Category Archives: Intolerance

InSecurityWatch: Data, hacks, cabals, terror, war


We begin with Network World and a big thumbs down:

Proposal for altered data retention law is still unlawful, Dutch DPA says

The Dutch government’s proposed revision of the country’s data retention law is not enough to bring it into compliance with a recent European Union court ruling, the Dutch privacy watchdog said Monday.

An effort by the Dutch government to adjust a law requiring telecommunications and Internet companies to retain their customers’ location and traffic metadata for investigatory purposes should be dropped, as the infringement of the private life of virtually all Dutch citizens is too great, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) said on Monday.

The Dutch government is looking to change data retention obligations for telephone and Internet communications operators following a decision last year by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The court invalidated the European data retention directive, on which the Dutch law is based, because it violates fundamental privacy rights.

From SecurityWeek, a record year:

Records Compromised in Data Breaches Skyrocketed in 2014: Research

Security firm Gemalto released a report on 2014 data breaches recently and the news was not good.

In its latest Breach Level Index report, the company revealed that one billion records were compromised last year in more than 1,500 data breaches worldwide. Compared to 2013, those numbers are an increase of nearly 80 percent in terms of data records and more than 40 percent in terms of breaches overall.

Gemalto’s Breach Level Index calculates the severity of data breaches across multiple dimensions based on breach disclosure information. Among the notable attacks included in the report are the Home Depot breach, the attack on JP Morgan Chase and the attack on eBay.

While Threatpost covers a massive cabal:

Massive, Decades-Long Cyberespionage Framework Uncovered

Researchers at Kaspersky Lab have uncovered a cyberespionage group that has been operating for at least 15 years and has worked with and supported the attackers behind Stuxnet, Flame and other highly sophisticated operations. The attackers, known as the Equation Group, used two of the zero days contained in Stuxnet before that worm employed them and have used a number of other infection methods, including interdicting physical media such as CDs and inserting their custom malware implants onto the discs.

Some of the techniques the group has used are closely associated with tactics employed by the NSA, specifically the interdiction operations and the use of the LNK vulnerability exploit by Stuxnet.

The Equation Group has a massive, flexible and intimidating arsenal at its disposal. Along with using several zero days in its operations, the attack crew also employs two discrete modules that enable them to reprogram the hard drive firmware on infected machines. This gives the attackers the ability to stay persistent on compromised computers indefinitely and create a hidden storage partition on the hard drive that is used to store stolen data. At the Security Analyst Summit here Monday, researchers at Kaspersky presented on the Equation Group’s operations while publishing a new report that lays out the inner workings of the crew’s tools, tactics and target list. The victims include government agencies, energy companies, research institutions, embassies, telecoms, universities, media organizations and others. Countries targeted by this group include Russia, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, China, Yemen, Afghanistan, India but also US and UK, between and several others.

And CBC News covers an even bigger data thief:

NSA hid spying software in hard drive firmware, report says

  • Government, military in Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan targeted

The U.S. National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world’s computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.

That long-sought and closely guarded ability was part of a cluster of spying programs discovered by Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based security software maker that has exposed a series of Western cyberespionage operations.

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said.

From Al Jazeera America, the latest European incident:

Police arrest two on suspicion of aiding Copenhagen shooter

  • The gunman opened fire on a cafe hosting a free speech debate and attacked a synagogue, killing two

Danish police said Monday they have arrested two people on suspicion of aiding a gunman in deadly attacks during the weekend on a synagogue and an event promoting free speech, violence that has shocked a nation proud of its reputation for safety and openness.

The two men arrested over the weekend are “suspected of helping the perpetrator by giving him advice and assistance in connection with the shootings at Krudttøndenre and Krystalgade,” police said in a statement issued Monday, referring to the locations of the attacks.

A Copenhagen judge later remanded the two suspects to 10 days’ detention.

And CNN covers the shooter:

Denmark terror suspect swore fidelity to ISIS leader on Facebook page

The man suspected of killing two people in Copenhagen swore fidelity to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a posting made on what’s apparently his Facebook page just before the weekend shooting spree.

The post pledges “allegiance to Abu Bakr in full obedience in the good and bad things. And I won’t dispute with him unless it is an outrageous disbelief.”

The suspect in Saturday’s attack has been named as Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a senior member of the Danish government said. Police have not formally identified the gunman, who opened fire at a free speech forum in Copenhagen on Saturday before shooting several people outside a synagogue and then firing at police. Police killed him in the shootout.

The Washington Post covers another generator of European angst:

UK man charged with attempting to obtain chemical weapon

British police say a man from northwest England has been charged with trying to obtain a chemical weapon.

Greater Manchester Police says Mohammed Ammer Ali, from Liverpool, was arrested after officers raid properties in the city last week as part of a counter-terrorism operation.

He is charged with attempting to have a chemical weapon in his possession between Jan. 10 and Feb. 12.

Ali, who is 31, is due to appear in a London court Tuesday.

And from Deutsche Welle, echoes of the past:

French teens detained for vandalizing Jewish graves

  • Investigators have detained five teenagers in connection with the vandalizing of Jewish graves in a cemetery in eastern France. The incident, amid rising anti-Semiticism in France, followed the attacks in Copenhagen

The five suspects detained by French police on Monday are aged between 15 and 17, Philippe Varnier, the prosecutor of the eastern Bas-Rhin region, told a news conference.

All five are from the region of Sarre-Union in Alsace, where some 250 Jewish tombs were defaced and damaged on Thursday.

Vannier said the youngest of the teenagers had gone to police after being shocked at the worldwide reaction to the incident, in which tombs were uprooted or turned around, vaults opened and a monument to the Holocaust vandalized.

“Apparently, he was very very affected by the scale of the reaction to this affair, including the statements from the hightest state authorities,” Vannier told reporters, adding that the boy had denied any anti-Semitic motive.

After the jump, a truce disintegrates in Ukraine, the apocalyptic eschatology ideology of ISIS, the U.S. takes the lead in the Boko Haram fight, Nigerian troops retake two Boko Haram-held towns, while Boko Haram attacks a Cameroonian army base, Yemeni Shiite rebels eye the oil fields, European Jewish leaders reject Netanyahu’s summons, a Netanyahu coalition partner denies Palestinian statehood or a land return, an Indian newspaper closed for reprinting a Charlie Hebdo cartoon, Japan’s Shinzo Abe uses Hormuz Straits minesweeping to push remilitarization, and Abe reaffirms his implacable push for remilitarization while Japan ups the fees for foreigners spying on Japanese corporations. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Torture, murder, escalation


We begin with a video report on that first item, via RT America:

CIA torture program was “Dick Cheney’s baby” – John Kiriakou

Program notes:

“Hypocritical” is how CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou describes his arrest and imprisonment for exposing the spy agency’s use of torture while those who actually committed the heinous acts go unpunished. In an in-depth interview with RT’s Ben Swann, Kiriakou discussed only his time in prison, but also the controversial “enhanced interrogation” program, claiming that President George W. Bush personally approved the harsh practices.

From the Associated Press, questions about an act of domestic violence:

Shooting suspect slams religion while defending liberty

If his Facebook page is any indication, Craig Hicks doesn’t hate Muslims. An avowed atheist, his online posts instead depict a man who despises religion itself, but nevertheless seems to support an individual’s right to his own beliefs.

