Federal documents revealed that an FBI agent had pretended to be an AP reporter in order to target a teenager suspected of making bomb threats to a local high school in 2007. The agent fabricated a draft of an AP story and placed it on a website made to look like The Seattle Times in order to plant malicious software on the suspect’s computer.
Julian Hattem reports: The Associated Press is bringing a lawsuit against the Department of Justice seeking information about the government’s use of a fake news story to catch a teenager suspected of calling in bomb threats.
“We cannot overstate how damaging it is for federal agents to pose as journalists. This practice undermines the credibility of the independent news media, and should not be tolerated.”
Along with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the AP asked a district court on Thursday to force the department to turn over records regarding the FBI’s impersonation of a journalist and creation of a fake story in 2007.
“Yet while the public clearly has a strong, compelling interest in knowing more about the FBI’s use of this tactic, the FBI seems determined to withhold that information. We have been left with no choice but to look to the court for relief.”
— Katie Townsend, the litigation director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Reporters from the two organizations submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests soon after news of the sting came to light in October but have not received any records in response, they said.
“We cannot overstate how damaging it is for federal agents to pose as journalists,” Katie Townsend, the litigation director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said in a statement. “This practice undermines the credibility of the independent news media, and should not be tolerated. Read the rest of this entry »
This week, the NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), firearms retailers, and private gun owners filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle, alleging that its new firearms and ammunition sales tax ordinance is illegal and unenforceable.
“Overdose and non-gun suicide hospitalizations each occurred at a rate more than five times that of those involving a gun; hospitalizations for ‘injuries due to accidents’ had a rate almost seventy-five times greater. With stats like these, it’s clear that anti-gun sentiment is the only thing driving the new taxes, not any real desire to address public health concerns of city residents.”
Earlier this month, Seattle passed the Firearm Tax and Ammunition Tax ordinance which imposes a new $25 sales tax on the retail sales of firearms, plus a per-round sales tax of two to five cents on ammunition. The ordinance is slated to go into effect on January 1, 2016. A failure to pay the tax is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment of up to 364 days, or both.
A city report describes this as a “gun violence tax” that is estimated to generate revenues of $300,000 to $500,000 per year. The report adds, “[e]very effort funded by the revenues of this tax that reduces the probability of gun violence from taking place will save lives and money… Efforts funded by the gun violence tax that mitigate the public health, welfare, and safety impacts of gun violence will benefit this population.”
“In 2011, the Court of Appeals of Washington looked no further than the ‘plain language’ of the preemption statute before concluding that Seattle’s attempt to regulate the possession of firearms was unlawful. The complaint in the new lawsuit refers to this decision and states the City of Seattle is ‘not permitted to pass laws that target the sale of firearms and ammunition through any means.’”
The report fails to disclose any clear relationship between expected new tax receipts and a reduction in violence of any kind. The report asserts only that efforts funded by the tax which “reduce the probability of gun violence from taking place” will benefit Seattle residents, without identifying the nature of the “research, prevention and youth education and employment programs” or how these programs will work to reduce the “probability” of gun violence. (The report does confirm, though, that the City will be able “to track how much revenue is raised each year and analyze the programs to which that revenue is dedicated.”)
“Citizens testifying before the City Council meeting on the new tax included a recent victim of a violent felony who was ‘appalled’ that the City was enacting an illegal tax that would force law-abiding citizens to pay for the impact of gun violence committed by criminals.”
The ordinance itself cites a 2014 study funded by the City of Seattle which reported, among other things, King County hospitalization rates due to a firearm-related injury (“of any intent,” presumably including self-inflicted and accidental injuries in addition to persons who were injured as victims of crime), and hospitalizations for other reasons.
Hospitalizations due to overdoses, non-gun suicides, and non-gun assaults were far more prevalent than gun-related hospitalizations. Overdose and non-gun suicide hospitalizations each occurred at a rate more than five times that of those involving a gun; hospitalizations for “injuries due to accidents” had a rate almost seventy-five times greater. With stats like these, it’s clear that anti-gun sentiment is the only thing driving the new taxes, not any real desire to address public health concerns of city residents. Read the rest of this entry »
Did Hillary Clinton know emails on server were classified?
Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne report: An FBI “A-team” is leading the “extremely serious” investigation into Hillary Clinton’s server and the focus includes a provision of the law pertaining to “gathering, transmitting or losing defense information,” an intelligence source told Fox News.
“It is not clear how the FBI team’s findings will impact the probe itself. But the details offer a window into what investigators are looking for.”
A separate source, who also was not authorized to speak on the record, said the FBI will further determine whether Clinton should have known, based on the quality and detail of the material, that emails passing through her server contained classified information regardless of the markings. The campaign’s standard defense and that of Clinton is that she “never sent nor received any email that was marked classified” at the time.
It is not clear how the FBI team’s findings will impact the probe itself. But the details offer a window into what investigators are looking for — as the Clinton campaign itself downplays the controversy.
“Somebody in the government, with a clearance and need to know, then delivered the information to someone not entitled to receive it, or otherwise moved it from where it was supposed to be lawfully held.”
— Attorney Edward MacMahon Jr.
The FBI offered no comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
A leading national security attorney, who recently defended former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling in a leak investigation, told Fox News that violating the Espionage Act provision in question is a felony and pointed to a particular sub-section. Read the rest of this entry »
Seinfeld’s wife, Jessica, posted a photo on Instagram of her comedian husband, their son, Julian, and two other boys with their hands on top of their heads in surrender, with a police car behind them.
Kipp Jones writes: Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his family were operating a charity lemonade stand a week ago in East Hampton Village, NY, when they were forced to shut down the operation after police received a complaint from a neighbor.
Seinfeld’s wife, Jessica, posted a photo on Instagram of her comedian husband, their son, Julian, and two other boys with their hands on top of their heads in surrender, with a police car behind them, after the August 18 charity operation was shut down….(read more)
Kimberley A. Strassel writes: When a government official (think Hillary Clinton) uses a private email account for government work (think Hillary Clinton) and then doesn’t turn over records (think Hillary Clinton), the public has to wonder why. For an example of that why, consider Thursday’s federal-court subpoena of Phillip North.
“Government workers don’t use private email because it is ‘convenient.’ They use private email to engage in practices that may be unsavory, or embarrassing, or even illegal.”
The North story hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but it is a useful tale for clarifying exactly why we have federal records and sunshine laws. You see, government workers don’t use private email because it is “convenient.” They use private email to engage in practices that may be unsavory, or embarrassing, or even illegal. Let’s be clear about that.
“Records show that EPA officials, including Mr. North, had no intention of letting the process get that far. They set about to ‘pre-emptively’ veto the mine, before Pebble could even file for permits.”
Mr. North was, until a few years ago, a biologist at the Environmental Protection Agency, based in Alaska. Around 2005 he became enmeshed in reviewing the Pebble Partnership’s proposal to develop a mine there. Mr. North has openly admitted that he was opposed to this idea early on, and he is entitled to his opinion. Still, as a government employee his first duty is to follow the law.
“But for the EPA to so flagrantly insert itself into the process, it needed cause. This is where Mr. North and his private email come in.”
In the normal course of law, Pebble would file for permits and the Army Corps of Engineers would get the first say over approval. The EPA has a secondary role. But records show that EPA officials, including Mr. North, had no intention of letting the process get that far. They set about to “pre-emptively” veto the mine, before Pebble could even file for permits. But for the EPA to so flagrantly insert itself into the process, it needed cause. This is where Mr. North and his private email come in. Read the rest of this entry »
Blake Seitz reports: A group of nearly 200 retired U.S. generals and flag officers sent a letter to Congressional leadership on Tuesday urging them to reject the Iran nuclear deal.
The letter says that the deal creates a decade-long path to nuclear weapons for Iran, while rewarding the Islamic Republic with cash it can use to rebuild its military and fund terrorism in the short-term.
