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Obama and the intel community’s ‘Leaks against Trump’ campaign

Liberty Unyielding - 3 hours 23 min ago

I wrote a few days ago about the connection between the owner of the Washington Post – leak central for the so-called “deep state” campaign against the Trump administration – and the CIA.

In 2013, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, made two major moves at virtually the same time.  He bid successfully for a $600 million cloud services contract with the CIA.  And he bought the Washington Post.  As highlighted in my earlier post, Barack Obama made a presidential appearance at an Amazon fulfillment center in the middle of those twin commercial dramas – a controversial event that political observers thought was odd at the time, due to the antagonism of labor advocates toward Amazon.

Political observers thought it was odd, perhaps.  But tech-industry reporters could have explained the matter to them.  It would have been no surprise to those who tracked developments in cloud computing.  Amazon’s Web Services division, or AWS, gave Bezos half of his very big 2013 because 2013 came in the wake of a very fruitful 2012.

That fruitfulness was because 2012 was the year AWS and its cloud services package worked directly for Obama.  AWS powered the famous Obama for America digital campaign model: the one that tracked and predicted the behavior of millions of voters.  The AWS cloud wasn’t just a convenient vehicle for Obama for America’s digital operations.  It was the game-changer.  According to the participants at the time, it made all the difference.  It showed what could really be accomplished through harvesting and manipulating “big data,” with on-the-fly agility.

Don’t forget that “big data” hook.  But take a moment to ponder the point that Obama for America’s cloud services contractor went on the next year to get the 10-year cloud services contract with the CIA.  At the same time, the contractor’s owner became the owner of the Washington Post.

There’s more.  The rest of the intelligence community (IC) was also getting on the cloud-computing bandwagon.  And by 2015, even agencies (like NSA) that had contracted with other vendors for cloud services were shifting their client operations to AWS.  The AWS contract with the CIA covers services for all 17 of the agencies in the IC, including NSA and the intel operations of the DOJ/FBI.

Today, the migration to a shared cloud in the IC has advanced considerably.  Amazon’s AWS operates that private IC cloud for the clients 24/7.  For many routine purposes, the AWS cloud is the way analysts and agencies pull data, collaborate, and manipulate it.

There’s quite a sizable moral hazard here already, with a single owner of both the Washington Post and the cloud-services contractor for the entire intelligence community.  (AWS also has cloud services contracts with other government agencies, including DOD and HHS.)  But back on that “big data” hook.  The interesting thing about it is that it is a common thread running through each act and actor in our drama.

A big data thread

The Obama for America campaign made a very big deal of it, as it applies to voters and on-the-ground politics.  In 2017, we are already seeing, with the retooled “Organizing for Action” non-profit –what Obama for America became in 2013, after the 2012 election was over – the same intense and distinctive organizing outreach the 2012 campaign was famous for.  (And for what it’s worth, Organizing for Action’s online presence was hosted by Amazon Web Services up through at least 2015.  OFA moved to a different domain registrar and hosting service in December 2016.)

Amazon, meanwhile, has always been about big data.  Big data – tracking you, the customer, and knowing your wants and habits before you figure them out yourself – is Amazon’s bread and butter.  There’s a meaningful sense in which Amazon is big data, and was made by big data.  (See here and here for reasons why that makes some folks very uneasy about the Amazon cloud venture with the IC.)

The intel community, for its part, has been increasingly invested in big data since at least the mid-1990s.  It got a major jolt for collecting big data from the aftermath of 9/11.  And this next point can’t be overemphasized: the intel cycle paradigm shifted after 9/11 from priority- and event-driven collection to event-driven data retrieval, with collection as an ongoing, environmental condition.  (For a fairly deep dive into this, see my 2015 commentary on the big-data focus of the Jade Helm exercise.)

The intel data coffers are being filled constantly now, with whatever is out there that can be recorded in some way.  The IC agencies then pull from the unfathomably huge data stores when a priority or event comes along.

That is understandably alarming to many citizens, whenever it comes up for political criticism.  I don’t like it myself.  But in that way, intel has become more and more like the Obama model for political organizing, and the Amazon model for commercial insight.

It’s not just legitimate, it’s essential to think about what that may mean, when (a) Obama-type organizers, (b) Jeff Bezos’s Amazon, and (c) the intel community are all linked through a data cloud contract.

And it’s extra-special when there’s a handy spigot out one end – the Washington Post – owned by the guy in the middle.

