Later On

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

Archive for the ‘Law Enforcement’ Category

Lead/Crime Update: White Folks and Alabama Prisoners

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I think the lead/crime hypothesis is standing up very well. Here’s the latest from Devin Drum.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2017 at 7:07 pm

Lawsuit Seeks Transparency as Searches of Cellphones and Laptops Skyrocket at Borders

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I think borders generally are starting to close as countries batten down the hatches, as it were, in anticipation of the disruptions that climate change will bring. Certainly the U.S. military has been studying the national-security aspects of climate change. (OTOH, I know a young man who has a good job and a college degree, who totally denies the reality of climate change, seeing it as a political movement and conspiracy of scientists, with absolutely nothing to back it up. His attitude is not all that uncommon, I think.)

Murtaza Hussain reports in The Intercept:

A LAWSUIT FILED today by the Knight First Amendment Institute, a public interest legal organization based at Columbia University, seeks to shed light on invasive searches of laptops and cellphones by Customs and Border Protection officers at U.S. border crossings.

Documents filed in the case note that these searches have risen precipitously over the past two years, from a total of 5,000 searches in 2015 to 25,000 in 2016, and rising to 5,000 in the month of February 2017 alone. Among other questions, the lawsuit seeks to compel the federal government to provide more information about these searches, including how many of those searched have been U.S. citizens, the number of searches by port of entry, and the number of searches by the country of origin of the travelers.

Civil rights groups have long claimed that warrantless searches of cellphones and laptops by government agents constitute a serious invasion of privacy, due to the wealth of personal data often held on such devices. It is common for private conversations, photographs, and location information to be held on cellphones and laptops, making a search of these items significantly more intrusive than searching a simple piece of luggage.

A number of recent cases in the media have revealed instances of U.S. citizens and others being compelled by CBP agents to unlock their devices for search. In some instances, people have claimed to have been physically coerced into complying, including one American citizen who said that CBP agents grabbed him by the neck in order to take his cellphone out of his possession.

The legality of warrantless device searches at the border remains a contested issue, with the government asserting, over the objections of civil liberties groups, that Fourth Amendment protections do not apply at ports of entry. Some particularly controversial cases of searches at the border have involved journalists whose electronic data contains sensitive information about the identity of sources. Last year, a Canadian journalist was detained for six hours before being denied entry to the United States after refusing to unlock devices containing sensitive information. It has also been alleged that border agents are disproportionately targeting Muslim Americans and people with ties to Muslim-majority countries for both interrogation and device searches.

This February, Sen. Ron Wyden sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security head John Kelly stating that . . .

Continue reading.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2017 at 1:06 pm

” The Clinton campaign warned you about Russia. But nobody listened to us.”

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Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, writes in the Washington Post:

At the Democratic convention in Philadelphia last summer, Jake Sullivan and I took to our golf carts one afternoon to make the rounds of the television networks’ tents in the parking lot of the Wells Fargo Center. It is standard for presidential campaign staffers to brief networks on what to expect during that night’s session. But on this day, we were on a mission to get the press to focus on something even we found difficult to process: the prospect that Russia had not only hacked and stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, but that it had done so to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.

Sullivan was Clinton’s policy adviser. He had been Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, a deputy to then-Secretary Clinton at the State Department and a lead negotiator of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran. He is a widely respected national security expert and, as he does every day, he spoke carefully, without hyperbole. All we had to go on then was what had been reported by the press. We weren’t sure if Russia was doing this to undermine Americans’ faith in our political process or if it was trying to make Trump the next president. But we wanted to raise the alarm.

We did not succeed. Reporters were focused on the many daily distractions, the horse race, the stories they were doing based on the stolen DNC emails and the many other Trump scandals that were easier to explain. Voters didn’t seem worried. Earlier that week, our campaign manager, Robby Mook, was mocked for telling CNN that the leak of stolen emails before our convention was an indication that Russia was trying to help Trump. We did not know, as FBI Director James B. Comey told Congress this past week, that the bureau had already opened an investigation into Russian interference — and into possible links between Trump’s associates and the Russian government, including whether they worked together on his behalf. At the time, it seemed far-fetched that Russia would meddle so openly, and reporters and voters alike seemed convinced that it didn’t matter anyway, because Clinton was going to win.

