‘Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday.
[...] Rosen, who has not been charged in the case, was nonetheless the target of a search warrant that enabled Justice Department investigators to secretly seize his private emails after an FBI agent said he had “asked, solicited and encouraged … (a source) to disclose sensitive United States internal documents and intelligence information.”‘
by Andy Greenberg
‘[...] In the ruling Friday, the DC Circuit court decided that the National Security Agency doesn’t need to confirm or deny its relationship with Google in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, ruling that a FOIA exemption covers any documents whose exposure might hinder the NSA’s national security mission.
After Google revealed in early 2010 that it had been hacked by cyberspies seemingly based in China, the Washington Post reported that Google and the NSA had partnered to help bolster the company’s defenses against future attacks. NSA director Mike McConnell [stated] that a partnership with Google was “inevitable.”
The ruling comes as controversy has been growing around CISPA, a bill that passed the House last month that would allow private firms like Google to share a wide range of information with government agencies like the NSA for cybersecurity reasons.’
Cops Go Undercover at High School to Bust Special-Needs Kid for Pot: Why Are Police So Desperate to Throw Kids in Jail? ~ Alternet
by Kristen Gwynne
‘Californians Doug and Catherine Snodgrass are suing their son’s high school for allowing undercover police officers to set up the 17-year-old special-needs student for a drug arrest.
In a video segment on ABC News, they say they were “thrilled” when their son — who has Asperger’s and other disabilities and struggled to make friends — appeared to have instantly made a friend named Daniel.
“He suddenly had this friend who was texting him around the clock,” Doug Snodgrass told ABC News. His son had just recently enrolled at Chaparral High School.
“Daniel,” however, was an undercover cop with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department who “ hounded” the teenager to sell him his prescription medication. When he refused, the undercover cop gave him $20 to buy him weed, and he complied — not realizing the guy he wanted to befriend wanted him behind bars.’
Cleared of Charges of Setting Off a School Explosion, Florida Honor Student Heads to Space Camp ~ ABC
by DANIEL CLARK
‘Kiera Wilmot is going to space camp.
In late April, the 16-year-old central Florida honor student was accused of igniting a chemical explosion on school grounds, leading to her arrest and suspension from school, but authorities dropped criminal charges last week.
The nightmarish ordeal was shocking for her single mother, Marie Wilmot, who always encouraged Kiera and her twin sister, Kayla, to follow their passions.
“The initial phone call was terrifying,” Marie told ABC News. “Time will help I hope, it was devastating for me as a mother.”
While school officials debate whether Kiera will return to Bartow High School, the Wilmot family received an unexpected surprise.
The explosion struck a chord with 18-year NASA veteran Homer Hickam, a former lead astronaut training manager for Spacelab, and later for the International Space Station.’
How America’s National Security Apparatus (in Partnership With Big Corporations) Cracked Down on Dissent ~ Alternet
by Alex Kane
‘Counter-terror police officers collaborated with corporate entities to combat protests. Undercover police officers monitored and tracked the Occupy movement. A right-wing corporate-backed group hired a police officer to help protect a conference. These are some of the details revealed in a new report published by the Center for Media and Democracy’s Beau Hodai, along with DBA Press. The revelations are based on government documents the group obtained.
The report, titled “Dissent or Terror: How the Nation’s Counter Terrorism Apparatus, In Partnership With Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street,” is an eye-opening look into how the U.S. counter-terror apparatus was used to track the Occupy movement in 2011 and 2012 and also help protect the business entities targeted by the movement. The report specifically looks at the activities of “fusion centers,” or law enforcement entities created after 9/11 that transform local police forces into counter-terror units in partnership with federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security. The fusion centers devoted a lot of time–to the point of “obsession,” the report notes–to monitoring the Occupy movement, particularly for any “threats” to public safety or health and to whether there were “extremists” involved in the movement.
The documents obtained for the report from government agencies reveal “a grim mosaic of ‘counter-terrorism’ agency operations and attitudes toward activists and other socially/politically-engaged citizens over the course of 2011 and 2012,” writes Hodai. He adds that these heavily-funded agencies indisputably view Occupy activists as “terrorist” threats. Additionally, Hodai writes that “this view of activists, and attendant activist monitoring/suppression, has been carried out on behalf of, and in cooperation with, some of the nation’s largest financial and corporate interests.”’
