Former National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander said Wednesday that the ex parte, non-adversarial nature of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court made for a “great debate” and that he was in favor of allowing third-party, friend-of-the-court observations on proceedings — amicus curiae — though he “forgot what you call it.”
But Alexander stopped short of advocating that both sides of a case be represented, as in a conventional U.S. court. “What I’m not for is telling a terrorist group that we’re gonna come after them,” Alexander added.
The USA Freedom Act, passed in June, changed some of the ground rules for U.S. surveillance and included provisions requiring discussion with an advisory amicus panel, to be comprised of privacy experts, for FISA court cases that involve novel or significant legal issues.
Alexander made the remarks about the FISA court in a debate Wednesday with The Intercept‘s co-founding editor Glenn Greenwald.
The two men were discussing the impact of NSA surveillance programs on civil liberties at an information security conference hosted just outside of Washington by the computer company Hewlett-Packard.
“It wasn’t the NSA doing the wrong thing because NSA got a court order thirty-some times when I was there to go do this,” Alexander said, referring to the bulk collection of telephony metadata.
“From a secret court,” Greenwald replied.
“From a secret court that was set up,” Alexander responded before the two engaged in a back-and-forth on how the institution operates. Greenwald noted and Alexander confirmed that “only the government” is present during its proceedings.
“A secret court that only one side appears at, that’s the court that gave you –” Greenwald said, before Alexander jumped in, remarking: “it’s called the FISA Court.”
At the beginning of the discussion, the NSA chief from 2005 until 2014 said he didn’t regret impressing upon the agency an unapologetic desire to be omniscient. Specifically, when asked by the moderator, Alexander said he didn’t regret claiming, in the moderator’s words, “in order to find a needle in the haystack, you have to collect the haystack.”
“The issue really comes down to two sets of events: 9/11 and our troops [being] in Iraq,” Alexander said. He then explained that during the height of the insurgency, the NSA decided to attempt to address “the future threat.”
“With that, came the idea that if you could get the metadata about bad guys and who they’re talking to, you could interrupt their networks,” he said. “To get that information, you have to collect that all to know who are the bad guys and who to go after.”
Greenwald countered that the mindset has “really serious implications” on the concept of civilian rule in the U.S., whether or not it was effective as intended.
“The question was: ‘how do you surveil a foreign population in a country, in the middle of a warzone?’” Greenwald said. “This collect-it-all mentality became the answer.”
The post Former NSA Chief Expresses Support for Third-Party Consultation at FISA Court appeared first on The Intercept.
Unter schwierigsten Bedingungen haben Tausende Flüchtlinge die Nacht zum Mittwoch in der Umgebung des Budapester Ostbahnhofs verbracht. Sie durften das von der Polizei bewachte Bahnhofsgebäude nicht betreten, obwohl viele von ihnen Fahrkarten Richtung Deutschland hatten. Anders als noch am Montag will Ungarn die Flüchtlinge nicht ausreisen lassen. An einem Budapester Vorstadtbahnhof hielt die Polizei Hunderte Flüchtlinge fest, die diesen Umweg Richtung Westen nutzen wollten. Inzwischen trafen in Ungarn Tausende weitere Migranten ein.
Nach Schätzung von Helfern und Beobachtern kampierten 2000 bis 3000 Menschen neben dem Ostbahnhof und im angrenzenden U-Bahn-Untergeschoss. Die hygienischen Zustände waren äußerst kritisch: Für die vielen Menschen gab
Bundesfinanzminister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) hat sich nach Informationen der Süddeutschen Zeitung gegen eine Umschichtung der bisher für Betreuungsgelder vorgesehenen Finanzmittel zugunsten von Kitas oder zusätzlicher Familienleistungen ausgesprochen. Die Milliarden-Summe, die seit dem Urteil des Verfassungsgerichts frei ist, solle in den allgemeinen Haushalt fließen, schrieb die Zeitung am Mittwoch. Schäubles Parlamentarischer Staatssekretär Jens Spahn (CDU) habe am Dienstag bei der Haushaltsklausur der Bundestagsfraktionen von SPD und Union in Berlin angekündigt, das Geld werde gebraucht, um "ungeplante Mehrausgaben" beim Elterngeld sowie bei Hartz-IV-Leistungen zu decken.
