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Supervisors change minds, keep TSA screeners at Sacramento airport In an abrupt about-face, Sacramento County has backed away from a controversial plan to jettison its federal airport screeners and replace them with private security company employees.
In a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors decided to withdraw the county's federal request to be allowed to use private screeners at checkpoints in Terminals A and B instead of federal Transportation Security Administration employees.
Until Tuesday, Sacramento had been on track to become the third major airport in the country to participate in a federal opt-out program that would turn checkpoint security over to the private sector. Federal officials were poised to solicit applications from security companies for the Sacramento contract later this month.
The county reversal came amid lobbying from airline flight attendants, local union representatives and other local leaders, including Sacramento Assemblymen Roger Dickinson and Richard Pan – all urging them to stick with TSA. (Sacramento Bee)
Police Stop-and-Frisk Program in Bronx Is Ruled Unconstitutional An element of the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practice was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge on Tuesday, a ruling that may have broad implications for the city’s widespread use of police stops as a crime-fighting tactic.
The decision, the first federal ruling to find that the practice under the Bloomberg administration violates the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, focused on police stops conducted in front of several thousand private residential buildings in the Bronx enrolled in the Trespass Affidavit Program. Property managers in that program have asked the police to patrol their buildings and to arrest trespassers.
But the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said officers were routinely stopping people outside the buildings without reasonable suspicion that they were trespassing.
“While it may be difficult to say where, precisely, to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters, such a line exists, and the N.Y.P.D. has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside TAP buildings in the Bronx,” Judge Scheindlin ruled. (New York Times)
Sandy Hook School Massacre Timeline The following timeline of the December 14 mass killing of 20 children and 8 adults in Newtown Connecticut attempts to demonstrate how the event was presented to the public by corporate news media. The chronological assemblage of coverage is not comprehensive of all reports published on the incident but rather seeks to verify how the storyline was to a substantial degree constructed by federal and state law enforcement authorities and major media around the theory that 20-year-old Adam Lanza was the sole agent in the massacre.
This scenario became an established reality through the news media’s pronounced repetition of the lone gunman narrative and meme. This proposed scenario significantly obscured the fact that police encountered and apprehended two additional shooting suspects on the school’s grounds within minutes of the crime. These suspects remain unaccounted for by authorities but the roles they may have played arguably correlate with the shifting information presented by authorities and major news media on injuries and weapons vis-à-vis the mass carnage meted out in the school. While the certain detainment of additional suspects was pointed to by alternative news media, including Natural News, Infowars, Veterans Today and Global Research in the days following the tragedy, the untenable lone gunman narrative has become firmly established in the public psyche via an overwhelming chorus of corporate media reports and interpretations. (Memory Hole Blog)
FBI Documents Reveal Secret Nationwide Occupy Monitoring (See the released documents here) FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) pursuant to the PCJF’s Freedom of Information Act demands reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat even though the agency acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful protest and did “not condone the use of violence” at occupy protests.
The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.
“This production, which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement,” stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF). “These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.” (Partnership for Civil Justice Fund)
Obama likely to issue executive order on cybersecurity as early as January An executive order from President Obama aimed at protecting the nation from cyberattacks is likely to be issued in early 2013, and perhaps as soon as January, observers say.
The long-awaited executive action is unlikely to be taken before the end of the year, given the delicate negotiations over the “fiscal cliff.” Republican lawmakers have made it known that they strongly oppose an executive order on cybersecurity.
“It’d be reasonable to say that releasing the executive order now would irritate Congress and might create an unnecessary burden for reaching a deal on the fiscal issues,” said James Lewis, director of the technology and public policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (The Hill)
The coming drone attack on America -- Drones on domestic surveillance duties are already deployed by police and corporations. In time, they will likely be weaponised People often ask me, in terms of my argument about "ten steps" that mark the descent to a police state or closed society, at what stage we are. I am sorry to say that with the importation of what will be tens of thousands of drones, by both US military and by commercial interests, into US airspace, with a specific mandate to engage in surveillance and with the capacity for weaponization – which is due to begin in earnest at the start of the new year – it means that the police state is now officially here.
In February of this year, Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, with its provision to deploy fleets of drones domestically. Jennifer Lynch, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, notes that this followed a major lobbying effort, "a huge push by […] the defense sector" to promote the use of drones in American skies: 30,000 of them are expected to be in use by 2020, some as small as hummingbirds – meaning that you won't necessarily see them, tracking your meeting with your fellow-activists, with your accountant or your congressman, or filming your cruising the bars or your assignation with your lover, as its video-gathering whirs.
