Archive for the ‘“Intelligence”’ Category
With only days left before Election Day, the FBI has taken the unprecedented step of announcing it is opening an investigation into and incident that happened when GOP candidate Mike Rounds was governor of South Dakota. This is based on an incident that is three years old and has already been investigated by other authorities.
The announcement by the FBI seems calculated to cast doubt on Rounds’ character in what looks to be an election that is much closer than anyone anticipated. While the FBI has announced the investigation, they have pointedly declined to say what, exactly they are investigating, or who is the target.
There is no way an FBI apparatchik is going to confirm an investigation is underway, one that potentially involves a candidate for Senate who will more likely than not win, shortly before election day without approval from the highest levels in the administration. No functionary in any agency is ballsy enough to do that especially when they are under no legal obligation to say anything.
This is just another of the cheap, political tricks we’ve learned to expect from an administration that holds both the truth and the law in contempt. One of the first orders of business in a new Congress has to be gaining control of a regulatory and bureaucratic apparatus that Obama has placed in the service of the Democrat party.
The Department of Justice and its underlings (the FBI and nearyl every law enforcement agency in the nation) have turned the ideal of asset forfeiture (defund drug dealers; return money to the defrauded, etc.) into a free-roaming, many-tentacled opportunistic beast, one that “liberates” any amount of “suspicious” cash from tourists, legitimate business owners or anyone else who just happens to have “too much” cash in their possession.
The IRS is in on this as well. The agency doesn’t need to prove anyone is guilty of anything before seizing assets. It just needs to feel that things aren’t quite right.
For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.
The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.
The person whose money has been seized isn’t necessarily guilty of anything. Hinders hasn’t been arrested, nor does there appear to be any sort of ongoing investigation. The IRS hasn’t hit Hinders with tax liens for unpaid taxes or subjected her to an audit. All it did was look at records for her deposits and decide that because none of them surpassed the $10,000 mark (which triggers automatic reporting), everything in the account must be somehow illegal.
Civil forfeiture is an in rem proceeding against the property itself, not the owner of property. Civil forfeiture is a process that is separated from, and not dependent on, a criminal prosecution. Civil forfeiture can proceed administratively or judicially.
Hinders never needs to be charged. In fact, she never needs to be heard from again. The IRS can seize and hold this money indefinitely and decide whether or not the $33,000 is “guilty” without any input from Hinders. To opportunistic agents, any sub-$10,000 deposit is “evidence” that the depositer is deliberately avoiding reporting requirements, rather doing so for any number of more mundane, less criminal reasons.
Anyone nailed by an IRS seizure can fight for the return of their money, but there’s nothing resembling due process here. Those choosing to do so would have to file a lawsuit intervening in the IRS’s forfeiture case. In other words, the situation must be forced. Simply showing up and defending money from accusations of wrongdoing isn’t enough. In fact, it isn’t even a possibility, at least not in this case. Prosecutors for the Dehko case offered the them a “deal:” an implicit admission of guilt via a plea bargain (presumably on behalf of the guilty money) and the return of 20% of the seized funds.
You Can’t Vote Out National Security Bureaucrats: And They, Not Elected Officials, Really Run The Show
A year ago, we noted a rather odd statement from President Obama, concerning some of the Snowden leaks. He more or less admitted that with each new report in the press, he then had to go ask the NSA what it was up to. That seemed somewhat concerning to us — suggesting that the administration wasn’t actually aware of what the NSA was up to until after it leaked to the press. Combine that with our more recent story of how James Clapper is basically ignoring the substance of President Obama’s called for surveillance reforms, and you might begin to wonder who really runs the show when it comes to surveillance. And, indeed, according to a guy who knows quite well, the national security bureaucracy basically calls the shots, and the President has little to no power. That’s the basic summary of an interview with Michael Glennon under the title Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change in the Boston Globe.
Glennon is the author of a new book called National Security and Double Government, as summarized by the Boston Globe:
Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, “National Security and Double Government,” he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy.
Glennon cites the example of Obama and his team being shocked and angry to discover upon taking office that the military gave them only two options for the war in Afghanistan: The United States could add more troops, or the United States could add a lot more troops. Hemmed in, Obama added 30,000 more troops.
Republican leaders with jurisdiction over immigration policy are expressing shock at an Obama administration memo detailing plans to bring non-citizen Ebola patients to the United States for treatment.