Factors in aggravation

Now add three more factors that we know about.  One, officials in the intel community have already made illegal disclosures to the Washington Post.  Regardless of how they came by the information they claim to have about Mike Flynn, and what they claim it is, it’s illegal for them to tell a WaPo reporter about it.  So we know there are IC officials willing to commit illegal acts with protected data.

It thus cannot be credibly argued that, hey, no one is going to actually do that.  It’s already been done.  It could most certainly be a vulnerability for the IC cloud operated by Amazon AWS.  Indeed, that vulnerability may already have been weaponized in the attack on Flynn.

Factor two is the reporting that Obama aides, besides “community organizing” for “resistance,” are operating a form of “shadow government,” intended to thwart the Trump administration at every turn.  IC officials are reported to be part of this effort (see links at my earlier post, from the first paragraph).

The third factor is an arcane change in rules for the intel community, signed by James Clapper and Loretta Lynch in the very last weeks of the Obama administration.  This change is significant because it’s about how the IC accesses, and protects, big data.

The protections under U.S. law for the personal information of presumed-innocent Americans, which is now routinely and constantly collected by eavesdropping agencies (NSA and the FBI), have been substantially weakened over the last 15 years.  But the rules change made by Clapper and Lynch, who signed a revision to Executive Order 12333 on 15 December 2016 and 3 January 2017, respectively, basically guts those protections in any practical sense.

The new language tells NSA to take initiative to notify other agencies of “unminimized” data they might find useful, any of which could be about American citizens.  And in effect, it formally authorizes a practice skeptics have long warned the IC is engaging in anyway, through the “back door”: letting other agencies retrieve raw data – not “metadata,” and not filtered or “minimized” data, but identifying content – which NSA has collected on millions of unwitting targets.

The means for this kind of data retrieval are in place.  The IC has been using an internal search engine for several years now called ICREACH, described as a “Google for intelligence.”  Its purpose was precisely to streamline retrieval and manipulation of NSA’s huge data stores.  With the Amazon-operated cloud in place, the IC agencies are increasingly connected at a level that supports such rapid, tailored data retrieval and analysis.

Something amiss here

I don’t have the space for a lengthy discussion here, but three things that really bother me about this rule change are worth mentioning (besides the obvious point that it guts the fragile remaining protections for Americans’ private information).

One, the timing is uncanny, in light of the timeline of the Mike Flynn drama.  There is enough about the inexplicable back and forth of the Flynn drama to make it questionable just exactly how it was turned into a “thing” in the first place.  It bears looking into, and so does the 12333 revision – for interlinked reasons.

Two, the revision to E.O. 12333 is a major one, but it was made in the form of an interagency document, and not a new presidential order.  Previous revisions to 12333 were made by new presidential executive orders.  It doesn’t look good for transparency, for the Clapper-Lynch revision to be signed at their level, and so quietly.

And three, the possibility that leaps out at a skeptical observer is that 12333 was quietly revised to keep big-data searches in place, even after the scheduled 2017 sunset of a similar, but more restrictive, formal authorization of those searches under the 2008 FISA Amendments Act.

Taken all together, these factors are structural vulnerabilities that invite abuse.  This mess really needs a congressional investigation.  President Trump could promptly revoke the 12333 revision, and I hope he will.  America is overdue as well for a thorough public food fight over big data versus the Fourth Amendment.

But we need to get to the bottom of who is making illegal disclosures of sensitive information from the intelligence community.  And, although I’m not a fan of making a new law every time something untoward comes up, I do think that no one should be allowed to both own a major media outlet and operate privileged IT services for government agencies.  It should be one or the other.  You buy the media outlet – you give up your eligibility to operate an IT cloud for the managers of the nation’s most sensitive data repository.

Education Department should withdraw college rule likened to double jeopardy

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 7:01pm

Earlier, I wrote about how the Trump administration should end the Obama-era micromanagement of college discipline by the Education Department. But I overlooked one form of federal meddling that needs to be fixed.

On April 4, 2011 the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a “Dear Colleague” letter demanding that colleges not allow students or faculty accused of sexual harassment to appeal findings of guilt unless they also allowed complainants to appeal not-guilty findings — a position that some critics viewed as akin to double jeopardy.

This demand ignored OCR’s own past agency rulings to the contrary, even though “unexplained departures from precedent” violate the Administrative Procedure Act, and are arbitrary and capricious.

