Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Brandon Keim reports for Wired:
A test of people who read passages discrediting the notion of free will found an immediate decrease in brain activity related to voluntary action. The findings are just one data point in ongoing scientific investigation of a millennia-old philosophical conundrum, but they raise an intriguing possibility.
“Our results indicate that beliefs about free will can change brain processes related to a very basic motor level,” wrote researchers led by psychologist Davide Rigoni of Italy’s University of Padova in a study published in May’s Psychological Science.
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January 2011A pdf version of the report is available here.
In a review of nearly 2,500 pages of documents released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a result of litigation under the Freedom of Information Act, EFF uncovered alarming trends in the Bureau’s intelligence investigation practices. The documents consist of reports made by the FBI to the Intelligence Oversight Board of violations committed during intelligence investigations from 2001 to 2008. The documents suggest that FBI intelligence investigations have compromised the civil liberties of American citizens far more frequently, and to a greater extent, than was previously assumed. In particular, EFF’s analysis provides new insight into:
Number of Violations Committed by the FBI
- From 2001 to 2008, the FBI reported to the IOB approximately 800 violations of laws, Executive Orders, or other regulations governing intelligence investigations, although this number likely significantly under-represents the number of violations that actually occurred.
- From 2001 to 2008, the FBI investigated, at minimum, 7000 potential violations of laws, Executive Orders, or other regulations governing intelligence investigations.
- Based on the proportion of violations reported to the IOB and the FBI’s own statements regarding the number of NSL violations that occurred, the actual number of violations that may have occurred from 2001 to 2008 could approach 40,000 possible violations of law, Executive Order, or other regulations governing intelligence investigations.1
Substantial Delays in the Intelligence Oversight Process
- From 2001 to 2008, both FBI and IOB oversight of intelligence activities was delayed and likely ineffectual; on average, 2.5 years elapsed between a violation’s occurrence and its eventual reporting to the IOB.
Type and Frequency of FBI Intelligence Violations
- From 2001 to 2008, of the nearly 800 violations reported to the IOB:
- over one-third involved FBI violation of rules governing internal oversight of intelligence investigations.
- nearly one-third involved FBI abuse, misuse, or careless use of the Bureau’s National Security Letter authority.
- almost one-fifth involved an FBI violation of the Constitution, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or other laws governing criminal investigations or intelligence gathering activities.
- From 2001 to 2008, in nearly half of all NSL violations, third-parties to whom NSLs were issued — phone companies, internet service providers, financial institutions, and credit agencies —contributed in some way to the FBI’s unauthorized receipt of personal information.
- From 2001 to 2008, the FBI engaged in a number of flagrant legal violations, including:
- submitting false or inaccurate declarations to courts.
- using improper evidence to obtain federal grand jury subpoenas.
- accessing password protected documents without a warrant.
Seymour Hersh: Despite Intelligence Rejecting Iran as Nuclear Threat, US Could Be Headed for Iraq Redux
In his latest article for The New Yorker magazine, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh says the United States might attack Iran based on distorted estimates of Iran’s nuclear and military threat—just like it did with Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq. Hersh reveals that despite using Iranian informants and cutting-edge surveillance technology, U.S. officials have been unable to find decisive evidence that Iran has been moving enriched uranium to an underground weapon-making center.
For transcript, click here.
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