Saturday, April 19, 2014
Two weeks ago, a pair of F.B.I. agents appeared unannounced at the door of a member of the defense team for one of the men accused of plotting the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As a contractor working with the defense team at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the man was bound by the same confidentiality rules as a lawyer. But the agents wanted to talk.
They asked questions, lawyers say, about the legal teams for Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other accused terrorists who will eventually stand trial before a military tribunal at Guantánamo. Before they left, the agents asked the contractor to sign an agreement promising not to tell anyone about the conversation.
With that signature, Mr. bin al-Shibh’s lawyers say, the government turned a member of their team into an F.B.I. informant.
Friday, April 18, 2014
The new language is clearly designed to help keep the company out of court. Last year alone, the company spent $8.5 million to settle a single lawsuit related to Yoplait packaging. Now, they just want to handle that kind of thing over email. According to The New York Times, "anyone who has received anything that could be construed as a benefit and who then has a dispute with the company over its products will have to use informal negotiation via email or go through arbitration to seek relief, according to the new terms posted on its site." This is also known as "forced arbitration."
Dozens of federal agencies now have Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams to further an expanding definition of their missions. It’s not controversial that the Secret Service and the Bureau of Prisons have them. But what about the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? All of these have their own SWAT units and are part of a worrying trend towards the militarization of federal agencies — not to mention local police forces.
“Law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier,” journalist Radley Balko writes in his 2013 book Rise of the Warrior Cop. “The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop — armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.”
Thursday, April 17, 2014
The controversial conference which took place in June 2013 attracted more than 2,000 people to The Grove Hotel and policing the event cost about £990,000.
Scores of officers from a dozen forces were drafted in for the event, which involved roads being closed with anti-terror legislation and a no-fly zone being imposed over the area.
The Bilderberg Group had made a donation of £462,000 and Hertfordshire Police applied to the Home Office for the remaining £528,000.
“They also found that they unreasonably intrude into the private lives of ordinary citizens -- individuals who have never been suspected of any wrongdoing or criminal activity -- and that these kinds of programs are not the least intrusive means available to such agencies for these investigative purposes.
“Now, I've seen little public discussion of Russia's own involvement in such surveillance,” Snowden continued. “So I’d like to ask you: Does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals, and do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than subjects, under surveillance?"
The First Amendment Coalition sued the Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act in 2012.
A drone strike in September 2011 killed U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki, a propagandist for al Qaeda, in an attack that President Obama called a "success" that was a "tribute to our intelligence community."
The smart energy meters read electric or gas usage, and enable a power company to collect detailed usage data on a particular home or building. But the readings also gather personal information that some critics argue is too intrusive.
The information gathered from smart meters includes unencrypted data that can, among other details, reveal when a homeowner is away from their residence for long periods of time. The electric wattage readings can even decipher what type of activities a customer is engaged in, such as watching TV, using a computer or even how long someone spends cooking.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
The agent also mentioned that he had a spreadsheet of all the gun shops in the area.
After this brief chat, the agent left a flyer with the shop that listed some of the more generic and normal behaviors which they were expected to view as suspicious.
Some of these trigger behaviors are:
Payment in cash or someone else’s credit card.
Reluctant or unwilling to produce valid I.D.
Large purchases or unusual inquiries into buying in bulk
Lack of knowledge involved in firearms or product usage
Hints at illegal or misuse of explosives
New or unknown customers
Nervousness or evasiveness
In the end, while the visit to a local gun shop by an FBI Counterterrorism agent is no surprise, it should serve as a stark reminder that the U.S. government is vastly concerned about a well-armed populace. Gun rights have been gradually eroded in the United States for decades but the assault on gun rights has been ratcheted up to a new level by the Obama administration.
More details will follow soon, but John had been recovering from a stroke he suffered a number of weeks back.
John was a good friend and a tireless advocate for justice in all he did. He will be terribly missed.
The NYPD has disbanded the former Demographics Unit, which had been a main cog of the aggressive anti-terror strategy put in place by former NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, city officials said Tuesday.
“Our administration has promised the people of New York a police force that keeps our city safe, but that is also respectful and fair,” Mayor de Blasio said.