Saturday, November 18, 2017

Wall Street Wants to Kill the Agency Protecting Americans From Financial Scams



SHORTLY AFTER 10:00 p.m. on a Tuesday in late October, Vice President Mike Pence was summoned to the Senate floor. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had finalized a landmark new rule in July banning the forced arbitration provisions that banks and credit card companies commonly tuck into the fine print of agreements, barring their customers from joining class-action suits. House Republicans quickly voted to nullify the new rule, but weeks later, with a deadline looming, it was still unclear if the Senate would act in time. After intense pressure from industry and the Trump administration, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was finally able to muster 50 votes, and Pence was parachuted in to break a 50-50 tie. Politico called the vote “a blow to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” and “Republicans’ most far-reaching victory yet this year in their effort to roll back financial regulations.” CFPB Director Richard Cordray was even more blunt: “Wall Street won and ordinary people lost.”

https://theintercept.com/2017/11/18/wall-street-wants-to-kill-the-agency-protecting-americans-from-financial-scams/

http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigation/2017/11/18/no-protection-protectors/

Massive US military social media spying archive left wide open in AWS S3 buckets



Dozens of terabytes exposed, your tax dollars at work

Three misconfigured AWS S3 buckets have been discovered wide open on the public internet containing "dozens of terabytes" of social media posts and similar pages – all scraped from around the world by the US military to identify and profile persons of interest.

The archives were found by UpGuard's veteran security-breach hunter Chris Vickery during a routine scan of open Amazon-hosted data silos, and the trio weren't exactly hidden. The buckets were named centcom-backup, centcom-archive, and pacom-archive.

CENTCOM is the common abbreviation for the US Central Command, which controls army operations in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. PACOM is the name for US Pacific Command, covering the rest of southern Asia, China and Australasia.

Vickery told The Register today he stumbled upon them by accident while running a scan for the word "COM" in publicly accessible S3 buckets. After refining his search, the CENTCOM archive popped up, and at first he thought it was related to Chinese multinational Tencent, but quickly realized it was a US military archive of astounding size.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/17/us_military_spying_archive_exposed/

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dark Cloud: Inside The Pentagon's Leaked Internet Surveillance Archive



The UpGuard Cyber Risk Team can now disclose that three publicly downloadable cloud-based storage servers exposed a massive amount of data collected in apparent Department of Defense intelligence-gathering operations. The repositories appear to contain billions of public internet posts and news commentary scraped from the writings of many individuals from a broad array of countries, including the United States, by CENTCOM and PACOM, two Pentagon unified combatant commands charged with US military operations across the Middle East, Asia, and the South Pacific.

The data exposed in one of the three buckets is estimated to contain at least 1.8 billion posts of scraped internet content over the past 8 years, including content captured from news sites, comment sections, web forums, and social media sites like Facebook, featuring multiple languages and originating from countries around the world. Among those are many apparently benign public internet and social media posts by Americans, collected in an apparent Pentagon intelligence-gathering operation, raising serious questions of privacy and civil liberties.

While a cursory examination of the data reveals loose correlations of some of the scraped data to regional US security concerns, such as with posts concerning Iraqi and Pakistani politics, the apparently benign nature of the vast number of captured global posts, as well as the origination of many of them from within the US, raises serious concerns about the extent and legality of known Pentagon surveillance against US citizens. In addition, it remains unclear why and for what reasons the data was accumulated, presenting the overwhelming likelihood that the majority of posts captured originate from law-abiding civilians across the world.

https://www.upguard.com/breaches/cloud-leak-centcom

National Archives Releases 10,000+ More JFK Files



The National Archives and Records Administration has just released 10,744 new JFK assassination files from the FBI.

From a NARA press release:

All of the documents released today are from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Of the documents released today, 8,336 documents are released in their entirety and 2,408 are released with limited redactions. Also, this is the first release for 144 of the documents. Released records are available for download.

The versions released today were processed by the FBI and, in accordance with the President’s guidance, are being posted expeditiously in order to make the documents available to the public, even before the March deadline established by the President on Oct. 26, 2017. Any information that has been redacted from the records in this public release remains subject to further review by the FBI and the National Archives in accordance with the President’s direction.