Before the Obama administration, OCR had stated that “there is no requirement under Title IX that a [school] provide a victim’s right of appeal.” (See University of Cincinnati, OCR Complaint No. 15-05-2041 (Apr. 13, 2006)).

Under the Clinton administration, OCR had approved a school’s limiting appeal rights to the accused because “he/she is the one who stands to be tried twice for the same allegation.” (See Skidmore College, OCR Complaint No. 02-95-2136 (Feb. 12, 1996)).

Similarly, under the Bush administration, OCR had concluded that “appeal rights are not necessarily required by Title IX, whereas an accused student’s appeal rights are a standard component of University disciplinary processes in order to assure that the student is afforded due process before being removed from or otherwise disciplined by the University.” (See Suffolk University Law School, OCR Complaint No. 01-05-2074 (Sept. 30, 2008)).

In addition to demanding what critics viewed as double jeopardy, the April 4, 2011 Dear Colleague letter also departed from prior Education Department policy in other ways, such as ignoring past agency rulings (and court rulings) recognizing that Title IX does not apply off campus, and does not require that colleges to investigate off-campus conduct even if it does have on-campus effects. For example, the Dallas office of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights noted in 2004 that “a University does not have a duty under Title IX to address an incident of alleged harassment where the incident occurs off-campus and does not involve a program or activity of the recipient.” See Oklahoma State University ruling, OCR Complaint No. 06-03-2054, at pg. 2 (June 10, 2004).

The embarrassing confusion of the ‘women’s strike’

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 5:55pm

What if you held a giant international women’s strike and nobody showed up?

Well, let’s scrap that question. The whole point of a strike, to be fair, is for no one to show up — at least not at work, anyway. But what if a bunch of left-wing feminist leaders cooked up a grandiose, multi-country women’s strike — “A Day Without a Woman,” as American organizers are calling it — and the result was not an empowered roar but rather the slow, steady, and somewhat disheartening sound of air slowly hissing out of a proverbial misfired whoopee cushion?

On March 8, we’ll find out. The organizers of January’s massive Trump-inspired women’s marches are back, looking for a follow-up hit, and they’ve settled on A Day Without a Woman, which is scheduled for International Women’s Day. For people like me — people who ultimately prefer not to live in a perpetual state of outrage and panic — this is unfortunately a bit confusing.

Where, as a woman, am I supposed to go? Are we all going to hide in a corner, giggling, mashed up in an awkward, large-scale version of sardines? Has someone booked reservations at a leafy and mysterious offshore day spa?…

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State trooper in hot water over reporting illegal alien to ICE

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 5:47pm

A politician in Washington state wants to know why cooperating with federal immigration authorities landed a state trooper in hot water.

Steve O’Ban, R, a state senator from Tacoma, Wa., sent a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, D, Friday expressing “serious concerns” over an administrative review the Washington State Patrol may be undertaking at the governor’s request.

An unnamed state trooper is being grilled for telling Immigration and Customs Enforcement about one of their suspects last week, wanted on a felony warrant and found after a traffic accident on I-5.

That man is Armando Chavez Corona, who ICE says was convicted on a felony drug charge and departed to Mexico four times from 1996 to 2000.

The trooper did not detain Chavez Corona, who was not at fault in the accident, but ICE picked him up at the scene of the collision after the trooper contacted the agency. He currently awaits deportation.

“The State Patrol is reviewing whether the trooper followed an internal policy that limits how much troopers can do to help federal immigration officials,” reported the Tacoma News Tribune Friday.

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UK suicide bomber got $1.25 million compensation after being held at Guantanamo

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 5:10pm

A British jihadi who blew himself up in Iraq this week while targeting coalition forces was paid £1 million ($1.25 million) in compensation from the UK government after being released from Guantanamo Bay.

Ronald Fiddler, originally from Manchester, joined IS in 2014 and changed his name to Jamal al-Harith.

Footage released after his death showed him smiling for the camera before heading off in a 4×4 packed with explosives. He gunned the car down a dirt track. A plume of smoke was subsequently seen. IS claimed he drove the vehicle into a military base outside Mosul, where a battle is raging between IS and Iraqi forces, causing multiple injuries.

Last night it was reported that the fanatic, a father of five aged 50, received his UK taxpayer-funded payout in 2010. It came after he was picked up by US troops in Afghanistan, where he had gone a month after 9/11.

