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Archive for March, 2016

Federal Government Ramps Up Legal Assault Against Apple Ahead of Court Hearing

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department and FBI ramped up their legal assault against Apple on Thursday, saying in court papers that the technology grant is using “heated rhetoric” to interfere with a “modest” law enforcement demand to unlock one of the San Bernardino shooters’ iPhones.

Apple responded by calling the legal brief  a “cheap shot” and an “act of desperation,” the San Jose Mercury News reports. 

The federal government accused Apple of using security features to deliberately impede FBI investigations.

“The tone of their brief reads like an indictment,” said Bruce Sewell, Apple’s general counsel. “I can only conclude the Department of Justice is so desperate at this point it has thrown decorum to the wind.”

A March 22 hearing is scheduled on the issue before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym, who last month ordered Apple to help authorities hack the cell phone.

Federal prosecutors are asking the judge to leave the order intact.

“The order invades no one’s privacy and raises no Fourth Amendment concerns,” Justice Department lawyers wrote. “The government and the community need to know what is on the terrorist’s phone, and the government needs Apple’s assistance to find out.”

FBI Spies on Russian Intelligence by Bugging Binders with Listening Devices

spy graphic

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI resorted to Cold War spy tactics to eavesdrop on Russian intelligence agents in New York City, planting listening devices into binders full of “confidential” information, according to court documents revealed this week.

The covert action came to light in court filings in the trial of Evgeny Buryakov, who is accused of posing as a Russian bank employee. Federal prosecutors said Buryakov was really working for the Russian foreign intelligence agency, SVR, CNN reports. 

According to court documents, Buryakov thought he was meeting with an energy company analyst in 2012, but he actually was communicating with an undercover FBI agent.

The agent supplied the bugged binders to Buryakov in 2013, allowing the FBI to eavesdrop on hours of conversations among Russian intelligence.

The recordings “make clear” that the men “were operating as SVR officers by receiving taskings from Moscow, gathering responsive information and sending it back to SVR headquarters,” the court documents say.

Justice Department to Blame Iran for Cyber-Attack on Suburban New York Dam

iran_flagBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Iranian government launched a cyber-attack against a dam in suburban New York in 2013, the Justice Department is claiming in an indictment, a source told the New York Post. 

The federal government is drawing up the indictment, which is expected to be handed down soon.

Although hackers were unable to take control of the Bowman Avenue Dam in the suburban town of Rye, they managed to access an unspecified system, the source said.

The hacking has raised big concerns among the Obama administration, which has indicated that cyber-attacks are becoming more frequent.

FBI Now Says It Didn’t Err When Trying to Reset San Bernardino attacker’s iCloud password

IPhone 6By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI officials are backing off earlier claims made by Director James Comey that “there was a mistake” made by investigators when they tried to gain access to an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

In a court filing on Thursday, FBI officials said the decision to reset the password of an iCloud account tied to Syed Farook, who killed 14 people with the help of his wife in the Dec. 2 shootings, did not make a difference in accessing data from the phone, The Dallas Morning News reports. 

Farouk turned off iCloud backups for his mail, photos and notes, said FBI Agent Chris Pluhar.

The sworn declaration was intended to rebut claims from Apple that the FBI erred when it tried to change the iCloud password. If investigators hadn’t done that, Apple said investigator could have tricked the iPhone from automatically backing up to iCloud.

“In short, Apple is not some distant, disconnected third party unexpectedly and arbitrarily dragooned into helping solve a problem for which it bears no responsibility,” Justice Department lawyers wrote. “Rather, Apple is intimately close to the barriers on Farook’s locked iPhone because Apple specifically designed the iPhone to create those barriers.”

Apple took offense at suggestions that the company was trying to impeded the investigation.

“Everybody should beware because it seems like disagreeing with the Department of Justice means you must be evil and anti-American, nothing could be further from the truth,” Apple senior vice president and general counsel Bruce Sewell said in a conference call with reporters.

Other Stories of Interest

GOP Files FOIA Suit Against State Department for Access to Clinton E-Mails

GOP elephantBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Republican National Committee has filed two lawsuits against the federal government in hopes of accessing Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and text messages when she was secretary of state.

