Monthly Archives: April 2012

Suspicious Activity Reporting – What to Report

The good people at Public Intelligence today posted a training video for line officers on what sorts of nefarious activities to report to the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI).   In the International Association of Chiefs of Police produced video, the baritone narrator tells the local police officers:

You are the nation’s strongest force in the fight against terrorism. As a frontline law enforcement officer, you are trained to recognize behaviors and activities that are suspicious, and your daily duties position you to observe and report these suspicious behaviors and activities. Continue reading


The Week to Stop Cyber Spying Starts…Now

Electronic Frontier Foundation leads the charge against the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) this week with its Stop Cyber Spying week of action. Proponents of H.R. 3523 are describing the bill as facilitating  information sharing.  EFF, joined by the ACLU, Constitution Project and others, are countering by warning of violations of individual privacy rights.

This seems to be shaping up as a trade-off between privacy and information sharing, with CISPA opponents arguing the balance has been poorly struck. Philip Bump at the Daily Beast puts it this way: Continue reading

We See Something, Why Aren’t We Saying Something?

Researchers at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), working alongside the International Association of Chiefs of Police, want to know why the See Something, Say Something campaign has been such a flop. Improving the Public’s Awareness and Reporting of Suspicious Activity found the top 5 reasons people do not report suspicious activity: 1. Worry about getting an innocent person in trouble (43%); 2. Fear of retaliation (36%); 3. Uncomfortable with judging others (31%); 4. Not sure it’s a worthwhile use of police resources (31%); and 5. Assume someone else will report it (29%).

All pretty good reasons, it seems.  Continue reading


Hungary’s Secret Police

Paul Krugman turned his column over today to Kim Lane Schepple, who gives us a rundown of Hungary’s counter-terrorism police. Schepple characterizes TEK, a 2010 creation of the conservative Fidesz party, as a unit that is quickly becoming Prime Minister Viktor Orbán “own secret police,” possessing ” truly Orwellian powers, including virtually unlimited powers of secret surveillance and secret data collection.”

Schepple’s enumeration of TEK’s powers:

TEK now has the legal power to secretly enter and search homes, engage in secret wiretapping, make audio and video recordings of people without their knowledge, secretly search mail and packages, and surreptitiously confiscate electronic data (for example, the content of computers and email)….There are no legal limits on how long this data can be kept… Continue reading

GAO’s (non)Report on FBI’s Prioritization of Counterterrorism

Two years of stonewalling by the FBI, and this report on the agency’s counterterrorism work is the best the Government Accountability Office can do? After the FBI, post-9/11, declared counterterrorism to be its top investigative priority, it repeatedly refused to cooperate with GAO’s efforts to assess its effectiveness.

Seems the FBI won this round. I was snoring before making it to the end of the report’s title: “Vacancies Have Declined, but FBI Has Not Assessed the Long-Term Sustainability of Its Strategy for Addressing Vacancies.”  Rather than being about the FBI’s effectiveness in, well, countering terrorism, the GAO gives a report about job vacancies.

Secrecy News puts a positive spin on things.  “While the substance of the new GAO report is of ephemeral interest,” Steven Aftergood writes today, “the report may nevertheless have long-term significance as a catalyst for, and a portent of, greater GAO involvement in intelligence oversight.”

Deets on the National Guard and the SW Border

A report released today by the GAO (Border Security: Observations on Costs, Benefits, and Challenges of a Department of Defense Role in Helping to Secure the Southwest Land Border) gives a bucket of details on the scope of trends of National Guard deployment on the Southwest Border under Operation Jump Start (2006-2008) and Operation Phalanx (2010-2011) .

Here is the Department of Defense directly assisting local law enforcement:

DOD is able— through its Joint Task Force-North—to support approximately 80 of about 400 requests per year for law enforcement assistance. These funds have been used for activities in support of law enforcement such as operations, engineering support, and mobile training teams. For example, DOD was able to provide some funding for DOD engineering units that constructed roads at the border. While DOD provided the manpower and equipment, CBP provided the materials. In addition, DOD was able to provide some funding for DOD units that provided operational support (e.g., ground based mobile surveillance unit) to law enforcement missionsContinue reading

A Pulitzer for AP’s series on NYPD-CIA spying

Pulitzers to the AP for their work showing how the NYPD has come to look more and more like a domestic CIA.

The AP has helpfully compiled links here to the 20+ stories in the series. If you have time to read only one, read the first story, With CIA Help, NYPD Moves Covertly in Muslim Areas:

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NYPD has become one of the country’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies. A months-long investigation by The Associated Press has revealed that the NYPD operates far outside its borders and targets ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government. And it does so with unprecedented help from the CIA in a partnership that has blurred the bright line between foreign and domestic spying.

Continue reading

DHS’ Quotas for Deporting Immigrants with Felony Convictions

Not much hoopla about this when it was release the day before Valentine’s Day earlier this year. Ok, no hoopla at all. But here it is, the Department of Homeland Security’s Strategy Plan for the next four years.

Amidst limpidity (“Objective 3.2.1: Eliminate the conditions that encourage illegal employment” “Objective 3.2.2: Prevent fraud, abuse, and exploitation, and eliminate other systemic vulnerabilities that threaten the integrity of our immigration system”), these hard numbers:

Number of convicted criminal aliens removed per fiscal year: 210,000 in FY2012; 224,000 in FY2013; 244,000 in FY2014.

Flip forward to Appendix B, where the three Priority Goals for FY2012 are laid out. Sandwiched between strengthening aviation security and increasing disaster resilience by making sure every state has plans in place, is this:  Continue reading

Graphic that almost explains datasharing…

…but not quite. Here it is anyway, describing the database exchange standards between the FBI’s IAFIS, NCIC, NGI, N-DEx; the Department of Defense’s ABIS and NGA; and the Department of Homeland Security’s IDENT.

Two or three things I know for sure: it’s from 2008, has a good color scheme, and is intended to be read by people who understand phrases  like “the NGI, N-DEx and NGA are NIEM-compliant” and “Based on the GJXDM, NIEM is an updated standard that…includes GJXDM as well as other data structures.”

Electronic Monitoring & LA Jail Overcrowding

To put into the “worth digging” file – Sheriff Lee Baca’s sudden and dramatic turnaround on the decrepit Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail.

After years of fighting hard for funding to build a newer, bigger jail, today’s editorial in the LA Times reports Baca had a “change of heart” after reading an ACLU funded report by Jim Austin that upwards of 3000 people can be safely released.   The editorial has Baca saying pretrial detainees can be safely released because they will be wearing ankle bracelets, though there is no mention of electronic monitoring in the Austin report.

Who is in line to get the contract for handling the electronic monitoring?