Elizabeth Warren asks DOJ, FBI, to answer why bankers haven’t been prosecuted?

❝ Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is marking the eighth anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy with a new push to investigate—and potentially jail — more than two dozen individuals and corporations who were referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution in 2011 by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a government-appointed group that investigated the roots of the 2008 financial crisis. None was ever prosecuted. The names of the referrals — including former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, who held a top job at Citigroup, and Citigroup’s former CEO, Charles Prince — became public earlier this year when the National Archives released new documents.

In a letter to the Justice Department’s inspector general, Warren calls the lack of prosecutions “outrageous and baffling” and asks the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, to investigate why no charges were brought…

❝ In a separate letter, to FBI Director James Comey, Warren asks for the immediate release of “any and all materials related to the FBI’s investigations and prosecutorial decisions regarding these referrals.” This disclosure is warranted, she writes, by Comey’s decision in July to release a lengthy and critical statement that included previously undisclosed information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server—even though Comey decided not to recommend that charges be brought against Clinton. “Your recent actions with regard to the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” Warren writes, “provide a clear precedent for releasing additional information about the investigation of the parties responsible for the financial crisis.”

❝ …She said Comey’s rationale for disclosing details of the Clinton investigation — Comey said it was warranted by “intense public interest” — creates a new precedent that obligates him to shed light on why the bankers and financial institutions referred by the FCIC to the Justice Department were never prosecuted. “Those same standards ought to apply to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” Warren said. “There’s a clear public interest in finding out why none of these individuals or corporations were held responsible.”

❝ The timing of Warren’s effort, less than two months before the presidential election, aims to encourage the next administration to prosecute financial crimes more aggressively than the Obama administration has done. “The public outrage is still there,” she said. “This is about reminding our government officials who they work for.”

Warren in 2024. Or 2000. 🙂

TSA, local coppers, panic over scientist carrying technical gear to DOE meeting – close down airport!

Jeremy Danielson is a Los Alamos National Laboratory employee who was on his way to Washington, D.C., on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of 9/11, to present a mock-up of some sort of technical apparatus at a Department of Energy conference.

He never got past the security checkpoint at the Albuquerque International Sunport and his final destination for the day was the Metropolitan Detention Center.

Airport officials shut down the Sunport for hours and Danielson was carted off to jail by police, who apparently believed the device was a fake bomb.

Danielson, 40, is now facing a fourth-degree felony of having a facsimile or hoax bomb or explosive, according to court records. He has no criminal history and Los Alamos National Laboratory confirmed he was an employee traveling on business.

His attorney, Dan Cron, said Danielson, who has a Ph.D., knew the Transportation Security Administration is sometimes concerned by the mock-ups, so as he was putting his carry-on bag on the conveyor belt, he told TSA workers that they would need to look at it…

Cron said Danielson has taken technical mock-ups on business trips in the past.

TSA said, blah, blah, blah.

Sunport said blah, blah, blah.

Albuquerque police said blah, blah, blah.

A spokesman for the FBI, which is helping in the investigation, said it is ongoing and wouldn’t comment further.

A LANL newsletter says Danielson was part of a “radiography source development team” that won a 2014 Defense Department award of excellence. He also is listed as an author of various research papers and a participant in scientific conferences.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Since the advent of the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA, I fly nowhere. I will only visit any place I can get to in my 22-year-old pickup truck.

Spy chiefs briefed 8 Congress-drones a year ago on hacking of Democrats — didn’t tell DNC “because it was a secret”

U.S. intelligence officials told top congressional leaders a year ago that Russian hackers were attacking the Democratic Party, three sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday, but the lawmakers were unable to tell the targets about the hacking because the information was so secret…

The material was marked with additional restrictions and assigned a unique codeword, limiting access to a small number of officials who needed to know that U.S. spy agencies had concluded that two Russian intelligence agencies or their proxies were targeting the Democratic National Committee, the central organizing body of the Democratic Party…

Our spy professionals decided the DNC didn’t need to know.

The alleged hacking of the Democrats and the Russian connection did not become public until late last month when the FBI said it was investigating a cyber attack at the DNC…

The congressional briefing was given last summer in a secure room called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, to a group of congressional leaders informally known as the “Gang of Eight,” the sources said.

The group at the time included four Republicans: Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, and Senator Richard Burr and Representative Devin Nunes, the House and Senate intelligence committee chairs. Their Democratic counterparts were: Senator Harry Reid and Representative Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Adam Schiff of the intelligence committees…

A bipartisan group of professional politicians who couldn’t care less about transparency, security.

