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surveillance

This category contains 86 posts

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.
MORE

stingray

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.  (Techdirt.com)

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 About.com)

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?

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

 

GUNSWIMMER

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.

Peter

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…

The American Police State

(from The Ron Paul Institute , in part)

The following activities are guaranteed to get you censored, surveilled, eventually placed on a government watch list, possibly detained and potentially killed.

Laugh at your own peril.

Use harmless trigger words like cloud, pork and pirates: The Department of Homeland Security has an expansive list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats such as SWAT, lockdown, police, cloud, food poisoning, pork, flu, Subway, smart, delays, cancelled, la familia, pirates, hurricane, forest fire, storm, flood, help, ice, snow, worm, warning or social media.

Use a cell phone: Simply by using a cell phone, you make yourself an easy target for government agents—working closely with corporations—who can listen in on your phone calls, read your text messages and emails, and track your movements based on the data transferred from, received by, and stored in your cell phone. Mention any of the so-called “trigger” words in a conversation or text message, and you’ll get flagged for sure.

Drive a car: Unless you’ve got an old junkyard heap without any of the gadgets and gizmos that are so attractive to today’s car buyers (GPS, satellite radio, electrical everything, smart systems, etc.), driving a car today is like wearing a homing device: you’ll be tracked from the moment you open that car door thanks to black box recorders and vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems that can monitor your speed, direction, location, the number of miles traveled, and even your seatbelt use. Once you add satellites, GPS devices, license plate readers, and real-time traffic cameras to the mix, there’s nowhere you can go on our nation’s highways and byways that you can’t be followed.

Attend a political rally: Enacted in the wake of 9/11, the Patriot Act redefined terrorism so broadly that many non-terrorist political activities such as protest marches, demonstrations and civil disobedience were considered potential terrorist acts, thereby rendering anyone desiring to engage in protected First Amendment expressive activities as suspects of the surveillance state.

Express yourself on social media: The FBI, CIA, NSA and other government agencies are investing in and relying on corporate surveillance technologies that can mine constitutionally protected speech on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to identify potential extremists and predict who might engage in future acts of anti-government behavior.

Serve in the militaryOperation Vigilant Eagle, the brainchild of the Dept. of Homeland Security, calls for surveillance of military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, characterizing them as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.”

Disagree with a law enforcement official: A growing number of government programs are aimed at identifying, monitoring and locking up anyone considered potentially “dangerous” or mentally ill (according to government standards, of course). For instance, a homeless man in New York City who reportedly had a history of violence but no signs of mental illness was forcibly detained in a psych ward for a week after arguing with shelter police.

Call in sick to work: In Virginia, a so-called police “welfare check” instigated by a 58-year-old man’s employer after he called in sick resulted in a two-hour, SWAT team-style raid on the man’s truck and a 72-hour mental health hold. All of this was done despite the fact that police acknowledged they had no legal basis nor probable cause for detaining the man, given that he had not threatened to harm anyone and was not mentally ill.

Limp or stutter: As a result of a nationwide push to certify a broad spectrum of government officials in mental health first-aid training (a 12-hour course comprised of PowerPoint presentations, videos, discussions, role playing and other interactive activities), more Americans are going to run the risk of being reported for having mental health issues by non-medical personnel. For instance, one 37-year-old disabled man was arrested, diagnosed by police and an unlicensed mental health screener as having “mental health issues,” apparently because of his slurred speech and unsteady gait.

Appear confused or nervous, fidget, whistle or smell bad: According to the Transportation Security Administration’s 92-point secret behavior watch list for spotting terrorists, these are among some of the telling signs of suspicious behavior: fidgeting, whistling, bad body odor, yawning, clearing your throat, having a pale face from recently shaving your beard, covering your mouth with your hand when speaking and blinking your eyes fast.

Allow yourself to be seen in public waving a toy gun or anything remotely resembling a gun, such as a water nozzle or a remote control or a walking cane, for instance: No longer is it unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later. John Crawford was shot by police in an Ohio Wal-Mart for holding an air rifle sold in the store that he may have intended to buy. Thirteen-year-old Andy Lopez Cruz was shot 7 times in 10 seconds by a California police officer who mistook the boy’s toy gun for an assault rifle. Christopher Roupe, 17, was shot and killed after opening the door to a police officer. The officer, mistaking the Wii remote control in Roupe’s hand for a gun, shot him in the chest. Another police officer repeatedly shot 70-year-old Bobby Canipe during a traffic stop. The cop saw the man reaching for his cane and, believing the cane to be a rifle, opened fire.

