Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Obamacare case: All eyes on 2 justices

The future of Obamacare again falls on the shoulders of John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy.

As the Obama administration and Obamacare opponents prepare for another Supreme Court showdown Wednesday, both sides are tailoring their arguments to win over the chief justice, who cast the saving vote for the Affordable Care Act in 2012, and Kennedy, the perennial swing vote on the Supreme Court.

The court is likely to split largely along ideological lines with Kennedy or Roberts casting crucial votes. Some Obamacare backers are even making a pitch to Justice Antonin Scalia to look at a broad reading of the law, although winning him over seems like a long shot.

The challengers — four Virginia residents who don’t want to abide by the mandate that Americans buy health insurance — argue that the Obama administration is illegally giving out Obamacare subsidies. They say a phrase in the text of the massive law — that subsidies go to “exchanges established by the state” — only allows the money to go to residents of the 16 states, plus Washington, D.C., that set up their own insurance exchanges. If the plaintiffs prevail, more than 7 million people now receiving the subsidies in 34 states would lose them.


Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email Account at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules

Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.

Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.

It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department. Mrs. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013.

Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.

“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” said Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath who is a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration.



David Petraeus, the former Army general and CIA director, admitted today that he gave highly-classified journals to his onetime lover and that he lied to the FBI about it. But he only has to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor that will not involve a jail sentence thanks to a deal with federal prosecutors. The deal is yet another example of a senior official treated leniently for the sorts of violations that lower-level officials are punished severely for.


Disgraced CIA chief David Petraeus signs plea deal admitting to giving classified information to his mistress biographer

*David Petraeus has agreed to plead guilty to one charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified information, it emerged on Tuesday
*The charge alleges he took notebooks containing classified information to where his biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell was staying in 2011
*The plea deal shows the government has recommended he face no prison time and instead gets two years probation and a $40,000 fine
*But the charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine and five years of probation
*He had an affair with Broadwell between late 2011 and summer 2012, and stepped down from the CIA after the relationship emerged


Monday, March 2, 2015

The Internet Of Things: A Dystopian Nightmare Where Everyone And Everything Will Be Monitored On The Internet

Can you imagine a world where your home, your vehicles, your appliances and every single electronic device that you own is constantly connected to the Internet? This is not some grand vision that is being planned for some day in the future. This is something that is being systematically implemented right now. In 2015, we already have “smart homes”, vehicles that talk to one another, refrigerators that are connected to the Internet, and televisions that spy on us. Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and that opens up some wonderful possibilities. But there is also a downside. What if we rapidly reach a point where one must be connected to the Internet in order to function in society? Will there come a day when we can’t even do basic things such as buy, sell, get a job or open a bank account without it? And what about the potential for government abuse? Could an “Internet of Things” create a dystopian nightmare where everyone and everything will be constantly monitored and tracked by the government? That is something to think about.


The Edward Snowden Story - video

The Edward Snowden story led to the Guardian receiving the Pulitzer prize for public service. Watch Alan Rusbridger, Ewen MacAskill, Janine Gibson and Stuart Millar talk about how the story made the headlines

Sunday, March 1, 2015


FOR YEARS THE government has kept mum about its use of a powerful phone surveillance technology known as a stingray.

The Justice Department and local law enforcement agencies insist that the only reason for their secrecy is to prevent suspects from learning how the devices work and devising methods to thwart them.

But a court filing recently uncovered by the ACLU suggests another reason for the secrecy: the fact that stingrays can disrupt cellular service for any phone in their vicinity—not just targeted phones—as well as any other mobile devices that use the same cellular network for connectivity as the targeted phone.

Civil liberties groups have long asserted that stingrays are too invasive because they can sweep up data about every phone in their vicinity, not just targeted phones, and can interfere with their calls. Justice Department and local law enforcement agencies, however, have refused to confirm this or answer other questions about the tools.

But in the newly uncovered document (.pdf)—a warrant application requesting approval to use a stingray—FBI Special Agent Michael A. Scimeca disclosed the disruptive capability to a judge.


Big Brother 2.0: 160,000 Facebook pages are hacked a day

WikiLeaks, the National Security Agency, data mining — we all know Big Brother is watching. But few of us realize to what extent.

Some things you might not know: Your smart TV is probably watching you watch it. Your office photocopier is recording everything you duplicate. Your smartphone can identify you by the way you walk, the way you hold it, and may also be recording you. The app you downloaded has now siphoned your name, e-mail address and place of residence and reported back to its parent company.

The insecurity of the individual, however, has nothing on the insecurity of nations, diseases, global finance, air and space travel, traffic and power grids, police and fire departments, medical data, news organizations. There are no firewalls that can’t be breached.

In his new book, “Future Crimes: Everything is Connected, Everyone is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It” (Doubleday), global-security expert Marc Goodman explores our existing and impending vulnerabilities, all while exhorting us to be aware to the point of paranoia.


NSA Bulk Telephony Metadata Program Reupped Until Parts Of The Patriot Act Potentially Sunset

In a post on its official Tumblr, the United States’ Office of the Director of National Intelligence noted that it sought and received a reauthorization of its telephony metadata program, authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The program collects metadata on phone calls, including those of United States citizens.

The reauthorization lasts until June 1, 2015.

