Glenn Greenwald
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REVEALED: The CIA and NSA Are Purchasing Sweeping Dossiers on U.S. Citizens which the Constitution Bars Them From Collecting on Their Own
Legal questions aside, why should the U.S. Security State be using the tax dollars of U.S. citizens to buy and maintain invasive data about their private lives?
June 15, 2023
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A once-secret, now-revealed report prepared for Biden's Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, details a remarkably invasive spying program aimed at American citizens. The report was prepared for Haines by a team of senior advisors in January, 2022, and was marked "secret" – making it a crime for anyone to discuss it – because its contents were never intended for public viewing. But Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), to his credit, badgered Haines for months until she finally released the report, and its admissions are genuinely stunning.

The crux of the report describes how the CIA, NSA and other U.S. security state agencies are purchasing enormous amounts of highly intrusive data about the activities of American citizens. This data is so personal, and enables such a comprehensive view into the private lives of Americans, that it would be unquestionably prohibited for these intelligence agencies to collect it on their own without first obtaining a "probable cause" search warrant. Yet by purchasing the data en masse – using the taxpayer dollars of the very citizens on whom they are spying – the U.S. intelligence community insists that it is merely acquiring "publicly available information" and thus has no barriers, legal or constitutional, on the dossiers they can compile, store, analyze and utilize on American citizens.

Yet the acknowledgements in this once-secret report – straight out of the mouths of the DNI's senior advisors – make very clear how dangerous this so-called commercially available information ("CAI") actually is when placed into the hands of the U.S. Security State (emphasis added):

CAI clearly provides intelligence value, whether considered in isolation and/or in combination with other information, and whether reviewed by humans and/or by machines. The IC [intelligence community] currently acquires a significant amount of CAI for mission-related purposes, including in some cases social media data [redacted] and many other types of information….

 

Without proper controls, CAI can be misused to cause substantial harm, embarrassment, and inconvenience to U.S. persons. The widespread availability of CAI regarding the activities of large numbers of individuals is a relatively new, rapidly growing, and increasingly significant part of the information environment in which the IC must function….

 

The DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency] currently provides funding to another agency that purchases commercially available geolocation metadata aggregated from smartphones. The data DIA receives is global in scope and is not identified as “U.S. location data” or “foreign location data” by the vendor at the time it is provisioned to DIA….

 

CAI can reveal sensitive and intimate information about the personal attributes, private behavior, social connections, and speech of U.S. persons and non-U.S. persons. It can be misused to pry into private lives, ruin reputations, and cause emotional distress and threaten the safety of individuals. Even subject to appropriate controls, CAI can increase the power of the government’s ability to peer into private lives to levels that may exceed our constitutional traditions or other social expectations. Mission creep can subject CAI collected for one purpose to other purposes that might raise risks beyond those originally calculated.  

Putting legalities and constitutional limits aside for the moment, what possible legitimate motive does the U.S. Government have for purchasing, collecting and storing sweeping dossiers about the private lives of American citizens? Why should the CIA and NSA be handed American tax dollars which it then uses to purchase information about where American citizens go, what they do, with whom they do it, with whom they speak – all without the slightest suspicion that those citizens have done anything wrong, let alone possessing "probable cause" to believe they are engaged in criminal activity or other wrongdoing?

The demand for basic privacy rights by the Founders is evident in multiple amendments in the Bill of Rights. By itself, the Fourth Amendment's guarantee of "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures," and the additional protection that "no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized," demonstrates how contrary this program is to core constitutional values.

Over and over, this once-secret report emphasizes how dangerous this information is in the hands of the U.S. Government, and how many different ways this data could be used to destroy citizens' lives:

CAI can contain information that is deemed sensitive, meaning information that is not widely known about an individual that could be used to cause harm to the person’s reputation, emotional well-being, or physical safety….

 

Studies document the extent to which large collections of sensitive and intimate information about individuals, CAI or not, can be subject to abuse. Documented examples of LOVEINT abuses (government officials spying on actual or potential romantic partners) involving other intelligence collections demonstrate the potential for comparable abuse of CAI held by the IC. 

 

In the wrong hands, sensitive insights gained through CAI could facilitate blackmail, stalking, harassment, and public shaming.

 

“This report reveals what we feared most,” said Sean Vitka, a policy attorney at the nonprofit Demand Progress, to WIRED about this new report. “Intelligence agencies are flouting the law and buying information about Americans that Congress and the Supreme Court have made clear the government should not have.” 

On our SYSTEM UPDATE program on Tuesday night, we examined and dissected each of the key parts about this report (you can watch that episode at the link below). What is particularly striking is that just last week, we commemorated on that program the 10-year anniversary of the start of the Snowden reporting (the first article ever published from the archive was my June 6, 2013 report in The Guardian revealing that the NSA was collecting enormous databases about the communications activities of American citizens, something that Obama's senior national security official, James Clapper, had just months earlier falsely denied to the Senate was being done). 

To do so, I spoke with both Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras, the Oscar-winning director of CitizenFour, about what has changed since the world learned that the NSA had secretly converted the internet into a weapon of mass suspicionless surveillance, only to now discover that the NSA, CIA and other agencies are circumventing whatever minimal legal and constitutional limits they have by purchasing this data for their own use. 

