Favorite Quotes

"Once you walk into a courtroom, you've already lost. The best way to win is to avoid it at all costs, because the justice system is anything but" Sydney Carton, Attorney. "There is no one in the criminal justice system who believes that system works well. Or if they are, they are for courts that are an embarrassment to the ideals of justice. The law of real people doesn't work" Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law Professor.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bill Maher speaks out against America's militarized police

During his closing monologue of Friday’s Real Time, HBO’s Bill Maher aimed squarely at what has become a largely-unspoken civil liberties threat at home.

“Now that violent crime is at a 40-year low, someone has to explain why your local police department has gone from this to this,” Bill Maher said:

Maher ran through the gamut of American small towns (e.g. — Doraville, Ga., Nixon, Mo., Justice, Ill.) that somehow employ military-style tanks in their police departments. These tanks, often gifted by the Pentagon to police departments, come “fresh from our glorious victories in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and are used for unnecessarily over-militarized police exercises.

“Cops all know what it’s like when you get a new toy, you want to use it.” he continued. “I bought a glue gun once, and by the end of the weekend my dog’s face was stuck to the toilet rim. But in West Springfield, Mass., the police department’s new toy is two grenade launchers. Why? In case Boko Haram takes Connecticut?” he joked.

Local police in Tennessee are stockpiling military grade weapons and have no intention of returning them:

Local law enforcement agencies are snatching up huge amounts of weapons -- from the Department of Defense -- used in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Items include grenade launchers, mine-resistant vehicles and guns that have been deemed as surplus by the Pentagon.

The equipment is cheap or free for local law enforcement agencies to acquire.

The federal program has fueled a debate about the militarization of our police departments.

McMinn County is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.  It boasts beautiful scenery, but its sheriff's department can boast something else.

The department received more military surplus guns than any other local department in the state last year.

"We actually reconfigured the whole armory to accommodate all of this," said Sheriff Joe Guy.

Sheriff Guy oversees 31 officers and investigators, but his department received 161 army rifles and pistols, including 71 M16 rifles and 71 .45-caliber pistols.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "Why does your department need all these guns?"

Sheriff Guy responded, "Well, we don't need this many.  There was a little error in the order."

The Sheriff said the Army surplus program doubled his initial order, but he hasn't sent the guns back.

"They're here as our department grows.  We'll have additional firearms for future officers," Sheriff Guy said.

Other interesting moments from Maher's monologue:

  • “Once you start dressing and equipping people like an occupying army, they start acting like one.”
  • “We used to send SWAT teams only for hostage or active shooter scenarios. It happened a few thousand times a year. Now it happens a thousand times a week — forced, no-knock entries into private homes. And now for almost any reason at all like serving warrants, breaking up poker games, arresting low-level pot dealers. Come on. It’s a guy who sells weed, you don’t need to shoot his dog and crash through his window.”
  • “In the ’90s, conservatives used to warn about jack-booted government thugs coming to take away our freedoms. But where are those conservatives today when we need them? This is the massive expansion of government power that you numbskulls in the tea party should be freaking out about. You’re always screaming about the loss of liberty, and how tyranny is coming. Yeah, it’s coming right through the door with a battering ram, no warrant, and a stun grenade.”

  • If you’d like more information about police militarization, check out Radley Balko‘s Washington Post blog for regular dispatches from that front.

    Friday, July 18, 2014

    Amazon's Fire TV could be the CIA's perfect home spying device

    Amazon.com is building the CIA's new $600 million data center, click here to read more.  At the same time Amazon.com is building this massive cloud computing infrastructure for the CIA, the company is also shipping millions of Fire TV set-top devices to customers who are placing them in their private homes.

    However there's no power button on the remote, and there's no power button on the box. It turns out there's no way to power the device off except for unplugging it.

    This is highly unusual and apparently done by design. "It is not necessary to turn off Amazon Fire TV when you are finished using it," says the Amazon.com website. "Your Amazon Fire TV is designed to go into sleep mode after 30 minutes, while continuing to automatically receive important software updates." (wink, wink)

    Note carefully that this does not say your Fire TV device WILL go into sleep mode after 30 minutes; only that it is "designed" to go into sleep mode after 30 minutes. As lawyers well know, this is a huge difference.

    What starts to make this really interesting is when you realize these devices are linked to your identity before they're shipped to you.

    Ever notice that when you power on your Fire TV device, it already knows who you are? Your entire library of video purchases on Amazon.com is already available, and those purchases are of course linked to your credit card, which is linked to your social security number, which is linked to your identity.

    Amazon.com knows the identity of the owner of every Fire TV box currently sitting in living rooms across America. This mean it can connect everything that happens around that box (including audio monitoring, as you'll see below) to your personal identity.

