American Empire

Secret Report Damning Use of Force by Border Patrol Obtained by LA Times

March 3, 2014 by Source
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By Southern Border Communities Coalition

Southern border communities continue to call for transparency from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after the Los Angeles Times published a story on a report critiquing the agency’s use of force policy.

The PERF Report – an independent review by the Police Executive Research Forum commissioned by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection — evidently says border agents deliberately provoked confrontations that led to avoidable violence.

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Now Is the Time to Save Our Postal Commons

March 3, 2014 by Source
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By Matt Stannard / Nation of Change

Editor: There are too many links in the original for us to provide them, so please go to the original article for those links.

For some, the postal service has become an ideological punching bag, proof that “government programs” don’t work and that the state inevitably bureaucratizes services better left to the private sector. In the case of the postal service, this narrative lacks a critical element: fidelity to truth.

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Beyond Orwell’s Worst Nightmare

February 4, 2014 by Source
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Orwell never could have imagined that the NSA would amass metadata on billions of our phone calls and 200 million of our text messages every day. — Marjorie Cohn

By Marjorie Cohn

“Big Brother is Watching You,” George Orwell wrote in his disturbing book 1984. But, as Mikko Hypponen points out, Orwell “was an optimist.” Orwell never could have imagined that the National Security Agency (NSA) would amass metadata on billions of our phone calls and 200 million of our text messages every day. Orwell could not have foreseen that our government would read the content of our emails, file transfers, and live chats from the social media we use.

In his recent speech on NSA reforms, President Obama cited as precedent Paul Revere and the Sons of Liberty, who patrolled the streets at night, “reporting back any signs that the British were preparing raids against America’s early Patriots.” This was a weak effort to find historical support for the NSA spying program. After all, Paul Revere and his associates were patrolling the streets, not sorting through people’s private communications.

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NSA Spy – the Most Boring Pointless Job in the World?

January 29, 2014 by Source
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By John Filthy

In the ongoing international debate over NSA spying there are few voices of reason. The NSA would like you to think they are the eye on the pyramid of the great seal. An all-seeing all-knowing department of the most powerful government on earth. A division of James Bonds and Bondettes with the latest gadgetry spying on all manner of digital communication to protect the world from the scariest terrorist de jour.

On the other side of the same coin are the whistle blowers like Edward Snowden. He has now joined the ranks with Julian Assange and the Wikileaks hacktivists. They fancy themselves a gang of revolutionaries striking fear in the heart of evil government ‘leaders’, and corporate CEOs. Digital warriors, exercising their superior-hacking skills to bring nefarious secrets into the light of day. The truth is not nearly as sexy as the media, the NSA, or the hacktivists would have you believe.

In reality NSA spies are cubicle-dwelling keyboard jockeys not tuxedo-wearing international men of mystery.

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50 Years of the Big Lie – the Cover-Up of the JFK Assassination – Part 2

November 22, 2013 by Frank Gormlie
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Here’s Part 1.

By Frank Gormlie

It’s finally here, Friday, November 22nd – exactly 50 years after President Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas.

Of course you’ve noticed it – you can’t help but … as everywhere you go there are signs that everybody in the media is commemorating the half century mark of the end of the Kennedy Era – an era that was terminated with bullets.

It’s been 50 years since the end of Camelot and we are told it was the end of the “idealism of the Sixties”.

Well, it has been fifty years, and it’s been fifty years of the Big Lie – …

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America’s Big Lie: Fifty Years of the Cover-Up of the John F Kennedy Assassination

November 21, 2013 by Frank Gormlie
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By Frank Gormlie

Fifty years ago this Friday, the 22nd of November, I walked out of my English class at Point Loma High School and full of disgust threw my brown bag full of lunch away in a trash can. I felt sick to my stomach and couldn’t bare to think ab0ut eating – we had just heard that the President had been shot by someone from an overpass while he was riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas.

