“There are two bills that have emerged at the fore. One, the leading the bill, is sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy from Vermont … (and) co-sponsored in the House … by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin. (They are) the principal authors of the Patriot Act. Their bill, The USA Freedom Act would quite dramatically curtail NSA abuses.”
– Interview with Shahid Buttar, Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s executive director, on the growing challenges to the NSA’s surveillance. Leahy and Sensenbrenner say that agencies have co-opted the tools in the Patriot Act and that broad-based, blanket and mass surveillance is never what they, as authors of that bill, had intended.
Listen to the entire program using these links, or to individual interviews via the links appearing prior to each segment description below.
Interview with Shahid Buttar, Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s executive director, conducted by Scott Harris
As 2013 came to a close, several major developments were underway in the ongoing public controversy and challenge to National Security Agency dragnet surveillance of communications here in the U.S. and abroad. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, made a surprising preliminary ruling in a lawsuit brought against the NSA by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman. In his Dec. 16 decision, Judge Leon said that the NSA’s massive collection of phone call logs or metadata, is likely a violation of privacy rights and unconstitutional. He went on to describe the NSA’s technology as “almost Orwellian.” That decision was followed on Dec. 29 by a ruling in another case where federal Judge William H. Pauley III, found that NSA blanket collection of phone data is lawful; setting up a future showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court. Story continues
Interview with Johanna deGraffenreid, organizer with the Alliance for Appalachia’s Economic Transition Summit, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
In mid-December, a coalition of 15 grassroots groups calling itself the Alliance for Appalachia hosted an Economic Transition Summit dubbed, “Planning for Appalachia’s Bright Future.” At the gathering in West Virginia participants discussed opportunities to develop new economic models in Central Appalachia beyond coal mining. Story continues
Interview with Robert McChesney, professor of communication at the University of Illinois, founder of Free Press, conducted by Scott Harris
When Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder and CEO of Amazon.com, purchased the Washington Post for $250 million on Oct. 1, concern was expressed about the possible future conflicts of interest between Bezos’ business interests at Amazon and the Post’s coverage of commerce and politics. Now, with the disclosure that Amazon’s Web services division won a CIA contract worth $600 million to build the intelligence agency a “private cloud” for its data needs, question about the Post’s conflicts of interest and objectivity are very real. Story continues
This week’s summary of under-reported news
Compiled by Bob Nixon
- Uruguay has become the first nation to legalize the cultivation, sale and use of marijuana. (“Uruguay legalizes marijuana: a white flag in the war on drugs?” Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 11, 2013; “Uruguay marijuana decision breaks ‘internationally endorsed treaty,’” Reuters, Dec. 11, 2013; “Yes, we cannabis,” Al-Jazeera, Dec. 20, 2013)
- The website TaskRabbit.com promotes itself as an online meeting place for customers looking for someone to do odd jobs. (“The Task Rabbit Economy,” American Prospect, Oct. 10, 2013)
- After retiring from the U.S. military, James Cummiskey was looking for a new start. The veteran visited a friend in Medellin, Colombia and decided to move to South America. (“The New Sun Belt,” Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 2, 2013)