Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Federal and local police across the country - as well as some of the nation's best-known companies - have been gathering Americans' phone records from private data brokers without subpoenas or warrants.
These brokers, many of whom market aggressively across the Internet, have broken into customer accounts online, tricked phone companies into revealing information and sometimes acknowledged that their practices violate laws, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Legal experts and privacy advocates said police reliance on private vendors who commit such acts raises civil-liberties questions. ...
St. Louis Post-Disptach, June 21:
by Michael D. Sorkin
State regulators in Missouri have issued subpoenas to AT&T, demanding to know whether the company is violating consumer privacy laws by sharing customer phone and Internet records with the government.
The subpoenas set a deadline of July 12. They seek records and company officials to testify under oath.
The subpoenas, along with a growing number of legal challenges here and elsewhere, set the stage for confrontations between civil liberties and national security - and between state and federal governments.
The challenges accuse the government of abusing anti-terrorism laws, and AT&T of allowing government agencies to monitor millions of phone calls and e-mails without legal authority.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Salon.com, June 20:
by Kim Zetter
In a pivotal network operations center in metropolitan St. Louis, AT&T has maintained a secret, highly secured room since 2002 where government work is being conducted, according to two former AT&T workers once employed at the center.
In interviews with Salon, the former AT&T workers said that only government officials or AT&T employees with top-secret security clearance are admitted to the room, located inside AT&T's facility in Bridgeton. The room's tight security includes a biometric "mantrap" or highly sophisticated double door, secured with retinal and fingerprint scanners. The former workers say company supervisors told them that employees working inside the room were "monitoring network traffic" and that the room was being used by "a government agency."
On the PBS News Hour this evening, New Yorker contributing writer Lawrence Wright (pictured at left), an expert on al-Qaida, said that Abu Ayyub al-Masri, who was named by the U.S. military last week as the new leader of the terrorist group in Iraq, may not exist. Wright said that al-Masri may actually be a fictional creation of the intelligence world. The revelation came within the context of a discussion of the deaths of two U.S. soldiers. The two disappeared from a checkpoint south of Baghdad last Friday. Their disappearance prompted a search of the area by 8,000 U.S. troops. The deaths have been described in the media as being in retaliation for the U.S. military's recent killing of former al-Qaida in Iraq leader Aub Musab Zarqawi. The deaths have now been attributed by the press to Zaraqawi's alleged replacement -- al-Masri -- based on a message posted at a reported terrorist web site. Jim Lehrer, the anchor of the program, asked Wright directly whether he was saying that al-Masri didn't exist, and Wright reaffirmed his opinion.
If al-Masri is a phantom terrorist, the question that Lehrer didn't ask was who created him. We do, however, know who trumpeted al-Masri's ascendency as the new face of terror: PBS News and its frequent contributor New York Times Iraq correspondent John Burns.