    There is a built-in microphone on the Fire TV remote.

    When you click the search button, your voice is recorded and uploaded to Amazon.com servers where it is analyzed by Amazon cloud computing applications -- the same kind of thing Amazon is building for the CIA -- in order to return search matches to your local TV screen.

    Now, I fully realize that most Americans are too gullible and naive to believe their audio recordings get uploaded to Amazon.com servers, so I'm going to quote CNET.com here which published an article earlier this year entitled: "How to delete your Fire TV voice recordings - Amazon stores your recordings on its servers to improve accuracy of voice searches. Here's how you can delete that data."

    "To improve the service and the voice results, however, Amazon records and stores the voice samples associated with your account to its servers."

    It goes on to warn readers that "there is no way to opt-out of Amazon's voice storage."

    And there you have it: the Fire TV device was engineered from the start to record your voice, upload it to Amazon's servers -- now being expanded to the CIA -- and link those voice recordings to your identity.

    An article published by MHP Books  reveals that Amazon may already be working with the NSA to provide surveillance data on U.S. citizens:

    ...One mainstream source -- Businessweek -- rather perversely observes that the leaked documents show Dropbox was about to be added to the PRISM program, then goes on to say that "This is a weird one because Dropbox stores its customers' files on Amazon.com's cloud computing service, yet Amazon appears nowhere in the Prism documents." It fails to note that not all the companies suspected of supplying the NSA with info were named in the documents -- that those documents were in fact redacted -- although it does show a modicum of due diligence in asking Amazon if it was participating in the NSA program, and a spokeswoman responds with an apparent two word answer: "Not cooperating."

    But are they to be believed? Other non-mainstreamers report bluntly that Amazon was part of PRISM. To still other observers, such as this reader in the Guardian, it seems obvious: "Does this explain the apparent immunity to tax of Apple, Amazon and co?" she asks.

    Full details on the PRISM infrastructure exposed by Edward Snowden are described in this Market Oracle article.

    Another article entitled, "Snowden slams Amazon for leaking customer data to the NSA" reveals how former NSA contractor Edward Snowden harshly criticized Amazon.com for allowing intelligence agencies to read everything you browse on Amazon.com, including book titles, movies and more. This is happening due to Amazon.com's failure to implement proper encryption protocols.

    Nielsen & Facebook join together to spy on your TV viewing habits on smart devices:

    Nielsen Media Research (NMR) has formed a joint effort with Facebook to monitor and track mobile phone users.

    For the past several months, Nielsen has been sharing with clients and industry leaders how it plans to incorporate audiences viewing TV content on digital devices into traditional TV measurement for the 2014-15 TV season. Today, this effort took a big step forward as Nielsen confirmed to clients that it will make the software developer kit (SDK) that enables this measurement available for implementation in mid-November.

    “We’ve been working hard to deliver this new SDK and are excited to be able to deliver a single client solution that supports both the linear (TV style) and dynamic (Internet style) ad models," said Megan Clarken, EVP, Global Product Leader, Nielsen. "This unified encoding approach for video enables measurement to follow content across screens and ad models."

    Later this year, Facebook will be tracking what its members watch on their mobile devices and share information on them to NMR to help assist in the future line up on television programing during the fall.

    NMR has an estimated 25,000 participants with installed meters to monitor their TV habits.

    Cheryl Idell, executive vice president for NMR explained that the information sharing with Facebook “will be anonymous and aggregated” so that her corporation “won’t have information about individual users.”

    NMR and Facebook are collaborating to know what customers are watching at any given time for advertising purposes and decision making when creating show content that will attract viewers.

    Julia Horwitz, counsel for consumer protections at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) commented : “Consumers really are not aware of the extent to which Facebook is putting their non-Facebook activity to use. Watching television and surfing the Internet shouldn’t necessarily involve Facebook.”

    An anonymous spokesperson from Facebook was quoted as saying: “We have worked with Nielsen under strong privacy principles. We don’t believe that audience measurement systems should be used to adjust targeting; they should only be used for measurement. This protects the privacy of people viewing ads and ensures that both advertisers and publishers have the same information about the audiences.”

    With regard to user browsing history, Facebook has decided they will monitor browsing history from 3rd party sources to use in a new marketing scheme targeting their members.

    In order to deliver “improved” adverts to potential customers, Facebook will utilize access to “sing cookies saved in user browser history and data collected from all those Facebook Like buttons embedded on sites.”

    Facebook offers this scenario to explain their new “internet-based advertising” plan: “Let’s say that you’re thinking about buying a new TV, and you start researching TVs on the web and in mobile apps. We may show you ads for deals on a TV to help you get the best price or other brands to consider. And because we think you’re interested in electronics, we may show you ads for other electronics in the future, like speakers or a game console to go with your new TV.”

