Category Archives: US Police/Surveillance

New Study Shows Body Cams Have Little Influence on Police Brutality

Angela Helm reports for The Root:

Well, the results are in, and they don’t look promising for police bodycams being the end all be all in stopping police abuse and brutality. But I think we knew this. As many anti-brutality activists have maintained, it’s not about tactics (though they may help) but dismantling the system and culture.

A new study by the Lab @ DC found that there was not a “statistically significant effect of the body-worn cameras,” according to a researcher who took part in the report. Meaning, police abuse is about the same as it has always been, even with the body cameras being worn by officers.

The study, according to NPR, followed the police force in Washington, D.C., where 2,600 of its officers wear body cameras.

The study ran from June 2015 to December 2016 and worked with local police officials to ensure that cameras were assigned randomly. But alas, there were still lots of citizen complaints against officers.

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U.S. Ramps Up Border Militarism as Trump Appoints DHS Head General John Kelly to Chief of Staff

Amy Goodman speaks with two-time Emmy Award-winning journalist John Carlos Frey, whose new investigation in partnership with ABC’s “20/20” is titled ‘Life and Death at the Border’. (Democracy Now!)

New NRA Video and Trump’s Media Attacks Are Symptoms of America in Decline

Jaisal Noor speaks with historian Gerald Horne about Trump’s latest attack on the media and an alarming new NRA recruitment video. (The Real News)

The History Channel Is Finally Telling the Stunning Secret Story of the War on Drugs

Jon Schwarz reports for The Intercept:

WD_Ross_Rick_26-1497644731Chuck Grassley, a Republican senator from Iowa, is known on Twitter for expressing his yearning for the History Channel to finally show some history.

The good news for Grassley, and for everyone else, is that starting Sunday night and running through Wednesday the History Channel is showing a new four-part series called “America’s War on Drugs.” Not only is it an important contribution to recent American history, it’s also the first time U.S. television has ever told the core truth about one of the most important issues of the past 50 years.

That core truth is: The war on drugs has always been a pointless sham. For decades the federal government has engaged in a shifting series of alliances of convenience with some of the world’s largest drug cartels. So while the U.S. incarceration rate has quintupled since President Richard Nixon first declared the war on drugs in 1971, top narcotics dealers have simultaneously enjoyed protection at the highest levels of power in America.

On the one hand, this shouldn’t be surprising. The voluminous documentation of this fact in dozens of books has long been available to anyone with curiosity and a library card.

Yet somehow, despite the fact the U.S. has no formal system of censorship, this monumental scandal has never before been presented in a comprehensive way in the medium where most Americans get their information: TV.

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Don’t Lionize James Comey, The FBI Did Some Terrible Things Under Him

Trevor Aaronson writes for The Intercept:

Image result for James ComeyWhen Donald Trump asked FBI Director James Comey in February to drop the investigation of former National Security Adviser (and then-unregistered foreign agent) Michael Flynn, the president apparently didn’t realize that Comey would behave like one of his more than 13,000 special agents.

As the New York Times reported from a source close to Comey, the FBI director went back to his office and wrote down from memory a summary of his conversation with Trump.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump told Comey, according to a memo the FBI director wrote. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

About three months after Trump allegedly said this, the president fired Comey.

Had this been a normal criminal investigation, and had Comey been a special agent in the field, the memo he would have written would have been known, in the FBI’s parlance, as an FD-302. The FBI does not record conversations with subjects related to criminal investigations. Instead, FBI agents, using their memory and sometimes handwritten notes, draft memos that summarize the conversations and include purportedly verbatim quotes. Federal judges and juries have consistently viewed these memos as indisputable fact. For this reason, Comey’s memo is no normal government memo. It could do lasting damage to Trump’s presidency, if not contribute to costing him the nation’s highest office altogether.

While Comey is now positioned for history to remember him as the cop who took down Trump, or tried to at great professional expense, there should be wariness about lionizing Comey in the way the news media have in recent days. Under Comey, the FBI pushed investigative and surveillance powers to new and controversial limits and employed tactics that were morally and ethically bankrupt.

In short, Comey’s FBI did some terrible things.

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Jeff Sessions Re-Escalates the Drug War By Ordering Prosecutors to Seek Maximum Sentences

C.J. Ciaramella reports for Reason:

Image result for Jeff Sessions Re-Escalates the Drug War By Ordering Prosecutors to Seek Maximum SentencesIn a memo to U.S. attorney’s offices released Friday morning, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to seek the toughest charges and maximum possible sentences available, reversing an Obama-era policy that sought to avoid mandatory minimum sentences for certain low-level drug crimes.

