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News Story

U.S. Government Loses Terrorism Fighting Tools As Patriot Act Provisions Expire

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. government has fewer tools to fight terrorism after key provisions of the Patriot Act expired late Sunday despite a last-minute push by some Senators.

CNN reports that the expiration ends the NSA’s controversial bulk data collection program. The NSA had been collecting phone metadata on millions of Americans.

Law enforcement also won’t be able to get roving wiretaps to track suspects who frequently change phones. Now they will have to get individual warrants – a timely, burdensome task that could mean some suspects slip away, law enforcement officials said.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch warned last week that the U.S. would face a “serious lapse” in national security without these tools.

The Senate is expected to debate restoring some of the expired authorities later this week.

Deadly Police Shootings Reach Nearly 400 Through May of This Year

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Police killed at least 385 people nationwide during the first five months of the year, far more than the rate tallied by the FBI, the Washington Post has found.

The tally shows that more than two people are killed on average a day, a rate that is more than twice the one tallied by the federal government over the past decade.

“These shootings are grossly under­reported,” said Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and president of the Washington-based Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement. “We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information.”

Because of rising tension between police and African Americans, the Post is detailing every use of deadly force by police.

In the first five months of the year, about half of the victims were white. When adjusting for population, black people were killed at rates three times  that of white people or other minorities.

Heroin Making ‘Roaring Comeback’ After Painkiller Addictions Increase

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Heroin is making a “roaring comeback” in New York after people became addicted to opiates by taking prescription painkillers, The New York Daily News reports.

“A lot of people became addicted to prescription pills (that were) either legally prescribed or (as) young people taking pills for kicks. And unfortunately, those pills are opiate-based, and opiates are very, very addictive,” James Hunt, a special agent in charge of the New York office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said on AM 970 The Answer’s “Cats Roundtable” radio program.

“Unfortunately in recent years, heroin has made a roaring comeback, basically fueled by this prescription pill craze,” he said.

“When pills became too expensive for them or too hard to get, they resorted to heroin,” Hunt explained. “And there’s a lot of heroin on the street. It’s cheap and plentiful.”

The news comes about a week after one of the largest heroin busts in the city’s history.

Gizmodo: Justice Department Makes It Easier to Hack Computers

Maddie Stone
Gizmodo

Oh, good. A Department of Justice-proposed rule change that would make it way easier for FBI agents to obtain warrants to hack a computer from basically anywhere was just approved by a US Court committee.

Which is to say, we’re one step closer to having our digital privacy rights eviscerated in the name of federal investigations.

In the old world, federal search warrants are typically only valid within the issuing judge’s jurisdiction. Law enforcement officials needs to demonstrate probable cause, find the right jurisdiction to petition for a warrant, and notify the person they’re planning on searching. (That last bit is a cornerstone of our Fourth Amendment privacy rights.)

In rare cases, the Feds have gotten permission to legally conduct remote computer searches, outside of the issuing judge’s jurisdiction. To make it easier for the FBI to conduct these sorts of remote hacks and track down criminals who use anonymizing software, the DoJ would now like to expand that power.

Unfortunately, the latest bright idea for doing so amounts to a massive shit all over the Fourth Amendment. Not only would the rule change permit judges to authorize FBI agents to surveil and exfiltrate any suspect’s computer anywhere, the vague language of the rules might make it totally acceptable in certain cases to search our computers without ever telling us.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest


 

Weekend Series on Crime History: Dangerous Women in the Criminal World

Dennis Hastert Accused of Agreeing to Pay Millions to Hush Up Sexual Abuse of Male Decades Ago

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Inside the Beltway, a place where shocking revelations have been a way of life over the decades, this one still sent shock waves.

Michael D. Shear and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times report that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert is accused of paying a man not to say publicly that Hastert had inappropriately touched him decades ago while Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach in Illinois. The Times cites two unnamed people briefed on the evidence uncovered in an F.B.I. probe.

The feds have accused Hastert of making cash withdrawals designed to hide those payments and for lying to federal authorities about the purpose of the withdrawals.

We’re talking serious money.

The Times reports that the indictment said that in 2010, the man met with Mr. Hastert several times and at some point Hastert agreed to pay him $3.5 million “in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against” the man.

The Times reports that the indictment stunned Hastert’s friends and former Capitol Hill colleagues, and that they were struggling to make sense of it all.

To read the full story click here. 

Help on Way for Alabama Prison Where Female Inmates Raped, Beaten

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has reached an agreement with the state of Alabama to undergo monitoring and serious reforms following years of complaints about female inmates being sexually assaulted by corrections staff, the Washington Post reports.

An investigation by the Justice Department found that female inmates lived in a “toxic environment” at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Ala., where they have been raped and sodomized.

Prison officials even organized a “strip show” with female prisoners and watched the women use the toilet

Women who complained of the abuse were punished, according to the Justice Department

“Prisoners are entitled to be safe from sexual predation by staff, and to live in an environment free from sexual assault, sexual harassment and the constant fear of these abuses,” said Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The agreement requires the prison to install a “state-of-the-art camera system,” train staff and implement a program to track and analyze complaints.

Other Stories of Interest


FBI Hassles Students for Shooting Video Outside FBI Field Office

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two FBI agents paid a visit to the home of a college student after she and two other journalism students shot video outside of the bureau’s field office in San Diego.

An FBI spokesman said two agents visited the home because they were concerned about people shooting video outside of the bureau without calling ahead like many other journalists do, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. 

First Amendment experts expressed concern with the visit, saying the students did nothing wrong and were intimidated by the agents.

The students said they received permission from a guard to shoot the video, and the guard even took down their drivers’ license information.

But before long, they were told to leave.