    Advertisers can access types of users from Facebook to targets adverts to specific demographics.
    Although the actual identity of the user remains confidential, marketing firms can choose “attributes” such as:

    • Location
    • Gender
    • Ethnic affinity
    • Primary language
    • Where the user recently moved
    • Where the user’s family is located
    • Employment
    Groups likely to be targeted include:
    • Baby boomers
    • Gamers
    • Fans of specific sports teams
    • People who take cruises
    • Heavy users of tech devices

    Facebook is also able to monitor what users purchase online by using browsing history correlated with real world purchases.

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

    The NSA's secret information war against alternative media

    Documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal how the NSA conducts information war against the alternative media.

    We have all run into them.  All over the Internet, there are horrible trolls that seem to delight in making life miserable for other people.  But the worst trolls of all are the government trolls.  And thanks to Edward Snowden, we now have some startling new evidence of what really goes on behind the scenes. 

    According to newly revealed documents, British spy agency GCHQ is manipulating online discussions, infiltrating the computers of specific targets, purposely destroying reputations, altering the results of online polls, and using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for propaganda and espionage purposes.  If people don’t start getting outraged about this now, the governments of the western world are going to see it as a green light to do even more.  Eventually, it might get so bad that we won’t be able to trust much of anything that we see on the Internet.

    If we are going to have a free and open society, then we simply cannot have the governments of the western world running around systematically manipulating the Internet for their own purposes.

    Just recently, the U.S. was caught manipulating discourse on Reddit and editing Wikipedia.

    Some of the most interesting capabilities of the tools on the list include the ability to seed the web with false information — such as tweaking the results of online polls — inflating pageview counts, censoring video content deemed "extremist" and the use of psychological manipulation on targets — something similar to a research project conducted with Facebook's approval, which resulted in heavy criticism and outrage levied at the social media site.

    Working in tandem with GCHQ – the British Government Control Headquarters – the NSA is engaged in a full court press against news and information outlets beyond the fortress walls of the Mockingbird media.

    According to Glenn Greenwald the NSA and GCHQ disrupt media and engage in dirty tricks against enemies in a number of ways, including:

    • “Change outcome of online polls” (UNDERPASS)
    • “Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign” (BADGER) and “mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign” (WARPARTH)
    • “Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content through concerted target discovery and content removal.” (SILVERLORD)
    • “Active skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.” (MINIATURE HERO)
    • “Find private photographs of targets on Facebook” (SPRING BISHOP)
    • “A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer” (ANGRY PIRATE)
    • “Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website” (GATEWAY) and “ability to inflate page views on websites” (SLIPSTREAM)
    • “Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube)” (GESTATOR)
    • “Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers” (PREDATORS FACE) and “Distributed denial of service using P2P. Built by ICTR, deployed by JTRIG” (ROLLING THUNDER)
    • “A suite of tools for monitoring target use of the UK auction site eBay (www.ebay.co.uk)” (ELATE)
    • “Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity” (CHANGELING)
    • “For connecting two target phone together in a call” (IMPERIAL BARGE)

    In February Greenwald reported that GCHQ had used its Joint Research Intelligence Group to infiltrate targeted groups online and destroy the reputations of people the government considers a threat.

    This is done by inserting “all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets” and exploiting “social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable.”

    It is now obvious the establishment is pulling out all the stops in an effort to discredit and destroy any political opposition.

    The latest NSA revelations demonstrate the government did not end COINTELPRO as it claimed in the 1970s and has instead created a form of highly sophisticated technological warfare to attack its political enemies.

    The Joint Research Intelligence Group’s goals are identical to those of its predecessor – to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities” of all viable opponents.

    The list, dated from 2012, says that most of the tools are “fully operational, tested and reliable,” and adds: “Don’t treat this like a catalogue. If you don’t see it here, it doesn’t mean we can’t build it.”

    Reporter & former state dept. official calls on internet companies to censor speech of people he doesn't like:

    Ronan Farrow, the well-known MSNBC reporter who is also an attorney and former State Department official (and, at times, a subject of much parental speculation), apparently has come out in favor of blatant censorship. Following in the dangerous footsteps of Joe Lieberman, Farrow is apparently angry that internet companies like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter aren't taking down accounts that he believes are used by terrorists.
    The Sunni Islamic State insurgents, now locked in a deadly struggle with Iraq’s Shiite majority, excel online. They command a plethora of official and unofficial channels on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. “And kill them wherever you find them,” commands one recent propaganda reel of firefights and bound hostages, contorting a passage from the Koran. “Take up arms, take up arms, O soldiers of the Islamic State. And fight, fight!” adds another, featuring a sermon from the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The material is often slickly produced, like “The Clanging of Swords IV,” a glossy, feature-length film replete with slow-motion action scenes. Much of it is available in English, directly targeting the recruits with Western passports that have become one of the organization’s more dangerous assets. And almost all of it appeals to the young: Photoshops of Islamic State fighters and their grizzly massacres with video game-savvy captions like, “This is our Call of Duty.”

