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EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 33 - White House Flouts NSA Subpoena Deadline, But Will Congress Fight Back?

EFFector Vol. 20, No. 33  August 22, 2007  editor@eff.org

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

In the 437th Issue of EFFector:

 * White House Flouts NSA Subpoena Deadline, But Will Congress Fight Back?
 * Judges Grill Government at NSA Surveillance Hearing
 * Senator Cites EFF FOIA Work in Call for Investigation of Attorney General
 * EFF FOIA Docs: Soldiers Rarely Blog Information That Threatens Military Operations
 * miniLinks (13): Concerns Raised on Wider Spying Under New Law
 * Administrivia

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 http://www.eff.org/

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 http://eff.org/support/

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effector: n, Computer Sci. A device for producing a desired 
change.

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* White House Flouts NSA Subpoena Deadline, But Will 
Congress Fight Back?

Yesterday, the White House once again flouted Congress' 
authority and failed to comply with Senate subpoenas 
regarding the NSA's illegal domestic spying. In response, 
Senator Patrick Leahy threatened contempt proceedings and 
stated that the compliance deadline, which was already 
delayed twice, would not be pushed back again.

That's certainly welcome news, but Congress can't let this 
turn into yet another set of empty threats. Tough talk is 
not enough -- after all, Congress has already made numerous 
requests for critical information about the spying program 
and let the President dodge them again and again. Instead 
of forcing his hand, it practically rewarded his 
evasiveness by capitulating to the Administration's 
outrageous demands and radically expanding domestic spying 
powers earlier this month.

Congress cannot allow itself to be pushed around any 
longer. It needs to make good on its threats and pry the 
truth out of the Administration using all available means, 
including by holding it in contempt.

And that must only be a first step towards the ultimate 
goal of stopping the President's abuse of power. Truth and 
accountability for the warrantless wiretapping of Americans 
should have come before any legislative changes were given 
even the slightest consideration. Now Congress needs to 
undo its mistake, starting with a repeal of the so-called 
"Protect America Act," the Administration's FISA 
"modernization" power grab.

Take action now and tell Congress to stop the warrantless 
wiretapping:
http://action.eff.org/fisa

Read EFF's article from August 7, "Congress Caves on 
Warrantless Snooping -- What Happened, and How to Fix It":
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005395.php

See EFF's page on the NSA's warrantless domestic 
surveillance:
http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/NSA/

For this post and related links:
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005410.php

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* Judges Grill Government at NSA Surveillance Hearing

In a packed San Francisco courtroom last Wednesday, EFF 
urged the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to allow AT&T 
customers to continue to fight against illegal spying on 
their telephone and Internet communications.

A ruling probably won't come out for months, but at the 
hearing the judges were certainly asking the right 
questions about the serious constitutional issues at stake. 
The government is trying to get the case thrown out, 
arguing that thin claims of "state secrets" can trump the 
courts' constitutional duty to uphold the rule of law. All 
three judges grilled the government's attorney on this 
point and appeared worried that granting the government's 
motion to dismiss would amount to an abdication of 
authority. Judge Harry Pregerson asked the government's 
attorney, "Are you saying the courts are to rubber-stamp 
the determination of the executive of what's a state 
secret? What's our job?"

As we've argued, the courts are well equipped to protect 
state secrets while determining whether the spying is 
illegal and to put a stop to it. Judicial review is one of 
the essential checks that define our democracy. No 
president, now or in the future, should be allowed 
unfettered authority to evade the courts and trample on 
your freedoms.

The panel of judges also heard oral arguments on the future 
of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Bush, a case alleging 
that federal agents illegally wiretapped calls between the 
charity and its lawyers. The government wants this case 
dismissed on state secrets grounds as well.

View the video from the hearing:
http://www.archive.org/details/gov.courts.ca9.2007.08.16

Read Wired's Threat Level blog blow-by-blow:
http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/08/nsa-hearing-ope.html

For more on EFF's case against AT&T:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att

Join EFF now and support us in this critical case:
http://secure.eff.org/att

For this post and related links to major news reportage of 
the hearing: 
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005408.php

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* Senator Cites EFF FOIA Work in Call for Investigation of 
Attorney General

EFF's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) work has helped to 
prompt the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask 
for an investigation into whether the attorney general has 
lied to Congress.

