Accountability for electronic surveillance by government agencies

From slight paranoia. Only happens in the US, of course – I mean the public reporting of real-time wiretaps by law enforcement agencies.

If you were to believe the public surveillance statistics, you might come away with the idea that government surveillance is exceedingly rare in the United States.

Every year, the US Courts produce the wiretap report which details every ‘intercept’ order requested by Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies during that year. Before the police, FBI, DEA or other law enforcement agents can tap a phone, intercept an Internet connection, or place a covert bug into a suspect’s home, they must obtain one of these orders, which law professor and blogger Orin Kerr describes as a “super warrant,” due to the number of steps the government must go through in order to obtain one.
However, while there are many ways the government can monitor an individual, very few of these methods require an intercept order.

In general, intercept orders are required to monitor the contents of real time communications. Non-content information, such as the To/From and Subject lines for email messages, URLs of pages viewed (which includes search terms), and telephone numbers dialed can all be obtained with a pen register/trap & trace order.

While wiretaps require a “superwarrant” which must be evaluated and approved by a judge following strict rules, government attorneys can obtain pen register orders by merely certifying that the information likely to be obtained is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation — a far lower evidentiary threshold.
The reporting requirements for intercepts and pen registers only apply to the surveillance of live communications. However, communications or customer records that are in storage by third parties, such as email messages, photos or other files maintained in the cloud by services like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo Facebook and MySpace are routinely disclosed to law enforcement, and there is no legal requirement that statistics on these kinds of requests be compiled or published.

North Korean currency revaluation

Seems that North Korea has revalued its currency to rein in economic activity outside the state-controlled system. See the NKEconwatch article here and multiple references even in the mainstream media.

Composite image below shows some old won notes on the left, and their replacements on the right.

In theory, 135 old won should get you a US dollar – slight depreciation since last September when the official exchange rate was 128 won.

Pre-revaluation, the black market rate was allegedly 2,000-3,000, though and in the short run, I imagine the Won would have weakened dramatically following the announcment of the revaluation. No idea what the black market rate was last September when this picture was taken.

English AG Opined Iraq War was Illegal—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)

English AG Opined Iraq War was Illegal—By Scott Horton (Harper’s Magazine).

The original Daily Mail article

The Mail on Sunday can disclose that Attorney General Lord Goldsmith wrote the letter to Mr Blair in July 2002 – a full eight months before the war – telling him that deposing Saddam Hussein was a blatant breach of international law.

It was intended to make Mr Blair call off the invasion, but he ignored it. Instead, a panicking Mr Blair issued instructions to gag Lord Goldsmith, banned him from attending Cabinet meetings and ordered a cover-up to stop the public finding out.

He even concealed the bombshell information from his own Cabinet, fearing it would spark an anti-war revolt. The only people he told were a handful of cronies who were sworn to secrecy.

Lord Goldsmith was so furious at his treatment he threatened to resign – and lost three stone as Mr Blair and his cronies bullied him into backing down.

Also mirrored here