Monthly Archives: February 2014

Dan’s First First Media

My brother has his inaugural article up at First Media’s “The Intercept”: The Terrible Toll of Secrecy.

Posted in Dan Froomkin, Surveillance | Leave a comment

Nobody Home at Rubio’s Office?

The Day We Fight BackAs part of the “Today We Fight Back” initiative I clicked the “call your legislator” button on the pop-up I’ve installed here for the day. The way it works is you give your phone number, then their bot calls your phone, asks for your zip code, and connects you to your representatives.

I was duly connected to Sen. Nelson’s office, where they answered on the second ring, and a polite gentleman noted my concerns and promised “to pass it along to the Senator” (uh-huh).

Then the app connected me to Senator Rubio’s office. The phone rang eight times and no one answered. Is no one home? Do they have caller ID and not bother answering calls that come in via the EFF’s app?

Then it was on to Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s office, where it barely rang twice, and another nice gentleman, this time with an Australian accent, took down my info.

Back when I did politics, I used to only half-jokingly say that one indication of a struggling political outfit was if the phone ever rang more than three times. By that standard Rubio is tanking.

Not answering the phone is no way to treat constituents, even if you know they don’t agree with you. Lame. Very lame.

Posted in Florida, Politics: FL-18, Surveillance | Leave a comment

This is So Ugly

An American citizen who is a member of al-Qaida is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials say, and the Obama administration is wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike and how to do so legally under its new stricter targeting policy issued last year.

The CIA drones watching him cannot strike because he’s a U.S. citizen and the Justice Department must build a case against him, a task it hasn’t completed.

Four U.S. officials said the American suspected terrorist is in a country that refuses U.S. military action on its soil and that has proved unable to go after him. And President Barack Obama’s new policy says American suspected terrorists overseas can only be killed by the military, not the CIA, creating a policy conundrum for the White House.

Two of the officials described the man as an al-Qaida facilitator who has been directly responsible for deadly attacks against U.S. citizens overseas and who continues to plan attacks against them that would use improvised explosive devices.

But one U.S. official said the Defense Department was divided over whether the man is dangerous enough to merit the potential domestic fallout of killing an American without charging him with a crime or trying him, and the potential international fallout of such an operation in a country that has been resistant to U.S. action.

Another of the U.S. officials said the Pentagon did ultimately decide to recommend lethal action.

and more from AP via Huffington, Drone Attack Controversy: Obama Administration Wrestling With Whether To Target U.S. Terror Suspect.

Shorter version: our government has a kill list for its own citizens. There is no indictment, no judicial review, no trial. Someone in the government signs an order and the execution proceeds.

Posted in Law: Constitutional Law, National Security | 2 Comments

New Media

Pierre Omidyar’s new venture, First Look Media, has its first online ‘magazine’ up and running. It’s called The Intercept. First big story is The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program.

It does go a little beyond what we already knew–that the US can use voice recognition to ID a cell phone user, then use geo-targeting to send a drone strike aimed at the phone–to discuss how the program works in practice (hint: not so great, especially once targets started adopting counter-measures).

Posted in Dan Froomkin, The Media | 1 Comment

The Nadir of the Florida Democratic Party

The leading candidate for the Florida Democratic Party’s nomination for the Governorship just said that Jeb Bush was a ‘great’ governor and would make a good President. And the Democratic party wants me to vote for Crist?

Of course, Crist himself was a Republican governor not so long ago. And before that, he was ‘chain-gang Charlie’, the Florida Attorney General who, in addition to wanting endless harsh sentences, personally argued before an appeals court that a high school girl who sent a naked picture of herself to a boy who then shared it around should have to register as a sex offender.

Vote for Nan Rich in the primary on August 26, 2014.

Posted in 2014 Election | Leave a comment

Speaking at American University on Friday

I’ll be presenting my latest draft paper, now entitled Regulating Mass Surveillance as Privacy Pollution: Learning from Environmental Impact Statements at a faculty workshop at the American University Washington College of Law at lunch time on Friday. So I’m off to DC early Thursday morning.

This will likely be my last chance to learn what I may need to do to punch up the paper before I send it out to law reviews, which I plan to do very soon. I’ll post a link to a draft of it here once I’ve incorporated the next round of comments.

As far as sending papers to law reviews is concerned, I’ve actually been very spoiled: almost all my work for the past decade has been book chapters or conference papers, so I have not had to send them out en mass to law reviews the way most law professors do most of the time. In fact, the last time I sent a paper out to law reviews seems to be … in 2003. (Has it really been that long?) And in that case, I was even luckier, as that paper was picked up by the Harvard Law Review.

I really think this is the best paper I’ve written in many years; that of course doesn’t necessarily tell one much about where it will end up. It isn’t short (23,000 words and counting), which is unfashionable. And I think it has two ideas, which could make it unwieldy. The political feasibility of what I propose is certainly open to question. But I think it might be somewhat original.

After this, there’s another paper in the pipeline on a very different topic. It’s good to think that I’m over the productivity hiccup caused by my aortic dissection almost exactly four years ago. Coincidentally, I had been scheduled to fly to DC on Feb. 12, 2010, the day I collapsed, but the conference I was planning to attend was snowed out. Had I gone, my aorta likely would have burst in the air, or I would have likely not gone to a hospital quickly enough had it happened in DC. In either scenario, I’d be dead as once it bursts you have less than an hour to be treated or it’s curtains.

So I guess I’m hoping it is the 2003 history, and not the 2010 history, that repeats itself.

Posted in Personal, Talks & Conferences | 2 Comments