On Tuesday night, I devoted the full hour to this newly revealed domestic spying program, taking viewers step by step through this report. You can, and I hope will, watch it at the link below. That program places this new domestic snooping into its historical context, whereby fear-mongering has been used by these security agencies since the internet first emerged under the Clinton administration, all with the goal of ensuring that no American has any privacy in the digital era. And, most importantly, we examined the legal and constitutional limits that are being ignored and violated by this program whereby the U.S. Government brazenly uses Americans' own money to spy on them in ways that would otherwise, as they admit, be legally barred.


On Monday night, we aired a one-hour interview with Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (you can watch it at the link below). It was one of the most interesting interviews I have conducted with a major political figure - and RFK is clearly that: he is polling consistently at 20% against Joe Biden, while Marianne Williamson receives another 8-10%. We discussed a broad range of issues: COVID,  the war in Ukraine,  China,  and the ways in which propaganda functions and how he has been manipulated by it. On our live after-show that we broadcast exclusively for subscribers (meaning subscribers to our Substack page who have transferred their subscription for free to Locals, which you can do here), I shared some thoughts about that interview and RFK's candidacy.


The Tuesday night episode of SYSTEM UPDATE that we devoted to this report is here: here.

Our Monday night interview of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. can be watched here: here.

And our commemoration of the ten-year anniversary of the start of the Snowden reporting, with Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras, can be seen here: here.

 

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UPDATE: Alan Dershowitz vs. Glenn Greenwald at The Soho Forum
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I’m impressed with how well informed and how IFORMING some of the audience here is! Someone offered a list of reports from Al Jesera that includes a report on the current use of the floating aid port and how it’s being received from the perspective of Gaza and the international community. It’s really important to know about! Thanks to who did this!

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As the Daily Wire Publicly Negotiated a Debate with Candace Owens, it Secretly Sought -- and Obtained -- a Gag Order Against Her
Due to a prior restraint order against Owens, the much-anticipated Israel debate with Ben Shapiro appears to be off.

On April 5, Candace Owens publicly invited her former Daily Wire colleague Ben Shapiro to a debate about "Israel and the current definition of antisemitism." It was Owens' criticisms of U.S. financing of Israel, and her criticisms of Israel's war in Gaza, that caused her departure from the Daily Wire two weeks earlier.

Both Shapiro and Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing responded by saying they would like to arrange the debate requested by Owens. That night, Shapiro appeared to accept her offer, writing on X: "Sure, Candace. I texted you on February 29th offering this very thing." The Daily Wire co-founder added: "Let's do it on my show this Monday at 5pm at our studios in Nashville; 90 minutes, live-streamed."

After Owens objected to the format and timing, she and Boreing exchanged several tweets in which they appeared to be negotiating, and then agreeing to, the terms and format for the debate. Owens had suggested the debate be moderated by Joe Rogan or Lex Fridman. Shaprio said he wanted no moderator. They ultimately agreed to the terms, with Boreing offering a series of conditions, including a no-moderator debate, and with Owens publicly accepting

Two weeks later, many readers of both Shapiro and Owens noticed, and complained, that the debate had not yet happened. On April 24, Owens addressed those inquiries by explaining that the Daily Wire had yet to propose dates, while reiterating her strong desire to ensure the debate happened.

But the debate was never going to happen. That is because the Daily Wire -- in secret and unbeknownst to its readers -- sought a gag order to be placed on Owens after she had called for a debate. They did this under the cover of secrecy, before a private arbitrator, at exactly the same time that they were claiming in public that they wanted this debate and were even negotiating the terms with her. To this date, the Daily Wire has not informed its readers, seeking to understand why the much-anticipated debate had not yet happened, that they had sought and obtained a gag order against Owens.

When seeking a gag order to be imposed on Owens, the Daily Wire accused her of violating the non-disparagement clause of her agreement with the company. To substantiate this accusation, the company specifically cited Owens' initial tweet requesting a debate with Shapiro as proof of this disparagement, along with concerns she voiced that Shapiro appeared to be violating the confidentiality agreement between them by publicly maligning Owens's views to explain her departure from the company. While the company claimed before the arbitrator that it did not object in principle to a "healthy debate," it urged the imposition of a gag order on Owens by claiming that the way she requested the debate constituted disparagement of Shapiro and the site.

To justify the gag order it wanted, the company also cited various criticisms of the Daily Wire and Shapiro on X that Owens had "liked." This proceeding took place as part of an exchange of legal threats between the parties after the public agreement to debate about Israel was solidified. Those threats arose from the fact that various Daily Wire executives and hosts, in both public and private, were castigating Owens as an anti-Semite. On March 22, Daily Wire host Andrew Klaven published a one-hour video that hurled multiple accusations, including anti-Semitism, at Owens. The Daily Wire cited Owens' response to that video -- her defense of herself from those multiple accusations -- as further proof that she needed to be gagged.