The National Archives released 13,213 documents on Nov. 9, 676 documents on Nov. 3, 2,891 documents on Oct. 26, and 3,810 records on July 24.


https://whowhatwhy.org/2017/11/17/national-archives-releases-10000-jfk-files/

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Brooklyn Judge’s Ruling Raises Bar for Covert Cellphone Tracking



A Brooklyn judge has ruled that the police need an eavesdropping warrant to covertly track the cellphones of criminal suspects, raising the bar in New York for the use of a surveillance device that is facing challenges across the United States.

Justice Martin P. Murphy said the New York Police Department had improperly homed in on an attempted murder suspect last year by intercepting the suspect’s cellphone signals without a warrant based on probable cause that he committed a crime.

The Police Department denied it had tracked the suspect that way and disputed the judge’s reasoning, saying that an eavesdropping warrant is only needed to capture the content of calls or messages and that the department’s tracking devices do not allow them to record that information.

The ruling, made earlier this month and published this week, could complicate an untold number of ongoing investigations in New York that relied on the tracking device, and adds to the mounting pushback from judges and elected officials against its unfettered use.

Two months ago, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., overturned a sexual assault suspect’s conviction on the basis that the government violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches when it used the device, known as a cell-site simulator, without a probable-cause warrant. And last year a federal judge in Manhattan threw out drug evidence discovered with the help of a cell-site simulator. “Absent a search warrant,” the judge wrote, “the government may not turn a citizen’s cellphone into a tracking device.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/15/nyregion/brooklyn-judge-stingray-cellphone-tracking.html

No Agenda: Thursday (11-16-17) Episode 982 - Support Squirrel

Sorting Through the JFK File Dump - Chuck Ochelli on The Corbett Report



The squirt of JFK documents from the government archives that I reported on earlier became a veritable dump last week when 13,000 more documents were released. Joining us to sort through this mess is host of The Ochelli Effect, Chuck Ochelli, aka The Blind JFK Researcher.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TX6r2QWw_Wo

5 of the Most Important JFK Files the CIA Is Still Hiding



The publicly available portions of these files do not contain “smoking gun” proof of conspiracy. But they do refute the official story that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and unaided. While incomplete, the new JFK files show that Oswald did not act alone in the years, months and weeks leading up to Kennedy's murder. The files confirm he acted while being monitored and surveilled by top undercover CIA officers.

Four of these five officers knew of Oswald’s personal history, foreign travels and contacts with a presumed KGB officer in Mexico City six weeks before Kennedy was shot and killed. They include:

1. James Angleton: The legendary chief of counterintelligence testified to Senate investigators behind closed doors in September 1975. The 155-page transcript of his comments is still secret in its entirety.

2. Birch O’Neal: Virtually unknown in the vast literature of JFK’s assassination, O’Neal played a key role in the CIA’s monitoring of Oswald. As an aide to Angleton, O’Neal ran a secretive office known as the Special Investigations Group, which opened the agency’s first file on Oswald in October 1959 (a story I tell in my new biography of Angleton, The Ghost).

Of the 224 pages in the O’Neal file released on November 3, 177 pages contain redactions, and three are wholly secret.

3. David Phillips: A decorated undercover officer, Phillips served as chief of Cuba operations in Mexico City in 1963. He supervised the surveillance of the Cuban Consulate in the Mexican capital, which Oswald visited six weeks before JFK was assassinated.

His personnel files containing 602 pages of material were released November 3, but 60 percent of those pages are fully or partially redacted. Only 227 pages are open to the public.

4. Ann Goodpasture: The senior woman in the Mexico City station in 1963, Goodpasture worked closely with Phillips and coordinated the station’s audio and photo surveillance operations during Oswald’s visit to Mexico City in September 1963.

Of 288 pages of material in the Goodpasture file, 95 pages (33 percent) contain some redactions, and 18 pages (6 percent) remain completely secret.

