This category contains 89 posts

A New Mobile App!

For that nazi/narc in you!

From Alan Korwin:

ATF Launches Anonymous Tip App
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has launched a new mobile app that enables the anonymous reporting of information regarding crimes or that could be used to help prevent the commission of crimes. With the reportit app, available through the App Store or on Google play, citizens can submit a tip and attach a photo or video. The information is forwarded to ATF in real time, but should not be used to report a crime that is currently in process. Submitters will have the option to provide personal information, but it is not required. (emphasis added).

The Uninvited Ombudsman notes however that:

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Is it possible this app doesn’t already know who you are if you use it? Especially considering who designed it?

Top-notch expert: Oh I’m sure it does.
Second top-notch expert: Recommend you route any tips through Hillary’s personal email server to be safe.
Third: Doesn’t everyone know the system has to identify both ends of the address to deliver the message?
Names withheld but it doesn’t matter anymore. (end)

I remember back-in-the-day, when our State police agency had a toll-free number one could use to report vehicles with out-of-State license plates (as legal residency requires in-State licensure) TRANSLATION:  Revenue

And I thought THIS was beyond the pale!

If you see something, say something! – a current administration motto

For me, it’s a matter of degree.  Narking on your neighbors because they are behaving suspiciously (whatever THAT means?), hmmm…

Narking on the guy driving the wrong direction, erratically (which I have done)? Of course!

Being the eyes and ears of the State?  Degree, my friends.

The times, they are a changin’


The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Private Investigating

I’ve not been a private investigator since 1986.  I’ve not been a credit card fraud investigator since 2009.  But I’ve been some-kind of investigator (private security, process server) most of my adult life.

It’s in my blood.

As such, I’ve tried to keep up with the latest regarding what records are available, what has been limited (due to privacy concerns) and the like.

And, of course, the overall erosion of privacy since Al Gore invented the Internet!  And the government passed The Patriot Act, NDAA, et al.

My dear friend Biff (previously lauded in song and story in these pages – well story, anyway) recently met me for coffee, and, as he oft wants to do, presented me with a gift!

I like gifts!  🙂

As he peruses used bookstores (in search of first editions and signed editions) he sometimes finds books his friends might appreciate.

And he found THIS!


It was obviously used and in fair condition.  He was curious what I thought of it and it’s value to today’s sleuth.

It took me a few days to read it.  I had to keep reminding myself this was geared for the neophyte.  Hence the clever title…

Overall it’s a pretty good book.  The author claims to be a retired FBI agent who now has his own P.I. agency in Florida. (The Internet does confirm this.)  It’s fairly well organized and has both current and historic information regarding how to find stuff and to keep out of jail in so doing.  It even has material regarding sources on the Internet, and electronic surveillance.

My copy is the second edition.  An Amazon search revealed there is now a third.

It now holds a place of honor on my bookshelf, adjacent to Where’s What (the CIA book regarding where to find records, circa 1974).

Yeah, I’m a snoop at heart…

(FTC – neither Amazon, nor this book’s author gave me anything!  Biff did, but he’s my friend!  BACK OFF!)


Much of the Internet Vanguard (Borepatch, The Silicon Graybeard et al) have chided us for years regarding not just the intrusion of government and business into lives, but our voluntarily providing too much information to them – like posting when you are leaving for vacation on Facebook.

Well, my friends, Internet intrusion has indeed jumped the shark! (or perhaps a more adult euphemism!)

(from Wirecutter, in part)

A woman is suing her (appliance name excised for taste) manufacturer for knowing too much about when and how she uses it.

A few weeks ago, two researchers told the Defcon hacking convention audience that We Vibe “smart” sex toys send a lot of data about their users back to the company that makes them. According to Courthouse News, one We Viber took this news hard. A woman known only as “N.P.” filed a class action civil suit in a federal court in Illinois against Standard Innovation, which makes the We Vibe line of sex toys and corresponding app.

The smartphone app lets users “customize” their We Vibe experience, unlock app-only “bonus” vibration modes such as the “cha-cha-cha” and the “crest,” and “create unlimited custom playlists,” according to the product’s website. In the suit, N.P. says she bought a We Vibe in May and used it “several times” until she realized that it was sending data about her usage practices back to Standard Innovation’s servers, including when she used it, which vibration settings she used, and her email address.

And here I was concerned about license plate readers, facial identity programs and grocery store purchase trackers!


She obviously thought she was the master of her domain*, anonymously…

*a Seinfeld reference

Hey! Rights Ain’t Dead, Yet!

