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Letter to Attorney General demands information on secret spying program

It was revealed last week that the Obama administration had carried out two massive spying programs, one of which primarily target foreigners (PRISM) seizing emails, chat records, and more; and a second (unnamed) which targeted the majority of U.S. citizens seizing so-called "telephony metadata" that allowed the Obama administration to track most U.S. citizens on a daily basis.

I. EU Upset About U.S. Monitoring, Demands Information


Some U.S. politicians have cheered the whistleblower, who recently outed himself in Hong Kong.  Others have pushed to cover up the mess in the name of "national security", including some of Mr. Obama's allies who hold prominent posts in the Republican Party.

The latest development comes from the European Union.  Viviane Reding, the European commissioner for justice and fundamental rights, wrote a letter to Attorney General (AG) Eric Holder demanding information about the program.

Viviane Reding
Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for justice and rights [Image Source: Reuters]

In her letter, obtained by Reuters, she writes:

I would request that you provide me with explanations and clarifications on the Prism program, other U.S. programs involving data collection and search, and laws under which such programs may be authorized.

It appears that U.S. citizens aren't the only ones who were left in the dark by the Obama administration.  Even top officials in the U.S.'s EU ally states have expressed confusion, saying they were not informed of the PRISM spying.

Commissioner Reding finds that extremely frustrating given that she worked so hard in 2012 to draft stricter new rules to safeguard law-abiding EU citizens from spying by foreign governments or corporations.  AG Holder and Commissioner Reding are scheduled to meet tomorrow (Friday) at a ministerial gathering in Dublin, Ireland.

Eric Holder
AG Eric Holder will be forced to talk to the EU this Friday. [Image Source: AP]

Data privacy has been an issue that has plagued the EU.  The EU has worked hard to create more transparent law enforcement and surveillance, giving citizens unjustly targeted avenues to appeal.  But those efforts are at risk as the U.S. is suspected of spying on EU citizens.

In her letter to AG Holder. Minister Reding asks the Obama administration official to detail how many EU citizens were targeted, what kinds of information were collected, and how citizens could appeal the targeting.

II. Europe Grows Frustrated With Its Orwellian Ally

The idea of being able to "appeal" government spying is a relatively foreign idea in the U.S. police state, where many citizens have grown complacent to the notion that the government accesses their data.  

Today under the Oct. 2001 USA PATRIOT Act, citizens are prohibited from even being told they're being spied on.  And under the act there's virtually no route to appeal; most court challenges have fallen flat.

That's bad news for the average law-abiding American who has now discovered the government is storing information on their location and phone-call contacts on a daily basis (the aforementioned "metadata").

By contrast, EU citizens have been much more vocal about preserving freedom in the form of privacy protections for law-abiding citizens.  As a result, the EU's government -- while not perfect on privacy issues -- has behaved far differently than the U.S. government, fighting to protect its citizens from unjust foreign or domestic spying (Coincidentally, the program was first published in the EU, in Britain’s Guardian newspaper).

EU flags
The EU is intent on protecting its citizens from unjust U.S. spying. [Image Source: AFP]

The EU is under pressure from businesses to fight the spying, which represents uncertainty to data firms in Europe.  Comments a minister to Reuters, "The storage of the data in the foreign servers and related legal uncertainty constitutes a real impediment."

President Obama
The Obama administration has shot down EU data protection efforts. [Image Source: AP]

But so far the U.S. has rejected EU requests to clarify and narrow its spying on EU citizens.  There were major talks in 2011 to adopt a transatlantic data protection agreement that would restrict the U.S.'s right to seize European data under the PATRIOT Act.  But ultimately Europe wanted its citizens to have similar protections on U.S. soil, a term U.S. authorities were unwilling to accept.  The talks have since made virtually no progress.

Sources: EU Rights Commissioner, Reuters



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RE: Clown show
By BRB29 on 6/14/2013 7:57:43 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Oh man... The richest people in the Netherlands pay about 50% I'd say. In France you'd be way worse off. This blanket statement does not hold as it's vastly different per country.

