Posts Tagged FBI

How Did The FBI Break Into iPhone?

From the EFF:

In addition, this new method of accessing the phone raises questions about the government’s apparent use of security vulnerabilities in iOS and whether it will inform Apple about these vulnerabilities. As a panel of experts hand-picked by the White House recognized, any decision to withhold a security vulnerability for intelligence or law enforcement purposes leaves ordinary users at risk from malicious third parties who also may use the vulnerability. Thanks to a lawsuit by EFF, the government has released its official policy for determining when to disclose security vulnerabilities, the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP).

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FBI Agents Involved In Oregon Standoff Shooting Under Investigation

From Oregon Live:

An FBI agent is suspected of lying about firing twice at Robert “LaVoy” Finicium and may have gotten help from four other FBI agents in covering up afterward, authorities revealed Tuesday.

Investigators gave no details to explain why the one FBI agent, a member of the Hostage Rescue Team, wouldn’t report the two shots. They also didn’t indicate what his four colleagues on the team did to warrant investigation other than saying it was related to conduct after the shooting.

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The Apple Case Could Violate The Thirteenth Amendment

If Apple is compelled to create a program that doesn’t exist for the government, that would be a type of slavery.

From Reason.com:

Instead, the DOJ has obtained the most unique search warrant I have ever seen in 40 years of examining them. Here, the DOJ has persuaded a judge to issue a search warrant for A THING THAT DOES NOT EXIST, by forcing Apple to create a key that the FBI is incapable of creating.

There is no authority for the government to compel a nonparty to its case to do its work, against the nonparty’s will, and against profound constitutional values. Essentially, the DOJ wants Apple to hack into its own computer product, thereby telling anyone who can access the key how to do the same.

If the courts conscripted Apple to work for the government and thereby destroy or diminish its own product, the decision would constitute a form of slavery, which is prohibited by our values and by the Thirteenth Amendment.

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Apple, Privacy and the FBI

It’s way more complicated than the pundits are saying. To be fully informed read these articles.

From the EFF:

…the FBI’s demands reflect a familiar pattern of security agencies leveraging the most seemingly compelling situations—usually the aftermath of terror attacks—to create powers that are later used more widely and eventually abused. The government programs monitoring the telephone system and Internet, for example, were created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Those programs came to undermine the rights of billions of people, doing more damage to our security than the tragic events that prompted their creation.

ArsTechnica discusses Fifth Amendment issues:

But the Fifth Amendment goes beyond the well-known right against compelled self-incrimination. The relevant part for the Apple analysis is: “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

The idea here is that the government is conscripting Apple to build something that it doesn’t want to do. That allegedly is a breach of its “substantive due process.” The government is “conscripting a company’s employees to become agents for the government,” as one source familiar with Apple’s legal strategy told Ars. The doctrine of substantive due process, according to Cornell University School of Law, holds “that the 5th and 14th Amendments require all governmental intrusions into fundamental rights and liberties be fair and reasonable and in furtherance of a legitimate governmental interest.”

Reason discusses the political battle over encryption:

This incident is only the latest conflict in a years-long encryption and security war waging between privacy- and security-minded groups and the law enforcement community. As more communications are digitized, authorities have been calling for industry assistance to build so-called government “backdoors” into secure technologies by hook or by crook.

Those in law enforcement fear a scenario where critical evidence in a terrorism or criminal case is beyond the reach of law enforcement because it is protected by strong encryption techniques that conceal data from anyone but the intended recipient. Hence, leaders at agencies like the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Security Agency, along with President Obama, have weighed in against strong encryption.

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Is The FBI Dragging Their Feet To Update NICS?

From Guns.com:

The FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division planned to launch the two-phased project on July 14, but postponed it for unspecified reasons. The bureau has not announced a new “go-live” date, but said rescheduling would not interfere with the peak fall sales season.

The system’s postponement comes on the heels of FBI Director James Comey informing reporters about how a clerical error during the screening process in April allowed a South Carolina man with felony drug charges to pass a background check before buying a handgun.

 

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Homegrown Terrorists

From The RAND Corporation:

Dozens of young Americans like Nguyen have attempted to join overseas jihadist groups in the past several years, raising special concern among counterterrorism officials that they might bring the fight home with them when they return. The threat was punctuated with gunfire earlier this year, when two French brothers—Chérif and Saïd Kouachi—stormed the Paris offices of the news magazine Charlie Hebdo; both had reportedly trained with groups in Yemen and then slipped back into French society.

A RAND analysis by internationally renowned terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins of more than 100 cases found that almost all of the American jihadists who went overseas ended up dead or landed in the same place as Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen. Brought down by his trusted confidante, who was really working undercover for the FBI, Nguyen admitted in court that he was trying to get to Pakistan to help train al Qaeda fighters. He was sent to prison for 13 years.

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Surveillance Planes Tracked Over Baltimore

From The Washington Post:

Discovery of the flights — which involved at least two airplanes and the assistance of the FBI — has prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to demand answers about the legal authority for the operations and the reach of the technology used. Planes armed with the latest surveillance systems canmonitor larger areas than police helicopters and stay overhead longer, raising novel civil liberties issues that have so far gotten little scrutiny from courts.