This, courtesy of Wirecutter

For the first time, a federal judge has suppressed evidence obtained without a warrant by U.S. law enforcement using a stingray, a surveillance device that can trick suspects’ cell phones into revealing their locations.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan on Tuesday ruled that defendant Raymond Lambis’ rights were violated when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration used such a device without a warrant to find his Washington Heights apartment.

The DEA had used a stingray to identify Lambis’ apartment as the most likely location of a cell phone identified during a drug-trafficking probe. Pauley said doing so constituted an unreasonable search.


If you are keeping score, that’s the anti-constitutional Statist bastards – 356

Liberty and Freedom – 3


National “Security” (In Air Quotes)

© Office of the Inspector General

© Office of the Inspector General

Senator Wyden Puts A Hold On Intelligence Authorization Bill To Block FBI Warrantless Surveillance

from the there-goes-that-wyden-guy-again dept

As we’ve discussed, some surveillance/law enforcement hawks have tried to rush through a law to expand the power of national security letters (NSLs) to paper over the long standing abuse of NSLs, by saying that they can use those documents (which have basically no oversight and don’t require a warrant) to collect a ton of private info, including email info and web browsing histories. The rushed vote on this — stupidly citing the Orlando attacks, despite the fact it would have done nothing to stop that — failed but just barely. Basically, if Senator Dianne Feinstein were able to attend the vote, it likely would have passed. The support for it was one vote shy, and then Sen. Mitch McConnell changed his vote for procedural reasons to be able to bring it back for a quick follow up vote.

Now, as Congress rushes towards that vote, Senator Ron Wyden stepped up today to use his power as a Senator to put a hold on the entire Intelligence Authorization bill. He gave a short floor speech explaining his reasons.

I certainly appreciate the FBI’s interest in obtaining records about potential suspects quickly. But Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges are very capable of reviewing and approving requests for court orders in a timely fashion. And section 102 of the recently-passed USA FREEDOM Act gives the FBI new authority to obtain records immediately in emergency situations, and then seek court review after the fact. I strongly supported the passage of that provision, which I first proposed in 2013. By contrast, I do not believe it is appropriate to give the government broad new surveillance authorities just because FBI officials do not like doing paperwork. If the FBI’s own process for requesting court orders is too slow, then the appropriate solution is bureaucratic reforms, not a major expansion of government surveillance authorities.

The fact of the matter is that ‘electronic communication transaction records’ can reveal a great deal of personal information about individual Americans. If government officials know that an individual routinely emails a mental health professional, or sends texts to a substance abuse support group, or visits a particular dating website, or the website of a particular political group, then the government knows a lot about that individual. Our Founding Fathers rightly argued that such intrusive searches should be approved by independent judges.

It is worth noting that President George W. Bush’s administration reached the same conclusion. In November 2008, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel advised the FBI that National Security Letters could only be used to obtain certain types of records, and this list did not include electronic communication transaction records. The FBI has unfortunately not adhered to this guidance, and has at times continued to issue National Security Letters for electronic communications records. A number of companies that have received these overly broad National Security Letters have rightly challenged them as improper. Broadening the National Security Letter law to include electronic communication transaction records would be a significant expansion of the FBI’s statutory authority.

And unfortunately, the FBI’s track record with its existing National Security Letter authorities includes a substantial amount of abuse and misuse. These problems have been extensively documented in reports by the Justice Department Inspector General from 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2014. As one of these reports noted, “the FBI [has] used NSLs in violation of applicable statutes, Attorney General guidelines, and internal FBI policies.” No one in the Senate should be surprised by this pattern of abuse and misuse, because this is unfortunately what happens when federal agencies are given broad surveillance powers with no judicial oversight. In my judgment, it would be reckless to expand this particular surveillance authority when the FBI has so frequently failed to use its existing authorities responsibly.

Of course, to some extent, this is little more than show. It’s pretty clear that McConnell has the votes to get this passed, which is why Wyden has now taken the dramatic step of putting a hold on the bill. But the 60 votes here are usually what is necessary to break a hold (which remains a widely used, but informal, Senate rule). So in the end this won’t mean much, but we’ve been here before again and again and again. And by now it should be clear: When Ron Wyden says that the government is abusing laws to spy on Americans, he’s not lying. We shouldn’t then paper over that abuse and give the FBI or the NSA or anyone else greater powers to spy on Americans. Because they use that power and they don’t tend to use it wisely and judiciously.

