DHS

Thursday Morning: Eye in the Sky

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind

— excerpt, Eye in the Sky by Alan Parsons Project

It’s not like I wanted to haul out all my high school and college music, but they sure seem to work well this week.

Speaking of the eye in the sky…

FBI and DHS circle overhead a LOT
Buzzfeed published its findings after looking into FBI and DHS surveillance flight records, finding a lot of planes circling over mosques. The results also looked at flights immediately after the San Bernardino shooting. You know what would be interesting? Comparing that information against the handling timeline for the Apple iPhone issued to Syed Farouk by his employer.

U.S. dealerships sue Volkswagen – but expand on Dieselgate
Not only are three family-owned dealerships suing VW for its fraudulent use of an emissions control defeat system in their diesel passenger vehicles — they are suing because of VW’s financing practices, which steered money away from dealership’s preferred financing while leaving the dealerships stuck with rapidly depreciated business value. The potential losses to VW just swelled by another magnitude.

Iceland’s new PM expects elections this fall
Rather than dissolving the government, the former Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson’s coalition partners negotiated the appointment of Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson as his replacement after Gunnlaugsson’s Panama Papers-driven resignation. Johannsson said the coalition expects elections this autumn while continuing to focus on working on stability. That’s a nice way of saying the Progressive Party and the Independence Party are stalling for time to avoid a likely rout if elections were held today. Polling indicates the Pirate Party would stomp the other three major parties if a vote was held now.

MP and Official spokesperson of the Pirate Party Birgitta Jónsdóttir was interviewed by Democracy Now! about Iceland’s current political climate. Jonsdottir, a possible contender for PM, explained her country’s reaction to the Panama Papers’ revelations:

…What is in particular disturbing about the prime minister’s conduct in this matter is that the day before new laws took effect in Iceland about how you declare and how tax havens are dealt with, because Iceland is a part of a sort of a campaign, international campaign, to stop tax havens being a part of a solution on how to get away from participating in paying tax in your own country. He signed—his sold his wife his share for one dollar the day before the laws took effect. And that, in itself, seems highly dubious. And then, he has actually been using his wife as a shield and saying that people that are criticizing him are attacking his wife. I actually think that this guy is in some sort of meltdown, because his behavior in the last few days has been so outrageous that it seems like we are stuck in a satire by Dario Fo, you know, in a complete theater of the absurd. And I’m just so deeply humiliated on behalf of my nation that this is what the outside world is looking at. …

The feeling of betrayal is palpable. It’s a good read, do check it out in its entirety.

Odd lots

  • Massive breach exposes 55 million Philippine voters’ identities (The Register) — That’s Philippines’ Commission on Elections (COMELEC) *entire* database, which COMELEC claims doesn’t contain anything sensitive. Except for stuff like fingerprints and passport numbers. Oh, and all the information for half the entire country’s population.
  • China’s ‘Great Firewall’ architect reduced to using VPN during a speech (Shanghaist) — Oops.
  • Adobe patching a Flash zero-day (Naked Security) — Again. I know, I know, when will Flash die?
  • Climate change could lengthen Europe’s dengue fever season (Science Daily) — Longer, warmer summers will extend the season for Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito populations, the disease’s key infection vectors. Hey, you know what else might show up for longer periods of time, too? Zika, since it’s carried by Aedes aegypti.

Wow. It’s coffee break time already? Have at it. Catch you tomorrow morning!

Friday Morning: Some Place Warm

Warm, like the Philippines, the home of the Manila sound. It’s Friday once again and today’s jazz genre is the precursor to Pinoy rock (like Freddie Aguilar’s Anak) and Pinoy hip hop (like Andrew E’s Binibirocha).

The Manila sound emerged under Ferdinand Marcos’ regime; wish I knew more about this body of work to identify songs which pushed the envelope politically. You can still hear the ghost-like impact more than 300 years of Spanish colonialism in some riffs, shaped by other Asian and American influences.

Think I’ll try a mix mix cocktail later today with a little more contemporary Filipino jazz.

Coincidentally, “mix mix” is an apt description for this morning’s post. A lot of smallish, unrelated items in my inbox today…

The canary that didn’t chirp
Reddit may have received a National Security Letter, based on the disappearance of a notice in transparency reporting which up to now indicated no NSLs had been received. Was an NSL sent to Reddit in response to an online discussion last year with Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras, and Glenn Greenwald? Or did some other content trigger a possible NSL?

Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Security Division wants to fix open source software
“Hello, we’re from the government. We’re here to help you.” Uh-huh. Color me skeptical about this initiative intended to reduce vulnerabilities in open source software. when the government finds a way to insert itself into technology, it’s an opportunity for co-option and compromise. Can you say ‘backdoor’?

Fixing a problem with business iPhones may create a new one
A key reason the USDOJ went after Apple to crack the passcode on the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone: poor or missing mobile device management software. Had the iPhone’s owner and issuer San Bernardino County installed an MDM app that could override the assigned user’s passcode, the FBI would have had immediate access to the iPhone’s contents. Employers are likely moving toward more and better MDM to prevent a future costly #AppleVsFBI situation. However, the new SideStepper malware is spreading and taking advantage of MDM’s ability to push software to enterprise-owned iPhones without the users’ approval.

FCC’s very busy Thursday

  • FCC approved a $9.25 monthly subsidy for Lifeline-eligible low-income folks to use on high-speed internet service. Now if only high-speed internet was less than $10/month, or available across the U.S. to all low-income citizens…there are still wide swaths of the U.S. where high-speed internet is simply a pipe dream, let alone adequate competition to keep prices within reach of the subsidy.
  • The subsidy’s approval came amid a lot of political scrambling and maneuvering due to conservatives’ resistance on spending (what a surprise, right?), though the investment should increase the number of users able to access state and federal programs online, reducing costs to operate them over the long run.
  • The FCC also voted to proceed with rulemaking on the handling of users’ personal information over ISPs. Privacy is currently regulated on telecommunications by the FCC, but not on ISPs. Implementing rules on ISPs substantially similar to telecoms may protect consumers’ privacy, which is otherwise wide open. It would also force more equitable competition between ISPs and telecoms on consumer communications services. Perhaps this makes it easier to understand why NBC and MSNBC — both owned by cable ISP company Comcast — have been completely in the tank for Donald Trump? (Might even explain why Trump was such an ass to Univision’s Jorge Ramos, as Comcast owns competitor Telemundo.)

Today in literacy

  • Participating in a book club could land you in prison in Angola (QZ) — There’s either more to this story, or Angola is incredibly repressive and ripe for trouble.
  • Fairy tales, now with more firearms (NPR) — The idiots at NRA think there’s not enough violence in fairy tales, so they’ve rewritten them with weapons added. Distorting the Constitution isn’t enough; why not distort children’s fiction, too?
  • Lawful Hacking: using Existing Vulnerabilities for Wiretapping on the Internet (Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property) — Not a book, but a worthwhile read for infosec literacy.

Public Service Announcement: Backup/Alternate Site
You may have noticed the site’s connectivity going up and down; there’s some tinkering going on under the hood. If the site should go down for long, you can find our more recent content at this alternate site (bookmark for emergency use). If the site needs to stay down for longer periods of time for repairs or redesign, we’ll redirect traffic there. Comments left at the other site will not be ported back to this page, however, and the alternate location is not intended to replace this one though you may find you like the alternate site’s mobile version better.

That’s a wrap, I’m off to find some calamondins, or an approximation for a mix mix cocktail. Have a good weekend!

Friday Morning: Afro-Cuban Coffee

I should just dedicate Fridays to different genres of jazz. Today feels like a good day for Afro-Cuban jazz.

This chap, Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo, who performed under the name Machito with his Afro-Cubans, was an incredibly important innovator shaping Afro-Cuban jazz as well as modern American music. He was important to race in the music industry as well, as his Afro-Cubans may have been the first multi-racial band.

I’m brewing some Café Bustelo before I bust out my dancing shoes. ¡Vamonos!

Judge applies ‘Parkinson’s Law’ to VW emissions cheat case
You know the adage, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”? U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer gave Volkswagen 30 days to come up with a fix* for all the emissions standards cheating passenger diesel engine cars in the class action lawsuits he oversees in San Francisco. Gotta’ love this:

“It’s an ongoing harm that has to be addressed … I’ve found the process is a function of how much time people have available to fill. The story about lawyers is that that if you give them a year to do something, it will take them a year to do something. If you give them 30 days to do something, they’ll do something in 30 days.”