Private Prison Profits Skyrocket, As Executives Assure Investors Of ‘Growing Offender Population’ ~ Think Progress
by Nicole Flatow
‘A major U.S. private prison operator known for inmate abuse, violations, and disregard for the truth reported a 56-percent spike in profit in the first quarter of 2013, due in part to its new strategy for drastically reducing its taxes, the Associated Press reports. During a conference call touting its success, representatives at GEO Group boasted that the company continues to have “solid occupancy rates in mid to high 90s” and that they are optimistic “regarding the outlook for the industry,” in part due to a “growing offender population.”’
by John Glaser
‘According to Peter Scheer, a lawyer and executive director of the First Amendment Coalition (FAC), “the real outrage about the Justice Department’s use of secret subpoenas for the phone records of Associated Press journalists is that…it was probably legal.”
[...] This should be a lesson in how the so-called rule of law can often be a sham. Legal doesn’t mean good. The government has built up an entire legal edifice to legitimize all kinds of abuse, from surveillance to police brutality.
Legal or not, this scandal has undeniably underscored the Obama administration’s utter disdain for both the press and for personal privacy. The extent of dragnet-style domestic surveillance in the Obama era has been unprecedented. Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at The Cato Institute, writes in Mother Jones that the government is spying on journalists far more often than we think.’
‘The biggest thing to come out of Texas may turn out to be a blow to Internet freedoms: legislators there are considering a bill that would compromise privacy on the Web for all residents of the Lone Star State.
Lawmakers in the State Senate are expected to vote Monday on a bill that, if passed, would compel Internet Service Providers (ISPs) anywhere in the world to fork over private Web records if that information could aid in a criminal investigation.
Federal legislation already in place would likely trump any attempts from Texas prosecutors to pry personal ISP records or other online communications from the likes of social networking sites, but the efforts on behalf of Lone Star lawmakers to get the ball rolling on a new cyber-spy bill are indeed very real. Last week, its companion bill in the State House of Representatives passed unanimously, and similar outcome in the Senate is all now expected any moment. Now should SB 1052 proves victorious in the Senate, an Internet surveillance bill written in Texas but with international implications could be added to the law books later this year.
Ben Sherman of the Burnt Orange Report cautioned in a blog post last week that the bill could be very dangerous to all Americans if passed because it would let local authorities seize electronic records held on servers outside of Texas.’
The Fridge Has Eyes: Cara Gives Anything With A Camera Powers To See Faces, Age, Gender, More ~ Fast Company
by Sarah Kessler
‘When Jason Sosa started work on a webcam technology that detects, in real time, the age, gender, attention time, and glances of the people looking at it, he thought he was solving an advertising problem. It’s turned out to be much more.
His startup’s first product was a digital billboard that changes the ads it displays depending on who looks at them–showing, for instance, an ad for a toy to a child and an ad for aftershave to a man.
It wasn’t long, however, before requests started pouring in from other industries eager to use the technology:
[...] Cara is different than face recognition technology such as that of Face.com, which helps identify individuals in photos and was recently acquired by Facebook. Because Cara runs locally, it is instantaneous, allowing for real-time analysis of video that can be used to trigger a reaction in real time. It’s also designed for a different purpose, which Sosa argues makes it less of a privacy risk. “The goal isn’t to identify people individually,” he says. “Our software doesn’t record images, it doesn’t save video, it doesn’t collect any personal information. It’s simply gathering stats.”
by Mike Riggs
‘Only six percent of Americans think minor marijuana possession should be punishable by jail time, according to a new Reason-Rupe poll. The poll also found that a strong plurality of Americans think the use or possession of small amounts of marijuana should not be punishable at all.
When asked, “Which approach do you think government and law enforcement should take toward someone found smoking marijuana or in possession of a small amount of marijuana?”, six percent of respondents said possession should be punishable with jail, 20 percent said it should result in mandatory substance abuse counseling, 32 percent said users should incur a fine, and 35 percent of respondents said people caught with small amounts of marijuana should not be punished at all.
