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Tag: Justice Department

Justice Department: Rifle Recovered from ‘El Chapo’ Hideout Tied to Fast & Furious

Joaquin_Guzman-Loera

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The failed gun-walking operation known as Fast and Furious has been linked to a .50-caliber rifle found at the hideout of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

The Justice Department shared the information in a letter to Congress, the Associated Press reports. 

The gun was among 19 firearms that Mexican authorities found at the hideout.

The botched sting operation allowed gun-runners to purchase weapons so that authorities could track them to drug smuggling rings.

The Justice Department said the gun was purchased in July 2010.

Nearly 900 firearms bought during the operation have been recovered.

“ATF and the department deeply regret that firearms associated with Operation Fast and Furious have been used by criminals in the commission of violent crimes, particularly crimes resulting in the deaths of civilians and law enforcement officials,” Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik, head of the Justice Department’s legislative affairs office, wrote in a March 15 letter.

Justice Department Warns Courts to Stop Targeting Poor People for Money

jail2photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department on Monday urged state judges nationwide to end unconstitutional policies of jailing low-income people as a way to collect fines and debt.

The letter to chief judges and court administrators said courthouses are not money-making ventures and should not use arrest warrants to collect fees, the New York Times reports. 

The practice of locking poor people up creates a cycle of fines, debt and jail, the letter said.

“This unconstitutional practice is often framed as a routine administrative matter,” Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department’s top civil rights prosecutor, wrote. “For example, a motorist who is arrested for driving with a suspended license may be told that the penalty for the citation is $300 and that a court date will be scheduled only upon the completion of a $300 payment.”

Some courts lock people up on minor offenses and won’t release the defendants until their fines are paid.

“When bail is set unreasonably high, people are behind bars only because they are poor,” Lynch said at the White House in December. “Not because they’re a danger or a flight risk — only because they are poor. They don’t have money to get out of jail, and they certainly don’t have money to flee anywhere. Other people who do have the means can avoid the system setting inequality in place from the beginning.”

WhatsApp Poised to Become Subject of Next Justice Department Encryption Showdown

WhatsApp

WhatsApp

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Apple isn’t the only tech company fighting the FBI over privacy concerns.

The FBI is in court with WhatsApp, which allows users to send messages and make phone calls over the Internet, the New York Times reports.

The world’s largest mobile messaging service has added encryption that makes it impossible for the Justice Department to access, even when a judge orders a wiretap.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, and the Justice Department declined to comment because the case is under seal. But it does not involve terrorism.

The Times wrote:

To understand the battle lines, consider this imperfect analogy from the predigital world: If the Apple dispute is akin to whether the F.B.I. can unlock your front door and search your house, the issue with WhatsApp is whether it can listen to your phone calls. In the era of encryption, neither question has a clear answer.

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.”

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.

U.S. Government Appeals Judge’s Ruling That Apple Not Obligated to Help FBI

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. government is appealing a recent ruling by a New York Judge who said the FBI and Justice Department cannot force Apple to unlock an iPhone that is part of a drug investigation, the Guardian reports. 

The Justice Department is arguing that Apple is able to gather the evidence and has assisted law enforcement in dozens of other similar cases. It’s only recently that Apple began fighting efforts to unlock phones.

The case is important because it could set a precedent on whether companies can sell “warrant-proof” technologies.

Apple and the FBI are in federal court on another case in which the company refuses to help investigators unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooter.

Justice Department Asks FBI to Investigate ExxonMobil’s Denial of Climate Change Dangers

earthBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ExxonMobil’s insistence that climate change was a sham has prompted the Justice Department to request the FBI to investigate whether the oil company violated federal laws.

Democratic lawmakers from California first raised the issue last fall, saying that Exxon executives knew that burning fossil fuels were dangerous but publicly tried to undermine the science behind it, the Huffington Post reports.

Some of the charges, the congressmen said, could include Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization, or RICO.

The Justice Department forwarded the issue to the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division to “determine whether an investigation is warranted.”

Former Hillary Clinton Staffer Cooperates with FBI in Exchange for Immunity

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former State Department staffer who set up Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server in her New York home in 2009 is cooperating with the Justice Department and FBI in exchange for immunity, a senior law enforcement official told the Washington Post. 

The Justice Department has granted immunity to Bryan Pagliano, who is now cooperating wth the FBI as it investigates possible mishandling of classified information.

The FBI is expected to complete the investigation in the coming months.

The Post wrote that “agents are likely to want to interview Clinton and her senior aides about the decision to use a private server, how it was set up, and whether any of the participants knew they were sending classified information in emails,” citing current and former officials.

No evidence has surfaced yet that prosecutors have convened a grand jury.