    But officials at social media companies are leery of adjudicating what should be taken down and what should be left alone. “One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter,” one senior executive tells me on condition of anonymity. Making that call is “not something we’d want to do.”
    Of course, what Farrow ignores is that it's not at all difficult to find Americans using social media for similar calls to action. For example, how about a Fox News contributor announcing "Muslims are evil. Let's kill them all." Or a Breitbart News contributor calling for people to "start slaughtering Muslims in the streets, all of them."

    The point is that idiots will make stupid incendiary statements on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all the time -- and most people look at them and realize that they're ignorant crazy people talking. No one is actually incentivized to run out and actually follow those arguments. Yet Farrow seems to think that the people who follow those other groups on social media immediately accept what is said and follow through?

    Just because people are saying stupid stuff on social media, doesn't mean internet companies should step in and decide what is and what is not appropriate. Where do you draw the line?

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

    DHS wants to use UAV's as hearses to transport the dead

    Integrating unmanned flight systems (UAV's) into use for domestic surveillance can provide first responders with key information in responding to fires, earthquakes and man-made disasters, said John Hill, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

    Professor Richard Baker, director of ISU’s Center for Unmanned Systems and Human Capital Development, said the expo is designed to bring civilian and military organizations together, as each “has some technology, or equipment or capability that can help in an area of domestic response for disasters, either man-made or natural.”

    “Each of the pieces of equipment is expensive and not every unit can afford, in their budget, to buy everything. The idea is for groups to walk around and see what the other group has and understand their capability,” Baker said.

    Displays included unmanned aircraft; communication equipment and heat-sensing equipment for searches’ CERFP, a group that responds to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosives; a decontamination unit; a medical unit and a search and extraction unit that can provide mortuary capabilities.

    This is a disturbing & laughable change of tactic our police state government is using. 'We' meaning DHS & police need UAV's to transport the dead during natural or man-made disasters!

    The biggest obstacle to using unmanned systems in a domestic response, Hill said in his introduction, is regulations that have not yet been established by the Federal Aviation Administration, Hill said.

    How long do you think it will be before the FAA allows DHS, police etc., to spy on us using UAV's? My money's on a year or less.

    Hill said he hopes the FAA will grant controlled operating areas, or COA, for unmanned flights in disasters. “Then the FAA would set up an area to alert pilots to avoid that area while they are doing their surveillance,” Hill said.

    Finally, there's the truth they need it for SURVEILLANCE!

    Hill said unmanned systems can also work on the ground, pointing to systems the state obtained in 2005 through homeland security grants to deal with explosive ordnance devices.

    Unmanned systems can help fighters battle wildfires, providing escape routes, and can help law enforcement, such as in hostage situations.

    Those last two sentences say it all,  police can obtain UAV's through DHS grants by claiming to use them for hostage situations etc. Wake up, it's the same drivel being used by police to acquire armored personnel carriers & military gear. Police across the country are applying for grants using the 1033 program.

    What I don’t like about life in the American police state:

    Original story appeared in www.rutherford.org

    Here’s what I don’t like about living in the American police state:

    I don’t like being treated as if my only value to the government is as a source of labor and funds.

    I don’t like being viewed as a consumer and bits of data. I don’t like being spied on and treated as if I have no right to privacy.

    I don’t like government officials who lobby for my vote only to ignore me once elected. I don’t like having representatives incapable of and unwilling to represent me. I don’t like taxation without representation.

    I don’t like being subjected to scans, searches, pat downs and other indignities by the TSA.

    I don’t like VIPR raids on so-called “soft” targets like shopping malls and bus depots by black-clad, Darth Vader look-alikes.

    I don’t like fusion centers, which represent the combined surveillance efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement.

    I don’t like laws that criminalize Americans for otherwise lawful activities such as holding religious studies at home, growing vegetables in their yard, and collecting rainwater.

    I don’t like the NDAA, which allows the president and the military to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely.

    I don’t like the Patriot Act, which opened the door to all manner of government abuses and intrusions on our privacy.

    I don’t like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has become America’s standing army.

    I don’t like military weapons such as armored vehicles, sound cannons and the like being used against the American citizens.

    I don’t like government agencies such as the DHS, Post Office, Social Security Administration and Wildlife stocking up on hollow-point bullets. And I definitely don’t like the implications of detention centers being built that could house American citizens.

    I don’t like the fact that since President Obama took office, police departments across the country “have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.”

