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Tag: New York Times

NY Times Editorial: Next Move on Press Freedom

Reporter James Risen

By The New York Times
Editorial Board

Last July, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. spoke eloquently of “the importance of the constitutionally protected news gathering process,” the essential role of a free press when it comes to “government accountability and an open society,” and the need to better protect journalists from federal leak investigations.

At the time, he described policy revisions that supposedly would achieve those goals, including enhanced oversight by senior Justice Department officials and a new presumption that news organizations would be notified when the government sought their records from phone companies, Internet providers and other third parties.

Now, six months later, Mr. Holder says those policies are being followed, but he has yet to actually issue the new guidelines. And, most immediately, he has yet to call off the misguided quest by prosecutors to compel James Risen, a reporter for The Times, who wrote a 2006 book about the Central Intelligence Agency, to reveal a confidential source. Barely a week after Mr. Holder delivered his report to the White House, the Justice Department issued a statement declaring agreement with a chilling 2-to-1 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Virginia, denying the existence of any reporters’ privilege, grounded in the First Amendment, to protect confidential sources in criminal cases.

To read more click here.

 

NY Times Reporter James Risen Goes to Supreme Court Over Confidential Sources

Reporter James Risen

By LUCY MCCALMONT
Politico

WASHINGTON — Lawyers for New York Times reporter James Risen have filed a petition to the Supreme Court on Monday to request that the court take up his case to recognize reporter’s privilege.

It is the latest development in the ongoing battle Risen faces against the the government over confidential sources. Former CIA Officer Jeffrey Sterling has been accused of leaking information to Risen on the agency’s operations. The government is seeking Risen’s testimony in a separate case against Sterling. An earlier decision by the 4th Circuit in 2013 stated Risen was not entitled to reporter’s privilege.

In the petition filed Monday, Risen’s representation said that due to confusion and conflict in prior interpretations regarding both Risen’s and similar cases, the Supreme Court should take up the case.

To read more click here. 

 

Read court filing. 

 

Ex-Secret Service Agent’s Book About Serving Under Obama Climbs New York Times Bestseller List

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Dan Bongino’s book about his time as a high-level Secret Service agent under President Obama is taking off and has reached the New York Times bestseller list.

“Life Inside the Bubble: Why a Top-Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away From It All” tells the story of Washington insiders shielding the president from the fallout of poor policy choices.

The book climbed to No. 13 on the coveted bestseller list.

Bongino is running for Congress in Maryland’s Sixth District.

FBI Turns Focus on Cyber Attacks in US

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI is combating a surge in cyberattacks on corporate America, trying to stop a growing number of people from hacking websites and disturbing commerce, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In just the past month, a group called the Syrian Electronic Army crippled the New York Times website for several hours. Hackers also have attacked other well-known sites.

Combating the hackers is a new challenge for the FBI and underscores how vulnerable digital information is.

Leading that battle is Austin Berglas, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s cyber branch in New York. Berglas has responsibility over agents who handle major cyber cases, the LA Times wrote.

To read his interview with the Times click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Artist Offers Whole Life’s Details to FBI, Public

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

When Hasan M. Elahi landed in Detroit, Mich., and walked into the country on June 19, 2002, a customs official asked that Elahi follow him to an Immigration and Naturalization Services office at the airport.

That incident initiated a period of “questioning went on for the next six months and ended with a series of polygraph examinations,” Elahi wrote in the New York Times on Sunday, and it “turned my life upside down,” he said.

Elahi, an associate professor and interdisciplinary artist at the University of Maryland,  describes himself as neurotic about record keeping, and in the office at the airport he and the investigator were able to look at his electronic personal assistant and retrace the steps he took on September 12, 2001, he wrote in the Times. Seeming pleased, the interrogator let Elahi go. But Elahi was soon contacted by federal authorities for more questioning.

The level of detailed information he began sharing with the FBI in the months following inspired a project Elahi pursued on his own websites. Elahi was nervous about the FBI’s interest in him and wanted to cooperate in letting them know all of his travel plans and whereabouts. When an interrogator finally cleared him and said for Elahi to let them know if he needed anything, Elahi-not wanting another hassle upon his return-sent agents his plans for traveling outside of the country in the near future, he wrote.