Appear to be pro-gun, pro-freedom or anti-government: You might be a domestic terrorist in the eyes of the FBI (and its network of snitches) if you: express libertarian philosophies; exhibit Second Amendment-oriented views; read survivalist literature, including apocalyptic fictional books; show signs of self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies); fear an economic collapse; buy gold and barter items; voice fears about Big Brother or big government; or expound about constitutional rights and civil liberties.

Attend a public school: Microcosms of the police state, America’s public schools contain almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.” Additionally, as part of the government’s so-called ongoing war on terror, the FBI—the nation’s de facto secret police force—is now recruiting students and teachers to spy on each other and report anyone who appears to have the potential to be “anti-government” or “extremist” as part of its “Don’t Be a Puppet” campaign.

Speak truth to power: Long before Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden were being castigated for blowing the whistle on the government’s war crimes and the National Security Agency’s abuse of its surveillance powers, it was activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon who were being singled out for daring to speak truth to power. These men and others like them had their phone calls monitored and data files collected on their activities and associations. For a little while, at least, they became enemy number one in the eyes of the US government.

There’s always a price to pay for standing up to the powers-that-be.

Yet as this list shows, you don’t even have to be a dissident to get flagged by the government for surveillance, censorship and detention.

All you really need to be is a citizen of the American police state.

Have we EVER been this ‘Free’ Republic of which many of us often speak?  Or is that just the goal we never reach? And seem to be drifting even further away from?

police state

h/t Bullets, Beans and Bullion

How’s Your Mental Health?

Remember a while back when the Center For Disease Control forced physicians to further the agenda that firearms were a ‘social disease’ by ‘asking’ doctors to ask their patients if they has guns in the home, and were they secure?  (I just had a regular doctor visit a couple weeks ago, and the intake medical assistant asked me – as a matter of course – why I was there, and was I depressed or suicidal!)

Well...THEY’RE BA-ACK!

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an influential panel appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services, has released its recommendation that all U.S. adults over the age of 18 undergo a mental illness evaluation as part of their regular health check-ups.
/snip

 
The report makes a recommendation that all adults should be screened at least once, though the “optimal frequency of such screening has not been established.” Thus the “B” grade; the panel is only “moderately” certain that blanket screenings could bring those billions down. However, that score does qualify the screenings for coverage under Obamacare.

BUT WAIT – THERE’S MORE!  MORE HERE

This one comment on the post caught my eye:
 
“Look at the scam going on in schools; almost half the class are often designated “special needs”, which requires extra teachers to be hired and classes to be smaller, which also requires teachers to be hired. If you think this ridiculous mental health “screening” won’t be used to take away gun rights, you need your head examined. Oh the irony!”

Now all those kids that will move into adulthood are already labeled special needs even if they aren’t.

The Administration and it’s minions are continuing to try every means they can to keep you from purchasing, owning, possessing or (God-forbid!) carrying a firearm.

Period!

h/t The Feral Irishman

The Joy Of Minutiae

Nope.  Not just Trivia!

When it comes to Hollywood entertainment, much like art, I may not know it, but I know what I like.

I love the back stories, the behind-the-scenes stuff.  And production people who pander to their audience.

An old-school example:  Remember The Man From UNCLE (you baby-boomers out there)?  Yeah, there were board games, and toys and books, and movies.  But I especially appreciated the minutiae.

We wish to thank the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement without whose assistance this program would not be possible

Man, I loved that in the credits!  I knew they couldn’t put that statement there unless such an organization existed!

I remain a fan of the TV show Person of Interest (even though it’s ratings are down and IF it returns it will be later this year with only 13 episodes😦  )  And I was trolling the Internet, looking for some tidbit of information regarding an actual start date and/or show renewal.

And I found THIS telephone number:

917-285-7362

(for the unitiated – or less obsessed – this is a number given by Mr. Finch to Shaw in an effort to recruit her in his efforts to save people using the machine – if this is meaningless to you, you really need to catch P.O.I. on You Tube or Netflix!)

Usually, fictional telephone numbers on TV or films are separated from the real by the inclusion of the prefix 555, which the telecoms have agreed means non-working and fictional, lest a real number be shown and people start calling someone’s real number.  (867-5309 or Pennsylvania 6-5000 ring any bells?  Yes, I know, I’m old…)

But, if you are a fan of POI, you should really call the number…

It goes to a Harold Wren of Universal Heritage Insurance (!) which is one of Finch’s covers.  (Of course, Finch isn’t his real name, either.)

But wait, there’s more – Universal Heritage Insurance has a website!

You see?  Minutiae.  And production people pandering to their audience.

(Obviously, I’ve too much time on my hands.)

:-)

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…

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