As the privacy controversy around full-body security scans begins to simmer, it’s worth noting that courthouses and airport security checkpoints aren’t the only places where backscatter x-ray vision is being deployed. The same technology, capable of seeing through clothes and walls, has also been rolling out on U.S. streets.
American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview. While the biggest buyer of AS&E’s machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the U.S.
Mexico’s president Felipe Caldéron is the latest Latin leader to call for a debate on drugs legalisation. And in the US, liberals and right-wing libertarians are pressing for an end to prohibition. Forty years after President Nixon launched the ‘war on drugs’ there is a growing momentum to abandon the fight.
The birthday fiesta was in full swing at 1.30am when five SUVs pulled up outside the house. Figures spilled from the vehicles and ran towards the lights. They burst into the house and levelled AK-47s. “Kill them all!” A shouted instruction, only three words, and the slaughter began.
Gunfire and screams drowned the music. Some victims were cut down immediately, others were caught as they tried to escape. By the time the killers left there were 17 corpses, 18 wounded and 200 shell casings. Among the dead was the birthday guest of honour, a man local media named only as Mota, Mexican slang for marijuana.
National Review has obtained an internal U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service memo which discusses ways the federal agency could bring about “meaningful immigration reform absent legislative action,” in other words, without ever taking a vote in Congress.
The document reads: “This memorandum offers administrative relief options to . . . reduce the threat of removal for certain individuals present in the United States without authorization.”
“In the absence of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, USCIS can extend benefits and/or protections to many individuals and groups by issuing new guidance and regulations, exercising discretion with regard to parole-in-place, deferred action and the issuance of Notices to Appear (NTA), and adopting significant process improvements.”
It is just a technical matter, the Obama administration says: We just need to make a slight change in a law to make clear that we have the right to see the names of anyone’s e-mail correspondents and their Web browsing history without the messy complication of asking a judge for permission.
It is far more than a technical change. The administration’s request, reported Thursday in The Washington Post, is an unnecessary and disappointing step backward toward more intrusive surveillance from a president who promised something very different during the 2008 campaign.
The investment arms of the CIA and Google are both backing a company that monitors the web in real time — and says it uses that information to predict the future.
The company is called Recorded Future, and it scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come. In a white paper, the company says its temporal analytics engine “goes beyond search” by “looking at the ‘invisible links’ between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.”
The idea is to figure out for each incident who was involved, where it happened and when it might go down. Recorded Future then plots that chatter, showing online “momentum” for any given event.
The White House has asked Congress to make it possible for the FBI to demand that Internet service providers turn over customers’ records in cases involving terrorism or other intelligence issues without first obtaining a court order.
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act currently states that companies are required to provide basic subscriber data to the FBI, but lists only the four kinds of information that might be found on phone bills — customer’s name, address, length of service, and toll billing records.
In 2008, the Justice Department ruled that those four categories were “exhaustive,” making some companies reluctant to provide any additional information. The proposed amendment would add the phrase “electronic communication transactional records” to the list in order to include the recipients of emails and when they were sent and received — though not their content. It might also cover web browsing history.
When historians look back on the period between 2001 and 2011, they will be amazed that a nation that professed to hate bureaucracy produced so much of it.
During the first part of this period, the Republicans were in control. They expanded a vast national security bureaucracy. In their series in The Washington Post, Dana Priest and William M. Arkin detail the size of this apparatus. More than 1,200 government agencies and 1,900 private companies work on counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence programs at around 10,000 sites across the country. An estimated 854,000 people have top-secret security clearance. These analysts produce 50,000 reports a year — a flow of paper so great that many are completely ignored.
A federal judge pushed back Thursday against a contention by the Obama Justice Department that a tough new Arizona immigration law set to take effect next week would cause “irreparable harm” and intrude into federal immigration enforcement.
“Why can’t Arizona be as inhospitable as they wish to people who have entered or remained in the United States?” U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton asked in a pointed exchange with Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler. Her comment came during a rare federal court hearing in the Justice Department’s lawsuit against Arizona and Gov. Jan Brewer (R).
He did far more than that. Murphy and other deputies made an unwarranted entry into a home, and then into a locked gun safe. Murphy’s uncensored, darkly disturbing observations and behavior following his Code-3 arrival at the rural home of longtime SLO County resident Matt Hart were picked up by Murphy’s and other deputies’ own recorders. Those recordings provide a rare, frighteningly revealing, behind-the-scenes perspective of how one local law enforcement agency views the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and other laws its personnel are sworn to uphold.
Sheriff’s spinner Rob Bryn declined to confirm the identities of any of the deputies appearing or heard in the recordings, or to discuss any aspect of the Hart home invasion. So we’ve done that for you. (Bryn, ever the public servant, eventually stopped responding to e-mails from a KCCN.tv reporter.)