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Tag: surveillance

Lawmakers Uneasy about FBI’s Facial Recognition Technology

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Some Democrats and Republicans in Congress are calling for a temporary ban on the federal government’s use of facial recognition technology after the FBI revealed it had accumulated more than 640 million photographs.

The photos, which come from driver’s licenses, mug shots, passports, social media and other places, can be used for the bureau’s facial recognition technology.

“This technology is evolving extremely rapidly without any real safeguards,” Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said during the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Tuesday. “Whether we are talking about commercial use or government use, there are real concerns about the risks that this technology poses to our civil rights and liberties and our right to privacy.”

The technology has been criticized, not just over transparency and privacy concerns, but because of its unreliability. Studies have shown the technology is less accurate on darker faces, which could lead to arrests based on false matches.

Kimberly Del Greco, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services section, told lawmakers that “Trust is crucial” to the FBI.

“Protecting the privacy and civil liberties of the American people is part of our culture.”

Some lawmakers questioned why the FBI was using noncriminal photos.

Roger Stone Mulls Lawsuit to Determine If He Was Under FBI Surveillance

Roger Stone on ABC’s “This Week.”

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Conservative provocateur Roger Stone is threatening to file a federal lawsuit to determine whether he was under FBI surveillance during the Trump campaign.

“We have strong reason to believe that Mr. Stone was among three advisors to candidate Trump who was under surveillance by the FBI during the 2016 presidential campaign,” Stone’s attorney Paul Jensen wrote in a May 20 letter to the federal government, The Hill reports.

Jensen’s assertion is based on a January 2017 story by The New York Times, which revealed that the FBI had been monitoring Donald Trump associates and the Russian government during the presidential election.

“Having exhausted our administrative remedies we are now contemplating a tort lawsuit as a means to force the government to disclose the facts in this serious matter and to determine if Mr. Stone’s 4th amendment rights were violated,” Jensen’s letter continued.

Stone, who was unable to substantiate his claims, has been charged with seven counts, including making false statements to Congress, obstruction a government investigation and tampering with a witness. He is awaiting trial.

Feds Wiretapped Phone Lines of Trump’s Longtime Attorney Cohen

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Federal investigators wiretapped the phones lines of President Trump’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, in the weeks leading up to the raids on his office, home and hotel room, according to a new report.

At least one of those intercepted phone calls was from the White House, NBC reported Thursday afternoon.

The FBI raided Cohen’s properties last month and seized emails and records related to his clients, two of whom are the president and television personality Sean Hannity.

After the raid, Trump’s attorneys advised him to contact Cohen, who, among other things, is under investigation for a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

On Thursday, in an extraordinary admission that contradicts previous statements, Trump tweeted that he reimbursed Cohen for the payment.

Since the case is being investigated by New York prosecutors, Trump can’t stop the probe by firing special counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading up the Russia investigation and trying to determine whether the president obstructed justice.

Comey Assails FBI’s Treatment of Martin Luther King But Ignores Racial Profiling Under His Leadership

Former FBI Director James Comey.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

When James Comey became the FBI director in 2013, he placed atop his desk a framed copy of the letter that authorized the surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr. as a reminder of the bureau’s “shameful.” 

In his new book, Comey said he deeply admired the civil rights giant and criticized the FBI’s treatment of him as “a dark chapter in the Bureau’s history.” Comey required the bureau’s entire workforce to read King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” and created a curriculum for new agents to “remember how well-meaning folks lost their way.” New recruits were ordered to visit the King memorial and write an essay about one of their favorite quotes inscribed on the wall.

But what Comey doesn’t mention is the bureau’s “same racialized tactics and assumptions in his tenure as FBI director: broadly targeting the Muslim-American community, coercing informants, trafficking in racial profiling, surveilling Black Lives Matter and Standing Rock activists, and largely standing aside amid police violence and misconduct.”

The surveillance of the civl rights movement, which went far beyond King, wasn’t largely known until activists broke into an FBI office in Pennsylvania and stole the records before leaking them to the media.

