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Archive for February, 2016

Bernie Sanders Defends 40-Year-Old Statements That CIA Is ‘Dangerous Institution’

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is not backing away from his comments in 1974 that the CIA is a “dangerous institution” that has supported “fascist dictatorships,” the Boston Globe reports. 

But Sanders said at a CNN town hall in South Carolina that his arguments were “40 years ago” and that the CIA plays “an important role.”

Still, he said the agency has “done things which they should not have done on behalf of the United States government.’’

Sanders said that the CIA backed the overthrow of a democratically elected prime minister in 1953, leading to “the Iranian Revolution, and we are where we are today.”

The presidential candidate also pointed to the overthrow of another democratically elected leader, Salvadore Allende in Chile.

Other Stories of Interest

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Ferguson City Council’s Problems with Consent Degree Make No Sense

Ferguson protest.

Ferguson protest.

By Editorial Board
St. Louis Post Dispatch

The more we learn about the Ferguson City Council’s decision to reject key terms of a consent decree with the Department of Justice and fight it out in court, the less sense it makes. The council seems intent on inflating cost estimates as a tactic to avoid compliance. Members should reconsider before it’s too late.

“There is no chance, zero, that the city of the Ferguson will prevail in this kamikaze mission,” police accountability expert Scott Greenwood told the Post-Dispatch’s Stephen Deere. “They are never ever likely to get the deal that they had. … It will never be that good again.”

Greenwood works for the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been involved in dozens of consent decree negotiations with police departments around the country. None of the precedents augur well for Ferguson’s case. TheDOJ filed suit Feb. 10, the day after the council objected to seven of the 464 points in the consent decree its representatives had negotiated with Justice Department lawyers.

Rather than collaborate and rely on the federal judge who will oversee the agreement to handle sticky issues, the city decided to tug on Superman’s cape. Ferguson officials still don’t quite understand that they can’t wing it anymore.

Ferguson’s objections center on the costs involved. The city’s already got a $2.8 million budget deficit. Its municipal court cash cow has been severely restricted. The cost of monitoring the consent degree has been pegged at $350,000 a year, but other costs have not been publicly quantified. That should have been the first step.

Instead, the city’s estimates keep going up, more than quadrupling in one 10-day period from $800,000 to $3.7 million.

To read more click here. 

FBI Completes Search of Federal Wildlife Refuge for Evidence in Occupation Case

Burns, Oregon

Burns, Oregon

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has swept the Oregon wildlife refuge for evidence following the long standoff with occupiers and has turned over the site to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Federal prosecutors said the FBI is finished processing the crime scenes at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Now defense lawyers have an opportunity to visit the refuge between noon Thursday and 5 p.m. Friday, but they will be escorted by federal officers.

This will give defense lawyers and their investigators a chance to photos or videos.

Once the visit is complete, the federal government “will begin the process of restoring” the wildlife refuge so that it can open to the public, the Oregonian reports.

Defense lawyers filed a joint motion Friday to prevent the FBI from sweeping the site until investigators can monitor the activity of federal law enforcement.

Ammon Bundy’s lawyers argued, “The problem in this unique case is that the Government will not know what evidence at the scene is specifically favorable to Mr. Bundy as opposed to another co-defendant.”

The FBI aid Tuesday that agents swept the site to ensure no one was still there and searched the site for bombs.

The occupation of the wildlife refuge ended relatively peacefully after 41 days.

Justice Department Demands Apple Unlock At Least 9 More iPhones

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Apple is now facing demands from the Justice Department to unlock at least nine iPhones,  besides in the one in the San Bernardino attack, supporting the company’s claims that its encryption safeguards are under attack.

The tech company is objecting to the demands in at least seven of the nine cases, the New York Times reports. 

“Apple has not agreed to perform any services on the devices,” Apple attorney Marc J. Zwillinger wrote in a letter unsealed Tuesday in federal court.

Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said the Justice Department demands will set a dangerous precedent.

“Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices,” Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said in a letter to customers.

On Monday, Apple noted on its website that law enforcement agencies “have hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock if the F.B.I. wins this case.”