As time passes, vehicle owners are increasingly damaged as no one wants to buy their cars and their investment is lost. Hence the aggressive time limit.

* Caution: that link to SFGate may autoplay video and ad content. Really, SFGate? That’s such hideously bad form.

Rough road ahead in Saudi Arabia to a post-oil world
This piece in WaPo paints a grim picture of cheap oil’s impact on Saudi Arabia — and there are huge pieces missing. Worth a read while asking yourself how much Saudis are spending on military efforts against Yemen and Syria, and what new industries they’re investing in to replace oil-based employment.

Took long enough: Software and social media firms get Apple’s back
Did their legal departments finally read the case thoroughly and realize they had skin in this game, too? Who knows — but Google as well as Microsoft are planning to file amicus briefs in support of Apple. Microsoft had already indicated they would support Apple in a congressional hearing yesterday morning; Google piped up later. The latest skinny is that Facebook and Twitter both intend to file briefs as well in favor of Apple. Looks like Microsoft’s current management took an 180-degree turn away from progenitor Bill Gates’ initial response, hmm?

Hit and run

That’s a wrap on this week. Keep your eyes peeled for news dumps while folks are still picking apart last night’s GOP-cast reality TV show. And make time to dance.

EDIT — 8:40 AM — Ugh, why didn’t the Detroit News publish this piece *yesterday* instead of a Friday morning? Michigan’s Gov. Snyder’s “inner circle” exchanged emails advising a switchback from Flint River a year before the switchback took place, and only three weeks before Snyder’s re-election. There was enough content in this to go to press without waiting for a quote from one of the former advisers.

DHS: Happy to Spend $$ To Keep People Out, But Not Illicit Trade

A few weeks ago, a nonpartisan group revealed that the Federal government spends more on immigration enforcement than all other law enforcement combined. Altogether it spends $18 billion a year–most of it to keep people out of the country and prosecute and deport those who get in without documentation.

The United States spends more money on immigration enforcement — nearly $18 billion in the 2012 fiscal year — than on its other law enforcement agencies combined, according to a report released Monday from the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.

That spending went to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and US-Visit, a program that helps states and localities identify undocumented immigrants.

By contrast, the U.S. spent $14.4 billion — combined — on its other prime law enforcement agencies: the FBI, Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshal Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Today, Janet Napolitano basically told Congress to fuck itself and its demand that all shipping containers bound for the US be screened. Apparently, the one time $16 billion price tag is too much to ensure that our trade cargo undergoes the same scrutiny actual people do.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday suggested that her department does not plan on meeting a congressional requirement that all foreign cargo shipped to the United States be scanned for dangerous materials that could be used in a terrorism attack.

Congress in 2007 approved a law that requires all ship cargo bound for the United States be screened for weapon-usable nuclear and radioactive materials and other dangerous substances before the vessels sails away from foreign seaports. After missing an initial deadline last July to come into compliance with the law, the Homeland Security Department now has until July 2014 to meet the mandate.

“I actually looked into this issue very thoroughly,” Napolitano said during a Wilson Center event here.

Last spring, Napolitano told lawmakers it would cost $16 billion to deploy screening technology at all of the approximately 700 international seaports that send cargo to the United States.

“It’s one of those things where as we have grown and become more knowledgeable about how to really manage risk, we have recognized that mandates like that sound very good but in point of fact are extraordinarily expensive and that there are better and more efficient ways to accomplish the same result,” Napolitano said on Thursday.

Mind you, what shipping container screening is being done is largely included in that $18 billion a year figure, which includes Customs and Border Patrol’s budget of $3.5 billion. So fulfilling the Congressional mandate would only inflate the larger number.

Moreover, I’m willing to entertain the notion that it doesn’t make sense to scan each and every shipping container.

You know? In the same way it simply doesn’t make sense to make each and every airplane passenger take off her shoes and go through a backscatter machine?

But the disparity in what DHS is willing to spend to keep people out of the country as compared to what it is willing to spend to keep contraband trade and weapons out is telling.

