Tag: Justice Department

Another Shooting By Another White Extremist

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Last night a 59 year old white man with a criminal record and history of mental illness entered a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, killed two people wounded nine others before turning the gun on himself.

In the search for a motive, what police are now being found out about this man are quite disturbing. It put into question gun control and the lack of focus by law enforcement on America’s white supremacists.

Houser has allegedly posted messages to numerous online forums, suggesting that he held extreme right-wing views and sympathized with white supremacists. It cannot be independently confirmed that these online postings were made by Houser himself before the shooting. The postings on politicalforums.com seem to match based on his age and location. There is less to connect Houser to the postings on Twitter and Golden Dawn that are cited below by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

An individual who went by “John Russell Houser” created a profile on politicalforums.com, on which he included the phrases “believe media/gov’t censoring” and “believe US will be MAD MAX < 5 years.” Under the “Family” category, Houser wrote that “no family safe in US environment.” The profile identified the user as a 59-year-old male residing in Phenix City. [..]

An individual who used the username “Rusty Houser” also posted comments on a forum for Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi political party in Greece, as the Southern Poverty Law Center noted.

“Do not mistake yourselves for one minute, the enemy sees all posted on this website. I do not want to discourage the last hope for the best, but you must realize the power of the lone wolf, is the power that can come forth in ALL situations.Look within yourselves,” he wrote in one comment.

He also made racist comments in comments on the Golden Dawn forum. [..]

An individual who went by the name Rusty Houser posted on usmessageboard.com that, “Hitler accomplished far more than any other,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

And a Twitter handle for “john russell houser” published messages about the Westboro Baptist Church and censorship. [..]

Houser also served as the guest host on the “Rise and Shine” show on the Columbus, Ga. television station WLTZ, where he “invited political controversy on every one of them, and loved every minute of it,” according to LinkedIn. A former host for the station confirmed to the Associated Press that Houser appeared on his show, where he allegedly advocated for people to commit violence against those involved in abortion.

Houser has a criminal record — he was arrested for arson and selling alcohol to minors, but he had not had any run-ins with law enforcement in the past few years, according to police.

CNN reported that Houser was denied a conceal carry permit in 2006 and was treated for mental health issues in 2008 and 2009. The suspect’s wife sought a restraining order against Houser in 2008 because he “exhibited extreme erratic behavior and has made ominous as well as disturbing statements,” according to the Associated Press.

So, how and where did he get a gun? Why wasn’t this man targeted by law enforcement as a possible threat? Was it because he wasn’t Muslim?

The news that keep getting ignored by the media, law enforcement and our elected officials is that people are more likely to be killed or injured  by angry white man than they are by a Muslim jihadist.

In the 14 years since Al Qaeda carried out attacks on New York and the Pentagon, extremists have regularly executed smaller lethal assaults in the United States, explaining their motives in online manifestoes or social media rants.

But the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.

The slaying of nine African-Americans in a Charleston church last week, with an avowed white supremacist charged with their murders, was a particularly savage case.

But it is only the latest in a string of lethal attacks by people espousing racial hatred, hostility to government and theories such as those of the “sovereign citizen” movement, which denies the legitimacy of most statutory law. The assaults have taken the lives of police officers, members of racial or religious minorities and random civilians.

It’s time this is put in their proper perspectives and start keeping America safe from its homegrown terrorists.

The End of the Grimm Affair

Finally accepting his untenable position to remain in office, tough guy, Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY11) has decided to resign his House seat sparing the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn the embarrassment of having a convicted felon representing them. Mr. Grimm spoke yesterday with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) who obviously laid out the grim options (pardon the pun).

House rules dictate that a member convicted of a crime for which a prison sentence of two years or more may be imposed should not participate in committee meetings or vote on the floor until winning re-election. The stricture could have left Mr. Grimm’s 11th district effectively disenfranchised until 2016.

After sources leaked the news of the resignation to The New York Daily News early Monday, Mr. Grimm released a statement at midnight that he had changed his mind and would not stay in Congress, stating that he would resign on January 5th.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will set a date for a special election.

