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Judge Gives Rare OK to Discovery in Lawsuit Challenging DEA Bulk Surveillance

spy graphic

By Mark Rumold
Electronic Frontier Foundation

A federal judge in Los Angeles has given our clients, Human Rights Watch, the go-ahead to take discovery from the government in our ongoing lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the DEA’s bulk surveillance program. Friday’s decision is rare, and it’s a decisive victory—both for HRW and for the general public. EFF is not aware of any other case where discovery has been allowed into a government mass surveillance program. And the order forces the government to answer questions, under oath, about the steps it took to ensure that all illegally collected records have been fully purged from all government systems.

The case stems from the DEA’s disclosure in January of this year that it had secretly collected Americans’ international call records in bulk for over two decades. News reports described the program as massive—sweeping in billions of records of Americans’ calls to more than 100 countries around the globe, including Canada, Mexico, India, and Italy. The DEA relied only on an obscure administrative subpoena statute to obtain the records in bulk. That means, unlike the NSA’s bulk surveillance program, there was no judicial involvement whatsoever. Making matters worse, reports confirm that multiple agencies searched the illegally collected records for all kinds of cases—from terrorism, to drug trafficking, to export violations.

In April, immediately following a lengthy report in USA Today, EFF filed suit on behalf of Human Rights Watch against the DEA, DHS, FBI, and various unnamed agencies. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the program, and seeks to ensure that the program is permanently stopped rather than merely suspended as claimed by DEA. The suit further asks the court to ensure that all illegally collected records are accounted for and destroyed.

To read more click here.

Ex-Subway Pitchman Jared Fogle Pleads Guilty in Child Porn Case, CNN Reports

Jared Fogle

Jared Fogle

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Subway pitchman Jared Fogle has reached a plea agreement that would see him serve between five and 12½ years in prison for child pornography and having sex with a minor, CNN reports.

Fogle was expected to make an appearance in federal court on Wednesday.

CNN reports that court documents show that the charges against Fogle are tied to his relationship with Russell C. Taylor, the executive director of the Jared Foundation, who was arrested more than two months ago on federal child pornography charges.

CNN reported that court documents said:

  • Between 2011 and April 2015, Fogle received from Taylor multiple pornographic images of minors engaging in sexually explicit contact.
  •  Fogle had conversations with Taylor about the child porn, but instead of alerting authorities, he “chose to benefit from such production by obtaining access to a significant amount of such material.”
  • The images and videos were recorded by Taylor at his home through the use of hidden cameras.
  •  Between 2010 and February 2013, Fogle traveled from Indiana to New York to pay to have sex with minors.
  •  One victim told investigators she had sex with Fogle twice when she was 17 in exchange for money, once at the Plaza Hotel and once at the Ritz Carlton, both in New York City.
  • The same minor also said that Fogle had sex with her three other times before 2012, when she was 16.
  • Prosecutors say that text messages, travel records, hotel records and a search of Fogle’s home provided evidence of these arrangements.
  •  The same minor said Fogle had sex with another 16-year-old girl on another occasion.

Ex-Subway Pitchman Jared Fogle Expected to Plead Guilty to Child Porn Charges, CNN Reports

Jared Fogle

Jared Fogle

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Jared Fogle, who was long the pitch guy for Subway sandwiches,  is expected to plead guilty to charges related to possession of child pornography,  CNN reports.

CNN cited “two law enforcement officials.”

Subway cut off its relationship with Fogle after authorities raided his home in Indiana.

Fogle’s attorney, Ron Elberger told CNN affiliate WXIN that he had no comment.

Overdoses of Synthetic Drug, Spice, Surges As More People Abuse It

spice_race_article2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Overdoses or other problems from taking synthetic drugs are skyrocketing as demonstrated by the increasing number of calls to poisoning control centers about “spice,” ABC 15 reports.

In Arizona alone, poison control centers have fielded 140 calls.

“It scared me a lot,” Joshua Truax, a recovering spice addict, said.

Truax said he first smoked spice when he was 15 and quickly became addicted.

“I gave everything to my buddy and I said, ‘don’t let me get high anymore’,” Truax told ABC 15. “And within 10 minutes I was fighting him to get my stuff back and get high again.”

Spice often comes from China and is a combination of hazardous chemicals.

The side-effects are alarming – psychotic episodes and hallucinations.

Other Stories of Interest

Clinton Investigation Tests FBI Director James Comey’s Independent Streak

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey has almost universal respect among leaders in both the Democratic and Republican parties.

After all, the Senate confirmed his appointment 93-1.

But now his independent streak is being tested over Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server, The Hill reports.

“That independence will be tested with Republican lawmakers demanding answers and the Clinton team dismissive of a controversy they see as politically drummed up,” The Hill wrote.

Comey was praised when he was acting attorney general in March 2014 and refused to reauthorize the NSA’s programs because of privacy concerns.

Will that independent streak continue? Time will tell.

NYT Columnist: President Obama’s Justice Department Shows Hypocrisy

president obama state of unionBy Alec Karakatsanis
New York Times

Last month, President Obama used his clemency power to reduce the sentences of 46 federal prisoners locked up on drug-related charges. But for the last six years, his administration has worked repeatedly behind the scenes to ensure that tens of thousands of poor people — disproportionately minorities — languish in federal prison on sentences declared by the courts, and even the president himself, to be illegal and unjustifiable.

The case of Ezell Gilbert is emblematic of this injustice. In March 1997, he was sentenced to 24 years and four months in federal prison for possession with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine. Because of mandatory sentencing laws, Mr. Gilbert was automatically sentenced to a quarter-century in prison, though even the judge who sentenced him admitted that this was too harsh.

At his sentencing, Mr. Gilbert noted a legal error that improperly increased his sentence by approximately a decade based on a misclassification of one of his prior offenses. In 1999, without a lawyer, he filed a petition seeking his release. A court ruled against him.

Nearly 10 years later, the Supreme Court issued aruling in another prisoner’s case, confirming that Mr. Gilbert had been right. A public defender helped him file a new petition for immediate release in light of this new decision.

Mr. Obama’s Justice Department, however, convinced a Florida federal judge that even if Mr. Gilbert’s sentence was illegal, he had to remain in prison because prisoners should not be able to petition more than once for release. The “finality” of criminal cases was too important, the department argued, to allow prisoners more than one petition, even if a previous one was wrongly denied.

Sen. Schumer Seeks to Place More Skilled Veterans in Border Patrol Jobs

Border PatrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol has launched on an unprecedented campaign to hire more female officers.

Now, a bill by Sen. Charles Schumer seeks to help expedite the hiring of veterans, 7 News reports. 

The bill aims to require the recruitment of military service members for open Border Patrol positions.

Schumer said the idea is to end delays in hiring and to help veterans land jobs so they can continue serving their country.

The Democratic senator said the soldiers who are returning home from overseas have the training and skills to handle the job.

Troubled Secret Service Seeks to Hire 1,000 New Employees

Secret Service photo

Secret Service photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service is on a hiring spree following embarrassing scandals that threatened to undermine the effectiveness of the agency that protects the president and other high-profile officials.

The agency plans to hire an additional 1,100 officers and agents, the USA Today reports. 

The plan is to hire 400 agents and 700 uniformed division officers over the next five years.

A Secret Service spokeswoman confirmed a plan to launch “an aggressive hiring campaign” but didn’t provide details.