Tags: Department of Homeland Security

Former DHS Chief Privacy Officer Was Regularly Called a “Terrorist” by the Intelligence Community

So it appears one of the few decent people at the gestapo that is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was constantly berated and referred to as a “terrorist” for her attempts to defend the privacy of American citizens.

So let me get this straight, the tea party are “terrorists,” privacy officers that look after privacy are “terrorists,” yet we almost launched a war in Syria to fight alongside our al-Qaeda allies. 

Yes folks: This is your government.

From TechDirt:

Mary Ellen Callahan was the Chief Privacy Officer (and the Chief Freedom of Information Act Officer) at the Department of Homeland Security from 2009 until 2012 (though, don’t tell DHS, since they still have a page on their website about her claiming she still has that role — even though she left over a year ago).

She apparently claimed that the number of privacy officers at the NSA was zero – including the Chief Privacy Officer of the NSA. In other words, the position within the NSA is a joke, and that person has no interest, at all, in protecting Americans’ privacy. But, apparently, she was just warming up, because (according to other attendees), she claimed that her office was accused of being “terrorists” once a month both by others at DHS as well as in the wider intelligence community. Furthermore, she was told that they would make her testify after the next terrorist attack, claiming it would be her fault, for daring to protect Americans’ privacy.

Classy.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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How Edward Snowden Helped Kill CISPA (for now)

If you forgot about CISPA, it’s the latest version of the internet spying bill that Congress has been trying to pass for years. So not only did Edward Snowden alert the American public and the world of the extraordinarily unconstitutional and immoral activities of the NSA and U.S. government, his information also stopped CISPA dead in its tracks…at least for now.  It seems the plan is to reintroduce the bill in the fall, by which time the powers that be assume the S&P 500 will be up another 200 points and the public won’t even remember what the NSA is.  From The Verge:

US lawmakers have been trying for the past two years to pass new bills that would set up information sharing programs between tech companies and the government. But those bills, including the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), look like they will be spending even more time in legislative limbo. Bloomberg news reports today that House and Senate lawmakers are holding back on introducing their own versions of CISPA or similar cyber information sharing legislation till at least this fall, due primarily to the public outcry following the revelations of the NSA’s secret internet spying program PRISM and its surveillance of millions of personal phone records.

The revelations of the NSA’s surveillance programs, which occurred in early June through leaked documents published in the Guardian, “probably couldn’t have come at a worse time,” for Senate cyber bill prospects, as Congressman Mike McCaul (R-TX) told Bloomberg. McCaul, a backer of CISPA who in 2012 also tried to introduce another separate bill that would increase funding for training government cybersecurity specialists, is just one of several lawmakers who is delaying introducing new bill proposals because they are worried there is no public appetite for expanding government cyber programs in the wake of the NSA leaks. 

Just another reason to be eternally thankful for Mr. Edward Snowden.  Stay safe sir.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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In Tennessee Complaining About Water Quality = Terrorism

This is a little over a week old, but I hadn’t seen it and it’s so bothersome that everyone needs to be made aware.  One of my major themes this year has been the sudden outburst of cases in which mostly young people face extremely long prison sentences for merely exercising free speech. The way that many of these charges are justified is through new sets of “anti-terrorism” laws that have been set up in municipalities across the country, and allow for harsh sentences for minor offenses.  Of course, this is merely a backdoor way to erode the First Amendment in the name of fighting the never-ending “war on terror.”  A war that is supposedly against Al-Qaeda, the same folks we are actively arming in Syria.  Now from the Tennessean:

A Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deputy director warned a group of Maury County residents that unfounded complaints about water quality could be considered an “act of terrorism.”

“We take water quality very seriously. Very, very seriously,” said Sherwin Smith, deputy director of TDEC’s Division of Water Resources, according to audio recorded by attendees. “But you need to make sure that when you make water quality complaints you have a basis, because federally, if there’s no water quality issues, that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism.”

Read the Full Article »

The DHS is Now Moving to Hire Hackers from High School and College

You’ve gotta love the hypocrisy of these people. I suppose the billions of hollow point bullets that the DHS is purchasing is simply not enough to make Janet Napolitano sleep well at night.  Of course, when real heroes like Aaron Swartz engage in civil disobedience using computers they are hounded using the CFAA and threatened with decades in prison until they kill themselves, but if you work for Big Sis then you are referred to as “hackers for good.”  Long live Oceania!  From The Washington Times:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the department is seeking skilled computer hackers — primarily college-age students — to help with the “new and rapidly growing threats” to America’s cybersecurity systems, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

They will be “hackers for good,” and will join a force of about 600 already being trained by DHS, Ms. Napolitano said, during Tuesday remarks to reporters.

The Air Force has an internship program for high-schoolers to hone their hacking skills, with the ultimate aim being to train them for work in the military’s Cyber Emergency Response Team unit, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

DHS is hoping to capitalize on this skill set at an early age — thus, the recruiting reach-out to high-school students.

How incredibly creepy is that.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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Wired Magazine: Public Buses Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations

Believe it or not the article itself is actually a lot worse than even the title implies.  These microphones are in many cases being coupled with cameras in order to gain an even greater level of surveillance.  All with grants from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  Now honestly, does anyone really think this is for Al Qaeda?  This is a great follow up to my piece from last week titled:  Coming to Your Car: Mandatory Black Boxes That Record Everything.

From Wired:

Transit authorities in cities across the country are quietly installing microphone-enabled surveillance systems on public buses that would give them the ability to record and store private conversations, according to documents obtained by a news outlet.

The systems are being installed in San Francisco, Baltimore, and other cities with funding from the Department of Homeland Security in some cases, according to the Daily, which obtained copies of contracts, procurement requests, specs and other documents.

The systems use cables or WiFi to pair audio conversations with camera images in order to produce synchronous recordings. Audio and video can be monitored in real-time.

Read the Full Article »

The FBI is “Going Dark” in its New Spy Program

Well, well isn’t this article from CNET just lovely!  Apparently every agency in our government is competing to be the America Stasi.

The information collection is part of the FBI’s controversial effort, known internally as “Going Dark,” aimed in part at convincing Congress to rewrite federal wiretapping law to require Internet companies including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo to build in back doors for government surveillance. CNET reported in May that the FBI has asked tech companies not to oppose the plan.

The Homeland Security report, made public this afternoon, was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is enmeshed in a lawsuit against the FBI after many of the documents it requested were withheld. CNET reported last week that a federal judge ruled that the government did not adequately respond to EFF’s request.

In an unusual twist, Homeland Security provided the partially redacted report (PDF) to the EFF under open government laws — but then turned around and demanded the document’s return, which the EFF refused to do.

A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment on the documents.

In other news, most Americans are more concerned about what Justin Bieber ate for dinner last night.

Full CNET article here.

In Liberty,
Mike