The attack on the DNC later led the hackers to other party organizations, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which raises funds for House candidates, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and other groups…

One of the sources said the Clinton campaign first detected attacks on its data system in early March, and was given what the source described as a “general briefing” about it by the FBI later that month. The source said the FBI made no mention of a Russian connection in that briefing and did not say when the penetration first took place.

According to a memo obtained by Reuters, interim DNC Chair Donna Brazile said on Thursday she was creating a Cybersecurity Advisory Board “to ensure prevent future attacks and ensure that the DNC’s cybersecurity capabilities are best-in-class.”

Better update security on your own. Obviously you can’t count on our bought-and-paid-for government spies to offer any help.

The FBI has a database that can catch rapists and other violent crooks — why aren’t cops using it?

More than 30 years ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a revolutionary computer system in a bomb shelter two floors beneath the cafeteria of its national academy. Dubbed the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, or ViCAP, it was a database designed to help catch the nation’s most violent offenders by linking together unsolved crimes. A serial rapist wielding a favorite knife in one attack might be identified when he used the same knife elsewhere. The system was rooted in the belief that some criminals’ methods were unique enough to serve as a kind of behavioral DNA — allowing identification based on how a person acted, rather than their genetic make-up.

Equally as important was the idea that local law enforcement agencies needed a way to better communicate with each other. Savvy killers had attacked in different jurisdictions to exploit gaping holes in police cooperation. ViCAP’s “implementation could mean the prevention of countless murders and the prompt apprehension of violent criminals,” the late Sen. Arlen Specter wrote…endorsing the program…

In the years since ViCAP was first conceived, data-mining has grown vastly more sophisticated, and computing power has become cheaper and more readily available. Corporations can link the food you purchase, the clothes you buy, and the websites you browse. The FBI can parse your emails, cellphone records and airline itineraries. In a world where everything is measured, data is ubiquitous — from the number of pieces of candy that a Marine hands out on patrol in Kandahar, to your heart rate as you walk up the stairs at work.

That’s what’s striking about ViCAP today: the paucity of information it contains. Only about 1,400 police agencies in the U.S., out of roughly 18,000, participate in the system. The database receives reports from far less than 1 percent of the violent crimes committed annually. It’s not even clear how many crimes the database has helped solve. The FBI does not release any figures. A review in the 1990s found it had linked only 33 crimes in 12 years.

Canadian authorities built on the original ViCAP framework to develop a modern and sophisticated system capable of identifying patterns and linking crimes. It has proven particularly successful at analyzing sexual-assault cases. But three decades and an estimated $30 million later, the FBI’s system remains stuck in the past…ViCAP was supposed to revolutionize American law enforcement. That revolution never came.

RTFA. It’s long and detailed…and interesting in many ways. Part of the problem is lousy design. Entering one case file can take over an hour. Part of the problem is who we get to be cops. “Cops don’t want to do more paperwork…Anytime you ask for voluntary compliance, it won’t be a priority. It’s not going to happen.”

The telling point is the Canadian program started to emulate ours — it works, it catches criminals. Especially violent criminals. The FBI system sucks up taxpayer dollar$ and gives back zilch.

Who owns your fingerprints?

These days, many of us regularly feed pieces of ourselves into machines for convenience and security. Our fingerprints unlock our smartphones, and companies are experimenting with more novel biometric markers — voice, heartbeat, grip — as ID for banking and other transactions. But there are almost no laws in place to control how companies use such information. Nor is it clear what rights people have to protect scans of their retinas or the contours of their face from cataloging by the private sector.

There’s one place where people seeking privacy protections can turn: the courts. A series of plaintiffs are suing tech giants, including Facebook and Google, under a little-used Illinois law. The Biometric Information Privacy Act, passed in 2008, is one of the only statutes in the U.S. that sets limits on the ways companies can handle data such as fingerprints, voiceprints, and retinal scans. At least four of the suits filed under BIPA are moving forward. “These cases are important to scope out the existing law, perhaps point out places where the law could be improved, and set principles that other states might follow,” says Jeffrey Neuburger, a partner at law firm Proskauer Rose.

The bankruptcy of fingerprint-scanning company Pay By Touch spurred BIPA’s passage. Hundreds of Illinois grocery stores and gas stations used its technology, allowing customers to pay with the tap of a finger. As the bankrupt company proposed selling its database, the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union drafted what became BIPA…

Under the Illinois law, companies must obtain written consent from customers before collecting their biometric data. They also must declare a point at which they’ll destroy the data, and they must not sell it. BIPA allows for damages of $5,000 per violation. “Social Security numbers, when compromised, can be changed,” the law reads.Biometrics, however, are biologically unique to the individual; therefore, once compromised, the individual has no recourse, [and] is at heightened risk for identity theft.”

