Iceland may ban MasterCard, Visa over WikiLeaks censorship

Credit card companies that prevented card-holders from donating money to the secrets outlet WikiLeaks could have their operating licenses taken away in Iceland, according to members of the Icelandic Parliamentary General Committee.

Representatives from Mastercard and Visa were called before the committee Sunday to discuss their refusal to process donations to the website, reports Reykjavik Grapevine.

“People wanted to know on what legal grounds the ban was taken, but no one could answer it,” Robert Marshall, the chairman of the committee, said. “They said this decision was taken by foreign sources.”

The committee is seeking additional information from the credit card companies for proof that there was legal grounds for blocking the donations.

Marshall said the committee would seriously review the operating licenses of Visa and Mastercard in Iceland.

WikiLeaks’s payment processor, the Icelandic company DataCell ehf, said it would take immediate legal action against the companies to make donations possible again.

“DataCell who facilitates those payments towards Wikileaks has decided to take up immediate legal actions to make donations possible again,” DataCell CEO Andreas Fink said last week. “We can not believe WikiLeaks would even create scratch at the brand name of Visa.”

“It will probably hurt their brand much much more to block payments towards WikiLeaks than to have them occur,” Fink added.

 

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Bioethics Commission to Investigate Guatemala Experiments and Current U.S. Human Research

President Barack Obama has asked his bioethics council to look into the recent disclosure that in the mid-1940s, a United States Public Health Service scientist deliberately infected patients in Guatemala with syphilis. In a letter sent Wednesday to University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, chair of the 13-member Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, Obama writes: “The research was clearly unethical. In light of this revelation, I want to be assured that current rules for research participants protect people from harm or unethical treatment, domestically as well as internationally.” The letter asks for a “thorough review” of U.S. rules protecting human subjects and a “thorough fact-finding investigation” of the Guatemala experiments. The commission, which is finishing up a report on synthetic biology, is to start its work in January and complete a report within 9 months.

Ignoring You is Not a Cognitive Defect

So a bunch of high school teachers are upset that their students are bored with them. Well, that’s not how they say it. Instead, the New York Times has the backs of boring, stupid teachers everywhere: “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction.” If kids didn’t have iPhones, they would pay attention in school.

Really?

What’s the last book you’ve read. How often do you – a big, bad, enlightened adult – sit down without the television or radio on? How often do you seek the lengthy solitude of reflection and reading? Can you even sit in silence for an hour?

Adults rarely read, and that’s fine. Adults spend most of our time in a distraction from our impending death. Or is there another justification for TV?

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US contacts allies about WikiLeaks move

The United States has briefed its key allies, including Britain, France, Germany and Saudi Arabia ahead of the mass release of classified documents by WikiLeaks.

Whistleblower website WikiLeaks plans to release around three million leaked documents, including cables sent to Washington from American embassies throughout the world.

The website had previously posted online secret details of US military operations in war-ravaged Iraq and Afghanistan.

United States Department of State Spokesman Philip Crowley says the United States is “gearing up for the worst-case scenario.”

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Britain illegally harvests organs for test

An inquiry has found that organs and bones from the bodies of dead British nuclear industry workers at Sellafield were illegally harvested without their consent over a period of 30 years.

The inquiry’s findings revealed that the relatives of 64 staff discovered their loved ones had been stripped of livers, tongues and even legs decades after they were buried, the daily Belfast Telegraph reported.
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News videographer at center of media battle after shooting video of abusive cops

Source

A freelance news videographer in Seattle lost his gig with a television station over a police abuse video they rejected after he posted the video on Youtube.

The video showed the customary abuse we expect from the Seattle Police Department; a cop kicking a detained suspect in the head after threatening to beat the “fucking Mexican piss” out of him.

It turned out, the suspect was completely innocent of armed robbery that got him detained.

Police then picked him up, brushed him off and sent him on his way.

The videographer, Jud Morris, ended up getting a video interview with the man, who had a fresh wound on his face from being face down on the ground, possibly from the kick that was caught on video.

The video also shows a female cop stomping on the suspect’s leg.

Morris, who was working for Q13 Fox news at the time, first approached them with the video, but they rejected it, telling him it was not newsworthy to see a cop kick an unarmed suspect in the head who later turns out to be innocent.

Morris, who as a freelancer owns all his work, then posted the video on Youtube.

He was fired the following day.