Classes were cancelled and we all went home, …

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CNN Joins the Cover-Up of the Kennedy Assassination

November 15, 2013 by Frank Gormlie
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By Frank Gormlie

This may not be a surprise to hardcore corporate media watchers, but CNN has joined the ranks of those establishment outlets that are continuing the cover-up of the assassination of John F Kennedy. The news station has jumped on the bandwagon that is making a lot of noise these days due to the 50th anniversary of the President’s murder.

It was a real disappointment however, in viewing CNN’s “The Assassination of President Kennedy” because one of my favorite actors, Tom Hanks, was one of the producers and I was looking for some truth. Alas, it did not come through.

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Absent Progressive Uproar, Social Security and Medicare Face Axe

October 22, 2013 by Source

The lines are being drawn for a ‘Grand Bargain’ and the Democrats’ continued willingness to give away role as defenders of safety net and earned benefit programs, say critics, is deeply worrying

capitol hillBy Jon Queally / Common Dreams

If U.S. citizens are increasingly concerned that the Democratic Party is no longer willing to fight off the right-wing attack on Social Security, Medicare, and other key social programs, Sen. Dick Durbin, President Obama and other party leaders have recently offered plenty of evidence to increase that worry.

Since the end of the government shutdown and standoff over the debt limit ended last week, Obama has repeatedly said that he wants to find a “balanced” solution to the ongoing budget debate with Republican lawmakers.

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Senator Bernie Sanders: ‘Global Warming Is a Far More Serious Problem Than Al Qaeda’

October 22, 2013 by Source

In new interview with Playboy, the Vermont senator laments the collapsed middle class, corporate power.

sanders_playboyBy Andrea Germanos / Common Dreams

In a newly published interview, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) blasts the “unfettered capitalism” that has collapsed the middle class, and the corporate power fueling climate change, which poses a “far more serious problem than Al Qaeda.”

Sanders speaking about the government shutdown’s impacts. (Photo: AFGE/cc/flickr) Speaking with economics writer Jonathan Tasini for the interview with Playboy, the 72-year-old Independent senator said that “one of the untold stories of our time is the collapse of the American middle class.” It’s due, in part, to “the decline of trade unions,” which means that workers “have less power to negotiate contracts and less political clout.”

It’s a system that has brought immense inequality, he says.

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Republicans Are Out To Destroy Our American System of Governance

October 10, 2013 by Andy Cohen

Holding America Hostage

And some Congressional Democrats are willing to let them.

By Andy Cohen

America’s entire system of governance is being threatened. Our Constitution, the presidency, the rule of law itself is under attack.

Republicans have shut down the government and are holding the government and the entire U.S. economy hostage, and are doing so for no apparent reason. They have insisted that President Obama “negotiate” with them, but they have absolutely no clue what they want from “negotiations.” House Speaker John Boehner has demanded that Obama have a “conversation” with House Republicans. All we want is a “conversation,” he said over and over again last Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”, never once uttering the other “C” word, “compromise.”

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America Being Held Hostage by Tea Party-Led Republicans

September 30, 2013 by Source
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Bossing the Poor Around

September 19, 2013 by Source

How about a bill banning soda sales at the House of Representatives’ cafeterias?

By

food stampsI spent a few months on food stamps this year. As a single woman in San Diego, I qualified for $70 a month — less than a dollar per meal. But I’m lucky and I’m unusual because many of my friends are farmers and gardeners and I know how to forage wild foods.

Determined to stretch my $70 a month budget to somehow cover a healthy diet, I harvested wild cactus pads and edible weeds from my neighbors’ yards. Friends gave me fruit from their trees. A farmer told me to take whatever I needed from his stand at the farmers’ market. Then I used the food stamps to acquire foods I couldn’t get for free: milk, oatmeal, beans, and so on. All organic.

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Rep. Alan Grayson: ‘As a Congressman, I need all the facts on Syria – and I’m not getting them.’