He was held without charge for two years at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay but was released after significant lobbying from UK Home Secretary David Blunkett and left-wing human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti. They claimed he was an innocent man who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Does Trump’s new pick for Labor Sec have cozy relationship with Islamic groups?

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 5:09pm

Alexander Acosta, President Donald Trump’s new nominee for secretary of labor, has a troubling history when it comes to standing up to Islamic supremacist groups in America.

President Trump announced Acosta’s nomination Thursday during a press conference at the White House. Acosta previously served as assistant attorney general for civil rights in the George W. Bush administration. The labor secretary nominee comes with an impressive resume.

A Harvard Law School graduate and former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Acosta became dean of Florida International University law school in 2009. He also previously served on the National Labor Relations Board.

During his tenure in the Bush administration, however, Acosta became a celebrated brand amongst fringe Islamic advocacy groups.

In 2005, he received the annual “Friend in Government Award” from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, an extremist anti-Israel group that has made supportive statements toward the Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups in the past.

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Fighting for the falsely accused

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 5:02pm

Former Fort Worth, Texas, police officer Brian Franklin is finally free. But he is still fighting to clear his name.

“I’ve been vindicated,” he told me in an interview last week, “but not yet exonerated.” Franklin served 21 years in prison — a harrowing 7,700 days — of a life sentence after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in 1995. But he steadfastly maintained his innocence, studied law in the prison library and won a reversal of his conviction last spring. In December, a jury acquitted him after a second criminal trial.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride up and down,” Franklin reflected. Hellish doesn’t begin to describe the journey. His accuser had lied that she was a virgin before Franklin allegedly raped her. Prosecutors produced physical exam results of damage to her genitals as proof of his crime. In fact, she had been the victim of molestation by her stepfather for years.

Moreover, the young accuser’s story of when she was allegedly raped changed to fit a timeline developed by prosecutors. That timeline was debunked when Franklin’s employment time records and time-stamped and dated store receipts showed he was nowhere near the alleged rape location….

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Tomah VA troubles continue with nurse shortage, neglectful care

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 5:00pm

In a mostly positive profile in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week, Victoria Brahm laid out the achievements to date and the challenges facing the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tomah.

Brahm, who last month was officially named medical center director of the government-run hospital and clinics, offered a can-do attitude about mending the scandal-plagued medical center.

“I’m an open book and I think I can turn this place around,” Brahm said. “And it needs work. This is our opportunity. This is it. We have to change this culture, all the way.”

But insiders say the government-run medical complex described as “Candyland” for opioid prescription practices that left veterans drugged out of their minds is a long way from changed

An employee at the VA facility tells Wisconsin Watchdog that while he has seen some areas of improvement, the “culture of fear” described in a Senate committee report last year in many ways remains unchanged.

“(Brahm) keeps saying she is not going to tolerate bullying and retaliation, but I received a phone call today from a person getting bullied by a manager,” the staffer said.

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California has implemented its own travel ban

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 2:42pm

So this is what passes as freedom in the liberal world. The Los Angeles Times reports that the California State Legislature has passed a law that prohibits state-funded and state-sponsored travel to states with laws that discriminate against members of the LGBT community.

To drive home the earnestness of the law, the article opens anecdotally with the sad tale of UC Davis senior Acacia Keith, who was excited about having been selected to present her research at a national conference, with the school covering her travel expenses. But, alas — the article informs us — young Acacia won’t be going. The conference is being held at the University of Memphis, which is one of four states, Tennessee, that discriminates against Ls, Gs, Bs, and Ts. (The other three are  Kansas, North Carolina, and Mississippi.

One presumes Keith is still free to travel to the conference on her own dime. Not so employees of state agencies, departments, boards, or commissions, unless they are traveling to one of these cretinous locations for any of seven excepted reasons, including procuring grant funding for the Golden State. Even in the most liberal cases, money still talks!

California is not the first state to ban government travel to LGBT-unfriendly states. In March of 2016, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed a bill prohibiting travel to North Carolina.

One question worth asking is whether these states will rescind their travel bans in the event that the Trump administration goes forward with a planned rollback of the Obama-era directive that allows students to use school restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. If this change is implemented, North Carolina will no longer be guilty of discrimination for requiring that people use bathrooms that conform to the plumbing they were born with.

UC students protest another speaker they find ‘oppressive.’ His identity will shock you

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 1:29pm

In January, students at the University of California, Davis loudly protested planned addresses by firebrand conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos and former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli. Both speeches were ultimately canceled.

