` UK and US branded `Enemies of the Internet ‘ by `Reporters without Borders’ which disrupt `Freedom of Information’

#AceSecurityNews – United Kingdom and the US have been branded ‘Enemies of the Internet’ for the first time by Reporters Without Borders on their annual list of countries which disrupt freedom of information through surveillance and censorship.

Both the US and the UK were included in the list for first time as a result of revelations from the Whistleblower Edward Snowden into the activities of the American and British spy agencies.

In fact Edward Snowden branded the UK, where the government has largely ignored calls to reign in the nation’s spooks and the public remain apathetic, as “worse than the US”.

Snowden outlines various “widespread surveillance practices” operated by GCHQ as part of its plan called “Mastering the internet”.

“The Internet was a collective resource that the NSA and GCHQ turned into a weapon in the service of special interests, in the process flouting freedom of information, freedom of expression and the right to privacy,” say the report’s authors.

The UK, says the press watchdog, paid scant heed to any legal considerations when harvesting huge amounts of data.

“Supported by the NSA and with the prospect of sharing data, the British agency brushed aside all legal obstacles and embarked on mass surveillance of nearly a quarter of the world’s communications,” the report says.

RT News – AP – AFP – News Sources

#ANS2014

#edward-snowden, #afp, #ap, #freedom-of-information-act, #gchq, #nsa, #reporters-without-borders, #rt-news, #uk, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #us

` Obama’s Administration more often than ever ` Censored Government Files ‘or outright Denied Access ‘

#AceWorldNews WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

The administration cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.

Most agencies also took longer to answer records requests, the analysis found.

#ANS2014

#ap, #freedom-of-information-act, #obama, #the-associated-press, #us, #washington

Customs & Border Protection Loaned Predator Drones to Other Agencies 700 Times in Three Years According to “Newly Discovered” Records

#AceSecurityNews says just from across my network,  latest news of Customs & Border Protection recently “discovered” additional daily flight logs that show the agency has flown its drones on behalf of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies on 200 more occasions more than previously released records indicated.

English: CBP Office of Field Operation Shoulde...

English: CBP Office of Field Operation Shoulder Patch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last July we reported, based on daily flight log records CBP made available to us in response to our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, that CBP logged an eight-fold increase in the drone surveillance it conducts for other agencies. These agencies included a diverse group of local, state, and federal law enforcement—ranging from the FBI, ICE, the US Marshals, and the Coast Guard to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the North Dakota Army National Guard, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

CBP stated that these flight logs and a list of agencies it later prepared based on those logs represented all the missions the agency flew on behalf of non-CBP agencies. Yet after EFF and CBP briefed the remaining issues in the case in our Cross Motions for Summary Judgment and on the eve of the pivotal court hearing on those motions in December 2013, CBP announced it “discovered that it did not release all entries from the daily reports for 2010-2012” responsive to EFF’s FOIA request.

Not only do these new flight logs and the accompanying new list of agencies show a striking increase in the overall number of flights (700 versus 500), they also reveal a sharp increase in the number of flights for certain federal agencies like ICE (53 more flights than previously revealed) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (20 more flights). And they also reveal CBP flew 32 additional times on behalf of state and local agencies—including previously undisclosed law enforcement like the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Minnesota Drug Task Force. Unfortunately, CBP continues to withhold the names of many of these state and local agencies, arguing that revealing them would somehow impede ongoing investigations. However, as we pointed out in our summary judgment brief, disclosing that CBP was working with, for example, the Pima County, Ariz. Sheriff’s Department would not be specific enough to affect any particular criminal operation. It would hardly be surprising that CBP was working with Pima County because it shares a border with Mexico. It is also—at 9,200 square miles—one of the larger counties in Arizona and has one of the highest crime rates of any county in the country—a rate of 4,983 crimes per 100,000 people. Given the large geographic size of and crime rate in this county and others like it, it is hard to imagine that releasing information about which county sheriff’s department CBP is working with would enable suspected criminals in the area to link CBP’s drone surveillance to their particular criminal activity.

The newly-released records reveal other surprising facts, including that CBP was using its sophisticated VADER surveillance system much more frequently than previously thought and was using it for other agencies. This sensor, also known as Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar, was initially developed for use in the Afghanistan War and can detect the presence of people from as high as 25,000 feet. CBP has used this sensor in its surveillance operations since 2011 and used it at least 30 times for other agencies in 2012. The records CBP previously released to EFF contained no specific mention of VADER technology. As noted by the Center for Investigative Reporting, the system has several limitations—not the least of which is that “it can’t tell the difference between a U.S. citizen and non-citizen.”

