Police State: BHO Pushing for “Federalized” Police Force

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President Barack Obama is currently using the increasing tension from attacks on police and the occasional misconduct of stressed officers to push his agenda to federalize state and local police forces.

When he was asked about the Dallas attack at his press conference in Poland he said, “I want to start moving on constructive actions that are actually going to make a difference.”

The actions Obama wants to take would be based on the recommendations of the partisan panel that he picked after the 2014 street riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Obama has said this panel has come up with “practical concrete solutions that can reduce — if not eliminate — the problems of racial bias.”

Obama has stated that the shootings are an opportunity to push his agenda. “If my voice has been true and positive, my hope would be that… [the panel] surfaces problems, it frames them, it allows us to wrestle with these issue and try to come up with practical solutions,” he said.

In May of 2015 the panel released a report titled “President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Report.”

This report urges the federal government to federalize police training and practices, via the use of federal lawsuits, grants and threats to cut federal aid. It is reported that Obama’s deputies have so far coaxed and sued more than 30 police jurisdictions to adopt federal rules in the attempt to create a national police system.

Obama shrugged off growing criticism that suggest his own anti-cop statements helped trigger the shootings in Dallas and several other cities on Thursday and Friday. In response to this he said, “It is very hard to untangle to motives of this [Dallas] shooter …  you have a troubled mind … what feeds it, what sets it off, I’ll leave that to psychologists and people who study these kinds of incidents.”

Throughout his press conference, Obama tried to play the role of a consoler and healer. Obama said, “As painful as this week has been, I firmly believe that America is not as divided as some have suggested. Americans of all races and all backgrounds are rightly outraged by the inexcusable attacks on police … that includes protestors, it includes family members who have grave concerns about police conduct, and they’ve said that this is unacceptable, there is no division there.”

Although Obama tries to put up a front for himself in his statements, Americans aren’t fooled. Obama thrives on any opportunity to further split race relations in this country and degrade law enforcement officers whenever he gets the chance to.

Read the Original Article at Dennis Michael Lynch

 

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Surveillance State: Secret Rules Make it Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalist

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: Jerry Delakas, 63, (R) a longtime newspaper vendor in Manhattan's Cooper Square, stands by his newsstand on April 3, 2012 in New York City. Delakas has been selling papers, magazines, lottery tickets and other items seven days a week for 25 years at the iconic New York location. Despite the license holder for the newsstand leaving it to him in her will, Delakas is being threatened with eviction by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The New york agency claims that he's not the legal license holder. The area around Astor Place at Lafayette Street, once the heart of bohemian New York, has slowly evolved into an area of banks and chain stores like Starbucks and The Gap. Critics of the city's threat to evict Delakas say that he represents some of the last traces of authentic New York. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

SECRET FBI RULES allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials — far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures.

The classified rules, obtained by The Intercept and dating from 2013, govern the FBI’s use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily redacted form.

Media advocates said the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists’ information.

The rules stipulate that obtaining a journalist’s records with a national security letter (or NSL) requires the signoff of the FBI’s general counsel and the executive assistant director of the bureau’s National Security Branch, in addition to the regular chain of approval. Generally speaking, there are a variety of FBI officials, including the agents in charge of field offices, who can sign off that an NSL is “relevant” to a national security investigation.

There is an extra step under the rules if the NSL targets a journalist in order “to identify confidential news media sources.” In that case, the general counsel and the executive assistant director must first consult with the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

But if the NSL is trying to identify a leaker by targeting the records of the potential source, and not the journalist, the Justice Department doesn’t need to be involved.

The guidelines also specify that the extra oversight layers do not apply if the journalist is believed to be a spy or is part of a news organization “associated with a foreign intelligence service” or “otherwise acting on behalf of a foreign power.” Unless, again, the purpose is to identify a leak, in which case, the general counsel and executive assistant director must approve the request.

Read the Remainder at The Intercept

Police State: More Bureaucrats With Guns Than U.S. Marines

Police officers from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, and Montgomery Police officers work outside of San & Dee Taxes on South Perry Street in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011. The federal agents were at the tax service on ìofficial business,î said Patty Bergstrom, an IRS spokeswoman, adding that she could not provide any further information at this time. Large groups of people who had not received their refund checks had been gathering outside the business in recent days. (AP Photo/Montgomery Advertiser, Mickey Welsh)

Non-military federal agencies spend $1.48 billion on guns and ammo since 2006

There are now more non-military government employees who carry guns than there are U.S. Marines, according to a new report.

Open the Books, a taxpayer watchdog group, released a study Wednesday that finds domestic government agencies continue to grow their stockpiles of military-style weapons, as Democrats sat on the House floor calling for more restrictions on what guns American citizens can buy.

The “Militarization of America” report found civilian agencies spent $1.48 billion on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment between 2006 and 2014. Examples include IRS agents with AR-15s, and EPA bureaucrats wearing camouflage.

