President’s Obama’s new executive order enabling sanctions against foreign nationals who use the new technologies to facilitate human rights abuses might perhaps be summarized in one word — chutzpah. Obama strongly supports pervasive government surveillance of U.S. citizens by his own security state. His administration has extended the time (from 6 months to 5 years) that counter-terrorism officials may (and no doubt will) retain information collected about Americans, regardless of their lack of connection to terrorism. Meanwhile, James Bamford has warned, the National Security Agency is building a massive data center to house all our communications and other “personal data trails.”


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In a speech at Northwestern University yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder provided the most detailed explanation yet for why the Obama administration believes it has the authority to secretly target U.S. citizens for execution by the CIA without even charging them with a crime, notifying them of the accusations, or affording them an opportunity to respond, instead condemning them to death without a shred of transparency or judicial oversight. The administration continues to conceal the legal memorandum it obtained to justify these killings, and, as The New York Times‘ Charlie Savage notedHolder’s “speech contained no footnotes or specific legal citations, and it fell far short of the level of detail contained in the Office of Legal Counsel memo.”


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