Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Obama administration’ Category

The President’s protection is fraying badly

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Part of the shield that surrounds and protects the President is the common conviction that the shield is very tough and almost impossible to penetrate. But then we read:

A security contractor with a gun and three prior convictions for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama during a Sept. 16 trip to Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocols, according to three people familiar with the incident.

And a guy just ran into the White House through a front door. And it’s been established that one can fire multiple shots at the White House with a rifle and not be detected.

At some point, a crazy or a fanatic is going to think he can get through the shield because it clearly has enormous holes.

UPDATE: Do you get the feeling that President Obama gets less respect (Gov. Jan Brewer shaking her finger in his face) and less protection than other presidents? I wonder why that might be.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 September 2014 at 2:34 pm

Why we don’t trust law enforcement: They constantly lie

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See the previous post—and do click that link and read that story: whether you’re conservative or liberal, it’s bound to make your blood boil—and then read this post on the Secret Service simply lying about what happened. The Secret Service cannot even tell whether the White House has been fired upon, so perhaps the inability to speak the truth is just another instance of their disengagement from reality.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 September 2014 at 2:51 pm

Feds Instructed Police To Lie About Using Stingray Mobile Phone Snooping

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One reason that we do not trust the police, the FBI, and Federal government is that they are not trustworthy. Here’s a report of how the FBI asked the police to lie to the public:

We’ve been covering the increasingly widespread use of Stingray or similar mobile phone tower spoofing equipment by law enforcement. The stories have been getting increasingly bizarre lately, starting with the news that police were claiming that non-disclosure agreements prevented them from getting a warrant to use the technology. And then, there was the recent news that the federal government was regularly stepping in to claim ownership of documents related to the technology (even when it’s used by local police) in order to block them from being obtained under Freedom of Information laws. Just this morning, we wrote about some new evidence that police are claiming they need these devices to stop “weapons of mass destruction,” though they then just use them to spy on people suspected of everyday crimes instead.

Late last night, the ACLU came out with perhaps the most explosive information so far: a set of internal police emails showing that the US Marshals have been instructing police to lie to courts about the use of such devices. Specifically, rather than revealing the use of the tool, they’re told to just tell the court they got the information from a “confidential source.” While affidavits may initially note the use of such a device, the police are told to submit a new affidavit after the factwithout mentioning the Stingray, and seal the old one, so that it never becomes public. The key parts of the email are highlighted below:

Fed liesThis is highly questionable. Just to repeat: this is the federal government loaning out equipment to spoof mobile phone towers to spy on people and then instructing (practically demanding) that the police hide or suppress this information by claiming that it came from a “confidential source” and by sealing any affidavits that accidentally mention the use of the equipment. As the ACLU notes this practice “deprives defendants of their right to challenge unconstitutional surveillance .” It also seems like a fairly straightforward due process violation. This even goes beyond “parallel construction” in which illegal surveillance is concealed by “recreating” it in other ways. In this case, you have illegally obtained evidence… and then police are just told to lie to the court about it.

This is stunningly bad.

As some legal experts are quick to note,

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 September 2014 at 11:02 am

John Brennan is a dishonorable man

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John Brennan does not possess any sense of honor. That’s been evident for some time, but this article makes it glaringly clear.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 September 2014 at 11:20 am

Yet another unjustified shooting of an African-American by a white cop

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UPDATE: Radley Balko has a very thoughtful response to the South Carolina shooting.

This one was captured in full detail by the cop’s dashboard camera. Watch it and see whether you believe the shooting was justified.

The FBI is quite upset that Google and Apple are encrypting private communications between individuals so that the police and Federatl government cannot read them. The FBI should realize that this constanseries of shootings of unarmed civilians—and the complete lack of accountability for the police when they do it—has probably lowered our general trust of the police. And the deliberate lawbreaking of the Federal government—illegal mass surveillance, in secret, for example—and the deliberate lies to Congress to conceal what they are doing, and the spying on Congressional computers, not to mention systematic torturing of prisoners has damaged our trust in the Federal government’s willingness to obey the law.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 September 2014 at 11:12 am

Inside the New York Fed: Secret Recordings and a Culture Clash

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A report by Jake Bernstein in ProPublica that is well worth reading:

Barely a year removed from the devastation of the 2008 financial crisis, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York faced a crossroads. Congress had set its sights on reform. The biggest banks in the nation had shown that their failure could threaten the entire financial system. Lawmakers wanted new safeguards.