“I hate Islam just as much as christianity, but they have the right to worship in this country just as much as any others do,” the man now accused of killing three Muslim college students stated in one 2012 post over the proposed construction of a mosque near the World Trade Center site in New York.

Days after the shooting deaths of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, a nuanced and sometimes contradictory portrait is emerging of the man charged in their slayings.

BBC News covers a threat in Germany:

Germany: Braunschweig parade halted over terror alert

A carnival parade has been called off at short notice in Braunschweig, northern Germany, due to the threat of an Islamist attack, police said.

A “specific threat of an Islamist attack” was identified by state security sources, they said in a statement. Police urged people planning to attend to stay at home.

The parade – a well-known regional attraction – was cancelled only 90 minutes before it was due to start.

From Al Jazeera America, a suspect dies in a Danish shootout:

Copenhagen attacker, shot dead by police, was on intel agency’s ‘radar’

  • Details emerge about 22-year-old suspect, who was born in Denmark and had record of violence and weapons charges

Danish police staged raids Sunday across the capital to determine why man opened fire at a Copenhagen café and the city’s main synagogue on Saturday, leaving two people dead.

The man was shot dead early Sunday after opening fire on police, officials said, adding that no officers were wounded. The exchange of fire took place in the multicultural inner-city neighborhood of Norrebro where police had been keeping an address under observation since the first shooting at the café, where a free-speech seminar was being held.

“We believe the same man was behind both shootings and we also believe that the perpetrator who was shot by the police action force at Norrebro station is the person behind the two attacks,” police official Torben Moelgaard Jensen said.

Background, via the Independent:

Copenhagen shootings: Suspected gunman Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein was a Danish national with a history of gang violence

The gunman suspected of killing two people after opening fire on a free speech debate and a synagogue in Copenhagen on Saturday was identified tonight as 22-year-old Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish national with a history of gang violence.

Copenhagen Police said the alleged terrorist, who was killed in a shootout with officers in the early hours of Sunday morning, had previously committed “several crimes” including assault and the possession of weapons.

At least two other people were arrested on Sunday, being led out in handcuffs from an internet café in Copenhagen, as part of the police investigation into how the gunman came to arm himself and pick his targets.

From the Associated Press, opportunism:

Israeli leader calls for mass Jewish influx after attack

Israel’s prime minister on Sunday called for the “massive immigration” of European Jews to Israel following a deadly shooting near Copenhagen’s main synagogue, renewing a blunt message that has upset some of Israel’s friends in Europe.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that at a time of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, Israel is the only place where Jews can truly feel safe. His comments triggered an angry response from Copenhagen’s chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, who said he was “disappointed” by the remarks.

“People from Denmark move to Israel because they love Israel, because of Zionism. But not because of terrorism,” Melchior told The Associated Press. “If the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all run to a deserted island.”

And a rebuff, via Reuters:

Denmark’s Jews, defiant after attack, vow to stay

Denmark’s small but vibrant Jewish community rebuffed Israel’s call to emigrate on Sunday after an attack on Copenhagen’s main synagogue that shook the sense of security Scandinavian tolerance had long provided.

Jewish communities around Europe have been reporting rising hostility against them and an attack last month on a Paris kosher supermarket killed four Jews, prompting the United Nations to say that anti-Semitism was thriving in Europe.

That assault came two days after Islamist militants gunned down 12 people at the weekly Charlie Hebdo, which had published cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammad.

From Deutsche Welle, sad echoes of a tragic past:

Jewish cemetery vandalized in France

  • A Jewish cemetery in eastern France has been desecrated in an act of anti-Semitic vandalism. The French interior minister has promised to do “everything” to catch the culprits.

Hundreds of graves at a Jewish cemetery in France’s Alsace region were vandalized on Sunday, in what Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has called “a despicable act” against religious freedom and tolerance.

“The country will not tolerate this new injury which goes against the values that all French people share,” said Cazeneuve, without offering further details about the incident in the town of Sarre-Union, near the German border.

“Every effort will be made to identify, question, and bring to justice the person or persons responsible for this ignominious act,” Cazeneuve added. He also urged calm, as many French Jews feel increasingly worried about anti-Semitism one month after an Islamist gunman killed four Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris.

The Associated Press covers more errors at the bomb’s birthplace:

Report: Nuke lab failed to keep some information classified

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General says a lack of managerial oversight at Los Alamos National Laboratory led to improper disclosures of sensitive information.

In a summary of a report released last week, the inspector general says the lab’s classification officer at times misclassified national security information.

The summary, which is dated Wednesday, says there were at least six incidents where lab documents were misclassified.

After the jump, ISIS stages mass beheading of Coptic Christians in Libya, Egypt vows vengeance, then launches the bombers, an Amazonian drone lament, Obama panopticon ambitions rile Silicon Valley, Japanese Internet censorship calls, terror in Nigeria, and China’s new carrier-killer submarine. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Cash, war, crime, terror, hacks


From the Guardian, of course they did:

HSBC files: Swiss bank hid money for suspected criminals

  • Documents detail customers who faced allegations including drug-running, corruption, doping and money laundering

HSBC’s Swiss bank concealed large sums of money for people facing allegations of serious wrongdoing, including drug-running, corruption and money laundering, leaked files reveal.

Despite being legally obliged since 1998 to make special checks on high-risk customers, the bank provided accounts for clients implicated in six notorious scandals in Africa, including Kenya’s biggest corruption case, blood diamond trading and several corrupt military sales.

HSBC also held assets for bankers accused of looting funds from former Soviet states, while alleged crimes by other account holders include bribery at Malta’s state oil company, cocaine smuggling from the Dominican Republic and the doping of professional cyclists in Spain.

The Swiss bank also held accounts for “politically exposed people” – defined as senior political figures or their relatives at heightened risk of involvement in corruption, money laundering, or avoiding international sanctions – with little evidence of any extra scrutiny of their activities.

From the Independent, plutocratic hypocrisy:

HSBC leaks: Owners of Le Monde attack paper’s ‘Swissleaks’ coverage in tax row

The newspaper behind the “Swissleaks” revelations about tax evasion has been attacked as irresponsible and “populist” by its proprietor.

To the fury of the staff and editors of Le Monde, Pierre Bergé, 84, a millionaire businessman and long-time lover of the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, accused the paper of “acting like informers” and “throwing people to the wolves”.

The incident is the latest in a series of acrimonious disputes between Mr Bergé and Le Monde since he became part-owner of France’s most respected newspaper in 2010. The chairman of Le Monde’s board, Alain Beuve-Méry, accused him of violating his written commitment to the paper’s editorial freedom.

From United Press International, getting ready for another war:

Air Force: A-10s headed to Europe

The U.S. Air Force has announced it is sending 12 A-10 Thunderbolts, also known as Warthogs, to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

The A-10s will be sent to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and forward deployed to partner nations in Eastern Europe.

“The Air Force is increasing rotational presence in Europe to reassure our allies and partner nations that our commitment to European security is a priority,” Lt. Gen. Tom Jones, vice commander, United States Air Forces in Europe, said in a statement.

From the Miami Herald, enduring torture:

9/11 defendant still suffering from ‘black site’ injuries, lawyer says at Guantánamo

A defense lawyer for an alleged 9/11 plotter said Thursday that his Saudi captive client was rectally abused in CIA custody — and continues to bleed now, at least eight years later.