Others will be as big as passenger planes. Business-friendly media stress their planned abundant use by corporations: police in Seattle have already deployed them.
An unclassified US air force document reported by CBS (pdf) news expands on this unprecedented and unconstitutional step – one that formally brings the military into the role of controlling domestic populations on US soil, which is the bright line that separates a democracy from a military oligarchy. (The US constitution allows for the deployment of National Guard units by governors, who are answerable to the people; but this system is intended, as is posse comitatus, to prevent the military from taking action aimed at US citizens domestically.) (London Guardian)
Letter From a Passenger: "What Really Happens in the TSA Private Room?" GFTB asks:
"Tell us, please, what really happens in that private room and why the TSA does not want it seen in public nor recorded."
I can only speak from my personal experience on this blog, as well as from second hand accounts from screeners I knew in my time at the TSA: screeners whose accounts I consider to be quite credible, from many different angles. That being said, though there are many claims in the news about outrageous things happening in the private screening rooms (such as this one last year) I’ve never seen or even heard of anything malicious, illicit or illegal happening in the private screening room, depending, at least, upon what one’s personal definition of “illegal” may be, per the Fourth Amendment, in regards to TSA policy in general (and yes, I’m familiar with U.S. vs Davis 1973 for you TSA apologists reading this, your perennial go-to rejoinder). (Taking Sense Away)
Pulled over for littering, women given body cavity searches Two Irving, Texas, women are suing two Texas State Troopers and the director of the Department of Public Safety after they say they were violated during roadside cavity searches in full view of the public and without probable cause.
On July 13, while driving along state Highway 161, Angel Dobbs and her niece Ashley Dobbs were stopped for littering by Trooper David Ferrell. In the dashcam video released by the women and their attorney, Ferrell can be heard telling the women they would both be cited for littering for throwing cigarette butts out of the car.
Farrell then returned to his cruiser and, in the video, can be heard calling female trooper Kelley Helleson to the scene to search both women whom he said were acting weird. (MSNBC)
Instagram Puts a Sunny Filter on Its Terms of Service Instagram won’t be selling your food photos to Denny’s after all.
The popular photo-sharing site made an abrupt about-face on Tuesday and said it will remove a portion of its updated terms of service that would have allowed Instagram to use your photographs, likeness, photo metadata (location information) and screen name to generate revenue from third-party businesses and “other entities” without your permission, or even telling you about it. (Wired)
Instagram's New Terms Of Service: 5 Things You Need To Know If you've used Instagram today, you may have seen a little bubble appear at the top of your News Feed.
It reads thus:
It links to lengthy explanations of the new changes, which it says are "part of our new collaboration" with Facebook (which acquired Instagram earlier this year) and geared toward building "better experiences for our users."
Chances are you haven't read all of the text and probably won't. So here's what you need to know about the new Terms of Service, which takes effect on January 16, 2013.
1. Your data will be used for ads. Ads are coming to Instagram. This isn't a surprise. (The Huffington Post)
RAW Helicopter Footage Sandy Hook HOAX PROOF 12/14/2012 The First Aerial View HD - This is footage before the chase in the woods. There are supposed to be 27 dead people inside at this moment. There are: No visible children (456 enrolled). No ambulances. No medical staff. No parents. No emergency. No panic. No injured. No visible bodies. No visible guns. No law enforcement surrounding the school. All/most footage we saw on TV was from the Firehouse. This is the same helicopter that capture the chase for the man/men in the woods; this is the helicopter arriving at the acting scene. It was ALL a HOAX.
GAO Report Shows Problems with TSA SPP Program Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the below statement in response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) Screening Partnership Program (SPP), a program in which airports can opt-out of having federalized screeners in favor of privatized ones. The report is entitled "Screening Partnership Program: TSA Should Issue More Guidance to Airports and Monitor Private versus Federal Screener Performance" (GAO-13-208). (US Congress)
Hacker finds McAfee through phone trail Weeks of international intrigue about the whereabouts of tech millionaire John McAfee ended Tuesday after the internet pioneer made an elementary digital mistake that highlighted the fraught relationship Americans have with what they once quaintly called "the telephone".
That homely communication tool, wired into walls everywhere for the better part of a century, has become an untethered emailer, browser, banker, shopper, movie viewer, music player and - to an extent that few appreciate - digital spy of extraordinary power.