The GOP requested access to the records in Freedom of Information Act requests filed last year but so far has received no documents, Fox News reports. 

There are no at least 34 civil suits that have been filed for access to the records.

“For too long the State Department has undermined the public and the media’s legitimate right to records under the Freedom of Information Act, and it’s time it complies with the law,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

The FBI is investigating whether Clinton used her private e-mail server to pass on sensitive information.

Clinton continues to say that she never sent or received information that was considered classified.

On Wednesday, Republican senators also asked for more information involving the investigation.

The Hill: How Body Cameras on Border Patrol Agents Could Save Lives

Border Patrol agents reads the Miranda rights to a Mexican national arrested for transporting drugs.By Pedro Rios
The Hill

In 2010, Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, a husband and father of five, was handcuffed, tortured and brutally beaten to death by 12 Border Patrol agents at the San Ysidro border crossing in California. The horrifying incident witnessed by dozens of people exposed a systemic problem with the nation’s largest law enforcement agency: that Border Patrol agents operate with impunity, without meaningful accountability, and in complete opaqueness.

The abuses by agents are widespread and well documented. Since January of 2010 more than46 people have died as a result of an interaction with the Border Patrol. This past June, a woman was killed when Border Patrol agents intentionally rammed their boat into another boat carrying 20 people. In 2012, a Border Patrol agent shot 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez repeatedly in the back before he died. He was on his way to a local market to buy food staples in the Mexican city of Nogales, along the border with Arizona.

In the Hernandez Rojas case, a civilian bystander recorded the incident from the safety of an elevated pedestrian walkway. The video shows 12 Border Patrol agents, who are armed with batons and a Taser, brutally beating and tasing Rojas — who was lying on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. Six years later, not one of the 12 agents has been charged or even fired.

Hernandez Rojas’s widow, Maria Puga, is leading the movement for expanded oversight and accountability, including the demand that Border Patrol agents wear body cameras, which are a proven deterrent of abuse. A study shows that when officers wear them, the use of force plummets over 50 percent. Both civilians and officers experience fewer injuries when officers wear body cameras.

 

Watchdog Group Sues CIA for Access to Osama bin Laden’s Porn Stash

Osama bin LadenBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A conservative watchdog group is suing the CIA for access to Osama bin Laden’s porn stash that was found in his Pakistan compound in 2011.

Judicial Watch argued in a lawsuit that the CIA should be forced to turn over the pornography collection as part of a Freedom of Information request filed last year, The Washington Times reports. 

The porn stash was found by the Navy SEALS when they raided the hideout and killed bin Laden.

The June 15 requested asked the CIA for copies of “All pornographic material collected during and/or after the U.S. military operation in Abbotabad, Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011 that killed Osama bin Laden,” along with an index cataloging the items recovered.

Judicial Watch said the CIA has failed to turn over copies of the collection.

“Plaintiff is being irreparably harmed by reason of Defendant’s unlawful withholding of records responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA request, and Plaintiff will continue to be irreparably harmed unless Defendant is compelled to conform their conduct to the requirements of the law,” Judicial Watch wrote in this week’s filing.

Concerns Raised About How Accused Shooter Boarded Commercial Airline

Kyle Odom

Kyle Odom

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A man accused of shooting a church pastor was able to board a commercial airline in Idaho despite an attempted murder warrant for his arrest, the Associated Press reports. 

Kyle Odom managed to board the plane without problems and traveled to Washington D.C.

The Transportation Security Administration said local law enforcement didn’t inform them of the arrest warrant until Monday evening, hours after Odom boarded the plane.

“TSA had not received a law enforcement bulletin to ‘be on the lookout’ for the suspect,” the agency said in a press statement.

Although TSA screens passengers on the government’s Terrorist Watchlist, it has no similar database for wanted criminals.

Odom, 30, who law enforcement said wrote a manifesto about Martians controlling Earth, was arrested after allegedly throwing items onto the lawn of the White House.

Other Stories of Interest