The judge should throw the book at him for deceiving the voters and using his office as a bargaining chip for a lighter sentence, as expalained by Blake Zeff at Salon:

It will take some time, specifically until the announcement of his criminal sentence, to fully appreciate the snow job Michael Grimm just pulled on Staten Island voters. But we already know plenty enough to call it a criminal’s virtuoso parting heist.

Grimm, you’ll recall, ran for reelection last month as a two-term GOP incumbent in socially conservative Staten Island, with a 20-count indictment on his back. The charges, largely misunderstood by the voters (and media, for that matter), essentially amounted to this: He ran a restaurant some years back, and in an effort to skirt payroll taxes, paid workers under the table and submitted a fake payroll to the feds. He was then caught lying about it when a “real” payroll was discovered by prosecutors in his computer records.

This last part is important because it tells you what Grimm knew: he had lied to federal officers (a crime that never gets ignored), and they had the goods on him. In other words, he was very likely going to prison – and he knew it. [..]

The congressman was clearly never going to serve out his term, nor would he take his case to trial, as he had assured voters.

But he had a very good reason to convince voters otherwise.

If you’re headed to prison but want to cop a deal with the feds, you need a chip you can bargain in exchange for a lighter sentence. And for a politician, there are few chips more valuable than a seat you can resign. If Grimm lost his race last November, he’d have been a disgraced former congressman with no seat to give up and, likely, real prison time. If he won, he’d have the golden House seat to drop in exchange for – he hoped – leniency.

It is the NYT article best sums up the end of this sad affair:

Whoever takes Mr. Grimm’s seat will be unlikely to match his track record as a source of national fascination, or satire. A tough-talking politician with a clenched jaw and an intense stare, a fondness for dark-tailored suits and Brooklyn wine bars, Mr. Grimm brought with him a reputation for controversy, including the time – back in his law enforcement days – when he reportedly waved a gun around a Queens nightclub. He carried himself with a bravado that was on display until the end.

Mr. Grimm knew this was coming when he was indicted for tax evasion last April. Instead of admitting it then and withdrawing from the race, he decided to arrogantly stand his ground and lie about his guilt, bringing unwanted attention to Staten Island and, now, costing NY tax payers millions for a special election. Never mind the money that his supporters donated to his campaign, they should have seen the handwriting on the wall. The IRS and FBI do not bring these charges unless they can win. Remember Al Capone?

But too many Staten Island voters still love the tough guy image and swagger, hopefully this time they will make a better choice.

The Grimm Affair

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In a predictable fashion, convicted felon and admitted liar, Representative Michael Grimm refused to resign from his seat representing Staten Island and part of Brooklyn in New York’s Congressional District 11.

Representative Grimm said he had no intention of stepping down. “Absolutely not,” he said.

He sounded equally resolute when he declared himself “guilty” to Judge Pamela K. Chen of United States District Court in Brooklyn, who accepted his plea and noted that it included his signing of a “statement of facts” in which he acknowledged committing perjury, hiring illegal immigrants and committing wire fraud.

Judge Chen then commanded Mr. Grimm to return to court for sentencing on June 8. Federal prosecutors, who along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service have investigated Mr. Grimm for years, are seeking a penalty of at least two years in prison. His lawyers, some of whom joined the proceedings via conference call from Florida, are asking for a more lenient sentence and will almost certainly recommend probation.

However, Judge Chen didn’t sound like she would be considering probation:

“Do you understand all of the possible consequences of your guilty plea?” she asked.

“I do, Your Honor,” he said.

Judge Chen go site warned that she could “depart upward or downward” from sentencing guidelines. Mr. Grimm said he understood, and also acknowledged that he had forfeited his right to appeal any sentence less than 33 months in jail.

Mr. Grimm still doesn’t have the decency to resign. Nor did 54% of Staten Island voters have the decency to reject him, even though it was clear in November that Mr. Grimm would at least be convicted of the tax evasion charge. The IRS rarely loses. Now, not only was he guilty of tax evasion but admitted that he lied and that the other charges were fact. How fitting that the red district of NYC should be represented by a Crook and a liar.