5. George Joannides: A psychological warfare operations officer who worked in Miami and New Orleans, Joannides handled the anti-Castro Cuban Student Directorate, which was funded by the CIA under the code name AMSPELL. Members of the group had a series of confrontations with Oswald in New Orleans in the summer of 1963.

https://www.alternet.org/top-5-jfk-files-cia-still-hiding-coverup-secrecy

ALFRED McCOY - Into the Afghan Abyss (Again) How a Failed Drug War Will Defeat Trump’s Afghan Adventure



Americans have been hearing about the Taliban for so long that most fail to appreciate just how relentless that movement’s growth has been in recent years. In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, the Bush White House unleashed a lethal combination of U.S. airpower and CIA-funded Afghan warlords to crush the fundamentalist Taliban and capture the Afghan capital, Kabul, with stunning speed. Not only was that Islamist movement and its government defeated, but it lost so many dedicated militants to those devastating air attacks that it was seemingly smashed beyond repair or revival. Nonetheless, within five years, the Taliban was back in force, already fielding 25,000 fighters. By 2015, it was in control of more than half the countryside, had captured district capitals, and was even pounding at the gates of major provincial cities like Kunduz.

As with any movement, there are multiple reasons for the Taliban’s success, including the failure of the government in Kabul — a cesspit of corruption — to deliver anything like rural prosperity, the country’s martial tradition of fighting foreign occupiers, and Pakistan’s sub-rosa support, as well as the wide-open sanctuaries in its tribal backlands along the Afghan border. But there is one other factor, more fundamental than all the rest: the opium poppy.

The Taliban guerrillas are, like many insurgent armies, largely made up of teenagers who fight, at least in part, for cash to feed their families. Every spring for the past 15 years, as snow melts from mountain slopes across that country, new crops of such teenage recruits emerge from impoverished villages ready to take up arms for the rebel cause. Each of them reportedly makes at least $300 a month, far more than they could possibly hope to earn from the usual agricultural wages. In other words, it takes an estimated $90 million in salaries alone for the Taliban to field its 25,000 strong guerrilla army for a single fighting season. With an overall budget approaching a billion dollars annually, the cost of the insurgency’s 15-year war rings in at something close to $15 billion.

So where, in that impoverished, arid land, has the Taliban been getting nearly a billion dollars a year? According to the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, a single Afghan province, Helmand, “produces a significant amount of the opium globally that turns into heroin and… provides about 60 percent of the Taliban funding.” The country’s president, Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank official, agrees. “Without drugs,” he’s said, “this war would have been long over. The heroin is a very important driver of this war.”

http://www.unz.com/article/into-the-afghan-abyss-again/

Mistrial declared in Menendez corruption case



A mistrial was declared in the corruption case of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) after jurors remained deadlocked following four days of deliberations.

The mistrial is a blow to the Justice Department, and means that nearly three years after he was charged with corruption, Menendez will walk out of the federal courthouse in Newark a free man — but with a cloud still hanging over him.

After they spent more than two months listening to dozens of witnesses and hours of arguments and instructions, the jury in the trial of Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen could not come to a verdict on the charges against both men.

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/16/menendez-jury-still-deadlocked-244980

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

About 3800 People Are Jailed In New York For The Crime Of Being Poor



Every day of 2016, New York City held an average of 7,633 people in jail for pretrial detention. Pretrial detention means that these are people who have yet to be convicted of any crime, and who are, in one of our criminal justice system’s most important stipulations, presumed innocent. The United States is setting a new precedent for its civilians. If you’re poor, you get to face time in the slammer for the crime of not being able to post bail. Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?” Because 3800 of New York’s jailed people are behind bars for one reason:

They don’t have enough money.

