FBI Director asks Justice Dept. to publicly reject Trump’s nutball wiretapping rant

❝ The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.

Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said…

❝ Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness. The confrontation between the two is the most serious consequence of Mr. Trump’s weekend Twitter outburst, and it underscores the dangers of what the president and his aides have unleashed by accusing the former president of a conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump’s young administration…

❝ In addition to being concerned about potential attacks on the bureau’s credibility, senior F.B.I. officials are said to be worried that the notion of a court-approved wiretap will raise the public’s expectations that the federal authorities have significant evidence implicating the Trump campaign in colluding with Russia’s efforts to disrupt the presidential election.

RTFA if you haven’t been keeping up with this from the middle-of-the-road heart of American journalism. Yes, the Trump base will believe he walks on water while carrying blessed dollar$ from heaven to his True Believers. That’s their problem – not the nation’s.

The primo example of a career intelligence operative, Malcolm Nance put it best – Monday evening on the 11th Hour news show – saying, “Donald Trump is a pathological liar.”

Federal judge rules against FBI hiding cellphone surveillance

A federal judge has ruled that the FBI must release documents it improperly withheld about StingRays, the now-infamous cellphone mass-surveillance devices that police and federal agencies have deployed in secret for decades…

…The federal judge working Daniel Rigmaiden’s FOIA lawsuit has ordered the FBI to release 8 additional StingRay documents, saying the information was “not properly withheld.” The agency had tried to hide the documents, invoking the broadly-written Exemption 7(E), which can exclude records that might reveal “techniques and procedures” used in law enforcement investigations. The court rejected that justification, and the agency will now need to hand over the documents to Rigmaiden within 90 days.

Originally developed for the US Navy, Stingrays (the trade name for a class of device known as “IMSI catchers” or “cell-site simulators”) allow cops to track and intercept thousands of devices at once by impersonating a cellphone tower — without revealing their use to courts and often without a warrant. The FBI has gone to insane lengths to keep Stingrays secret, forcing police departments to sign nondisclosure agreements and even having prosecutors drop criminal cases to avoid revealing that the devices were used…

Several security researchers have developed apps that can detect the presence of cell-site simulators. A court in New York also ruled last year that cops can’t hide information about StingRays. And last September, the Department of Justice announced an “enhanced policy” requiring probable cause warrants whenever the devices are deployed by federal investigators.

Yup. It takes a special order from our Department of “Justice” to require the FBI to live up to constitutional standards. No such guidance, yet, for state and local coppers.

Keep on rocking in the Free World!

Obama’s answer to Bush’s illegal snooping – make it legal

The phone for listening in on anyone is in the lower lefthand drawer

Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally…

There is not yet agreement on important elements, like how to word statutory language defining who counts as a communications service provider, according to several officials familiar with the deliberations…But they want it to apply broadly, including to companies that operate from servers abroad, like Research in Motion, the Canadian maker of BlackBerry devices…

Several of the proposal’s likely requirements:

¶ Communications services that encrypt messages must have a way to unscramble them.

¶ Foreign-based providers that do business inside the United States must install a domestic office capable of performing intercepts.

¶ Developers of software that enables peer-to-peer communication must redesign their service to allow interception.

RTFA. Please. Lots of anecdotal information. Nothing that reassures me – or suddenly provides a leap of faith and trust in our government to do the right thing.

May as well start cranking up, now, to finance constitutional challenges, folks. Unless you believe that Congress – our elected heroes, the White House – more elected heroes, will change political horses in mid-stream and decide that protecting any right to privacy should be superior to government snooping.

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy used secret service files to crack gossip

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The official biography of France’s first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, has revealed the presidential couple used the secret services to find out who was spreading rumours of their alleged infidelity.

According to the authors of Carla and the Ambitious, Bruni-Sarkozy openly admitted she had obtained a police report identifying the culprits, including the former justice minister Rachida Dati…

Unsubstantiated and vehemently denied rumours that both the president and his supermodel-turned-singer wife were having affairs spread around the world in March…

The authors say secret agents identified the plotters through their telephone calls and text messages and suggested the culprits tried to involve others, including a lobby group and a “VIP guru”. Believing Bruni-Sarkozy was the president’s “weak link” and an easy target, they aimed to persuade the president’s previous wife, Cécilia Attias, from whom he split a few months after he was elected in 2007, to return.