McAfee, 67, who founded the popular antivirus company that bears his name, has been wanted for questioning by police in Belize since a neighbour turned up dead of a gunshot wound near McAfee's beachside home on November 11. The troubled tech savant, insisting that he had no role in the shooting, went on the run and has been taunting police by blog, Twitter and occasional podcast. (The Sydney Morning Herald)
Newly Released Drone Records Reveal Extensive Military Flights in US Today EFF posted several thousand pages of new drone license records and a new map that tracks the location of drone flights across the United States.
These records, received as a result of EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), come from state and local law enforcement agencies, universities and—for the first time—three branches of the U.S. military: the Air Force, Marine Corps, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
Military Drone Flights in the United States
A160 Hummingbird DroneWhile the U.S. military doesn’t need an FAA license to fly drones over its own military bases (these are considered “restricted airspace”), it does need a license to fly in the national airspace (which is almost everywhere else in the US). And, as we’ve learned from these records, the Air Force and Marine Corps regularly fly both large and small drones in the national airspace all around the country. This is problematic, given a recent New York Times report that the Air Force’s drone operators sometimes practice surveillance missions by tracking civilian cars along the highway adjacent to the base. (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Here We Go Again: Latest Draft Of White House Cybersecurity 'Executive Order' Is Leaked Back in September, we posted a leaked version of a draft for a cybersecurity executive order that the White House had been passing around, mainly to try to force Congress into passing a cybersecurity law. With the last ditch attempt by Senator Harry Reid to move that process forward failing, it took exactly a week for the White House to revise its draft exec order, and start passing it around on November 21st. And, today, that new draft leaked as well. You can see the full draft here or embedded below.
It's basically more of the same. It insists that there's a problem without providing any real evidence of that. Much of the order focuses on increasing information sharing among and between different government agencies. As expected, it's designed to encourage private companies, who are "owners and operators of critical infrastructure" to "participate, on a voluntary basis, in the Enhanced Cybersecurity initiative." This is part of what had people so concerned about the various bill proposals: whether or not companies would get broadly defined as "owners and operators of critical infrastructure" and then be forced or pressured into sharing private information, all in the name of "cybersecurity!" (Tech Dirt)
Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants Proposed law scheduled for a vote next week originally increased Americans' e-mail privacy. Then law enforcement complained. Now it increases government access to e-mail and other digital files. - A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans' e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law, CNET has learned.
Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns, according to three individuals who have been negotiating with Leahy's staff over the changes. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans' e-mail, is scheduled for next week. (CNet News)
SGI Twitter Heat Map: Supercomputer Shows Where Angriest Tweeters Live Twitter may be full of jibber-jabber, but that doesn't mean this social networking site can't give us a little insight about what the world is thinking.
Silicon Graphics International, or SGI, has partnered with researchers from the University of Illinois to scan international tweets in a project dubbed the Global Twitter Heartbeat. By using SGI's UV 2000 Big Brain supercomputer, the researchers created real-time heat maps of positive and negative sentiments expressed via Twitter. (The Huffington Post)
Obama signs secret directive to help thwart cyberattacks President Obama has signed a secret directive that effectively enables the military to act more aggressively to thwart cyberattacks on the nation’s web of government and private computer networks.
Presidential Policy Directive 20 establishes a broad and strict set of standards to guide the operations of federal agencies in confronting threats in cyberspace, according to several U.S. officials who have seen the classified document and are not authorized to speak on the record. The president signed it in mid-October.
The new directive is the most extensive White House effort to date to wrestle with what constitutes an “offensive” and a “defensive” action in the rapidly evolving world of cyberwar and cyberterrorism, where an attack can be launched in milliseconds by unknown assailants utilizing a circuitous route. For the first time, the directive explicitly makes a distinction between network defense and cyber-operations to guide officials charged with making often-rapid decisions when confronted with threats. (Washington Post)
Can Drug-Sniffing Dog Prompt Home Search? You can already hear all the likely jokes at the Supreme Court, about the justices going to the dogs. But the issue being argued Wednesday is deadly serious: whether police can take a trained drug-detection dog up to a house to smell for drugs inside, and if the dog alerts, use that to justify a search of the home.
In the case before the court, the four-legged cop was named Franky, and as a result of his nose, his human police partner charged Joelis Jardines with trafficking in more than 25 pounds of marijuana.
