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Tag: DOJ

Federal Review: FBI Lab Rife with Forensic Flaws in 1980s, 1990s

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Justice Department have found serious problems at the bureau’s lab that raise serious questions about the guilt or innocence of several thousand people who have been convicted, the Washington Post reports.

The investigation began after the Washington Post exposed flawed evidence two years involving microscopic hair matches.

“I don’t know whether history is repeating itself, but clearly the [latest] report doesn’t give anyone a sense of confidence that the work of the examiners whose conduct was first publicly questioned in 1997 was reviewed as diligently and promptly as it needed to be,” said Michael R. Bromwich, who was inspector general from 1994 to 1999 and is now a partner at the Goodwin Procter law firm.

The review of the cases was halted last year, the FBI said, because of a “vigorous debate that occurred within the FBI and DOJ about the appropriate scientific standards we should apply when reviewing FBI lab examiner testimony — many years after the fact.”

The investigations resumed this month.

“Working closely with DOJ, we have resolved those issues and are moving forward with the transcript review for the remaining cases,” the FBI said.

Blistering Human Rights Report: FBI Pushed Muslims to Plot Terrorist Attacks

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department used questionable tactics to identify and prosecute terrorism suspects, a new human rights report offers, the Washington Post reports.

Human Rights Watch offered a scathing assessment of the FBI and Justice Department, which are accused of injecting fear into some Muslim communities because of the use of surveillance and informants.

The report, which follows a lengthy examination of U.S. terrorism prosecutions, says feds have targeted people with mental and physical disabilities, using tactics that critics decry as entrapment.

“The report clearly shows, in many respects, the American public is being sold a false bill of goods,” said Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch. “To be sure, the threat of terrorism is real,” she said. “But in many of the cases we documented, there was no threat until the FBI showed up and helped turn people into terrorists.”

The Justice Department defended its record.

“The Department of Justice has been a steadfast ally of our nation’s civil rights groups for decades,” Marc Raimondi, a Justice Department spokesman, said. “The report itself acknowledges that the legal process used in the cases it highlighted is not only lawful but is also specifically approved by federal judges. . . . We do not and cannot target individuals solely for engaging in activities protected by the First Amendment, which includes free speech and religion.”

Justice Department Highlights New Immigration Strategy in Wake of Border Crisis

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department launched a two-pronged approach to addressing the surge of illegal immigration from Central America, the Washington Examiner reports.

The plan aims to help Central American governments address the growing humanitarian crisis and to speed up immigration cases.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review will prioritize cases involving immigrants who recently crossed the border and are facing removal proceedings.

“This refocusing of resources will allow EOIR to prioritize the adjudication of the cases of those individuals involved in the evolving situation on the southwest border.” EOIR Director Juan P. Osuna said.

The plan calls for hiring more immigration judges and expanding access to legal resources for people facing removal proceedings.

Privacy Groups Want Audit of Facial Recognition Technology Before Database Goes Live

From ivs-biometrics.com

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As the FBI prepares to begin using a controversial facial recognition system later this year, more than 30 privacy groups are urging the Justice Department to conduct a long-pledged audit of the database, the National Journal reports.

Groups are worried about the privacy of American citizens and said the lack of oversight “raises serious privacy and civil-liberty concerns,” according to a joint letter sent Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder.

“The capacity of the FBI to collect and retain information, even on innocent Americans, has grown exponentially,” the letter reads. “It is essential for the American public to have a complete picture of all the programs and authorities the FBI uses to track our daily lives, and an understanding of how those programs affect our civil rights and civil liberties.”

The Next Generation Identification program includes a biometric database that scans irises, palm prints and faces.

“One of the risks here, without assessing the privacy considerations, is the prospect of mission creep with the use of biometric identifiers,” said Jeramie Scott, national security counsel with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, another of the letter’s signatories. “it’s been almost two years since the FBI said they were going to do an updated privacy assessment, and nothing has occurred.”

Justice Department Criminally Charges Five Chinese Military Officials with Hacking

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has charged five Chinese military officials with cyber-espionage after allegedly hacking into American companies’ computers in an attempt to steal trade secrets.

BBC reports that the army officials are accused of stealing trade secrets and internal documents from five U.S. companies and a labor union.

China quickly denied the charges, saying the accusations threaten to sour relations between the two countries.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the charges were the first against “known state actors for infiltrating U.S. commercial targets by cyber means.”

The victims have been identified as Westinghouse Electric, US Steel, Alcoa Inc, Allegheny Technologies, SolarWorld and the US Steelworkers Union.

“The alleged hacking appears to have been conducted for no reason other than to advantage state-owned companies and other interests in China, at the expense of businesses here in the United States,” Holder said.

Two Democrats Criticize Obama Administration for Handling of NSA Spying

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two Democratic senators are accusing the Obama administration of trying to “ignore or justify” factual misrepresentations to the Supreme Court about warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency.

The New York Times reports that the senators, Mark Udall of Colorado and Ryan Wyden of Oregon, complained in a letter to Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. that the Obama administration was contributing to a “culture of misinformation.”

The issue is over the legality of permitting warrantless NSA surveillance.

The Justice Department is reviewing the complaints.

Justice Department Seeks Permission to Hack, Search Remote Computers

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It used to be the bad guys who hacked computers.

But now law enforcement is resorting to the same trickery to search remote computers for investigations.

The IDG News Service reports that the Justice Department is seeking permission to hack computers to investigate complex criminal schemes that often utilize millions of machines nationwide.

The request has worried digital rights groups who said the hacking is intrusive and may violate the Fourth Amendment protecting against unreasonable searches and seizures.

“By expanding federal law enforcement’s power to secretly exploit ‘zero-day’ vulnerabilities in software and Internet platforms, the proposal threatens to weaken Internet security for all of us,” Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said by email.

AG Holder to Young Women, People of Color: ‘Consider Careers’ With Justice Department

attorney general/doj file photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

While the Justice Department is more integrated than ever, it still lags behind when it comes to women and people of color, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech aimed at young people.

“Consider careers here at at the United States Department of Justice,” Holder said during the speech, speaking to students who were visiting Washington from a Catholic school in San Francisco, according to CNS News.

Holder also urged new immigrants to consider a Justice Department career.

“Now, statistics show that in recent years, women and people of color have made up a greater percentage of both licensed lawyers and law students,” he said. “Progress remains too often slow, and the law continues to lag behind many other fields. So we need to ensure that the coming decades witness an uptick in the numbers of women, people with disabilities, people of color, and new immigrants finding productive avenues into this profession and others across the American workforce.”

Holder said the fact that he and President Obama are black is not an indication that the “long struggle to overcome disparity and discrimination” is over.

“Now, I know it may be tempting — it may be tempting for some, when they look at the accomplished professionals in this room or the lawyer who works in the Oval Office or consider the fact that I have the privilege of serving as the attorney general of the United States, to feel that this country’s long struggle to overcome disparity and discrimination has ended. But as Justice Sonia Sotomayor said just yesterday in her courageous and very personal dissent in the Michigan college admissions case, we ought not, and I quote, ‘wish away rather than confront the racial inequality that exists in our society. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race,’ end quote.”