3800 of those jailed in New York do not have sufficient funds to make bail. Many of these defendants are held despite being accused of low-level, non-violent offenses like drug use. They’re held despite the fact that “pretrial detention disrupts people’s ability to work, pay rent, and take care of their families, and drastically increases the chances that one will be found guilty of a crime.” They’re held even though many may well be innocent, and many of those who are guilty pose no real risk to their community. And the tax payer gets to cover the expenses for these people who are presumably still innocent.

https://www.activistpost.com/2017/05/about-3800-people-are-jailed-in-new-york-for-the-crime-of-being-poor.html

The CIA’s House of Horrors: Frank Olson’s Fatal Trip



By the early 1950s the CIA’s relationship with drugs stretched from alliances with criminal smugglers of heroin to research in, and application of, lethal or mind-altering chemical agents. On November 18, 1953, a group of seven men gathered for a meeting at the Deer Creek Lodge, in the mountains of western Maryland. Three were from the US Army’s biological weapons center at Fort Detrick; the other four were CIA officers from the Agency’s Technical Services Division. This encounter was one in a regular series of working sessions on Project MK-NAOMI, with MK being the prefix for work by Technical Services and NAOMI referring to a project to develop poisons for operational use by the CIA and its clients. The men at Fort Detrick had, at the CIA’s request, already stockpiled a lethal arsenal of shellfish toxins, botulinum, anthrax and equine encephalitis.

A day later, during the evening of November 19, the scientists shared an after-dinner glass of Cointreau. Unknown to those round the convivial table, the CIA’s Dr. Sidney Gottlieb had decided to spike the Cointreau with a heavy dose of LSD. Gottlieb didn’t tell the officers they had been drugged and indeed had violated CIA rules by failing to get prior approval for the experiment. About thirty minutes after they had tossed back their liqueurs, Gottlieb asked if anyone had noticed anything unusual. The doctor found that most of men round the table experienced a little buzz, but nothing significant. Then Gottlieb fessed up and disclosed the covert LSD dosage.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/10/the-cias-house-of-horrors-frank-olsons-fatal-trip/

Monday, November 13, 2017

TSA Plans to Use Face Recognition to Track Americans Through Airports



The “PreCheck” program is billed as a convenient service to allow U.S. travelers to “speed through security” at airports. However, the latest proposal released by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reveals the Department of Homeland Security’s greater underlying plan to collect face images and iris scans on a nationwide scale. DHS’s programs will become a massive violation of privacy that could serve as a gateway to the collection of biometric data to identify and track every traveler at every airport and border crossing in the country.

Currently TSA collects fingerprints as part of its application process for people who want to apply for PreCheck. So far, TSA hasn’t used those prints for anything besides the mandatory background check that’s part of the process. But this summer, TSA ran a pilot program at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and at Denver International Airport that used those prints and a contactless fingerprint reader to verify the identity of PreCheck-approved travelers at security checkpoints at both airports. Now TSA wants to roll out this program to airports across the country and expand it to encompass face recognition, iris scans, and other biometrics as well.

From Pilot Program to National Policy

While this latest plan is limited to the more than 5-million Americans who have chosen to apply for PreCheck, it appears to be part of a broader push within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expand its collection and use of biometrics throughout its sub-agencies.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/11/tsa-plans-use-face-recognition-track-americans-through-airports

Security Breach and Spilled Secrets Have Shaken the N.S.A. to Its Core



A serial leak of the agency’s cyberweapons has damaged
morale, slowed intelligence operations and resulted in
hacking attacks on businesses and civilians worldwide.


Fifteen months into a wide-ranging investigation by the agency’s counterintelligence arm, known as Q Group, and the F.B.I., officials still do not know whether the N.S.A. is the victim of a brilliantly executed hack, with Russia as the most likely perpetrator, an insider’s leak, or both. Three employees have been arrested since 2015 for taking classified files, but there is fear that one or more leakers may still be in place. And there is broad agreement that the damage from the Shadow Brokers already far exceeds the harm to American intelligence done by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who fled with four laptops of classified material in 2013.

Mr. Snowden’s cascade of disclosures to journalists and his defiant public stance drew far more media coverage than this new breach. But Mr. Snowden released code words, while the Shadow Brokers have released the actual code; if he shared what might be described as battle plans, they have loosed the weapons themselves. Created at huge expense to American taxpayers, those cyberweapons have now been picked up by hackers from North Korea to Russia and shot back at the United States and its allies.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/12/us/nsa-shadow-brokers.html