Why that date? The NSA has your answer, ready-made:

The Government sought renewal of this authority to and including June 1, 2015 in order to align the expiration date of the requested order for this program with the June 1, 2015 sunset of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.

That is the reason I highlight the reauthorization — it’s the last freebie. Given that Section 215 is set to sunset, and will require an act of Congress to have its soul reborn, the intelligence community, and by extension the American government, is staring down the barrel of a tool that they might lose.


Documents Obtained by Judicial Watch Reveal Top Hillary Clinton Advisers Knew Immediately that Assault on Benghazi was Armed Attack

Judicial Watch announced today that on February 11, 2015, it uncovered documents from the U.S. Department of State revealing that top aides for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, including her then-chief of staff Cheryl Mills, knew from the outset that the Benghazi mission compound was under attack by armed assailants tied to a terrorist group. The documents were produced as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State ((No. 1:14-cv-01511). The documents make no reference to a spontaneous demonstration or Internet video, except in an official statement issued by Hillary Clinton.

“These emails leave no doubt that Hillary Clinton’s closest advisers knew the truth about the Benghazi attack from almost the moment it happened,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And it is inescapable that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knowingly lied when she planted the false story about ‘inflammatory material being posted on the Internet.’ The contempt for the public’s right to know is evidenced not only in these documents but also in the fact that we had to file a lawsuit in federal court to obtain them. The Obama gang’s cover-up continues to unravel, despite its unlawful secrecy and continued slow-rolling of information. Congress, if it ever decides to do its job, cannot act soon enough to put Hillary Clinton, Cheryl Mills, and every other official in these emails under oath.”


Friday, February 27, 2015

GCHQ may be exploiting Bank of England cybersecurity regime for spying agenda, experts warn

Experts at Cambridge University are concerned that a new “penetration testing” scheme aimed at checking how secure banks are from criminal cyber attacks could be hijacked by intelligence agencies for their spying agenda.

The Foundation for Information Policy Research think tank has told MPs they should be worried about some of the effects of CBEST, a testing regime launched by the Bank of England nine months ago.

The scheme, which was set up after the Bank’s financial policy committee criticised the industry’s approach to cybersecurity, was designed to make IT systems more robust.

However, the think tank, which is led by Ross Anderson, professor of information security at Cambridge, believes the likes of GCHQ could be exploiting weaknesses found in the tests for their own means.

The worries centre not only on the role of GCHQ’s information security arm in vetting the small number of companies carrying out the tests, but also on the suspected employment of former GCHQ staff by the testing firms.

The concerns were outlined in written evidence to Parliament’s Joint Committee on National Security Strategy late last year, and came after documents leaked by US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden showed that secret services were monitoring international banking and credit card transactions in 2010.


Hillary Clinton Exposed Part 2 – Clinton Foundation Took Millions From Countries That Also Fund ISIS

The Washington Post reported last week that foreign sources, including governments, made up a third of those who have given the foundation more than $1 million over time. The Post found that the foundation, begun by former president Bill Clinton, has raised nearly $2 billion since its creation in 2001.

Foreign governments and individuals are prohibited from giving money to U.S. political candidates, to prevent outside influence over national leaders. But the foundation has given donors a way to potentially gain favor with the Clintons outside the traditional political limits.


Hillary Clinton Exposed Part 1 – How She Aggressively Lobbied for Mega Corporations as Secretary of State

NYPD Quota Whistle-Blower's Lawsuit Revived

New York City police officers have free speech rights too, just as long as they talk though civilian channels, the 2nd Circuit ruled Thursday.
The potentially groundbreaking decision allows NYPD Officer Craig Matthews to sue the department for allegedly retaliating against him after he blew the whistle on police quotas in the Bronx, implemented in 2008.
Attorneys for Matthews say the decision could also unmuzzle public employees of all stripes.
Matthews, a 17-year police veteran of the 42nd Precinct, said that he started reporting issues with the policy to his then-commander, Capt. Timothy Brugge, in early 2009.
Two years later, Matthews said that trouble started after he told Brugge's successor, Capt. Jon Bloch, that the quota policy caused "unjustified stops, arrests, and summonses because police officers felt forced to abandon their discretion in order to meet their numbers."
He added that this "was having an adverse effect on the precinct's relationship with the community," according to his complaint.
The brass allegedly responded by subjecting Matthews to punitive assignments, poor evaluations, separation from his longtime partner, denials of overtime and leave, and constant harassment and threats.
His supervisor, Lt. Mark Sedran, allegedly told him during a roll call: "If you come after me, I will come back after you harder."

Matthews sued New York City, ex-Commissioner Ray Kelly, Bloch and Sedran in 2012.


Why your smartphone records everything you say to it

After controversy earlier this month over televisions recording owners and sending the clips to third parties, smartphone owners are now discovering that companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft are also recording voice commands and storing them for up to two years.

Modern televisions are able to change channels, alter volume or even look up information on films via voice command. But controversy erupted on internet forums earlier this month when it was noticed that the terms and conditions for some such services – invariably skipped over due to their length and impenetrable language - allow companies to send recordings of tricky commands to third parties for interpretation.

Often these recordings are not encrypted, so are potentially vulnerable to hackers, and the recordings will capture personal conversations as easily as legitimate commands.