The records also indicate that CBP’s drones appear plagued with problems; many of the logs indicate missions were terminated or cancelled due to undisclosed issues affecting both the aircraft (General Atomics was often called in to address issues with the Predators) and the surveillance equipment on board (Raytheon, which supplies the RADAR equipment for CBP’s drones was also called in). The VADER system had its own undisclosed problems.

CBP noted in a recent Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) that it generally flies its drones in support of its primary mission—“border security.” Yet these records indicate just how blurred that mission has become.  This is problematic because, as CBP also notes, drones like Predators enable “the monitoring of large areas of land more efficiently and with fewer personnel than other aviation assets.”

As the use of Predators moves from maintaining security at the nation’s borders to general law enforcement elsewhere within the country, more and more people in the United States will be subject to drone surveillance. CBP states in its PIA that it stores data unassociated with a particular investigation for no more than 30 days, but much, if not most of this data will be associated with an investigation and may therefore be stored indefinitely—even if it includes footage of property, vehicles and people unassociated with the investigation.

CBP also states in the PIA that we shouldn’t be concerned about the privacy implications of its drones because their sensors cannot yet identify people. However, these sensors are becoming more sophisticated every day, and it won’t be long before surveillance capabilities like “facial recognition or soft biometric recognition, which can recognize and track individuals based on attributes such as height, age, gender, and skin color” are added to CBP’s arsenal.  We need to address these issues before that happens.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein was concerned enough about drone surveillance to amend last term’s Senate Immigration Bill to restrict CBP’s flights in California to within three miles of the border. We should be similarly concerned about CBP’s flights throughout the country—especially when CBP still refuses to reveal exactly which state and local agencies it’s working with. We’ll be arguing just that point in the hearing on our Cross Motion for Summary Judgement in the case this coming Wednesday.

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#acesecuritynews, #arizona-department-of-public-safety, #cbp, #electronic-frontier-foundation, #federal-law-enforcement-in-the-united-states, #freedom-of-information-act, #north-dakota-army-national-guard, #texas-department-of-public-safety, #u-s-customs-and-border-protection, #united-states

Message to Speaker Boehner: Create Select Committee to Investigate Benghazi

#AceWorldNews says latest news from “The Judicial Watch”  by Tom Fitton and the requirement to create a select committee to investigate Benghazi in the message to the speaker Boehner:

US Rep John Boehner

US Rep John Boehner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is little doubt that Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) is dodging a thorough, top-to-bottom, no-holds-barred investigation of the Benghazi terrorist attack. The only question is, “Why?”

As the only non-governmental organization in the country litigating in federal court to uncover the full story about what happened before, during, and following the Benghazi massacre, Judicial Watch knows first-hand that the full story has not been told and that a massive cover-up is underway. As we said in our special report, The Benghazi Attack of September 11, 2012: Analysis and Further Questions from a Diplomatic Security Service Regional Security Officer and Special Agent, the entire tragic scenario is    a “story of political treachery in high places.”