Last week the torch was passed to another UC branch, this time San Diego, where students raised a stink over another invitee whose views they claimed to find “oppressive” and “offensive.” So who was the provocateur this time? It was His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama!

The Tibetan spiritual leader had been selected to deliver the commencement address for the graduating class of 2017. Then the Chinese student association got wind of it and said “Nothing doing.”

Here’s more from Heat Street:

Students at the University … have claimed that [the Dalai Lama’s] presence is offensive because of his campaign to make Tibet more independent – contrary to the Communist government’s position that Tibet is a region of China under their control.

Arguments over Tibetan independence have raged for decades – but this dispute is remarkable because activists are conducting it through the language of social justice.

[…]

A statement accused university leaders of having “contravened the spirit of respect, tolerance, equality, and earnestness—the ethos upon which the university is built.”

One student posting on Facebook said: “So you guys protest against Trump because he disrespects Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, LGBT.., but invites this oppresser [sic] to make a public speech?? The hypocrisy is appalling!”

Likewise, an alumni group based in Shanghai said UCSD will be breaching its ethos of “diversity” and will leave them “extremely offended and disrespected” if the Dalai Lama’s speech dips into the political.

Chinese officials are known to be extraordinarily hostile to any groups who get close to the Dalai Lama, and do their best to punish governments who engage with the exiled Tibetan regime.

They consider the Dalai Lama a threat to stability in China, akin to a terrorist who wants to split the country.

This is what our liberal education system has wrought. Even a man who has traveled the world preaching love and tolerance for over half a century — much like a modern-day Gandhi — is too controversial.

We as a nation are in big trouble.

Cross-posted at Constitution.com

‘Muslim in New York’ exhibit shows how Muslims have contributed to New York culture for centuries

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 11:53am

[Ed. – No need to look far.]

The administration of Donald Trump, avowedly opposed to uncomfortable facts, will not be any friendlier to art. Reports indicate that the president will likely make cuts to the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, a move that, while financially painful, is also symbolic of a new official heartlessness. Art demands contemplation and enforces empathy. It is therefore dangerous stuff.

It’s no surprise, then, that museums have become flashpoints for the anti-Trump resistance. The Museum of Modern Art responded to Trump’s executive order banning travel into the United States from seven majority-Muslim countries by featuring works by artists from those nations, like the Sudanese painter Ibrahim el-Salahi. Other museums have done their own part, with the Brooklyn Museum, for example, holding a reading of “Let America Be America Again,” by Langston Hughes. “New York Museums Signal Their Resistance to Trump,” read a headline in The New Yorker.

The newest member of this artistic resistance is the Museum of the City of New York. Housed in a neo-Georgian mansion on the Upper East Side, across from Central Park, the museum is not known as a space where politics frequently intrude…

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Reince’s #NeverTrump Deputy Chief-of-Staff Katie Walsh fingered as WH leaker

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 11:49am

White House Deputy Chief of Staff and #NeverTrump Republican Katie Walsh has been identified as the source behind a bunch of leaks from the Trump administration to The New York Times and other media outlets, according to multiple sources in the White House, media, donor community, and pro-Trump 501(c)4 political group.

“Everyone knows not to talk to her in the White House unless you want to see it in the press,” says a source close to the president. “The only question is whether or not she’s doing it at the behest of [White House Chief of Staff] Reince Priebus or if she’s doing it to advance herself in DC media circles.”

One source in particular stands out: Walsh is close to Maggie Haberman, a New York Times reporter who wrote fawning pro-Republican National Committee stories during the presidential election. Walsh has also planted stories in The Washington Post and Politico.

Walsh is referred to as “Madame President” in the White House, says a senior aide. “It isn’t a compliment.”

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Obama DHS tried to hack Indiana’s election system while Mike Pence was governor

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 11:35am

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials tried to hack Indiana’s state electoral system with at least 14,800 “scans” or hits between Nov. 1, 2016, to Dec. 16, 2016, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.

The attacks are the second confirmed IT scanning assault by DHS officials against states that resisted then-President Barack Obama’s attempt to increase federal involvement in state and local election systems by designating them as “critical infrastructure” for national security.

Members of the National Association of Secretaries of State voted Saturday at their winter meeting to oppose the designation. They are asking President Donald Trump to overturn it.