While the two-page directive leaves some discretion for prosecutors to avoid federal sentencing guidelines, the overall message is clear: Federal prosecutors have the green light to go hard after any and all drug offenses. “It is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense,” Sessions wrote in the memo.

“We are returning to the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress, plain and simple,” Sessions said in a speech Friday. “If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way, we will not be willfully blind to your misconduct.”

The shift marks the first significant return by the Trump administration to the drug war policies that the Obama administration tried to moderate. In 2013, former Attorney General Eric Holder ordered federal prosecutors to avoid charging certain low-level offenders with drug charges that triggered long mandatory sentences.

The federal prison population dropped for the first time in three decades in 2014, and has continued to fall since, although the Bureau of Prisons is still operating at over its rated capacity.

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Unchecked Surveillance Technology Is Leading Us Towards Totalitarianism

Cory Doctorow writes for the International Business Times:

Image result for Unchecked Surveillance Technology Is Leading Us Towards TotalitarianismI appeared at an event in New York this week with Edward Snowden to discuss how computers can be a tool for liberation instead of coercive control. The resounding optimistic feeling was that while networks can let Facebook gut our future, they can also be used to seize it.

I appeared at an event in New York this week with Edward Snowden to discuss how computers can be a tool for liberation instead of coercive control. The resounding optimistic feeling was that while networks can let Facebook gut our future, they can also be used to seize it.

These institutions use the information to circumvent  hard won constitutional protections. Western military contractors export these tools to oppressive dictatorships, creating “turnkey surveillance states”. In Ethiopia, the ruling junta has used hacking tools to break into the computers of exiled dissidents in the USA. The information they stole was used to target activists in Ethiopia for arbitrary detention and torture.

In my science fiction novel Walkaway, I see an optimistic escape from the looming surveillance disaster. It imagines people oppressed by surveillance might “walk away” and found a parallel society where citizens’ technological know-how creates a world of fluid, improvisational technological play.

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Jeff Sessions’ Reefer Madness

Paul Jay speaks with Nina Turner, a former Democratic Senator for Ohio’s 25th district, to discuss the renewed war on drugs, including marijuana, planned by Trump’s Attorney General and Head of Homeland Security. (The Real News)

Why Does WikiLeaks Keep Publishing U.S. State Secrets? Private Contractors

Tim Shorrock, author of Spies for Hire, writes for The Washington Post:

Image result for Why does WikiLeaks keep publishing U.S. state secrets? Private contractorsWhen WikiLeaks released more than 8,000 files about the CIA’s global hacking programs this month, it dropped a tantalizing clue: The leak came from private contractors. Federal investigators quickly confirmed this, calling contractors the likeliest sources. As a result of the breach, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said, the CIA had “lost control of its entire cyberweapons arsenal.”

Intelligence insiders were dismayed. Agencies “take a chance with contractors” because “they may not have the same loyalty” as officers employed by the government, former CIA director Leon Panetta lamented to NBC.

But this is a liability built into our system that intelligence officials have long known about and done nothing to correct. As I first reported in 2007, some 70 cents of every intelligence dollar is allocated to the private sector. And the relentless pace of mergers and acquisitions in the spies-for-hire business has left five corporations in control of about 80 percent of the 45,000 contractors employed in U.S. intelligence. The threat from unreliable employees in this multibillion-dollar industry is only getting worse.

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Valut 7: John Kiriakou and James Bamford on What the Wikileaks Dump Tells Us

Thom Hartmann speaks to former CIA analyst and whistleblower John Kiriakou and journalist James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets and The Shadow Factory, about the recent Wikileaks ‘Vault 7’ dump and what it reveals about hacking and surveillance techniques used by the CIA. (The Big Picture)

Snowden Calls Trove of Alleged CIA Hacking Tools Published by Wikileaks a ‘Big Deal’

Nika Knight reports for Common Dreams:

WikiLeaks on Tuesday released a trove of purported CIA documents hailed by security expert Jessalyn Radack as “in same category as [the] biggest leaks of classified info by [whistleblowers] Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.”

Indeed, Snowden himself described the leak as “genuinely a big deal” on Twitter. “Looks authentic,” the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower added. The New York Times also described the documents’ authenticity as “likely.”