Attorney Walter Ruiz made the disclosure in open court in a bid to get a military judge to intervene in the medical care of Mustafa Hawsawi, 46, accused of helping the Sept. 11 hijackers with travel and money.

He was captured in March 2003 with the alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, 49, and at the CIA’s secret prison was subjected to unauthorized “enhanced interrogation techniques,” according to the recently released so-called Senate Torture Report. He got to Guantánamo in September 2006.

The Toronto Globe and Mail covers cops behaving badly:

RCMP rebuked for firearms seizures during 2013 Alberta floods

The RCMP is being rebuked for a series of “failings” as part of the unauthorized seizure of 609 firearms during its response to the massive High River floods in Alberta in 2013.

In a report released Thursday, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP said that officers who conducted the “warrantless” seizures were undersupervised. The subsequent anger in the population was badly handled by the RCMP communications teams, the report also found, as citizens complained that “their homes were forcibly entered, and in some cases windows were broken, doors were kicked in and firearms were taken.”

“The community’s reaction was somewhat predictable, given that the sanctity of one’s home from state interference is a deeply rooted principle,” the report said.

From the American Civil Liberties Union, they’ve got your number — and your picture:

License Plate Scanners Also Taking Photos of Drivers and Passengers

The Drug Enforcement Administration is using its license plate reader program not only to track drivers’ locations, but also to photograph these drivers and their passengers, according to newly disclosed records obtained by the ACLU via a Freedom of Information Act request.

One internal 2009 DEA communication stated clearly that the license plate program can provide “the requester” with images that “may include vehicle license plate numbers (front and/or rear), photos of visible vehicle occupants [redacted] and a front and rear overall view of the vehicle.” Clearly showing that occupant photos are not an occasional, accidental byproduct of the technology, but one that is intentionally being cultivated, a 2011 email states that the DEA’s system has the ability to store “up to 10 photos per vehicle transaction including 4 occupant photos.”

The DEA documents are just the latest indication that license plate scanners are not always focused just on license plates.

Wired threat level covers suspicious circumstances:

Did the NSA and the UK’s Spy Agency Launch a Joint Cyberattack on Iran?

An NSA document newly published today suggests two interesting facts that haven’t previously been reported.

The Intercept, which published the document, highlighted that in it the NSA expresses fear that it may be teaching Iran how to hack, but there are two other points in the document that merit attention.

One concerns the spy tool known as Flame; the other refers to concerns the NSA had about partnering with the British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters and Israeli intelligence in surveillance operations.

In the document, prepared in April 2013 for a meeting between the NSA director and GCHQ, the author cites the Flame attack against Iran as an example of a US/GCHQ partnership. Flame was a massive spy platform exposed by Kaspersky Lab and Symantec in 2012. Flame targeted more than 10,000 machines in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, the Israeli Occupied Territories and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa and was active for at least six years before it was discovered. It used some of the same code that Stuxnet used, leading researchers to conclude that it had been created by the same US/Israel teams that had created Stuxnet. The Washington Post reported in 2012 that the US and Israel were both behind Flame, quoting anonymous US officials. But the new Snowden document hints that GCHQ might have been involved in Flame with the US.

And on the subject of irrational Middle Eastern extremists, consider this from the Washington Post:

Israel Prize judges resign, say Netanyahu meddling

Israel’s prime minister faced accusations on Thursday of politicizing the country’s most prestigious award after moving to disqualify some of the judges because he disagreed with their political views.

A number of judges for the Israel Prize have resigned in protest, while nominees say they won’t accept the award. One of the nominees, author David Grossman, told Channel 10 TV on Thursday that he pulled out in response to the “prime minister’s campaign of incitement,” calling it an attack on “freedom of thought.”

Netanyahu recently rejected the nominations of two judges in the literature category. In a Facebook post, he said the panel is controlled by judges with “extremist views” on the far left of the political spectrum, such as encouraging soldiers not to serve in the army. He said the committee needs to reflect the wider public.

“This man who is supposed to be taking care of the Iranian issue at his speech before the U.S Congress, or the country’s welfare or health issues, is dealing with this? For heaven’s sake what is going on here?” asked filmmaker Hayim Sharir, who was originally supposed to be on the committee.

On to the war with Defense One, and a blank check:

Obama’s ISIS War Powers Request Has Few Limits on Who, Where, How

  • President Obama’s requested authorization for the use of force against ISIS has few limits on how, where, and whom the fight is against

President Barack Obama, who won the White House on promises to end never-ending wars and the Bush-era laws that permitted them, on Wednesday sent Congress a new request for legal authorities to fight the Islamic State, or ISIS, that places few limits on the U.S. war against the terrorist group.

“The resolution we’ve submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria. It is not the authorization of another ground war, like Afghanistan or Iraq,” Obama said in his announcement at the White House. “I’m convinced that the United States should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East … At the same time, this resolution strikes the necessary balance by giving us the flexibility we need for unforeseen circumstances.”

Already, lawmakers are criticizing the request for being too “ambiguous” about the president’s powers to wage or limit ground combat.

CBC News covers a celebrity interview:

Hayat Boumeddiene, widow of Paris kosher market attacker, gives interview with ISIS

  • Woman believed to have left Paris while Charlie Hebdo and kosher market attacks were unfolding

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group published what it described as an interview with the widow of the French gunman who attacked a kosher supermarket and a police officer in Paris last month, claiming for the first time that she was among extremist fighters.

The text interviews in French and English, published Wednesday and Thursday, did not directly name Hayat Boumeddiene or show images of her, instead identifying her only as the wife of Amedy Coulibaly, or Umm Basur al-Muhajirah. She is considered key to the investigation into the attacks in Paris, which left 20 people dead including the gunmen, although she left France just beforehand.

The publication appeared to be the first confirmation from ISIS that she had joined the group in Syria, as was widely believed after a posthumous video emerged of Coulibaly, pledging allegiance to its leader.

Another development from Reuters:

Islamic State says it’s holding ‘Israeli spy’ in Syria

Islamic State said on Thursday it was holding an Israeli Arab who had posed as a foreign fighter in order to spy for Mossad, an account denied by Israel and by the man’s family, who said he had been kidnapped.

In an interview published by Islamic State’s online English-language magazine Dabiq, Muhammad Musallam, 19, said he had joined the insurgent group in Syria so as to report to the Israelis on its weapons caches, bases and Palestinian recruits.

After his conduct aroused the suspicion of Islamic State commanders, Musallam was quoted as saying, he broke cover by phoning his father in East Jerusalem, leading to his capture.

From Deutsche Welle, trying to cut off the pipeline:

Security Council seeks to block ‘Islamic State’ petrofunding

  • The UN Security Council has passed a resolution to stop “Islamic State” from raising funds through oil, antiquities and hostages. The EU is debating antiterrorism steps that could prove palatable to the 28-nation bloc.

More than 35 countries co-sponsored Thursday’s show of resolve to confront the “ Islamic State” (IS). The council banned all trade in antiquities from besieged areas, threatened sanctions on anyone buying oil from IS and al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front militants and urged states to stop ransom payments on kidnapped citizens. Fifteen nations unanimously adopted the resolution, drafted by Russia, which gives the council authority to enforce decisions with economic sanctions but does not authorize using military force.

“We took yet another very important step in suppressing the funding of terrorists,” Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, said on Thursday.