 

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When Is a NICS Check Required?

From Prince Law Offices, P.C.:

It’s no secret that ATF told at least one FFL they need to run a NICS check on trustees picking up NFA firearms on behalf of a trust. In a letter addressed toDakota Silencer, ATF explained:

The term “person” is defined by the GCA at 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(1), to include “any individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, society, or joint stock company.”

ATF has interpreted the GCA exception in sections 922(t)(3)(B) and 478.102(d)(2) to mean that firearms transfers are exempt from a NICS check when they have been approved under the NFA to the person receiving the firearm. Unlike individuals, corporations, partnerships, and associations; unincorporated trusts do not fall within the definition of “person” in the GCA.

Because unincorporated trusts are not “persons” under the GCA, a Federal firearms licensee (FFL) cannot transfer firearms to them without complying with the GCA. Thus, when an FFL transfers an NFA firearm to a trustee or other person acting on behalf of a trust, the transfer is made to this person as an individual (i.e., not as a trust). As the trustee or other person acting on behalf of the trust is not the approved transferee under the NFA, 18 U.S.C. 5812, the trustee or other person acting on behalf of a trust must undergo a NICS check. The individual must also be a resident of the same State as the FFL when receiving the firearm.

There is a lot of technical legal speak in this post but it is fascinating how the government has spun such a tangled web of laws that may actually cancel out or contradict one another.

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How To Prevent The Government From Spying On Your Cellphone

From Democracy Now:

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The New Secret Police: Undercover Agents Explode In U.S.

The New York Times reports on the increasing use of undercover agents by the federal government:

Undercover work, inherently invasive and sometimes dangerous, was once largely the domain of the F.B.I. and a few other law enforcement agencies at the federal level. But outside public view, changes in policies and tactics over the last decade have resulted in undercover teams run by agencies in virtually every corner of the federal government, according to officials, former agents and documents.

Across the federal government, undercover work has become common enough that undercover agents sometimes find themselves investigating a supposed criminal who turns out to be someone from a different agency, law enforcement officials said. In a few situations, agents have even drawn their weapons on each other before realizing that both worked for the federal government.

 

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Law Enforcement Upset Over New Smartphone Security

From Bloomberg:

The dispute is the latest flare-up that pits the federal government against the nation’s leading technology companies since National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden disclosed last year the extent of U.S. snooping on phone and Internet communications — and how companies cooperated.

U.S. Justice Department and FBI officials are trying to understand how the new Apple and Google Android systems work and how the companies could change the encryption to make it accessible when court ordered. Their requests to the companies may include letters, personal appeals or congressional legislation, said a federal law official who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.

 

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Showdown In Nevada Between Rancher and the Feds

Armed federal agents from the FBI and Bureau of Land Management have surrounded a ranch in Nevada in order to protect an endangered tortoise.

From The Washington Free Beacon:

His wife, Carol Bundy, said that roughly 200 armed agents from the BLM and FBI are stationed around their land, located about 75 miles outside of Las Vegas. Helicopters circle the premises, and the airspace and nearby roads remain blocked.

As of Monday, officials have seized 234 of Bundy’s 908 cattle. Impounding the cattle alone could cost the government as much as $3 million.

When the priority of the government goes this far astray is when people get hurt. Let’s hope the situation is resolved in a just manner.

Local news report:

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Malcolm Gladwell on the Tragedy of The Branch Davidians

From The New Yorker:

Outside the Mount Carmel complex, the F.B.I. assembled what has been called probably the largest military force ever gathered against a civilian suspect in American history: ten Bradley tanks, two Abrams tanks, four combat-engineering vehicles, six hundred and sixty-eight agents in addition to six U.S. Customs officers, fifteen U.S. Army personnel, thirteen members of the Texas National Guard, thirty-one Texas Rangers, a hundred and thirty-one officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety, seventeen from the McLennan County sheriff’s office, and eighteen Waco police, for a total of eight hundred and ninety-nine people. Their task, as they saw it, was to peel away the pretense—Koresh’s posturing, his lies, his grandiosity—and compel him to take specific steps toward a resolution.

Here is Gladwell discussing his piece and what got him interested in what happened in Waco:

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FBI Changes Primary Function To National Security

Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t we have the NSA, CIA, DIA and all branches of the military for national security?

From Foreign Policy:

The FBI’s creeping advance into the world of counterterrorism is nothing new. But quietly and without notice, the agency has finally decided to make it official in one of its organizational fact sheets. Instead of declaring “law enforcement” as its “primary function,” as it has for years, the FBI fact sheet now lists “national security” as its chief mission. The changes largely reflect the FBI reforms put in place after September 11, 2001, which some have criticized for de-prioritizing law enforcement activities. Regardless, with the 9/11 attacks more than a decade in the past, the timing of the edits is baffling some FBI-watchers.

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Coloring Book Sparks Muslim Outrage

From Examiner.com:

Wayne Bell, the Publisher of Really Big Coloring Books, Inc., of Clayton, Missouri, says the company has seen a negative backlash against the coloring book “We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom.”

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