And now, it appears that John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, has become a key player in the cover-up. A willing participant in the “political treachery.”That’s why earlier this week, Judicial Watch joined forces with the grieving family members of the Benghazi terrorist attack, U.S. military leaders, and other prominent conservatives to call out Boehner on the wretched and deplorable job he’s doing investigating the tragedy. Or, more likely, blocking a thorough investigation.
In a scathing letter delivered on January 6, 2014, JW and our co-signers blasted the Republican leader, demanding that he install a Select Committee to investigate the atrocity. Forcefully, and to the point, the letter informs the recalcitrant Speaker, “You have an opportunity to show strong leadership and resolve a national disgrace perpetrated by specific public officials. You are failing.”On September 11, 2012. Islamic jihadists attacked the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, murdering Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the first diplomat to be killed overseas since 1979, and three other Americans. The Obama administration has worked hard to keep details of the attack-and the negligence that led to it-from the American public. But JW has refused to let the cover-up go unabated. To date, we have four pending Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the Obama administration for documents about the attack, 14 FOIA requests and one Mandatory Declassification Review Request. And we have published two in-depth special reports on Benghazi, the last one on the first anniversary of the terrorist attack. You can read the special reports here andhere.It was JW that obtained the first photos depicting the devastating aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. diplomatic and CIA facilities in Benghazi, as well as details of the inexperienced foreign company hired to protect the American compound. The State Department paid the virtually unknown British firm $794,264 for nearly 50,000 guard hours, according to the federal contract obtained in the course of JW’s ongoing Benghazi probe. And all that we got for our money was four murdered Americans.Now, we have put the responsibility on House Speaker Boehner to take action to extract the truth about Benghazi from the Obama administration. I signed the letter on behalf of Judicial Watch, along with the mother and uncle of slain Foreign Officer Sean Smith, and the father of murdered security officer Tyrone Woods. Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, former Florida Congressman Allen West, and nearly 50 additional retired military officers signed; as did Freedom Center President David Horowitz, Black Voters Alliance’s Anita MonCrief, and scores of other conservative leaders.As I said, the letter pulled no punches.  In fact, the letter, which gained national headlines and significant coverage on Fox News, was drafted by our own Chris Farrell, who heads our investigations team. The message to the Speaker is blunt:To date, five (5) different committees of the House have conducted separate hearings, uncovering information in a piecemeal fashion lacking professional investigators. The five committees’ efforts are disjointed and uncoordinated. The Obama administration has benefited from that dysfunctional process to hide the truth. Hardly any Obama administration witnesses have testified – publicly or privately. You have resisted repeated calls for the creation of a select investigative committee with subpoena authority. It appears that you are satisfied to allow that state of investigative incoherence and ambiguity to continue. The last public hearing by any of the five committees was held in September – four (4) months ago. The families of the dead who fought valiantly to protect the mission and their families, the survivors, and the American people deserve better from you and your Members of Congress. They deserve the absolute truth from their government. Your failure to get the truth and hold public officials accountable increases the possibility of other repeat attacks and additional failures to defend Americans abroad.

The letter goes on to remind Boehner that his oversight of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation has been without any meaningful effect or result. “Not a single terrorist in this well-planned and executed military attack by radical Islamists has been apprehended. Ahmed Abu Khattala, a ringleader of the attack, granted long interviews to reporters in Benghazi cafes while the Obama administration-and you-have done nothing. Nearly 16 months after the terrorist attack, the American public has no accountability and no plan of action from House leadership.”

Raising the issue of why Boehner may be stonewalling a thorough investigation of the Benghazi tragedy, the coalition of Benghazi victims and patriots asks tough questions that demand answers:

Some analysts believe your inaction and passivity towards getting to the truth concerning Benghazi is because you were briefed on the intelligence and special operations activities in Libya as a member of the “Super 8.” You may possess “guilty knowledge.” We recall how then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi developed a form of “amnesia” concerning a documented briefing she received on so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” – later termed “torture” for political purposes. Are you in the same position as your predecessor? Are you dodging a legitimate, thorough, coordinated investigation of Benghazi because it will damage your political position as Speaker?

The conclusion leaves no wiggle room for Boehner to dodge the issue:

Mr. Speaker, we call upon you to act now and create a Select Committee on Benghazi to investigate all aspects of the United States involvement in Libya, to include, but not be limited to the attacks of September 11, 2012. It must now also include the protracted cover-up the American people, the families of the fallen and those with loved ones serving overseas have endured. The new committee must have subpoena power, capable staff and Members from both parties who are committed to finding the truth, not playing politics. The Committee must be staffed with new, professional, qualified and experienced investigators. It must have resources to conduct a thorough, comprehensive investigation and issue an exhaustive report before this Congress adjourns.

As you know by now, JW will not let this matter rest. As Voltaire wrote, “To the living, we owe respect. To the dead, we owe the truth.” And, regardless of how hard Obama tries to cover up his misdeeds or Boehner tries to stonewall the truth, we will work to see that both debts are paid in full for Benghazi.

“It’s Time for the Obama Administration to Stop Blocking Ballot Box Integrity”

What a wonderful change of pace it would be if the federal government actually began protecting the integrity of the ballot box, instead of being one of the nation’s leading defenders of practices that can lead to voter fraud and stolen elections. As a reader of the Weekly Update, you know that Barack Obama and election fraud are fellow travellers. Judicial Watch has fought tooth-and-nail nationwide to prevent Obama and his acolytes from thoroughly corrupting our electoral process.

JW’s most recent move to defend free and fair elections from federal assault came early this month, when our expert team of attorneys took on a little-known agency known as the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).  In finest Orwellian fashion, the EAC seems intent upon “assisting” in elections by assuring that noncitizens – both illegal and legal residents – are able to cast bogus ballots.

So, on January 3, JW filed comments with the EAC in support of efforts by Arizona, Kansas, and Georgia to compel the EAC to amend its National Voter Registration Voter Registration Mail Application (a federal form) to require voter registration applicants to provide proof of citizenship. Arizona and Kansas have sued the EAC to force such action; Georgia has issued a formal letter of request.

