Net neutrality is near death

See here and here and, for the fullest explanation, here.

To wit:

The Federal Communications Commission will propose new rules that allow Internet service providers to offer a faster lane through which to send video and other content to consumers, as long as a content company is willing to pay for it, according to people briefed on the proposals.

The proposed rules are a complete turnaround for the F.C.C. on the subject of so-called net neutrality, the principle that Internet users should have equal ability to see any content they choose, and that no content providers should be discriminated against in providing their offerings to consumers.

DNI bans all intelligence employees from communicating with press without prior approval

This is amazing and damning.

The Director of National Intelligence has forbidden most intelligence community employees from discussing “intelligence-related information” with a reporter unless they have specific authorization to do so, according to an Intelligence Community Directive that was issued last month.

“IC employees… must obtain authorization for contacts with the media” on intelligence-related matters, and “must also report… unplanned or unintentional contact with the media on covered matters,” the Directive stated.

You can read the directive here.

The result is that any statements to the media from any intelligence staffers will have to be approved in advance, even if information discussed is not classified. This means that the likelihood of the statements being fully accurate is essentially zero. The ban means that each statement will be vetted and, based on the history of intelligence agency statement, will be twisted or inaccurate in ways to protect the agency involved from full public disclosure of actions taken in our names. Marcy Wheeler nails it: all such statements should be treated as simple propoganda.

Second Circuit orders release of Awlaki memo

Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen living in Yemen was killed in a drone strike in 2011. No trial was ever held to convict hime before Obama wrote a secret memo purporting to justify the execution despite the lack of due process and Awlaki’s US citizenship. Now a three judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling and is requiring the government to release crucial portions of that previously secret report. Finally, a Circuit Court that understands that the government should not be entitle to leak selected details about classified information to generate support for a policy, but keep the entire policy hidden. This is how people are manipulated. The Court said:

Whatever protection the legal analysis might once have had has been lost by virtue of public statements of public officials at the highest levels and official disclosure of the D.O.J. White Paper.

And Jameel Jaffer, an attorney for the ACLU, put it this way:

This is a resounding rejection of the government’s effort to use secrecy, and selective disclosure, as a means of manipulating public opinion about the targeted killing program. The government can’t pretend that everything about its targeted killing program is a classified secret while senior officials selectively disclose information meant to paint the program in the most favorable light.

The full-text of the court decision is here.

Tech quote of the day

While there are probably some people who go out to shop for the best Android phone, I suspect that most people want to know which phone is best of all, whatever operating system it runs. In other words, how does the Galaxy S5 compare to the iPhone 5S, Apple’s six-month-old flagship device and the champion to beat?

The answer: Not very well. I’ve been using the new Samsung for about three weeks, and while I do think it is the best Android phone you can buy, it sure isn’t the best phone on the market. By just about every major measure you’ll care about, from speed to design to ease of use to the quality of its apps, Samsung’s phone ranks behind the iPhone, sometimes far behind. If you’re looking for the best phone on the market right now, I’d recommend going with the iPhone 5S.

* * *

. . . I do fault Samsung for the slipshod manner in which it introduced fingerprint scanning. I’ve been using the iPhone’s fingerprint sensor for the last six months, and it has worked about nine times out of 10 for me. The Galaxy S5’s finger sensor is unusable. It has failed to recognize my finger just about every time I have tried it. It has been so terrible that the sensor feels more like a marketing gimmick than a legitimate feature. And it makes me wonder about Samsung’s capacity to keep up with Apple’s innovations.

– Farhad Manjoo, writing in the New York Times.

Torture quote of the day

The military judge in the USS Cole bombing case has ordered the CIA to give defense lawyers details — names, dates and places — of its secret overseas detention and interrogation of the man accused of planning the bombing, two people who have read the still-secret order said Thursday.

Army Col. James L. Pohl issued the five-page order Monday. It was sealed as document 120C on the war court website Thursday morning and, according to those who have read it, orders the agency to provide a chronology of the overseas odyssey of Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, 49, from his capture in Dubai in 2002 to his arrival at Guantánamo four years later.

The order sets the stage for a showdown between the CIA and a military judge, if the agency refuses to turn over the information to the prosecution for the defense teams. The order comes while the CIA fights a bitter, public battle with the Senate on its black site torture investigation.

The judge’s order instructs prosecutors to provide nine categories of closely guarded classified CIA information to the lawyers — including the names of agents, interrogators and medical personnel who worked at the so-called black sites. The order covers “locations, personnel and communications,” interrogation notes and cables between the black sites and headquarters that sought and approved so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, the two sources said.

Carol Rosenberg, reporting for the Miami Herald. This could get very, very interesting.