The Times went on to describe the bombshell revelations included in the trove of documents:

Among other disclosures that, if confirmed, would rock the technology world, the WikiLeaks release said that the CIA and allied intelligence services had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp, and Telegram. According to the statement from WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate Android phones and collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”

Tuesday’s release of documents comprise part one of a series, WikiLeaks wrote in a press statement. This first installment, titled “Year Zero,” contains “8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Va.,” according to WikiLeaks.

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WikiLeaks Releases Docs Detailing Mass CIA Hacking

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Newly released by WikiLeaks today is a collection of CIA documents referred to as “Vault 7,” detailing the CIA’s hacking and surveillance technology development. The current release spans “Year 0” of the program, with several more years of documents expected to be released.

Officially called “Weeping Angel,” the program sought 0-day exploits in myriad technology, including not just computers and routers, but things like smartphones and even Smart TVs, with documents showing the CIA could make a Samsung-branded TV go into a “fake-off” mode, where it would appear to be turned off, but its microphone was active and the CIA could listen in to everything happening.

The same was true of the phones targeted, with the CIA having what is said to be a large cache of exploits against both Apple and Android-based phones, exploits they carefully kept guarded from the manufacturers of the phones so that the flaws were never properly repaired. The phone breaches were focused in part on having an OS-level exploit that would render security features in encrypted applications useless,

Also among the efforts, the CIA was trying to hack into cars, with an eye toward gaining remote control over cars anywhere in the world, leading to speculation that the cars would be made to “assassinate” the drivers in an undetectable manner.

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If Trump Tower Was Wiretapped, Trump Can Declassify That Right Now

Jon Schwarz writes for The Intercept:

If in fact Trump Tower was wiretapped during the 2016 presidential campaign, as President Trump claimed in several tweets Saturday morning, he can do much more than say so on twitter: Presidents have the power to declassify anything at any time, so Trump could immediately make public any government records of such surveillance.

What Trump is saying seems to be a garbled version of previous reporting by the BBC, among other news outlets.

According to a report in the BBC, citing unnamed sources, a joint government task force was formed in spring of 2016 to look into an intelligence report from a foreign government that Russian money was somehow coming into the U.S. presidential race. In June the Department of Justice, part of the task force, asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court for a warrant to intercept electronic communications by two Russian banks.

However, the BBC’s report says, the FISA court turned the application down.. The Justice Department then asked again in July with a more narrowly drawn request, which was again turned down. Justice then made a third request for a warrant on October 15, which was granted.

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How Peter Thiel and Alex Karp’s Palantir Helped the NSA Spy on the Whole World

Sam Biddle reports for The Intercept:

Image result for Thiel and KarpDonald Trump has inherited the most powerful machine for spying ever devised. How this petty, vengeful man might wield and expand the sprawling American spy apparatus, already vulnerable to abuse, is disturbing enough on its own. But the outlook is even worse considering Trump’s vast preference for private sector expertise and new strategic friendship with Silicon Valley billionaire investor Peter Thiel, whose controversial (and opaque) company Palantir has long sought to sell governments an unmatched power to sift and exploit information of any kind. Thiel represents a perfect nexus of government clout with the kind of corporate swagger Trump loves. The Intercept can now reveal that Palantir has worked for years to boost the global dragnet of the NSA and its international partners, and was in fact co-created with American spies. 

Peter Thiel became one of the American political mainstream’s most notorious figures in 2016 (when it emerged he was bankrolling a lawsuit against Gawker Media, my former employer) even before he won a direct line to the White House. Now he brings to his role as presidential adviser decades of experience as kingly investor and token nonliberal on Facebook’s board of directors, a Rolodex of software luminaries, and a decidedly Trumpian devotion to controversy and contrarianism. But perhaps the most appealing asset Thiel can offer our bewildered new president will be Palantir Technologies, which Thiel founded with Alex Karp and Joe Lonsdale in 2004.

Palantir has never masked its ambitions, in particular the desire to sell its services to the U.S. government — the CIA itself was an early investor in the startup through In-Q-Tel, the agency’s venture capital branch. But Palantir refuses to discuss or even name its government clientele, despite landing “at least $1.2 billion” in federal contracts since 2009, according to an August 2016 report in Politico. The company was last valued at $20 billion and is expected to pursue an IPO in the near future. In a 2012 interview with TechCrunch, while boasting of ties to the intelligence community, Karp said nondisclosure contracts prevent him from speaking about Palantir’s government work.

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Trump Is Showing How the Deep State Really Works

Marc Ambinder writes for Foreign Policy:

Trump Is Showing How the Deep State Really Works The who, what, where, and why of the Trump administration’s first major scandal — Michael Flynn’s ignominious resignation on Monday as national security advisor — have all been thoroughly discussed. Relatively neglected, and deserving of far more attention, has been the how.

