White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election

White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election

by Dan Goodin

Ars Technica / 2016-12-30 17:11

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Talk about disappointments. The US government’s much-anticipated analysis of Russian-sponsored hacking operations provides almost none of the promised evidence linking them to breaches that the Obama administration claims were orchestrated in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

The 13-page report, which was jointly published Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, billed itself as an indictment of sorts that would finally lay out the intelligence community’s case that Russian government operatives carried out hacks on the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Clinton Campaign Chief John Podesta and leaked much of the resulting material. While security companies in the private sector have said for months the hacking campaign was the work of people working for the Russian government, anonymous people tied to the leaks have claimed they are lone wolves. Many independent security experts said there was little way to know the true origins of the attacks.

Sadly, the JAR, as the Joint Analysis Report is called, does little to end the debate. Instead of providing smoking guns that the Russian government was behind specific hacks, it largely restates previous private-sector claims without providing any support for their validity. Even worse, it provides an effective bait and switch by promising newly declassified intelligence into Russian hackers’ “tradecraft and techniques” and instead delivering generic methods carried out by just about all state-sponsored hacking groups.

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Meet the Community in Louisiana Where Police Throw People in Jail First and Then Investigate

Meet the Community in Louisiana Where Police Throw People in Jail First and Then Investigate

by Scott Shackford

Reason.com Full Feed / 2016-12-30 12:31

ArrestedImagine being treated the same way a person arrested for a felony is treated—brought into jail, strip searched, imprisoned—even though you aren’t arrested. Worse yet, imagine being treated that way because you might have been a witness to a crime and police wanted to interview you.

That’s exactly what had been happening down in Louisiana in Evangeline Parrish (population 33,500) and its town of Ville Platte (population 7,300). According a long-term Department of Justice investigation that was just released in December, police and sheriff’s offices there had a long-established practice of jailing people for days without charges or warrants as “investigative holds.” The practice is extremely unconstitutional but apparently had been policy.

Police held people for days without charging them with crimes, but often suspected them of having committed crimes. According to the DOJ report the detention was partly because the police thought these people were guilty of something but lacked actual evidence, so police used the opportunity to keep them behind bars while they looked for something to hit them with. They were forced to sleep on the floor in jail and were not allowed to contact the outside world and let people know what had happened to them. They were essentially “disappeared” by law enforcement officials:

Investigative holds initiated by [Ville Platte Police Department] VPPD often last for 72 hours—and sometimes significantly longer—forcing detainees to spend multiple nights sleeping on a concrete floor or metal bench. Indeed, VPPD’s booking logs indicate that, from 2012-2014, several dozen investigative holds extended for at least a full week. During this time, VPPD exerts control over the detainees’ liberty: The detained person is not permitted to make phone calls to let family or employers know where they are, and have access to bathrooms and showers only when taken into the jail’s general population area.

Similarly, [Evangeline Parrish Sheriff’s Office] EPSO’s investigative holds often last for three full days. During that time, detainees are forced to sleep on the Parish Jail’s concrete floor. One EPSO deputy reported that he saw someone held without a warrant or a probable cause determination for more than six days. As with VPPD, EPSO also controls the detainee’s liberty. EPSO does not permit detainees who are “on hold” to make phone calls to let family or employers know their whereabouts. Indeed, we were told that certain detectives have threatened EPSO jail officers (referred to as “jailers” in the Parish Jail) with retaliation if the officers allowed detainees to make phone calls. One EPSO jail officer described an incident in which an EPSO detective reprimanded him after the jail officer provided toothpaste and other personal supplies to a person locked in the holding cell.

These investigative holds are not even ostensibly supported by probable cause. Both EPSO and VPPD detectives acknowledged that they use investigative holds where they lack sufficient evidence to make an arrest, but instead have a “hunch” or “feeling” that a person may be involved in criminal activity. One VPPD officer noted that they use investigative holds specifically where the officer needs more time to develop evidence to support a lawful arrest. Similarly, an EPSO detective described using investigative holds when he had “a pretty good feeling” or a “gut instinct” that a certain individual was connected to a crime.