It took MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow two segments to highlight just how embarrassing this will be for the GOP to have a felon serving in congress and Sadly, the few options to pressure Mr. Grimm to resign.

Tuesday’s Rachel Maddow Show started off with a brief review of crimers in Congress. It’s not as long a list as you might think! She focuses on California Republican Jay Kim, who was convicted of campaign fraud in 1998 and became the first – and so far, only – member of Congress who walked its hallowed halls wearing a monitoring bracelet attached to his ankle. Kim’s estranged wife said he was “the most crime-committing person I know.” He lost his primary that year and soon became the footnote he was destined to be.

Actual felons in Congress are something of a rarity, Maddow notes, because of a reassuring human tendency to eventually do the right thing – either the convicted Congressturds resign or the voters pick someone else.

In a laughable editorial, the conservative Staten Island Advance Editorial Board, with its usual right wing slant that this was a political witch hunt, has suggested that Mr. Grimm to step down:

Just two months ago, the Staten Island Advance urged voters to elect Michael Grimm to a third term in the Congress.

That while he faced a 20-count federal indictment in connection with a health food restaurant he owned prior to entering political life.

Voters overwhelmingly agreed.

Today, we think Mr. Grimm would be right to step down from his position in the United States Congress. [..]

We have little doubt that legions of Mr. Grimm’s supporters will stand by him, and defend him.

But we also have little doubt that many on Staten Island are feeling their trust was misplaced and they were betrayed.

Over almost half a century, three different Staten Island representatives to the United States Congress have surrendered their better judgment, squandering their own significant talents that, in each instance, could have brought pride to our borough.

Instead, they brought embarrassment.

There are certain people who must be held to high standards in America. In recent months, we have seen so many examples of that. Police immediately come to mind. So does the mayor of New York.

People with whom we place our trust.

A United States congressman must be at, or certainly near, the top of that list.

Mr. Grimm the restaurateur didn’t let us down when he played fast and loose with the books. Mr. Grimm the Staten Island congressman did, when he played fast and loose with the truth.

This isn’t going away until Mr. Grimm goes away, hopefully, to prison where perhaps he’ll learn a little humility.

Rep. Michael Grimm Will Plead Guilty to Tax Invasion: Up Date

click here Up Date 6:00 PM ET: Rep/ Grimm announced that he will not resign his House seat despite now being a convicted felon and possibly facing up to 3 years in prison.

watch Up Date 3:00 PM ET 12/23/14: Rep. Micheal Grimm Brooklyn Federal Court to a count of felony tax fraud. He issued the plea before Judge Pamela K. Chen shortly after 1:30 PM ET.

His status in Congress and whether or not he resigns was not part of the plea deal.

He could face a worst-case scenario of 24 to 30 months in prison.

Sentencing was scheduled for June 8 at 10:30 a.m.

Sources told the press this afternoon that Staten Island’s Repubkican Representative Michael Grimm (NY-11) will plead guilty to a single felony count of tax evasion.

Mr. Grimm, a former Marine and agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who first ran for office as a law-and-order corruption fighter, is scheduled to appear in federal court in Brooklyn at 1 p.m. on Tuesday for a plea hearing, according to the docket sheet in his case, which provides no further detail.

He has said he would immediately resign if he were convicted. “If things don’t go my way, right? And I had to step down in January, then there will be a special election, and at least the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn can then have qualified candidates to choose from,” he told the radio talk-show host Geraldo Rivera in October.

After a lengthy investigation into allegations of campaign finance improprieties, federal prosecutors obtained a 20-count indictment in April charging Mr. Grimm with underreporting wages and revenue while he was running a restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan called Healthalicious.

The charge carries a a penalty of up to three years in prison. However, as a first offender the judge may wave prison. Mr. Grimm has been very careful to couch his statements about stepping down if he was convicted. At his debate with Democratic Challenger Dominic Recchia, he was asked if he would resign if found guilty. He cautiously responded, “”Certainly, if I was not able to serve then of course I would step aside and there would be a special election.” If the judge is lenient, as many expect is likely, it would be up to the Republican led House to expel him.