    I don’t like America’s infatuation with locking people up for life for non-violent crimes. There are over 3,000 people in America serving life sentences for non-violent crimes, including theft of a jacket, siphoning gasoline from a truck, stealing tools, and attempting to cash a stolen check. I don’t like paying roughly $29,000 a year per inmate just to keep these nonviolent offenders in prison.

    I don’t like the fact that those within a 25-mile range of the border are getting a front row seat to the American police state, as Border Patrol agents are now allowed to search people’s homes, intimately probe their bodies, and rifle through their belongings, all without a warrant.

    I don’t like public schools that treat students as if they were prison inmates. I don’t like zero tolerance laws that criminalize childish behavior. I don’t like a public educational system that emphasizes rote memorization and test-taking over learning, synthesizing and critical thinking.

    I don’t like police precincts whose primary purpose—whether through the use of asset forfeiture laws, speed traps, or red light cameras—is making a profit at the expense of those they have sworn to protect. I don’t like militarized police and their onerous SWAT team raids.

    I don’t like being treated as if I have no rights.

    I don’t like cash-strapped states cutting deals with private corporations to run the prisons in exchange for maintaining 90% occupancy rates for at least 20 years. I don’t like the fact that American prisons have become the source of cheap labor for Corporate America.

    I don’t like feeling as if we’ve come full circle back to a pre-Revolutionary era.

    I don’t like technology being used as a double-edged sword against us. I don’t like agencies like DARPA developing weapons for the battlefield that get used against Americans back at home. I don’t like the fact that drones will be deployed domestically in 2015, yet the government has yet to establish any civil liberties protocols to prevent them from being used against the citizenry.

    Most of all, I don’t like feeling as if there’s no hope for turning things around.

    Now there are those who would suggest that if I don’t like things about this country, I should leave and go elsewhere. And there are certainly those among my fellow citizens who are leaving for friendlier shores. However, I happen to come from a long line of people who believe in the virtue of hard work and perseverance and in the principle that nothing worthwhile comes without effort.

    So I’m not giving up, at least not anytime soon. But I’m also not waiting around for the government to clean up its act. I’m not making any deals with politicians who care nothing about me and mine. To quote Number Six, the character in the British television series The Prisoner: “I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!”

    I plan to keep fighting, writing, speaking up, speaking out, shouting if necessary, filing lawsuits, challenging the status quo, writing letters to the editor, holding my representatives accountable, thinking nationally but acting locally, and generally raising a ruckus anytime the government attempts to undermine the Constitution and ride roughshod over the rights of the citizenry.

    Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    CDC's National Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System is spying on kids & parents

    The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is using data analysis to identify children and families most at risk, and thus inform how time and money is allocated. When the DCF started this project two years ago, the goal was to see fewer dead children -- and that's what the department says is happening while spying on children & families.
    The SAS report helped DCF identify what the highest-risk children looked like on paper, creating a detailed profile. “We needed to understand a lot more of the common factors in those cases," Carroll said, "and we needed to be able to take that information and refine what we were doing from a case practice standpoint to see if we couldn’t intervene in a more effective way to prevent some of those child deaths."

    Florida is one of 50 states conducting the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) with financial and technical assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    A $100,000 contract forged with SAS last fall led to a detailed report that is now shaping how DCF achieves its mission.

    This national telephone surveillance system is designed to collect data on individual risk behaviors and preventive health practices related to the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Information from the survey is used for health planning, program evaluation, and monitoring health objectives within the Department of Health. 

    Albert Blackmon a paid analytics expert(employee) for SAS addressed the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities on Thursday during a meeting held in Tampa, Florida, to discuss ways of dealing with a problem that caused the deaths of 1,640 children nationwide in 2012.
    One of the focuses of SAS — the company he works for — is helping businesses and governmental entities gather, store, access, analyze and report on various data to aid in decision-making.  

    Representatives of the child welfare, law enforcement, public health and technology fields explored various strategies surrounding child fatalities.
    Blackmon presented findings from a recent project in Florida that included poring through the files of about 1 million children to identify factors indicating a high risk of death.

    In other words our government, police and corporate interests are compiling a HUGE database on kids & parents. 

    SAS says the resulting five-year Child Fatality Trend Analysis is helping investigators better predict the needs of families in crisis. It examined increases or decreases in the odds of children dying as a result of such factors as parental alcohol or drug abuse; physical abuse; and intervention by the governmental agency handling their cases.

    This "governmental intervention" should set off alarm bells everywhere:

    A private company working with law enforcement claims they can predict if your kids might be abused in the future? Will parents be arrested on a hunch? Will kids be put in protective services based on a prediction?

    Blackmon also mentioned CJLEADS (Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Automated Data Services), a Web-based application hosted by SAS which has played a crime-solving role. It allows information to be assembled from various sources to give law enforcement officials a complete picture of a suspect’s criminal history and status.