Now that Trump is president, though, the stakes are higher, because the Russian plot succeeded. The lessons we campaign officials learned in trying to turn the Russia story against Trump can help other Democrats  (and all Americans) figure out how to treat this interference no longer as a matter of electoral politics but as the threat to the republic that it really is.

* * *

For me, Comey’s disclosure on Monday brought nearly unfathomable frustration. I will never understand why he would send a letter to Congress 11 days before the election to let lawmakers know that the FBI had happened upon more emails — which they didn’t yet know the contents of — that may or may not have been relevant to Clinton, but he did not think the public should know that federal agents were also investigating Trump’s campaign.

Without anyone knowing about the FBI’s interest, it was difficult to bring appropriate attention to the Russia issue and Trump’s curious pro-Putin bent. The week after the convention, we sought out credible national security voices to sound alarms. I was surprised by the enthusiasm with which some, such as former acting CIA director Michael Morell, jumped into the fray. When I worked in the Obama White House, people in national security positions had been uneasy making broad public arguments, particularly about political matters. Not this time. They were so concerned about the situation that, to me, the language they used to describe the threat they believed Russia and Trump posed was shocking. I remember my jaw dropping as I sat in our Brooklyn campaign headquarters and read the op-ed Morell submitted to the New York Times in early August, in which he shared his view that Russia had probably undertaken an effort to “recruit” Trump and that the Republican nominee had become an “unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

But the sheer spectacle of Trump kept the Russia allegations from getting the attention they would have had with any previous candidate. His unconventional campaign had so disrupted the press-political ecosystem that no one could fathom or absorb that — in addition to all the drama they saw on stage — Russia may have been conspiring with Trump or his allies behind the scenes to win the election for him. Compared with the lawsuits women were filing against Trump for alleged assault or his 3 a.m. tweets attacking a former Miss Universe, the details of who hacked whom seemed less interesting and more complicated. And because nearly everyone was sure that Clinton would win, and that she therefore needed more watchdogging, reporters and analysts were faster to jump on the latest batch of stolen emails or announcement from Comey.

We sought moments for Clinton and Tim Kaine, her running mate, to talk about Russia when we knew they would be on live television and couldn’t be edited. The debates offered the best opportunity, and Clinton took advantage, culminating with her famous line calling Trump Putin’s “puppet ” in the third one. It was tough deciding how much of her time to devote to the issue. We were in a Catch-22: We didn’t want her to talk too much about Russia because it wasn’t what voters were telling us they cared about — and, frankly, it sounded kind of wacky. At the same time, we understood the issue would never rise to the front of voters’ minds if we weren’t driving attention to it. It was already pretty clear they weren’t going to hear much about it in the press.

On Oct. 7, I thought the Russia story would finally break through. We were at a debate prep session in Westchester County, N.Y., when the director of national intelligence and the secretary of homeland security put out a joint statementsaying that the U.S. intelligence community was “confident” that not only had the Russian government hacked Democrats’ emails, but “Russia’s senior-most officials” were probably directing their release to influence the election. Incredible. Finally, here was the break we had been waiting for. I was on a conference call with my colleagues to discuss our response when someone said: “Hey, Palmieri. There’s an ‘Access Hollywood’ video that just got released.” Literally minutes later, WikiLeaks put out the first batch of John Podesta’s stolen Gmail. And that was that. The rest is history.

* * *

All of us — the press, Congress, the public, the administration — are still guilty of the soft complicity of low expectations. As president, Trump does and says outrageous and false things every week, from ordering arbitrary travel bans to accusing President Obama of illegal wiretapping with no evidence. The Russia charges blend in, making it all too easy to treat them as just the latest thing the president has blustered his way through. I understand how difficult it is to put the threat in the right context. We trod lightly at times during the campaign because it sounded too fantastic to be credible, too complicated to absorb.

