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Archive for January 25th, 2014|Daily archive page


In Activism, Archive, FBI on January 25, 2014 at 6:13 PM


Informant examines Brandon Darby, a radical activist turned FBI informant who has been both vilified and deified, but never entirely understood.

In 2005, Darby became an overnight activist hero when he traveled to Katrina-devastated New Orleans and braved toxic floodwaters to rescue a friend stranded in the Ninth Ward. Soon after, he became a founding member of Common Ground, a successful grassroots relief organization. After two young activists were arrested at the 2008 Republican National Convention, Darby shocked close friends and activists nationwide by revealing he had been instrumental in the indictment as an FBI informant.

As the only film with access to Darby since his public confession, Informant meticulously constructs a portrait of his life — before and after the death threats — through interviews with Darby and tense reenactments starring the man himself.
Darby’s version of events are accompanied and often contradicted by commentary from acquaintances and expert commentators on various points along the political spectrum.

Related Links:

At ‘NATO 3′ Trial, Undercover Cop Defends Chicago Police Spying on Activist Communities

REVEALED: Targets Supplied by FBI to Jeremy Hammond

FBI Informant Authorized Crimes: 5,658 in 2011, 5,939 in 2012

JLENS Aerostats: 3 Year Test of Army Blimps Over Maryland Surveilling 340-Mile Radius of East Coast

In Archive, Army, Surveillance, USA on January 25, 2014 at 1:16 PM


Craig Timberg/WashingtonPost:

They will look like two giant white blimps floating high above I-95 in Maryland, perhaps en route to a football game somewhere along the bustling Eastern Seaboard. But their mission will have nothing to do with sports and everything to do with war.

The aerostats — that is the term for lighter-than-air craft that are tethered to the ground — are to be set aloft on Army-owned land about 45 miles northeast of Washington, near Aberdeen Proving Ground, for a three-year test slated to start in October. From a vantage of 10,000 feet, they will cast a vast radar net from Raleigh, N.C., to Boston and out to Lake Erie, with the goal of detecting cruise missiles or enemy aircraft so they could be intercepted before reaching the capital.

Defense contractor Raytheon last year touted an exercise in which it outfitted the aerostats planned for deployment in suburban Baltimore with one of the company’s most powerful high-altitude surveillance systems, capable of spotting individual people and vehicles from a distance of many miles.

The Army said it has “no current plans” to mount such cameras or infrared sensors on the aerostats or to share information with federal, state or local law enforcement, but it declined to rule out either possibility. The radar system that is planned for the aerostats will be capable of monitoring the movement of trains, boats and cars, the Army said.

The aerostats planned for Maryland will have radar capable of detecting airborne objects from up to 340 miles away and vehicles on the surface from up to 140 miles away — as far south as Richmond, as far west as Cumberland, Md., and as far north as Staten Island. The Army declined to say what size vehicles can be sensed from those distances.

Aerostats — basically big balloons on strings — grew popular in Iraq and Afghanistan and also are used by Israel to monitor the Gaza Strip and by the United States to eye movement along southern border areas. Even a rifle shot through an aerostat will not bring it down, because the pressure of the helium inside nearly matches the pressure of the air outside, preventing rapid deflation.

The Defense Department spent nearly $7 billion on 15 different lighter-than-air systems between 2007 and 2012, with several suffering from technical problems, delays and unexpectedly high costs, the Government Accountability Office found in an October 2012 report .

The system planned for Maryland is called JLENS, short for Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System. The system has had setbacks, including rising costs and an accident in 2010 that damaged one of the aerostats at a facility in North Carolina.

A GAO report in March put the total development costs for JLENS at $2.7 billion. Once expected to provide 16 systems, each consisting of two aerostats and accompanying ground controls, only two of these systems have been built, the one scheduled to fly in Maryland and a second sitting in storage in Utah.

Raytheon, the prime contractor on the project, declined numerous interview requests about the JLENS system and, after requesting questions in writing, also declined to answer those.

The JLENS aerostats can stay in the air continuously for up to 30 days and have shown the ability in tests to track fast-moving objects in flight. The JLENS radar systems also can detect what security experts call “swarming boats,” the kind of small, agile watercraft that, when loaded with explosives, can threaten ships.

The aerostat system destined for use outside Baltimore has spent the past few years based at the Utah Test and Training Range, in the vast, parched salt flats west of Salt Lake City.

Residents of the area complained less about privacy issues than the militarization of the airspace. Testing of the JLENS involved small aircraft that raced through the sky, mimicking the flight of missiles. The radar systems were supposed to track them and help firing systems home in on the moving targets. The aerostats themselves were not armed.

The Army said similar tests will not be conducted while the aerostats are deployed in suburban Baltimore.