The DOJ report goes on that it was not just suspects who were treated this way. They even locked up people they thought might be witnesses to a crime, meaning just about anybody could have been subjected to this treatment:

For example, one woman told us that VPPD officers detained her and her family in 2014 after a grocery shopping trip during which they may have witnessed an armed robbery and shooting. The woman was on her way home with her groceries when a VPPD officer stopped her. She told the officer that she did not see the robbery and that she had no information about the crime. After she got home and dropped off her groceries, another VPPD officer came to her house and commanded her to come to the police station to answer questions. The woman recounted—and Chief Lartigue confirmed—that the officer took the woman, her boyfriend, and a 16-year old who was staying at their house into custody at the jail. Officers strip-searched the woman, who was menstruating at the time, and forced her to remove her tampon. VPPD officers then placed her in custody overnight—first in a holding cell and then in the Jail’s general population—without access to sanitary products. According to the woman, roughly nine hours later, VPPD detectives removed her from detention to question her about the shooting. The district attorney participated in this interrogation. VPPD officers also held the woman’s boyfriend overnight in a holding cell, and held the juvenile in a separate holding cell for at least seven hours before releasing him to a family member. None of these individuals were suspected of having any connection to the robbery or shooting, yet detectives incarcerated them for significant periods of time before showing them a line up and asking questions about what they may have witnessed. The day after being released, the woman called Chief Lartigue to complain about her treatment. Chief Lartigue responded that the detention was pursuant to department policy.

Another woman was detained with two small children and kept in holding cells (the kids were eventually released to family members) for questioning about an armed robbery. She spent days in custody without being charged but also not being permitted to leave. Eventually after 72 hours they charged her with armed robbery to keep her in custody. Local media reported the arrest, but the charges were subsequently dropped and she told the DOJ that she still has no idea why the police ever charged her in connection with the case.

The DOJ details the constitutional problems and Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations—which should be obvious even to laypeople—with the detentions. There was no judicial review. No magistrate was evaluating and ruling on the probable cause to hold these people, because clearly there often was none. If police brought these people before a judge they’d be ordered to let them go. The police were also using the detentions to interrogate and get incriminating statements from those they’ve snagged in order to try to get convictions, but given that the detentions were unlawful, any confessions would run up against Fifth Amendment protections against compelled self-incrimination.

Unfortunately, the report notes, the record-keeping with these law enforcement agencies was poor enough that they were unable to evaluate the extent of the consequences of this. That is to say: They have no idea how many people were either convicted or pleaded guilty to crimes based on information or confessions the police gathered illegally or whether they’ve sent innocent people to prison because of it. The DOJ does have “grave concerns” that these detentions have led to wrongful convictions.

Apparently the law enforcement agencies involved are cooperative with the DOJ’s investigation and the report concludes with calls for a court-enforced reform program to, among other things, teach police that you can’t just put people in jail cells while you investigate them. The Civil Rights Division of the DOJ is prepared to sue if they can’t reach an agreement with the law enforcement agencies involved.

Read the report here. And before thinking to yourself “Oh, those racist Southern towns and their Boss Hogg sheriffs,” remember that what this report describes is eerily similar to the practices Chicago Police have just as recently been accused of at Homan Square.

What to watch for in 2017

What to watch for in 2017

by Tyler Cowen

Marginal REVOLUTION / 2016-12-30 09:32

1. Iran’s presidential race in May. Iran does run real elections — sort of — but will Rouhani survive? Or will the hardliners ascend again? How much is Rouhani a hardliner anyway? Stay tuned. I’ll just note a theorem in the margins here: the greater the unpredictability of the American president, the more the identities and decisions of the other world leaders matter. According to Wikipedia, the only announced reformist candidate is a blogger (not a good sign for him or them).

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2. How Nigeria copes with its recession. This is the one country in sub-Saharan Africa that has the size and talent to make a significant commercial breakthrough. Now that oil prices are back up a bit, can they dismantle their counterproductive exchange and capital controls, boost FDI, and get to four to six percent growth? Or will they wallow in the range of one to two percent, which hardly means anything in light of Nigeria’s rising population?