Following attacks that started January 7 at a magazine in Paris and ended January 9 in a supermarket, France and other EU countries have sought more effective ways to deal with armed militancy, especially the problem of Europeans who leave to fight in Syria or Iraq and then return home. As heads of state and government gathered in Brussels on Thursday, EU President Donald Tusk, the host of an official summit, said he would seek the leaders’ agreement on a “work plan to step up the fight against terrorism.”

From TheLocal.no, eclectic fundamentalists:

New Norwegians take top roles in Isis jihadi group

Several Norwegian citizens have risen to leadership positions in Isis, the militant group battling to establish a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, according to the latest information gathered by Norwegian military intelligence.

“We believe that some of the Norwegians in Isil [Isis] have risen to middle-management functions,” Lieutenant General Kjell Grandhagen, head of the Norwegian Intelligence Service, told Dagbladet newspaper  in an interview published on Thursday.

The most prominent Norwegian Isis commander, Bastian Vasquez, a Norwegian Chilean from Bærum, outside Oslo, was reportedly killed in the autumn. But Grandhagen said several others had also been given senior ranks in the organisation.

After the jump, Israel alarmed by an anti-ISIS coalition, a lethal Al Qaeda data breach, Anthem’s healthcare data grows more serious, phishing kits go on sale — cheap, Washington protests new Chinese cybersecurity rules, Jeb Bush spills vital data of his former constituents, West Africa under cyber siege, the Cameroonian president promises Boko Haram defeat, Boko Haram escapees speak out, Al Qaeda seizes a Yemeni army base as the nation borders on collapse, thousand flee from Boko Haram Niger assaults, Afghanistan slides into narco-statehood, Pakistan seeks school massacre planners, a former Pakistani spy says the ISI knew of Osama’s whereabouts, Chinese World War II slave laborers demand retribution from Mitsubishi, Shinzo Abe pushes hard for Japanese constitutional revision, his party promises but his foreign minister ppromises continued passivity,  Japan hits a road block on North Korean abductions, and a reminder of dark forces that just won’t die. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Laws, war, politics, hacks, robots


And so much more.

We vary the usual order, just because.

We begin with a cause of insecurity in the state where we started out back in the late Neolithic, via the Los Angeles Times:

Kansas governor removes protections for LGBT employees

In a move that shocked progressive advocates in Kansas, the state’s Republican governor on Tuesday issued an executive order to remove discrimination protections for gay, lesbian and transgender state employees.

State employees in Kansas can now legally be fired, harassed or denied a job for being gay or transgender, critics said.

Gov. Sam Brownback said an 2007 executive order by Kathleen Sebelius, then the state’s Democratic governor, went too far by not getting legislative approval to bar job discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity.

From the Associated Press, what could we possibly add?:

Paris votes to sue Fox News for damage to its reputation

Paris City Council authorized Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Wednesday to sue U.S. broadcaster Fox News for reporting there are “no-go zones” in the French capital where non-Muslims and police fear to venture.

City officials voted to file a lawsuit at a French court for defamation regarding comments on Fox News and a map it broadcast with eight such so-called off-limits areas circled in red. The report came when Paris was on high alert after attacks by Islamic radicals last month.

Fox was widely mocked for that report and for comments describing the English city of Birmingham as “totally Muslim.” The broadcaster later apologized for “some regrettable errors.”

Hidalgo vowed to “save Paris’ honor,” and stressed the importance of image for a top world tourist destination.

From the New York Times, boots rapidly approaching ground:

Obama Sends Letter to Congress Seeking Authorization of ISIS Fight

President Obama on Wednesday formally asked Congress to authorize a three-year military campaign against the terrorist group the Islamic State that would avoid a large-scale invasion and occupation but in addition to air power could include limited ground operations by American forces to hunt down enemy leaders or rescue American personnel.

A proposal sent by the White House to Capitol Hill on Wednesday would formally give the president the power to continue the airstrikes he has been conducting since last fall against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, as well as “associated persons or forces.” The measure would set limits that were never imposed during the wars of the last decade in Afghanistan and Iraq by expiring in three years and withholding permission for “enduring offensive ground combat operations.”

But in a letter to Congress accompanying the proposal, Mr. Obama, who has said there would be no boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria, envisioned limited ground combat operations “such as rescue operations” or the use of “Special Operations forces to take military action against ISIL leadership.” He also said the legislation would allow the use of ground forces for intelligence gathering, target spotting and planning assistance to ground troops of allies like Iraq’s military.

From The Hill, sadly predictable:

Rubio: ISIS war measure should be unconditional

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says any authorization for military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria should be free of any restrictions.

The prospective presidential candidate harshly criticized President Obama for making a request that would limit authority to three years, and ban “enduring offensive ground operations.”

“There is a pretty simple authorization he could ask for and it would read one sentence: ‘We authorize the president to defeat and destroy ISIL.’ Period. And that’s what I think we should do,” Rubio said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

More on ISIS after the jump. . .

From Reuters, why aren’t we surprised?:

Obama administration weighs Afghan request to slow withdrawal of U.S. troops

President Barack Obama is considering a request from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to slow the pace of the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.

“President Ghani has requested some flexibility in the troop drawdown timeline and base closure sequencing over the next two years, and we are actively considering that request,” the official said, speaking on background.

Ghani will travel to Washington next month to meet with Obama. Last month, the Afghan president spoke publicly about the U.S. plan to halve the number of troops in Afghanistan in 2015 and cut them further in 2016. He made clear he would prefer a longer timeline and said: “deadlines should not be dogmas.”

From the Associated Press, job security for the man who knew too much?:

Ousted Secret Service No. 2 to mystery Homeland Security job

What new job in the Homeland Security Department is the ousted No. 2 official at the Secret Service doing? Nobody’s saying.

Alvin “A.T.” Smith, who ran day-to-day operations at the Secret Service during its most embarrassing scandals, resigned under pressure as deputy director earlier this week. In what appears to be a highly unorthodox employment shuffle, Smith — who earned as much as $183,000 a year — was permitted to take an unspecified job inside the highly regarded Homeland Security Investigations unit in U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Both agencies are part of the Homeland Security Department.

But no one will disclose Smith’s new job title, his responsibilities or how much public salary he’s earning. It’s a mystery whether Smith is investigating cases, shuffling paperwork behind a desk or supervising agents.

From the Guardian, and does “national security” mean simply that the truth could lead to loss of security through violent reactions?:

UK redactions to CIA torture report were made for national security, MPs rule

  • Inquiry concludes redactions to report were not made to cover up UK role in mistreatment of detainees

Allegations that UK intelligence agencies ordered redactions to a US report on CIA torture in order to cover up its role in the mistreatment of detainees are unfounded, MPs have ruled.

An investigation by the British parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) has concluded that redactions to documents in December’s report into CIA torture were all made on the grounds of national security and not to avoid embarrassment to the UK authorities.

A statement from the committee said its staff had visited the UK and US intelligence agencies, inspected the relevant files and questioned their heads directly. “From the evidence we have seen and heard, we conclude that these allegations are unfounded,” it states.

Thought crime, Italian style [and we think Holocaust deniers suffer from self-made idiocy, many maliciously so], via TheLocal.it:

Italy Senate moves to outlaw Holocaust denial

Italian senators on Wednesday voted in favour of a bill criminalizing Holocaust denial, following changes to the proposed law to protect freedom of speech.