So let's not look at a bunch of people but just one rich guy that can work the tax system to his advantage. Guess what? the US has a maximum of 39.6% tax rate if you make over 400k. But rich people don't have salary income like that. Profits on investments have a 20% flat tax last I checked. Most rich people end up paying 20% or less because they don't work for salary. that's a huge contrast to your best case scenario of 50%.

quote:
Yes. Granted it will take some work getting people to sign off but it can be done. I would also like to add that our public schools are nowhere near as poor as the ones in the US (especially the major cities). In Germany for example you're not allowed to teach high school unless you have a university degree.

What are you comparing to? I'll bet you haven't been to the US. Public schools depends on the taxes taken from the specific city/county. Some schools gets more funding than others. Our public school system relies on property tax and the lottery system. If anything, I'm willing to bet our public school system is better overall if you average out the entire EU vs the entire US.
Our biggest problem right now is the Charter school system causing a split in funds and teachers that are unqualified. Our country don't want to recognize that teachers should get paid more.


RE: Clown show
By Nephiorim on 6/14/2013 8:24:12 AM , Rating: 2
Congrats. You have a system where people who already have money know how to hang on to it. I'd say this also underlies a lot of the problems the US is currently seeing. It has been said time and time again that a society is judged by the way it treats its weakest members. How will the USA ever maintain the moral high ground in the world and 'spread democracy and capitalism' if this is what 'democracy and capitalism' will lead to? A system where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? I'm not saying I see it like that, but it's very easy for people such as Khamenei of Iran and Jong-un of North Korea to spin it like that without even breaking a sweat.

Regarding the school system I go by international rankings and things such as the percentage of the population that is literate etc etc. Reports written by people in the USA mind you.


RE: Clown show
By BRB29 on 6/14/2013 9:21:14 AM , Rating: 1
Because the US allows the poor to be rich and the rich to be poor. Everyone may not be born equally wealthy but everyone definitely have the opportunity to get wherever they want.

There are rich people who goes broke or poor people who gets rich here every day. You are basing your claims on generalizations and BS spin that makes no sense. Are you suggesting that everyone should in the middle class? Should everyone get paid the same? Let's just go back to communism then.

My family of 6 lived with a household income of under $15k in the 90s living in the slums of NY. We all worked hard, educated ourselves and now all making 6 figures. All it took was hard work and dedication. I joined the USMC while my sisters use their academic achievements to get scholarships and grants to pay through school. If it was possible for us then it's possible for everyone. None of us stole, cheat, took welfare, food stamps, etc... to get here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_...
Here is the literacy rates for countries. It seems like the US is 99%. That's an excellent rating for a very large country with a low population density making it nearly impossible for the school systems to reach everyone.

Before you talk smack about another country, at least make sure what you say is valid.


RE: Clown show
By Nephiorim on 6/14/2013 12:56:51 PM , Rating: 2
You're a big fan of picking single cases and generalizing them to the public. Congratulations that it worked for you. Surely now everyone should be able to earn 6 figures. Can you imagine what would happen if everyone would make 100s of 1000s of dollars? The whole system can only exist because it oppresses some, it's like a big pyramid scheme. Now I'm not for communism, not at all. But I do like a slightly more socialistic society where sure you can lose out, but never to the point where you need to fear for your continued existence. That's all. Please stop thinking so black & white, there's a middle area.


RE: Clown show
By BRB29 on 6/14/2013 1:39:40 PM , Rating: 2
Fortunately for people like me, there won't be everyone who is as dedicated or motivated. That is why there will never be an equal distribution of wealth. I don't believe another person who just show up to work and doesn't give a crap deserve to be paid like me.

Now you're going off the deep end to try and be right. Too bad you still fail and the EU still sucks except for a few select places.

In many countries in Europe, a doctor gets paid as much as a car mechanic. I guess we should have that in the US too huh?


RE: Clown show
By Nephiorim on 6/14/2013 2:13:16 PM , Rating: 2
See here's the difference between you and me. I'm not going to tell you the US should do anything. Choices have been made and are continued to be made each and every day. There are things the US could do different, there are things the EU could do different. Do I think either society is better off making some different decisions, sure. But thinking that and telling someone they should actually change their ways are two different things. Who am I to say someone should do something? That'd be mightily arrogant.

Also, please list the countries where doctors get paid as much as mechanics. Would like to see your source for that tidbit.


