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Archive for February 22nd, 2016

Slim Majority of Americans Side with FBI’s Fight with Apple to Open Terrorist’s iPhone

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A slim majority of Americans think Apple should help the FBI unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, a new survey has found.

The Wall Street Journal reports that about 51% of Americans side with the FBI, while 41% back Apple, according to a survey by SurveyMonkey.

The gap is even larger when Android owners were surveyed. A little more than a third of them side with Apple.

About 46% of iPhone owners agree with Apple.

But the numbers are in Apple’s favor for those who have read Apple CEO Tim Cook’s message to customers. But the survey found that only 16% read the letter.

The Wall Street Journal wrote:

Many tech companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Twitter Inc. have come out strongly in support of Apple, and privacy advocates have decried the FBI’s effort to force Apple to unlock the phone. But SurveyMonkey’s poll highlights the disconnect between public opinion and the interests of Silicon Valley-based tech firms.

Former FBI Agent Answers Her Calling to Be a Writer About Fighting Crime

Former FBI Agent Jerri Williams, via Twitter

Former FBI Agent Jerri Williams, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Agent Jerri Williams couldn’t shake the feeling that she wanted to be a writer and share her stories about fighting crime on a podcast.

The podcasts became so popular last week that they ended up No. 1 on the coveted “new and noteworthy” list on iTunes, CBS Philadelphia reports. 

“I was shocked. I have no idea why they selected my podcast but I am so grateful,” Williams said.

After joining the FBI in 1982, Williams left her job in 2008 and began working a the chief spokeswoman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Then last summer, she left that job to answer her calling – be be a full-time writer.

She wrote a book, “Play to Play,” about a female FBI agent pursuing corruption in the strip club industry in Philadelphia.

“I thought, this needs to be a book and so I wrote one,” Williams said with a smile.

Williams is already working on her second novel, one inspired by a Philadelphia Ponzi scheme from the 1990s.

Post-Dispatch: Social Justice Movement in Ferguson Gets Off Track

Ferguson protest.

Ferguson protest.

By Blake Ashby
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Something has gone terribly wrong with the social justice movement. The heavy lifting of making things better is being consumed by a free-floating anger that has little connection to what is actually happening in our country.

Think I’m exaggerating? Some of the angrier members of the social justice community are calling for the recall of Ferguson Councilwoman Ella Jones. She is a very clever political operator who worked her way up, built relationships, accumulated allies and got elected. She is also African-American, as are most of her constituents.

So why are they trying to get Jones kicked out? Because the Department of Justice wants Ferguson to spend an extra $2 million implementing community policing, and Jones and every other council member pushed back and said we can only afford to spend a million. Basically, Jones was voting to spare her constituents $1 million in extra taxes. Activists have concluded that not increasing taxes on the African-Americans who actually vote for her makes Jones a traitor to African-Americans in the rest of the country.

And of course the DOJ sued the city of Ferguson on Feb. 10; the night before, the council had unanimously voted to accept the consent decree the city’s attorneys had negotiated, with a small number of cost-saving modifications. The DOJ used some fairly dramatic language to suggest that Ferguson was somehow fighting progress and clinging to its racist past.

But … did the DOJ even read the proposed changes? Basically, the City Council asked the DOJ to delay implementation for three months while the city looked for a police chief and not require Ferguson give all of its police officers substantial raises. These two changes, along with hiring a local instead of Washington monitor, took the first-year costs down from about $2 million to about $1 million.

The DOJ wants Ferguson to give its mostly white police force a very large raise in hopes the city will be able to recruit more African-American officers. Once the consent decree was publicly released and scrutinized, the city realized the very high cost of the raises.

To read more click here. 

TSA Whistleblower Speaks Out About Security Flaws That Endanger Flyers

airport scanner 2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A TSA senior manager-turned-whistleblower spoke out publicly for the first time about retaliation within the agency and growing safety concerns.

Drew Rhodes, one of four assistant federal security directors at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, expressed his concerns about the TSA in an interview Fox9. 

Rhodes said he blew the whistle on the agency because of frustration over security flaws that weren’t being addressed,. They included the handling of ammunition at checkpoints and the failure to use orange tags on check bags that had already been screened.