September 10, 2013 by Source
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On Syria Vote, Trust, but Verify

By Congressman Alan Grayson / The New York Times / Sept. 6, 2013

WASHINGTON — THE documentary record regarding an attack on Syria consists of just two papers: a four-page unclassified summary and a 12-page classified summary. The first enumerates only the evidence in favor of an attack. I’m not allowed to tell you what’s in the classified summary, but you can draw your own conclusion.

On Thursday I asked the House Intelligence Committee staff whether there was any other documentation available, classified or unclassified. Their answer was “no.”

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Killing Civilians to Protect Civilians in Syria

August 29, 2013 by Source

by Marjorie Cohn and Jeanne Mirer / Common Dreams

The drums of war are beating again. The Obama administration will reportedly launch a military strike to punish Syria’s Assad government for its alleged use of chemical weapons. A military attack would invariably kill civilians for the ostensible purpose of showing the Syrian government that killing civilians is wrong.

Credit: Wikipedia

“What we are talking about here is a potential response . . . to this specific violation of international norms,” declared White House press secretary Jay Carney. But a military intervention by the United States in Syria to punish the government would violate international law.

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5 Companies That Make Money By Keeping Americans Terrified of Terror Attacks

August 22, 2013 by Source

CounterTerrorismA massive industry profits off the government-induced fear of terrorism.

By Alex Kane/Alternet

Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency, has invaded America’s television sets in recent weeks to warn about Edward Snowden’s leaks and the continuing terrorist threat to America.

But what often goes unmentioned, as the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald pointed out, is that Hayden has a financial stake in keeping Americans scared and on a permanent war footing against Islamist militants.

And the private firm he works for, called the Chertoff Group, is not the only one making money by scaring Americans.

Post-9/11 America has witnessed a boom in private firms dedicated to the hyped-up threat of terrorism. The drive to privatize America’s national security apparatus accelerated in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, and it’s gotten to the point where 70 percent of the national intelligence budget is now spent on private contractors, as author Tim Shorrock reported.

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American Hero Bradley Manning Sentenced to 35 Years

August 21, 2013 by Source

Bradley ManningComparisons between WikiLeaks and Pentagon Papers cases raise serious questions about government and judicial discretion.

By David Gespass/Military Law Task Force

Today, Bradley Manning was sentenced to thirty-five years for the “crime” of revealing the seamy underside of US diplomacy and war-making. The sentence is substantially less than sixty years the prosecution asked for, but greater than what the defense requested. It was predicated on alleged damage done to the US, though it remains unclear what actual damage, aside from embarrassment, occurred.

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Ten Things that Do Not Make Sense about NSA Surveillance, Drones and al-Qaeda

August 7, 2013 by Source
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by Juan Cole / Informed Consent/ August 6, 2013

In a Reuters Exclusive, John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke reveal that the National Security Agency shares information it gleans from warrantless surveillance of Americans with the Special Operation Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency, which then uses the metadata to develop cases against US citizens. The DEA then routinely lies to the judge and defense attorneys during discovery about how its agents initially came by their suspicions of wrongdoing.

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8 Ways Privatization Has Failed America

August 7, 2013 by Source

privatizationby Paul Buchheit/ Common Dreams

Some of America’s leading news analysts are beginning to recognize the fallacy of the “free market.” Said Ted Koppel, “We are privatizing ourselves into one disaster after another.”Fareed Zakaria admitted, “I am a big fan of the free market…But precisely because it is so powerful, in places where it doesn’t work well, it can cause huge distortions.” They’re right. A little analysis reveals that privatization doesn’t seem to work in any of the areas vital to the American public.

Health Care

Our private health care system is by far the most expensive system in the developed world. Forty-two percent of sick Americans skipped doctor’s visits and/or medication purchases in 2011 because of excessive costs.

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NSA collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet’ with XKeyscore

July 31, 2013 by Source
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By Glenn Greenwald / theguardian.com / July 31, 2013

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its “widest-reaching” system for developing intelligence from the internet.

The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian’s earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisa surveillance court oversight.

The files shed light on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10.

