First up, a marriage of the First and Fourth Estates via The Intercept:
The CIA’s Mop-Up Man: L.A. Times Reporter Cleared Stories With Agency Before Publication
A prominent national security reporter for the Los Angeles Times routinely submitted drafts and detailed summaries of his stories to CIA press handlers prior to publication, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.
Email exchanges between CIA public affairs officers and Ken Dilanian, now an Associated Press intelligence reporter who previously covered the CIA for the Times, show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times.
“I’m working on a story about congressional oversight of drone strikes that can present a good opportunity for you guys,” Dilanian wrote in one email to a CIA press officer, explaining that what he intended to report would be “reassuring to the public” about CIA drone strikes. In another, after a series of back-and-forth emails about a pending story on CIA operations in Yemen, he sent a full draft of an unpublished report along with the subject line, “does this look better?” In another, he directly asks the flack: “You wouldn’t put out disinformation on this, would you?”
From the Los Angeles Times, a necessary measure:
Justice Department to investigate Ferguson Police Department
The Justice Department is expected to announce Thursday that it will open a broad civil rights investigation into the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department in the wake of the killing of an unarmed 18-year-old black man that touched off weeks of unrest.
The new civil rights investigation will be in addition to the federal criminal probe already underway as to whether Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, violated Michael Brown’s civil rights or used excessive force after a confrontation between the men Aug. 9.
The incident began when Wilson told Brown to stop walking in the street, and ended with Brown lying dead there for more than four hours. Some witnesses have said he was shot with his hands up as he tried to surrender. Wilson has reportedly said Brown was rushing at him.
From the London Daily Mail, another cop behaving badly:
Police officer who wrote on Facebook that Ferguson cop ‘did society a favor’ by killing black teen Michael Brown is put on administrative leave
- Jason Lentz, a 17-year veteran of the Elgin PD in Illinois, posted 11 racially-charged or offensive messages on Facebook this year
- Above a video showing Ferguson victim Michael Brown, 18, allegedly stealing cigars he wrote: ‘Innocent victim my a***. Did society a favor’
- He called a black highway patrol captain ‘the enemy within’ and agreed his kids should stay at home for Veterans Day if they’re off for MLK day
- He has been suspended multiple times before, including for failing to turn up to testify as a witness in a rape trial because he was going on vacation
BBC News covers the despicable:
Amnesty International: Torture still rife in Mexico
Torture is still rife in Mexico and is routinely used to extract confessions, according to a new report by human rights organisation Amnesty International.
The report says that complaints have risen by a staggering 600% over the past 10 years.
The methods used by Mexican police and armed forces include beatings, electric shocks and sexual assaults, it adds.
The government says it has been taking steps to eradicate torture.
From, Channel NewsAsia Singapore, the latest:
Ceasefire hopes rise, NATO slams Russia
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko met with Western leaders at the NATO summit and said he expected a deal would be signed on Friday “for the gradual introduction of the Ukrainian peace plan”.
Ukraine on Thursday (Sep 4) raised hopes of a ceasefire with pro-Moscow rebels during a NATO summit, as Britain and the United States urged the international community to stand up to Russia. President Petro Poroshenko met with Western leaders at the summit and said he expected a deal would be signed on Friday “for the gradual introduction of the Ukrainian peace plan”.
Pro-Russian rebel regions also said they were ready to issue a ceasefire order if the Kremlin-backed peace plan is signed.
Even as Poroshenko spoke in Newport in Britain, however, AFP reporters heard explosions on the outskirts of the flashpoint city of Mariupol, where the Ukrainian army has been digging in against a possible rebel attack.
From Deeplinks, spooky collaboration:
Newly Revealed NSA Program ICREACH Extends the NSA’s Reach Even Further
Turns out, the DEA and FBI may know what medical conditions you have, whether you are having an affair, where you were last night, and more—all without any knowing that you have ever broken a law.
That’s because the DEA and FBI, as part of over 1000 analysts at 23 U.S. intelligence agencies, have the ability to peer over the NSA’s shoulder and see much of the NSA’s metadata with ICREACH. Metadata is transactional data about communications, such as numbers dialed, email addresses sent to, and duration of phone calls, and it can be incredibly revealing. ICREACH, exposed by a release of Snowden documents in The Intercept, is a system that enables sharing of metadata by “provid[ing] analysts with the ability to perform a one-stop search of information from a wide variety of separate databases.” It’s the latest in a string of documents that demonstrate how little the intelligence community distinguishes between counter-terrorism and ordinary crime—and just how close to home surveillance may really be.
The documents describe ICREACH as a “one-stop shopping tool for consolidated communications metadata analytic needs.” ICREACH brings together various databases with a single search query, allowing analysts to search literally billions of records. The tool allows sharing of “more than 30 different kinds of metadata on emails, phone calls, faxes, internet chats, and text messages, as well as location information collected from cellphones.” It is intended to include data from Five Eyes partners as well. While the program shares data obtained under Executive Order 12333, it includes data from U.S. persons.
The Associated Press eyes boots on African ground:
US plans major border security program in Nigeria
A top U.S. official for Africa says the United States is preparing to launch a “major” border security program for Nigeria and its neighbors to combat the increasing number and scope of attacks by Islamic extremists.
Thursday’s announcement from assistant secretary Linda Thomas-Greenfield comes amid reports that Nigerian Islamic extremists have begun attacking villages in neighboring Cameroon.
Thomas Greenfield told a meeting in Nigeria’s capital of U.S. and Nigerian officials that “the situation on the ground is worsening.”
From BBC News, mystery unraveling?:
Jacob Zuma ‘spy tapes’ given to South Africa’s Helen Zille
South Africa’s opposition leader Helen Zille has been handed the “spy tapes” which she hopes will lead to corruption charges being reinstated against President Jacob Zuma.