3. Whether the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains stable. Joseph Kabila is staying past the end of his second presidential term. Will this lead to renewed instability and conflict, beyond what is already the case? “Africa’s World War” ended in 2003, not long ago, and it is not impossible to imagine it resuming.

4. African fertility rates. They’re high. In most other parts of the world, including Latin America and the Middle East, fertility has fallen much faster than most commentators had expected. That is not yet the case for Africa, but will it be?

5. Modi’s India and where it it headed: Maybe the demonetisation was an unforced error, but it seems increasingly likely it was part of a broader strategy to push India into a semi-cashless, biometrically marked, income tax-paying society. I’ll be curious to see how that goes.

6. Economic growth in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Pakistan grew 4.7 percent last year and Bangladesh has averaged about six percent for the last decade. Is all that (relative) good news going to continue? If so, the world will be in much better shape than otherwise.

7. Will Xi Jinping overturn Chinese political conventions? His term is supposed to end in 2022, but for a while he has been sending signals he might try to stay on as leader for much longer. That could bring a new round of political instability to the Middle Kingdom. Or a new round of stability. Depending how you look at it.

8. Chinese capital flight and the currency peg. This one seems to be heating to a boil. Capital flight continues to rise, using every technique known to mankind including Bitcoin and e-purchases of Singaporean gambling tokens. The government says that the sporadic reports of USD trades at 7-1 are nonsense, so they must be right. When will it snap? And when it does, will it be a non-event or a big deal?

9. American institutions: Will the United States Congress and courts continue to secure some version of rule of law in this country? And will we agree on what that means?

10. What is the Latin American middle class good for? Many Latin economies now have built a reasonably-sized middle class, but commodity prices are not in general favoring those economies. Will those middle classes push their countries into better policies and educational systems? Slowly but surely, I believe the answer is yes.

There is a chance the French or German elections make this list, but right now the best forecasts are for “business as usual” in both cases. Brexit will continue to torture us with its drawn-out agony. And remember — your emotional guide as to what is an important issue often reflects your own selfish concerns about the status of you and your preferred groups. Do keep that in mind throughout this year.

If you’re looking for a few sleeper issues, I’ll cite Russia-Israel tensions over control of Middle Eastern airspace, economic and institutional recovery in Ukraine combined with sabotage potential from you-know-where, the political economy and geopolitics of aging in Japan, the rise of a Trump-like populist in Mexico, and the potential failure of the Saudi reform process as a few more to keep your eye on. Climate change and the destroyed parts of the Middle East bear watching too, along with ongoing collapse in Yemen, for water supplies too.

The post What to watch for in 2017 appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Microchips in every American?

Microchips in every American?

by Tyler Cowen

Marginal REVOLUTION / 2016-12-29 23:31

What better way to move toward that goal than to start with the category labeled as “disabled”:

Last Thursday, the House passed HR 4919, also known as Kevin and Avonte’s Law, which would allow the US attorney general to award grants to law enforcement for the creation and operation of “locative tracking technology programs.” Though the program’s mission is to find “individuals with forms of dementia or children with developmental disabilities who have wandered from safe environments,” it provides no restriction on the tracking program’s inclusion of other individuals. The bill would also require the attorney general to work with the secretary of health and human services and unnamed health organizations to establish the “best practices” for the use of tracking devices.

…“While this initiative may have noble intentions, ‘small and temporary’ programs in the name of safety and security often evolve into permanent and enlarged bureaucracies that infringe on the American people’s freedoms. That is exactly what we have here. A safety problem exists for people with Alzheimer’s, autism and other mental health issues, so the fix, we are told, is to have the Department of Justice, start a tracking program so we can use some device or method to track these individuals 24/7,” Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said in a floor speech opposing the bill.

…Though the bill specifically mentions those with Alzheimer’s and autism, how long before these tracking programs are extended to those with ADHD and bipolar disorder, among other officially recognized disorders.