But Elahi piled the information high. “Soon I began to e-mail the F.B.I. I started to send longer e-mails, with pictures, and then with links to Web sites I made. I wrote some clunky code for my phone back in 2003 and turned it into a tracking device … I created a list of every flight I’ve ever been on, since birth. For the more recent flights, I noted the exact flight numbers, recorded in my frequent flier accounts, and also photographs of the meals that I ate on each flight, as well as photos of each knife provided by each airline on each flight.”

On his own websites, which he sent links to federal agents to, he included databases of his personal financial records, his daily habits and whereabouts, pictures he had taken.

Elahi wrote in the Times: “In an era in which everything is archived and tracked, the best way to maintain privacy may be to give it up. Information agencies operate in an industry that values data. Restricted access to information is what makes it valuable. If I cut out the middleman and flood the market with my information, the intelligence the F.B.I. has on me will be of no value.”

Elahi went further. The actions may be more symbolic than anything, he admitted, “but if 300 million people started sending private information to federal agents, the government would need to hire as many as another 300 million people, possibly more, to keep up with the information and we’d have to redesign our entire intelligence system.” He derided the current intelligence system as stuck in a Cold War mentality, and encouraged the many “incredibly intelligent people and very sophisticated computer systems in various agencies in Washington” to move beyond a 20th century mentality and start creating better ways to use and analyze information, rather than endlessly collect it.

Whether the project seems a poignant response to his experience, or just the overly academic philosophizing of an abstract University artist, questions about responding to and dealing with the flood of information federal agents face is something to be pondered. “What I’m doing is no longer just an art project; creating our own archives has become so commonplace that we’re all — or at least hundreds of millions of us — doing it all the time. Whether we know it or not,” Elahi wrote.

 

NY US Atty. Preet Bharara Takes on the Cabs

 

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Let’s hope this doesn’t make it tougher for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to hail a cab.

The New York Times reports that the U.S. Attorney is taking on the cab industry in the city.

The Times reports that his office is concerned about the lack of wheelchair-accessible cabs in New York, a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

He’s urging a federal judge to address the problem and support a lawsuit brought against the city in January by several disability rights groups,the Times reported.

The Times noted that “it is unusual for the United States attorney to formally present a position on a pending lawsuit.”

But the paper reported that Bharara in a letter to the judge wrote that the federal government had “a strong interest in this matter” and urged him to rule in favor of the plaintiffs.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office argued that it was it was “untenable” for the city to remain in violation of the disabilities act, the paper reported.

To read more click here.

 

Getting Acquitted May Not Be Enough to Get Off Terrorist Watch List

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It may not be so easy to get off the terrorist watch list, the New York Times has found.

The paper reported that the FBI is allowed to include people on the list who have been acquitted of terrorism related crimes or the crimes have been dismissed.

The discovery comes after the Times obtained files released by the F.B.I. under the Freedom of Information Act.

The documents, the Times writes, “disclose how the police are instructed to react if they encounter a person on the list. They lay out, for the first time in public view, the legal standard that national security officials must meet in order to add a name to the list. And they shed new light on how names are vetted for possible removal from the list.”

The Times reported that database has about 420,000 names, including about 8,000 Americans.

To read more click here.

Michigan Prof Sues FBI and CIA; Claims Bush White House Tried to Smear Reputation

Prof. Juan Cole

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

University of Michigan History Professor Juan Cole wants to take a peak at CIA and FBI files — and for pretty good reason.

Last month, according to the New York Times, former CIA official Glenn Carle said the Bush White House wanted to smear Cole’s reputation and discredit him because he was critical of the administration’s Middle East policies. Cole, who lives in Ann Arbor, writes a blog on Middle East issues.

The CIA’s Carle, according to the Times, said his supervisor asked him: “Does he (Cole) drink? What are his views? Is he married?” And, “What do you think we might know about him, or could find out, that could discredit him?”

Cole asked the CIA and the FBI to look at any of his files, but never got a response, according to the Detroit Free Press.

So on Wednesday, Cole and the American Civil Liberties Union and a University of Michigan professor filed a lawsuit in Detroit federal court,  asking that he see any files relating to any alleged scheme to discredit him, the Free Press reported.

“In a democratic society, the secret police should not be spying on citizens for simply criticizing government policy,” said Michael Steinberg, legal director of the Michigan branch of the ACLU, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press reported that the FBI could not be reached for comment and  CIA spokesman Preston Golson said: “The CIA does not, as a rule, comment on pending litigation.”