It makes it clear, first of all, that DHS doesn’t believe it has to fulfill every Congressional mandate, including the one that mandates DHS round up 400,000 people a year to deport. I’m not saying I agree with that; I’m noting that DHS chooses when to follow the requirements Congress sets.

It also makes clear that importers would never be asked to undergo the same inconvenience and cost that actual people do (ultimately, importers should be paying the cost to ensure their shipping containers are safe, not taxpayers).

It appears, then, DHS is far more interested in keeping undocumented people–whether they present a risk to the US or not–out of this country than it is keep contraband trade out.

John Brennan: Not only Drone Assassination Czar, But Eliminate American Privacy Czar

The most interesting line of this WSJ article–describing the dissent to the Administration’s plan to give the National Counterterrorism Center any government database it wants for five years–is this one.

Mr. Brennan considered the arguments. And within a few days, the attorney general, Eric Holder, had signed the new guidelines.

The story suggests that the way the Administration resolved objections from people within Department of Homeland Security (as well as DOJ) to giving NCTC Americans’ flight data in ways they hadn’t been informed of when the data was collected was to have a meeting at the White House Situation Room at which John Brennan would decide whether to heed those objections.

John Brennan. Not the President, not the Attorney General, not even National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, but instead John Brennan (not coincidentally, a former contractor on data mining and before that in charge of targeting for Dick Cheney’s illegal wiretap program).

Much of the rest of the story rehearses what I reported (among other places) here and here and here and here. It describes how the NCTC will have access to any database it claims contains terrorist information.

What’s new in this story is the reason NCTC demanded a policy granting them broad access to these databases–because it had not complied with an agreement made with DHS regarding one of its databases.

Late last year, for instance, NCTC obtained an entire database from Homeland Security for analysis, according to a person familiar with the transaction. Homeland Security provided the disks on the condition that NCTC would remove all innocent U.S. person data after 30 days.

After 30 days, a Homeland Security team visited and found that the data hadn’t yet been removed. In fact, NCTC hadn’t even finished uploading the files to its own computers, that person said. It can take weeks simply to upload and organize the mammoth data sets.

Homeland Security granted a 30-day extension. That deadline was missed, too. So Homeland Security revoked NCTC’s access to the data.

To fix problems like these that had cropped up since the Abdulmutallab incident, NCTC proposed the major expansion of its powers that would ultimately get debated at the March meeting in the White House. [my emphasis]

And it describes how, primarily, former DHS Privacy Officer Mary Ellen Callahan fought the changes.

In May 2011, Ms. Callahan and Ms. Schlanger raised their concerns with the chief of their agency, Janet Napolitano. They fired off a memo under the longwinded title, “How Best to Express the Department’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Concerns over Draft Guidelines Proposed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center,” according to an email obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The contents of the memo, which appears to run several pages, were redacted.

The two also kept pushing the NCTC officials to justify why they couldn’t search for terrorism clues less invasively, these people said.

[snip]

To resolve the issue, Homeland Security’s deputy secretary, Jane Holl Lute, requested the March meeting at the White House.

[snip]

Ms. Callahan argued that the rules would constitute a “sea change” because, whenever citizens interact with the government, the first question asked will be, are they a terrorist?

It also describes how all these people who not only championed privacy, but also pointed out our targeting failures in the past came from not investigating quickly, not lacking the data to find those people.

This feels very similar to the same argument that Thomas Drake fought at NSA. He, like these former DHS and DOJ people, fought for a way to find terrorists that didn’t also infringe on the privacy of Americans. And he, like these DHS people, was overruled.

The difference, of course, is that this abuse of privacy came under Barack Obama, who never seems to get criticized for showing the same disdain for privacy that Dick Cheney did.

Though, insofar as John Brennan is making all the decisions in Obama’s war on terror, I’m not sure there’s a real difference between the two.

Tom Coburn Takes on the Zombie Apocalypse

I tell you, if Tom Coburn just stuck to shutting down the most egregious Homeland Security fearmongering boondoggle abuses rather than shutting down government itself, I might grow to love the man.

His latest effort (for which some of his staffers appear to have staged a very fun photo shoot) takes on the stupid things localities bought under the $7.1 billion Urban Area Security Initiative, which was originally intended to help likely terrorist targets (like NYC) prepare against an attack, but which turned into a big boondoggle for towns unlikely to be targeted.