A total of 234 senators voted for the bill, while eight abstained and three voted against the new law, Il Sole 24 Ore reported.

Under the law people will face a three-year sentence for promoting, inciting or committing acts of racial discrimination based in part or entirely on the denial of the Holocaust. Crimes against humanity and war crimes are also covered in the bill, which now needs to pass through Italy’s lower house before it can become law.

British National Health Service whistleblowers promised protection, via the Guardian:

Jeremy Hunt promises legislation before election to protect NHS whistleblowers

  • Health secretary accepts recommendations of report Freedom to Speak Up report that details shocking treatment of whistleblowers

People seeking NHS employment will be protected from being discriminated against because they are known to be whistleblowers, under legislation to be introduced within weeks, the government has pledged.

Jeremy Hunt vowed to change the law by the end of this parliament after an independent review commissioned by the health secretary detailed shocking treatment of whistleblowers, with some victimised to the extent that their careers were left in tatters and their families torn apart, and causing some people to have suicidal thoughts or even attempt to end their lives.

The Freedom to Speak Up report, published on Wednesday, also said that patients’ lives were put at risk by whistleblowers’ concerns being ignored.

From Nikkei Asian Review, something that oughta be done for plutocrats, too:

Global task force looking for strict policies against terrorist funding

Amid a string of high-profile terrorist acts, an international task force is evaluating measures to combat terrorism financing in some 190 countries and regions and will name those that do not meet its standards.

“We … urge all countries to speed up their compliance with the relevant international standards” regarding terrorist assets, read a communique released Tuesday after the Group of 20 meeting of financial ministers and central bankers in Istanbul. In response, the Financial Action Task Force will strengthen its recommendations for policies to counter terrorism financing and announce them at the G-20 meeting to be held in Peru in October.

The task force has started on its fourth round of mutual evaluations. It sends personnel to each jurisdiction to talk with regulators and financial institutions and assess whether anti-terrorism-financing measures are strictly enforced. It also looks at their effectiveness, including the number of cases pursued related to illicit funds.

After the jump, ISIS volunteers keep coming, some Belgian volunteers face prison time, Syria lays some blame on Jordan, no search warrants needed for your old emails, Windows wide open, hacks block government sites in Holland, Native American traditional names banned by Facebook, a major Malaysian Twitter truncation, Tokyo and Washington to tighten military ties, Japan mulls future overseas military hostage rescues, tensions rise as a Japanese publisher comes out with the Charlie Hendo cartoons — sort of, a Southeast Asian anti-terror alliance mulled, and allegations of coral reef damage from an American base move on Okinawa, Yoga pants InSecurity, HairNet — precursor to SkyNet, and another robotic danger as well. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Threats, war, bigotry, & terror


We begin with threats, first from the UN News Center:

UN rights report points to ‘increasing regularity’ of attacks on girls seeking education

A new United Nations human rights report seeking to analyse the problem of attacks against girls trying to access education found that schools in at least 70 different countries were attacked in the five years between 2009 and 2014, with many attacks specifically targeting girls, parents and teachers advocating for gender equality in education.

“Attacks against girls accessing education persist and, alarmingly, appear in some countries to be occurring with increasing regularity,” the background paper notes. “The educational rights of girls and women are often targeted due to the fact that they represent a challenge to existing gender and age-based systems of oppression.”

The background paper, which will be presented to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to contribute to the development of its general recommendation on access to education, and which will also be published in advance of the 2015 High-level Review of Security Council resolution 1325, points to significant progress made towards guaranteeing education for all in many countries, while noting that girls still face barriers to full enjoyment of rights to, within and through education.

The report notes several recent cases of attacks against girls accessing education, which have highlighted the fragility of achievements in increasing accessibility, availability, adaptability, acceptability and quality of education for all.

Among the examples are the murder in December 2014 of more than 100 children in a Pakistani Taliban attack at an army school in Peshawar, the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls in April 2014 by the Boko Haram movement in northeast Nigeria and the 2012 shooting of education activist Malala Yousafzai by members of the Taliban in Pakistan.

It also points to several incidents of poisoning and acid attacks against schoolgirls in Afghanistan between 2012 and 2014, the reported forced removal of girls from schools in Somalia to become ‘wives’ of Al-Shabaab fighters in 2010, and the abduction and rape of girls at a Christian school in India in July 2013.

Another threat, via Science:

Could a wireless pacemaker let hackers take control of your heart?

Internet security experts have been warning for years that such devices are open to both data theft and remote control by a hacker. In 2007, Vice President Dick Cheney’s cardiologist disabled the wireless functionality of his pacemaker because of just that risk. “It seemed to me to be a bad idea for the vice president to have a device that maybe somebody on a rope line or in the next hotel room or downstairs might be able to get into—hack into,” said the cardiologist, Jonathan Reiner of George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., in a TV interview last year.

Medical devices such as insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, and pacemakers or defibrillators have become increasingly small and wearable in recent years. They often connect with a hand-held controller over short distances using Bluetooth. Often, either the controller or the device itself is connected to the Internet by means of Wi-Fi so that data can be sent directly to clinicians. But security experts have demonstrated that with easily available hardware, a user manual, and the device’s PIN number, they can take control of a device or monitor the data it sends.

Medical devices don’t get regular security updates, like smart phones and computers, because changes to their software could require recertification by regulators like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And FDA has focused on reliability, user safety, and ease of use—not on protecting against malicious attacks. In a Safety Communication in 2013, the agency said that it “is not aware of any patient injuries or deaths associated with these incidents nor do we have any indication that any specific devices or systems in clinical use have been purposely targeted at this time.” FDA does say that it “expects medical device manufacturers to take appropriate steps” to protect devices. Manufacturers are starting to wake up to the issue and are employing security experts to tighten up their systems. But unless such steps become compulsory, it may take a fatal attack on a prominent person for the security gap to be closed.

Trust him, he says, via the Associated Press:

Obama asks Germans for ‘benefit of the doubt’ on NSA

President Barack Obama is asking Germans to give the United States “the benefit of the doubt” on National Security Agency surveillance, given U.S. history.

Obama says “there’s no doubt” that NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s revelations about the U.S. spying programs damaged the impression of U.S. intelligence operations among Germans. He says that’s understandable, given Germany’s history.

He says he’s trying to work through the issues to create greater transparency. But Obama also tells reporters Monday the U.S. wants to prevent attacks like the ones that occurred last month in Paris.

He’s asking Germans to recognize that the U.S. has a history of promoting civil liberties and has been a consistent partner to Germany for decades.

The Atlantic Monthly covers oversight undersight:

The CIA Lawyer Who Led a Secret Effort to Spy on the Senate

  • An insider’s account of why the intelligence agency monitored its overseers

When the CIA got caught spying on Senate staffers working on the 6,000 page torture report, John Brennan, who heads the agency, denied the transgression. “As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into computers, nothing could be further from the truth,” he said on March 11, 2014. “That’s beyond the scope of reason.” Four months later, the CIA Inspector General found that the CIA did, in fact, improperly spy on the Senate intelligence committee. After that, Brennan apologized.

Now the public can read an extraordinary, recently released memo written by the unnamed CIA lawyer who led the effort to improperly monitor Senate overseers, outraging Senator Dianne Feinstein and prompting calls for a new CIA director. The document gives insight into the CIA’s tortured logic for its actions and it raises new questions about Brennan’s truthfulness in March of last year.