The tapes formed the basis of a 2009 decision by prosecutors to drop the charges against Mr Zuma.
Ms Zille won a five-year legal battle to obtain the tapes to assess whether prosecutors had acted correctly.
On to the hacking front, first with Homeland Security News Wire:
Growing cyberthreats lead to growing interest in cybersecurity insurance
The increasing sophistication and scope of cyberattacks on businesses – and the increasing damage such attacks are causing – have led to growing interest in cybersecurity insurance. The industry is urging the government to treat cyberattacks as acts of terrorism which should be covered under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act(TRIA), while also looking into how the Stafford Actcould help companies after a cyberterror attack. At the same time, more private insurers are offering limited cyber-coverage, but many say they would discontinue selling cyber policies if TRIA is not renewed. As the term “cyber-coverage” continues to be defined by large insurers, the insurance product lines continue to change.
Following last week’s news of a cyberattack on JP Morgan, in which hackers stole gigabytes of data from the bank’s network, U.S. regulators are stressing the importance of better cybersecurity measures, while bankers are calling for an improved federally backed cybersecurity insurance plan for the financial industry.
Former DHS chief Janet Napolitano said in her valedictory speech that the country will someday suffer a cyber 9/11 “that will have a serious effect on our lives, our economy, and the everyday functioning of our society.” Since then, banks have hired security consultants and invested in top cybersecurity initiatives, but even the most secured institutions are vulnerable to hacking, so banks are requesting the federal government to play a larger role.
Network World finds a flaw:
Hackers exploit critical vulnerability in popular WordPress theme component
Attackers are actively exploiting a critical vulnerability in a WordPress plug-in that’s used by a large number of themes, researchers from two security companies warned Wednesday.
The vulnerability affects versions 4.1.4 and older of Slider Revolution, a commercial WordPress plug-in for creating mobile-friendly content display sliders. The flaw was fixed in Slider Revolution 4.2 released in February, but some themes—collections of files or templates that determine the overall look of a site—still bundle insecure versions of the plug-in.
The vulnerability can be exploited to execute a local file inclusion (LFI) attack that gives hackers access to a WordPress site’s wp-config.php file, researchers from Web security firm Sucuri said in a blog post. This sensitive file contains database access credentials that can be used to compromise the whole site, the researchers said.
From United Press International, curious:
Obamacare website hacked, but nothing taken officials say
Health & Human Service officials on Thursday said hackers accessed healthcare.gov over the summer. No information was taken.
On Thursday, the federal government said hackers managed to access the Obamacare website over the summer.
The Health and Human Services Department, which oversees the heathcare.gov website said the malware, did not steal anyone’s information.
Officials stressed no one’s personal information was ever at risk. HHS spokesman
The Independent turns hacks into art:
Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton nude photos to be displayed by Los Angeles artist at upcoming exhibit
The recently leaked private images of Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, among others, are set to be printed onto life-sized canvases and exhibited at an upcoming event held in Los Angeles.
Cory Allen Contemporary Art (CACA) has announced that the works will be among the new additions to artist XVALA’s “Fear Google” concept.
They are set to be displayed at his upcoming exhibition, named “No Delete”, at the CACA’s space The Showroom in Saint Petersburg, Florida.
From the Guardian, a warning:
Surveillance watchdog warns police over false identities on social media
- Sir Christopher Rose says investigators have not realised dangers of using Facebook and Twitter to gather intelligence
Police officers and others public authorities who use false identities to disguise their online presence when they use social media to investigate a suspect’s personal lifestyle or associates without authorisation have been warned by the chief surveillance watchdog.
Sir Christopher Rose, the chief surveillance commissioner, said too many investigators working for government departments and local authorities had yet to realise the dangers, particularly for “collateral intrusion against innocent parties”, in the “inadvertent or inappropriate” use of Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites to gather intelligence without proper authorisation.
In his annual report Rose also disclosed that the commissioners had strongly criticised some agencies for running undercover operations in which the legally required “oversight officer” had turned out to be part of the operational team.
From Global Times, also curious:
Eight China journalists, PRs face extortion charges
Eight members of the Chinese media have been detained by police for an alleged scam in which a major business news website and two public relations firms collaborated to extort money from companies in return for favorable coverage on the site.
The suspects are from news website 21cbh.com, a PR firm based in Shanghai and another based in the southern metropolis of Shenzhen, the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Office told Xinhua on Thursday.
They include the editor-in-chief of 21cbh.com, who is surnamed Liu, the deputy editor-in-chief, who is surnamed Zhou, 21cbh.com reporters and employees of its marketing department, as well as heads of the two PR firms. Together, they extorted money from dozens of companies since November 2013, said police.
From Sky News, a cranky ally gets punitive:
Fears Britons Missing In Qatar May Be Tortured
- There are growing concerns human rights investigators Gundev Ghimire and Krishna Upadhyaya, who have disappeared, may be tortured.
The wife of a British man believed to have been detained by Qatari police has called for the government to help her find her husband.
Bandana Ghimire told Sky News she fears he could be tortured.
Her husband Gundev Ghimire and his colleague Krishna Upadhyaya, also a British national, arrived in Qatar on August 27.
They were there on behalf of Norway-based human rights organisation the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) to follow up reports on the state of Nepalese workers in the Gulf state.
After the jump, it’s off to Asia and the latest episodes in the Game of Zones, including Korean/American war plans, a Chinese visit delayed, more island, a Russo/Mongolian gambit, Chinese assertions questioned and an anti-spy push, Japan hints at an easing, and that historical issue that won’t die. . . Continue reading