In the fall of 2006, police in Florida got an anonymous crime-stoppers tip that there was illegal drug activity at the Jardines home. A month later, police officers took Franky to the house and walked him up to the front porch. When the dog alerted for drugs, the police got a warrant, found marijuana growing inside and arrested Jardines. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that the dog sniff was an illegal search and thus could not justify a warrant. Now the state has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the case poses tricky issues for both law enforcement and privacy advocates. (National Public Radio)
Gary Johnson Talks Nwo, Bilderberg & Bohemian Grove Gary Johnson has been an outspoken advocate for efficient government, balanced budgets, rational drug policy reform, protection of civil liberties, comprehensive tax reform, and personal freedom. As Governor of New Mexico, Johnson was known for his common sense business approach to governing. He eliminated New Mexico's budget deficit, cut the rate of growth in state government in half, and privatized half of the state prisons. (Prison Planet)
Memoto: A Wearable Camera That Gives You a Photographic Memory One of the big ideas that seems destined to explode over the next decade is lifelogging, the ability to automatically capture and store one’s life and experiences for future reference. Memoto is a new camera that’s trying to be a pioneer in this emerging market. Its name and tagline should give you a good sense of what it does: “Memoto Lifelogging Camera: A tiny, automatic camera and app that gives you a searchable and shareable photographic memory.”
How’s that for an elevator pitch? Basically, the app allows you to document nearly every waking moment of your life through photographs — well, one in every thirty waking moments — and then relive those moments anytime you’d like.
Memoto: A Wearable Camera That Gives You a Photographic Memory pencil
It’s similar to the Autographer, another lifelogging camera we wrote about just last month. Both are small cameras that you can clip to your clothing (though, Memoto does claim to be the world’s smallest) and both automatically snap photos throughout the day. (Peta Pixel)
Indiana State Police unveil new weapon to reduce crashes Looking down on traffic on the Borman Expressway from the closed Chase Street overpass, Indiana State Police on Monday demonstrated a new weapon to help reduce crashes caused by drivers who speed, follow other vehicles too closely and change lanes unsafely.
What looks like a traditional hand-held speed monitor, the LTI 20/20 Lidar has new Distance Between Cars software that measures and records both how fast the vehicle is traveling and exactly how close it is to the vehicle it’s following.
“Even in a group of vehicles, this device clocks a specific vehicle. The laser beam bounces off the car, semi or motorcycle and returns to the device,” said Master Trooper Russell Hayes, of the Indiana State Police Lowell District 13. (Franklin Times)
MTA recording bus conversations to eavesdrop on trouble -- Officials call audio surveillance a crime-fighting tool; privacy advocates question need A Maryland Transit Administration decision to record the conversations of bus drivers and passengers to investigate crimes, accidents and poor customer service has come under attack from privacy advocates and state lawmakers who say it may go too far.
The first 10 buses — marked with signs to alert passengers to the open microphones — began service this week in Baltimore, and officials expect to expand that to 340 buses, about half the fleet, by next summer. Microphones are incorporated in the video surveillance system that has been in place for years.
"We want to make sure people feel safe, and this builds up our arsenal of tools to keep our patrons safe," said Ralign Wells, MTA administrator. "The audio completes the information package for investigators and responders."
Wells said the system was deemed legal by the state attorney general's office and letters were sent to the American Civil Liberties Union and the union representing bus drivers informing them of the initiative. A spokesman for the attorney general's office confirmed that transit officials were advised by their counsel that based on a 2000 appeals court decision, the audio recordings did not violate the state wiretapping law. (Baltimore Sun)
FBI: Monitoring Occupy was within rules The FBI says its newly disclosed surveillance of the Occupy movement in Northern California stayed within federal rules and did not result in "unnecessary intrusions into the lives of law-abiding people."
The American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained FBI surveillance documents on the movement in a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, wants to know why the agency is withholding nearly two-thirds of the records it says it has, and why it is citing national security as one reason for the nondisclosure. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Sacramento International Airport Dropping TSA Sacramento International Airport has been approved to replace TSA agents with private contractors. Airport officials made the request in April after Congress expanded an opt-out clause in the federal law that created the TSA.
Airport Director Hardy Acree said he believes private screeners can do a more efficient job than government employees and provide the same level of security. “I think there is going to be a higher level of customer service”, Acree said.