    The CJLEADS system allows authorities to keep closer tabs on offenders, streamline investigations and possibly prevent future crimes.

    The system will allow users to develop a watch list of persons of interest and will notify the users when that person of interest has a change in status such as an arrest, pending court date, or release from custody.

    There it is in black & white a "watchlist of person's interest". Is this Stasi Germany or Soviet Russia?

    Missouri claims school officials can decide how best to spy on students:
    Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed legislation that would have prohibited Missouri's public schools from tracking students electronically.
    The legislation rejected Wednesday sought to bar districts from using "radio frequency identification technology" to monitor or track the location of students.

    Nixon said it would have eroded the ability of local school officials to decide what's best for their students.
    He said the tracking devices could be a public safety tool to locate students during emergency situations or natural disasters.

    Schools aren't consciously giving up student data, Rep. Patrick Meehan said.
    Most of them are moving toward online storage and data-management systems known as cloud computing. Many of those systems are secure but some have fine print built into the contracts saying the software company owns the information that's stored and can sell it.
    "They're accessing student data for the specific purposes of marketing that data to a vendor," Meehan said.

    Meehan co-hosted a hearing last month about data mining and student privacy that looked at where there are current and potential security issues and how they can be rectified.

    In typical govt. fashion, they need a hearing on how exploiting students data can be rectified.

    Here's the answer stop collecting our data, Stop Spying On Us!

    Corporate spying on non-profiits is worse than you imagined

    A 2013 report called "Spooky Business" from the Essential Information organization, throws some much-needed light on this corporate spying:

    The corporate capacity for espionage has skyrocketed in recent years. Most major companies now have a chief corporate security officer tasked with assessing and mitigating "threats" of all sorts -- including from nonprofit organizations. And there is now a surfeit of private investigations firms willing and able to conduct sophisticated spying operations against nonprofits.

    Here's a list of a few corporate espionage firms:

    Many of the world’s largest corporations and their trade associations -- including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, Monsanto, Bank of America, Dow Chemical, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Burger King, McDonald's, Shell, BP, BAE, Sasol, Brown & Williamson and E.ON -- have been linked to espionage or planned espionage against nonprofit organizations, activists and whistleblowers.

    Corporate espionage against nonprofit organizations is an egregious abuse of corporate power that is subverting democracy,” said Gary Ruskin, author of Spooky Business. “Who will rein in the forces of corporate lawlessness as they bear down upon nonprofit defenders of justice?”

    The victims of this spying, and the methods employed, are varied:

    Many different types of nonprofits have been targeted with espionage, including environmental, anti-war, public interest, consumer, food safety, pesticide reform, nursing home reform, gun control, social justice, animal rights and arms control groups.

    Corporations and their trade associations have been linked to a wide variety of espionage tactics against nonprofit organizations. The most prevalent tactic appears to be infiltration by posing a volunteer or journalist, to obtain information from a nonprofit.  But corporations have been linked to many other human, physical and electronic espionage tactics against nonprofits.  Many of these tactics are either highly unethical or illegal.

    Most of the report is devoted to describing some of the high-profile surveillance operations that have come to light so far.

    James Love is the Director of Knowledge Ecology International, an organization that works to improve access to essential drugs, to reduce pharmaceutical drug prices worldwide, and to protect consumers in copyright. Love is an award-winning advocate; in 2006, KEI won a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, and in 2013, Love won a Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

    Shortly after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Love says he received a visit in his offices from a man who said he was recently let go from his job at Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). "He said his job involved monitoring what I was doing, every day." Love said.

    "He told me that PhRMA had hired a private investigator to investigate us, from the West Coast." Separately, from 2007 to 2008, Love says that PhRMA and some companies in the copyright sector funded efforts to investigate the sources of funding for NGOs working on intellectual property issues, and to press those foundations to end their support of consumer advocacy.

    Around 2008 or 2009, General Electric, Microsoft, Pfizer and other firms funded an effort by the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) to provide intelligence on NGOs working on intellectual property issues. Love says, "They approached someone we knew, with a proposal to provide information on Knowledge Ecology International and other NGOs working on intellectual property issues, as part of a program to counter NGO advocacy efforts on behalf of consumers."

    Eventually, Love says, the NFTC contracted with the Romulus Global Issues Management, an "international policy consultancy" that advises "several members of the Fortune 100." The managing partner of Romulus is John Stubbs, whose wife is Victoria A. Espinel, a former Romulus employee. Espinel was U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IP czar) for the Obama administration, and is currently the CEO and President of the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

    One key fact to emerge from this litany of dubious activity, is how closely it is related to the other kinds of surveillance, and the groups that carry them out:

    One of the troubling aspects of recent corporate espionage against nonprofits is the use of current and former police, current government contractors, and former CIA, NSA, FBI, military, Secret Service and other law enforcement officers.