“It’s alarming that senior Obama Administration officials so vehemently denied the existence of any plans to transport non-U.S. citizens infected with Ebola to the United States for treatment when a leaked State Department document shows that such a proposal indeed exists and was approved by Obama Administration officials,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, this lack of transparency is just another example of the Obama Administration trying to hide its actions from the American people,” he added.
Earlier in the week Fox News obtained an internal Obama administration memo revealing plans to “[c]ome to an agreed State Department position on the extent to which non-U.S. citizens will be admitted to the United States for treatment of Ebola Virus Disease.”
Prior to the revelation of the memo Goodlatte wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson asking about possible plans to bring Ebola non-citizen patients to the U.S. for treatment.
“Secretaries Kerry and Johnson still have not responded to my letter inquiring about this proposal,” Goodlatte said. “The Obama Administration must be forthcoming with both Congress and the American people about its proposed plans to bring non-U.S. citizens infected with this deadly disease to the United States for medical care.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee also stressed that the Ebola non-citizens patients should not be brought to the U.S. for treatment.
“Federal government health professionals have stated that the best way to fight the Ebola virus from coming to the United States is to stop it at the source. That means in West Africa, not here in U.S. communities,” Grassley said Wednesday. “The Obama administration memo describing possible efforts to skirt the immigration laws and fast track the admission of people with Ebola fails to consider the risk to Americans and adds to the absurd refusal of the President to institute common sense travel restrictions that would better protect the homeland.”
Despite the concerns, the State Department attempted to brush the matter aside Wednesday by claiming that the memo is “weeks old.”
“The leader of Syria who slaughtered 150,000 people was not awarded the name “chickens**t,” Bennett wrote on Facebook. “Neither was the leader of Saudi Arabia who stones women and homosexuals or the leader of Iran who murders freedom protesters.”
“The prime minister of Israel is not a private person. He is the leader of the Jewish state and the entire Jewish people. Cursing the prime minister and calling him names is an insult not just to him but to the millions of Israeli citizens and Jews across the globe,” Bennett wrote.
An official in the prime minister’s office told Israel Radio Wednesday in response to the criticism that Netanyahu “will continue to stand for Israeli interests, and no pressure will change this.”
Communications Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel’s NRG news site, “It’s ridiculous and even sad that senior Obama administration officials vilify and curse the prime minister with sayings that they never used against mass murderers like Assad and others. Expressions like these play into the hands of Islamic extremism which draws strength from them.”
Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in the piece that, “Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ‘Aspergery.’ (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.)”
The chicken reference related to Netanyahu’s perceived unwillingness to reach a peace accommodation with Palestinians and that he never launched a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, Goldberg wrote.
“He’s got no guts,” the unnamed senior official said.
Describing Netanyahu as cowardly prompted conservative commentators and others to unflatteringly compare the Israeli leader — a former Israeli Defense Forces commando — with President Barack Obama.
Roger L. Simon of P.J. Media observed, “Never mind for a moment the absurdity of an (of course anonymous) Obama official calling the Israeli PM a coward when Netanyahu has been personally under fire in two wars, volunteering for the second after having been wounded by a gun shot in the first (his brother, as many will remember, was killed during the raid on Entebbe — both Netanyahus were in Sayeret Matkal [IDF counterterrorism unit]) at approximately the time the official’s boss Barry was lulling on a balmy Hawaiian beach smoking ‘choom’ with his gang.”
Others pointed out the very different treatment given by the White House to Islamist rulers accused of supporting terrorism.
Seattle Times ‘Outraged’ at Method FBI Used to Catch Suspect: ‘Not Only Does That Cross a Line, It Erases It’
The Seattle Times reacted Monday night to a report revealing that the FBI used a phony webpage aimed at resembling the news outlet’s website to plant software on the computer of an individual they suspected of making bomb threats to a school in 2007.
“We are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect,” Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best said in a statement.
“Not only does that cross a line, it erases it,” she continued.
“Our reputation and our ability to do our job as a government watchdog are based on trust. Nothing is more fundamental to that trust than our independence — from law enforcement, from government, from corporations and from all other special interests,” Best added. “The FBI’s actions, taken without our knowledge, traded on our reputation and put it at peril.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation obtained documents revealing the FBI created a phony webpage with an Associated Press byline and “in the style of The Seattle Times” to lure an individual suspected of making bomb threats in 2007 to Lacey’s Timberline High School. Agents then planted software on his computer and tracked his location.
Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Times the actions were “outrageous” and noted such actions could result in “significant collateral damage to the public trust” if law enforcement continues to mimic media outlets in sting operations.
The FBI, however, defended the actions their agents took.
In a surprise move late Friday, a key Democrat on the Federal Election Commission called for burdensome new rules on Internet-based campaigning, prompting the Republican chairman to warn that Democrats want to regulate online political sites and even news media like the Drudge Report.
Democratic FEC Vice Chair Ann M. Ravel announced plans to begin the process to win regulations on Internet-based campaigns and videos, currently free from most of the FEC’s rules. “A reexamination of the commission’s approach to the internet and other emerging technologies is long over due,” she said.
The power play followed a deadlocked 3-3 vote on whether an Ohio anti-President Obama Internet campaign featuring two videos violated FEC rules when it did not report its finances or offer a disclosure on the ads. The ads were placed for free on YouTube and were not paid advertising.
Under a 2006 FEC rule, free political videos and advocacy sites have been free of regulation in a bid to boost voter participation in politics. Only Internet videos that are placed for a fee on websites, such as the Washington Examiner, are regulated just like normal TV ads.
Ravel’s statement suggests that she would regulate right-leaning groups like America Rising that posts anti-Democrat YouTube videos on its website.
FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman, a Republican, said if regulation extends that far, then anybody who writes a political blog, runs a politically active news site or even chat room could be regulated. He added that funny internet campaigns like “Obama Girl,” and “Jib Jab” would also face regulations.
“I told you this was coming,” he told Secrets. Earlier this year he warned that Democrats on the panel were gunning for conservative Internet sites like the Drudge Report.
Breaking procurement laws and violating government ethics did not stop a top Department of Veterans Affairs official from being hired at another federal agency, the Washington Examiner has learned.
Susan M. Taylor, the subject of a scathing VA inspector general’s report released Friday, landed the new job as director of procurement planning at the Department of Energy and was slated to start Sunday, Oct. 5.
That offer was rescinded after the IG’s findings were reported by the Washington Examiner and other media.
Thomas Johnson, associate deputy assistant secretary for acquisition at DOE, said he and others involved in the selection of Taylor were unaware of the IG’s investigation when she was hired.
The internal DOE announcement was posted in an email sent by Johnson Sept. 12.
“Obviously a pretty strong IG report came out Friday with some pretty strong allegations and findings against Ms. Taylor,” Johnson told the Examiner on Thursday.
“The IG report came out several weeks after my email that was announcing the hiring of Ms. Taylor. Once we received the IG report, obviously the department went back and reviewed that report and reconsidered. At that point, that’s when the decision was made to not hire Ms. Taylor.
“At the time the selection was made, we didn’t know that the IG was investigating, nor did we know that there were any outstanding allegations or anything against Ms. Taylor,” Johnson said, adding the job offer has been rescinded. “She will not be hired by the Department of Energy.”
The IG report found Taylor misused her position and violated numerous government ethics rules by manipulating her subordinates into awarding a contract to FedBid Inc., a company based in Vienna, Va.
A revolt is brewing among doctors and hospital administrators over electronic medical records systems mandated by one of President Obama’s early health care reforms.
The American Medical Association called for a “design overhaul” of the entire electronic health records system in September because, said AMA president-elect Steven Stack, electronic records “fail to support efficient and effective clinical work.”
That has “resulted in physicians feeling increasingly demoralized by technology that interferes with their ability to provide first-rate medical care to their patients,” Stack said.
Congress approved the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act in 2009, which mandated the health care industry to undertake a massive digitization of patient medical records.
More than 75 percent of all physicians now use some type of electronic records system, up from 18 percent in 2001, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In a report sent to Congress Thursday, the office also said hospital adoption of at least a basic electronic records system has increased from 12 percent in 2009 to 59 percent this year.
The concept of digitizing patient records where they can be accessed in real-time by multiple health care providers is popular, but a lengthening list of problems with its implementation is prompting increasingly vocal complaints.
The complaints focus on poorer quality care for patients and fewer medical reports while immense new financial burdens are imposed on medical providers. In addition, the new digitized system leaves millions of people vulnerable to hacker attacks.