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A Tutorial on the Classified Information Procedures Act

Last week, prosecutors in the case of Thomas A. Drake, the former National Security Agency official who is charged with unlawfully retaining classified information that he allegedly disclosed to a reporter, asked the court to hold a pre-trial conference on the use of the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) in that case.

CIPA was passed by Congress in 1980 to regulate the disclosure of classified information in criminal prosecutions, such as espionage cases, and to prevent so-called “graymail,” in which a defendant threatens to release classified information in the hope of forcing the government to abandon the case.

In a nutshell, CIPA requires the defense to notify prosecutors and the court of any classified evidence it intends to introduce.  Courts must then determine if the classified evidence is admissible. If so, the government may propose an unclassified substitution that does not involve classified information.  But if the court finds that the unclassified substitution is inadequate to preserve the defendant’s right to a fair trial, and if the Attorney General objects to disclosure of the classified version, then the indictment may be dismissed.

Perhaps assuming that the judge (or the defense) was unfamiliar with the law, prosecutors in the Thomas Drake case filed a motion (pdf) explaining the meaning of each section of CIPA.

The purpose of their CIPA tutorial was “to inform the Court of the applicability of CIPA and its procedures to issues involving classified information that will arise before and during the trial of this case,” they wrote. See “Government’s Motion for Pretrial Conference Under Section 2 of the Classified Information Procedures Act,” May 5, 2010.

The development and early history of CIPA were reviewed by the Congressional Research Service in a March 2, 1989 report entitled “Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA): An Overview.”

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U.S. Forest Service Employees on “Stand-Down” from Talking to the Media

The Rural Blog brings us this post about the U.S. Forest Service prohibiting its law enforcement and investigations (LEI) employees from speaking to local media without approval from Washington. The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility obtained a memo outlining the policy, which critics say stifles access to government records.

“Until further notice all LEI employees are on stand-down from communicating with local and/or national media contacts without clearance from the Director, LEI and Press Office, Media desk in the Washington Office,” wrote David Ferrell, the agency’s LEI director in the Sept. 1, 2009 memo.

FBI Adds Electronic Form for FOIA Requests

The FBI has a new electronic form designed to make requesting information easier. In addition, the bureau has retooled it records website, including a guide for research in FBI Records.

Of course, filing a request has always been the easiest part of making a FOIA request of the FBI. George Washington University’s National Security Archive has criticized the bureau for its high percentage of “no records exist” responses in 2008, and the low percentage of requests granted by the FBIA.

For more, click here.

Bluebear: Exploring Privacy Threats in BitTorrent

BitTorrent is arguably the most efficient peer-to-peer protocol for content replication. However, BitTorrent has not been designed with privacy in mind and its popularity could threaten the privacy of millions of users. Surprisingly, privacy threats due to BitTorrent have been overlooked because BitTorrent popularity gives its users the illusion that finding them is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The goal of this project is to explore the severity of the privacy threats faced by BitTorrent users.

We argue that it is possible to continuously monitor from a single machine most BitTorrent users and to identify the content providers (also called initial seeds) [LLL_LEET10, LLL_TR10]. This is a major privacy threat as it is possible for anybody in the Internet to reconstruct all the download and upload history of most BitTorrent users.

To circumvent this kind of monitoring, BitTorrent users are increasingly using anonymizing networks such as Tor to hide their IP address from the tracker and, possibly, from other peers. However, we showed that it is possible to retrieve the IP address for more than 70% of BitTorrent users on top of Tor [LMC_POST10]. Moreover, once the IP address of a peer is retrieved, it is possible to link to the IP address other applications used by this peer on top of Tor.

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US confronts its reputation abroad

Argument transcript released in Ontario v. Quon U.S. Supreme Court case

A 70-page transcript of Monday’s argument in the U.S. Supreme Court case involving Ontario Police Department has been posted to the court’s website.

Click here for background on the case.

Court takes up Ontario employees’ privacy case
By MARK SHERMAN (AP)

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court appears likely to rule against public employees who claimed a local government violated their privacy by reading racy text messages they sent on their employers’ account.

Several justices said today that the employer, the Ontario, California., police department, acted reasonably in monitoring the text messages in view of its written policy warning employees they have no guarantee of privacy in the use of office computer and electronics equipment.

Justice Stephen Gerald Breyer said he didn’t see “anything, quite honestly, unreasonable about that.”

While the case involves government workers, the decision could have broader privacy implications as courts continue to sort out privacy issues in the digital age. Many employers, including Ontario, tell workers there is no guarantee of privacy in anything sent over their company- or government-provided computers, cell phones or pagers.