The describes how Keene, NH (home of the Free State Project) tried to use a grant to buy its 40-cop police department–which has faced just one murder in the last two years–an armored vehicle to protect its annual pumpkin festival. Keene was not alone; the report has several pages dedicated to the graft Lenco Armored Vehicles has been conducting selling governments in Waukesha, WI and Santa Barbara, Carlsbad, Escondido, and Fontana, CA BearCats they have no need for using sole source bids.

The report attacks Pittsburgh for having bought an LRAD–which it used during the G-20–as “a kinder and gentler way to get people to leave.” It also describes how San Diego County used an LRAD to protect a speaking event with Darrell Issa, Duncan Hunter, and Susan Davis.

But the centerpiece of the report is the description of how first responders used grant money to attend a training session in a San Diego resort at which they were entertained by a Zombie Apocalypse simulation billed as “a very real exercise, this is not some type of big costume party.”

One notable training-related event that was deemed an allowable expense by DHS was the HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit 2012. Held at the Paradise Point Resort & Spa on an island outside San Diego, the 5-day summit was deemed an allowable expense by DHS, permitting first responders to use grant funds for the $1,000 entrance fee. Event organizers described the location for the training event as an island paradise: “the exotic beauty and lush grandeur of this unique island setting that creates a perfect backdrop for the HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit.

[snip]

The marquee event over the summit, however, was its highly-promoted “zombie apocalypse” demonstration. Continue reading

Mess at DHS: The ICE Lady Goeth and Thoughts On The Real Story

As Marcy appropriately pointed out, there was a LOT of news dumped in the waning moments and bustling milieu of a Friday afternoon; not just pending a holiday weekend, but with a press corps still hung over from, and yammering about, the empty chairs and empty suits at the GOP National Convention. I have some comments on the cowardice of justice by DOJ on Arpaio, but will leave that for another time.

But the declination of prosecution of Joe Arpaio was not the only Arizona based story coming out of the Obama Administration Friday News Dump. Nor, in a way, even the most currently interesting (even if it ultimately more important to the citizens of Maricopa County, where Arpaio roams free to terrorize innocents and political opponents of all stripes and nationalities). No, the more immediately interesting current story in the press is that of Suzanne Barr, DHS and Janet Napolitano. Not to mention how the press has bought into the fraudulent framing by a Bush era zealot to turn a garden variety puffed up EEO complaint into a national scandal on the terms and conditions of the conservative, sex bigoted, right wing noise machine.

And what a convoluted tale this is too. It is NOT what it seems on the surface. The complainant referenced in all the national media, James Hayes, had nothing whatsoever to do with the DHS official, Suzanne Barr, who just resigned. There is a LOT more to the story than is being reported. And there are far more questions generated than answers supplied. What follows is a a more fully fleshed out background, and some of my thoughts and questions.

You may have read about this DHS story already, but here is the common generic setup from the mainstream media, courtesy of the New York Times:

The accusations against Ms. Barr came to light as part of a discrimination lawsuit filed by James T. Hayes Jr., a top federal immigration official in New York, against Ms. Napolitano, contending that he had been pushed out of a senior management position to make room for a less-qualified woman and then was retaliated against when he threatened to sue. The lawsuit also accused Ms. Barr of creating “a frat-house-type atmosphere that is targeted to humiliate and intimidate male employees.”

The resignation — amid a three-day holiday weekend sandwiched between the Republican and Democratic national conventions — came at a time when the public was likely paying little attention to events in Washington. But Representative Peter T. King of New York, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, released a statement in which he vowed to continue to scrutinize the matter when Congress returns from its August break.

“The resignation of Suzanne Barr raises the most serious questions about management practices and personnel policies at the Department of Homeland Security,” Mr. King said, adding that the committee would review “all the facts regarding this case and D.H.S. personnel practices across the board.”

