Big Brother in the American Federal Empire

Big Brother is knocking:

In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day.

The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Web site “not to disclose the existence of this request” unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization.

Kristina Clair, a 34-year old Linux administrator living in Philadelphia who provides free server space for, said she was shocked to receive the Justice Department’s subpoena. (The Independent Media Center is a left-of-center amalgamation of journalists and advocates that – according to their principles of unity and mission statement – work toward “promoting social and economic justice” and “social change.”)

The subpoena (PDF) from U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis demanded “all IP traffic to and from” on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to “include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information,” including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers’ Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on.

“I didn’t think anything we were doing was worthy of any (federal) attention,” Clair said in a telephone interview with on Monday. After talking to other Indymedia volunteers, Clair ended up calling the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which represented her at no cost.

Under long-standing Justice Department guidelines, subpoenas to members of the news media are supposed to receive special treatment. One portion of the guidelines, for instance, says that “no subpoena may be issued to any member of the news media” without “the express authorization of the attorney general” – that would be current attorney general Eric Holder – and subpoenas should be “directed at material information regarding a limited subject matter.”

Still unclear is what criminal investigation U.S. Attorney Morrison was pursuing. Last Friday, a spokeswoman initially promised a response, but Morrison sent e-mail on Monday evening saying: “We have no comment.” The Justice Department in Washington, D.C. also declined to respond.

You may not think you are doing anything illegal, but the Patriot Act laws here in the US set the precident that anything and anybody at anytime can be declared illegal if Big Brother claims you are a ‘terrorist’.

No warrants, no nothin’.

Ain’t living in the American Federal Empire just great!

Justice Dept. Requested News Site’s Visitor Lists


9 responses

  1. As an aside, I was kind of surprised the source was a mainstream media site.

    Maybe there’s still some smidgen of integrity left there?

    I’m still not going to hold my breath on it!

  2. Testing the waters?

    Hmm..maybe Nolo.

    It’s already a known fact the Pentagon/DARPA wants to control the Internet for the next round of perpetual wars;

    But with all the “tweeters” around, I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as they thought.

  3. Don’t kid yourself. dad. Remember the Internet itself is a military protocol put in place in the U.S. with young hackers set up at their beck and call and illegal monitoring so pervasive that the NSA hasn’t been able to effectively track communications for decades because of volume of intercepts. And if you think of what was going on that is obsolete…with a staff that we know was over 90,000 before the infomation explosion….
    Lately I ran across one memo indicating that in event of ‘national emergency’…another catchall…private websites would be dropped from service.

  4. Um. My ‘train of thought’ veered off the tracks.
    Planning was well enough advanced to take advantage of new technologies that spooks had a $400 million disinformation program of paid ‘informants’ in Iran to Twitter ‘reports’ about a supposed NATO Color Revolution – Green – in Iran at the time of the electio for Ahmadinejad…who doesn’t even run the country ! I had more that I posted…good sources were Signs of the Times and Steph’s Blog on WordPress.
    One thing to remember is that A.’s base is among those less fortunate. The Twittering was coming in the main from north Tehran by supporters of a former president who had authorized attacks on American servicepeople abroad !
    Then agaqin, if you’re like most, you don’t realize the USA position on Iran has been a crock for decades.

  5. Hm. Of course. I’ve been proliferating so strangely I doubt you noticed … or that many others did. The Opera links page has been set up as an RSS feeds monitor which is regularly reposted at a site I’ve been using since June because of 404 Not Found returns on many Opera queries to older posts. I’ve been going nuts at…and have even started reposting old My Opera posts at

    1. Wow J, it sounds like you’ve been a busy boy! LOL!

      I don’t know much about Twitter since I don’t have InnerTube access at home and it’s blocked here at work, but I guess it is a way to bypass Big Brother if Iran is an example.

      But what about China?

  6. China is a whole ‘nother problem : which Obama supposedly is talking about this trip today. China does have bloggers though. Boxun is one if I remember right; And I have a few ‘subversive’ links left in huints.
    I just tried to repost my Opera links at Open Salon. Working.

    1. If anyone can figure out a way to get around Big Brother, it’ll be you J.

      Good luck and happy hunting! 😉

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