DCCC hack: FBI probes Democratic congressional group intrusion; Links to DNC hack and Russia investigated

Congressional candidates that are running for office and being supported by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee watch a video while standing onstage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 27, 2016.   REUTERS

Yet another U.S. Democratic Party group has been hacked, the FBI said today. This latest cyberattack against the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (or DCCC) could be related to an earlier hack against the Democratic National Committee, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources on the FBI investigation.

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'Classic intimidation'—Black Lives Matter activists targeted by FBI ahead of RNC

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 10, 2016. REUTERS

The Republican National Convention kicks off this Sunday in Cleveland, Ohio. Most of the highest-profile activists associated with the Black Lives Matter movement are not planning to attend, but that didn't stop FBI agents from contacting them by phone, and showing up at their homes to interrogate them and their grandmothers.

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FBI closes D.B. Cooper hijacking case

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Hijacker D.B. Cooper leaped from a plane in a storm with $200,000 and a parachute and was never seen again. The FBI, after 45 years of investigation, is letting him slip into legend for good.

On Nov. 24, 1971 passenger Dan Cooper threatened to blow up a Northwest Orient flight if he didn't receive $200,000, four parachutes and a flight to Mexico.

As part of the agreement between Cooper and authorities, passengers on the flight were dropped off at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. In exchange for the hostages, ransom loot and the parachutes were brought aboard.

Shortly before hitting the Oregon border, Cooper jumped out of the plane's tail exit with two of the chutes. Neither Cooper, nor his remains, were ever found. Tattered ransom money was found along the banks of the Columbia River in 1980.

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Leaked FBI documents reveal secret rules for spying on journalists with National Security Letters

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Today, The Intercept published leaked documents that contain the FBI’s secret rules for targeting journalists and sources with National Security Letters (NSLs)—the controversial and unconstitutional warrantless tool the FBI uses to conduct surveillance without any court supervision whatsoever.

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Defense lawyers: the FBI made us use a copy-shop that made secret copies for the government

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Attorneys for Dr Salo Schapiro, on trial in Miami for Medicare fraud, says that the FBI and the US Attorney have engaged in a decade-long conspiracy to improperly gain access to confidential defense documents, in a scheme that used a crooked Ft Lauderdale copy shop that slipped CDs containing scanned confidential defense documents that had been entrusted to it to the FBI and the DA. Read the rest

Elon Musk Says Humans Will Go To Mars by 2024

Elon Musk (Reuters / Stephen Lam)

In my weekly segment on KCRW's “Press Play” news program with host Madeleine Brand, we listen to Elon Musk wax poetic about artificial intelligence and whether life might be a dream--and his plans to send humans to Mars by 2025.

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Airport security officer was alleged war criminal, arrested for lying about participation in "genocidal acts" (UPDATED)

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Yusuf Abdi Ali, a former Somali national army commander, is a pretty famous alleged war criminal, someone who's been profiled on major news media, deported from Canada over a failed claim of refugee status, arrested in the USA for lying about his participation in "genocidal acts" on his visa applications, currently embroiled in a lawsuit with someone who claims Ali tortured and shot him -- and now he works as a private airport security officer at DC's Dulles airport. Read the rest

EFF: FBI & NIST's tattoo recognition program exploited prisoners, profiled based on religion, gave sensitive info to private contractors

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Dave Maass from EFF says, "Right now, NIST researchers are working with the FBI to develop tattoo recognition technology that police can use to learn as much as possible about people through their tattoos. But an EFF investigation has found that these experiments exploit inmates, with little regard for the research's implications for privacy, free expression, religious freedom, and the right to associate. And so far, researchers have avoided ethical oversight while doing it." Read the rest

Security researcher discovers glaring problem with patient data system, FBI stages armed dawn raid

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Justin Shafer was roused from his bed this week by thunderous knocking at his North Richland Hills, Texas home, and when he opened the door, found himself staring down the barrel of a 'big green' assault weapon, wielded by one of the 12-15 armed FBI agents on his lawn. Read the rest

