Thursday, October 30, 2014

Three Spooky Ways You’re Being Spied on This Halloween

It’s that time of year when people don sinister masks, spray themselves with fake blood, and generally go all out for a good fright. But here at EFF, we think there are plenty of real-world ghouls to last all year-round. Fortunately, we won’t let them hide under your bed. Sometimes our work sounds like science fiction, but the surveillance techniques and technology we fight are all too real. Here are some of the beasts hiding in your backyard that we’ve been fighting to expose:

Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) are cameras that can either be mounted on squad cars or stationary. They read license plates and record the time, date, and location a particular car was encountered. And they’re paving the way for wholesale tracking of every driver’s movements. ALPRs can scan up to 1,800 license plates per minute, and can collect data on vast numbers of vehicles. In Los Angeles, for example, the Los Angeles Police Department and Sheriff’s Department collect data on 3 million cars per week.

Fusion centers are information clearinghouses that enable unprecedented levels of bi-directional information sharing between state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies and federal agencies like the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. Bi-directional means that local law enforcement can share information with these agencies while also accessing federal information, through portals like the FBI’s eGuardian database.

Fusion centers are a serious threat to privacy. They magnify the impact of excessive spying by making sure that it gets shared through a vast network of agencies, with almost no oversight.

Last but not least, we’re keeping an eye on the spreading use of Stingrays. These are devices that are used by law enforcement to electronically search for a particular cell phone's signal by capturing the International Mobile Subscriber Identity of potentially thousands of people in a particular area. Small enough to fit in a van, they masquerade as a cell phone tower, and trick your phone into connecting with them every 7-15 seconds. As a result, the government can surreptitiously figure out who, when and to where you are calling, the precise location of every device within the range, and with some devices, even capture the content of your conversations.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/10/three-spooky-ways-youre-being-spied-halloween

Surprise! Controversial Patriot Act power now overwhelmingly used in drug investigations

One of the more controversial provisions of the Patriot Act was to broaden the “sneak-and-peek” power for federal law enforcement officials. The provision allows investigators to conduct searches without informing the target of the search. We were assured at the time that this was an essential law enforcement tool that would be used only to protect the country from terrorism. Supporters argued that it was critical that investigators be allowed to look into the lives and finances of suspected terrorists without tipping off those terrorists to the fact that they were under investigation.

Civil libertarian critics warned that the federal government already had this power for national security investigations. The Patriot Act provision was far too broad and would almost certainly become a common tactic in cases that have nothing to do with national security.

But this was all immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and there was little patience for civil libertarians. The massive Patriot Act of course passed overwhelmingly, including the sneak-and-peek provision, despite the fact that only a handful of members of Congress had actually read it. (Not to mention the public.)

More than a decade later, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has published an analysis on use of the sneak-and-peek power. Just as critics predicted, it’s now a ubiquitous part of federal law enforcement.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/10/29/surprise-controversial-patriot-act-power-now-overwhelmingly-used-in-drug-investigations/

Red Cross 'Diverted Assets' During Storms' Aftermath To Focus On Image

In 2012, two massive storms pounded the United States, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless, hungry or without power for days and weeks.

Americans did what they so often do after disasters. They sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the Red Cross, confident their money would ease the suffering left behind by Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Isaac. They believed the charity was up to the job.

They were wrong.

The Red Cross botched key elements of its mission after Sandy and Isaac, leaving behind a trail of unmet needs and acrimony, according to an investigation by ProPublica and NPR. The charity’s shortcomings were detailed in confidential reports and internal emails, as well as accounts from current and former disaster relief specialists.

What’s more, Red Cross officials at national headquarters in Washington, D.C. compounded the charity’s inability to provide relief by “diverting assets for public relations purposes,” as one internal report puts it. Distribution of relief supplies, the report said, was “politically driven.”

During Isaac, Red Cross supervisors ordered dozens of trucks usually deployed to deliver aid to be driven around nearly empty instead, “just to be seen,” one of the drivers, Jim Dunham, recalls.

“We were sent way down on the Gulf with nothing to give,” Dunham says. The Red Cross’ relief effort was “worse than the storm.”

During Sandy, emergency vehicles were taken away from relief work and assigned to serve as backdrops for press conferences, angering disaster responders on the ground.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/propublica/redcross/the-red-cross-secret-disaster.html


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The NRA Comes Out in Support of Warrior Cops

The NRA has long walked a delicate line between glorifying law enforcement and fanning fears of big, tyrannical government. In 1995, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre infamously wrote of "jack-booted government thugs" and "federal agents wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms," and he still routinely warns of imminent crackdowns on gun owners. As Stewart coyly acknowledges, "For many there is a certain Orwellian level of mistrust in government and law enforcement."