Damit erteilte Schäuble Familienministerin Manuela Schwesig (SPD) eine Absage. Sie will, dass die freiwerdenden Betreuungsgelder auch weiterhin Kindern
Hillary Clinton’s decision to endorse legislation to limit the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street, and ban “golden parachute” payments for financial executives who rotate into government service, has shifted the balance of power in the most critical fight inside the Democratic Party. The Clinton op-ed supporting the Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act was co-written with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the bill’s sponsor.
For the past several years, war has raged between the party’s reform wing, symbolized by Elizabeth Warren, and the Wall Street wing, identified with Robert Rubin, the former Citigroup Chairman and Treasury Secretary. Who wins will powerfully influence who the party works for going forward: its donors or its voters.
The difference between the Rubin wing and the Warren wing was once put to me this way: one side wakes up every morning wondering what America would be like without a middle class, the other wakes up wondering what America would be like without Goldman Sachs. Rubin’s mindset is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that in the 1990s, Rubin was surprised to learn that for the past 20 years workers’ wages hadn’t increased with their productivity.
Rubin’s team has dominated policy at the upper echelons of the party since Bill Clinton’s election in 1992. After Obama was elected in 2008, two people made hiring decisions for his economic team during the transition: Michael Froman (Rubin’s former chief of staff at the Treasury Department) and Jamie Rubin (Rubin’s son and then a senior partner at the private equity firm BC Partners). The Rubinites justified picking other Rubinites to lead because they were the only ones with executive experience, frustrating any bids for a new team with new ideas.
The list of Rubinites currently or previously serving in the Obama administration includes Froman himself, now U.S. Trade Representative; Treasury Secretary Jack Lew; Federal Reserve governors Stan Fischer and Lael Brainard; Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell; chief of the Council on Economic Advisers Jason Furman; and former officials Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, Gene Sperling and Peter Orszag. Froman, Lew and Fischer previously worked at Citigroup, and Orszag is there now. Lew and Froman benefited from golden parachute awards from Citi, exactly the kind Clinton now says she wants to ban.
Many attribute the light-touch punishment of Wall Street executives who presided over the financial crisis — a group which includes Rubin himself — to the dominance of the Rubin wing.
Since coming to the Senate, Warren’s primary preoccupation has not necessarily been legislation but who would carry out policy inside the Obama administration. Warren was instrumental in preventing Larry Summers from chairing the Federal Reserve. She also waged a public battle to block former investment banker Antonio Weiss from the number three position at Treasury; Weiss withdrew his name and went on to serve as a counselor.
And now the leading candidate for president on the Democratic side just endorsed a bill saying that the payments people like Lew and Froman have received from Wall Street firms should be made illegal under U.S. bribery laws. Suddenly, the money train that the financial sector uses to help ensure that their interests are protected in Washington has become toxic.
The Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act would also extend the lobbying “cooling-off” period for officials rotating out of government from one to two years, and force policymakers to recuse themselves from decisions that would benefit their former employers. But it’s the crackdown on accelerating deferred compensation, theoretically used to keep top executives in their jobs (rather than reward ones who leave to serve in the government), that carries a sting. You can only view these payments in one of two ways: either as a waste of shareholder money, or a bribe to government officials.
Normally, endorsing legislation is one of those perfunctory check-the-box activities that presidential candidates engage in without much meaning, especially when Congress is likely to be partially controlled by the opposing party. But this bill is entirely about the personnel that would serve in the next Administration. Clinton can “enact” much of it simply through her decisions on staffing the executive branch.
Clinton had to make a choice because she was cornered by the golden parachute payments her top aides received from their former Wall Street firms when she served as Secretary of State. Progressive groups allied with Warren used this as a hook to demand Clinton’s position. Warren herself kicked this off by publicly challenging all presidential candidates to support the Baldwin legislation in July. Clinton’s main challengers for the nomination already endorsed the bill.
Going after the golden parachutes Rubinites have enjoyed could have a chilling effect on who decides to enter government, and will change incentives around accepting jobs on both Wall Street and in Washington. That could change the mix around personnel in the next Democratic White House.