RE: Clown show
By Cheesew1z69 on 6/14/13, Rating: 0
RE: Clown show
By Ammohunt on 6/14/2013 2:39:59 PM , Rating: 2
For the record i did the same thing as you did. I went from nothing to near six figures only by working hard and applying myself and paying my dues in the ARMY. The real myth is the belief that the American dream is dead. Its a lie lazy, dope smokers that play video games all day tell themselves in order to feel good about their self imposed poverty.

I came from a slightly better off middle class family though, only because my father(grew up during the depression) and mother(grew up in Germany in the aftermath of WWII) worked hard and fully realized the American dream. My family and myself have never taken so much as a dime from any social welfare programs not even unemployment insurance.


RE: Clown show
By BRB29 on 6/17/2013 9:32:56 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
For the record i did the same thing as you did. I went from nothing to near six figures only by working hard and applying myself and paying my dues in the ARMY. The real myth is the belief that the American dream is dead. Its a lie lazy, dope smokers that play video games all day tell themselves in order to feel good about their self imposed poverty.


I may not disagree in many of your views but we're all entitled to our opinions with the right to vote. I have respect for people who endure the difficulty of life and EARN their living. The American Dream has never been dead, the people seem to forget what hard work is since we started moving the "sweatshop" jobs to China and other countries.

If I recall correctly, the American Dream is supposed to be a having a family with 2 kids, a dog/cat, house, steady job, 2 car garage in a clean picket fence suburb neighborhood.

I get the feeling people think the American Dream is all about riches, glamour, bling and obnoxiously these days.


RE: Clown show
By Ammohunt on 6/17/2013 1:00:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I may not disagree in many of your views but we're all entitled to our opinions with the right to vote.


I am a firm believer that it takes all types. just because i and other feel people are wrong it doesn't make them bad people by any measure.

Funny story one of my leftist friends; who is a Canadian citizen with a green card told me the "American dream was a crock!". So i thought well if its such a crock why are you here in the states realizing the American Dream(he has the American wife and family just as you described) and not back in Canada realizing the Canadian dream?(6 pack of Molsen and a pound of back bacon).

quote:
I get the feeling people think the American Dream is all about riches, glamour, bling and obnoxiously these days.


We can agree on that! people think if money doesn't fall out of the sky on them somehow its Americas fault.


RE: Clown show
By BRB29 on 6/17/2013 2:26:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
We can agree on that! people think if money doesn't fall out of the sky on them somehow its Americas fault.


lol but it's always raining money in rap videos.


RE: Clown show
By BZDTemp on 6/14/2013 3:18:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Because the US allows the poor to be rich and the rich to be poor. Everyone may not be born equally wealthy but everyone definitely have the opportunity to get wherever they want.


I'm sorry but for most the American Dream will only ever stay a dream. Besides who says the rich aren't allowed to be rich it is just slightly less so than in the US and on the same time the number of poor people is much lower.

Social mobility is actually higher in the EU than in the US and that is hardly surprising if you think about it. After all the one main factor that allows people to move forward in life is education and in most of the EU education is free (which means students not having to rely on their parents and/or winning scholarships).

Don't be scared of higher tax rates because you could well find it meant getting more for your money. Try for instance to imagine two families and their economy. The one in Europe is paying high income taxes and taxes on energy, but they do not have to set money aside for their kids to go to college and they do not have to even consider loosing their health insurance a possibility. So when looking at what is left after paying fixed expenses those two families could well end up having a pretty similar economy and the family in Europe for sure does have more power as an employee than a similar family in the US simply because loosing ones job does not mean losing health insurance.


RE: Clown show
By BRB29 on 6/15/2013 4:26:10 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I'm sorry but for most the American Dream will only ever stay a dream. Besides who says the rich aren't allowed to be rich it is just slightly less so than in the US and on the same time the number of poor people is much lower.

no shit, you can't get better by not pushing hard. People think they can just go to college and get a job. You are just mediocre doing that. Look at your competition and outdo them. It's that simple. Once you're on top, push yourself onto the next level. Eventually, you'll find yourself on top of the corporate ladder, a huge investor, or a successful multimillion dollar business owner. It's really that simple.


RE: Clown show
By DerMack on 6/14/2013 4:02:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Guess what? the US has a maximum of 39.6% tax rate if you make over 400k

FYI Monaco doesn't have income tax at all, too bad they only let very rich people to move in. Wouldn't want common rifraf to ruin their view...


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