The case arose when the Ontario department decided to audit text message usage to see whether its SWAT team officers were using them too often for personal reasons. Three police officers and another employee complained that the department improperly snooped on their electronic exchanges, including many that were said to be sexually explicit.

Three More Domestic Spying Programs Revealed

The Department of Homeland Security is acknowledging the existence of three more government programs charged with spying on American citizens in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The programs — Pantheon, Pathfinder and Organizational Shared Space — used a variety of software tools to gather and analyze information about Americans, according to documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting. The DHS turned over the papers in response to a December 2008 Freedom of Information Act request. The documents shed new light on the proliferation of domestic intelligence and surveillance efforts after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to the CIR:

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Google Reveals Number Of Goverment Censorship Requests Around The World

Google has done something pretty cool: it has released information on the number of government requests received to remove content, and the percentage of those requests Google complied with:

Like other technology and communications companies, we regularly receive requests from government agencies around the world to remove content from our services, or provide information about users of our services and products. The map shows the number of requests that we received between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009, with certain limitations.

We know these numbers are imperfect and may not provide a complete picture of these government requests. For example, a single request may ask for the removal of more than one URL or for the disclosure of information for multiple users.

WikiLeaks: Collateral Murder

WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded. For further information please visit the special project website www.collateralmurder.com.

Pentagon investigating alleged spy operation

WASHINGTON — A Department of Defense official is under investigation for allegedly hiring private contractors to gather intelligence on suspected insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a U.S. official said Monday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the case, told The Associated Press that Michael D. Furlong directed a defense contract to gather information about the region that could be shared with military units. After military officials suspected that he was using Defense Department money for an off-the-books spy operation, defense officials shut down that part of the contract, the official said.

The story was first reported by The New York Times in Monday’s editions, quoting unidentified military and business sources as saying that Furlong, now a senior civilian employee at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, hired subcontractors who had former U.S. intelligence and special forces operatives on their payrolls. The newspaper said some of the information collected by the contractors was used to track down and attack militants.

“The story makes some serious allegations and raises numerous unanswered questions that warrant further review by the department,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Monday.

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Cubans Nominate their Candidates

Havana, February 26 (RHC) –Thousands of Cubans began attending community meetings countrywide to nominate candidates suitable for the post of delegates to be elected by direct, secret voting in the upcoming polls, scheduled for April 25.

As part of the Cuban electoral system, based on mass participation of the population, nearly 51,000 such meetings have been held so far.

To be elected as delegate of his/her electoral district, the candidate has to win over 50 percent of the votes, with a second round supposed to be held seven days later if needed.

The post of delegate is exercised without remuneration. Those elected have the responsibility to be in constant touch with their electors in order to solve problems existing in their territories, and can be removed by the voters if their performance is poor.

The second step in the electoral process is the formation of municipal and provincial assemblies of the National Assembly of People’s Power of Cuba with the participation of the delegates elected by the people.

Google, NSA alliance posing security threats to users

A deal between internet giant Google and the US National Security Agency on cyber-attacks may pose serious threats to other countries’ national security and internet users.

Analysts worry the collaboration would allow Google’s data to flow to the spy agency. Journalists and experts have announced their concern over the deal as the National Security Agency (NSA) is known for intercepting private data.

During the Cold War, NSA worked with companies like Western Union to intercept and read millions of telegrams.

During the so-called US war on terror, the NSA has teamed up with telecommunications companies to eavesdrop on phone calls and internet traffic.

Google, founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998, has become the world’s largest internet search engine.

It runs more than 1 million servers in data centers around the world, processes more than 1 billion search requests and 20 petabytes of user-generated data every day.

RIP: DARPATech Mad-Science Fair Lives No More

The Pentagon’s biannual mad-science fair is no more. A Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency representative confirmed to IEEE Spectrum that the agency will no longer host its defense-technology showcase.

Bummer! The conferences were a favorite among defense and tech media: the latest-and-greatest in gear, gadgets and science, along with Pentagon-themed M&Ms and heaps of free swag (temporary tattoos, anyone?). The most recent DARPATech, in 2007, attracted 3,000 reporters, Pentagon officials and academics. And DARPA knows how to throw a party: The conference was held at a Marriott Hotel in Anaheim, California, across the street from Disneyland.

So why the sudden cancellation? Danger Room’s guess was on the money: At the last conference, we speculated that the best kept secret of DARPATech might be how much it costs.

