Judge Orders U.S. Government To Release Classified Surveillance Files

SpyFlag1By Derrick Broze

Proponents of digital privacy and government transparency scored a victory on Thursday as a federal judge ordered the Department of Justice to provide files related to a secret telephone spying program. 

In 2013, The New York Times reported on the existence of a previously unknown data-mining program known as Project Hemisphere. The project was developed in secret by telecommunications giant AT&T and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as a tool to help with “drug-enforcement task-forces.” However, there is concern about mass surveillance of innocent individuals. Hemisphere searches trillions of phone records, identifies the name and location of each and individual on the phone, and then sends the data back to the DOJ.

Now, U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James has found that the U.S. government has failed to justify their reasoning for denying Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests related to Project Hemisphere. Judge James order the DOJ to provide her with files for her own private review.

The ruling comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation  in July 2015 after the DOJ refused to release data on Hemisphere. EFF attorney Aaron Mackey told AllGov he was “very pleased with the court’s decision today and are optimistic that its review of the documents will demonstrate or show that the government’s withholdings are unjustifiable and hopefully order the release of documents that have been withheld.”

Mackey also emphasized that it has become “very clear AT&T is not only a willing participant but at the center of this mass surveillance program.”. The Justice Department claimed the files were exempted from disclosure, claiming that release may reveal confidential sources or law enforcement techniques. James was not satisfied with the DOJ arguments.

“The government argues the agency’s task should not be ‘herculean’ in providing supporting evidence for its claimed exemptions,” James wrote. “But while the government need not expose the very information contained in the withheld documents, here it does not provide the sufficient information for this Court to assess its assertion of privilege. The Court is not asking the government to make a herculean effort, merely something beyond regurgitation of the elements.”

The NY Times first reported on Project Hemisphere after they released previously unseen training slides regarding the collection of billions of call records, as well as AT&T employees embedded within operations of the Drug Enforcement Administration. According to the PowerPoint presentation the program was started in 2007 and requires officials to “never refer to Hemisphere in any official document.”  The program has collected records on some phone calls dating back 26 years ago.

Project Hemisphere is yet another example of one of the many, MANY tools available to the parasitic classes in the Corporate and State arenas. It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of the number of tools, software, legal loopholes, and weapons of mass surveillance now available to the U.S. government. Will 2017 be the year that the American people stand up and reclaim privacy? Or we will witness the slow death of the concept of privacy?

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Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2

Derrick is available for interviews. Please contact Derrick@activistpost.com

This article may be freely reposted in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

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13 Comments on "Judge Orders U.S. Government To Release Classified Surveillance Files"

  1. They need to release the classified Surveillance Burglary, Vandalism and Pet Torture Files by Criminal, Covert – Black Operations, Military and Homeland Security Task Force Agency Personnel, Operatives and Contractors as well. Washington State is a cesspool for Government Criminal Operations Targeting Activists and the Politically Incorrect.

    • Washington state?? I live here and while those pesky DemocRATs run rampant here perhaps you were thinking of the other Washington, the one with DC behind it?? You’re right…Washington state is a cesspool and there’s many activists as well as the politically incorrect. But outside of this most liberal of the left coast states I haven’t seen what you describe or even heard about it if it exists at all.

      • I’ve been targeted by a Washington State Government Covert Organized Crime Syndicate for ongoing burglaries, vandalism, as well as the burglary of my safe deposit box in Colville Washington and the torture and poisoning of my pet cat. I’ve poste hundreds of photos on my Facebook and Google plus albums of the gang stalking and harassment operations…. These criminal operations turned to burglaries after my FBI File FOIA requests and my FOIA appeal in 2011 was denied…… The Government is just a big, organized crime syndicate now, running protection operations for their criminal personnel, operatives and contractors.

        I have also been approached and told about others, in Seattle, that have been targeted for crimes. I am convinced that Christopher Monfort was also targeted by this criminal government, and DHS Contrator, and military trained covert operations, organized crime group. My oldest brother has been involved with these goverment criminals.

        Judy Bari was also targeted for framing in California when a bomb was planted in her car……
        It doesn’t surprise me that people don’t know about what is going on and the government black operations targeting the politically incorrect that speak out against the embedded government criminals.

  2. Way to Go, Maria-Elena James, Magistrate Judge! So glad you were appointed to the Bench! Remember your Fellow Americans.

  3. This case is no doubt on appeal by the DoJ [sic]. Do you ever wonder why the govt. and corportocracy are so paranoid? Is it because they have more than enough to be paranoid about? “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The shadows know.”

    • Google x-1 on this you will see or should I say hear alot of old radio programs in the !950 to 1959 I believe.

      • I remember radio as a very young boy and listening to the lot of them. Oddly I can still remember which commercial products sponsored which show. I also remember our first TV and it being set up, tuning the rabbit ears, and a host of our neighbours all crowded into our front room. Two channels and the first show we saw was ‘The Honeymooners.’ Anyway thanks for the info as I just may take a trip down memory lane.

  4. The DOJ could be found committing murder and NOTHING would be done! This is a load of crappola. A show!

  5. ATT also were sharing call data to NSA via the SF switchboard as revealed by one of their technicians.
    Peter B Collins interviewed him and it reveals how Verizon also gave up their customers’ privacy rights.
    The idea that “we value your privacy’ means anything, really means the opposite.

  6. And after all of this you’re still using ATT for your cell phone provider?? Time to start your own ATT boycott. I still think that the only way to stop all of this is for each and every person to actually own YOUR own information – all of it. Even the info about you you don’t know about. If it’s about YOU it belongs to you. And then you have a choice as to what happens to YOUR information, instead of these snoopy criminal corporations acting like they now own it (and through proxy they own YOU too) and all the world’s information is just their proverbial oyster. Screw them. My information should be mine to do with what I want and information regarding you should be yours to do with what YOU want. What a phenomenal concept, huh??

  7. You think it’s ONLY ATT?
    Watch out for SPLC. FBI.CIA.ADL.AIPAC. JDL. (RUSSIAN) Mafia.. NSA. YOUR DA. NAACP. BLM. ……and LaRaza.

  8. These “telecommunications corporations” are just civilian fronts for military surveillance activities. Of course they’re involved.

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