Apple Plans to Argue the First Amendment Protects Company from Helping FBI

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Apple plans to argue that it should not be required to help the FBI unlock an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers because a judge relied on an obscure law and infringed on the company’s First-Amendment rights, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

At issue is the All Writs Act, which was first passed by Congress in 1789 and is the basis for trying to force Apple to help the FBI.

“The government here is trying to use this statute from 1789 in a way that it has never been used before. They are seeking a court order to compel Apple to write new software, to compel speech,” Apple attorney Theodore J. Boutrous said in a brief interview with The Times.

Boutrous said there’s legal precedent that computer code is a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

The debate, he said, should be argued by Congress, not the courts.

“It is not appropriate for the government to obtain through the courts what they couldn’t get through the legislative process,” he said.

The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.

Former FBI Official Michael Mason on Apple: To Provide a ‘Free-Fire Communication Zone For Criminals’ Is Unwise

Michael Mason retired from the FBI as the Executive Assistant Director-Criminal Branch at headquarters.

Mike Mason/fbi photo

Mike Mason/fbi photo

By Michael Mason
For ticklethewire.com

This is an interesting issue because I don’t believe one can come down in the middle of this debate.  That would be akin to believing a woman can be little bit pregnant.

This is an either-or decision.  Either we are going to give pedophiles, drug lords, organized crime syndicates, fraudsters, hacktivists and a host of others a virtual free-fire communication zone or we are not.

The ability to intercept communications existed until these new applications were developed, so it’s not as though the government is seeking a new authority rather than the ability to maintain the status quo.  This conversation often gets postured as giving the government unilateral authority to intercept conversations without meeting the bar of evidence required to conduct such interceptions.

When phrases such as “back doors” are used, it makes it sound as if the government’s objectives are nefarious and seek to skirt the law and I do not believe that is the government’s objective.  Any authority can be abused and when that happens, it must be addressed swiftly and severely.

However, to provide a free-fire communication zone for criminals to operate strikes me as unwise.  I would not want to provide criminals with any platforms or resources enabling them to ply their criminal trades without fear of law enforcement intervention.

We should not arm criminals in any manner that cannot be adequately addressed by law enforcement.  Americans will be quick to blame the law enforcement and intelligence communities the next time we are visited by a large scale tragedy.  There will be howls of what both communities missed that led to the tragedy.

Absolute security and absolute privacy simply cannot co-exist in the same environment.  We can put in appropriate safeguards to help prevent abuses, but no guarantees can be made that the existence of decryption keys won’t fall into the wrong hands.

This is a cost-benefit question.  Does the risk to security caused by offering the bad guys the aforementioned free-fire zone outweigh the benefit of creating an uber-privacy zone that will….absolutely will be abused by criminals and terrorists?  It’s time we had an adult conversation with the American public regarding this subject and stop letting ignorance of the law lead the debate.

 

Protesters Plan to Stage Demonstrations in Support of Apple’s Fight with the FBI

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Protesters across the nation plan to stage demonstrations today to support Apple’s fight against the FBI’s attempt to force the company to unlock an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Fight for the Future, a group that has organized demonstration on other tech issues, is organizing the protest, the Los Angeles times reports. 

Among the protest locations are San Francisco, Los Angeles and the FBI headquarters in Washington.

Protesters plan to carry banners reading, “FBI: Don’t Break Our Phones” and Secure Phones Save Lives.”

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook sent a letter to employees on Monday, saying “The case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation. At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people, and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties.”

Other tech companies, such as Google, Twitter and Facebook, have expressed support for Apple. On Monday, Microsoft founder Bill Gates took sides with the FBI.

U.S. House Committee Demands Answers After Homeland Security Lost 165 Firearms in 3 Years

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Congressional leaders are demanding answers from Homeland Security following the discovery that it lost 165 firearms in three years.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, requested Homeland Security inventory records and policies, the Daily Caller reports. 

The discovery of lost firearms, badges and cellphones was made by the news site, Compete Colorado.

The loss of the firearms “shows that the department is consistently unable to safeguard sensitive property,” the congressmen wrote.

“The fact that hundreds of badges and cell phones are missing gives rise to a variety of different security threat possibilities,” the letter said. “It is particularly troubling, however, that the department cannot account for its entire inventory of firearms.”

Between 2006 and 2008, Homeland Security lost 289 firearms, according to the DHS Office of Inspector General.