In another era, Americans would have been able to count on both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to stand up to this kind of threat. A lot of Democrats like to play the “If we were Republicans” game. I usually hate it; I don’t want to behave like the Republicans do. But it’s useful here. If Clinton had won with the help of the Russians, the Republicans would have impeachment proceedings underway for treason. No doubt. Instead, dealing with Russia falls nearly solely on Democrats’ shoulders.

But Democrats can break out of the Catch-22 of the campaign: If we . . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article:

The worst part about our lackluster collective response to Russia’s interference is that it represents exactly what the Russians were hoping to produce: apathy. Their goal, in addition to installing a president sympathetic to their views, was to undermine Americans’ belief in our democracy. For Americans to think that none of this really matters, that it’s all a game. That’s how they truly erode U.S. moral authority and strength over the long term. It’s what they have sought to do to European adversaries for many years, and now they have brought this seed of destruction here.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 March 2017 at 7:16 am

The true-crime book whose name I can never remember: “Deadly Intentions”

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It’s a hell of a book, summarized in this article, but much, much more in the book (secondhand copies here).

When you read it, you realize that the writer, the prosecuting attorney who sent the mad doctor away for 5 to 15, was anticipating that he himself would be a targeted victim of revenge, so he writes the book as if to say, “Anything happens to me, this is the guy to look at.”

I kept misremembering the title, thinking it was “With Malicious Intent” or “With Vicious Intent(ions).” But those two carry moral judgment, so a nonjudgmental phrase is “Deadly Intentions”: purpose defined but not judged.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2017 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Books, Law, Law Enforcement

Whatever you do, don’t say yes when this chatbot asks, ‘Can you hear me?’

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Earlier I blogged a section from this LA Times article by David Lazarus, but the whole thing is at the link. From the article:

. . . As the scam plays out, the recorded voice will raise the possibility of a vacation or cruise package, or maybe a product warranty. She’ll ask if you could answer a few questions. Or she’ll make it sound like her headset is still giving her trouble and say, “Can you hear me?”

Don’t say yes.

Police departments nationwide have warned recently that offering an affirmative response can be edited to make it seem you’ve given permission for a purchase or some other transaction. There haven’t been many reports of losses, but a Washington State man reportedly got bilked for about $100.

A recorded “yes” could also could be used to deny refunds to any consumer who complains.

“If someone calls and asks, ‘Can you hear me?’, do not answer yes,” advised the Better Business Bureau. “Just hang up. Scammers change their tactics as the public catches on, so be alert for other questions designed to solicit a simple yes answer.”

Walker, the UC Santa Cruz computer wiz, has been teaching computers how to speak since the 1980s, when she worked as a researcher for the Natural Language Project at Hewlett Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto. She’s also done stints at Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories in Cambridge, Mass., and AT&T Labs in New Jersey.

Talking machines have been epitomized for years by the automated switchboards that drive most consumers crazy. But Walker said we’re seeing the next iteration of speech technology in the likes of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa — devices that can respond to users’ requests and, to a limited extent, give the impression of conversation.

The next step, she said, will be computers that respond to voice commands to perform multiple tasks across multiple websites or platforms. For example, booking airline seats, a hotel and a rental car without a human having to look at a screen or touch a keyboard. . . .

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2017 at 3:17 pm

Common used-car scam

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Very interesting. I also have seen this. Wonder how common it is. This is another place where I want a good government: an email to the state attorney general and Bob’s your uncle, if the state is well run and not corrupt (which is not nearly so common as you might think).