The Reason-Rupe poll is one of the few instances–possibly the first–in which the usual polling dichotomies of incarceration v. treatment and criminal penalty v. civil penalty have been expanded to include no penalty whatsoever. The results suggest that Americans are comfortable with the idea of decriminalization–which reduces the penalty for minor marijuana possession to a civil fine–and more sympathetic than ever to the idea of fully legalizing possession. ‘
‘A federal judge recently ruled that if someone has their cell phone turned on, their location data does not deserve protection under the Fourth Amendment, meaning law enforcement can track individuals without a search warrant.
New York magistrate judge Gary Brown decided in favor of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents who were seeking his approval over a warrant on a doctor who they suspected was being paid for issuing thousands of prescriptions. The warrant would have compelled the physician’s phone company to provide real-time tracking data from his cell.
Brown, certainly to the delight of police, issued a 30-page brief outlining his opinion that, by carrying a cell phone, someone is essentially waiving their Fourth Amendment right to due process.
“Given the ubiquity and celebrity of geolocation technologies, an individual has no legitimate expectation of privacy in the prospective of a cellular telephone where that individual has failed to protect his privacy by taking the simple expedient of powering it off,” Brown wrote. ‘
‘[...] What happened to Wesley is not an isolated incident. It is another recent example of school administrators removing students from the classroom because of harmless student expression. Last month, high school junior Kyron Birdine found himself suspended for four days for using Twitter to mock a mandatory-but-ungraded standardized test. Two weeks ago, a science experiment that produced smoke—but no harm or injury of any kind—nevertheless resulted in the expulsion and arrest of model high school student Kiera Wilmot, who is now facing felony charges. All of these students are black, which is unfortunately not a surprise. Zero-tolerance suspension policies are inflicted on students of color at a rate vastly disproportionate to their numbers.
Overwhelming evidence shows that this breed of zero tolerance policies has failed. Worse than failed; Backfired. In addition to raising serious First Amendment concerns, the rush to suspend or arrest students like Wesley, Kyron and Kiera for minor classroom infractions produces devastating consequences for the students involved and often serves as the first step on the school-to-prison pipeline.’
by Erin McCann
Healthcare IT News
‘The Internal Revenue Service could now be facing a class action lawsuit over allegations that it improperly accessed and stole the health records of some 10 million Americans, including medical records of all California state judges.
Abby Martin calls out the corporate press for their coverage of AP hacking scandal, pointing out how the US government routinely conducts this type of surveillance without the same type of media outcry.
SEE ALSO: DOJ: We don’t need warrants for e-mail, Facebook chats (CNET)
SEE ALSO: Eric Holder Has No Idea
Spying on Members of the US Congress: DoJ Tapped Congressional Rooms as Well as Reporters’ Offices ~ Washington’s Blog
Has the Obama Department of Justice Violated the Separation of Powers?
California Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) says that the Department Of Justice tapped phones in the rooms where Congress members speak informally and off the record, eat, sleep and socialize when they’re not on the floor of the House of Representatives or in their individual offices.These rooms are known as “cloak rooms”, which are the spaces in which a lot of informal conversations occur… both between Congress members, and Congress members and reporters.
Congressman Nunes told Hugh Hewitt:
[Congressman Nunes]: I don’t think people are focusing on the right thing when they talk about going after the AP reporters. The big problem that I see is that they actually tapped right where I’m sitting right now, the Cloak Room.
[Interviewer]: Wait a minute, this is news to me.
Congressman Nunes: The Cloak Room in the House of Representatives.
[Interviewer]: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Congressman Nunes: So when they went after the AP reporters, right? Went after all of their phone records, they went after the phone records, including right up here in the House Gallery, right up from where I’m sitting right now. So you have a real separation of powers issue that did this really rise to the level that you would have to get phone records that would, that would most likely include members of Congress ….
Now that is a separation of powers issue here ….
Liberals rightfully lambasted the Bush administration for considering doing something similar. As Mother Jones reported in 2009:
James Risen and Eric Lichtblau report in the New York Times today that the NSA may have exceeded the wiretapping authority it was given by Congress in 2008.