The memo states that on January 13, 2014, the unnamed CIA lawyer met with Brennan and at least a half-dozen others. They briefed Brennan on their efforts to clandestinely probe a computer system used by the Senate intelligence committee staff. They wanted to see if it contained a review of CIA torture ordered by former CIA Director Leon Panetta. “I informed the Director of my view that the conduct in question could be criminal, and that the Agency—based solely on its current understanding, that unauthorized documents existed on the SSCI side of the system and had been repeatedly accessed—had an obligation to answer the question of whether there had been a security violation or potential violation of law that should be referred to the Department of Justice,” the unnamed lawyer writes.

From The Hill cybersharing:

Obama to unveil cyber data-sharing unit

The White House is expected to reveal on Tuesday a new unit tasked with integrating the intelligence communities’ cyber data and sharing it with civilian agencies, according to an industry source with knowledge of the announcement.

The unit, dubbed the Cyber Threat and Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC), will fall under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (DNI) purview. It’s expected to serve as the main portal for intelligence agencies to share cyber threat data with agencies like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FBI.

The announcement is part of the White House’s broader strategy to enhance cybersecurity information sharing both among federal agencies and between the government and private sector.

Virtual war, via USA Today:

Pentagon seeks new war games to combat cyber threats

The Pentagon think tank that has funded studies into whether Russian President Vladimir Putin has Asperger’s syndrome is expanding its research to futuristic war games and investigating the effects of embargoes and trade restrictions, newly released military documents show.

The Office of Net Assessment wants to research the effects of trade interruptions, including those caused by blockades and trade embargoes, and “the economic dimension of military crises and warfare, including the character of economic warfare in a range of contexts and the implications for the United States, allies and adversaries.”

Economic sanctions, including those targeting the Russian oil industry, are a critical component of the allied response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year from Ukraine and the continuing Russian support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

From the Intercept, what every parent sometimes suspects:

Is Your Child a Terrorist? U.S. Government Questionnaire Rates Families at Risk for Extremism

Are you, your family or your community at risk of turning to violent extremism? That’s the premise behind a rating system devised by the National Counterterrorism Center, according to a document marked For Official Use Only and obtained by The Intercept.

The document–and the rating system–is part of a wider strategy for Countering Violent Extremism, which calls for local community and religious leaders to work together with law enforcement and other government agencies. The White House has made this approach a centerpiece of its response to terrorist attacks around the world and in the wake of the Paris attacks, announced plans to host an international summit on Countering Violent Extremism on February 18th.

The rating system, part of a 36-page document dated May 2014 and titled “Countering Violent Extremism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts,” suggests that police, social workers and educators rate individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as: “Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility,” “Talk of Harming Self or Others,” and “Connection to Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity).” The ranking system is supposed to alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating extremist ideologies.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1657824-cve-guide.html

From the Independent, another Snowden revelation:

Edward Snowden revelations: GCHQ ‘using online viruses and honey traps to discredit targets’

Britain’s GCHQ has a covert unit which uses dirty tricks from “honey trap” sexual liaisons to texting anonymous messages to friends and neighbours to discredit targets from hackers to governments, according to the latest leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Documents released by the American former CIA employee claim that the Cheltenham-based intelligence agency is at the forefront of efforts to develop “offensive” online techniques for use against criminals, and individuals and regimes considered to pose a threat to national security.

The revelations on Sunday sparked criticism that GCHQ is adopting tactics used by illegal hackers, such as so-called denial of service (DoS) attacks to disable chatrooms, which have no clear authority under British law and may have infringed the rights of other internet users.

The Snowden documents, obtained by American broadcaster NBC, also provide evidence that GCHQ has moved beyond its role as a surveillance agency and now occupies operational territory more traditionally associated with its confreres, MI6 and MI5.

From PandoDaily, France extends Internet censorship powers:

The French government can now force ISPs to block websites without a court order

France will now be able to force Internet service providers to block access to websites related to terrorism or child pornography without ever having to receive a court order.

ISPs will have to block access to offending websites within 24 hours of being told to do so. It’s not clear how affected companies will be able to contest these government orders.

The Guardian reports that the list of blocked websites will be reviewed “quarterly” to see if the ban remains necessary. ISPs will also be reimbursed for the cost of blocking the sites.

After the jump, Netanyahu exults in his congressional platform, Obama gets ready to open up the arms pipeline to Ukraine, the star of the French hard right blames Obama for promoting a European, British cops apologize for a reading habits probe, an Italian mosque-burning threat, a row over refugee children treatment could topple Norway’s government, accused Dutch jihadis acquitted, a spooky courtroom recognition Bahrain explains censorship of a new news channel, a healthcare data breach exploited, a leaker exposes plutocratic Swiss wealth concealment, on to the battlefront and urban warfare risks, Afghani police tied to the Taliban, an Afghan drone strike claims an ISIS leader, Afghan casualties double, Pakistan tries Twitter blocks, on to Boko Haram and a car bomb in Niger plus a Cameroonian kidnaping, threats to Colombian journalists, a former South Korean spy chief imprisoned, Australian doubts over a Japanese submarine deal, And a Chinese billionaire gangster executed. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Spooks, war, hacks, divisions


First, from teleSUR, Latin American perpetrators of a lethal Washington-backed secret purge [previously] face legal retribution:

Latin America’s Mass Murderers to Be Trialed in Italy

Former military chiefs and politicians implicated in the deaths of thousands through Operation Condor will have to face justice.

After decades of impunity, those responsible for the wave of political violence that swept Latin America under the dictatorships of 1970’s and 1980’s will be trialed this week in Rome, Italy.

Formally 33 people have been charged for their links to the operation, which left 50,000 people dead, 30,000 disappeared and 400,000 jailed.

Amongst those killed were 23 Italian citizens, which is why Italy’s justice is now ruling on the case, opened in 1999.

Operation Condor was a coordinated political assassination and persecution plan drafted by the South American military dictatorships, with the help of foreign governments. It sought to eliminate any resistance or political rivals, mostly targeting left-wing groups.

An Iranian fish-or-cut-bait mandate, via Al Jazeera America:

Iran says its time to reach nuclear deal

  • Foreign minister, after meeting with Secretary of State Kerry, says it would be unproductive to extend negotiations

With a deadline approaching to resolve a 12-year standoff over Tehran’s atomic ambitions, Iranian officials on Sunday signaled a willingness to come to an agreement, with Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif telling a gathering of the world’s top diplomats that “this is the opportunity.”

The United States and its five negotiating partners, the other members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, hope to clinch a deal setting long-term limits on Tehran’s enrichment of uranium and other activity that could produce material for use in nuclear weapons.

Negotiators have set a June 30 final deadline for a nuclear deal, and Western officials have said they aim to agree on the substance of such an accord by March.

Taking an Israeli political campaign to Congress disunites, via United Press International:

Israeli PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress creating rift in Jewish community

Pro-Israeli leaders have urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel his controversial speech to Congress, while some condemn the possibility of a speech boycott.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said it was a “bad idea” for Netanyahu to carry out his speech to Congress so closely to the elections in Israel to be held March 17. The Union for Reform Judaism is one of the largest Jewish organizations in North America.

Other leaders have also called on Netanyahu to cancel his speech, stating the controversy surrounding the speech is becoming a distraction that may take away from the goal of stopping Iran from gaining nuclear weapons.