The Federal Reserve, and, by dint of its location off Wall Street, the New York Fed, was the logical choice to head the effort. Except it had failed miserably in catching the meltdown.

New York Fed President William Dudley had to answer two questions quickly: Why had his institution blown it, and how could it do better? So he called in an outsider, a Columbia University finance professor named David Beim, and granted him unlimited access to investigate. In exchange, the results would remain secret.

After interviews with dozens of New York Fed employees, Beim learned something that surprised even him. The most daunting obstacle the New York Fed faced in overseeing the nation’s biggest financial institutions was its own culture. The New York Fed had become too risk-averse and deferential to the banks it supervised. Its examiners feared contradicting bosses, who too often forced their findings into an institutional consensus that watered down much of what they did.

The report didn’t only highlight problems. Beim provided a path forward. He urged the New York Fed to hire expert examiners who were unafraid to speak up and then encourage them to do so. It was essential, he said, to preventing the next crisis.

A year later, Congress gave the Federal Reserve even more oversight authority. And the New York Fed started hiring specialized examiners to station inside the too-big-to fail institutions, those that posed the most risk to the financial system.

One of the expert examiners it chose was Carmen Segarra.

Segarra appeared to be exactly what Beim ordered. Passionate and direct, schooled in the Ivy League and at the Sorbonne, she was a lawyer with more than 13 years of experience in compliance – the specialty of helping banks satisfy rules and regulations. The New York Fed placed her inside one of the biggest and, at the time, most controversial banks in the country, Goldman Sachs.

It did not go well. She was fired after only seven months.

As ProPublica reported last year, Segarra sued the New York Fed and her bosses, claiming she was retaliated against for refusing to back down from a negative finding about Goldman Sachs. A judge threw out the case this year without ruling on the merits, saying the facts didn’t fit the statute under which she sued.

At the bottom of a document filed in the case, however, her lawyer disclosed a stunning fact: Segarra had made a series of audio recordings while at the New York Fed. Worried about what she was witnessing, Segarra wanted a record in case events were disputed. So she had purchased a tiny recorder at the Spy Store and began capturing what took place at Goldman and with her bosses.

Segarra ultimately recorded about 46 hours of meetings and conversations with her colleagues. Many of these events document key moments leading to her firing. But against the backdrop of the Beim report, they also offer an intimate study of the New York Fed’s culture at a pivotal moment in its effort to become a more forceful financial supervisor. Fed deliberations, confidential by regulation, rarely become public.

The recordings make clear that some of the cultural obstacles Beim outlined in his report persisted almost three years after he handed his report to Dudley. They portray a New York Fed that is . . .

Continue reading.

By all means, read the full story at the link. It’s lengthy and has some amazing revelatioins.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 September 2014 at 9:06 am

Strange omission: Obvious presidential law-breaking

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Strange such a major thing is not even mentioned in Jonathan Hafetz’s interesting op-ed in the NY Times. He writes:

President Obama has declined to pursue criminal charges against officials of George W. Bush’s administration for torture and other illegal conduct as part of the war on terror, declaring that the United States must “look forward, as opposed to looking backwards.” His administration declined not only to bring criminal prosecutions, but also to undertake a comprehensive investigation into torture. In contrast, a Senate committee is about to release a long-awaited summary of a 6,200-page “torture report,” after years of legal review and redactions.

The law absolutely requires an investigation into credible allegations of torture, the law in this case being the signed and ratified treaty known as the Convention Against Torture. That treaty, now signed and ratified, is thus a supreme law of the land. Obama decided simply to break the law. Congress is not holding him accountable, and it looks as if he will simply get away with it. But we should recognize that he is breaking the law. It will certainly be recognized at some later point.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 September 2014 at 4:30 am

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