“I, sitting at my desk,” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email”.

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BREAKING: Bradley Manning found not guilty of aiding the enemy

July 30, 2013 by Source
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By Julie Tate / Washington Post

An Army judge on Tuesday acquitted Pfc. Bradley Manning of aiding the enemy by disclosing a trove of secret U.S. government documents, a striking rebuke to military prosecutors who argued that the largest leak in U.S. history had assisted al-Qaeda.

The judge, Col. Denise Lind, found Manning guilty of most of the more than 20 crimes he was charged with. She also acquitted him of one count of the espionage act that stemmed from his leak of a video that depicted a fatal U.S. military airstrike in Farah, Afghanistan.

Bradley Manning arrived at court to hear the verdict in his military espionage and aiding the enemy trial at Fort Meade Tuesday. Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy.

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Privacy Coalition Sues NSA to Halt Dragnet Surveillance

July 18, 2013 by Source

A broad and seemingly unlikely coalition of 19 organizations including church leaders alongside environmental and gun advocacy groups represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) in a San Francisco federal court Tuesday in a case that could determine the constitutionality of an admitted dragnet surveillance program on the telephone records of millions of Americans.

The lawsuit, First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA seeks an injunction against the NSA, FBI and the Justice Department, alleging that the government violated the plaintiffs’ First and Fourth Amendment rights by collecting information about their phone calls. The lawsuit focuses on an NSA surveillance program called the “Associational Tracking Program,” which collects metadata on telephone calls from the top U.S. telecommunications companies. The program is part of a vast operation of NSA spying programs revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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July 4th, 2013: I Don’t Feel Very Proud of Being an American Today – With Latest Revelations About Postal Service Copying All Our Envelopes

July 4, 2013 by Frank Gormlie
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Yes, it is the Fourth of July, that glorious day where we Americans celebrate our history – honoring the day in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed and passed by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

But, no, I don’t feel very proud today of being an American. Why not, you ask, as you bundle up your family, hot dogs, beach umbrellas and head out for your own family’s festivities.

It now turns out that our own Postal Service has been spying on our mail for years. About 160 billion postcards, packages – and yes, envelopes were photographed by the good ol’ US Postal Service last year.

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July 4th: Stand by the Fourth Amendment

July 4, 2013 by Doug Porter

I’m taking today off. Unless we all stand up and say something, we have no chance of changing the government’s schemes for ‘protecting us’.

They say this is what people are asking for in the name of stopping ‘terrorists’, because ‘everybody knows’ creating a massive data sucking intelligence industrial complex is our only hope.

Mostly I’ll be hanging out with my family today. But I’ll take an hour or so so today to make a statement about what liberty needs to look like in the future. There’s a rally in Balboa Park at 11am.

Thousands of websites are participating in a July 4 online protest against the NSA surveillance programs. Reddit, Wordpress, and Mozilla are taking part in the ‘Restore the Fourth’ campaign online. ‘Restore the Fourth’ is aimed at restoring the fundamentals of the Fourth Amendment – the part of the Bill of Rights which protects citizens against unlawful searches and seizures.

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Sen. Warren’s Bill Gets Cold Shoulder as Student Loan Rates Spike Today – Monday, July 1

July 1, 2013 by Source

warren loansLauren McCauley / Common Dreams

Despite the groundswell of support behind Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) popular student loan proposal, Senate leaders have dismissed the legislation opting instead to let student interest rates double ib Monday – today – [July 1] as they pack their bags for a Fourth of July holiday recess.

Because of Congressional inaction, students will be left in the lurch as federal Stafford loans spike to 6.8 percent.

The Warren bill proposes to tie student loan interest rates to the same “discounted rates” given to big banks from the Federal Reserve, lowering student loan rates to 0.75 percent and saving students thousands of dollars.

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U.S. Mayors Vote Unanimously to End Federal Marijuana Crackdown

June 28, 2013 by Source

Several bipartisan bills have been introduced in Congress that would eliminate federal penalties for those actions that comply with state marijuana laws and regulate marijuana like alcohol in those states legalize pot.

