September 10, 2013 archive

Sep 10

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Ex-FBI lawyer linked to surveillance abuses poised for federal judge post

Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Friday 6 September 2013 10.08 EDT

A former senior FBI official implicated in surveillance abuses is poised to become a federal judge in one of the US’s most important courts for terrorism cases.



Caproni has come under bipartisan criticism over the years for enabling widespread surveillance later found to be inappropriate or illegal. During her tenure as the FBI’s general counsel, she clashed with Congress and even the Fisa surveillance court over the proper scope of the FBI’s surveillance powers.



A 2010 report by the Department of Justice’s internal watchdog found that the FBI misused a type of non-judicial subpoena known as an “exigent letter” to improperly obtain more than 5,500 phone numbers of Americans.

“The FBI broke the law on telephone records privacy and the general counsel’s office, headed by Valerie Caproni, sanctioned it and must face consequences,” said John Conyers, then the chairman of the House judiciary committee, in April 2010, who called for then-FBI director Robert Mueller to fire her.



In an April 2008 House hearing, Caproni told lawmakers that if a phone number obtained from a telephone company using a nonjudicial subpoena ostensibly authorized by the Patriot Act was unrelated to a “currently open investigation, and there was no emergency at the time we received the records, the records are removed from our files and destroyed”.

In fact, the NSA, at the time of Caproni’s testimony and today, stores phone records such as phone numbers on practically all Americans for up to five years, whether or not they are connected to an “open investigation”.

Numerous intelligence, Justice Department and law enforcement officials have testified this summer that the NSA can pass phone records to the FBI that it has “reasonable articulable suspicion” are connected to terrorism, although NSA deputy director John C Inglis could not cite a single case where the phone records have clearly disrupted a domestic terror attack.

“Caproni knew that the Bush administration could use or was using the Section 215 provision in the Patriot Act to obtain Americans’ phone records on a broad scale, an issue that has recently been documented by the whistleblower material first printed in the Guardian,” said Graves, a former deputy assistant attorney general who dealt with Caproni extensively while working on national security issues for the ACLU.



A 2008 Justice Department inspector general’s report into surveillance under the Patriot Act found that Caproni clashed with the Fisa court, a secret court that oversees surveillance for the purposes of foreign intelligence, over the scope of the court’s authority.

The heavily redacted report found that in 2006, the Fisa court indicated it would not sign off on an FBI request for business records under section 215 of the Patriot Act – the section used to justify the bulk phone-records database – “because of first amendment concerns.” It is extremely rare for the Fisa court to deny the government a surveillance request.

Caproni, the FBI’s general counsel at the time, “told the OIG [office of inspector general] that the Fisa court does not have the authority to close an FBI investigation,” according to a footnote in the report.

Sep 10

Stephen Colbert: Kitten Subway Crisis & NYC Mayoral Race

Adapted from Rant of the Week at The Stars Hollow Gazette

Kitten Subway Crisis & NYC Mayoral Race

NYC mayoral candidate Joe Lhota goes after the key anti-kitten demographic after two lost kittens shut down America’s largest transportation system.

Kittens Stop NYC Subway Service

It only took two kittens to stop the city’s subway in its tracks.

Power was cut to the B and Q lines in Brooklyn for more than an hour after a woman reported Thursday morning that her kittens were loose in the nation’s largest subway system, transit officials said.

The furry felines, one black and the other white with gray stripes, were finally found on the tracks and rescued about seven hours later.

How they got there was a mystery. But they were seen running dangerously close to the high-voltage third rail.

Their owner rushed to a subway station with cat food for transit workers dispatched onto the tracks to use to try to corral them.

Joe Lhota, NYC Mayoral Hopeful, Wouldn’t Stop Trains For Kittens

A former chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority and New York City mayoral hopeful says he wouldn’t have stopped the subway because two lost kittens were scrambling along the tracks. [..]

Other mayoral hopefuls tell the paper they would’ve stopped the trains.

Fortunately, there are more cat lovers in NYC than Republican voters.

Sep 10

Syria: The Russian Monkey-wrench in US Plan

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Has Russia thrown a monkey-wrench into the US plan to bomb Syria? At a press conference in London, Secretary of State John Kerry, perhaps facetiously, suggested that if Syrian President Bashir al-Assad turned over Syria’s chemical weapons in a week, he could avoid having the a US  missile strike. Sec. Kerry added that he had no expectation that the Syrian leader would comply.

Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week – turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting.” He immediately dismissed the possibility that Mr. Assad would or could comply, saying: “But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done.”

Oops!

A seemingly offhand suggestion by Secretary of State John Kerry that Syria could avert an American attack by relinquishing all of its chemical weapons received a widespread, almost immediate welcome from Syria, Russia, the United Nations, a key American ally and even some Republicans on Monday as a possible way to avoid a major international military showdown in the Syria crisis. [..]

However, in Moscow, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, who was meeting with Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, said in response that Russia would join any effort to put Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons under international control and ultimately destroy them.

Mr. Lavrov appeared at a previously unscheduled briefing only hours after Mr. Kerry made his statement in London, seizing on it as a possible compromise.

Meanwhile, back on planer Washington, the White House is ramping up for an the attack by marching out National Security Advisor Susan Rice insisting that Assad must be punished because somehow he is a threat to national security. Of course she offered no proof that it was the Assad government that used the CW and completely ignored the Russian/Syrian offer to put whatever chemical weapons are in the governments possession under international control.

A saner minded Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she would “welcome” the offer.

“I believe that Russia can be most effective in encouraging the Syrian president to stop any use of chemical weapons and place all his chemical munitions, as well as storage facilities, under United Nations control until they can be destroyed,” Feinstein said in a statement Monday afternoon.

It would be nice to hear the same from the White House.

Sep 10

Cartnoon

Sep 10

On This Day In History September 10

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 10 is the 253rd day of the year (254th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 112 days remaining until the end of the year

On this day in 1776, Nathan Hale volunteers to spy behind British lines

On this day in 1776, General George Washington asks for a volunteer for an extremely dangerous mission: to gather intelligence behind enemy lines before the coming Battle of Harlem Heights. Captain Nathan Hale of the 19th Regiment of the Continental Army stepped forward and subsequently become one of the first known American spies of the Revolutionary War.

the Battle of Long Island, which led to British victory and the capture of New York City, via a flanking move from Staten Island across Long Island, Hale volunteered on September 8, 1776, to go behind enemy lines and report on British troop movements. He was ferried across on September 12. It was an act of spying that was immediately punishable by death, and posed a great risk to Hale.

An account of Nathan Hale’s capture was written by Consider Tiffany, a Connecticut shopkeeper and Loyalist, and obtained by the Library of Congress. In Tiffany’s account, Major Robert Rogers of the Queen’s Rangers saw Hale in a tavern and recognized him despite his disguise. After luring Hale into betraying himself by pretending to be a patriot himself, Rogers and his Rangers apprehended Hale near Flushing Bay, in Queens, New York. Another story was that his Loyalist cousin, Samuel Hale, was the one who revealed his true identity.

British General William Howe had established his headquarters in the Beekman House in a rural part of Manhattan, on a rise between 50th and 51st Streets between First and Second Avenues Hale reportedly was questioned by Howe, and physical evidence was found on him. Rogers provided information about the case. According to tradition, Hale spent the night in a greenhouse at the mansion. He requested a Bible; his request was denied. Sometime later, he requested a clergyman. Again, the request was denied.

According to the standards of the time, spies were hanged as illegal combatants. On the morning of September 22, 1776, Hale was marched along Post Road to the Park of Artillery, which was next to a public house called the Dove Tavern (at modern day 66th Street and Third Avenue), and hanged. He was 21 years old. Bill Richmond, a 13-year-old former slave and Loyalist who later became famous as an African American boxer in Europe, was reportedly one of the hangmen, “his responsibility being that of fastening the rope to a strong tree branch and securing the knot and noose.”

By all accounts, Hale comported himself eloquently before the hanging. Over the years, there has been some speculation as to whether he specifically uttered the famous line:

I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.

But may be a revision of:

I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged that my only regret is that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.

The story of Hale’s famous speech began with John Montresor, a British soldier who witnessed the hanging. Soon after the execution, Montresor spoke with the American officer William Hull about Hale’s death. Later, it was Hull who widely publicized Hale’s use of the phrase. Because Hull was not an eyewitness to Hale’s speech, some historians have questioned the reliability of the account

Sep 10

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning


Swirl

Sep 10

Late Night Karaoke