Our lone drone story, via Nextgov:

Few Privacy Limitations Exist on How Police Use Drones

[T]he Federal Aviation Administration only takes safety into consideration when it grants a law enforcement agency approval to use drones, leaving privacy protections to legislation—which, depending on the state in question, may or may not exist.

Agencies as large as the Michigan State Police and as small as the Grand Forks County [N.D.] Sheriff’s Department have received FAA approval to use drones. Most departments use them for missions like search-and-rescue or for photographing a crime scene or an accident site.

But unless a law enforcement agency is within one of the 14 states that have passed privacy legislation limiting how police can use drones, there’s little in theory keeping it from using a drone for a less innocuous end—such as surveillance without a warrant. “While the federal government retains responsibility for the airspace, under most circumstances a state/local government can impose restrictions on the agencies for which it’s responsible,” an FAA spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Pentagon cyberwarrior recruiting slows, via Nextgov:

Need a Job? Cyber Command Is Halfway Full

The Pentagon is at the midway point of staffing a projected 6,000-person Cyber Command, officials said, amid fears of a catastrophic threat to U.S. networks.

The military appears to be backing away from a long-held goal of establishing a full force by 2016.

Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told Nextgov,”We are about halfway through the overall build, in terms of manning for the cyber mission forces and continue to make progress in training and equipping the teams.” She declined to provide a timeline for reaching that size.

Deutsche Welle brings a Turkish tapping takedown:

Turkey launches fresh raids over Erdogan wiretapping case

  • Turkish police have launched a fresh series of raids to round up suspects accused of wiretapping the communications of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The suspects are themselves all police officers.

Turkish media reported on Sunday that the raids had been launched in several cities as a result of 21 arrest warrants issued by the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many of the suspects, all polices officers, had been arrested and prosecutors were not available for comment. However, Turkish television station NTV broadcast footage of several suspects being led away by plain clothes police.

The warrants were issued in connection with a scandal in which wiretap recordings of senior officials were leaked and posted on the Internet, which shook the government in late 2013, while Erdogan was still prime minister.

People’s Daily offer cyber-reassurance:

Cyber security rules won’t close markets

US lobbies represented by the US Chamber of Commerce have recently asked the US government for help over China’s new cyber security regulations, saying they may hurt US firms’ overseas business opportunities.

The Chinese government has not officially published the new rules.

The US information technology firms said they will be forced to hand over source codes and adopt Chinese encryption algorithms when doing business with Chinese banks.

Observers said the US business lobbies meant to press Beijing to change its decision.

The New York Times does hacking foreshadowing:

Data Breach at Anthem May Lead to Others

Medical identity theft has become a booming business, according to security experts, who warn that other health care companies are likely to be targeted as a result of the hackers’ success in penetrating Anthem’s computer systems. Hackers often try one company to test their methods before moving on to others, and criminals are becoming increasingly creative in their use of medical information, experts say.

“The industry has become, over the last three years, a much bigger target,” said Daniel Nutkis, the chief executive of the Health Information Trust Alliance, an industry group that works with health care organizations to improve their data security.

The publicity surrounding the breach, which exposed information on about 80 million people, is already generating phishing email scams, in which criminals posing as legitimate businesses try to persuade people to sign up for bogus credit protection services and provide personal information about themselves.

A feeble turnout foils Slovakian homophobes, via the Independent:

Referendum to entrench gay marriage ban in Slovakia overwhelmingly supported but fails due to low turnout

A referendum which aimed to restrict gay rights was overwhelmingly supported in Slovakia, but failed to become legally binding as the turnout was too low.

Saturday’s poll asked voters if they agreed that marriage can only be a union between a man and a woman; that same-sex partners must be barred from adopting children; and it is for parents to decide whether their children receive sex education.

In response, a clear majority, 95, 92 and 90 per cent of those who voted agreed with the respective statements.

British Muslims stage an anti-Charlie Hebdo protest, via the hugely hyperbolic London Telegraph:

Huge crowd of Muslim protesters picket Downing Street to protest at Charlie Hebdo cartoons

  • The protesters, many of whom were divided into groups of men and women, and included children, gathered just yards from the Cenotaph

At least 1,000 Muslim protesters gathered outside the gates of Downing Street to protest against the depictions of the Prophet Mohammed in Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine.

The protestors, many of whom were divided into groups of men and women, gathered just yards from the Cenotaph which remembers Britain’s war dead, and blocked half of Whitehall as they demonstated.

The protest was organised by the Muslim Action Forum, which said that the Charlie Hebdo cartoons had helped “sow the seeds of hatred” and had damaged community relations.

The alternative Pegida draws a feeble Dresden turnout, via Channel NewsAsia Singapore:

Rival group to Germany’s PEGIDA draws just 500 at first rally

A new German movement that broke away from the anti-Muslim PEGIDA group drew just 500 people to its first rally in the city of Dresden on Sunday, highlighting the obstacles they face in winning further support and making a national impact.

“Direct Democracy for Europe”, led by Kathrin Oertel who was a founding member of PEGIDA but quit last month, wants tighter immigration controls, more referendums to decide policies and more money for the police.

Oertel and four other founding members broke from PEGIDA last month following the resignation of figurehead Lutz Bachmann who quit after a photo was published of him posing as Hitler and prosecutors opened an investigation for inciting hatred.

Pediga in Hitler’s would-be retirement home hits a brick wall, via TheLocal.at:

Pegida in Linz meets fierce resistance

The first protest in the Austrian city of Linz by Germany’s “anti-Islamization” movement Pegida drew just 150 supporters Sunday and was dwarfed by a counter-demo by some 2,000 people, police said.

A planned Pegida march through the centre of the northern city was abandoned after several hundred counter-demonstrators blocked their way, chanting “Auf Wiedersehen” (“Goodbye”), the Austria Press Agency reported.

During a standoff lasting around an hour a few snowballs were thrown there were no incidents of violence. “There were no arrests,” a police spokesman told AFP.

After the jump, British police make daily ISIS-related arrests, European parents grief-stricken over their ISIS-recruited children, on to the battlefront, with a combatant profile, mixed senatorial messages on boots on the ground, ISIS archaeological annihilation, lethal football violence in Cairo, on to the Boko Haram battlefront, first with a video on fatally divided families in Chad, the miserable plight of Nigerian Boko Haram violence, a young Nobel laureate targeted by fundamentalist hate make a plea on behalf of Boko Haram victims, and a Nigerian poll delay sparks protests, a 15-kilometer human chain protest against Bangladeshi violence, surviving members of a Pakistani school bombing seek recompense, a rally for Pakistani Charlie Hebdo decapitation advocates, North Korea fires off as missile salvo, a China-inspired Asian submarine arms race, partnerships in submarine subterfuge, and pepper-sprayed protesters in Hong Kong, Japan’s prime minister gains for hostage beheadings, his popularity rises, and the government grabs the passport of a would-be war photographer. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Terror, war, spooks, & hacks


Plus so much more.

And we begin with a couple of cases of American domestic terrorism, both from the Associated Press:

Mom charged with threatening to blow up daughter’s school

Authorities say a mother got so angry when told that her daughter had failed a New York state exam that she threatened to bomb the school.

Karen Shearon pleaded not guilty when she was arraigned Friday on a misdemeanor aggravated harassment charge.