Someone just snuck warrantless email access into the Senate's secret intelligence bill

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Every year, the Senate passes a secret bill (that is, a bill whose text is a secret during its debate) that re-authorizes intelligence agencies' surveillance powers; this year, someone (possibly chairman Richard Burr, R-NC and/or Tom Cotton, R-AR) has snuck in an amendment that would give the FBI the power to demand warrantless access to Americans' email and browsing history, using National Security Letters, a controversial, widely used secret police order. Read the rest

FBI is investigating copyright trolls Prenda Law for fraud

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For more than four years, we've been writing about Prenda Law, a prolific copyright troll (that is, a company that sends dire legal threats and demands for money to people they accuse of copyright infringement, based on the flimsiest of evidence), whose conduct is so breathtakingly illegal that it feels like satire or performance art (but it's not). Read the rest

The FBI planted bugs in Oakland courthouse without a warrant

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The FBI isn't in the mood to discuss why it installed hidden microphones and cameras in and around Alameda County’s Rene C. Davidson Courthouse. It had been conducting secret surveillance for 10 months, even though they didn't have a court order.

From the East Bay Express:

At the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, the FBI planted hidden microphones inside light fixtures on the courthouse’s exterior steps to capture the conversations of people attending the foreclosure auctions. Cameras and microphones were installed in parked Alameda County vehicles next to the courthouse. The FBI even hid a microphone in the AC Transit bus stop on Fallon Street, and dropped a bugged backpack next to a statue inside the courthouse, according to a letter sent by US Justice Department attorney Kate Patchen to Marr's attorneys on March 15. The surveillance was ongoing from March 2010 to January 2011. ...

[D]efense attorneys in the San Mateo case said they believe the federal agents committed felonies when they planted the bugs.

Facing this challenge, government prosecutors in San Mateo have moved to withdraw the recordings as evidence at trial, but the defense has called this move an attempt by the FBI to "cut its losses and sweep its criminal conduct under the rug."

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FBI has been harassing a Tor developer since 2015, won't tell her or her lawyer why

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Since November 2015, FBI agents have been trying to get Tor developer Isis Agora Lovecruft to meet with them, but they won't tell her or her lawyer why. Read the rest

Florida man arrested in FBI sting over “weapon of mass destruction” synagogue bombing plans

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A man in Florida was arrested last week for planning to use “a weapon of mass destruction” at a synagogue near Miami, federal authorities said today. The ill-fated words that James Gonzalo Medina reportedly uttered to the undercover FBI agent who sold him a fake explosive device, words which will likely seal the suspect's fate: “I’m ready, bro!”

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FBI has no plans to share how it hacked into that iPhone with Apple or anyone else

iPhone parts in a NY repair store, February 17, 2016.  REUTERS

Bless their cold, spyin' hearts. The FBI suddenly cares about the rights of technology developers.

On Wednesday, the official word came from the federal agency that it will not be disclosing what vulnerability it exploited to force its way in to the San Bernardino attacker's iPhone, because -- can you hear the gentle clutching of pearls?-- “it did not own the rights to the technical method a contractor used to open an Apple iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters and therefore could not submit details of the mechanism for an interagency government review,” as Reuters puts it.

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FBI admits to giving flawed testimony for decades

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An "elite FBI forensic unit" admitted that for two decades, nearly every examiner "gave flawed testimony" (aka lied) about hair sample evidence in criminal trials. And geepers, they sure feel bad about all those people who were executed in prison because of it.

Washington Post:

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.

University of Virginia law professor Brandon L. Garrett said the results reveal a “mass disaster” inside the criminal justice system.

Remember this the next time the FBI asks for an encryption backdoor and promises not to abuse it.

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Microsoft sues US government for the right to tell you when the feds are reading your email

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“We appreciate that there are times when secrecy around a government warrant is needed,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post Thursday. “But based on the many secrecy orders we have received, we question whether these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly demand secrecy. To the contrary, it appears that the issuance of secrecy orders has become too routine.”

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