“The agreement as constructed does not ‘cut off every pathway’ for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons,” it says. “To the contrary, it actually provides Iran with a legitimate path to doing that simply by abiding by the deal….(read more)
Hillary Clinton’s email troubles began when her private address was exposed by a Romanian hacker. Now the resulting scandal threatens to torpedo her presidential ambitions.
2008 – Hillary Clinton acquires a personal email server for her use in running for president, and has it installed in her Chappaqua, New York home
January 13, 2009 – Internet records show that the domain ‘clintonemail.com’ was created
January 21, 2009 – Clinton is confirmed by the U.S. Senate as President Obama’s secretary of state
February 1, 2013 – Clinton leaves the State Department
March 20, 2013 – Clinton’s private email address, email@example.com, is made public when a Romanian hacker named ‘Guccifer’ (whose real name is Marcel Lazăr Lehel) hacks into longtime Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal’s AOL email account and leaks images of his inbox – including emails from Clinton
June 2013 – Hillary’s team shifts control of the email domain to an outside IT contractor in Denver called Platte River Networks, and sends the original server hardware to a data center facility in New Jersey, where it is erased
August 11, 2014 – Following a congressional subpoena and more than a year of delays, the State Department hands over a small number of Clinton’s private emails, 10 in all, to a House committee investigating the 2012 terror attack on a State Department compound in Benghazi, Libya – including some emails from the firstname.lastname@example.org address
November 2014 – The Benghazi committee asks the State Department for a larger batch of Clinton’s emails and receives about 300 that relate to the Libya saga, amounting to 850 printed pages
December 5, 2014 – Clinton’s aides say that in response to a request from the State Department, they have handed over about 55,000 pages of her work-related emails, comprising 30,490 messages
February 13, 2015 – The State Department sends the Benghazi committee another 850 pages of Clinton’s emails, including some from two different accounts on the private ‘clintonemail.com’ server
February 27, 2015 – State Department staffers tell Benghazi committee aides that Clinton had used her private address exclusively during her tenure at the agency, and that they don’t have any of her emails other than those she provided voluntarily
March 4, 2015 – The Associated Press reports that it has traced Clinton’s private email address back to a private server at her Chappaqua, New York home, and that the server was registered under a fake name
March 10, 2015 – In a contentious press conference following a speech at the United Nations, Clinton admits that she deleted more than 30,000 emails that she says were personal in nature, and says she turned over everything work-related to the State Department, while insisting that ‘I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email; there is no classified material’
March 11, 2015 – The Associated Press sues the State Department to force the release of Clinton’s emails and other documents that the agency has failed to turn over following a Freedom Of Information Act request
April 12, 2015 – Clinton launches her second presidential campaign with an online video and begins two months of low-key campaigning marked by a lack of interaction with reporters
May 22, 2015 – The first 300 of Clinton’s emails are made public by the State Department, revealing a close relationship with Blumenthal in the weeks following the Benghazi terror attack; one of them has been retroactively classified by the FBI as ‘secret’ but Clinton insists it was ‘handled appropriately’
May 27, 2015 – A federal judge orders the State Department to begin releasing all of Clinton’s emails in installments every 30 days, setting monthly targets for the agency so the work is completed by January 29, 2016
July 23, 2015 – Charles McCullough, the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community tells members of Congress in a letter that a random sampling of 40 Clinton emails turned up four that contained material classified as secret Read the rest of this entry »
If you read the Code of Federal Regulations at 300 words per minute on a full-time basis, it would take you nearly three years to get through just the version of the CFR published in 2012.
Why did we build computer programs to parse federal regulatory code, instead of reading it ourselves? Because it would have been impossible to read the entire Code of Federal Regulations and make any sense of it.