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Idaho Bill Would Remove Personal Information of Law Enforcement Officials from Public Record

Idaho law enforcement officials support legislation that would remove personal information, such as home addresses and phone numbers, from the public record. Proponents say the measure is designed to promote the safety of law enforcement. The Idaho Press Club opposes the bill as it does goes against the presumption of openness in government.

Read more here.

North Carolina County Seeks to Remove Public Officials from Online Property Database

Mecklenburg County wants the public to use an online survey to weigh in on a debate over access to public officials’ tax information online.

Arguing that it is too easy for violent criminals to find out where public officials live, some North Carolina county and federal officials sent a letter to county commissioners asking them to allow law enforcement employees to remove their names from the county’s online database.

But officials say the property search tool would have to be removed in its entirety, instead of selectively removing a few names. Property would have to be searched online using only addresses or parcel numbers, but not owner names if the search tool were removed.

Read more here.

Homeland Security Releases Annual FOIA Report

The Department of Homeland Security has released the 2009 Freedom of Information Act Report. The report shows that the Department processed over 160,000 requests in the past year, with 27,182 requests remaining pending. Of the requests processed, 11% were granted in full, 60% were classified as “partial grants/partial denials,” and the remaining 29% were denied in full. The overwhelming majority of backlogged requests and appeals are pending at the Customs and Immigration Service. For denied requests with processed appeals, nearly 30% were fully reversed on appeal, and another 32% were reversed in part. EPIC currently has two FOIA cases pending against the Department relating to its use of Body Scanner machines. For more information, see EPIC v. DHS, EPIC FOIA Litigation Docket.

Proposed Law Would Extend FOIA Reach to Private Prisons

Congress is considering proposed legislation to extend the Freedom of Information Act to private prisons that contract with government agencies. At present, the companies that run private prisons say they are not subject to FOIA because they are not public agencies.

Read more about H.R. 2450 here. (Private Prison Information Act of 2009)

Announcing Venezuela’s first and only English Language Newspaper, THE CORREO DEL ORINOCO INTERNATIONAL

Caracas, 22 January 2010 – This Friday, Venezuela celebrates the launching of its first and only English language newspaper, the

Correo del Orinoco International.

While in the past other English-language publications have existed, none remain in circulation today, and no others have been created during the Bolivarian Revolution.

Editor-in-Chief Eva Golinger explained,

“This will be the first newspaper of its kind in Venezuela. We will produce news and information for an international audience, but from the Venezuelan perspective. Most of the news that’s out there in English comes from international news agencies that report with a biased perspective and tend to ignore important human interest stories that paint a positive picture of the Hugo Chávez government.”

“Our most important mission is to combat the massive media manipulation and information blockade against Venezuela and to inform the international community about many incredible events taking place daily inside Venezuela that rarely receive attention from the corporate media”.

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War Criminals: Arrest Warrants Requested

International arrest warrants have been requested for George W. Bush, Richard B. Cheney, Donald H. Rumsfeld, George J. Tenet, Condoleeza Rice and Alberto R. Gonzales at the International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands.

Professor of Law Francis Anthony Boyle of the University of Illinois College of Law in Champain, United States of America, has issued a Complaint with the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court against the above-mentioned for their practice of “extraordinary rendition” (forced disappearance of persons and subsequent torture) in Iraq and for criminal policy which constitutes Crimes against Humanity in violation of the Rome Statute which set up the ICC.

As such, the Accused (mentioned above) are deemed responsible for the commission of crimes within the territories of many States signatories of the Rome Statute, in violation of Rome Stature Articles 5 (1)(b), 7 (1)(a), 7 (1)(e), 7 (1)(g), 7(1)(h), 7(1)8i) and 7(1)(k). Despite the fact that the USA is not a signatory State, the ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute under Article 12 (2)(a) of the Rome Statute.

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Pentagon Report Calls for Office of “Strategic Deception”

The Department of Defense needs to get better at lying and fooling people about its intentions. That’s the conclusion from an influential Pentagon panel, the Defense Science Board (DSB), which recommends that the military and intelligence communities join in a new agency devoted to “strategic surprise/deception.”

Tricking battlefield opponents has been a part of war since guys started beating each other with bones and sticks. But these days, such moves are harder to pull off, the DSB notes in a January report (.pdf) first unearthed by InsideDefense.com. “In an era of ubiquitous information access, anonymous leaks and public demands for transparency, deception operations are extraordinarily difficult. Nevertheless, successful strategic deception has in the past provided the United States with significant advantages that translated into operational and tactical success. Successful deception also minimizes U.S. vulnerabilities, while simultaneously setting conditions to surprise adversaries.”

