Security Expert Slams Bush's Surveillance Program

James Bamford discusses why the U.S. president chose to dodge court review

6 min read

At the end of last year, with the appearance of James Risen's State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (Free Press), it was revealed that after 9/11 President George W. Bush authorized the National Security Agency--the low-profile but huge intelligence outfit based in Maryland at Fort George C. Meade that monitors electronic communications--to eavesdrop on communications between individuals outside the United States and citizens inside the country. Previously such wiretapping could be done only with the authorization of a special court established by a 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The Bush White House has argued that the wiretapping was justified by circumstances and was both legal--under the congressional resolution that authorized military action against Iraq--and constitutional, as part of the inherent powers of the president as commander in chief [see photo, " "]. Critics argue that the wiretapping was unequivocally contrary to the 1978 law, as well as unconstitutional. In an open letter to Congress, 14 constitutional scholars said that "it is always open to the seek to change the law," but that "the president cannot simply violate criminal laws behind closed doors because he deems them obsolete or impracticable."

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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