The initial tweet from Owens not only requested a debate, but also included a video from the popular comedian Andrew Schulz, who had mocked the Daily Wire for firing Owens over disagreements regarding Israel, and specifically mocked Shapiro for his willingness to debate only undergraduate students. The tweet underneath Owens's original debate request included a summary of Schulz's mockery of Shapiro which stated: Schulz now "realizes Ben Shapiro is only good at debating college liberals & can’t win debates against serious competition." 

After the prior restraint hearing sought by the Daily Wire and Shapiro, the arbitrator sided with them and against Owens. The arbitrator agreed with the Daily Wire that Owens' call to debate Shapiro, and her follow-up negotiations of the debate, constituted "disparagement" of the company and Shapiro. The company argued that any further attempt by Owens to debate, as well her suggesting that the debate would expose the Daily Wire's real "priorities," constituted criticisms of the site and of Shapiro, criticisms that the arbitrator concluded Owens was barred from expressing under her contract with the company.

The arbitrator thus imposed a gag order of prior restraint on Owens. Among other things, the order banned Owens from saying or doing anything in the future which could tarnish or harm the reputation of the Daily Wire and/or Ben Shapiro. Given that the Daily Wire had argued, and the arbitrator agreed, that Owens' offers to debate Shapiro about Israel and anti-semitism were themselves "disparaging," the Daily Wire has ensured that the debate with Owens that they publicly claimed to want could not, in fact, take place. Any such debate would be in conflict with the gag order they obtained on Owens from expressing any criticisms of the site or of Shapiro.

When asked for comment to be included this story, Owens replied: I "wish I could comment on this but I can’t." She added: "can neither confirm nor deny."

Boreing said: "your story is inaccurate to the point of being false," though he did not specify a single inaccuracy, nor did he deny that the Daily Wire had sought and obtained a gag order on Owens at the same time they were publicly posturing as wanting a debate with her. The confirmation we obtained of all these facts is indisputable. Boreing added: "I’m sure you can appreciate how fraught a high profile break-up like this is. For that reason, we are trying to resolve our issues with Candace privately."

It certainly seems true that the Daily Wire is attempting to achieve all of this "privately." Nonetheless, Ben Shapiro has constructed his very lucrative media brand and persona based on his supposed superiority in debating, a reputation cultivated largely as a result of numerous appearances at undergraduate schools around the country where he intrepidly engages with students who are often in their teens or early twenties. Both Shapiro and the Daily Wire have also predicated their collective media brand on an eagerness to engage in free and open debate with anyone, and to vehemently oppose any efforts to silence people, especially those in media, from expressing their political views.

It was the imperatives of this media branding that presumably led the Daily Wire and Shapiro to publicly agree to a debate with Owens over Israel and anti-semitism in the first place. Indeed, when it became apparent early after the start of Israel's war in Gaza that Owens had major differences with Shapiro, Boering responded to calls from Israel supporters for Owens to be fired by proclaiming in November: 

[E]ven if we could, we would not fire Candace because of another thing we have in common - a desire not to regulate the speech of our hosts, even when we disagree with them. Candace is paid to give her opinion, not mine or Ben’s. Unless those opinions run afoul of the law or she violates the terms of her contract in some way, her job is secure and she is welcome at Daily Wire.

But a mere four months later, Owens, despite being of one of the company's most popular hosts, was out. The company had concluded that her increasingly vocal criticisms of Israel, opposition to U.S. financing of it, and her views on anti-semitism were incompatible with the Daily Wire's policies.

All of those issues would likely have been the subject of the public debate that Owens sought, and that the Daily Wire claimed to want. Instead, the Daily Wire has succeeded in obtaining a gag order that, on its face, prevents Owens, in advance, from questioning or criticizing both the Daily Wire or Shapiro in any way.

 

 

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THE WEEKLY UPDATE: MAY 13-17
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We are pleased to send you a summary of the key stories we covered last week on SYSTEM UPDATE. 

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SYSTEM UPDATE RECAP: May 13-17
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MONDAY, MAY 13 - EPISODE 269

Jen Psaki's Lies Expose the Fraud of "Disinformation"; Israelis Endanger Americans and Block Humanitarian Aid

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

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Intro (7:26)

Queen of Disinformation (14:11)

Israelis Block Gaza Aid (47:32)

Outro (1:12:12)

 

TUESDAY, MAY 14 - EPISODE 270

House Prioritizes Israel Over Funding U.S. Government; Seinfeld Commencement Debacle Fuels Antisemitism Panic; PLUS: China and Hungary's Close Ties Explained

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

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Intro (10:29)

House Prioritized Israel Over U.S. (16:19)

Media Meltdown (48:28)

Hungary and China Strengthen Ties (57:50)

Outro (1:17:07)

 

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 15 - EPISODE 271

INTERVIEW: Professor Jeffrey Sachs on Ukraine's Failures, Israel's War in Gaza, China, and More

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WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (6:31)

Interview with Professor Jeffrey Sachs [13:12 - 1:10:23]

  • Ukraine (13:12 - 48:33)
  • Israel (48:34 - 58:40)
  • Columbia Student Protests (58:45 - 1:03:23)
  • China (1:03:24 - 1:10:23)

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