News Roundup: TrapWire, Sham Experts, Body Slams, & End of Summer Reading

The buzz over the TrapWire story remains buzzy, thanks to supporting roles by Anonymous, WikiLeaks, and the CIA.  While it is not true that the Virginia company, started by ex-CIA and staffed by formerly high-ranking intelligence officials, is a Nationwide Surveillance System Recording, Monitoring Everything, the company is (1) selling its surveillance technology as a way for government to keep an eye on activists and (2) tied directly into NSI (the National Suspicious Activity Reports Initiative). Public Intelligence gives a great overview in Unravelling TrapWire: The CIA-Connected Global Suspicious Activity Surveillance System, while the ACLU’s PrivacySOS gives us perspective in Trapwire and Data Mining: What We Know.  PC Mag reports how the Wikileaks Dump Tips U.S. ‘TrapWire’ Surveillance Efforts . The NYTimes’ coverage takes the NYPD at its word that it’s not using Trapwire, a journalistic mistake that PrivacySOS says Misses the Mark.

In his last column at Salon, Glenn Greenwald sticks it to The Sham “Terrorism Expert” Industry, made up of an “incredibly incestuous, mutually admiring little clique in and around Washington.”   Greenwald is headed over to man the Guardian’s Security and Liberty post.

The NYTimes notes in Pockets of City See Higher Use of Force During Police Stops that over 20% of the NYPD’s stop & frisks turn into a stop & punch.  Four of the five precincts with the highest use of force rate are in the Bronx; the fifth is Jackson Heights in Queens.  If you’re stopped in the 46th Precinct in the West Bronx, there’s a 56% chance the cops will get rough on you. Get stopped in the 111th Precinct, and there’s less than 5% chance force will be used.  The 46th is predominately Black and Latino; the 111th is 87% white and Asian.

This week’s Rolling Stone includes an unflattering story of The Long, Lawless Ride of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  Different sheriff, same mindset…in Criminal Minds: Racial Profiling in Alamance Countythe county just west of Durham, NC, Indyweek.com crunches the numbers and concludes that “Latino drivers stopped in Alamance County are likely to be treated differently than those stopped elsewhere.”   The story also includes this little tidbit: the anti-immigrant Sheriff and two of his deputies are headed out to a FAIR-sponsored “Border School” training in Texas next month.  How are they paying for the $3,200 bill? Drug forfeiture money.

In border news, the Fraser Institute has been Measuring the Costs of the Canada-US Border, and reports that “border thickening” doesn’t just wreck your figure – it’s a drag on your economy as well, to the tune of 1.5% of GDP.

Mexico beware – U.S. News & World Report “reports” that Bin Laden-like SEAL Team Raid Could Take Down Mexican Drug Kingpin, giving details its “reporters” culled from reading this article in Borderland Beat.  This isn’t journalism, but is U.S. News being lazy here, or is it cheerleading?

Did the FBI illegally spy on Muslims in southern California when it used an informant to infiltrate mosques and collect information willy nilly? We may never know, after the federal district Court Dismisses Case Based on State Secrets Privilege.  Here is the Order Granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Based on State Secrets Privilege.

Jennifer Lynch at EFF seems damned pleased about what turned up in the FAA’s response to EFF’s FOIA request, and tells us why in These Drones Are Made For Watchin’.  EFF’s initial document review reveals that drone flights in the U.S. have almost all been undertaken by local police looking for new ways expand surveillance.  But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, Danger Room warns us – keep your hats on for Stealthy, Tiny, Deadly, Global: The Drone Revolution’s Next Phase.

And for summer reading’s last cram, three suggestions:  Terminator Planet, The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050 by Nick Turse and Tom (of Tom Dispatch) Englehardt, available as an e-book or print on demand; Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Survive, by Bruce Schneier; and Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding.  Harbach’s book has nothing to do with criminal justice, national security, or immigration enforcement, which seems reason enough to read it.

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