Just prior to his latest legal predicament, Mr. Grimm displayed his bad temper when he threatened to throw NY-1 reporter, Michael Scotto, off the balcony of the Capitol Rotunda after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. After a lot of negative press he apologized to Mr. Scotto, who said he would not press charges.

From the New York Times article, Mr. Grimm’s troubles are not over. He is still under federal investigation for his campaign finances, the potential mob ties of one of his business associates and the illegal activities of another.

Mr. Grimm continues to be an embarrassment to the Republican Party and people he represents, even though many of them still support him. He should just resign and slink away.

US: Silencing news sources?

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=side-effects-of-prednisone-steroids-lupus After the seizure of AP’s phone records, we ask if the US is still the land of the free for journalists and sources.

On May 10th, the Associated Press news agency received an email from the US Department of Justice saying that records of more than 20 phone lines assigned to its reporters had been secretly seized as part of an investigation into a government leak.

The government claimed it was a matter of national security, while the AP called it an unprecedented intrusion into its newsgathering operations. But should the journalistic community be so surprised? With the Obama White House’s track record on whistleblowers and WikiLeaks, the move to spy on AP seems consistent with an administration more committed to secrecy than ever before.

The United States is really starting to act like those one party democracies which are so abundant here in Asia.  In those countries the governments use national security laws, which like the USA Patriot Act are so broad in there scope that anyone can be prosecuted under them.   Singapore and Malaysia are prime examples of this.  While South Korea my have elections and governments change one can still be arrested and prosecuted for simply  reposting tweets from North Korea’s official account all done using sarcasm.    

Still Bailing Out the Banks

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Nearly a year ago Rolling Stone contributing editor, Matt Taibbi wrote about how the Bank of America had defrauded everyone yet the US government kept bailing it out. They got a slap on the wrist and a paltry $$137 million fine for bilking needy schools and cities all the while plotting to rig global interest rates. In that same article from March 29th, 2012, Matt noted that BoA was still failing, yet they were still being bailed out. Why? The government’s excuse then and still is that they are too big to fail and too big too jail.

This was not fixed by Dodd-Frank and the promise to investigate the mortgage fraud and hold the banks accountable for bringing down the housing market and the economy along with it never materialize.

On Saturday in her New York Times article Gretchen Morgenson revealed that, we, the American taxpayer, are still bailing out Bank of America in secret deals :

That the New York Fed would shower favors on a big financial institution may not surprise. It has long shielded large banks from assertive regulation and increased capital requirements.

Still, last week’s details of the undisclosed settlement between the New York Fed and Bank of America are remarkable. Not only do the filings show the New York Fed helping to thwart another institution’s fraud case against the bank, follow url they also reveal that the New York Fed agreed to give away what may be billions of dollars in potential legal claims.

Here’s the skinny: Late last Wednesday, the New York Fed said in a court filing that in July it had released Bank of America from all legal claims arising from losses in some mortgage-backed securities the Fed received when the government bailed out the American International Group in 2008. One surprise in the filing, which was part of a case brought by A.I.G., was that can i still get accutane the New York Fed let Bank of America off the hook even as A.I.G. was seeking to recover $7 billion in losses on those very mortgage securities.

It gets better.

What did the New York Fed get from Bank of America in this settlement? Some $43 million, it seems, from a small dispute the New York Fed had with the bank on two of the mortgage securities. http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=dove-comprare-viagra-generico-200-mg-pagamento-online-a-Verona At the same time, and for no compensation, it released Bank of America from all other legal claims.

[…] To anyone interested in holding banks accountable for mortgage improprieties, the Fed’s actions are bewildering. If the Fed intended that Maiden Lane II own the right to sue Bank of America for fraud, why didn’t it pursue such a potentially rich claim on behalf of taxpayers? The Fed made $2.8 billion on the Maiden Lane II deal, but the recovery from Bank of America could have been much greater. Why did it instead release Bank of America from these liabilities and supply declarations that seem to support the bank in its case against A.I.G.?

The New York Fed would not discuss this matter, citing the litigation. But taxpayers, who might have benefited had the New York Fed brought fraud claims, deserve answers to these questions.