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David Kelly post mortem to be kept secret for 70 years as doctors accuse Lord Hutton of concealing vital information

Vital evidence which could solve the mystery of the death of Government weapons inspector Dr David Christopher Kelly will be kept under wraps for up to 70 years.

In a draconian – and highly unusual – order, Lord Hutton, the peer who chaired the controversial inquiry into the Dr Kelly scandal, has secretly barred the release of all medical records, including the results of the post mortem, and unpublished evidence.

The move, which will stoke fresh speculation about the true circumstances of Dr Kelly’s death, comes just days before Tony Blair appears before the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War.

It is also bound to revive claims of an establishment cover-up and fresh questions about the verdict that Dr Kelly killed himself.

Tonight, Dr Michael Powers QC, a doctor campaigning to overturn the Hutton findings, said: ‘What is it about David Kelly’s death which is so secret as to justify these reports being kept out of the public domain for 70 years?’

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United Nations report blasts US over human rights abuses

A United Nations report says the US has been violating basic human rights by kidnapping and holding terrorism suspects in secret detention centers during the past nine years.

The US is among dozens of countries that have kidnapped suspects, four independent UN rights investigators said in a year-long study based on flight data and interviews with 30 former detainees.

“On a global scale, secret detention in connection with counter-terrorist policies remains a serious problem,” they wrote in the 226-page report which is expected to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March.

“Secret detention as such may constitute torture or ill-treatment for the direct victims as well as their families,” the report said.

Victims and their families deserve compensation and those responsible should be prosecuted, said the four independent investigators.

The UN report explained that the purpose of the secret detentions was to cover up torture and inhuman treatment of the detainees in an effort to obtain information or silent the subjects.

The rights investigators said running facilities such as those used by the Nazis, the Soviet gulag system and Latin American dictatorships in the 1970s and ’80s, was banned under the internationally recognized laws laid out in the Geneva Conventions.

They also said establishment of secret detention could not be justified under any circumstances, including during states of emergency or armed conflict.
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Government posting wealth of data to Internet

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday is posting to the Internet a wealth of government data from all Cabinet-level departments, on topics ranging from child car seats to Medicare services.

The mountain of newly available information comes a year and a day after President Barack Obama promised on his first full day on the job an open, transparent government.

Under a Dec. 8 White House directive, each department must post online at least three collections of “high-value” government data that never have been previously disclosed.

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Police increasingly use false wiretapping charges to prevent video recordings

A South Florida model films a cop who is threatening to arrest her son and she gets arrested on felony charges.

An Oregon man films a cop who is roughing up his mentally ill friend and he gets arrested on felony charges.

And a Boston man films a cop arresting a drug suspect and he gets arrested on felony charges.

These are only a handful of people in this country who have been arrested in recent years on felony charges after doing something that is protected under the First Amendment.

Their charges? Illegal wiretapping or eavesdropping, a charge that never fails to get thrown out before reaching court. But by then, the damage is done. Their rights have been trampled on and police rarely get punished for making such unlawful arrests.

An article this week in the Boston Globe highlighted such arrests in the Boston area, but anybody who reads this blog knows these types of arrests occur on too much of a frequent basis around the country.

There are no hard statistics for video recording arrests. But the experiences of Surmacz and Glik highlight what civil libertarians call a troubling misuse of the state’s wiretapping law to stifle the kind of street-level oversight that cell phone and video technology make possible.

“The police apparently do not want witnesses to what they do in public,’’ said Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, who helped to get the criminal charges against Surmacz dismissed.

The laws on illegal wiretapping vary from state to state, but one thing is clear in all states. A person must have had an expectation of privacy in order to become a victim.

In other words, if you are filming a cop in public, that cop does not have an expectation of privacy. Especially if that cop sees your camera.

For more information, check out the Field Guide to Secret Audio and Video Recordings.

Gerald Celente Interview – Words of wisdom

Gerald Celente in Wikipedia

Trends Research Institute

Trends Journal

Time for full disclosure of DNA databases

Editorial: Time for full and frank data disclosure

WHEN a defendant’s DNA appears to match DNA found at a crime scene, the probability that this is an unfortunate coincidence can be central to whether the suspect is found guilty. The assumptions used to calculate the likelihood of such a fluke – the “random match probability” – are now being questioned by a group of 41 scientists and lawyers based in the US and the UK.