The fact the nation’s now-departed senior guardian of national security was unmoored by a scandal linked to a conversation picked up on a wire offers a rare insight into how exactly America’s vaunted Deep State works. It is a story not about rogue intelligence agencies running amok outside the law, but rather about the vast domestic power they have managed to acquire within it.

We know now that the FBI and the NSA, under their Executive Order 12333 authority and using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as statutory cover, were actively monitoring the phone calls and reading text messages sent to and from the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.

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Trump Signs Executive Order Giving Police More Authority

Rachael Revesz reports for The Independent:

Image result for Trump Signs Executive Order Giving Police More AuthorityDonald Trump has signed three executive orders to deal with “public safety”, including handing more authority to the police.

At the formal ceremony to appoint Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the President outlined the new mandate that Mr Sessions would have, including tackling crime, drug cartels and terrorism.

He insisted that the US faced the “threat of rising crime” and that “things will get better very soon”.

“I am directing the Department of Justice to reduce crimes and crimes of violence against law enforcement officers,” he said.

“It’s a shame, what has been happening to our great, our truly great, law enforcement officers. That is going to stop today.”

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TSA’s Own Files Show Doubtful Science Behind Its Behavior Screening Program

Cora Currier reports for The Intercept:

Newly released documents from the Transportation Security Administration appear to confirm the concerns of critics who say that the agency’s controversial program that relies on body language, appearance, and particular behaviors to select passengers for extra screening in airports has little basis in science and has led to racial profiling.

Files turned over to the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act include a range of studies that undermines the program’s premise, demonstrating that attempts to look for physical signs of deception are highly subjective and unreliable. Also among the files are presentations and reports from the TSA and other law enforcement agencies that put forth untested theories of how to profile attackers and rely on broad stereotypes about Muslims.

The TSA has deployed behavior detection officers, or BDOs, at security checkpoints and in plainclothes throughout airports to look for travelers exhibiting behaviors that might betray fear, stress, or deception. According to the documents, these officers engage in “casual conversations” such that the passengers don’t realize they “have undergone any deliberate line of questioning.”

These spotters can pick people out for extra screening, refer them to law enforcement or immigration authorities, or block them from boarding a plane.

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The FBI’s Secret Rules

The Intercept writes in the introduction to its series on the FBI:

Image result for The FBI’s Secret RulesPresident Trump has inherited a vast domestic intelligence agency with extraordinary secret powers. A cache of documents offers a rare window into the FBI’s quiet expansion since 9/11.

After the famous Church Committee hearings in the 1970s exposed the FBI’s wild overreach, reforms were enacted to protect civil liberties. But in recent years, the bureau has substantially revised those rules with very little public scrutiny. That’s why The Intercept is publishing this special package of articles based on three internal FBI manuals that we exclusively obtained.

These stories illuminate how the FBI views its authority to assess terrorism suspects, recruit informants, spy on university organizations, infiltrate online chat rooms, peer through the walls of private homes, and more. 

In addition to the articles collected here — which include nine new pieces and two that we previously published based on the same source material — we have annotated the manuals to highlight what we found most newsworthy in them.  We redacted the sections that could be used to identify individuals or systems for the purpose of causing harm. We’re presenting the stories alongside the manuals because we believe the public has a right to know how the U.S. government’s leading domestic law enforcement agency understands and wields its enormous power.

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Are We One Terrorist Attack Away From Donald Trump Doing Something Really Crazy?

Ryu Spaeth writes for New Republic:

[…] As Beutler wrote, the institutions of civil society responded with alacrity to Trump’s Muslim ban, ensnaring his executive order in the courts. But the institutions of government are withering, starting with the moribund and morally decrepit Republican Party, the wound that allowed Trump to enter the body politic and hijack it. Meanwhile, the Western world is being buffeted by immense forces, from the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis to upheaval in the Middle East—the very forces that propelled Trump to the White House and continue to upend liberal democracy as we know it. The lesson of the 2016 election is that the system failed us utterly. If President Trump can happen, anything can happen.

All of this is to say that there’s a lot of gasoline lying around and it won’t take much to spark it. This is not to say we’re looking at some imminent version of the Reichstag Fire. Like everyone else, I took heart from the demonstrations at JFK and around the country; it was evidence that America is full of good people and that we are not doomed to some Trumpian dystopia. But just consider what would have happened if the terror attack in Quebec City had occurred in the United States (even if the attack targeted Muslims). With the ban already in place, wouldn’t such an attack become instantly politicized? Would such an attack not justify the ban in the eyes of the Trump administration, and give it grounds to expand it? Can anyone say, with any certainty, that we wouldn’t see tanks in the streets? I don’t think we should succumb to hysteria. But should we be afraid? Absolutely.