In a bid to demonstrate the long-term utility of JLENS to potential customers, Raytheon organized and paid for an exercise at a Utah test range in which it outfitted an aerostat with a spherical MTS-B sensor, often used by the Air Force and Customs and Border Protection to conduct overhead surveillance from drones. The exact capabilities of the MTS-B are classified, military officials said, but engineers familiar with the technology said its electro-optical and infrared sensors probably can detect individuals from more than 20 miles away.

For the Raytheon test, the MTS-B spotted a person pretending to be a terrorist planting an improvised roadside bomb, even though the view was obscured by smoke from a nearby forest fire, according to a Raytheon news release from January 2013. Operators could see live feeds of “trucks, trains and cars from dozens of miles away.”

The Army described the MTS-B test as “a contractor conducted demonstration” and said that only Raytheon could provide details. The company declined to do so, referring all questions to the Army.


DOJ Accuses Security Firm That Vetted Snowden of Faking 665,000 Background Checks Between 2008-2012

In Archive, DOJ, Snowden on January 25, 2014 at 10:19 AM


Michael Isikoff/NBC News:

The Justice Department is accusing the private contractor that vetted him and thousands of other intelligence workers of bilking U.S. taxpayers out of tens of millions of dollars by conducting phony background checks.

USIS, the giant private contractor that conducted the background checks of both Snowden and Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, is accused in a Justice Department lawsuit filed Wednesday night of conducting 665,000 fake background checks between 2008 and 2012.

“USIS management devised and executed a scheme to deliberately circumvent contractually required quality reviews of completed background investigations in order to increase the company’s revenues and profits,” said the Justice Department in its complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Alabama.

The DOJ lawsuit cites internal emails to back up charges that USIS senior officials devised a wide-ranging “scheme” to defraud the federal government on background checks through a practice known as “dumping” or “flushing” in order to boost the firm’s profits.

“Shelves are as clean as they could get,” reads one April 2010 email from a “workload leader” to USIS director of National Quality Assurance. “Flushed everything like a dead goldfish.”  Another email reads: “Scalping tickets for ‘Dick Clark’s Dumpin’ New Year’s Eve!’ … Who needs 2?”

The practice of “dumping” or “flushing” involved certifying to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that full “quality review” background checks had been  performed when in fact those reviews had not been completed. Aided by a software program known as “Blue Zone,” USIS identified large volumes of cases at the end of day as “Review Complete” — and then fraudulently certified them to OPM, according to the complaint.

Between March 2008 and September 2012, “USIS released at least 665,000 background investigations” to OPM, certifying them as completed when they actually hadn’t been, the complaint charges. This amounted to 40 percent of all the background checks performed by USIS done during this period., it said. The allegedly fraudulent background checks included employees seeking security clearances at the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice Department and other federal agencies.

The suit charges that USIS senior management “was fully aware of, and in fact, directed the dumping practices.”  It notes that the firm was paid $11.7 million in bonuses under its contract between 2008 and 2010.

A company source, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity, said that some employees involved in the fraud “were terminated” and that all of the individuals cited in the complaint — including top USIS executives — no longer work for the firm. The source also stressed that neither the Snowden nor the Alexis background checks were among those cited as fraudulent in the complaint. (The complaint does not identify any of the allegedly improper checks.)

Larry Klayman NSA Class-Action Lawsuit

In Archive, Barack Obama, CIA, DOJ, FBI, NSA, Surveillance on January 25, 2014 at 10:10 AM



Today, Larry Klayman, a former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor, announced that he and the other plaintiffs in prior successful litigation (case no. 13-cv-851 and 881) against the NSA and other Government Defendants, including President Obama, have re-filed their class action demand in a new proceeding before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The new case which will be assigned to Judge Richard J. Leon as related, is the only class action lawsuit that has actually been filed against the NSA and other Government Defendants. It (case no. 14-cv-92) was filed to streamline the earlier cases, also before Judge Leon, which are on appeal with a petition for writ of certiorari soon to be filed. The writ, if granted, will allow the cases to leapfrog the intermediate appellate court and go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the prior cases, Judge Leon found that the NSA’s massive metadata surveillance on nearly all Americans without regard to their having any connection to terrorism, as “almost Orwellian” in its violation of Fourth Amendment rights.

In filing the new class action, plaintiffs removed the class action demand in the earlier cases, and dropped the Verizon Defendants with the right to add them later, in order to speed up the case and move it into the discovery phase to prepare for trial. Accordingly, the original cases are now simplified, thus speeding up litigation, while the new class action can potentially entail a class of thousands if not millions of Americans as plaintiffs.

Klayman stated: “The on-going outrageous violation of constitutional rights should be adjudicated as fully and swiftly as possible, while allowing all aggrieved citizens to bring suit. The Government defendants, including the president, must be held accountable and these violations of constitutional rights must be brought to an end. As for Verizon and the other cell phone and internet providers who claim that they have no liability as they were acting under orders of the FISC or Justice Department, discovery in the on-going cases will test whether this is true. If not, they will be added to the cases at a later date.”

Related Link: Sen. Rand Paul Filing Class-Action Lawsuit Against NSA

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