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Archive for February, 2016

Bill Gates Sides with FBI in Fight to Force Apple to Unlock iPhone of San Bernardino Shooter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Bill Gates is siding with the FBI in it battle to force Apple to help hack into a locked iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters.

In an interview with Financial Times, the Microsoft founder compared the case to police gathering records from a phone company as part of an investigation.

“This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case,” Gates said.

“It is no different than [the question of] should anybody ever have been able to tell the phone company to get information, should anybody be able to get at bank records. Let’s say the bank had tied a ribbon round the disk drive and said, ‘Don’t make me cut this ribbon because you’ll make me cut it many times’.”

Microsoft is the first major tech company to side with the FBI. Other tech companies, such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, have sided with Apple, saying the case would set a dangerous precedent of invading the privacy of tech users.

Trump’s Desire to Torture Terrorists Again Won’t Gain Traction, Ex-CIA Chief Said

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Current and former CIA officials took issue with Donald Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. should start torturing terrorists again for information.

In an interview with NBC News, former CIA Director Michael Hayden said the spy agency won’t employ torture after the fallout from the post-9/11 interrogation program.

Hayden, who served as CIA director at the end of George W. Bush’s administration, said the agency would not return torturing terrorists.

“Multiple investigations, grand juries, presidential condemnations, and congressional star chambers have a way of doing that to you,” Hayden told NBC News.

Trump said last week that “torture works,” and he would bring back waterboarding and “much stronger methods.”

CIA officials would be unlikely to use harsh techniques in the near future because of the fallout following the interrogation program.

‘I can’t imagine anyone volunteering to do it,” said Bill Harlow, a former CIA spokesman.

U.S. House Committee Investigates Lucrative Bonuses Doled Out to TSA Managers

airport-people-walkingBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A U.S. House committee has launched an investigation into awards and bonuses doled out to senior management with TSA.

The news comes a day after FOX 9 revealed that TSA managers were receiving lucrative bonuses.

Kelly Hoggan, the assistant administrator at TSA headquarters in charge of security, received $70,000 in bonuses over three years.

The issue first came to light when Drew Rhoades, an assistant federal security director at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, blew the whistle on bonuses.

“It wasn’t tied to a performance rating, wasn’t tied to any objective basis, if you have a high salary you continue to get performance bonuses,” Rhoades recalled.

TSA said in a statement: “Since his confirmation, Administrator Peter Neffenger has sought to enhance respect, selflessness, collaboration, and accountability in all activities, across the agency, from executive decision-making to core security functions. TSA will not tolerate illegal, unethical or immoral conduct. When such conduct is alleged, it is investigated thoroughly, and when appropriate, by an outside authority. When an investigation finds that misconduct has occurred, TSA takes the appropriate action. This is the case regardless of seniority or position.”

Other Stories of Interest

Slim Majority of Americans Side with FBI’s Fight with Apple to Open Terrorist’s iPhone

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A slim majority of Americans think Apple should help the FBI unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, a new survey has found.

The Wall Street Journal reports that about 51% of Americans side with the FBI, while 41% back Apple, according to a survey by SurveyMonkey.

The gap is even larger when Android owners were surveyed. A little more than a third of them side with Apple.

About 46% of iPhone owners agree with Apple.

But the numbers are in Apple’s favor for those who have read Apple CEO Tim Cook’s message to customers. But the survey found that only 16% read the letter.

The Wall Street Journal wrote:

Many tech companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Twitter Inc. have come out strongly in support of Apple, and privacy advocates have decried the FBI’s effort to force Apple to unlock the phone. But SurveyMonkey’s poll highlights the disconnect between public opinion and the interests of Silicon Valley-based tech firms.

Former FBI Agent Answers Her Calling to Be a Writer About Fighting Crime

Former FBI Agent Jerri Williams, via Twitter

Former FBI Agent Jerri Williams, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Agent Jerri Williams couldn’t shake the feeling that she wanted to be a writer and share her stories about fighting crime on a podcast.

The podcasts became so popular last week that they ended up No. 1 on the coveted “new and noteworthy” list on iTunes, CBS Philadelphia reports. 

“I was shocked. I have no idea why they selected my podcast but I am so grateful,” Williams said.

After joining the FBI in 1982, Williams left her job in 2008 and began working a the chief spokeswoman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Then last summer, she left that job to answer her calling – be be a full-time writer.

She wrote a book, “Play to Play,” about a female FBI agent pursuing corruption in the strip club industry in Philadelphia.

“I thought, this needs to be a book and so I wrote one,” Williams said with a smile.