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Trump Administration to ‘Empower’ U.S. Police Forces

Al Jazeera reports:

Image result for US police forcesThe administration of the US president, Donald Trump, condemned what it called the “anti-police atmosphere” in the United States and called for more law enforcement and more effective policing in a statement on the White House website after the new president’s inauguration.

“The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump administration will end it,” said Friday’s statement on the White House’s official website after it was taken over by the new administration.

Trump was still committed to building a border wall to stop undocumented immigration, the statement said, adding: “Our country needs more law enforcement, more community engagement, and more effective policing.”

According to The Guardian’s The Counted database, US police forces killed at least 1,092 people in 2016.

Although African Americans make up roughly 12 percent of the US population, they represented nearly a quarter of those killed by police last year.

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Obama Expands Surveillance Powers on His Way Out

Kate Tummarello reports for the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

With mere days left before President-elect Donald Trump takes the White House, President Barack Obama’s administration just finalized rules to make it easier for the nation’s intelligence agencies to share unfiltered information about innocent people.

New rules issued by the Obama administration under Executive Order 12333 will let the NSA—which collects information under that authority with little oversight, transparency, or concern for privacy—share the raw streams of communications it intercepts directly with agencies including the FBI, the DEA, and the Department of Homeland Security, according to a report today by the New York Times.

That’s a huge and troubling shift in the way those intelligence agencies receive information collected by the NSA. Domestic agencies like the FBI are subject to more privacy protections, including warrant requirements. Previously, the NSA shared data with these agencies only after it had screened the data, filtering out unnecessary personal information, including about innocent people whose communications were swept up the NSA’s massive surveillance operations.

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Jeff Sessions Is Unfit To Be U.S. Attorney General

In the first video, we hear from Congressmember Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois), co-chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and from Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and Moral Mondays leader. In the second video, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to David Cole, national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, who is set to testify at Sessions’ Senate hearing, and with Kyle Barry, policy counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and co-author their report opposing Jeff Sessions’s nomination. In the third,  fourth, fifth and sixth videos, Jaisal Noor speaks to Kamau Franklin, a longtime activist and civil rights attorney and author, historian Gerald Horne, Alabama NAACP President Bernard Simelton, and veteran civil rights prosecutor Gerald Hebert, who played a key role in Sessions’s failed bid for a federal judgeship in 1986. (Democracy Now!/The Real News)

Those Times the NSA Hacked America’s Allies

Juan Cole writes for Informed Comment:

Image result for NSA Hacked America’s AlliesThe hysteria about Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee servers and the phishing scam run on Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, is short on evidence and high in self-righteousness. Much of the report issued Friday was old boilerplate about the Russia Today cable channel, which proves nothing.

My complaint is that American television news reports all this as if it is The First Time in History Anyone has Acted like This. But the head of the Republican Party in the early 1970s hired burglars to do the same thing– break into the Watergate building and get access to DNC documents in hopes of throwing an election. Dick Nixon even ordered a second break-in. And it took a long time for Republican members of Congress to come around to the idea that a crime had been committed; if it hadn’t been for the Supreme Court, Nixon might have served out his term.

In the past decade and a half, the US National Security Agency has been deployed for hacking purposes not, as the cover story would have it, for counter-terrorism (there isn’t much evidence that they’re any good at that), but to gain political advantage over allies.

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Privacy Advocates Warn of Potential Surveillance Through Listening Devices Like Amazon Echo

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, about the murder case revolving around James Andrew Bates and the police warrant that seeks to obtain data from his Amazon Echo. (Democracy Now!)

Paul Jay and Abby Martin Say Goodbye to 2016

Paul Jay, The Real News Network‘s Senior Editor and Abby Martin, host of The Empire Files, discuss the critical events of the year, including Trump’s victory, the Sanders breakthrough, and the worsening prospects for federal action on climate change. (The Real News)

Police Spy Tools Evolve Faster Than Lawmakers Can Keep Up

Monte Reel reports for Bloomberg:

Image result for Police Spy Tools Evolve Faster Than Lawmakers Can Keep UpIn late October, a group of Maryland legislators met with police officials, attorneys, privacy advocates, and policy analysts to discuss creating a legal framework to govern aerial surveillance programs such as the one the Baltimore Police Department had been using to track vehicles and individuals through the city since January.