Former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was also Trump’s vice presidential-elect during much of the period covered by the DHS scans of the Indiana system.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, the incoming president of the association, told TheDCNF Tuesday, “We know that between November 1 and December 16 we were scanned with about 14,800 scans, nearly 15,000 different times.” The state’s IT team traced the intruder to a DHS computer’s IP address. The same DHS unit attempted 10 times in 2016 to hack into the Georgia electoral system.

Federal officials are barred under DHS rules from trying to penetrate a state system without the express approval of the state. Neither Georgia nor Indiana approved the DHS scanning attempts.

The DHS inspector general has launched an official investigation into the Georgia breach attempt. Thomas Vessely, IT director for the Indiana secretary of state, told TheDCNF, “We kindly declined [DHS] assistance because we were very comfortable in the work we were doing in monitoring our election system.”

Lawson said she “always assumed it was because I was the incoming President of the National Association of Secretaries of State and because we declined their assistance.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp told TheDCNF Jan. 24, 2016, he was suspicious because four of the 10 attacks against the Georgia election network occurred as he was about to talk to DHS officials, or coincided with his public testimony opposing the critical infrastructure designation. “It’s certainly concerning about the dates,” Kemp said.

Kemp hopes the IG can determine if the hacks were timed to intimidate him.

Lawson said despite the scale of the scans, the DHS efforts to attack its election system was unsuccessful. “Our voter registration system was not penetrated.” She said there was “one slight penetration on an [election] website that was actually old and out of date, so it didn’t go anywhere.”

Governmental deployment of IT technology could be an evolving new tool against political opponents or to impose censorship, according to James Scott, a senior fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, a cybersecurity think tank.

“Censorship has always been an issue in the brick-and-mortar world. So, censorship in the digital landscape is simply just transference of methods,” Scott said. “I think within federal agencies it is possible to imagine that there are some overreaching, aggressive managers.”

Indiana officials have not yet asked the DHS IG to look at their state’s situation. “We’re taking the matter under consideration,” Lawson said, adding that “we have sent letters to our congressional folks, our governor, and others to make them aware this happened. I’m very concerned, very concerned.”

A DHS spokesman told TheDCNF that, “we take the trust of our partners in the public and private sectors seriously and will work with them to address any concerns. DHS does not conduct scans of networks or systems without the cooperation and consent of the system owner.”

Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Pence, told TheDCNF his boss personally knew Lawson while in Indiana and had complete confidence in her handling the attacks.

“The VP has tremendous faith in the Secretary of State and knows it’s in good hands,” said Marc. He’s sure she will handle it properly,” he said.

This report, by Richard Pollock, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Maxine Waters calls Trump admin ‘scumbags,’ accuses them of attempting to resurrect Soviet Union

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 11:13am

If Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) represents an argument for anything, it is the mandating of IQ tests for members of Congress. Waters, who recently lambasted Donald Trump for supporting Vladimir Putin even as Putin continues his “advance into Korea [sic],” was at it again Tuesday. This time the unhinged Waters was guest on MSNBC’s “All In,” where she accused Trump of trying to help Putin rebuild the Soviet Union and called his administration “a bunch of scumbags.” Lovely.

Here is the money portion of her remarks. A video follows:

Let me say this. Reince Priebus has been trying to clean up for Donald Trump for far too long. He’s the one that stuck with him all during the campaign when he was making outrageous statements. When he was basically lying and so his time is going to run out. He can’t continue to try to defend this president who is entangled with this Kremlin clan of his while they are all seeking really to get rid of these sanctions that are placed on Russia, because all of them are connected to the oil and gas industry. Just take a look at this.

Take a look at, of course, Michael Flynn — long history of ties to the Russian government, including a paid speech at a party for RT. Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, paid lobbyist for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian politician in Ukraine who fled to Russia in 2014. Carter Page, one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers doing during his campaign a frequent guest on Russian state media, held a personal stake in Russian oil and gas interest. Roger Stone, who worked in the Ukraine. Wilbur Ross, Trump’s nominee for secretary of commerce was a business partner of Viktor.

And a major financial project involving the bank of Cyprus. And, of course, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was the one who negotiated it, the multi-billion dollar drilling contract with Putin where they were going to drill in the Arctic, and it has been stopped because of the sanctions that were placed by Obama. And I want to tell you, I believe that Tillerson’s real job is to get in here and get those sanctions lifted. But all of them want them lifted because this clan, this Kremlin clan is all about getting the oil and gas money and doing the drilling, and they need this president.