Written by LeisureGuy

24 March 2017 at 5:43 pm

Just a sample from one of several scathing columns from Jennifer Rubin this morning

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See previous post, in which I recommend reading Rubin’s Right Turn columns this morning, including the always excellent “Morning Bits” (the first column of the day, consisting of carefully selected quotations on current political issues). Here’s a section of just one of the columns:

First, in an effort to help the administration run from the headlines that confirm ties between President Trump’s former campaign chairman and Russian officials and that underscore the FBI’s evidence of collusion between Trump aides and Russian officials, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) destroyed the pretense that he was conducting a conscientious investigation in accordance with his constitutional oversight duties. He ran to the White House to disclose what he allegedly found and to the cameras to suggest nefarious behavior by the intelligence community. As the Lawfare blog explained:

Assuming that anything Nunes said was true, it appears to involve material obtained under FISA. Nunes confirmed as much in his White House press conference; when asked if the targets were subjects of surveillance “under FISA orders,” he said, “It appears so.” Silly us, but we thought such material was classified until affirmatively declassified by the original classifying authority. Have [the National Security Agency] and FBI declassified the facts that Nunes publicly described today? Remember that Nunes apparently hasn’t even spoken to [FBI Director James] Comey about this yet.

When asked whether the Justice Department authorized him to make the information public, Nunes said he thought the President “needed to know,” presumably indicating he did not, in fact, have DOJ permission. Considering the focus on leaks of FISA material of Republicans at Monday’s hearings, the question of whether Nunes himself has just improperly discussed classified FISA matters in public is one that deserves at least some attention.

Considering that Nunes and other Republicans spent the lion’s share of Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing condemning leaks and release of classified information, this is the height of hypocrisy.

Second, Nunes reportedly consulted House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) before racing to the White House and the cameras. In failing to prevent the stunt, Ryan confirmed his own poor judgment and intellectual dishonesty. He’s now an enabler in Nunes’s efforts to disrupt the investigation, one that Ryan promised would not require a select committee or independent commission.

Third, the president in an interview with Time magazine demonstrated how divorced from reality he is, how contemptuous he is of anything — including the press, the voters, the Congress, the facts — that impede his assertion of power. His rambling answers, filled with self-congratulation, illogical assertions and lies, reflect the mindset of a seriously troubled mind:

But you would agree also that some of the things you have said haven’t been true. You say that Ted Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald.
Well that was in a newspaper. No, no, I like Ted Cruz, he’s a friend of mine. But that was in the newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper. A Ted Cruz article referred to a newspaper story with, had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald, having breakfast. …
But isn’t there, it strikes me there is still an issue of credibility. If the intelligence community came out and said, we have determined that so and so is the leaker here, but you are saying to me now, that you don’t believe the intelligence community when they say your tweet was wrong.
I’m not saying—no, I’m not blaming. First of all, I put Mike Pompeo in. I put Senator Dan Coats in. These are great people. I think they are great people and they are going to, I have a lot of confidence in them. So hopefully things will straighten out. But I inherited a mess, I inherited a mess in so many ways. I inherited a mess in the Middle East, and a mess with North Korea, I inherited a mess with jobs, despite the statistics, you know, my statistics are even better, but they are not the real statistics because you have millions of people that can’t get a job, OK. And I inherited a mess on trade. I mean we have many, you can go up and down the ladder. But that’s the story. Hey look, in the meantime, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not. You know. Say hello to everybody OK?

This man is frighteningly divorced from reality — happily so from his standpoint — and unable to process facts. Republicans who excused his behavior and rationalized his outbursts are responsible for this sorry episode. The 25th Amendment addresses situations in which the president is unable to perform his duties. We’re getting perilously close to that point.
Fourth, in the last-minute wheeling and dealing on the American Health Care Act, Ryan and Trump have apparently shredded the original bill, removing, for example, the list of minimum benefits for insurance. This bill now does not resemble the bill voted for in committees, nor does it adhere to the president’s pledge to provide everyone with better coverage than they had under Obamacare. We do not know how much this costs and how it will affect coverage. There is no more vivid example of the thirst for victory for victory’s sake, the abandonment of principle and of concern for the public’s well-being. Few, if any, members will know what is in the bill before voting for it, if in fact the bill goes to the floor today.

In total, this is a portrait of a party contemptuous of everything but winning and defending the indefensible. It is no longer a party deserving of respect or support.

Read them all.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2017 at 10:15 am

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