“A proposed rule to the Freedom of Information Act would allow federal agencies to tell people requesting certain law-enforcement or national security documents that records don’t exist – even when they do.
Under current FOIA practice, the government may withhold information and issue what’s known as a Glomar denial that says it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records.
The new proposal – part of a lengthy rule revision by the Department of Justice – would direct government agencies to ‘respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist.’”
UPDATE: Homeland Security intelligence office to be investigated
Congress has called for further investigation of the Homeland Security Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis following a Center for Investigative Reporting examination that found the outfit has done little to add to or improve the nation’s intelligence data.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last month directed the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, to examine the department as part of a first-ever Homeland Security authorization bill.
The committee directed the GAO to look at the department’s reliance on contractors, duplication and gaps in intelligence analysis, and the accuracy and usefulness of analysis reports, all issues raised in CIR’s probe.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said his decision to push for further examination, which aims to “peel back the layers” to find problem areas and identify what needs to be done to enhance the department’s intelligence capabilities, was “spurred” by the CIR report. Read more.
Congress mandates that the Department of Homeland Security conduct special assessments whenever it builds new counterterrorism databases that explain how the systems might negatively impact the privacy of everyday Americans.
We keep track of these assessments at the Center for Investigative Reporting, and the latest offers insight into the warmly titled database “ICEPIC,” short for ICE Pattern Analysis and Information Collection. You can read that as data mining, a phrase authorities prefer to avoid because it tends to freak people out. That concern apparently didn’t extend to ICEPIC.
The system has actually been around for awhile, but as far as privacy implications go, the latest document has this to say:
ICEPIC is a toolset that assists ICE law enforcement agents and analysts in identifying suspect identities and discovering possible non-obvious relationships among individuals and organizations that are indicative of violations of the customs and immigration laws as well as possible terrorist threats and plots.
“Like I said, Tweet ‘em. Tweet ‘em. They’re all Tweeting all over the place. Tweet ‘em back.”—President Obama, telling students at a rally at the University of Colorado how to get Congress’s attention. (via dcdecoder)
“The last American soldier will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.”—President Barack Obama announcing the United States will pull troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011. via New York Times.
“After several hours, we were summoned to the residence, where I greeted the Libyan leader and sat down to hundreds of camera flashes. Gaddafi said a few completely appropriate words, as did I, and the press left. We began the conversation as Amado had suggested, talking about Africa in general and Sudan in particular. Libya, he promised, would help with alternative routes for humanitarian supplies to the refugees. This is going pretty well, I thought. He doesn’t seem crazy. Then, as Amado had predicted, he suddenly stopped speaking and began rolling his head back and forth. “Tell President Bush to stop talking about a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine!” he barked. “It should be one state! Israeltine!” Perhaps he didn’t like what I said next. In a sudden fit, he fired two translators in the room. Okay, I thought, this is Gaddafi.”—An excerpt of an exclusive excerpt from Condoleezza Rice’s new memoir about the former secretary of state’s meeting with the Libyan leader, who once called her his “African princess.” (via newsweek)
“The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine. These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square.”—An Egyptian general admitting, in May, that protesters had been forced to submit to “virginity checks.” (via officialssay)
The Pentagon got so excited about its new Guantanamo war-court website that it apparently tried to copyright the whole thing, until a Yale professor pointed out that the government can’t copyright its own publications. They’re owned by you and me. Interestingly, the phrase “If you see something, say something,” which the feds have used to promote suspicious activity reporting, shows up in press releases as trademarked.
“I’m not just seeing print advertising. I’m actually hearing radio and seeing TV advertising. It’s gone mainstream. Not only is it inappropriate – one has to wonder what kind of message we’re sending to our children – it’s against the law.”—
U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy, whose district includes Imperial and San Diego counties in California.
Federal prosecutors are preparing to target newspapers, radio stations and other media outlets that advertise medical marijuana dispensaries in California, another escalation in the Obama administration’s newly invigorated war against the state’s pot industry. Read more.
The way Downey, California resident Lauren Baumann tells it, she was putting on Christian rock concerts at a mini-golf fun park and renting a $10,000-a-month historic mansion in order to serve God. And also to pay off a $2.9 million judgment from a 1990s fraud conviction in Texas.
To federal prosecutors, it was just another Ponzi scheme. Baumann, 43, pleaded guilty Monday to wire fraud, admitting that she lured more than two dozen people in Orange and Los Angeles counties to invest in Christian “battle of the bands” contests and real estate deals with false promises. She raised nearly $1 million, and in the end, her investors lost $560,000.
"I am really just hoping there will just be a way to repay everybody," Baumann said. "At the end of the day, God knows my heart. I felt this was what I had to do, is own what I did wrong." Read the full story.
“Dick Cheney was a maniac about preparing for debates. He rehearsed over and over again. He’d do full mock rehearsals. He’d find out what the room temperature at the debate hall would be, and he’d do it at that temperature.”
The Council on Foreign Relations has produced a number of interesting crisis guides ranging from the global economy to Pakistan. Their newest one is on Iran.
From the Council’s website: “Amid upheaval in the Middle East, Iran’s ambitions as a regional power and its ongoing nuclear program pose major challenges to its neighbors and the global community. This interactive offers a range of expert insights into Iran’s modern-day path.”