They need this president to get these sanctions lifted. Don’t forget, the second executive order that was signed by the president, that was 1504, which basically would undo the work we have done with Dodd-Frank and making these oil companies disclose the money that they were using to bribe these countries within Africa and other places. So 1504 was very important because Exxon and others now will not have to disclose all of the bribes they’re doing. But these people are all organized around oil and gas. Why are they all in this administration? Why are they all so close to them?

And you alluded to and talked about what is going on with this proposal that is being pushed by Michael Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer who delivered the document. Felix F. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in political opposition movement, shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort. Can’t people see what’s going on? Why do you think they hacked into our election? They hacked into the election because they have to make sure that Donald Trump got elected. So this that he could help them with what I think a huge deal.

Not only to lift these sanctions but to take over all of these Soviet countries and pull them back into the Soviet Union so they can have access to all of these resources. It’s clear to me and I just think the American people have to have a better understand what’s going on. This is a bunch of scumbags. That’s what they are.

When she is not busy sounding like an idiot on TV, she spends her time sounding like one on social media. #kremlinklan?

I'll be joining the hosts on @TheRealDaytime tomorrow, discussing @realDonaldTrump and his #kremlinklan. Please tune in! pic.twitter.com/4YBFYurKXX

— Maxine Waters (@MaxineWaters) February 22, 2017

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Who you gonna call? Uber, concerned about sexual harassment, lack of diversity, hires Eric Holder

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 10:44am

The ride-sharing tech conglomerate Uber is serious about cracking down on claims of sexual harassment and a lack of diversity hiring. The company is not serious enough, however, to hire someone to conduct an investigation with more credibility than former U.S. Attorney General Eric (“My People”) Holder.

The move was occasioned by an incredibly creepy account by former Uber engineer Susan J. Fowler, describing a manager’s salacious behavior and the subsequent unfair treatment after reporting the alleged misconduct.

Other people who are helping in this mission to restore social justice, rather than correct a serious problem, are Arianna Huffington, the co-founder of the eponymous media outlet Huffington Pos; Liane Hornsey, Uber’s chief human resources officer; and Angela Padilla, the company’s associate general counsel, according to Reuters. Huffington joined Uber’s board of directors last year.

Company founder Travis Kalanick sent a memo out to Uber employees Monday detailing the steps he is taking to address the allegations made by Fowler. Acccording to a memo obtained by Mike Isaac of The New York Times, Kalanick wrote:

It’s been a tough 24 hours. I know the company is hurting, and understand everyone has been waiting for more information on where things stand and what actions we are going to take. Arianna and Liane will also be doing smaller group and one-one-one listening sessions to get your feedback directly.

Kalanick did not specifically bring up the sexual harassment allegations. He said that Holder and his associate Tammy Albarran, both partners at the law firm Covington & Burling, “will conduct an independent review into the specific issues relating to the work place environment raised by Susan Fowler, as well as diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly.”

Kalanick then went on to cite statistics pertaining to female shares of the workforce in engineering, product management, and scientist roles for not only Uber, but other tech companies. He claimed that Twitter, Facebook and Google, report female workforces of 10%, 17%, and 18% respectively, while his own company reports 15.1% and that “this has not changed substantively in the last year.”

“When I joined Uber, the organization I was part of was over 25% women. By the time I was trying to transfer to another eng[ineer] organization, this number had dropped down to less than 6%,” and then 3% on the final day of work, Fowler wrote.

Several tech companies have been adamantly trying to diversify their workforce, but are failing to meet their own standards. Quotas for female and minority hires (sometimes excluding Asian men) were set higher than what the companies ultimately reached.

“I believe in creating a workplace where a deep sense of justice underpins everything we do. Every Uber employee should be proud of the culture we have and what we will build together over time,” Kalanick continued in his memo, according to Reuters. “What is driving me through all this is a determination that we take what’s happened as an opportunity to heal wounds of the past and set a new standard for justice in the workplace.”

Holder was hired last year by Airbnb, an online network for lodging, to assist in formulating a policy to combat, what the company saw, as discrimination within its platform.

A former employee has accused Uber of disturbing behavior before, filing a lawsuit against the company in October, alleging the company tracks “high profile politicians, celebrities, and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses.”

This report, by Eric Lieberman, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

What does it take to win an Oscar in Trump’s America?

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 10:22am

[Ed. – News flash to Hollywood: It’s been ‘Trump’s America’ for a little over a month.]