[…] A New York Fed spokesman said it supported the settlement because it would generate significant value without potentially high litigation costs.

enter Let’s recap: For zero compensation, the New York Fed released Bank of America from what may be sizable legal claims, knowing that A.I.G. was trying to recover on those claims.

If they’re too big to fail, to big to jail then these banks should be too big to exist.

The “Untouchable ” Banks (Up Date)

Cross posted by The Stars Hollow Gazette

“Too big to fail” now according to the Justice Department, “too big to jail.” The PBS news series, Frontline “investigates why Wall Street’s leaders have escaped prosecution for any fraud related to the sale of bad mortgages” in its presentation of “The Untouchables.”

Transcript can be read here

Phil Angelides: Enforcement of Wall St. is “Woefully Broken”

Phil Angelides was chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which was created by Congress in 2009 to investigate the causes of the crisis. In its report, submitted in January 2011, the commission concluded that the crisis was avoidable, a result of excessive risk taking, failures of regulation and poorly prepared government leaders. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on Oct. 11, 2012.

Lanny Breuer: Financial Fraud Has Not Gone Unpunished

Lanny Breuer serves as assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. He told FRONTLINE that when fraud from the financial crisis has been detected, the Department of Justice has pursued charges. “But when we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was criminal intent, then we have a constitutional duty not to bring those cases,” Breuer said. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on Nov. 30, 2012.

Too Big To Jail? The Top 10 Civil Cases Against the Banks

by Jason M. Breslow

The Justice Department’s initial response to the financial crisis did not take long to materialize. In June 2008, three months before the Lehman Brothers collapse, the department brought its first criminal case, charging two former Bear Stearns executives with securities fraud for their alleged roles inflating the housing bubble.

A little more than a year later, a jury found the executives not guilty, dealing the DOJ an early setback. Since then, government investigations into the crisis have almost exclusively centered on civil charges, which requires prosecutors establish guilt beyond a preponderance of the evidence. The bar is higher in criminal cases, requiring they prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here are 10 of the most prominent of those cases to date. In nearly all, the government won multi-million dollar settlements, but the companies and officials involved were not required to admit wrongdoing.

Secrets and Lies of the Bailout

by Matt Taibbi

enter site The federal rescue of Wall Street didn’t fix the economy – it created a permanent bailout state based on a Ponzi-like confidence scheme. And the worst may be yet to come

It has been four long winters since the federal government, in the hulking, shaven-skulled, Alien Nation-esque form of then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, committed $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue Wall Street from its own chicanery and greed. To listen to the bankers and their allies in Washington tell it, you’d think the bailout was the best thing to hit the American economy since the invention of the assembly line. Not only did it prevent another Great Depression, we’ve been told, but the money has all been paid back, and the government even made a profit. No harm, no foul – right?

Wrong.

It was all a lie – one of the biggest and most elaborate falsehoods ever sold to the American people. We were told that the taxpayer was stepping in – only temporarily, mind you – to prop up the economy and save the world from financial catastrophe. What we actually ended up doing was the exact opposite: committing American taxpayers to permanent, blind support of an ungovernable, unregulatable, hyperconcentrated new financial system that exacerbates the greed and inequality that caused the crash, and forces Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to increase risk rather than reduce it. The result is one of those deals where one wrong decision early on blossoms into a lush nightmare of unintended consequences. We thought we were just letting a friend crash at the house for a few days; we ended up with a family of hillbillies who moved in forever, sleeping nine to a bed and building a meth lab on the front lawn.

source Up Date: After his appearance on “Frontline”, Yves Smith at naked capitalism delightedly announced the news that Lanny Breuer, former Covington & Burling partner and more recently head of the criminal division at the Department of Justice, had his resignation leaked today.

Never mind resign, why hasn’t Obama fired him?

Why Can’t The Feds Prosecute Systemic Fraud?

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In 2007, Eileen Foster, a former executive vice president in charge of fraud investigations for Countrywide Financial Corp., and her team began looking through documents in the company’s mortgage division. What she uncovered was massive fraud that was being committed on a daily basis. When Countrywide was acquired by Bank of America in 2008, Ms. Foster was fired for “inappropriate and unprofessional conduct.”