The average adult reads prose text at a rate of 250 to 300 words per minute. If you read the Code of Federal Regulations at 300 words per minute on a full-time basis, it would take you nearly three years to get through just the version of the CFR published in 2012. Read the rest of this entry »
Ed Morrissey writes:
A perp walk? Oddly, that doesn’t come up in this clip from Bloomberg’s “With All Due Respect,” where John Heilemann and Mark Halperin focus more on the short-term worst-case scenarios for Hillary Clinton. If the scrubbed server gets restored and classified material is found, plus e-mail that Hillary deleted turns out to be work-related, she could face a lot more problems than she does now, Halperin states. Heilemann replies that if the server stays scrubbed, that won’t play well either, but whose fault is that? “This story is not going away,” Halperin concludes, “and it’s of her own doing.”
It’s a pretty good look at the short-term risks for Hillary, but mostly from a political point of view. That is no longer the big risk, though. Given the referral from the IGs on just a sample of 40 e-mails, there is plenty of evidence strongly
suggesting that Hillary and her team violated two laws governing the handling of classified material, 18 USC 1924 and 18 USC 793 — both of which carry prison terms.
The Department of Justice has prosecuted people for criminal violations of both statutes, especially 1924, which was used against David Petraeus in this administration. As one former US Attorney tells the Boston Herald, a refusal to prosecute in this case would raise all sorts of red flags about favoritism, especially after Petraeus’ conviction:
“I believe there will be a concern that if they don’t in this case, that it will be perceived as preferential treatment,” said Bradley D. Simon, a former federal prosecutor, noting the Justice Department set a recent precedent by going after the high-profile general who was admired for pulling the Iraq War back from disaster….(read more here)
At a minimum, Clinton kept classified material at an unauthorized location — her house in Chappaqua, in electronic form. The referral makes that clear. The question will be whether the Department of Justice will want to look much farther past that point to see what else Clinton did. Read the rest of this entry »
Border Patrol Retaliates Against James O’Keefe after Osama bin Laden Exposé; O’Keefe Fights Back and Releases Recording of Unconstitutional Detentions. Hidden Recording Device Reveals Border Patrol Grilling a Detained O’Keefe on Numerous Inappropriate Topics Including Trade Secrets, Financial Issues and Presidential Politics, Specifically Donald Trump…
More – NRO has this item
The SEC lawsuit named 17 individuals and 15 companies in the U.S. and abroad, in such places as Russia, France, Malta and Cyprus. Danny Ocean could not be reached for comment.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — In late October 2013, Panera Bread Co., the national chain of restaurants that specializes in healthy soups and baked goods, prepared a news release to announce it was adjusting its earnings expectations downward for the recently begun fourth quarter.
“The international hacking scheme allegedly raked in $100 million between 2010 and 2015. It is being called the biggest case of its kind ever prosecuted, and one that demonstrated yet another way in which the financial world is vulnerable to cybercrime.”
The release undoubtedly was one of many sent by publicly traded companies to business news services for publication.
“The defendants then used roughly 800 of those news releases to make trades before the information came out, exploiting a time gap ranging from hours to three days.”
This one was different, though. As an unsuspecting investing public awaited the announcement, federal authorities say a group comprising computer hackers and stock traders already had seen the release in the computer system of Marketwired, the Toronto business newswire.
“Authorities said that beginning in 2010 and continuing as recently as May, they gained access to more than 150,000 press releases that were about to be issued by Marketwired; PR Newswire in New York; and Business Wire of San Francisco. The press releases contained earnings figures and other corporate information.”
Using the crucial information in the release, the group allegedly made $17 million worth of trades and orders betting Panera’s stock would lose value once the news went public. They were correct, and for their efforts walked away with nearly $1 million in profit, according to a criminal indictment unsealed Tuesday against nine people in the U.S. and Ukraine.
“It is being called the biggest case of its kind ever prosecuted, and one that demonstrated yet another way in which the financial world is vulnerable to cybercrime.”
The international hacking scheme allegedly raked in $100 million between 2010 and 2015. It is being called the biggest case of its kind ever prosecuted, and one that demonstrated yet another way in which the financial world is vulnerable to cybercrime.
