Armed and Fabulous: Friday Breaks Record with 185K Gun Background Checks

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Nick Penzenstadler reports: More Americans had their backgrounds checked purchasing guns on Black Friday than any day in the on record, according to data released by the FBI this week.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System processed 185,345 requests on Nov. 27, one of the largest retail sales days in the country.

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“This was an approximate 5% increase over the 175,754 received on Black Friday 2014,” wrote Stephen Fischer, the FBI’s chief of multimedia productions. “The previous high for receipts were the 177,170 received on 12/21/2012.”

Previous spikes for background checks, conducted before a gun buyer can obtain a firearm, occurred after prominent mass shootings, like in December 2012 in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Read the rest of this entry »


Clinton’s ‘Please Hack Me’ Server 

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L. Gordon Crovitz writes: “I’m still clinging to my BlackBerry, ” President-elect Obama said in early 2009. “They’re trying to pry it out of my hands.” The National Security Agency was so anxious about foreign intelligence agents gaining access to classified information that it assigned dozens of technologists to work for months before the inauguration to modify a BlackBerry Mr. Obama could use. The new president was told his device could safely communicate with fewer than a dozen other people, after their devices were loaded with special encryption.

“From what has been released so far, that includes the name of a CIA source on Libya that Mrs. Clinton divulged in unprotected email to confidant Sidney Blumenthal.”

His secretary of state took a different approach.

“Other emails identified as containing classified information include those dealing with discussions of Iran’s nuclear program, spy satellites and drone strikes.”

Hillary Clinton set up her own private email server. By avoiding use of government servers, she succeeded in keeping emails off-limits to information requests from congressional overseers and journalists—but American counterintelligence agents must now assume that Chinese, Russian and possibly other agents had full access. A Pentagon counterintelligence official told the Daily Beast that if he were in charge of a foreign intelligence agency, “I’d fire my staff if they weren’t getting all this.”

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“The AP reported attempted hacks on Mrs. Clinton servers from China and Russia. It identified a hacker using a computer in Serbia who scanned the server in the basement of her Chappaqua, N.Y., home multiple times in 2012.”

Mr. Obama jumped the gun on the FBI inquiry into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of classified material by saying earlier this month that “this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

The New York Times reported that Mr. Obama’s comments “raised the ire of officials who saw an instance of the president trying to influence the outcome of a continuing investigation.”

“There’s good reason to assume that foreign intelligence agencies were able to read the Clinton emails. Government servers are not hackproof, but they offer basic defenses and alerts. An Associated Press investigation found that the Clinton setup didn’t use a virtual private network, a common corporate safeguard. This meant her email server could be accessed over an open Internet connection.”

Meddling with the FBI investigation is only part of the problem. Mrs. Clinton’s conduct in office is forcing U.S. counterintelligence agencies to review her emails to identify what sources and methods of U.S. intelligence they have to assume were burned. Read the rest of this entry »


Everyone calm the freak down about the iPhone’s fingerprint scanner

paranoidAndrea Peterson writes: There were a lot of jokes to be had about the NSA and the fingerprint scanner announced for Apple’s newest iPhone — including the one above courtesy of Internet meme machine reddit. But you can put away your tinfoil hat, because the technology used in most identity-based digital fingerprint scanners means the data they store is very different than the kind desired by law enforcement agencies.

“Databases of fingerprints keep full images of all 10 fingerprints so that future techniques for feature detection can be used,” according to Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the senior staff technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology. Read the rest of this entry »