress these days, but Republicans and Democrats have no trouble joining together to feed more money into the Pentagon’s gaping maw.

By a vote of 85-10 on Thursday morning, the Senate approved the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—technically known as the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act” because you wouldn’t vote against something named after an American hero, right? It serves as the budget for the U.S. military, which this year is receiving $716 billion, an increase of $82 billion from last year. That increase was agreed upon in March as part of an overall two-year budget deal that smashed Obama-era spending caps and boosts military spending by $165 over the next two years.

It’s not just that military spending crosses party lines, but that it smooths over nearly every political division in Washington today. Democrats have shown virtually no interest in Trump’s major policy priorities, but only seven Democrats plus Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats, voted against Trump’s new nukes. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) were the only Republicans to vote against the NDAA. An attempt by Sander, Lee, and some other senators to include an amendment prohibiting the Pentagon from continuing to participate in an unauthorized war in Yemen was defeated.

The spending increase will allow the Pentagon to buy more fighter jets, to create “cyberwarfare units,” and to develop new, smaller nuclear weapons. There is, however, no Space Force. The extra $82 billion will “bring us back to a position of primacy,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said in February.

To put the Pentagon’s $82 billion funding increase in perspective, consider that Russia’s entire military budget totals only $61 billion. China, which boast the next most expensive military in the world after the United States, plans to spend about $175 billion this year.

Maybe the problem isn’t how much funding the military receives, but how the money it already gets is spent. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about that because the Pentagon has still not been subjected to a full scale audit, despite the fact that all federal agencies and departments were ordered to undergo mandatory audits in 1990.

 » Lees verder