By way of brief background, the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) requires the states to accept the “federal form” to register individuals to vote. The EAC maintains the federal form, which fails to include any requirement that registrants provide proof of U.S. citizenship.

Kansas first requested that the EAC update to its federal form instructions in August 2012, following changes in the state’s election law requiring evidence of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote. Arizona, since 2004, had required an Arizona driver’s license, a U.S. birth certificate, a passport or other similar document before the state would approve the federal registration application.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Arizona provision requiring proof of citizenship. InArizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Inc., the Court said the 1993 NVRA trumps the state law. The ruling affected Arizona, Kansas, Georgia and Alabama.

But the court left the door open for Arizona to assert its arguments through separate litigation, a possibility mentioned by justices during oral arguments in April. Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that Arizona could still challenge the current EAC form in court or ask the commission to include the citizenship requirement on the federal form in the future. At that point, both Kansas and Arizona sued the EAC to amend the federal form.

Filing in support of the state actions, Judicial Watch argued that “Under Section 8 of the NVRA, states are under a federal obligation to assure that non-citizens neither register nor vote.” It added, “A failure to allow states to require such information would undermine Americans’ confidence that their elections are being conducted fairly and honestly, and would thwart states’ ability to comply with the election integrity obligations imposed by federal law.”

We then pointed out that there are “good reasons to believe that the public needs to be reassured on this point”:

In poll after poll, for some time now, large segments of the American populace have expressed their dismay with various aspects of our electoral system. A Rasmussen poll from August of 2013 reported that only 39% of Americans believe elections are fair. In 2012, a Monmouth University poll reported that more than two-thirds of registered voters thought voter fraud was a problem. In 2008, when a Gallup poll asked respondents around the world whether they had “confidence in the honesty of elections,” 53% of Americans said that they did not.

And JW’s lawyers argued that “routine failure of certain states to comply with their voter list accuracy obligations … is quickly becoming a national, nonpartisan issue,” adding:

For example, the Pew Research Center on the States released an astonishing report in 2012 noting that “[a]pproximately 2.75 million people have active registrations in more than one state.” That same report observed that “24 million – one of every eight – active voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate,” and that “[m]ore than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as active voters.” Non-citizen voter registration fraud is a contributor to this problem.

We also cited the outrageous failure of the EAC to have a quorum as a further factor strengthening the arguments of Arizona, Kansas, and Georgia that they be granted a federal form amendment. Unbelievable as it may be, the EAC has not had a quorum since December 2010, has had no commissioners since December 2011, no executive director since then, and no general counsel since May 2012. To add insult to injury, the EAC is using its own ineptitude as an excuse to block changes to the federal form. So, we turned the tables on them, commenting:

Judicial Watch notes that only a quorum of EAC Commissioners can refuse the states’ requests. An Acting Director lacks authority to take official regulatory action for the Commission. See 42 U.S.C. § 15328 (action by the EAC can be authorized “only with the approval of at least three of its members.”). Because there is no quorum of Commissioners, the EAC cannot reject the states’ request.

As I said at the time we filed our comments with the EAC, “For the EAC to use its own inability to convene a quorum as an excuse to contravene the right of the states of Arizona, Kansas, and Georgia to protect the integrity of the ballot box is a travesty. Gladstone’s axiom that ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ has never been more obvious than in this situation. And the EAC ought to stop its stonewalling and let justice proceed.” (These EAC comments are not the first time Judicial Watch has intervened on this issue to protect election integrity. In December 2012, Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Arizona’s proof of citizenship voter registration law.)

On August 21, 2013, the states of Kansas and Arizona jointly filed a complaint against the EAC asking the federal court in Topeka, Kansas, to force the agency to require proof of citizenship in the state-specific instructions on the National Mail Voter Registration Form. On August 1, the state of Georgia sent a letter to the EAC asking the same. The EAC had rebuffed previous requests for modifications, blaming a lack of quorum on the commission.

In filing their lawsuit, Kansas and Arizona cited the June 2013, Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Inc. While the Court ruled that the NVRA “precludes Arizona from requiring a federal form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself,” it also stipulated that states are free to petition the EAC to add the proof of citizenship requirement and, if the EAC does not act or rejects the request, take it to court.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated on this effort to protect the integrity of our elections.

You can contact Speaker Boehner’s office by telephone 202-6225-6205; by fax 202-225-0704; or by mail to 1011 Longworth H.O.B., Washington, DC 20515.

Courtesy of Tom Fitton 

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