"A reason to hang him": how mass surveillance, secret courts, confirmation bias and the FBI can ruin your life


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So, I click on the “The terrifying surveillance case of Brandon Mayfield” link and get a page saying

ERROR: (Not Found)
The requested URL could not be retrieved

While trying to retrieve the requested URL the following error was encountered:

Invalid Hostname

Yes, I am paranoid enough to wonder if this is a legitimate error or a blocking of the site.


I put on my robe and raison d’État hat…


“The FBI was so sure of their theory that they lied to a judge during their campaign against him.”

Given their history, the FBI might have lied to a judge because they were so sure it was a day of the week ending in the letter Y.


So, noticing that the link is to an article on Al Jazeera America, I go looking a bit further. ALL links to their site gives the same error message. So much for being able to get “the other side” of the story.

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But I did find the unclassified report in PDF about the FBI’s handling of the case http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/s0601/exec.pdf

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All the links to Al Jazeera work just fine up here in Canuckistan. Can’t follow any links to the Daily Show without going through a proxy though. Perhaps you should try a proxy and see what happens.

Or maybe its just you, the Al Jazeera page is detecting the NSA keylogger or something…


Works fine here, and I’m in the US.

Yes, it could be on my end. I’ve noticed “gremlins” in my system over the last week or so. Can’t find any rootkits, keyloggers or other such things. No nanny’ware installed and I am the only person using this computer (I live alone). Oh, and I’m in “Canukistan” too :smiley:

Ohhhh, wait a minute. I’m connected through the city’s free hotspot. I bet they’ve put a block in there somewhere.



Frikken’ gov’t censorship. The City’s Hotspot was blocking it. And trying to hide the fact that they are censoring things. Why else would I get an error message rather than a “site blocked” one?

~ ~ ~ ~
Well, I can open the websites for the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Baptist Church, but not the Al Jazeera America site.


I hate this stuff because it terrifies me. I am never and will never be a terrorist, but one of my grandfathers was in the IRA and that would be enough to get a gang of thugs like the FBI all fired up and ripping my life apart - if they make a couple of random connections and concluded that I was a bad guy for some reason.

ANd the RCMP have a very poor history on this front as well, as Maher Arar can attest. Having coffee with a person leads directly to a year of torture in Syria (!).


Then it is working.


Confirmation bias goes both ways.


Not a police state, not at all.



In this world the guilty FBI agents should be fired with loss of pension for this. In my world they would be literally fucking branded on the forehead. Nothing massive, just a mark that says “I tried to sell someone away just cover my ass”.
There are no significant consequences for such behavior. If the punishment was equal to the crime you purport the defendant to have committed or perhaps you serve the same number of years they served until found innocent, there would be a lot fewer stories like this…


Go on.

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Funny (from an outside perspective): That the “It’s just used against dirty furriners”-attitude starts to bite US citizens in the ass. Every time there was was a Snowden leak US government officials calmed the crowd by purring some sort of “Don’t worry it’s only used against non-USians” and the US public gobbled it up. Here it was a FISA court that was complicit in this mess.

Sad and funny: Spanish police is more concerned about the rights of a US citizen than it’s own government. So who’s the Shining City on the hill now?


Can we stop with the exonym “USians” already? This prescriptive label is linguistically absurd. “US citizens” is fine if you don’t want to call US citizens “Americans,” but we don’t call British people UKians. Citizens of the former United States of Venezuela were called Venezuelans, not USians.


I had a good laugh when I got to the part where Doctorow started lecturing on confirmation bias. As someone who frequently has distorted facts to support his articles, he’s certainly qualified to recognize it when he sees it.

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