National efforts to establish biometric guidelines haven’t gone well. In 2014 a Department of Commerce agency led an effort to develop a code of conduct for companies using facial-recognition technology, but consumer advocates withdrew from the group the following year, saying tech companies refused to consider the most modest of privacy protections…

..In May the Department of Justice proposed exempting the FBI’s facial-recognition program, called Next Generation Identification, from privacy protections. In June the Government Accountability Office reported that the FBI program failed tests of accuracy and privacy. So far the report hasn’t led to any action…

As it stands, one law in one state is all the protection Americans have against abuse or misuse of biometric data. I suggest you contact your elected officials, state and federal, nudge them off their rusty dusty.

Some parts of the world have a stronger tradition of protecting privacy than we do. Experience living under a truly fascist government can have that effect, eh? Given the long trend of attempts at a police state in the US – often under the banner of “protecting” individual liberty – I hope you don’t wait around until the question doesn’t stand a chance.

Progressive issues have an opportunity to influence the coming national election – this year. Don’t miss the opportunity.

Daniel Radcliffe and Edward Snowden in an off-Broadway play about “Privacy”

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and actor Daniel Radcliffe will appear together in a play starting on Saturday in New York City.

The show, Privacy, premiered in London in 2014 and has been refashioned for the American theatre. It was inspired by Snowden’s revelations that the US government was conducting mass surveillance on its citizens.

Radcliffe and Snowden…rehearsed…though Radcliffe was in a Manhattan auditorium speaking to Snowden on video from Moscow, where he has lived since June 2013.

Snowden’s appearance in the play at the Public Theater will be confined to a screen as the US government has a warrant out for his arrest, because he leaked confidential NSA documents to journalists, including those at the Guardian.

Snowden and Radcliffe will appear together for about one minute, according to the Times, and only one of the men will be speaking live – the one actually on stage. The dialogue comes at a climactic moment and centers on statements Snowden has made about privacy.

Gotta piss off Uncle Sugar. Many of the creeps in and outside government officialdom who leaped to condemn Snowden are stuffed from eating their words. Even Obama has to admit much of this generation’s fight against government surveillance of American citizens flows from the critical revelations of Edward Snowden.

Not that our elected and appointed overlords have reduced or limited their commitment to snooping on us all. They’ve just been forced into more judicious choices of words describing their paranoia.

Classified document details FBI “rules” to get journalists’ phone records without a warrant

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is allowed to seek journalists’ phone records with the approval of two government officials through a secretive surveillance process that does not require a warrant, The Intercept website reported…citing a classified document.

The document, which The Intercept published without citing sources, was described as a classified appendix of the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) and was dated Oct. 16, 2013. The document is posted over here.

FBI spokesman Christopher Allen said blah, blah, blah in an emailed reply to a Reuters request for comment.

The Intercept is an online publication launched in 2014 by First Look Media, which was created and funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. The editors are Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, who were all involved in breaking the Edward Snowden story.

The Intercept reported that, according to the document, pursuing a journalist’s call data with a national security letter requires the consent of the FBI’s general counsel and the executive assistant director of its national security branch, in addition to normal chain-of-command approval.

A national security letter is a type of government order for communications data sent to service providers. It is usually issued with a gag order, meaning the target is often unaware that records are being accessed…

National security letters have been available as a law enforcement tool since the 1970s. But their frequency and breadth expanded under the USA Patriot [sic] Act…

The FBI made 48,642 requests for data via NSLs in 2015

No surprise, the Republican-controlled Congress continues trying to slide through legislation making it even easier for the FBI and other coppers — to snoop on every citizen of the United States..

You know the FBI is probably looking at you in their facial recognition software – right?

The FBI has access to nearly 412 million photos in its facial recognition system — perhaps including the one on your driver’s license. But according to a new government watchdog report, the bureau doesn’t know how error-prone the system is, or whether it enhances or hinders investigations.

Since 2011, the bureau has quietly been using this system to compare new images, such as those taken from surveillance cameras, against a large set of photos to look for a match. That set of existing images is not limited to the FBI’s own database, which includes some 30 million photos. The bureau also has access to face recognition systems used by law enforcement agencies in 16 different states, and it can tap into databases from the Department of State and the Department of Defense. And it is in negotiations with 18 other states to be able to search their databases, too.