Yet the NRA is also a trade lobby for firearms manufacturers, which may explain its soft stance on the militarization of American police. As I detail in the current issue of Mother Jones, a multibillion dollar industry has sprung up to provide ever-bigger weapons and military-style equipment to law enforcement. Since 2002, the Department of Homeland Security has given local police departments $41 billion to buy new gear.

This puts the NRA in a tricky position. Ever since the Ferguson protests, people from all political persuasions have become wary of efforts like the Pentagon's 1033 program, which has transferred $5.1 billion worth of equipment to local law enforcement. Stewart's article makes the NRA's position on 1033 clear: "The program is not evil; it is responsible." He also defends the police's use of camouflaged battle dress "for tactical advantage," especially for those who "serve on the frontline of illegal activity along our southern border." It is "unconscionable," he maintains, to make cops wear their "everyday duty uniforms" in "extremely dangerous situations"—such as protests.

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/10/nra-warrior-cop-police-militarization

Gary Webb Interview on his "Dark Alliance" series (1996)

FBI demands new powers to hack into computers and carry out surveillance

The FBI is attempting to persuade an obscure regulatory body in Washington to change its rules of engagement in order to seize significant new powers to hack into and carry out surveillance of computers throughout the US and around the world.

Civil liberties groups warn that the proposed rule change amounts to a power grab by the agency that would ride roughshod over strict limits to searches and seizures laid out under the fourth amendment of the US constitution, as well as violate first amendment privacy rights. They have protested that the FBI is seeking to transform its cyber capabilities with minimal public debate and with no congressional oversight.

The regulatory body to which the Department of Justice has applied to make the rule change, the advisory committee on criminal rules, will meet for the first time on November 5 to discuss the issue. The panel will be addressed by a slew of technology experts and privacy advocates concerned about the possible ramifications were the proposals allowed to go into effect next year.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/oct/29/fbi-powers-hacking-computers-surveillance

British spies can go through Americans' telephone calls and emails without a warrant reveals legal challenge in the UK

British spies can help themselves to data collected by the NSA from the telephone calls and Internet communications of Americans without a warrant, a new court document shows.

The agreement between the NSA and its British equivalent, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) means that American citizen's data can be seen and stored by the United States' closest ally without a warrant when that is 'not technically feasible'.

Anything discovered in the data, once obtained, can be kept by the British for up to two years and specifically relates to 'unselected' or raw data.

But, this deadline can be extended unilaterally by 'senior UK officials' if they believe it to be necessary for national security purposes.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2812728/British-spies-American-s-telephone-calls-emails-without-warrant-reveals-legal-challenge-UK.html

4th Amendment Fight Against NSA Continues

The National Security Agency illegally searches and seizes Americans' Internet communications, class plaintiffs continue to argue in Federal Court.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the high-profile domestic spying case Jewel v. NSA in 2008, submitted a brief Oct. 24 responding to the government's opposition to a motion for partial summary judgment in September. The privacy advocacy group also filed a motion the same day to strike a secret brief filed by the government.
In its new brief, the EFF strikes back against what it calls on its website "the government's various attempts at constitutional circumvention."
The EFF has argued that the government, by tapping fiber-optic cables of telecommunications companies and copying the data stream without a warrant, violates the Fourth Amendment.
The government claims it cannot disclose how its data collection program - known as "Upstream" - works, on national security grounds.
It's partially on those grounds that the government sought dismissal of the EFF's claims.
The Jewel case stems from a 2006 revelation by a former AT&T technician that the company was routing copies of emails, Web browsing data and other Internet information to a secret NSA-controlled location in San Francisco.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/10/29/72888.htm

NYPD Officers Strip-Search, Assault, Arrest and Charge Man with Jaywalking for Recording Cops

Jose LaSalle, 44, claims cops grabbed his camera, threw him against a fence, cuffed him and strip-searched him on Sept. 28 in the Bronx. LaSalle, who runs the watchdog group Copwatch Patrol Unit, also claims cops took his camera and slapped him with a summons for jaywalking. Now he plans to sue the city, the NYPD and the cops for $500,000.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/man-cops-roughed-filming-plans-sue-nypd-article-1.1988283


http://photographyisnotacrime.com/2014/10/29/nypd-officers-strip-search-assault-arrest-charge-man-jaywalking-recording-cops/

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

John Draper AKA 'Captain Crunch' on Alex Jones Show (10-28-14)

Report Reveals Wider Tracking of Mail in U.S.

In a rare public accounting of its mass surveillance program, the United States Postal Service reported that it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations.

The number of requests, contained in a 2014 audit of the surveillance program by the Postal Service’s inspector general, shows that the surveillance program is more extensive than previously disclosed and that oversight protecting Americans from potential abuses is lax.

