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First POST: Oversight

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, August 5 2013

NSA, the gift that keeps on giving:

  • Weekend reading catch-up: Don't miss sci-fi author Bruce Sterling's darkly brilliant essay on Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Richard Stallman and the NSA. Among Sterling's provocative gems: "Personal computers can have users, but social media has livestock." It's on Medium.com, which is quietly becoming a great place to find quirky and original writing on how we live today.

  • Speaking of dark brilliance, British tech blogger Tom Scott's hilarious video "Welcome to Oversight" is an all too believable vision of what may happen when our national surveillance state starts using crowd-sourcing. "Click to apply for a search warrant--it will normally be granted within 15 to 30 seconds…"

  • How close does the Bradley Manning verdict come to torpedoing legal protections for investigative journalism that involves publishing classified information from government leakers? The New York Times' Adam Liptak argues that Manning "dodged a legal bullet" with his acquittal on the Espionage Act charged of "aiding the enemy" … "but a dodged bullet is still a bullet."

    The military judge in Private Manning’s case ruled last year that there was no First Amendment problem with the government’s legal theory. Providing classified information for mass distribution, she said, is a sort of treason if the government can prove the defendant knew “he was giving intelligence to the enemy” by “indirect means.”
    The verdict thus means only that military prosecutors did not prove their case. The legal theory stands, and it troubles even usual critics of unauthorized disclosures of government secrets.

  • Wikipedia is switching over to the more secure HTTPS protocol in response to being specifically targeted by NSA's XKeyscore surveillance program.

  • Speaking of Wikipedia, someone using a computer with a US Senate IP address tried to edit Edward Snowden's Wikipedia page to call him a "traitor."

  • Over in the House, various Members reports hitting a brick wall when they try to get more information from the Intelligence Committee about the NSA's programs. Rep. Alan Grayson was told by committee chair Rep. Mike Rogers that his requests were denied by a "voice vote"--but that the transcript where said vote supposedly took place was classified, reports Glenn Greenwald. Let's add "congressional oversight" to the Orwellian dictionary of terms that don't mean what you think they do when it comes to the NSA's "collection" of "relevant" data.

  • Who needs the NSA? This security researcher built his own $57 device, which he calls "creepyDOL" and discovered just how much information leaks out from unsecured wireless networks and cell phones.

  • In other news around the web

  • US AID launches Foreign Assistance Dashboard. Here's Rajiv Shah, the agency director, touting this new level of aid transparency.

  • Some nifty meta-data about the Code for America 2014 Fellows applicant pool.

  • Outgoing Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is preparing a 2016 presidential bid by, among other things, reading Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu's book "The Gardens of Democracy."

  • Organizing for America's Jim Messina, who is moonlighting as a consultant to the British Conservative Party, gets whacked by Harvard's Marshall Ganz--the godfather of all of Obama's community organizing efforts--in the Huffington Post.