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Archive for July 9th, 2014

ProPublica: Here’s One Way to Land on the NSA’s Watch List

By by Julia Angwin and Mike Tigas
ProPublica

Last week, German journalists revealed that the National Security Agency has a program to collect information about people who use privacy-protecting services, including popular anonymizing software called Tor. But it’s not clear how many users have been affected.

So we did a little sleuthing, and found that the NSA’s targeting list corresponds with the list of directory servers used by Tor between December 2010 and February 2012 – including two servers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tor users connect to the directory servers when they first launch the Tor service.

 That means that if you downloaded Tor during 2011, the NSA may have scooped up your computer’s IP address and flagged you for further monitoring. The Tor Project is a nonprofit that receives significant funding from the U.S. government.

The revelations were among the first evidence of specific spy targets inside the United States. And they have been followed by yet more evidence. The Intercept revealed this week that the government monitored email of five prominent Muslim-Americans, including a former Bush Administration official.

It’s not clear if, or how extensively, the NSA spied on the users of Tor and other privacy services.

After the news, one of Tor’s original developers, Roger Dingledine, reassured users that they most likely remained anonymous while using the service: “Tor is designed to be robust to somebody watching traffic at one point in the network – even a directory authority.” It is more likely that users could have been spied on when they were not using Tor.

For its part, the NSA says it only collects information for valid foreign intelligence purposes and that it “minimizes” information it collects about U.S. residents. In other words, NSA may have discarded any information it obtained about U.S. residents who downloaded Tor.

However, according to a recent report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, the NSA’s minimization procedures vary by program. Under Prism, for example, the NSA shares unminimized data with the FBI and CIA.

In addition, the NSA can also later search the communications of those it has inadvertently caught in its Prism dragnet, a tactic some have called a ” backdoor” search. It’s not clear if similar backdoors exist for other types of data such as IP addresses.

In response to the Tor news, the NSA said it is following President Obama’s January directive to not conduct surveillance for the purpose of “suppressing or burdening criticism or dissent, or for disadvantaging persons based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.”

[Disclosure: Mike Tigas is the developer of an app that uses Tor, called the Onion Browser.]

ProPublica is a not-for-profit investigative news website.

Breaking: Ex-New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin Gets 10 Years in Prison

Mayor Nagin/city photo

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Another ex-big city mayor is headed to federal prison.

On Wednesday, C. Ray Nagin, the ex-mayor New Orleans was sentenced to 10 years in prison on corruption charges. He was convicted in February.

Nagin was found guilty in February on 20 counts that included kickbacks from contractors seeking city work, the New York Times reported.  The kickbacks came in cash and trips and other things of value.

He was arrested in January 2013, nearly three years after he left office.

Last year in Detroit, ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was hit with a harsh sentence of 28-years for bribery, kickbacks and tax related charges.

To read more click here.

Roommate of Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Surprised by Friend’s Visit

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Just hours after the FBI released photos of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, the roommate of one of the accused mass killers said he was surprised when someone came over to retrieve some of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s belongings, the Boston Globe reports.

Andrew Dinwell was testifying in the obstruction-of-justice trial of Azamat Tazhayakov, who rummaged through Tsarnaev’s room. Dinwell said the friend appeared to take a bag of marijuana but couldn’t recall whether anything else was taken.

“This was abnormal,” Dwinells said of the friend’s visit Tuesday in federal court in Boston.

Tazhayakov is one of three charged with interfering with a terrorism investigation.

All three are being tried separately.

Insane Clown Posse Can’t Sue Government Over FBI Gang Report, Judge Rules

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The rap-metal duo Insane Clown Posse has lost its lawsuit against the feds.

U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland dismissed the group’s lawsuit against the FBI and Justice Department,  saying the government can’t be blamed for any fallout from a 2011 FBI report that classified fans of the group as a “loosely organized hybrid gang,”  the Associated Press reported. The fans are known as Juggalos.

The AP reported that the U.S. Justice Department is not responsible for how authorities use a national report on gangs.

Fans claimed they were unfairly targeted by local authorities because of the gang label.

Attorney General Holder Urge Global Allies to Adopt Anti-Terrorism Tacts Used by FBI

attorney general/doj file photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Calling the Syrian conflict a “global crisis in need of a global solution,” Attorney General Eric Holder urged U.S. allies to use tactics employed by the FBI to root out extremists before they strike, Huffington Post reports.

Speaking to Norwegian officials in Oslo, Holder suggested that other countries adopt pre-emptive counterterrorism tactics that include enticing suspects into developing terrorist attacks.

The idea is to stop homegrown terrorists before they travel to Syria.

“If we wait for our nations’ citizens to travel to Syria, to become radicalized, and to return home, it may be too late to adequately protect our national security,” Holder said.

Holder lauded the FBI’s role in cracking down on terrorism.

“We have found undercover operations -– which the Federal Bureau of Investigation pioneered in fighting transnational organized crime -– to be essential in fighting terrorism as well,” Holder said in the speech. “In the United States, the FBI has already conducted undercover operations that have identified individuals with intentions to travel to Syria. These operations are conducted with extraordinary care and precision, ensuring that law enforcement officials are accountable for the steps they take -– and that suspects are neither entrapped nor denied legal protections.”

FBI, NSA Has Been Spying on Innocent Muslim Americans Since 9/11

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The federal government has been spying on law-abiding Muslim Americans, according to the latest documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The Intercept reports that new documents show the targets of the surveillance included lawyers, academics, civil rights activists, and a political candidate who “have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives.”

“I just don’t know why,” said Faisal Gill, whose email accounts were monitored while he was a Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. “I’ve done everything in my life to be patriotic. I served in the Navy, served in the government, was active in my community—I’ve done everything that a good citizen, in my opinion, should do.”

It remains unclear whether the federal government even received warrants.

Border Patrol Agent Told to ‘Immediately Desist’ from Speaking to Media

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Border Patrol sent an official warning to one of its agents, saying he must “immediately desist” from communicating with the media with information that is “Law Enforcement sensitive,” according to the document obtained by National Review.

The letter from Kathleen Scudder, assistant chief patrol agent of the San Diego Sector, was sent to agent Ron Zermeno, health and safety director of National Border Patrol Council Local 1613.

Zermemo said he believes the letter was retaliation for blowing the whistle on public health risks involving illegal immigrants.

“As a union officer, I feel it’s my job to expose when management is putting people at risk,” he said. “They violated their oath as Border Patrol agents.”

Zermemo recently notified a superior that two agents contracted scabies while processing immigrants.

“I’m willing to lose my job over this because I know I’m doing the right thing,” Zermeno said. “I’ve been in this agency for 20 years and this is the worst I’ve seen it. It’s similar to the VA.”

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