“Regulatory enforcement within administrative agencies now carries the might of military-style equipment and weapons,” Open the Books said. “For example, the Food and Drug Administration includes 183 armed ‘special agents,’ a 50 percent increase over the ten years from 1998-2008. At Health and Human Services (HHS), ‘Special Office of Inspector General Agents’ are now trained with sophisticated weaponry by the same contractors who train our military special forces troops.”

Open the Books found there are now over 200,000 non-military federal officers with arrest and firearm authority, surpassing the 182,100 personnel who are actively serving in the U.S. Marines Corps.

The IRS spent nearly $11 million on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment for its 2,316 special agents. The tax collecting agency has billed taxpayers for pump-action and semi-automatic shotguns, semi-automatic Smith & Wesson M&P15s, and Heckler & Koch H&K 416 rifles, which can be loaded with 30-round magazines.

The EPA spent $3.1 million on guns, ammo, and equipment, including drones, night vision, “camouflage and other deceptive equipment,” and body armor.

When asked about the spending, and EPA spokesman said the report “cherry picks information and falsely misrepresents the work of two administrations whose job is to protect public health.”

“Many purchases were mischaracterized or blown out of proportion in the report,” said spokesman Nick Conger. “EPA’s criminal enforcement program has not purchased unmanned aircraft, and the assertions that military-grade weapons are part of its work are false.”

“EPA’s criminal enforcement program investigates and prosecutes the most egregious violators of our nation’s environmental laws, and EPA criminal enforcement agents are law enforcement professionals who have undergone the same rigorous training as other federal agents,” Conger continued.

Other administration agencies that have purchased guns and ammo include the Small Business Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Education, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The report also highlighted that the Department of Health and Human Services has “special agents” with “sophisticated military-style weapons.” Open the Books also found $42 million in gun and ammunition purchases that were incorrectly coded.

“Some purchases were actually for ping-pong balls, gym equipment, bread, copiers, cotton balls, or cable television including a line item from the Coast Guard entered as ‘Cable Dude,’” the report said.

Open the Books appealed to both liberals like Bernie Sanders—who has called for demilitarizing local police departments—and conservatives in its report.

“Conservatives argue that it is hypocritical for political leaders to undermine the Second Amendment while simultaneously equipping non-military agencies with hollow-point bullets and military style equipment,” Open the Books said. “One could argue the federal government itself has become a gun show that never adjourns with dozens of agencies continually shopping for new firearms.”

Update June 23, 10:15 a.m.

Following publication of this article, Adam Andrzejewski, the CEO of Open the Books who wrote the report, pushed back against the EPA’s statement, and provided contract data to back up his claims.

“How can the EPA spokesperson deny hard facts from their own checkbook?” he said. “Alongside our oversight report, OpenTheBooks.com also released a PDF of all raw data. This line-by-line transactional record from the EPA’s own checkbook on page 113 clearly shows that in 2013 and 2014 the EPA purchased tens of thousands of dollars of ‘Unmanned Aircraft’ from Bergen RC Helicopters Inc which on a net basis amounted to approximately $34,000.”

“All of the assertions in our oversight report are the quantification of actual spending records produced and reported to us by the federal agencies themselves,” Andrzejewski said.

Read the Original Article at Free Beacon

Surveillance State: The Olympics are Turning Rio into a Police State

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The air is electric in Rio right now, and not just because of the surveillance cameras scattered all around the city

 

Rio’s hundreds of surveillance cameras are easy to view on the 85 square meter display in the panopticon-style Center for Integrated Command and Control or the equally huge screen in the Operations Center of Rio.

If you glance at these camera streams at the right time, you’ll see a jeep or two full of military police officers with machine guns, the barrels sticking out of the windows as they cruise by.

You might see police arrest demonstrators protesting what many are calling a coup against Pres. Dilma Rousseff. Or, you might catch the military or policekilling black youth in a favela, or storming one of the dozens of secondary schools currently occupied by student activists who want improvements to Brazil’s underfunded educational system.

This is the host of the rapidly approaching 2016 Summer Olympics. Brazilians don’t seem very excited about it — understandable given the current political situation and the Games’ cost.

Lawmakers have used Brazil’s recent series of mega-events to justify huge investments in security technology. But the tools the police and military now possess aren’t temporary. They are lasting legacies. And the combination of this technology, a new hawkish government, and ongoing human rights abuses by the military and law enforcement in Brazil spells disaster.

The CICC is an intelligence center cooperatively run by various Brazilian agencies, including the police and military, and it can access streams from at least 3200 mobile and stationary surveillance cameras. COR, a city-run center, provides data to police from 560 cameras. Despite these all-seeing eyes and the millions invested in security by state and federal governments in Brazil, security concerns for the Olympics persist.