But then there’s this buried in the middle of the story, which isn’t vague at all:
New details are also emerging about earlier domestic surveillance activities, including the agency’s attempt to wiretap a congressman without court approval on an overseas trip, according to interviews with current and former intelligence officials.
….The agency believed that the congressman, whose identity could not be determined, was in contact as part of a congressional delegation to the Middle East in 2005 or 2006 with an extremist who had possible terrorist ties and was already under surveillance, the official said. The agency then sought to eavesdrop on the congressman’s conversations to gather more intelligence, the official said.
The official said the plan was ultimately blocked because of concerns from some officials in the intelligence community about the idea of using the N.S.A., without court oversight, to spy on a member of Congress.
Jesus. If a member of Congress isn’t a “United States person” protected from warrantless surveillance by every version of FISA that’s ever been on the books, who is? Shouldn’t this have set off alarm bells at every possible level at NSA, rather than merely being “ultimately blocked” because “some” officials had “concerns” about it?
But – even though top expert say that Obama is trampling on separation of powers and Constitutional liberties more than Bush or Nixon – many Democrats are still hypnotized by what liberal writer Glenn Greenwald calls the “cult of personality“.
Update: Nunes’ director of communications – Jack Lagner – has issued a clarification:
What Rep. Nunes meant by “tapped” was that the DOJ seized the phone records, as has been widely reported. There was a little confusion between him and the host during the conversation: He did not mean to refer to phone records of the cloakroom itself, but of the Capitol. This refers to the phone records for the AP from the House press gallery, which the DOJ admitted to looking at. He was explaining that if those phone records were seized, they would reveal a lot of conversations between the press and members of Congress, since reporters often speak to Members from the press gallery phones. The notion of the DOJ looking at phone records from the Capitol of conversations between Members of Congress and reporters is something that concerns Rep. Nunes, bringing up issues related to the separation of powers.
Nunes’ point still stands, though. The Department of Justice collection of phone records of conversations between Congress members and reporters violates the principal of separation of powers.
by Mike Snyder
The Economic Collapse Blog
‘What do speed traps, parking tickets, toll roads, speed cameras and red light cameras all have in common? They are all major revenue sources for state and local governments. All over America today there are state and local governments that are drowning in debt. Many have chosen to use “traffic enforcement” as a way to raise desperately needed revenue. According to the National Motorist Association, issuing speeding tickets raises somewhere between 4.5 billion and 6 billion dollars in the United States each year. And the average price of a speeding ticket just keeps going up.
Today, the national average is about $150, but in many jurisdictions it is far higher. For example, more than 16 million traffic tickets are issued in the state of California each year, and the average fine is approximately $250. If you are wealthy that may not be much of a problem, but if you are a family that is barely scraping by every month that can be a major financial setback. Meanwhile, America’s roads are also being systematically transformed into a surveillance grid.
The number of cameras watching our roads is absolutely exploding, and automated license plate readers are capturing hundreds of millions of data points on all of us. As you drive down the highway, a police vehicle coming up behind you can instantly read your license plate and pull up a whole host of information about you. This happened to me a few years ago. I had pulled on to a very crowded highway in Virginia and within less than a minute a cop car had scanned me and was pulling me over because one of my stickers had expired. But these automated license plate readers are being used for far more than just traffic enforcement now. For example, officials in Washington D.C. are now using automated license plate readers to track the movements of every single vehicle that enters the city. They know when you enter Washington, and they know when you leave. So where is all of this headed? Do we really want to live in a “Big Brother” society where the government constantly tracks all of our movements?’
Palm Beach County sheriff gets $1 million for violence prevention unit amid questions about civil liberties, care for mentally ill ~ Palm Beach Post
‘Florida House and Senate budget leaders have awarded Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw $1 million for a new violence prevention unit aimed at preventing tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., from occurring on his turf.
Bradshaw plans to use the extra $1 million to launch “prevention intervention” units featuring specially trained deputies, mental health professionals and caseworkers. The teams will respond to citizen phone calls to a 24-hour hotline with a knock on the door and a referral to services, if needed.