Current only San Francisco, Kansas City and 14 smaller airports currently use private security employees. Sacramento International Airport would be the third largest airport to move to private security. (From The Capitol)
Sacramento International Airport May Replace TSA With Private Security The Sacramento International Airport is considering making a security change, and it could mean getting rid of TSA agents.
Long lines and long faces are usually what TSA security checkpoint employees see everyday.
But now the airport may be the third largest airport in the country to replace these government workers with ones from a private company.
“It’s a win-win for everything has no bearing on security procedure or the processes the public has become accustomed to,” said Linda Beech Cutler, Sacramento International Airport.
So far passengers at large airports like San Francisco and Kansas City are becoming accustomed to the same plan already in place.
Fourteen smaller airports around the country have also joined the screening partnership program. (CBS)
New Homeland Security Laser Scanner Reads People At Molecular Level WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The Department of Homeland Security will soon be using a laser at airports that can detect everything about you from over 160-feet away.
Gizmodo reports a scanner that could read people at the molecular level has been invented. This laser-based scanner – which can be used 164-feet away — could read everything from a person’s adrenaline levels, to traces of gun powder on a person’s clothes, to illegal substances — and it can all be done without a physical search. It also could be used on multiple people at a time, eliminating random searches at airports.
The laser-based scanner is expected to be used in airports as soon as 2013, Gizmodo reports.
The scanner is called the Picosecond Programmable Laser. The device works by blasting its target with lasers which vibrate molecules that are then read by the machine that determine what substances a person has been exposed to. This could be Semtex explosives to the bacon and egg sandwich they had for breakfast that morning. (CBS)
Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 164 Feet Away Within the next year or two, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will instantly know everything about your body, clothes, and luggage with a new laser-based molecular scanner fired from 164 feet (50 meters) away. From traces of drugs or gun powder on your clothes to what you had for breakfast to the adrenaline level in your body—agents will be able to get any information they want without even touching you.
And without you knowing it.
The technology is so incredibly effective that, in November 2011, its inventors were subcontracted by In-Q-Tel to work with the US Department of Homeland Security. In-Q-Tel is a company founded "in February 1999 by a group of private citizens at the request of the Director of the CIA and with the support of the U.S. Congress." According to In-Q-Tel, they are the bridge between the Agency and new technology companies.
Their plan is to install this molecular-level scanning in airports and border crossings all across the United States. The official, stated goal of this arrangement is to be able to quickly identify explosives, dangerous chemicals, or bioweapons at a distance.
The machine is ten million times faster—and one million times more sensitive—than any currently available system. That means that it can be used systematically on everyone passing through airport security, not just suspect or randomly sampled people. (Gizmodo)
Obama gives himself control of all communication systems in America US President Barack Obama quietly signed his name to an Executive Order on Friday, allowing the White House to control all private communications in the country in the name of national security.
President Obama released his latest Executive Order on Friday, July 6, a 2,205-word statement offered as the “Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions.” And although the president chose not to commemorate the signing with much fanfare, the powers he provides to himself and the federal government under the latest order are among the most far-reaching yet of any of his executive decisions. (Russia Today)
London Cracks Down on Security for Olympic Games
Facing fears of an attack from al Qaeda or the IRA, Brits are flexing their military muscle and doubling down on surveillance cameras, Mike Giglio reports. Let the games begin. - As the 2012 Olympics approach, London may soon see surface-to-air missiles installed atop some of its apartment buildings, as residents learned by way of government-issued flyers earlier this year. The HMS Ocean, Great Britain’s largest warship, will be moored on the banks of the Thames for the extent of the Games. Typhoon fighter jets will patrol the skies, and Puma helicopters will be at the ready with airborne snipers. More than 13,000 British soldiers, meanwhile, will reportedly be deployed—more than the United Kingdom currently has posted in Afghanistan.
A couple push a pram and walk their dog behind a Rapier Missile Battery, which has been deployed next to residential housing at Blackheath on May 3, 2012 in London, England in preparation for the Olympics. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images)
The message intended by this flexing of military muscle is clear. “All of these things say to sophisticated terrorists: London is expecting you. London is prepared,” says Patrick Mercer, a member of Parliament and former chairman of the government’s sub-committee on counter-terrorism. “Don’t try it.” (The Daily Beast)
Air Force Instruction 14-104 -- Oversight of Intelligence Activities -- OPR: AF/A2RP This publication implements Air Force Policy Directive (AFPD) 14-1, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Planning, Resources, and Operations and is consistent with Executive Order (EO) 12333 (part 2), United States Intelligence Activities; Department of Defense (DoD) Regulation 5240.1-R, Procedures Governing the Activities of DoD Intelligence Components That Affect United States Persons; DoD Directive, and (DoDD) 5240.1, DoD Intelligence Activites. This publication states the requirements for United States Air Force intelligence oversight activities. In this publication, the term intelligence refers to intelligence and counterintelligence units, activities,, etc. It describes mandatory intelligence oversight-associated training requirements for Air Force components that conduct intelligence activities. (US Air Force)
The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.
Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978—and the number of plural marriages has tripled—so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.
But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a massive complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol.
Rather than Bibles, prophets, and worshippers, this temple will be filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. And instead of listening for words flowing down from heaven, these newcomers will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks. In the little town of Bluffdale, Big Love and Big Brother have become uneasy neighbors.
The NSA has become the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever. (Wired)
Homeland Security Given Green Light to Monitor American Journalists Under the National Operations Center (NOC)’s Media Monitoring Initiative that emerged from the Department of Homeland Security in November, Washington has written permission to collect and retain personal information from journalists, news anchors, reporters or anyone who uses “traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed.”
According to DHS, the definition of personal identifiable information can consist of any intellect “that permits the identity of an individual to be directly or indirectly inferred, including any information which is linked or linkable to that individual.” (The Blaze)
NDAA Protests End In Ironic Swarm Of Arrests The absurdity of America today never ceases to amaze. In fact, it has become so elaborate that one might even suggest it has reached a kind of poetic symmetry. When a protest group is willing to stick their necks out to expose the horror of the National Defense Authorization Act and its open door strategy for unconstitutional arrest and indefinite detainment of American citizens, I have to stand up and applaud. This is the kind of protest we need to see all over the country. Of course, any establishment system which is willing to dissolve the inherent liberties of its citizens certainly isn't going to stand by quietly while they blatantly point out the injustice. The Grand Central Terminal action featured in the video below is a perfect example of the swift and immediate stifling of peaceful dissent by an increasingly totalitarian government:
Responses to the event vary. Most people who have actually been exposed to the facts on the NDAA have expressed utter disgust and fury. Rightly so. Some, however, have taken the old elitist mantra, perpetuated effectively by the Neo-Cons in their heyday, that if you are not for the system, then you are a danger to society. Not surprisingly, there are still plenty of useful idiots out there buzzing about like parasites in search of blood. (Alt Market)
ACLU report card finds fault with Obama, rivals The American Civil Liberties Union has issued "Liberty Watch 2012," its report card for presidential candidates on issues like surveillance, torture, gay rights and immigration. No one gets an A, including President Obama.
Obama, the only Democrat among the 10 candidates rated, got a perfect score - four "torches" - on only one issue, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, for his backing of the December 2010 law that repealed "don't ask, don't tell."
But he received lower marks on immigration, abortion rights and "closing Guantanamo Bay and indefinite detention," where his one-torch rating was attributed to backtracking on a promise to shut the prison for suspected terrorists and his support for holding their trials in military commissions. - The highest overall rating went to former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a Republican-turned-Libertarian, who opposes the Patriot Act and - unlike Obama - supports the right of gays and lesbians to marry. Among the leading Republican candidates, libertarian-leaning Rep. Ron Paul also got a higher score than Obama despite low ratings in several categories.
The ACLU gave the Texas congressman high marks for opposing the Patriot Act and indefinite detention of suspected terrorists, condemning waterboarding and voting to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." But it criticized Paul's call for an end to "birthright citizenship" for children of illegal immigrants, his support of the law that denies federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples and his opposition to abortion. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Indefinite Detention Law Hall of Shame: List of Senators Who Voted Yes on the NDAA bill Below is the list of the Senators who voted yes on the NDAA bill which provides for indefinite detention of "any person who has committed a belligerent act" (See section 1031 (b) 2 of s1867 (National Defense Authorization Act of 2012). The term "belligerent act" is extremely wide and could applied to any form of resistance including protesting in the streets or even speaking out against the U.S. government. Be sure to also visit the list of the twitter ids for the senators who voted for NDAA below. (Waiting for the Storm)
Carrier IQ: Researcher Trevor Eckhart Outs Creepy, Hidden App Installed On Smartphones (VIDEO) (UPDATE) A security researcher has posted a video detailing hidden software installed on smart phones that logs numerous details about users' activities.
