In yet another week of "surely this...", Russia is accused of helping him win the US election to a Senator's dismay and possible retaliation, Mitt loses out to Tillerson, Rick Perry is nominated for can't remember oops, other people are nominated, and librarians and science come under attack, with net neutrality possibly next. The Electoral College is but a few days away, with lobbying, labels, opinions and angry celebrities. However, the chances of a shock are low. Elsewhere, the public vote gives Hillary a large lead with comparisons to previous elections, Louisiana voted, the 2018 midterms are underway, Barack is interviewed, contemporary capitalism, Putin's revenge, un-democracy in North Carolina, latest odds, and piñata. [more inside]
Several days after the 2016 US election, president-elect Donald Trump is holding meetings, interviews and starting to build his administration team. His positions on issues such as mass deportation, tax and foreign policy are the cause of speculation; election positions on the ACA are possibly partially rolled back, but against bleak forecasts environmental positions seem to stay as they were, to the concern of scientists. Elsewhere there is discussion of why Hillary lost to Donald, such as James Comey's involvement, rural voting patterns, swing state perceptions or voter rights and suppression, while the Democratic Party consider who should lead them forwards. Meanwhile, protests occur in several US cities, there is speculation about Trump being impeached, the electoral college is under further scrutiny, and Kate McKinnon and Dave Chappelle on SNL. [more inside]
During their Freedom Hosting investigation and malware attack last year, the FBI unintentionally obtained the entire e-mail database of popular anonymous webmail service Tor Mail. And now, they've used it in an unrelated investigation to bust a Florida man accused of stealing credit card numbers. [more inside]
Washington Post: NSA and FBI are mining data from nine major tech companies in formerly secret program. Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple are being monitored, with Dropbox "coming soon". The program, called PRISM, is reportedly the most prolific contributor to the President's Daily Brief.
Glenn Greenwald has produced a secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over to the NSA "telephony metadata" of all local and international calls either originating or terminating in the United States on an "ongoing, daily basis," and further barring Verizon from disclosing to the public the fulfillment of this request or the existence of the court order itself. The ACLU refers to the practice as "beyond Orwellian." Direct link to the court order available here. [more inside]
In July 2007, NPR published a two part series (direct links: 1, 2) about a four year old uninvestigated rape case at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Sparked in part by a 2006 report (pdf) from Amnesty International that included a startling statistic: "One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime," NPR's investigation led to the reopening of the case and Congressional hearings. In February 2011, Harper's published an update of sorts: Tiny Little Laws: A Plague of Sexual Violence in Indian Country (Via)
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.
The Smoking Gun has come into possession of an unusual RFP from the DEA: they want 'Ebonics experts' to help decipher wiretaps.
Did you forget about what the TSA allows in carry on bags? Need to know if that guy behind you in line is on the FBI's most wanted list? Need to look up a zip code? Calculate your BMI on the road? The US Government has an app for that. [more inside]
The FBI has released their extensive files on US Senator Edward M. Kennedy to the public, covering their relationship with him between 1961 and 1985. The seven files, totaling more than 2,200 pages of documents reveal (among other things,) the perhaps unsurprising news that the late Senator received "scores" of death threats from radical groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, “Minutemen” organizations, and the National Socialist White People’s Party. The release was initiated by a Freedom of Information Act Request from Judicial Watch on May 3, 2010, (Complaint pdf) but the FBI gave the Senator's family the "rare opportunity" to raise objections before releasing the file.
Bored on your summer vacation? Well, the US government has lots of fun stuff for kids to do on line. Learn fascinating facts about cows (and agricultural marketing!) from the Department of Agriculture. Take a ride to Money Central Station with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. If you live in a federally-funded housing project, HUD wants you to learn more about being a good citizen. Want something more action-packed? Help FBI Special Agent Bobby Bureau go undercover, or become one of America's Crypto-Kids at the NSA. Play thrilling puzzle games or visit the world's most secret museum at the CIA. Play more games or become a Disaster Action Kid at FEMA! And no list of government kids' pages would be complete without revisiting the children's art contest from the ATF, which I've linked to before...
Top Secret: We're Wiretapping You It could be a scene from Kafka or Brazil. Imagine a government agency, in a bureaucratic foul-up, accidentally gives you a copy of a document marked "top secret." And it contains a log of some of your private phone calls. You read it and ponder it and wonder what it all means. Then, two months later, the FBI shows up at your door, demands the document back and orders you to forget you ever saw it.
Seperation of Power? (newsfilter) In a strange move, both the Rs and the Ds are livid that the FBI raided the congressional offices of Rep. William Jefferson, D-Louisiana, (who may have accepted substantial bribes). House speaker Hastert spoke directly with the president, so, The president steps in an orders the documents sealed as a cooling off period as congress demands this is a separation of Powers issue. Some predict it will go to the SCOTUS.
If you've participated in an anti-war rally, or helped organize a demonstration, the FBI may have a file on you. The FBI claims that they are only weeding out anarchists and other "extremists." But the ACLU and some legal scholars are warning of a return of Hooverism. Attention pinkos: You can run, but you can't hide, because you're probably on the no-fly list.
Al Gore claims the Bush administration is not helping America, but hurting it by focusing on all the wrong things. Gore:The administration is still not investing in local government training and infrastructures where they could make the biggest difference. The first responder community is still being shortchanged. In many cases, fire and police still don’t have the communications equipment to talk to each other. The CDC and local hospitals are still nowhere close to being ready for a biological weapons attack. The administration has still failed to address the fundamental disorganization and rivalries of our law enforcement, intelligence and investigative agencies. In particular, the critical FBI-CIA coordination, while finally improved at the top, still remains dysfunctional in the trenches. The constant violations of civil liberties promote the false impression that these violations are necessary in order to take every precaution against another terrorist attack. But the simple truth is that the vast majority of the violations have not benefited our security at all; to the contrary, they hurt our security.
Buy a Flight Manual, Get a Grand Jury Subpoena? A guy qualified to fly and instruct on the Boeing 737 buys a CD on Ebay that contains the ground course for the same plane. Then the FBI gets involved, and, courtesy of section 501 (d) of the "USA Patriot Act", he can no longer even discuss the issue. [more inside]
45 Things That Make You A Commie A list from 1961, by an FBI guy. Ironies aplenty.
Government Will Ease Limits on Domestic Spying by F.B.I. (NY Times link) As part of a sweeping effort to transform the F.B.I. into a domestic terrorism prevention agency, Attorney General John Ashcroft has decided to relax restrictions on the bureau's ability to conduct domestic spying in counterterrorism operations, senior government officials said today. Here's the Wash. Post's take on the story.
Anthrax and the Agency "Now that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has officially put the anthrax investigation on a back burner, it is time for Americans to think the unthinkable: that the FBI has never been keen to identify the perpetrator because that perpetrator may, in fact, be the U.S. Government itself. Evidence is mounting that the source of the anthrax was a top secret U.S. Army laboratory in Maryland and that the perpetrators involve high-level officials in the U.S. military and intelligence infrastructure." Granted, there's more than a few blips on the radar screen these days, but...whatever happened to this investigation? I'm no conspiracy theorist, but the case laid out in this piece gives me pause. Any other good theories out there?
48 hours of wiretap without a court order? Sure, according to the Senate. Carnivore installations on the rise and the recent call to control crypto software are exactly what we don't need. This is probably just the beginning.