In a letter to the Justice Department Office of the 
Inspector General, Senator Patrick Leahy asked the agency 
watchdog to probe "potentially false or misleading 
testimony given by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during 
his appearances before various congressional committees."

The evidence cited by Leahy includes documents that EFF 
obtained through a FOIA lawsuit against the Justice 
Department for records related to the FBI's misuse of 
National Security Letters.

Leahy's request shows why the FOIA is an important tool for 
making sure that government works the way it should. 
Through its FOIA Litigation for Accountable Government 
(FLAG) project, EFF files FOIA requests and lawsuits for 
documents about the government's use of investigative 
power, among other things. Our goal is to pry information 
out of government filing cabinets and make it available for 
all to see, which helps to ensure that public officials are 
held accountable for their actions.

For more on EFF's FLAG Project:
http://www.eff.org/flag/

See EFF's FOIA litigation page - EFF v. Department of 
Justice:
http://www.eff.org/flag/07656JDB/

Read the complete post and related links:
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005409.php

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* EFF FOIA Docs: Soldiers Rarely Blog Information That 
Threatens Military Operations

According to documents released to the Electronic Frontier 
Foundation (EFF) by the Army and Defense Department, 
soldier journalists post far less information that could 
harm military operations than official .mil websites do. 
These documents call into question the need for new 
restrictions on soldiers' online speech, which some critics 
say will cause military bloggers to cut back on their posts 
or shut down their sites altogether.

The documents, which EFF obtained through a Freedom of 
Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, shed light on the work of 
the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell (AWRAC) a unit that 
monitors official and unofficial military websites "for 
information and trends of data that could be used to breach 
security or pose a threat to defensive and offensive 
operations and military personnel."

Read EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann's full analysis 
here:
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005405.php

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* miniLinks
The week's noteworthy news, compressed.

~ Concerns Raised on Wider Spying Under New Law
Do the changes to FISA give the Executive even greater 
spying powers?
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/19/washington/19fisa.html?ex=1345176000&en=2e7a7948ff52f9fe&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

~ And While We're Talking About Government Surveillance...
The Bush Administration plans to increase the use of 
satellite data to spy on Americans.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/15/AR2007081502430.html

~ Bizarre Details in Al-Haramain Case
The lawyer in an important spying case has had to endure 
ridiculous restrictions.
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-secret15aug15,0,3599833.story?coll=la-home-center

~ "The Internet Is the New Afghanistan"
The NY Police Commissioner says he thinks the Internet is 
driving terrorism.
http://news.com.com/2100-1028_3-6202801.html

~ Iraqi Biometric Database Could Become Extermination List
A U.S. military-run biometric database could become a hit 
list if it falls into the wrong hands.
http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/08/iraqi-biometric.html

~ S.F. Surveillance Cameras Practically Worthless
The controversial cameras have proven useless in fighting 
crimes, just as critics predicted.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/08/14/MNIPRHRPE.DTL

~ What Place Has "Morality" in the Top Level Domain Space?
ICANN wants to censor top-level domains on grounds relating 
to morality, and the concerns of "established 
institutions." Let them know what you think:
http://www.keep-the-core-neutral.org/action1

~ Allofmp3.com Boss Is Acquitted by Russian Court
The recording industry is disappointed with the verdict.
http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article2271673.ece

~ Pearl Jam Not First to Be Censored by AT&T
AT&T has been accused of censoring political speech before.
http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/505989,10att.article

~ Vista Prevents Users Playing High-Def Content
Vista's DRM prevents users from playing high-quality video 
and audio.
http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,135814-pg,1/article.html

~ See Who's Editing Wikipedia
A new tool exposes the organizations behind Wikipedia 
entries.
http://www.wired.com/politics/onlinerights/news/2007/08/wiki_tracker

~ Lyrics Sites Out of Tune With Copyrights
Copyright holders are taking on companies that post music 
lyrics online.
http://news.com.com/Lyrics+sites+out+of+tune+with+copyrights/2100-1027_3-6203085.html

~ Diebold's "Fresh Beginning" Equals Same Failure
Diebold: New name, same bad voting machines!
http://machinist.salon.com/blog/2007/08/16/diebold_name/index.html

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* Administrivia

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Editor:
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