These assumptions have never been independently verified on a large sample of DNA profiles, says the group. What’s more, whether some RMPs are truly as vanishingly small as assumed has been called into question by recent insights into DNA databases in the US and Australia.

The group, led by Dan Krane of Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, is demanding access to CODIS – the US national DNA database, which contains over 7 million profiles – so that they can test the assumptions behind RMPs. They have outlined their arguments in a letter, which was published in Science in December (vol 326, p 5960). “The national US database is a truly enormous source of data,” says signatory Larry Mueller of the University of California, Irvine (UCI).

Such research could reveal if incorrect RMPs are prompting jurors and judges to attach undue weight to DNA evidence, possibly leading to miscarriages of justice. Even if these fears are not borne out, independent checks on the DNA held in large databases like CODIS are vital to maintaining confidence in DNA evidence presented in courts all over the world, the group says. Access would also allow the number of errors in CODIS to be measured.

See also:  FBI resists scrutiny of “matches.”

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Federal Agencies Need Not Confirm or Deny Electronic Surveillance under FOIA

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed that the National Security Agency and the Department of Justice do not need to confirm or deny the existence of electronic surveillance records under the Freedom of Information Act. The appellate court found that federal agencies are allowed to file “Glomar” responses, which were first judicially recognized in 1976 and grant an agency express refusal to even confirm or deny the existence of any records responsive to a FOIA request in the national security context.

The lawsuit was brought by advocates for former Guantanamo Bay detainees after the agencies invoked FOIA exceptions to information request regarding warrantless electronic surveillance conducted by the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

Get more particulars here.

Ohio bill would prohibit broadcasting of 911 calls

Two Ohio state senators have proposed a bill that would prohibit the broadcasting of 911 telephone calls and levy a $10,000 fine for infractions.

The Society of Professional Journalists wrote a letter to the bill co-sponsors urging them to reconsider the proposed measure, saying it would diminish the media’s ability to report on breaking events.

“If audio recordings are banned from the public airwaves then it will be virtually impossible for citizens to hear how calls are being handled and effectively hold emergency response centers accountable,” the letter said. “Ohio courts traditionally have ruled in favor of disclosure of 911 tapes for all to hear for good reason — it ensures the public trust in its institutions regarding the safety and welfare of citizens.”

The bill’s proponents have argued that it would protect the identity of individuals placing emergency calls, but SPJ pointed out in its letter that identifying information would will be available in written transcripts.

Obama Curbs Secrecy of Classified Documents

WASHINGTON — President Obama declared on Tuesday that “no information may remain classified indefinitely” as part of a sweeping overhaul of the executive branch’s system for protecting classified national security information.

In an executive order and an accompanying presidential memorandum to agency heads, Mr. Obama signaled that the government should try harder to make information public if possible, including by requiring agencies to regularly review what kinds of information they classify and to eliminate any obsolete secrecy requirements.

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CRS Report – Privacy: An Overview of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping

Privacy: An Overview of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping, December 3, 2009

“Depending on one’s perspective, wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping are either “dirty business,” essential law enforcement tools, or both. This is a very general overview of the federal statutes that proscribe wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping and of the procedures they establish for law enforcement and foreign intelligence gathering purposes. Although the specifics of state law are beyond the scope of this report, citations to related state statutory provisions have been appended. The text of pertinent federal statutes and a selected bibliography of legal materials appear as appendices as well.”

Top Secret Brit Laptop Stolen

The theft of laptops with ‘top secret’ gov­ern­ment and military data has become a punch-​​​​line in the United Kingdom.

There were 28 lap­tops lost or stolen in the last four months and 66 in total since January 1, 2009. Looking back over the last 4 years there were 658 that van­ished. A major hunt is now on in London after a laptop crammed with secret data was stolen from inside the Ministry of Defence (MoD) nerve cen­ter. FROM THEIR HEADQUARTERS!

How embarrassing taken from right under the noses of the MoD leadership in Whitehall. If the theft of the laptop was not bad enough, the USB type encryption key needed to unlock the highly sensitive files was also taken. The loss was said to have occurred toward the end of November but news of the event did not leak out until late last week and was not confirmed until ear­lier this week.

The laptop was said to belong to a high-​​​​ranking Royal Air Force officer. One agency is reporting that a source inside MoD stated, “This has the potential to become one of the most serious security breaches at the Ministry for a very long time.” A spokesman for the MoD said that “an investigation by MoD police is ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

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FBI Releases Michael Jackon Files

Michael Joseph Jackson, a celebrity pop star, was born on August 29, 1958. He died unexpectedly on June 25, 2009 at the age of 50.