“Perhaps even more alarming was the assertion by prosecutors that much of the group’s ability to illegally tap into the news services’ computer systems came via ‘phishing,’ a well-known practice in which hackers send an email with a seemingly innocuous link that, if clicked on, can eventually lead to the divulging of the user’s login and password information.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission also brought civil charges against the nine plus 23 other people and companies in the U.S. and Europe.
“Every employee of every company has to be vigilant about the emails they get from people who look like their friends or acquaintances, urging them to click on a link. They should say to themselves every time that happens,`That seems like a really bad idea.'”
— Paul Fishman, U.S. attorney for New Jersey
The case “illustrates the risks posed for our global markets by today’s sophisticated hackers,” SEC chief Mary Jo White said. “Today’s international case is unprecedented in terms of the scope of the hacking at issue, the number of traders involved, the number of securities unlawfully traded and the amount of profits generated.”
“The nine people indicted include two people described as Ukrainian computer hackers and six stock traders. Prosecutors said the defendants made $30 million from their part of the scheme.”
Authorities said that beginning in 2010 and continuing as recently as May, they gained access to more than 150,000 press releases that were about to be issued by Marketwired; PR Newswire in New York; and Business Wire of San Francisco. The press releases contained earnings figures and other corporate information.
“Today’s international case is unprecedented in terms of the scope of the hacking at issue, the number of traders involved, the number of securities unlawfully traded and the amount of profits generated.”
The defendants then used roughly 800 of those news releases to make trades before the information came out, exploiting a time gap ranging from hours to three days, prosecutors said. Read the rest of this entry »
Not Such Good American Friends.
Every foreign business or nonprofit in China has to balance its principles with the realities of operating in a dictatorship. But what’s the point of claiming to promote the rule of law in China if your presence and silence serve as political cover for the worst legal abuses?
China’s recent arrests of human-rights lawyers have drawn protests from around the world, but there’s a notable, mumbling exception: the American Bar Association.
“ABA leaders acknowledge that the development of a just rule of law is a continuing struggle in every nation, including the United States.”
— ABA President William Hubbard
State security agents rounded up some 235 lawyers and other legal activists around the country last month, some of them grabbed, hooded and not heard from since. Beijing officials have railed against a “major criminal gang” of lawyers “plotting to stir up sensitive cases.”
Some brave voices inside China have spoken up for these political prisoners, as have legal groups in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The New York City Bar Association expressed “grave concern” and called on Beijing to “immediately release” those lawlessly detained, more than 20 of whom it cited by name. Read the rest of this entry »
Mikey Campbell reports: The original developers of much maligned Mac security software MacKeeper have agreed to a $2 million settlement in a class action lawsuit over deceptive claims and false advertisement, with part of the sum set aside for customer refunds.
Under the proposed settlement, ZeoBIT, creators of MacKeeper that later sold the software to German firm Kromtech, will put up to $2 million in a fund to cover attorney fees, refunds and administrative costs, reports MacWorld. One-third is earmarked for lawyers, with a large chunk of the remainder to be meted out equally among claimants who purchased MacKeeper prior to July 8. Read the rest of this entry »
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court also demanded Clinton, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin provide assurances by Wednesday that they would not delete any federal records in their possession.
Sarah Westwood reports: A federal judge ordered Hillary Clinton and two of her top aides not to delete any potentially work-related emails after Clinton’s former chief of staff vowed to discard all electronic copies of her records by Monday.
“The destruction of federal documents in the face of a court order is par for the course for a Clinton-related scandal….If not for the swift action of Judicial Watch’s legal team and an alert federal judge, there is no telling what important public information would have been lost forever.”
— Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch
The order came Friday evening in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch seeking documentation of a controversial employment status bestowed on Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, that allowed her to work simultaneously for the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and a consulting firm called Teneo Strategies.
After Sullivan asked Clinton, Mills and Abedin to certify under penalty of perjury that they had each submitted all work-related emails, only Clinton reportedly responded.
Mills and Abedin seemingly ignored requests that they had handed over all their emails as each continued to prepare emails for the State Department. Read the rest of this entry »