The Complaint of James T. Hayes, Jr: So, Suzanne Barr really must have laid one on this Jimmy Hayes chap, right?? Uh, no. Not really. Not at all. Let’s take a look at the actual complaint as legally pled. These are my thoughts, as a Continue reading

National Sickness: No Debate Allowed on Civilians Owning Weapons of War

Three fatal mass shootings within three weeks should be providing an opportunity for a national conversation on civilians having easy access to semiautomatic weapons and high capacity clips that are designed for use in war. Two of the killers in these cases were known by family and/or medical personnel to be dealing with mental issues while the third had generated at least some attention from both government and private groups that monitor groups harboring violent extreme racist views. Despite these clear warning signs in the shooters’ backgrounds, all three legally purchased and possessed their weapons that were designed for wartime use.

Instead of the nation assessing what can be done to prevent weapons designed solely for killing large numbers of people getting into the hands of those who are most likely to put them to that use, we have major players in our society fanning some of the issues that contribute to the problem. Last week, Congressman Joe Walsh delivered a speech casting Muslims as dangerous extremists bent on killing:

“One thing I’m sure of is that there are people in this country – there is a radical strain of Islam in this country -– it’s not just over there –- trying to kill Americans every week. It is a real threat, and it is a threat that is much more at home now than it was after 9/11,” Walsh said.

Walsh went on to claim that radical Islam had found its way into the Chicago suburbs, including some that he represents.

It’s here. It’s in Elk Grove. It’s in Addison. It’s in Elgin. It’s here,” he said.

Just a few days later, a man was arrested in nearby Morton Grove for firing at a mosque while people were inside praying. Fortunately, this time the shooter only used a pellet gun instead of a weapon of war, which could have led to yet another disaster.

Joe Walsh and other extremists in Congress like Michele Bachmann and Steve King happily spout their venom that fires up racists, but we also learned this week that the man behind the 2009 Department of Homeland Security report on right wing extremist groups capable of violence had his report repudiated and his team dissolved. He subsequently left DHS. Both Democracy Now and Danger Room have chronicled Johnson’s plight. Sadly, Johnson’s work was quite accurate when it came to the shooting at the Sikh temple. From Spencer Ackerman at Danger Room:

Daryl Johnson had a sinking feeling when he started seeing TV reports on Sunday about a shooting in a Wisconsin temple. “I told my wife, ‘This is likely a hate crime perpetrated by a white supremacist who may have had military experience,’” Johnson recalls. Continue reading

If Domestic Drones Are All Civil, Then Why Are They in the Defense Authorization, Too?

I’m working my way up to a post on the cognitive dissonance the government’s treatment of Hedges v. Obama seems to have created over at Lawfare. But first I want to note something odd about this Ben Wittes post, calling Conor Friedersdorf’s endorsement of Charles Krauthammer’s opposition (!) to domestic drones, “silly.” After excerpting what they said, Ben writes,

All of which provokes one question: Do either of these men have the slightest idea what they’re talking about?

[snip]

More fundamentally, the issue before the FAA right now is not the flying of “instruments of war” over the United States. It is, as Congress put it (see Section 332), the development “of a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.” The key word in there is “civil.” We’re not talking here about standing armies or using the military domestically. We’re not even talking about weapons at all. We’re talking about crop dusters. We’re talking about traffic-monitoring UAVs. We’re talking about journalism. We’re talking, in the longer run, about unmanned civilian cargo transport and, I suspect, air travel. And yes, we’re talking about law enforcement.

Now, like ACLU’s Catherine Crump, I’m not opposed to some domestic uses of drones, like disaster response and climate change response.

But I’m struck by the focus of Wittes’ so-called rebuttal. He seems to be focusing on the requirement–with a 270 day deadline–to set up a plan for civil drones in the national airspace.

(1) COMPREHENSIVE PLAN.—Not later than 270 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with representatives of the aviation industry, Federal agencies that employ unmanned aircraft systems technology in the national airspace system, and the unmanned aircraft systems industry, shall develop a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system. [my emphasis]

He seems to be ignoring the other part of the section that requires FAA–with a 180 day deadline–to set up a program involving 6 test sites.

(1) ESTABLISHMENT.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall establish a program to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system at 6 test ranges. [my emphasis]

Which is curious, because this requirement specifically involves DOD and includes “public” drones, as well as civil ones.

(C) coordinate with and leverage the resources of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Defense;

(D) address both civil and public unmanned aircraft systems; [my emphasis]

So the first thing that’s happening is the roll-out of these test sites including “public” (DOD, NASA, and DHS) drones, not the plan for the roll-out of “civil” drones.