By Nicole Flatow / Think Progress / June 28, 2013

While the U.S. Supreme Court was handing down its string of blockbuster rulings this week on the scope of federal laws, the nation’s mayors were developing their own guidance for the feds.

During the annual convening of city mayors, hundreds of city leaders unanimously endorsed a resolution calling on the federal government to back off federal enforcement of marijuana law.

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Fuggedaboud Your “Right” to Anything

June 27, 2013 by Source
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Editor: The following post by Frances Zimmerman looks at recent manifestations of attacks – both local and national – on our rights as citizens by the government.

by Frances O’Neill Zimmerman

This week City Attorney Jan Goldsmith has brought charges against a former Occupy protester named Jeff Olson who wrote criticism in colored chalk on the public sidewalks outside three mid-City branches of Bank of America. The trial was under way since Wednesday and conviction carries the possibility of years in prison under a California anti-vandalism law.

Superior Court Judge Howard Shore has prohibited Olsen’s defense attorney from mentioning the First Amendment, …

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Support Grows for NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden

June 20, 2013 by Frank Gormlie
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Restore the 4th Protest Planned for San Diego in Balboa Park – July 4

Public support for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is growing across the country in leaps and bounds.

Already over 62,000 people – as of 10:30 am 6/20/13 – have signed an online petition in support of Snowden. The petition can be accessed here.

The online petition at RootsAction states:

Thank NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

Our country is in the midst of a struggle between the growing surveillance state and our precious civil liberties. Now a whistleblower has boldly stepped forward to expose the National Security Agency’s vast spying on our phone records and online communications.

Explaining his actions, the 29-year-old computer expert said:

“I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

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Jim Hightower: Repeal the Patriot Act!

June 19, 2013 by Source
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We the People have now learned that all three branches of government have furtively conspired for seven years to violate our privacy—so, no, we don’t trust any of them.

By Jim Hightower / NationofChange / June 19, 2013

It’s back. The Patriot Act — that grotesque, ever-mutating, hydra-headed monstrosity from the Bush-Cheney Little Shop of Horrors — has risen again, this time with an added twist of Orwellian intrusiveness from the Obamacans.

Since 2006, Team Bush, and then Team Obama, have allowed the little-known, hugely powerful National Security Agency to run a daily dragnet through your and my phone calls — all on the hush-hush, of course, not informing us spyees. Now exposed, leaders of both parties are piously pointing to the Patriot Act, saying that it legalized this wholesale, everyday invasion of our privacy, so we shouldn’t be surprised, much less upset by NSA’s surreptitious peek-a-boo program.

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The US Establishment Wants the American People Under Surveillance

June 16, 2013 by Frank Gormlie
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Let this moment be a educational one so let’s have the Debate that the President calls for

By Frank Gormlie

What a dastardly crazy last week and half it’s been.

Beginning Thursday, June 6th, with the Washington Post and the Guardian in London both running with the explosive news about the National Security Agency surveillance programs, we’ve been hit with daily revelations – that are still continuing every news cycle – that have created quiet a long list of whistle blower-delivered disclosures about what the government and the NSA are and have been doing to us – the American people.

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Former CIA Employee, Snowden, Blows Whistle on NSA’s Dragnet Surveillance

June 12, 2013 by Source
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By Marjorie Cohn / truthout

Just as Bradley Manning’s court-martial was getting underway, another brave whistleblower dropped a bombshell into the media: The Obama administration is collecting data on every telephone call we make. Nearly 64 years to the day after George Orwell published his prescient book 1984, we have learned that the “Thought Police” are indeed watching every one of us. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” Edward Snowden told the Washington Post.

A former undercover CIA employee who has worked at the National Security Agency (NSA) for four years, Snowden provided a secret order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to the Guardian. The order requires Verizon on an “ongoing daily basis” to provide the NSA information about all phone calls in its system both in the United States and other countries.

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