In a 17-minute video posted Monday on YouTube, Trevor Eckhart shows how the software – known as Carrier IQ – logs every text message, Google search and phone number typed on a wide variety of smart phones - including HTC, Blackberry, Nokia* and others - and reports them to the mobile phone carrier.
The application, which is labeled on Eckhart’s HTC smartphone as "HTC IQ Agent," also logs the URL of websites searched on the phone, even if the user intends to encrypt that data using a URL that begins with "HTTPS," Eckhart said. (Huffington Post)
US Cops Eye Drone Patrols: FAA preparing new rules to allow domestic use of drones Meet your science-fiction future. Drones may soon be deployed over your sky, courtesy of your local police force. The Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of paving the way for use of the terror-busting devices on domestic soil, reports the Los Angeles Times. And it's not only police, but farmers and utility companies that could soon be deploying drones. "It's going to happen," said Dan Elwell, vice president of civil aviation at the Aerospace Industries Association. "Now it's about figuring out how to safely assimilate the technology into national airspace." (Newser)
TSA officer faces dismissal over 'get your freak on, girl' note in luggage An airplane baggage screener faces dismissal for leaving a note in a passenger's bag that said "Get Your Freak On, Girl" after discovering a vibrator.
The Transportation Security Administration "has initiated action to remove the individual from federal service," an agency spokesperson said. "Like all federal employees, this individual is entitled to due process and protected by the Privacy Act. During the removal action process, the employee will not perform any screening duties."
The agency randomly selects checked baggage for screening on flights originating in the United States. Lawyer and writer Jill Filipovic tweeted a picture of the note Monday and later blogged about it on Feministe.
"This is what TSA will do when they inspect a bag you checked and find a, um, 'personal item,' " she wrote. "Total violation of privacy, wildly inappropriate and clearly not OK, but I also just died laughing in my hotel room." (CNN)
Rupert Murdoch's Greatest Moments in Ethics and Integrity Are we still talking about this whole phone-hacking scandal at News Corp.? That's such old news.
Tapping into the voicemails of major political figures and murder victims? Everybody did it. Top executives at one of the world's largest media companies arrested? A few bad apples. A cover-up that reaches the highest levels of the British government and law enforcement? Trumped-up charges from jealous rivals. Pie throwing in Parliament? OK, that guy must be a terrorist. Good thing Wendi clocked him.
You want Congress to investigate what News Corp. might have done in the United States? Are you some kind of Marxist?
Let's get back to what really matters. Profits are up at News Corp. And, as Rupert Murdoch assured investors yesterday, "There can be no doubt about our commitment to ethics and integrity." (Huffington Post)
Phone-hacking whistle-blower found dead One of the first journalists to go on the record and allege phone hacking at News of the World was found dead Monday, the British Press Association said.
Sean Hoare, a former News of the World employee who said Andy Coulson "encouraged" phone-hacking, "was discovered at his home in Watford, Hertfordshire, after concerns were raised about his whereabouts," the press association said.
"The death is being treated as 'unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious,'" the report quoted Hertfordshire police as saying.
The Guardian reported that Hoare had recently injured his nose and his foot in an accident. It was unclear whether those injuries were linked to his death.
Hoare had publicly accused News of the World of phone-hacking and using "pinging" -- a method of tracking someone's cell phone using technology that only police and security officials could access -- according to the New York Times. (CNN)
Free to Search and Seize THIS spring was a rough season for the Fourth Amendment. The Obama administration petitioned the Supreme Court to allow GPS tracking of vehicles without judicial permission. The Supreme Court ruled that the police could break into a house without a search warrant if, after knocking and announcing themselves, they heard what sounded like evidence being destroyed. Then it refused to see a Fourth Amendment violation where a citizen was jailed for 16 days on the false pretext that he was being held as a material witness to a crime.
In addition, Congress renewed Patriot Act provisions on enhanced surveillance powers until 2015, and the F.B.I. expanded agents’ authority to comb databases, follow people and rummage through their trash even if they are not suspected of a crime.
None of these are landmark decisions. But together they further erode the privilege of privacy that was championed by Congress and the courts in the mid-to-late-20th century, when the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement was applied to the states, unconstitutionally seized evidence was ruled inadmissible in state trials, and privacy laws were enacted following revelations in the 1970s of domestic spying on antiwar and civil rights groups.