Here’s a partial transcript of the interview with Fox9:

Rhoades: “There were these embarrassing stories about the TSA. My supervisor said, ‘I want to know who the leak is. Is it you, he said at one meeting.”
Reporter: They thought you were my leak for those stories?’
Rhoades “That is correct.”
Reporter: “And just to set the record straight, we had never talked, or met each other when I did those stories?’
Rhoades: “That is correct.”
Rhodes’ boss is Federal Security Director Cliff Van Leuven.

Ven Leuven ordered Rhoades transferred from Minnesota, to Tampa, Florida.  But for Rhoades, who had recently divorced, the warmer locale came at price.

Rhoades: “If I left the state of Minnesota, I would’ve lost custody of my children.”
Reporter: “So they knew they had you, that moving was a deal killer?”
Rhoades:  “Absolutely.”
Reporter: “And you think around the country directed reassignments are used to punish people in TSA?”
Rhoades: “No doubt. It’s happened in many cities.”

Bernie Sanders Once Advocated Abolishing CIA, Calling It a “Dangerous Institution’

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders once called the CIA a “dangerous institution that has got to go,” Politico reports. 

At the time, Sanders was a 29-year-old socialist angry over the spy agency’s interventions in other country, including what he called America’s history of “overthrowing governments.”

Sanders was running for the U.S. Senate on the ticket of the anti-war Liberty Union Party.

Hillary Clinton allies have seized on the opportunity to attack Sanders, whose views have softened over time.

“Abolishing the CIA in the 1970s would have unilaterally disarmed America during the height of the Cold War and at a time when terrorist networks across the Middle East were gaining strength,” said Jeremy Bash, who served as chief of staff to CIA director Leon Panetta and now advises Clinton’s campaign. “If this is a window into Sanders’ thinking, it reinforces the conclusion that he’s not qualified to be commander in chief.”

Sanders supporters said it’s disingenuous to attack Sanders for something he said four decades ago.

“I think people should look at his 25-year congressional career,” said one person who worked for Sanders in the House of Representatives, and whose employment circumstances prohibit him from speaking on the record. “You don’t have to look at some speech from the early ’70s to know where he is on issues. There’s a very clear congressional record. I think he should be measured and judged on that.”

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Director James Comey on Encrypted Phone: ‘San Bernardino Litigation Isn’t About Trying to Set a Precedent or Send Any Kind of Message’

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The battle between the FBI and Apple is on. The FBI wants the giant company to help the bureau crack the encryption of a phone belonging to one of the terrorist in San Bernardino is a big deal.

A federal judge has ordered the company to help the FBI, but Apple has vowed to fight the case in court, saying the privacy of Americans is at issue.

Besides a legal battle, a battle is being fought on the public stage of opinion.

On Sunday night, the FBI released this statement from James Comey, director of the FBI, who has expressed great frustration over the issue of encrypted devices.

Comey stated:

The San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message. It is about the victims and justice.  Fourteen people were slaughtered and many more had their lives and bodies ruined.  We owe them a thorough and professional investigation under law.  That’s what this is.  The American people should expect nothing less from the FBI.

The particular legal issue is actually quite narrow. The relief we seek is limited and its value increasingly obsolete because the technology continues to evolve.  We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist’s passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly.  That’s it.  We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land.  I hope thoughtful people will take the time to understand that.  Maybe the phone holds the clue to finding more terrorists.  Maybe it doesn’t.  But we can’t look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror, if we don’t follow this lead.

Reflecting the context of this heart-breaking case, I hope folks will take a deep breath and stop saying the world is ending, but instead use that breath to talk to each other.  Although this case is about the innocents attacked in San Bernardino, it does highlight that we have awesome new technology that creates a serious tension between two values we all treasure – privacy and safety.  That tension should not be resolved by corporations that sell stuff for a living.  It also should not be resolved by the FBI, which investigates for a living.  It should be resolved by the American people deciding how we want to govern ourselves in a world we have never seen before.  We shouldn’t drift to a place – or be pushed to a place by the loudest voices – because finding the right place, the right balance, will matter to every American for a very long time.

So I hope folks will remember what terrorists did to innocent Americans at a San Bernardino office gathering and why the FBI simply must do all we can under the law to investigate that.  And in that sober spirit, I also hope all Americans will participate in the long conversation we must have about how to both embrace the technology we love and get the safety we need.