Obviously, Wall Streeters who hope to join a Clinton Administration could go to work for the government and leave millions of dollars on the table. But even so, the anti-revolving door principles of the Baldwin bill would likely be thrown in the face of every prospective hire. The untainted options would come from the Warren wing; Rubin wing possibilities would have to operate under a cloud. Hillary Clinton has been forced to pick a side in a quiet but important war, and her decision suggests that the potential 2016 Clinton transition would look a lot different than the 2008 Obama one.
The post Hillary Clinton Just Picked Sides With the Democrats’ Warren Wing Against the Rubin Wing appeared first on The Intercept.
Television station owners have been salivating over the expected tidal wave of campaign advertisement spending for the election next year.
But media companies don’t have to wait until 2016 for the political cash to materialize. Television station owners just told their investors that they are seeing an unexpected flood of cash from opponents of the nuclear accord with Iran, who are spending tens of millions of dollars on commercials designed to shift the congressional debate against the deal.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, a company that owns stations from Florida to Washington state, was excited to report on an investor call last month that although markets were “slightly down” in the last quarter, there is an “awful lot of issue advertising” coming into the network, citing the Iran deal.
Brian Lawlor, the vice president of E.W. Scripps Company, another firm that owns a national network of local television stations, likewise bragged on a recent investor call that political money was flowing early in part because of the Iran deal. “We have seen an early bump on some Iran nuclear deal spending, which has been nice in some of our markets,” said Lawlor.
The P5+1 deal with Iran lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for strict inspections of, and limitations on, Iran’s nuclear industry. Congress is set to vote this month on a resolution that deal opponents hope will block it from going forward.
Opponents of the deal are easily outspending supporters, using nonprofits that do not disclose donor identities, to pump well over $40 million into television commercials urging citizens to call their senators to oppose the agreement. Many of the advertising efforts are led by affiliates of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a lobbying group aligned with the interests of the Israeli government. As we’ve reported, a new group called the American Security Initiative, which is led by a Saudi Arabian lobbyist, is also spending money on television ads.
However, spending to bend public opinion and build congressional opposition to the deal appears to be failing. Democrats appear certain to have enough votes to sustain a presidential veto of the resolution, and may be able to sustain a filibuster blocking it from coming to a Senate vote in the first place.
The post TV Station Owners Report Unexpected Flood of Money From Iran Deal Opponents appeared first on The Intercept.
70 Jahre nach der Befreiung von Faschismus und Krieg: Für eine neue Entspannungspolitik, nein zur Vorbereitung auf den Krieg!
Viele der 80 000 Milchbauern in Deutschland kämpfen um ihre Existenz. Nach einem monatelangen Verfall der Milchpreise zahlen sie jedes Mal drauf, wenn sie ihre Kühe melken. Tausende versammelten sich zu einer Kundgebung in München, um sich Gehör zu verschaffen. Wo sonst Cabrios spazieren fahren, reihten sich am Dienstag am noblen Odeonsplatz in der Münchener Innenstadt Hunderte Traktoren aneinander. Viele Bauern kamen direkt von ihren Höfen, um sich zur größten Protestaktion der Landwirte seit Jahren mitten in der bayerischen Hauptstadt zu versammeln.
Etliche waren aus Bayern, das als wichtigstes Erzeugerland für Milch besonders vom Preisverfall betroffen ist. Aber auch aus Ostfriesland
Die Deutsche Post greift angesichts des Online-Booms nach dem lukrativen Paketgeschäft im Nachbarland Österreich: Mit Investitionen in dreistelliger Millionenhöhe will sie bei Paketen „die deutliche Nummer Zwei“ nach dem Platzhirsch, der Österreichischen Post AG, werden. Das sagte Post-Vorstand Jürgen Gerdes am Dienstag zum Start eines eigenen Paketdienstes in Österreich mit zunächst noch bescheidenen 15 Depots. Die österreichische Post reagiert wenig begeistert: „Die Konkurrenz durch die Deutschen wird zu einem verschärften Preiskampf führen“, sagte der österreichische Postchef Georg Pölzl der Kronen-Zeitung. Einen „Kampf um jedes Paket“, sieht die Wiener Tageszeitung Die Presse heraufziehen.
Die Deutsche Post hat vor: „Bis 2016 wollen wir