Can anyone explain, seriously, why the emergency powers that allow the FBI to do the search in an emergency and then get the warrant after are somehow too problematic? Or why the FBI can’t go and get a warrant at all? It’s a petty quick process for them these days. This whole effort seems designed solely to wipe out what little oversight there is of the FBI and its use of national security letters.  (

AND, how much coverage of this was out there in the “press” (again, in air quotes)?
More importantly, why doesn’t the American Public care?

Is This The Beginning Of The End?

I’m speaking of this Republic.

With Rome, it was either when the Ottoman Turks took Byzantium (Constantinople) 1453 AD or when a barbarian deposed the last western Roman emperor 476 AD (ancient history

My Western Civilization professor said it began with (and I’m quoting here) “Moral decadence and pleasures of the flesh!” (to the cheers of the 400 or so horny underclassmen)

What is/was the beginning of the end of this Constitutional Republic we know as The United States?

The Whiskey Rebellion? (1791)

The Civil War? (1861)

Federal income tax (1913)

Direct election of Senators?  (1913)

Establishment of the Federal Reserve?  (1913)

The National Firearms Act (1934)

Or is it an amalgamation of these and many other things, eating away at our Constitutional substance, punctuated by further federal government oversteps such as Ruby Ridge and Waco?  No-knock warrants, followed by airport searches and sobriety checkpoints.  Massive surveillance of our electronic communications.  Prohibitions of Speech seen as ‘politically-incorrect’.  The killing of Blacks by police – whether or not legitimate actions – spun by self-serving propagandists into an ersatz race war?

Now followed by widespread racial civil unrest, punctuated by acts of terrorism against civil authority.

I’m certain all ‘civilizations’, be they primitive neolithic cultures like the American Indian when the White man first laid eyes on him, or the Romans, or the Christian Turks all thought they would endure forever.

And so have most of we Americans.

I guess the true question isn’t what was the tipping point.

It’s what do we do NOW?

dark ages

from a miniseries The Dark Ages

When Is A Gun Store NOT A Gun Store?


NOT the Glendale store!

Of course, there’s that store in Glendale, Arizona, (in)famous for allowing straw purchasers to buy quantities of guns for them to smuggle South-of-the-Border, at the behest of the federal government.

The end-recipients were cartels, who used them to murder their own people, and some Americans, and more recently (it’s been reported) some Europeans.

I’ve heard tales of stores who sell to private citizens, pretending they don’t know they are selling to straw buyers, who ultimately sell to unknown folks this side of the border.  As little attention is paid to smuggling into Mexico, it’s possible sales are to individuals (including Mexican police officers) who are simply flaunting U.S. and Mexican gun laws to try to protect themselves from the cartels!  And, being the capitalists they are, the gun dealers are looking the other way, knowing if they don’t do the sale, the store up the street will!

When outlining this post, another example came to my memory.  Not far from the now-defunct Royal Bookstore (as recounted in these pages), a small gun shop appeared.  The ubiquitous U-shaped glass display case, containing perhaps 40 handguns, and some long guns on the wall.

With a staff of eight or nine guys, all visibly armed!

SERIOUSLY – how can they afford to pay that many clerks?

I’d stopped by to check out their wares a couple of times, and the last time found them to be closed.  I then went to the nearby bookstore to see if they knew what had occurred.  It seems the gun store had been a front for a bookmaking operation!  This explains the large number of staff!

Hopefully, with Gunwalker (Fast & Furious) having made the front pages through the death of federal agents, legitimate gun stores have tightened up their procedures and are no longer allowing straw purchases!

Interestingly, the Glendale store remains in business!  :-0



Remember GUNWALKER aka Fast & Furious, wherein the U.S. Government facilitated the illegal sale of firearms to have them smuggled across the Mexican border?  The idea was they could then be tracked to the end users and arrests would be made?

And the FUBAR* result, where thousands of Mexicans were murdered, and a number of Americans also, including some federal law enforcement officers?

And the high-ranking BATFE officials played rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic with the folks involved, lest anyone actually see prison time for such heinous activity?

Remember how this is now old news?