Sunday’s Oscars loom in the shadow of Donald Trump’s fledgling presidency. As with every awards show this year, we can expect copious equal-rights diatribes mounted in resistance to the regressive legislation and callow disregard for tradition that has defined the Trump administration’s debut.

But before arriving at the annual ritual, we will have already seen one of the most politically driven Best Picture debates unfurl in the media. This time, it’s personal.

Perhaps more than ever, the Best Picture contest seems to double as a referendum on our culture’s conscience. It’s bigger than the Oscars, just as Beyoncé losing Album of the Year to Adele was bigger than the Grammys. If movies are statements about the world around us, then one purpose of the Academy Awards is to adjudicate the year’s best cinematic manifestos. That’s complicated when titles from Obama’s America are being feted in Trump’s America.

It’s especially complicated when considering the Oscars’ thorny political backdrop. Throughout its 89-year history, the event has, after all, become a shrine to Hollywood’s liberal values ― even when the movies themselves aren’t explicitly political.

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Muslim community organizes effort to repair damaged Jewish cemetery near St. Louis

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 10:06am

After an act of vandalism damaged dozens of graves in a historical Jewish cemetery near St. Louis, organizers have stepped up to help repair the damage, with one notable effort coming from the Muslim community.

The fundraiser, called Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery, organized by Linda Sarsour with MPower Change and Tarek El-Messidi with CelebrateMercy, set their fundraising goal at $20,000, stating that “the Muslim-American community extends our hands to help rebuild this sacred space where Jewish-American families have laid their loved ones to rest since the late 1800’s.”

Police would not say if they considered the vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City to be a hate crime or not, according to KTVI. It is believed there was some organization behind the crime, meaning this was not the act of one individual.

More than 100 headstones were damaged. Video shot from above the cemetery shows scores of headstones toppled to the ground.

The fundraising page states….

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Another deportee who returned to U.S. responsible for another death

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 9:58am

This time, the death of an innocent American at the hands of an illegal immigrant was not intentional, though that hardly exonerates Norlan Estrada-Reyes. The 27-year-old Honduran — who was deported in 2007, then returned illegally to the U.S., where he was arrested twice — is guilty this time of fleeing from the scene of an accident that claimed the life of 28-year-old Denver attorney Karina Pulec.

According to the Denver Post, on Oct. 30, 2016, the truck Estrada-Reyes was was driving struck and killed Pulec as she was crossed the street. Pulec, who died instantly, was dragged her 50 feet before Estrada-Reyes drove off without stopping. Police found the pickup less than a mile away, unoccupied though still in drive.

Adding to the outrageous nature of the story is that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was not aware of Estrada-Reyes’s 2014 arrest for driving under the influence.

In addition:

Estrada-Reyes’ [sic] case is the second in the past four months in which a person in the country illegally, who had previous run-ins with police, has been accused in a Denver killing. They feed into the national debate about immigration that heated up Tuesday with the release of documents showing plans by President Donald Trump’s administration to widely expand the number of people who are considered a priority for deportation.

The documents referred to include two implementation memos released Monday by the Department of Homeland Security that indicate the department’s intention to enforce the president’s January travel ban, a revised version of which is due out any time now. One of the memos, which appears to suggest that illegals that enter the U.S. through Mexico will be detained there rather than sent to their countries of origin, would apply to cases like Estrada-Reyes’s. The language in the memo has also spawned unjustified fears that the Trump administration will up internment camps along the southern border.

In the meantime, a newly released poll finds that 80% of Americans stand opposed to the idea of sanctuary cities.

Mexicans weigh the daunting prospect of deportee camps

Liberty Unyielding - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 9:53am

Mexicans fear deportee and refugee camps could be popping up along their northern border under the Trump administration’s plan to start deporting to Mexico all Latin Americans and others who entered the U.S. illegally through this country.

Previous U.S. policy called for only Mexican citizens to be sent to Mexico. Migrants known as “OTMs” — Other Than Mexicans — got flown back to their homelands.

Now, under a sweeping rewrite of enforcement policies announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, migrants might be dumped over the border into a violence-plagued land where they have no ties while their asylum claims or deportation proceedings are heard in the United States. U.S. officials didn’t say what Mexico would be expected to do with them.

The only consensus so far in Mexico about the new policies of President Donald Trump is that the country isn’t remotely prepared.

Mexicans quake at the thought of handling not thousands, but hundreds of thousands of foreigners in a border region already struggling with drug gangs and violence.

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