The size of the total pool of photos the bureau can access, which was not clear until the new report from the Government Accountability Office, is shocking even to those who have been paying close attention to the FBI’s growing use of biometric data, says Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. And the degree to which the FBI has access to photos in state-owned face image databases, which contain mostly driver’s license images, has Lynch and other privacy advocates concerned…

Adding to the privacy concerns is another finding in the GAO report: that the FBI has not properly determined how often its system makes errors and has not “taken steps to determine whether face recognition systems used by external partners, such as states and federal agencies, are sufficiently accurate” to support investigations. By taking those steps, the bureau “could better ensure the data received from external partners is sufficiently accurate and do not unnecessarily include photos of innocent people as investigative leads,” the report concludes…

Our federal coppers say there is no concern. Adding in photos from a broad range of private and public sources is no different than using fingerprint info from background checks for jobs, etc.. Which is bullshit!

The point is made in the article by Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law. “I know what I touch, and I certainly know if I give fingerprints for a background check,” he says. “I don’t think there’s anyone who keeps track of every surveillance or smartphone camera.”

The NSA wants to monitor your pacemaker — bet that makes you feel safe and secure!

The NSA is interested in collecting information from pacemakers and other biomedical devices for national security purposes, according to The Intercept. Richard Ledgett, the agency’s deputy director, reportedly said at a conference…that, “We’re looking at it sort of theoretically from a research point of view right now.”

That suggests this isn’t something the NSA is actively doing; and if it did have the ability, Ledgett indicates that it wouldn’t exactly be a core source of information. “Maybe a niche kind of thing … a tool in the toolbox,” he said, according to The Intercept.

Still, it’s both wild and disconcerting to think that something as critical as a pacemaker could be monitored by a hacker. The NSA doesn’t plan to stop at that, either. Perhaps less surprising is Ledgett’s broader suggestion that the NSA is interested in using information from any internet-connected device.

National Intelligence director James Clapper indicated as much back in February, as The Intercept points out. The Guardian reports Clapper saying, “In the future, intelligence services might use the [Internet of Things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials.” Though he’s stating it here as a hypothetical, it’s not hard to imagine that the NSA views the addition of connectivity to more and more devices — be it a fridge or a pacemaker — as valuable.

The Intercept is becoming more and more a valuable source for anyone concerned with questions of individual liberty and privacy in a connected world.

Our government and the alphabetized creeps on the snoop payroll – really hate it.

Clinton and Obama are lying about Snowden

An explosive exposé shows that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden repeatedly tried to raise concerns about illegal mass surveillance, but was ignored.

Hundreds of internal NSA documents declassified and released by journalists prove that claims made by senior officials in the Obama administration and prominent politicians like Hillary Clinton, who accused Snowden of failing to use available whisteblower protections, are false…

U.S. government officials have previously claimed that Snowden did not raise concerns about illegal mass surveillance before leaking classified documents to reporters. The NSA originally insisted that Snowden had simply sent a single email raising concern of potential overreach.

Internal documents, on the other hand, VICE News writes, reveal “that not only was the truth about the ‘single email’ more complex and nuanced than the NSA disclosed to the public, but that Snowden had a face-to-face interaction with one of the people involved in responding to that email.”

The exposé also reveals that the NSA admitted to altering emails related to its discussions about Snowden…

In her response, Clinton echoed a debunked story that claimed that Russia and China got access to Snowden’s classified documents. The shoddy report originated in a right-wing British newspaper that referred to Snowden as a pilfering “fugitive” and cited no evidence, only unverifiable claims by anonymous British officials.

To date, there is no evidence Snowden’s leaks jeopardized U.S. security in any tangible way. The Obama administration has frequently claimed this, but thoroughly redacted its official reports on how this is supposedly true to such a point that no one can actually read its justification…

In his testimony to the European Parliament in March 2014, VICE noted, Snowden was asked whether he “exhausted all avenues before taking the decision to go public.”

“Yes,” he replied. “I had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than 10 distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them\.”

“As an employee of a private company rather than a direct employee of the U.S. government,” continued Snowden, who had been an NSA contractor with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, “I was not protected by U.S. whistleblower laws, and I would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about law breaking in accordance with the recommended process.”

The hundreds of pages of internal documents from the U.S. government that are now available, VICE News emphasizes, show that Snowden “had repeatedly attempted to raise his concerns inside the NSA about its surveillance of U.S. citizens — and the agency had done nothing.”

My cynicism about government led by either of the two old parties continues unabated. Defense of constitutional freedoms is not a standard honored by either party. There may be differences in corruption. Most of the time that feels like inquiries about being “a little bit pregnant” from an anti-abortion fanatic.

The only part I find confounding is that – in practice – Democrats really have nothing to lose by standing up and supporting whistleblowers, freedom fighters in a long American tradition. Their backwards practices in foreign policy are generally forgiven by a perpetually ignorant electorate. And the average voter still thinks the Dem Establishment is out there standing up for the little guy. They really should try living up to a reputation leftover from the days of FDR and the New Deal.