Read the Remainder at War is Boring

Surveillance State: The FBI’s Secret Biometric Database

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FBI wants to keep secret who’s stored in its massive biometric database

The FBI said it would retain the data to “aid in establishing patterns of activity” to help discover new criminals when they arise.

The FBI is proposing keeping information that it stores as part of a massive biometric database private — even to those whose information is stored in the records.

Known as the Next Generation Identification System (NGIS), the database draws in biometric data from passport registration, security checks, and judicial processing — such as if someone is arrested. The database also includes biometric records on foreigners, such as those who apply for visas, and foreign law enforcement staff.

But it’s not just fingerprints — it’s iris scans, facial scans, palm prints, and any other bodily information that can be collected as part of a routine interaction with the government agency.

The FBI argues that the data is so sensitive that it should be exempt from the Privacy Act, which would prevent anyone from asking if their data is included.

In a public filing, the agency justified the proposal, arguing that it “could compromise ongoing, authorized law enforcement and national security efforts and may permit the record subject with the opportunity to evade or impede the investigation.”

Read the Remainder at ZDNet

 

Surveillance State: Smart Policing

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Power Loves the Dark
Police Nationwide Are Secretly Exploiting Intrusive Technologies With the Feds’ Complicity
By Matthew Harwood and Jay Stanley

Can’t you see the writing on the touchscreen? A techno-utopia is upon us. We’ve gone from smartphones at the turn of the twenty-first century to smart fridges and smart cars. The revolutionary changes to our everyday life will no doubt keep barreling along. By 2018, so predictsGartner, an information technology research and advisory company, more than three million employees will work for “robo-bosses” and soon enough we — or at least the wealthiest among us — will be shopping in fully automated supermarkets and sleeping in robotic hotels.

With all this techno-triumphalism permeating our digitally saturated world, it’s hardly surprising that law enforcement would look to technology — “smart policing,” anyone? — to help reestablish public trust after the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the long list of other unarmed black men killed by cops in Anytown, USA. The idea that technology has a decisive role to play in improving policing was, in fact, a central plank of President Obama’s policing reform task force.

In its report, released last May, the Task Force on 21st Century Policing emphasized the crucial role of technology in promoting better law enforcement, highlighting the use of police body cameras in creating greater openness. “Implementing new technologies,” it claimed, “can give police departments an opportunity to fully engage and educate communities in a dialogue about their expectations for transparency, accountability, and privacy.”

Indeed, the report emphasized ways in which the police could engage communities, work collaboratively, and practice transparency in the use of those new technologies. Perhaps it won’t shock you to learn, however, that the on-the-ground reality of twenty-first-century policing looks nothing like what the task force was promoting. Police departments nationwide have been adopting powerful new technologies that are remarkably capable of intruding on people’s privacy, and much of the time these are being deployed in secret, without public notice or discussion, let alone permission.

Read the Remainder at Tom Dispatch

 

 

Surveillance State: Everything We Know About How the FBI Hacks People

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RECENT HEADLINES WARN that the government now has greater authority to hack your computers, in and outside the US. Changes to federal criminal court procedures known as Rule 41 are to blame; they vastly expand how and whom the FBI can legally hack. But just like the NSA’s hacking operations, FBI hacking isn’t new. In fact, the bureau has a long history of surreptitiously hacking us, going back two decades.

That history is almost impossible to document, however, because the hacking happens mostly in secret. Search warrants granting permission to hack get issued using vague, obtuse language that hides what’s really happening, and defense attorneys rarely challenge the hacking tools and techniques in court. There’s also no public accounting of how often the government hacks people. Although federal and state judges have to submit a report to Congress tracking the number and nature of wiretap requests they process each year, no similar requirement exists for hacking tools. As a result, little is known about the invasive tools the bureau, and other law enforcement agencies, use or how they use them. But occasionally, tidbits of information do leak out in court cases and news stories.

A look at a few of these cases offers a glimpse at how FBI computer intrusion techniques have developed over the years. Note that the government takes issue with the word “hacking,” since this implies unauthorized access, and the government’s hacking is court-sanctioned. Instead it prefers the terms “remote access searches” and Network Investigative Techniques, or NIT. By whatever name, however, the activity is growing.

1998: The Short But Dramatic Life of Carnivore

The FBI’s first known computer surveillance tool was a traffic sniffer named Carnivore that got installed on network backbones—with the permission of internet service providers. The unfortunately named tool was custom-built to filter and copy metadata and/or the content of communications to and from a surveillance target. The government had already used it about 25 times, beginning in 1998, when the public finally learned about it in 2000 after Earthlink refused to let the FBI install the tool on its network. Earthlink feared the sniffer would give the feds unfettered access to all customer communications. A court battle and congressional hearing ensued, which sparked a fierce and divisive debate, making Carnivore the Apple/FBI case of its day.

Read the Remainder at Wired