A court complaint says the 48-year-old told a Staten Island high school guidance counselor Tuesday she was “going to blow up the school.”

And that second Associated Press story:

Ex-worker convicted in Home Depot bomb plot gets 30 years

A former employee convicted of planting a pipe bomb at a Home Depot store to try to extort $2 million from the company was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Daniel Sheehan’s case stemmed from a scare that spurred the evacuation of a Home Depot in Huntington in October 2012. Sheehan had sent an anonymous letter saying he’d put a bomb in the lighting department to show that he could plant one without being detected, and that he’d actually set off bombs in three other Long Island Home Depot stores on Black Friday that year if not paid, federal prosecutors said.

“This is a frightening type of crime” that also was costly for the store, U.S. District Judge Denis Hurley said at Sheehan’s sentencing Friday. Prosecutors said the company spent $1.5 million for additional security guards and other safety measures.

From the Guardian, look but don’t touch?:

Judge rules man’s upskirt photos of girl, 13, at Target not a crime but appalling

Portland man, 61, admits to snapping photos up her skirt, but he did not violate privacy laws because such sightings can occur by happenstance, judge cites

An Oregon judge has ruled that a 61-year-old man did nothing illegal when he crouched in the aisle of a Target store and snapped photos up a 13-year-old’s skirt.

It was lewd and appalling, but not outlawed, Washington county judge Eric Butterfield said.

“From a legal point of view, which unfortunately today is my job to enforce, he didn’t do anything wrong,” the judge said on Thursday.

The Associated Press covers an unhealthy situation:

No encryption standard raises health care privacy questions

nsurers aren’t required to encrypt consumers’ data under a 1990s federal law that remains the foundation for health care privacy in the Internet age — an omission that seems striking in light of the major cyberattack against Anthem.

Encryption uses mathematical formulas to scramble data, converting sensitive details coveted by intruders into gibberish. Anthem, the second-largest U.S. health insurer, has said the data stolen from a company database that stored information on 80 million people was not encrypted.

The main federal health privacy law — the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA — encourages encryption, but doesn’t require it.

The lack of a clear encryption standard undermines public confidence, some experts say, even as the government plows ahead to spread the use of computerized medical records and promote electronic information sharing among hospitals, doctors and insurers.

PandoDaily covers the cost of compromise:

How the ACLU, Ron Paul and a former EFF Director helped jail a CIA whistleblower

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who went public about torture programs and was later jailed for leaking the name of a covert CIA agent, was just released from prison to serve out the remaining months of his sentence under house arrest. Kiriakou is the first CIA spy ever jailed for leaking secrets, and only the second American ever convicted under a 1982 law making it a crime to publicly identify covert CIA agents.

The story of how that law, the “Intelligence Identities Protection Act,” came to be is an important and depressing story in its own right, one that’s been totally forgotten. And for good reason: Bad memories are best suppressed, until they creep back up and become a serious “now” problem, and you need to figure out how things got to this point.

The story behind the 1982 law used to jail Kiriakou fills in some of the blanks about how the modern secrecy apparatus was first put together beginning in the Reagan-Bush years. It also reveals the complicity and collaboration of our leading civil libertarians in creating the secrecy-and-censorship leviathan that these same civil libertarians claim to be fighting today on our behalf. Everyone from the ACLU, libertarian hero Ron Paul, even the first executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation was complicit in giving us the anti-whistleblower law that put John Kiriakou in prison.

From CBC News, setting spooky limits in Canada:

Bill C-51 bars CSIS from committing ‘bodily harm,’ sexual violation

  • Bill C-51 would grant spy agency the power to ‘reduce the threat’ of terrorism, but tactics unclear

The government’s proposed anti-terror legislation expands the powers of Canadian Security Intelligence Service to allow it to “disrupt” suspected terrorist threats — but it also expressly prohibits CSIS from killing or seriously injuring a subject.

What’s not clear exactly is where the line between those activities is drawn and what that means for the agency when it comes to interrogation techniques, experts on civil liberties and security point out.

Bill C-51 would allow CSIS to take measures within or outside Canada to reduce threats to the security of Canada, but doesn’t spell out exactly what those measures could be. The bill lists prohibited activities, barring CSIS from:

  • Intentionally or by criminal negligence cause death or bodily harm.
  • In any way trying to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice.
  • Violating the sexual integrity of an individual.

MintPress News covers a would-be police power grab:

NYPD Pushes For Broad Expansion Of Arrest Powers

  • NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton is urgently advising that they raise the penalty for resisting arrest from a misdemeanor to a felony

2 days ago, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton pushed state legislators to consider raising the penalty for what could be considered the most useful tool at the disposal of police — resisting arrest. He is urgently advising that they raise the penalty for resisting arrest from a misdemeanor to a felony.

He said the raise in penalty would ensure that New York residents “get around this idea that you can resist arrest. You can’t.”

“You must submit to arrest, you cannot resist …The place to argue your case is in the courts, not in the streets.”

Several news outlets recognized the audacity of this plea for harsher laws, a Gawker article sporting the headline ‘NYPD Has a Plan to Magically Turn Anyone It Wants Into A Felon’. A Vox article has the headline ‘The NYPD chief supports harsher penalties for resisting arrest. That’s a horrifying idea.’

From Deutsche Welle, just like the first President Bush?:

Turkish spymaster Fidan quits to contest parliamentary election

  • Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s intelligence service has resigned to run in a parliamentary election in June. Fidan is a close ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The head of the Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), also one of the closest confidants of the president, has resigned to stand for election as a lawmaker, the official Anatolia news agency reported on Saturday.

Fidan played a key role in trying to stop the hacking of confidential state communications during a corruption scandal implicating Erdogan’s inner circle last year.

The former spymaster has been widely seen as a potential future foreign minister. “He will take the best of any job in place,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu – himself a former foreign minister – told the Hurriyet newspaper this week. He further described Fidan as “brave and valiant.”

From CBC News, trans-border bluster:

Anti-terrorism talk: Harper and Obama sound like yin and yang

  • White House refers to warped interpretation of Islam, Canadian PM warns of ‘great evil’

The last few days have shown vivid differences in the way the leaders of Canada and the United States discuss terrorism and the threat posed by Islamist fighters.

One raises the alert level. The other dials it down.

It’s been like a linguistic laboratory, with the chance to compare the choice of words from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama over a similar time period.

After the jump, on to the war as the coalition launches 26 air strikes, another country prepares to rejoin the fray, a massive body count, reluctant Chinese ISIS recruits killed, ISIS sets a price for child slaves, the cinematic caliphate, returning European ISIS recruits tell tales of horror, and six Americans charged with aiding ISIS, 400+ Israeli rabbis protest Palestinian home demolitions, an estimate of Boko Haram battle strength as their attacks force a Nigerian election delay, Niger claims a Boko Haram body count, and troops are pledged for a multinational African anti-Boko Haram military force, Miss Universe sought a a Colombian peace negotiator, Pakistan enforces a ban on YouTube, North Korea fires off a new naval cruise missile, Japanese favor only non-military Mideast aid, Japanese U.S. bombing survivors push for state compensation, Japan looks to Moscow to resolve an insular dispute, Japanese publisher treats Mohammed’s face the same way Japanese video pornographers treat genitalia, and Tokyo inaugurates emergency SMS ap for Japanese abroad. . . Continue reading