Williams is already working on her second novel, one inspired by a Philadelphia Ponzi scheme from the 1990s.

Post-Dispatch: Social Justice Movement in Ferguson Gets Off Track

Ferguson protest.

Ferguson protest.

By Blake Ashby
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Something has gone terribly wrong with the social justice movement. The heavy lifting of making things better is being consumed by a free-floating anger that has little connection to what is actually happening in our country.

Think I’m exaggerating? Some of the angrier members of the social justice community are calling for the recall of Ferguson Councilwoman Ella Jones. She is a very clever political operator who worked her way up, built relationships, accumulated allies and got elected. She is also African-American, as are most of her constituents.

So why are they trying to get Jones kicked out? Because the Department of Justice wants Ferguson to spend an extra $2 million implementing community policing, and Jones and every other council member pushed back and said we can only afford to spend a million. Basically, Jones was voting to spare her constituents $1 million in extra taxes. Activists have concluded that not increasing taxes on the African-Americans who actually vote for her makes Jones a traitor to African-Americans in the rest of the country.

And of course the DOJ sued the city of Ferguson on Feb. 10; the night before, the council had unanimously voted to accept the consent decree the city’s attorneys had negotiated, with a small number of cost-saving modifications. The DOJ used some fairly dramatic language to suggest that Ferguson was somehow fighting progress and clinging to its racist past.

But … did the DOJ even read the proposed changes? Basically, the City Council asked the DOJ to delay implementation for three months while the city looked for a police chief and not require Ferguson give all of its police officers substantial raises. These two changes, along with hiring a local instead of Washington monitor, took the first-year costs down from about $2 million to about $1 million.

The DOJ wants Ferguson to give its mostly white police force a very large raise in hopes the city will be able to recruit more African-American officers. Once the consent decree was publicly released and scrutinized, the city realized the very high cost of the raises.

To read more click here. 

TSA Whistleblower Speaks Out About Security Flaws That Endanger Flyers

airport scanner 2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A TSA senior manager-turned-whistleblower spoke out publicly for the first time about retaliation within the agency and growing safety concerns.

Drew Rhodes, one of four assistant federal security directors at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, expressed his concerns about the TSA in an interview Fox9. 

Rhodes said he blew the whistle on the agency because of frustration over security flaws that weren’t being addressed,. They included the handling of ammunition at checkpoints and the failure to use orange tags on check bags that had already been screened.

Here’s a partial transcript of the interview with Fox9:

Rhoades: “There were these embarrassing stories about the TSA. My supervisor said, ‘I want to know who the leak is. Is it you, he said at one meeting.”
Reporter: They thought you were my leak for those stories?’
Rhoades “That is correct.”
Reporter: “And just to set the record straight, we had never talked, or met each other when I did those stories?’
Rhoades: “That is correct.”
Rhodes’ boss is Federal Security Director Cliff Van Leuven.

Ven Leuven ordered Rhoades transferred from Minnesota, to Tampa, Florida.  But for Rhoades, who had recently divorced, the warmer locale came at price.

Rhoades: “If I left the state of Minnesota, I would’ve lost custody of my children.”
Reporter: “So they knew they had you, that moving was a deal killer?”
Rhoades:  “Absolutely.”
Reporter: “And you think around the country directed reassignments are used to punish people in TSA?”
Rhoades: “No doubt. It’s happened in many cities.”

Bernie Sanders Once Advocated Abolishing CIA, Calling It a “Dangerous Institution’

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders once called the CIA a “dangerous institution that has got to go,” Politico reports. 

At the time, Sanders was a 29-year-old socialist angry over the spy agency’s interventions in other country, including what he called America’s history of “overthrowing governments.”

Sanders was running for the U.S. Senate on the ticket of the anti-war Liberty Union Party.

Hillary Clinton allies have seized on the opportunity to attack Sanders, whose views have softened over time.

“Abolishing the CIA in the 1970s would have unilaterally disarmed America during the height of the Cold War and at a time when terrorist networks across the Middle East were gaining strength,” said Jeremy Bash, who served as chief of staff to CIA director Leon Panetta and now advises Clinton’s campaign. “If this is a window into Sanders’ thinking, it reinforces the conclusion that he’s not qualified to be commander in chief.”

Sanders supporters said it’s disingenuous to attack Sanders for something he said four decades ago.

“I think people should look at his 25-year congressional career,” said one person who worked for Sanders in the House of Representatives, and whose employment circumstances prohibit him from speaking on the record. “You don’t have to look at some speech from the early ’70s to know where he is on issues. There’s a very clear congressional record. I think he should be measured and judged on that.”

Other Stories of Interest