    The FBI is actively involved with corporations, click here to read more.

    Even active-duty CIA operatives are allowed to sell their expertise to the highest bidder, "a policy that gives financial firms and hedge funds access to the nation's top-level intelligence talent," writes Eamon Javers. Little is known about the CIA's moonlighting policy, or which corporations have hired current CIA operatives.

    According to Javers, "There is much about the policy that is unclear, including how many officers have availed themselves of it, how long it has been in place and what types of outside employment have been allowed." Regarding the CIA process for approving moonlighting, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo said "My sense is that it is a rubber stamp deal....No one’s really looking at it or keeping a close eye on it."
    This intermingling of the various kinds of spying on Americans should inflame the public:

    In effect, the revolving door for intelligence, military and law enforcement officials is yet another aspect of the corporate capture of the federal agencies, and another government subsidy for corporations. Taxpayer funds are expended to train the officials who work for the CIA, NSA, Secret Service, military and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies. When these employees leave for employment in the private sector, corporations reap the benefits of this taxpayer-funded education, training and experience. It’s a great deal for the companies that hire these former agents, but not for taxpayers.

    Corporate surveillance is leading to a further blurring between government and commercial interests that places non-profit organizations and the people who work in them in an even more vulnerable position.

    Here's some info. on three companies conducting corporate espionage:

    TrustWave, formerly known as NetSafe, was paid by the firm S2i, formerly known as BBI, to assist with electronic surveillance of Greenpeace for Dow Chemical. The report notes that TrustWave’s founder and a current director, Joe Patanella, formerly worked for the NSA.  A quick look at TrustWave’s interlocks shows that Phil Smith, current SVP of Government Solutions, formerly worked at the Department of Justice and the Secret Service.

    Total Intelligence Solutions was hired by Monsanto to infiltrate unknown nonprofits organizing against the company in 2008. The report highlights the role of Cofer Black, chair of Total Intel at the time, in establishing the firm’s relationship with Monsanto. Black was at the helm of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center until 2002, when he took over counterterrorism efforts at the State Department before leaving to join ACADEMI, formerly known as Blackwater, as vice chair in 2004. Total Intel was launched by Erik Prince, owner of Blackwater, in 2007. In addition to Black, he brought on Robert Richer as CEO, who previously worked at the CIA.

    Stratfor worked for Coca-Cola and Dow spying on animal and human rights activists, according to emails released by WikiLeaks in 2012. Fred Burton, one of the emailers and Stratfor’s VP of Intelligence, came into the private sector from the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Stratfor’s interlocks show that another vice-president, Scott Stewart, also came from the State Department.

    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Government spying on Americans is out of control

    William Binney is one of the highest-level whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA. He was a leading code-breaker against the Soviet Union during the Cold War but resigned soon after September 11, disgusted by Washington’s move towards mass surveillance.

    On 5 July he spoke at a conference in London organized by the Centre for Investigative Journalism and revealed the extent of the surveillance programs unleashed by the Bush and Obama administrations.

    “At least 80% of fiber-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney said. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”

    It shows that the NSA is not just pursuing terrorism, as it claims, but ordinary citizens going about their daily communications. “The NSA is mass-collecting on everyone”, Binney said, “and it’s said to be about terrorism but inside the US it has stopped zero attacks.”

    Even the DEA is spying on our phone calls without a warrant, click here to read more.

    Its not only the NSA, DHS & the FBI spying on us but DHS is working with police & Fusion Centers to spy on innocent Americans.

    Imagine that you watched a police officer in your neighborhood stop ten completely ordinary people every day just to take a look inside their vehicle or backpack. Now imagine that nine of those people are never even accused of a crime. They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even the most law-abiding person would eventually protest this treatment.

    In fact they are, click here to read more.

    The ACLU is suing DHS because police & Fusion Centers are profiling photographers as terrorists.

    The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of California, the national ACLU, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, was brought on behalf of five Americans who had their information entered into law enforcement databases for innocent things like taking pictures, buying computers, or standing in a train station, and were then subjected to investigation.

    “This domestic surveillance program wrongly targets First Amendment-protected activities, encourages racial and religious profiling, and violates federal law,” said Linda Lye, staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “The Justice Department’s own rules say that there should be reasonable suspicion before creating a record on someone, but the government’s instructions to local police are that they should write up SARs even if there’s no valid reason to suspect a person of doing anything wrong.”

    Click here & here to read more.

    The NSA will soon be able to collect 966 exabytes a year, the total of internet traffic annually.

    The Washington Post has revealed that "Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets." Additionally, “nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents.”

