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Archive for March 3rd, 2016

Guardian: Congress Finally Did Its Job Over Battle Between FBI, Apple

US CapitolTrevor Trimm
Guardian

Members of Congress did something almost unheard of at Tuesday’s hearing on the brewing battle over encryption between Apple and the FBI: their job. Both Democrats and Republicans grilled FBI director Jim Comey about his agency’s unprecedented demand that Apple weaken the iPhone’s security protections to facilitate surveillance. This would have dire implications for smartphone users around the globe.

Normally, congressional committee hearings featuring Comey are contests among the members over who can shower the FBI director with the most fawning compliments in their five-minute allotted time frame. Hard questions about the agency’s controversial tactics are avoided at all costs. But on Tuesday, in rare bipartisan fashion, virtually every member of the House judiciary committee asked Comey pointed questions and politely ripped apart his arguments against Apple.

One judiciary member questioned how the FBI managed to mess up so badlyduring the San Bernardino investigation and reset the shooter’s password, which is what kicked this whole controversy and court case in motion in the first place. And if the case was such an emergency, why did they wait 50 days to go to court? Another member questioned what happens when China inevitably asks for the same extraordinary powers the FBI is demanding now. Others questioned whether the FBI had really used all the resources available to break into the phone without Apple’s help. For example, why hasn’t the FBI attempted to get the NSA’s help to get into the phone, since hacking is their job?

Comey readily admitted that the San Bernardino case could set a precedent for countless others after it, and that it won’t just be limited to one phone, as the FBItried to suggest in the days after the filing became public. Comey said the FBI has so many encrypted phones in its possession that he doesn’t know the number (that’s not including the hundreds of local police forces that are itching to force Apple to create software to decrypt those as well). Comey also admitted under questioning that terrorists would just move to another encrypted device if Apple was forced to do what the government is asking, and that there are companies all over the world offering similar products.

More than anything, though, the members of Congress expressed anger that theFBI director didn’t follow through earlier on his stated intention to engage in a debate in Congress and the public about the proper role for encryption in society. Instead, he decided to circumvent that debate altogether and quietly go to court to get a judge to do what the legislative branch has so far refused to do.

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

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Cleveland Man Arrested After Threatening to Kill President Obama, Hillary Clinton

Jonathan SmeadBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Cleveland man is accused of calling the Secret Service and saying he wants to kill President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The Secret Service and Cleveland police on Monday arrested Jonathan Smead, 35, who was charged Wednesday in Ohio Northern District Court, Cleveland.com reports. 

Authorities said Smead called the Secret Service at 10 p.m. Sunday and asked whether it was a federal crime to acknowledge that he wants to kill the president.

Smead, who cited past assassins, also said he wanted to kill Clinton, authorities said.

Smead even told the Secret Service that he “wants federal charges, not little state charges,” and offered up his social security number, name, date of birth and the home where he was living with his grandmother.    

Former Hillary Clinton Staffer Cooperates with FBI in Exchange for Immunity

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former State Department staffer who set up Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server in her New York home in 2009 is cooperating with the Justice Department and FBI in exchange for immunity, a senior law enforcement official told the Washington Post. 

The Justice Department has granted immunity to Bryan Pagliano, who is now cooperating wth the FBI as it investigates possible mishandling of classified information.

The FBI is expected to complete the investigation in the coming months.

The Post wrote that “agents are likely to want to interview Clinton and her senior aides about the decision to use a private server, how it was set up, and whether any of the participants knew they were sending classified information in emails,” citing current and former officials.

No evidence has surfaced yet that prosecutors have convened a grand jury.

Republican Congressman Criticizes FBI Director for ‘Unprepared’ Testimony about Apple Case

Rep. Darrell Issa

Rep. Darrell Issa

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who is an electronic security expert, criticized FBI Director Jame Comey for being “unprepared” to answer questions about the fight to get Apple to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters.

“He hadn’t asked the questions or taken the steps that would have led to his discovering whether or not there was a one-time solution as he kept telling us there was,” Issa told NPR. 

Issa was commenting on Comey’s Congressional testimony this week about the debate over whether Apple should help to unlock a phone.

Issa said Comey “seemed befuddled” and couldn’t answer basic questions about finding ways to access the phone.

Listen to the entire interview above.

Secret Service: Our Agents Don’t Eject Protesters from Campaign Rallies

A Time photographer is slammed to the ground by a Secret Service agent at a Donald Trump rally.

A Time photographer is slammed to the ground by a Secret Service agent at a Donald Trump rally.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service’s rough treatment of a Time photographer during a Donald Trump rally has raised serious questions about the agency’s role during campaigns.

The Secret Service responded Wednesday that it does not remove protesters from campaign events unless a threat is posed to the candidate, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

The Secret Service said its agents were not involved in ejecting a group of black students from a Trump rally in Georgia this week.

But the agency said it’s still investigating a altercation between an agent and a photojournalist at the rally.

“The Secret Service does not engage in any action to address or remove any individual or group exercising First Amendment rights who may create a disruption at a secured venue,” the Secret Service said in a statement. “The Secret Service only intervenes if an individual or group poses a security threat to a protectee or interferes with any law enforcement activity.”

The Secret Services rejected claims that its agents removed protesters during the rally.

“Reports that the Secret Service escorted attendees out of the premises at an event in Georgia this past Monday evening are false. The Secret Service does not escort attendees out of protectees’ events in such circumstances and it was not the Secret Service who did so at that event,” the agency said.