“To become targets of the FBI, it wasn’t necessary for African Americans to engage in violent behavior,” said Betty Medsger, the Post reporter who broke the initial story. “Being black was enough.” Agents were required “to investigate and, if possible, infiltrate every black student organization at two year and four year colleges.”

AG Sessions Rebuffs GOP: No Need for Second Special Counsel to Probe DOJ, FBI

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a previous congressional committee for failing to disclose his contacts with Russia.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions rebuffed calls from Republican lawmakers to appoint a second special counsel to investigate whether the FBI and Justice Department overextended their authority in surveilling a former Trump campaign aide.

Some House and Senate Republicans urged Sessions to make the appointment, continuing to assail the investigation of Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser during Trump’s campaign, as politically motivated.

In a letter to three congressional committee chairmen, Sessions said there’s no need– at least not yet – to appoint a special counsel because the matter is already the subject of two separate investigations  – one by the Justice Department inspector general, the other by the U.S. attorney in Utah. 

“I take the concerns you raise seriously,” Mr. Sessions wrote, adding, “I expect every person in this Department to adhere to the highest levels of integrity, ethics, and and professionalism.”

Sessions’ decision was criticized by some Republicans.

“Mr. Sessions, what’s it going to take?” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in a phone interview with Politico. “I’m hopeful this is just one last step Jeff Sessions wants to take before he realizes the obvious, which is there needs to be a second special counsel.”

Democrats Claim Republicans Secretly Doctored Trump-Russia Memo

Rep. Adam Schiff.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee has accused Republicans of sharing with the White House a “secretly altered” version of a controversial, much-disputed memo alleging the Justice Department and FBI improperly surveilled a former Trump campaign aide during the 2016 election campaign.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the memo, written by Republicans, was altered after the committee voted along party lines to release the document despite warnings from the Justice Department and FBI to keep in the information classified. 

Schiff said the committee members were “never apprised of, never had the opportunity to review, and never approved” revisions made by Republicans before handing off the memo to the president, who is expected to approve the corrosive document’s release.

Schiff is demanding that the memo be withdrawn until a new vote can be held on the revised document, which some Republicans want to use to suggest an anti-Trump bias in the special counsel investigation of the president and Russia.

A spokesman the committee’s chairman, Republican Devin Nunes, claims Schiff is exaggerating the altercations, saying only minor change, including grammatical fixes, were made to the document.

Schiff countered that the changes were “material and substantive” and not approved by the committee, which Democrats say is a violation of congressional practices.

Schiff made the claims in a letter to Nunes.

The White House is expected to approve the memo’s release Friday morning, but claims that the document was doctored may delay the public disclosure.

Border Patrol to Test New, Smaller Drones at Tucson Sector

Drone via CBP.

Drone via CBP.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Border Patrol hopes to add smaller drones to its surveillance arsenal and will begin testing the unmanned aircraft this month in the Tucson sector, Tucson.com reports

The agency uses bigger drones, but Border Patrol is looking for something that is small enough to easily transport and fly in hard-to-access areas.

Agents will test three series of drones: Puma, Raven and InstantEye Quadcopter.

The drones may also include sensors, infrared cameras and facial-recognition technology. 

Other Stories of Interest

Justice Department Finds No Evidence That Trump Or His Tower Were Wiretapped

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s claims in March that his predecessor, Barack Obama, wiretapped his phones are not backed by evidence, the Justice Department said in a court filing.

The discovery came in a Freedom of Information case involving the government transparency watchdog, American Oversight, which was seeking information about surveillance of Trump, his New York City tower and his presidential campaign, Bloomberg reports

“Both FBI and NSD confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets,” the Justice Department filing said.

Trump made the bold claim on Twitter, and it appears his source was Breitbart, a conservative media outlet that has become a propaganda tool for the alt-right.

“Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory,” Trump wrote on Twitter. ”Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

The Justice Department wants the FOIA case to be dismissed since the records don’t exist.