Between 1993 and 1994 and separately between 2004 and 2005, Mr. Jackson was investigated by California law enforcement agencies for possible child molestation. He was acquitted of all such charges. The FBI provided technical and investigative assistance to these agencies during the cases. The Bureau also investigated threats made against Mr. Jackson and others by an individual who was later imprisoned for these crimes.

This release consists of seven separate files, as described below:

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YouTube War: Fighting in a World of Cameras in Every Cell Phone and Photoshop on Every Computer

Terrorist attacks today are often media events in a second sense: information and communication technologies have developed to such a point that these groups can film, edit, and upload their own attacks within minutes of staging them, whether the Western media are present or not. In this radically new information environment, the enemy no longer depends on traditional media. This is the “YouTube War.” This monograph methodically lays out the nature of this new environment in terms of its implications for a war against media-savvy insurgents, and then considers possible courses of action for the Army and the U.S. military as they seek to respond to an enemy that has proven enormously adaptive to this new environment and the new type of warfare it enables.

Read summary

Download full study (134 pages)

NYPD Must Give NYCLU Data on Race of People Shot at by Police

A Supreme Court of the State of New York judge has ordered the New York City Police Department to turn over to the New York Civil Liberties Union data concerning the race of all people who were shot at by police officers between 1997 and 2006.

The NYCLU sued the NYPD in August 2008 for access to racial data about police shooting victims. In response to the lawsuit, the NYPD agreed to disclose the race of people who were shot by police officers between 1997 and 2006. It refused to release racial data about people who had been shot at by police officers but not struck by the bullets.

In an opinion dated Dec. 15, Supreme Court Judge Joan A. Madden ruled that the NYPD had not met its burden under the state’s Freedom of Information Law to withhold the data.

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In secret case, court rejects ‘total and permanent’ seal

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York (United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit) last week rejected a request to permanently seal the entire transcript of a criminal defendant’s sentencing.

The appeal remains shrouded in secrecy, with court documents, the charges, the defendant’s name, and even the defense attorney’s name sealed. Prosecutors declined to provide any information about the case, citing the court’s sealing order.

But the appellate court’s Dec. 14 opinion makes clear that U.S. District Judge John Gleeson denied a criminal defendant’s “motion for total and permanent sealing of his sentencing transcript.” Both the defendant and prosecutors asked the appellate court to overturn the Gleeson’s order, and it appointed separate counsel “to defend the district court judgment so that the appeal could be considered in an adversarial context.”

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Lithuania ‘hosted at least two secret CIA prisons’

A Lithuanian inquiry has found that the US Central Intelligence Agency set up and used secret prisons on its soil following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US.

Lithuania‘s intelligence agency assisted the CIA-run secret prisons, which were used to hold at least eight al-Qaeda suspects, the parliamentary panel in charge of the probe said in a report on Tuesday.

The National Security Committee report records instances in 2005 and 2006 when chartered planes were allowed to land in Lithuania, adding that all the Lithuanian officials, including President Dalia Grybauskaitė, were kept in the dark about the aircraft’s passengers.

The report, which is based on testimony of top politicians and intelligence officials, also sought to close the door on any charges of human rights violations on the grounds that no official was ever aware of exactly what was happening in the US-run prisons.

It said Lithuania’s State Security Department (Valstybės saugumo departamento) provided two facilities to the CIA.

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2 Mossad operatives institutionalized

One of the large mental health hospitals in Israel was recently surprised to receive a young, good-looking patient in a psychotic state who was accompanied by a personal security guard, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Sunday.

The doctors, who asked why the woman was accompanied by a guard, were shocked to learn that she was a Mossad agent and that the security guard was not assigned to her in order assure her safety or protect her life, but to ensure that she not reveal any state secrets in her shaky mental state.

The Mossad guard’s orders were clear: “It is forbidden that the organization’s secrets be passed on to those unauthorized to hear them.” The doctors, who are unaccustomed to the presence of a third party during their treatment sessions, were left with no choice but to acquiesce to their demands. In addition, the staff had to receive a security clearance before being allowed to work on her exceptional case.

To their complete amazement, another young woman, also accompanied by a secret agent charged with ensuring that the she not leak any state secrets, arrived at the institution just a short time later. The doctors learned that she, too, is a Mossad agent.

