The Lavabit Shutdown and its Implications for American Liberty

Ladar Levison 2013 Flickr Gage Skidmore

Ladar Levison is not impressed with the FBI. Flickr photo by Gage Skidmore

Contributor Samuel Mantravadi believes that the FBI has overreached in its latest attempt at using technology to track down a potential criminal.

Ladar Levison is somewhat of a hero these days in software and technology news circles. If you’re not not up on the latest gossip, Mr. Levison is the founder, developer and CEO of a company called Lavabit that provides provided secure e-mail services via encryption 1) to and from its servers and 2) while on its servers (two separate methods of encryption).

In the wake of a series of secret subpoenas and search warrants given by the FBI, Mr. Levison has chosen to shutter his services rather than fully comply with the order. In the wake of the e-mail shuttering, another award-winning blog, Groklaw, also chose to stop reporting due to the possible massive invasion of privacy (previous articles still available). Continue reading

The CIA Fesses Up…60 Years too Late

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President Truman and Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh in happier times

Did you hear the big news?

No, not that Bradley Manning wants to undergo hormone therapy and prefers for us to refer to him/her as Chelsea Manning.  That’s a somewhat shocking and yet oddly predictable end to what has been a media circus of a military case.

No, not that Ben Affleck is set to play Batman in the next Superman movie.  Apparently, the two superheroes are going to face off against one another, which strikes me as odd for two reasons: 1) I thought they were both supposed to be good guys, and 2) We all know that Superman would win in an actual fight.  However, it makes sense that they couldn’t bring back Christian Bale because then they would have to admit to casting two British guys as America’s two greatest comic book icons. (Well, them and Aquaman…)

The big news that I am actually referring to is the CIA’s admission that it was behind a coup in 1953 that unseated the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh.  New details in a CIA document declassified under the Freedom of Information Act provide proof that the CIA helped to organize and carry out the operation through a combination of propaganda, bribery of Mossadegh’s supporters, inducing the population to riot, colluding with Iran’s security forces, and pressuring the Shah to dump the prime minister. Continue reading

What Do NSA Violations Tell Us About The Nature of Government?

NSOC-2012

A part of the NSA’s interior that it apparently doesn’t mind you seeing.

The Washington Post has been filled with revelations recently about an internal audit at the NSA which revealed thousands of violations of its privacy rules.  The linked article says the May 2012 report “counted 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications”.  Post author Barton Gellman added that, “Most were unintended. Many involved failures of due diligence or violations of standard operating procedure.”

The newspaper also draws attention to an October 2011 ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court which found that the NSA was using illegal methods to track and store internet communications of U.S. citizens and legal residents.  Only one page is made available for public viewing, with the author’s name redacted by the Post.  A Freedom of Information Act request for more details of the case is currently pending. Continue reading