    Barton Gellman, one of the authors of the article states in a follow up published several days later states: “Everything in the sample we analyzed had been evaluated by NSA analysts in Hawaii, pulled from the agency’s central repositories and minimized by hand after automated efforts to screen out U.S. identities.”

    What that means is that if you’re on the Internet, you’re in the NSA’s neighborhood—whether you are in the U.S. or not. And like those who protest unjust policies like stop and frisk in their cities, you should be protesting this treatment.
    "No government oversight body, including the Justice Department, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, intelligence committees in Congress or the president’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, has delved into a comparably large sample of what the NSA actually collects."
    Former Google head Eric Schmidt once argued that the entire amount of knowledge from the beginning of humankind until 2003 amount to only five exabytes.

    Binney, who featured in a 2012 short film by Oscar-nominated US film-maker Laura Poitras, described a future where surveillance is ubiquitous and government intrusion unlimited.

    “The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control”, Binney said, “but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone.”

    With evidence that there could be a second NSA leaker, the time for more aggressive reporting is now. As Binney said: “I call people who are covering up NSA crimes traitors”.

    A top Virginia official said illegals have more privacy than Americans!

    Corey Stewart a top elected official in Virginia said that it is ironic that "under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, if you are a U.S. citizen and you are a sex offender, you are registered and you’re tracked," but "if you are an illegal alien, the local police have no way of knowing where you are, because ICE will not tell you."

    "The American citizens that have been convicted are being treated worse than illegal immigrants convicted for the same crimes, and this is happening repeatedly across our nation," he said. "The justification that the Obama administration gives, when one inquires about the whereabouts of the 7,000 convicted illegal immigrants handed over to ICE, is shocking... 'privacy.'"

    "If you or I committed a crime, it's public information, it's in the newspaper," he said. "But if an illegal alien commits a crime and is subsequently deported or released, that information is private.”

    Click here to read more.

    CIA partners with Amazon to spy on Americans:

    This summer, a $600 million computing cloud developed by Amazon Web Services for the Central Intelligence Agency over the past year will begin servicing all 17 agencies that make up the intelligence community. If the technology plays out as officials envision, it will usher in a new era of cooperation and coordination, allowing agencies to share information and services much more easily and avoid the kind of intelligence gaps that preceded the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

    For the first time, agencies within the IC will be able to order a variety of on-demand computing and analytic services from the CIA and National Security Agency. What’s more, they’ll only pay for what they use. 

    This should come as no surprise to readers of my blog, I recently reported on how private companies are working with the NSA & DHS. Click here & here to read more.

    The vision was first outlined in the IC Information Technology Enterprise plan championed by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and IC Chief Information Officer Al Tarasiuk almost three years ago. Cloud computing is one of the core components of the strategy to help the IC discover, access and share critical information in an era of seemingly infinite data.

    For the risk-averse intelligence community, the decision to go with a commercial cloud vendor is a radical departure from business as usual.

    In 2011, while private companies were consolidating data centers in favor of the cloud and some civilian agencies began flirting with cloud variants like email as a service, a sometimes contentious debate among the intelligence community’s leadership took place.

    As one former intelligence official with knowledge of the Amazon deal told Government Executive, “It took a lot of wrangling, but it was easy to see the vision if you laid it all out.”

    The critical question was would the IC, led by the CIA, attempt to do cloud computing from within, or would it buy innovation?

    Money was a factor, according to the intelligence official, but not the leading one.  The government was spending more money on information technology within the IC than ever before. IT spending reached $8 billion in 2013, according to budget documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The CIA and other agencies feasibly could have spent billions of dollars standing up their own cloud infrastructure without raising many eyebrows in Congress, but the decision to purchase a single commercial solution came down primarily to two factors.

    “What we were really looking at was time to mission and innovation,” the former intelligence official said. “The goal was, ‘Can we act like a large enterprise in the corporate world and buy the thing that we don’t have, can we catch up to the commercial cycle? Anybody can build a data center, but could we purchase something more?

     “We decided we needed to buy innovation,” the former intelligence official said.

    In October, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Thomas Wheeler sided with Amazon and overturned GAO’s decision to force the CIA to rebid the contract. Big Blue went home, AWS claimed victory under the deal’s original financial specs, and nearly 18 months after the procurement was first released, the CIA and Amazon went to work.

    It is difficult to underestimate the cloud contract’s importance. In a recent public appearance, CIA Chief Information Officer Douglas Wolfe called it “one of the most important technology procurements in recent history,” with ramifications far outside the realm of technology. 

    “It’s going to take a few months to bring this online in a robust way, but it’s coming,” Wolfe said.  “And I think it’s going to make a big difference for national security.”

    Amazon or should I say the CIA wants to use (spy) drones to deliver packages.

    Click here to read more.