“What, if anything, are other states doing to address this issue?” Joseph Vallerio, the committee’s chairman, asked the panel.

“Nothing,” replied David Rocah, an attorney with the ACLU. “Because no one has ever done this before.”

The Baltimore surveillance program broke new ground by bringing wide-area persistent surveillance—a technology that the military has been developing for a decade—to municipal law enforcement. The police department kept the program secret from the public, as well as from the city’s mayor and other local officials, until it was detailed in August by Bloomberg Businessweek. Privacy advocates, defense attorneys, and some local legislators called for the program to be suspended immediately, until the technology could be evaluated in public hearings.

But in the three months since the public discussion began, the police have continued to use the surveillance plane to monitor large events, such as the Baltimore Marathon, and essential questions remain unanswered. The police continue to classify the program as an ongoing trial, but the private company that operates it for the police—Persistent Surveillance Systems—doesn’t have a permanent contract and no specific regulations govern its operations.

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A Trump Presidency is a Godsend for the Surveillance Industry

John Knefel writes for Inverse:

Image result for A Trump Presidency Is a Godsend for the Surveillance IndustryAs the looming specter of a Donald Trump presidency continues to terrify minority groups throughout the United States, one industry is greeting the new administration with open arms.

Speaking at a physical surveillance trade show on Wednesday, two representatives from the Security Industry Association (SIA) – which lobbies the government on behalf of surveillance tech manufacturers – laid out the myriad ways Trump could be great news for their members’ bottom line. Overall, the near-certainty that Trump will increase spending on defense border security means it’s a great time to be in the surveillance world.

Jake Parker, the director of government relations at SIA, and Joe Hoellerer, manager of government relations at SIA, spoke at a side event during ISC East, the largest physical surveillance trade conference in the northeast. SIA represents about 700 different companies, and although Trump hadn’t announced any cabinet appointments yet, Parker addressed some of the names that had been floated.

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Will Trump’s Attorney General Pick Jeff Sessions Use the DOJ as a Tool of Social Control?

Kim Brown speaks to Vincent Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who says Donald Trump’s solution of deeper investment in police forces in communities will only serve to amplify the racial divide and that Jeff Sessions “is a part. (The Real News)

Titanpointe: The NSA’s Spy Hub in New York, Hidden in Plain Sight

Ryan Gallagher and Henrik Moltke report for The Intercept:

Image result for Titanpointe: The NSA’s Spy Hub in New York, Hidden in Plain SightThey called it Project X. It was an unusually audacious, highly sensitive assignment: to build a massive skyscraper, capable of withstanding an atomic blast, in the middle of New York City. It would have no windows, 29 floors with three basement levels, and enough food to last 1,500 people two weeks in the event of a catastrophe.

But the building’s primary purpose would not be to protect humans from toxic radiation amid nuclear war. Rather, the fortified skyscraper would safeguard powerful computers, cables, and switchboards. It would house one of the most important telecommunications hubs in the United States — the world’s largest center for processing long-distance phone calls, operated by the New York Telephone Company, a subsidiary of AT&T.

The building was designed by the architectural firm John Carl Warnecke & Associates, whose grand vision was to create a communication nerve center like a “20th century fortress, with spears and arrows replaced by protons and neutrons laying quiet siege to an army of machines within.”

Construction began in 1969, and by 1974, the skyscraper was completed. Today, it can be found in the heart of lower Manhattan at 33 Thomas Street, a vast gray tower of concrete and granite that soars 550 feet into the New York skyline. The brutalist structure, still used by AT&T and, according to the New York Department of Finance, owned by the company, is like no other in the vicinity. Unlike the many neighboring residential and office buildings, it is impossible to get a glimpse inside 33 Thomas Street. True to the designers’ original plans, there are no windows and the building is not illuminated. At night it becomes a giant shadow, blending into the darkness, its large square vents emitting a distinct, dull hum that is frequently drowned out by the sound of passing traffic and wailing sirens.

For many New Yorkers, 33 Thomas Street — known as the “Long Lines Building” — has been a source of mystery for years. It has been labeled one of the city’s weirdest and most iconic skyscrapers, but little information has ever been published about its purpose.

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Trump Justice Department May Halt Police Reform Efforts Nationwide

Taya Graham and Stephen Janis report on how the Trump administration’s hostility to police accountability on the campaign trail could translate into a passive if not openly anti-reform stance says advocates. (The Real News)