The goal will be avoiding crime — and making sure law enforcement knows about potential powder kegs before tragedies occur, Bradshaw said. But the earmark, which is a one-time-only funding provision, provoked a debate Monday among mental health advocates and providers about the balance between civil liberties, privacy and protecting the public.
Bradshaw said his proposal is a first-of-its-kind in the nation, and he hopes it will become a model for the rest of the state like his gang prevention and pill-mill units.
“Every single incident, whether it’s Newtown, that movie theater, or the guy who spouts off at work and then goes home and kills his wife and two kids — in every single case, there were people who said they knew ahead of time that there was a problem,” Bradshaw said. “If the neighbor of the mom in Newtown had called somebody, this might have saved 25 kids’ lives.”
Bradshaw is readying a hotline and is planning public service announcements to encourage local citizens to report their neighbors, friends or family members if they fear they could harm themselves or others.’
‘Thousands of people in the St. Louis area are talking about a strange message that popped up on their cell phone this weekend. It was about an AMBER Alert issued for a young girl missing from the Springfield, Missouri area.
It’s called the Wireless Emergency Alert system and people here are wondering why and how it showed up on their phones.
Cell phone user Megan Abbott saw the message Saturday afternoon and didn’t know what to think.
“I wanted to make sure it wasn’t spam or anything and make sure that it was actually happening because it didn’t have NewsChannel 5 or any other news source at the top,” said Abbott.
And these wireless emergency alerts never will. That’s because they’re generated by a partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission and a number of cell phone providers including AT&T, Sprint and Verizon.
The system rolled out nationwide last April and is designed to increase public safety.’
SEE ALSO: President Obama could send text-message warnings under new PLAN system (LA Times)
SEE ALSO: Smartphones now set up with automatic alert system for weather, national emergencies (Twin Cities)
SEE ALSO: Former DHS Head, Tom Ridge: I Was Pressured To Raise Terror Alert To Help Bush Win (Huffington Post)
SEE ALSO: Verizon says ‘civil emergency’ alert in N.J. was only a test; company apologizes for ‘inconvenience’ (NJ.com)
by Geoffrey Ingersoll
‘In the year since Massachusetts State Trooper Mike Katone was given permission to use counter insurgency tactics in the city of Springfield, crime has dropped as much as 25% in the targetted areas, CBS reports.
The former Green Beret was featured in Sunday’s most recent episode of 60 Minutes and told reporters that the operations work at home as well as they did in combat.’
‘Officials at an Alabama university have divulged a new plan to use unmanned aerial devices to help police monitor, and supposedly protect, students on campus.
Law enforcement officials unveiled the plan Wednesday [May 8th] at a press conference at the University of Alabama Huntsville, telling the Huntsville Times the aircraft would provide an “eye in the sky” that could help stop a mass shooting on campus.
Gary Maddux, the lead research director of Systems Management and Productions Center, said that because the remote-controlled surveillance devices fly at a lower altitude than drones, they are totally unlike the controversial military aircraft. ‘
by Joseph Menn
‘The U.S. government will use classified information about software vulnerabilities for the first time to protect companies outside of the military industrial complex, top officials told Reuters this week.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said that a system being developed to scan Internet traffic headed toward critical businesses would block attacks on software programs that the general population does not realize are possible.’
by Declan McCullagh
‘Apple receives so many police demands to decrypt seized iPhones that it has created a “waiting list” to handle the deluge of requests, CNET has learned.
Court documents show that federal agents were so stymied by the encrypted iPhone 4S of a Kentucky man accused of distributing crack cocaine that they turned to Apple for decryption help last year.
An agent at the ATF, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, “contacted Apple to obtain assistance in unlocking the device,” U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell wrote in a recent opinion. But, she wrote, the ATF was “placed on a waiting list by the company.”’
‘The number of violent crimes fell last year in Philadelphia, as did assaults on police officers.
But the number of people shot by police is up.
The number of shootings by police in 2012 resulting in death or injury climbed to the highest level it’s been in 10 years. Philadelphia police shot 52 suspects last year while responding to calls for reported crimes. Of those shot, 15 people died.’