The audit, along with interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, offers one of the first detailed looks at the scope of the program, which has played an important role in the nation’s vast surveillance effort since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The audit, which was reported on earlier by Politico, found that in many cases the Postal Service approved requests to monitor an individual’s mail without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization.

NY Times

Monday, October 27, 2014

Feds identify suspected 'second leaker' for Snowden reporters

By Michael Isikoff

The FBI has identified an employee of a federal contracting firm suspected of being the so-called "second leaker" who turned over sensitive documents about the U.S. government's terrorist watch list to a journalist closely associated with ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, according to law enforcement and intelligence sources who have been briefed on the case.

The FBI recently executed a search of the suspect's home, and federal prosecutors in Northern Virginia have opened up a criminal investigation into the matter, the sources said.

But the case has also generated concerns among some within the U.S. intelligence community that top Justice Department officials — stung by criticism that they have been overzealous in pursuing leak cases — may now be more reluctant to bring criminal charges involving unauthorized disclosures to the news media, the sources said. One source, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said there was concern "there is no longer an appetite at Justice for these cases."

https://news.yahoo.com/feds-identify-suspected--second-leaker--for-snowden-reporters-165741571.html

99.6 Percent of Patriot Act ‘Sneak & Peek’ Searches Unrelated to Terrorism

Peekaboo, I See You: Government Authority Intended for Terrorism is Used for Other Purposes

The Patriot Act continues to wreak its havoc on civil liberties. Section 213 was included in the Patriot Act over the protests of privacy advocates and granted law enforcement the power to conduct a search while delaying notice to the suspect of the search. Known as a “sneak and peek” warrant, law enforcement was adamant Section 213 was needed to protect against terrorism. But the latest government report detailing the numbers of “sneak and peek” warrants reveals that out of a total of over 11,000 sneak and peek requests, only 51 were used for terrorism. Yet again, terrorism concerns appear to be trampling our civil liberties.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/10/peekaboo-i-see-you-government-uses-authority-meant-terrorism-other-uses

In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis

In all, the American military, the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and other agencies used at least 1,000 ex-Nazis and collaborators as spies and informants after the war, according to Richard Breitman, a Holocaust scholar at American University who was on a government-appointed team that declassified war-crime records.

The full tally of Nazis-turned-spies is probably much higher, said Norman Goda, a University of Florida historian on the declassification team, but many records remain classified even today, making a complete count impossible.

“U.S. agencies directly or indirectly hired numerous ex-Nazi police officials and East European collaborators who were manifestly guilty of war crimes,” he said. “Information was readily available that these were compromised men.”

None of the spies are known to be alive today.

The wide use of Nazi spies grew out of a Cold War mentality shared by two titans of intelligence in the 1950s: Mr. Hoover, the longtime F.B.I. director, and Mr. Dulles, the C.I.A. director.

By ERIC LICHTBLAU New York Times

The Myth of the Free Press

By Chris Hedges

There is more truth about American journalism in the film “Kill the Messenger,” which chronicles the mainstream media’s discrediting of the work of the investigative journalist Gary Webb, than there is in the movie “All the President’s Men,” which celebrates the exploits of the reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal.

The mass media blindly support the ideology of corporate capitalism. They laud and promote the myth of American democracy—even as we are stripped of civil liberties and money replaces the vote. They pay deference to the leaders on Wall Street and in Washington, no matter how perfidious their crimes. They slavishly venerate the military and law enforcement in the name of patriotism. They select the specialists and experts, almost always drawn from the centers of power, to interpret reality and explain policy. They usually rely on press releases, written by corporations, for their news. And they fill most of their news holes with celebrity gossip, lifestyle stories, sports and trivia. The role of the mass media is to entertain or to parrot official propaganda to the masses. The corporations, which own the press, hire journalists willing to be courtiers to the elites, and they promote them as celebrities. These journalistic courtiers, who can earn millions of dollars, are invited into the inner circles of power. They are, as John Ralston Saul writes, hedonists of power.

When Webb, writing in a 1996 series in the San Jose Mercury News, exposed the Central Intelligence Agency’s complicity in smuggling tons of cocaine for sale into the United States to fund the CIA-backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua, the press turned him into a journalistic leper. And over the generations there is a long list of journalistic lepers, from Ida B. Wells to I.F. Stone to Julian Assange.

The attacks against Webb have been renewed in publications such as The Washington Post since the release of the film earlier this month. These attacks are an act of self-justification. They are an attempt by the mass media to mask the collaboration between themselves and the power elite. The mass media, like the rest of the liberal establishment, seek to wrap themselves in the moral veneer of the fearless pursuit of truth and justice. But to maintain this myth they have to destroy the credibility of journalists such as Webb and Assange who shine a light on the sinister and murderous inner workings of empire, who care more about truth than news.

Truthdig