Not only that, but this requirement appears not just in the FAA reauthorization, but also–as Section 1097–in the Defense Authorization.

SEC. 1097. UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS AND NATIONAL AIRSPACE.

(a) ESTABLISHMENT.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall establish a program to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system at six test ranges.

Continue reading

Data Mining Adoptive Parents along with Suspected Terrorists

I’m a sucker for groups of adoptive kids. Like the time when a group of Michigan families with adopted Ethiopian kids had a rambunctious reunion at my favorite Ethiopian restaurant, with the owner catering to the kids like a grandparent. Or the time I shared a restaurant in Guangzhou with a bunch of French families who had just picked up their baby daughters; they somehow expected these girls who had lived in Chinese orphanages to immediately understand how to act like proper French kids.

There’s a lot that can be abusive in international adoptions, but when I see joyful gatherings like these, I’m awestruck by the faith such parents have in our common humanity.

Which is why I’ve been obsessing by one of the implications of this post. As I noted, DHS’s Inspector General helpfully explained that among all the other people in DHS’ IDENT database are the American citizens who had adopted internationally.

Individuals with fingerprints in IDENT include persons with an immigration history, such as aliens who have been removed but have reentered the country, immigration visa applicants, legal permanent residents, naturalized citizens, and some U.S. citizens.
IDENT includes two categories of U.S. citizens:

  • Citizens who have adopted a child from abroad (which involves U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), participated in a trusted traveler program, or may have been fingerprinted by immigration officials for smuggling aliens or drugs across U.S. borders;
  • Individuals who were not citizens at the time that their fingerprints were collected, but subsequently became citizens through naturalization, legal permanent residency, or immigration.[my emphasis]

Now, we can be pretty sure that when NCTC decided it needed to acquire US agency databases and data mine them with their existing terrorism databases, complete with the US person data they included, the IDENT database–the primary purpose of which is to track people who’ve come through the immigration system–was one of the first databases they went after.

Which is another way of saying the US persons in the IDENT database should assume they’ll also be in NCTC’s databases for five years. Including those parents who adopted children from China or Ethiopia or Guatemala or Romania.

“Well, if they’ve done nothing wrong they don’t have anything to be worried about.”

Perhaps. Except that the kind of people who adopt kids internationally may also tend to have reason for a significant number of international connections, whether because of religious faith, an effort to establish some tie to their child’s native country, or a comfort with international travel.

There are a lot of people whose biometric data shouldn’t be mined along with a bunch of terrorist suspects. At the top of that list, though, are families whose primary interaction with Bureau of Customs and Immigration Services entailed adopting a baby from another country.

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @CultofNewMedia @JasonLeopold @laRosalind Yeah, this guy is Rambo. It's either going to work or completely self destruct. Not sure which.
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @djsziff @ddayen The Govt buggered it though. And climate changed as to jury pools. Is bullshit if Govt thought that precluded other cases.
6hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @GreggJLevine: A Cruz aid complained general is now a race btwn 2 liberal Dems; easier to say it's btwn 2 Rockefeller Republicans https:…
6hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @ddayen: Also this is just untrue & Eric Holder is the world's worst character witness https://t.co/H6yLrlpGLr https://t.co/zkNgHgLSdt
6hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz If the 2nd Circuit catches wind of this, Tom Brady can kiss his appeal goodbye https://t.co/DuwZ2R4MDT
7hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @saramayeux: but, as this article shows so graphically, in prisons w/worst abuses, grievance process is chimera. threats of retaliation…
8hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @saramayeux: PLRA says, judges have to toss out lawsuit if prisoner did not first exhaust all administrative grievance procedures w/in t…
8hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @saramayeux: finally read @EyalPress's horrifying account of how Florida prisoners are tortured, largely with impunity: https://t.co/6Dk
8hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @adamgoldmanwp @DanLamothe It's funny, I've not seen a single report mention his mother Krista, who was so central to C-4 when was younger.
8hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @StephStradley Can't argue with some of us, because we've been in agreement from the get go!
8hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @TimothyS Yup.
8hreplyretweetfavorite
May 2016
S M T W T F S
« Apr    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031