Experts said Saturday that the nature of the young women’s work was most likely the cause of their psychosis.

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Western federal courts can now videotape some trials

The body that oversees 15 western federal trial courts announced a pilot program yesterday that will allow the videotaping of some civil trials.

The Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit – the governing body for all federal courts in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands unanimously voted to allow the trial courts in those states to experiment with taping in civil cases tried without a jury.

Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski explained the Council hoped “that being able to see and hear what transpires in the courtroom will lead to a better public understanding of our judicial processes and enhanced confidence in the rule of law.”

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FBI Linguist Leaked Classified Docs to Blogger

An Israeli-American attorney who worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a translator pled guilty yesterday to unlawfully disclosing five classified FBI documents to an unidentified blogger last April, who then published information from the documents on his blog, the Department of Justice announced.

In a signed plea agreement (pdf), Shamai Leibowitz stipulated that he had “knowingly and willfully caused five documents, which were classified at the Secret level and contained classified information concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States, to be communicated… to a person not entitled to receive classified information (’Recipient A’).  Recipient A was the host of a public web log (’blog’) available to anyone with access to the Internet.”

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TSA Stonewalls Congress About Screening Manual Security Breach

On Wednesday, the Transportation Security Administration‘s (TSA) acting director insisted to Congress that the mistaken posting of secret airport screening procedures online posed no threat to holiday travelers because the procedures had changed, but refused to provide members of Congress with the newest version of the TSA’s screening manual to prove it.  And current and former TSA employees, who are familiar with the screening process have told ABC News that the procedures have changed little since the most sensitive data in the manual, including the weaknesses of airport X-ray machines, and sample CIA credentials – was improperly redacted and published on the Web.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE SCREENING MANUAL and HERE TO SEE THE SAMPLE CIA CREDENTIAL

Estimated Nuclear Weapons Locations 2009

Source

The world’s approximately 23,300 nuclear weapons are stored at an estimated 111 locations in 14 countries, according to an overview produced by Federation of American Scientists and Natural Resources Defense Council.

Nearly half of the weapons are operationally deployed with delivery systems capable of launching on short notice.

The overview is published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and includes the July 2009 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) memorandum of understanding data. A previous version was included in the annual report from the International Panel of Fissile Materials published last month.

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Report and Recommendations of the Presidental Task Force on Controlled Unclassified Information

Report and Recommendations of the Presidental Task Force on Controlled Unclassified Information

The Presidential Task Force on Controlled Information headed by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder recently released a report. This report provided findings and recommendations on current sensitive information sharing practices between federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.

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Ex-spy chief, Sir John Scarlett, accused of misleading Iraq Inquiry

Great Britain‘s former spy chief, Sir John McLeod Scarlett, misled the Iraq Inquiry by exaggerating the reliability of crucial claims about Saddam Hussein‘s ability to launch weapons of mass destruction, according to the leading Ministry of Defence expert who assessed the intelligence behind the decision to go to war.

Scarlett who was responsible for drafting the Government’s controversial 2002 dossier outlining the case for invading Iraq, claimed last week that intelligence indicating Iraq possessed missiles that could be launched within 45 minutes was “reliable and authoritative”.

But Scarlett’s evidence is contradicted by the most senior WMD analyst who saw the original intelligence. Brian Jones said that it was vague, inconclusive and unreliable.

Dr Jones, who was head of the nuclear, chemical and biological branch of the Defence Intelligence Staff in the run-up to the invasion, said that it was “absolutely clear” the intelligence the Government relied upon was coming from untried sources. The 45-minute claim was one of the key assertions that convinced Members of Parliament to take Britain to war.

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Republic of Lithuania’s spy chief quits after leak of CIA prison in Lithuania

The Republic of Lithuania‘s intelligence chief has resigned after news leaked out that the Central Intelligence Agency operated a secret prison in the country between 2004 and 2005.

Povilas Malakauskas, director of the Lithuanian State Security Department (Valstybės saugumo departamento), quit his job after two years in the position “partly” because of government efforts to investigate the details surrounding the CIA facility, a lawmaker told local media.

Arvydas Anušauskas, who heads a parliamentary committee investigating the prison, said much of the government probe could have been avoided if Malakauskas had simply told the truth about his department’s involvement in the CIA program.

According to Anušauskas, the resignation was first brought up in September, when the intelligence chief refused to provide information to investigators.

Malakauskas was forced to resign nearly a month after ABC News first revealed the location of the secret prison run by the US Central Intelligence Agency.

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