Ms. Foster filed a wrongful termination lawsuit with the Department of Labor. During her three year fight to clear her name, the extensive fraud committed by Countrywide employees and executives came to light. Bank of America, as typical, says that this in nothing new and the claims against Countrywide were settled. In the first part of a two part article by Michael Hudson published at i-Watch News, recounts the extent of the fraud committed by Countrywide employees, condoned by executives and covered up by BoA:

In government records and in interviews with iWatch News, Foster describes other top-down misconduct:

   

  • She claims Countrywide’s management protected big loan producers who used fraud to put up big sales numbers. If they were caught, she says, they frequently avoided termination.
  •    

  • Foster claims Countrywide’s subprime lending division concealed from her the level of “suspicious activity reports.” This in turn reduced the number of fraud reports Countrywide gave to the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
  •    

  • Foster claims Countrywide failed to notify investors when it discovered fraud or other problems with loans that it had sold as the underlying assets in “mortgage-backed” securities. When she created a report designed to document these loans on a regular basis going forward, she says, she was “shut down” by company officials and told to stop doing the report.
  • Eileen Foster appeared on 60 Minutes in an interview with Steve Kroft:

    60 Minutes also interviewed the head of the criminal division at the Department of Justice, Larry Brewer asking him about the lack of prosecutions that could be done under the Sarbanes-Oxley law. Brewer’s response was “he thinks nobody ‘lacks confidence’ in the department’s ability to prosecute financial crime”:

       60 MINUTES: We spoke to a woman at Countrywide who was a senior vice president for investigating fraud and she said that the fraud inside countrywide was systemic. That it was basically a way of doing business.

       BREWER: Well, it’s hard for me to talk about a particular case. Of course in the Countrywide case, terrific office, US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, investigated that. Interviewed many, many people. Hundreds of people, perhaps. Reviewed millions of documents.

       60 MINUTES: Do you lack confidence in bringing cases under Sarbanes-Oxley?

       BREWER: Steve, no one is really has accused this Department of Justice, or this division, or me of lacking confidence. If you look at the prosecutors all over the country, they are bringing record cases with respect to all kinds of criminal laws. Sarbanes-Oxley is a tool, but it’s only one tool. We’re confident. We follow the facts and the law wherever they take us. And we’re bringing every case that we believe can be made.

    Some state attorney generals are filing suits and conducting investigations. Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley filed papers in state court suing five major mortgage lenders, including Bank of America, and MERS. Meanwhile, there have been no federal prosecutions of any top level executives and federal prosecutions of financial fraud have fallen to a 20 year low but thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters have been arrested.

    As Zaid Jilani concludes at Think Progress:

    After all, allowing criminals to help cause a global recession that plunged 60 million people into extreme poverty and then proliferate in an industry will only sully its reputation.

    Alberto Gonzales (Abu Gonzo) Free and Clear

    Yesterday the story snuck out with little fanfare that the two year investigation of Alberto Gonzales, former US Attorney General under the Bush Administration, had concluded. The special prosecutor  in the case, Nora Dannehy, did not find anything Gonzo did or didn’t recall doing or saying regarding the firing of former US Attorney David Inglesias to be criminal in nature.  Unprincipled behavior, yes. Criminal, no.

    Confused?   Does it feel as though Justice is being denied?

    In case you can’t recall the details, or in case you’ve blotted them from your mind intentionally, see more on the flip side.

    Spying on you, it turns out, is lucrative!

    Get ready.  Turns out that spying on Americans is a lucrative business.   Yes, it’s becoming its own “Industry”.   Soon we’ll have a Domestic Spying Lobby, Domestic Spying Foundations, Domestic Spying Majors at Universities.

    All this time, I thought they did it because, well, they were evil.   You know, that whole “power corrupts” thing.   But no, it’s really pretty mundane anymore — you can sell the info that you get on your customers.   I guess companies have always done this, but instead of giving your phone number to annoying telemarketers, they are giving a record of your whereabouts, and everything you’ve ever said on the phone, to the fucking GOVERNMENT.