Le Parisien newspaper said that as soon as she had the report in her hands, Bruni-Sarkozy called her predecessor, who now lives in New York, informing her: “Madam, I have to tell you that two people with who you are in contact are behaving in an unacceptable manner towards us … I am not talking about suspicious or malicious gossip. I have a police report that you are welcome to see. I know you have nothing to do with them but I suggest you keep away from them.”

Darmon and Derai say police examined the phone records of several well-known “personalities” suspected of being involved in spreading the rumours.

At least our most famous sleazy president – “I am not a crook” Nixon – focussed his illegal searches on those his dim paranoid brain identified as political enemies.

Sarkozy and the First Babe are strung out over rumors of who is sleeping with whom.

Har! You’d think he claimed to be born in Corsica – or Hungary.

Right paperwork? U.S. authorities can tap BlackBerry messages

The BlackBerry — renown for the security of its messaging — doesn’t offer 100 percent protection from eavesdropping. At least not in the United States. Law enforcement officials said they can tap into emails and other conversations made using the device, made by Research in Motion, as long as they have proper court orders.

RIM’s willingness to grant authorities access to the messages of its clients is a hot-button issue. The United Arab Emirates claims it does not have the same kind of surveillance rights to BlackBerry messages as officials in the United States. It has threatened to clamp down on some services unless they get more access…

The ability to tap communications is a part of surveillance and intelligence and law enforcement all over the world,” said Mark Rasch, former head of the computer crimes unit at the U.S. Department of Justice.

RIM is in an unusual position of having to deal with government requests to monitor its clients because it is the only smartphone maker who manages the traffic of messages sent using its equipment. Other smartphone makers — including Apple Inc, Nokia, HTC and Motorola Corp — leave the work of managing data to the wireless carrier or the customer…

Rasch said that RIM may feel uncomfortable granting such access to officials in UAE. There may be concern authorities could abuse that access, he said.

“You reach a point where a company feels uncomfortable from the client perspective with what a government is asking them,” Rasch said. “It may be a function of what they are being asked to do, or it may be a function of which government is asking.”

U.S. rules that govern wire-tapping are designed to avoid abuse of power.

Har! I suppose Reuters had to include the paper description of U.S. avoidance of abuse of power.

In practice, abuse of power is perfectly OK [1] if no one finds out about it; [2] the government has enough tame judges who will overrule any objections; and [3] Congress will make the abuse legal if citizens complain about the abuse.

Republican media monkeys arrested for phone tap try

James O’Keefe addressing teabaggers

Alleging a plot to tamper with phones in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans, the FBI arrested four people Monday, including James O’Keefe, 25, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group’s credibility.

Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, the office confirmed. All four were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.

According to the FBI affidavit, Flanagan and Basel entered the federal building at 500 Poydras Street about 11 a.m. Monday, dressed as telephone company employees, wearing jeans, fluorescent green vests, tool belts, and hard hats. When they arrived at Landrieu’s 10th floor office, O’Keefe was already in the office and had told a staffer he was waiting for someone to arrive.

When Flanagan and Basel entered the office, they told the staffer they were there to fix phone problems. At that time, the staffer, referred to only as Witness 1 in the affadavit, observed O’Keefe positioning his cell phone in his hand to videotape the operation. O’Keefe later admitted to agents that he recorded the event.

They…told the staffer they needed to perform repair work on the main phone system and asked where the telephone closet was located.

The staffer showed the men to the main General Services Administration office on the 10th floor, and Flanagan and Basel went in. There, a GSA employee asked for the men’s credentials, after which they stated they left them in their vehicle.

The U.S. Marshal’s Service apprehended all four men shortly thereafter.

Republicans are always supposed to be above the law. Especially when it came to spying on Americans.

BTW. They’re up for a fine of $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison – each – if convicted. Wanna bet?

Brazil’s president suspends spy agency snoopers

Brazilian intelligence chiefs have been suspended from duty amid allegations that their agency tapped the phones of top officials, politicians and judges. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ordered that the agency’s leadership be removed while an investigation into the reports was carried out…

Veja magazine alleged that senior figures, including President Lula’s chief of staff and the head of the Senate, had had their phones bugged by the intelligence agency, known as Abin. The magazine published what it said was the transcript of a telephone conversation between the head of the Supreme Court, Gilmar Mendes, and an opposition politician, Demostenes Torres.

The agent, who was said to have provided the transcript, alleged that such illegal phone tapping was common…

President Lula was outraged by the reports.

Abin’s director general, Paulo Lacerda, and other top officials have been removed from their posts until an inquiry is completed.

If you think it unsurprising that it happened there – remember it can happen here.