Well, the adventure continues…

One of the guns used in the November 13, 2015 Paris terrorist attacks came from Phoenix, Arizona where the Obama administration allowed criminals to buy thousands of weapons illegally in a deadly and futile “gun-walking” operation known as “Fast and Furious.”
A Report of Investigation (ROI) filed by a case agent in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) tracked the gun used in the Paris attacks to a Phoenix gun owner who sold it illegally, “off book,” Judicial Watch’s law enforcement sources confirm. Federal agents tracing the firearm also found the Phoenix gun owner to be in possession of an unregistered fully automatic weapon, according to law enforcement officials with firsthand knowledge of the investigation.
It just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
*FUBAR – for the unfamiliar, Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition (a military epithet).  Some folks substitute another F-word for fouled.
h/t Brock Townsend


Waxing Philosophical

…or your mustache or surfboard.  Your choice.  :-)

(from Free North Carolina)

David Hume, Republicanism, and the Human Scale of Political Order

Hume 2

Aristotle taught that “To the size of states there is a limit, as there is to other things, plants, animals, implements, for none of these things retain their natural power when they are too large or too small.”1 In this paper I want to explore Hume’s views on the proper size and scale of political order.

Size and scale are not the same thing. The scale of a thing is the size appropriate to its function. Scale for human things is the human body and its capacities. Classical architects have longed explored the relation between the human frame, its sensory capacities, and the proper size of doors, windows, courtyards, gardens, the width of streets, plazas, and so forth.

What is the proper size and scale of political order? The answer depends on what we think the function of political order is. Plato and Aristotle thought the function of political association is to achieve human excellence. Since virtue is acquired through emulation of character, face to face knowledge is required of political participants, and this places a limit on the size of the polity.

Aristotle said it should contain “the largest number which suffices for the conduct of life, and can be taken in at a single view.”2 Another classical measure was that one should be able to walk across the polity in a single day. The ancient Greek republics were of this human size and scale.

I’ve asked this question previously.  What is the function of political order? (government?)  Is it to ‘nanny’ the population into some pre-determined ideal – pre-determined by the (almighty, all-knowing) government?  Or is it to allow individuals to be FREE; free to make their own choices and mistakes, and perhaps learn from them?  Or not?  THEIR choice?
And allow them to follow whatever path they choose, as long as it doesn’t impinge on the ability of others to follow THEIR path?
Sadly, I believe most Americans are so fed-up by the ongoing political machine that they don’t care.  And, anyway, they are too busy trying to eke out an existence for themselves and their families, with the ever-present demon of surveillance and taxation wolves at the door.  Or already inside.
How many different taxes and fees are you forced to pay?  And how many agencies are recording your movements, actions and attitudes, through direct physical surveillance, monitoring email, cell phones and social media?  Information many times given up by you voluntarily.
What kind of political order do YOU want?
And do you even have a choice, anymore?

Cellular Telephone Security

Remember the old adage, “Never put anything into email you don’t want someone else to read.”

(Secretary Clinton, are you listening?)

Of course, with modern security software and pass codes (etc.) we needn’t worry about that with our smartphones, right?

(from Bayou Renaissance Man)

So you think your smartphone is secure?

Not according to CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ program.

Hering is a hacker himself, he’s the 30-something whiz who cofounded the mobile security company “Lookout” when he was 23. Lookout has developed a free app that scans your mobile phone for malware and alerts the user to an attack.

Sharyn Alfonsi: How likely is it that somebody’s phone has been hacked?

John Hering: In today’s world there’s really only — two types of companies or two types of people which are those who have been hacked and realize it and those who have been hacked and haven’t.

Sharyn Alfonsi: How much do you think people have been kind of ignoring the security of their cellphones, thinking, “I’ve got a passcode, I must be fine?”

John Hering: I think that most people have not really thought about their phones as computers. And that’s really starting to shift.

Sharyn Alfonsi: And that’s what you think– it’s like having a laptop now?

John Hering: Oh absolutely. I mean, your mobile phone is effectively a supercomputer in your pocket. There’s more technology in your mobile phone than was in, you know, the space craft that took man to the moon. I mean, it’s — it’s really unbelievable.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Is everything hackable?

John Hering: Yes.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Everything?

John Hering: Yes.

Sharyn Alfonsi: If somebody tells you, “You can’t do it.”

John Hering: I don’t believe it.

There’s much more at the link.  Highly recommended – and disturbing – reading.


So, about that porn you’ve been sneaking a peek at on your lunch hour…
PS – I saw a recent interview with Jim Caviezel, John Reese of Person of Interest (Season 5 – probably the last – starts TONIGHT 05/03/2016!).  He was asked if he changed any of his habits in real life, having done a political science fiction TV series about rampant surveillance.  He responded he is thoughtful regarding what he says in cellular telephone calls, and ELIMINATED THE INTERNET FROM HIS HOME!  Said he doesn’t need it!  Food for thought…

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…