For over a decade now, the government has tried to make us more secure by chipping away at the one provision of the Bill of Rights that pivots on the word “secure” — the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee of “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.” (New York Times)
Overlooking Oversight In late May, Congress extended three enhanced surveillance powers that were granted to the government after the 9/11 attacks — two in the Patriot Act and one from a related intelligence law. In doing so, lawmakers neatly managed to avoid any lapse in those powers. They failed miserably in their duty to carefully re-examine the provisions, trim back excesses, and add safeguards to protect civil liberties. In other words, they ignored the whole point of requiring that the provisions be periodically reviewed.
One of the renewed provisions permits a roving wiretap on terrorism suspects who switch phone numbers or providers. While this is a useful tool, the lax rules for specifying who is the subject of the wiretap could invite abuse. Another provision permits the government to examine library, bookstore and business records without having to show that the material is related to a terrorism investigation. (New York Times)
Smell Pot? SCOTUS Kills 4th Amendment The Supreme Court says police can enter your home without a warrant, if they smell marijuana, and if when knocking on the door, they hear what sounds like the destruction of evidence. But apparently, by making sounds like destruction of evidence like flushing a toilet, police can come in. Students for Sensible Drug Policy's Aaron Houston discusses. (Russia Today)
The Supreme Court's Stinky Ruling on Marijuana Odor: What Does it Really Mean? This week's Supreme Court decision in Kentucky v. King has civil-libertarians and marijuana policy reformers in an uproar, and rightly so, but it's not exactly the death of the 4th Amendment. Here's a look at how this case could impact police practices and constitutional rights.
It all started when police chased a drug suspect into a building and lost him. They smelled marijuana smoke coming from an apartment and decided to check it out, so they announced themselves and knocked loudly on the door. They heard movement inside, which the officers feared could indicate destruction of evidence, so they kicked in the door and entered the apartment. Hollis King was arrested for drugs and challenged the police entry as a violation of his 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches.
In an 8-1 decision written by Justice Alito, the Court determined that an emergency search was justified to prevent destruction of evidence, even though police created the risk of such destruction by yelling "Police!" and banging on the door. The determining factor, in the Court's view, was that police had not violated the 4th Amendment simply by knocking on the door. Since the subsequent need to prevent destruction of evidence was the result of legal conduct by the officers, the events that followed do not constitute a violation of the suspect's constitutional rights.
Naturally, any fan of the 4th Amendment can look at this scenario and wonder what's to stop police from "smelling" marijuana and "hearing" evidence being destroyed any time they have an urge to enter a particular dwelling. What does destruction of evidence sound like anyway, and what doesn't it sound like? Doesn't someone jumping up to destroy evidence sound the same as someone jumping up to answer the door before police kick it down? It's hard to argue with anyone who sees this result as a blueprint for facilitating not only widespread police actions that circumvent the warrant requirement, but also more innocent people being killed in their own homes in misunderstandings that could have been prevented by just a little patience from police. (Flex Your Rights)
Alleged Illegal Searches By NYPD Rarely Challenged in Marijuana Cases Illegal searches are more common than people realize, but few end up getting challenged in court, law enforcement officials and defense attorneys say.
Checks and balances within the criminal justice system are intended to ferret out improper arrests, but many defendants and their lawyers say they face insurmountable obstacles when fighting marijuana charges – and the alleged illegal searches that sometimes led to them.
More than 50,000 people were arrested in the city for misdemeanor marijuana possession last year – the highest in a decade. And a substantial number of these arrests take place in the police precincts where the most stop-and-frisks occur, which are predominately black and Latino neighborhoods.
More than a dozen men who were arrested in these precincts for misdemeanor marijuana possession told WNYC the police recovered marijuana on them through illegal searches. None of them challenged these allegedly illegal searches in court. (WNYC)
Report: iPhones secretly track their users' locations Apple devices appear to be tracking their owners' locations and storing data about people's whereabouts without their knowledge, according to a report posted Wednesday on a site called iPhone Tracker.
The unauthorized surveillance started in June 2010, when the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system was released, according to two researchers who say they discovered a hidden tracking file and posted it out of concern for users.
Apple has not responded to the allegations.
The researchers have posted a program online that will let any iPhone user see a map of his or her location over time, going back to June, when iOS 4.0 was released.
The program's developers, listed as Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden, say this data is stored on a person's iPhone or 3G-enabled iPad and on computers that are synced with those devices. There's no evidence, they say, that the data is also transmitted to Apple as it's collected. (CNN)
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