    Here’s one little story about it:

    Yahoo: Our spying policy would ‘shock’ customers

    A little-noticed letter from Yahoo! to the US Marshals Service offers troubling insight into the surveillance policies of one of the Internet’s largest email providers.

    In response to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking details of Yahoo’s! policies allowing the Justice Department to request wiretaps of its users and the amount they charge US taxpayers per wiretap — the search engine leviathan declared in a 12-page letter that they couldn’t provide information on their approach because their pricing scheme would “shock” customers. The news was first reported by Kim Zetter at Wired.

    “It is reasonable to assume from these comments that the [pricing] information, if disclosed, would be used to “shame” Yahoo! and other companies — and to “shock” their customers,” a lawyer for the company writes. “Therefore, release of Yahoo!’s information is reasonably likely to lead to impairment of its reputation for protection of user privacy and security, which is a competitive disadvantage for technology companies.”

    Yahoo! also argues that because their price sheet for wiretaps was “voluntarily submitted” to the US Marshals Service, it is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act law.

    Verizon, meanwhile, says (letter PDF) they can’t provide details on how much they charge for wiretaps because it would be “confusing.”

    Hell, why can’t the Justice Department just come to us first?   I mean, if they wanted to buy a record of my e-mails and my whereabouts, shouldn’t they offer me the money first?   I’ll gladly tell them!   I’ll wear a goddamn ankle bracelet for them if the price is right!   No need to go to Yahoo at all.   But no, it’s always Corporate Welfare First with these people …..

    Here’s the other story:


    Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers’ (GPS) location information over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009. This massive disclosure of sensitive customer information was made possible due to the roll-out by Sprint of a new, special web portal for law enforcement officers.

    8 million times!   Holy shit!   How do they even have the personnel to handle that kind of info-tsunami?   WTF is up with that?    I’m a Sprint customer, did they pay for my records?   Again, I’ll gladly tell them if they want to pay me!   Or shit, just give me free phone service and they can do whatever they want with my records!   “Hey, honey.   I’m at the store.  Are we out of milk?  I can’t remember …..”

    And one of the links embedded here points to the fact that I’m not joking around here, this really IS a business!

    Check out this proud corporate website!  

    http://www.issworldtraining.co…


    Intelligence Support Systems for Lawful Interception,

    Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Gathering

    ISS World Americas is the world’s largest gathering of North American, Caribbean and Latin American Law Enforcement, Intelligence and Homeland Security Analysts and Telecom Operators responsible for lawful interception, electronic investigations and network Intelligence gathering.

    ISS World Programs present the methodologies and tools to bridge the chasms from lawful intercept data gathering to information creation to investigator knowledge to actionable intelligence.

    Our 2010 Agenda is coming soon! Below find the agenda for our just completed 2009 conference.

    Nice!   Big Brother has gone public!   You, too, can have a career in spying on your neighbors.    I thought we won the cold war, and the Soviet Union was no more.   When did we turn into a capitalist version of it again?    Oh yeah, “911 changed everything blah blah blah blah”.   Fuck 9/11.    What Ben Franklin said.   If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up.   Something about deserving to lose your liberties.    

    Justice Department ‘halts?’ illegal NSA domestic spying

     

    The New York Times is reporting the NSA has been systematically spying on Americans without a warrant.

    The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year…

    Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic, although one official said it was believed to have been unintentional.

    According to the NSA, the “overcollection” has been happening because the agency is unable “at times to distinguish between communications inside the United States and those overseas”. “One official said that led the agency to inadvertently ‘target’ groups of Americans and collect their domestic communications without proper court authority.”

    From DoJ to CIA: Wiretapping, Torture, Stonewalling & Obstruction of Justice

    Two stories from today’s news highlight the hubris of the U.S. executive branch as regards its assumed right to conduct unrestrained surveillance of its citizens, and engage in torture in violation of all laws.

    Both Emptywheel at Firedoglake and Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com have done a stellar job tracking the Cheneyesque descent (H/T EW) of the Obama Justice Department when it comes to the question of executive privilege over classified material, especially when it comes to the courts. We already have witnessed the spectacle of the U.S. pressuring a British court on the suppression of documents in the Binyam Mohamed case.

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