Even the dislike of authority is considered a mental disorder known as “Oppositional Defiant Disorder,” which could also warrant microchipping in the future. If these programs expand unchecked, how long will it be before all Americans are told that mass microchipping is necessary so that law enforcement and the government can better “protect” them?

I do hope we know better than this!

Here is the full story, via the excellent Mark Thorson.

The post Microchips in every American? appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Sixth Circuit Rules That Police Were Justified In Shooting Barking Dog During Raid

Sixth Circuit Rules That Police Were Justified In Shooting Barking Dog During Raid

by jonathanturley

JONATHAN TURLEY / 2016-12-29 23:30

us-courtofappeals-6thcircuit-sealThe United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has handed down a major ruling that will likely shock many dog owners. Judge Eric Clay wrote the opinion that police can legally shoot and kill any dog that is barking at them during a raid. Since this is a common response to intruders, it would mean that police have virtually complete discretion to kill dogs during raids. The case is Brown v. Battle Creek Police Dep’t, 2016 FED App. 0293P (6th Cir.).

The Court describes the incident as follows:

On April 16, 2013, the BCPD searched the trash of Danielle Nesbitt and found baggies with residue of marijuana and cocaine. They used the garbage to secure a search warrant the next day. They also relied on a confidential informant on the use of the residence to deal drugs. They executed the warrant but Vincent Jones was detained outside of the residence by police with heroin on his person. They also found Mark Brown at the location who let them in and told them that there were two dogs in the house. The officers saw the dogs in the window as they barked and pawed. Both were pit bulls.

Officer Klein testified that when he entered the house, the first dog jumped off the couch, was aggressively barking at the officers, and lunged at him. He also noted that when the officers entered the residence, the second pit bull jumped off the couch, went through the kitchen and down into the basement. He further testified that when the first pit bull lunged at him in the entryway, he fired his first shot. Officer Klein explained that the first pit bull “had only moved a few inches” between the time when he entered the residence and when he shot her, and that this movement was what he considered to be a “lunge.” (See Klein Dep. at 73-75, 77.) Klein testified that he “hit” the first dog with a non-lethal shot, but that he was “aiming at its head.” (Id. at 80.)

. . .

Officer Klein stated that after he struck the first pit bull in the entryway, the dog moved away from the officers and towards the kitchen, then down the stairs and into the basement. Officer Klein noted that this first dog was not running, as it “look[ed]” injured. (Id. at 82.) As the officers were descending the stairs to clear the basement, they noted that the first pit bull was at the bottom of the stairs. Klein testified that the first pit bull obstructed the path to the basement, and that he “did not feel [the officers] could safely clear the basement with those dogs down there.” (Id. at 95-96.) The officers’ “priority w[as] [ ] to secure the basement if there w[ere] any people down there.” (Id. at 97.) When the officers were halfway down the stairs, the first dog, who was at the bottom of the staircase, turned towards them and started barking again. From the staircase, Officer Klein fired two fatal rounds at the first pit bull. (Id.)

When the officers got down to the basement, they noted that the “basement was loaded. You’ve gotta look under beds, you’ve gotta do everything, and [the dogs] basically prevented us from doing that, and they were protecting that basement.” (Case Dep. at 86.)

Officer Klein testified that after he shot and killed the first dog, he noticed the second dog standing about halfway across the basement. The second dog was not moving towards the officers when they discovered her in the basement, but rather she was “just standing there,” [**6] barking and was turned sideways to the officers. (Klein Dep. at 87.) Klein then fired the first two rounds at the second dog.

After being shot by Officer [*9] Klein, the second dog ran to the back corner of the basement. The second pit bull was in this corner when Officer Young, who was also clearing the basement, shot her because she was “moving” out of the corner and in his direction. (Id. at 92.) After being shot by Officers Klein and Young, the second pit bull ran to the back of the furnace in the back corner of the basement. Officer Case saw that “[t]here was blood coming out of numerous holes in the dog, and . . . [Officer Case] didn’t want to see it suffer” so he put her out of her misery and fired the last shot. (Id.at 93-94; Case Dep. at 79.)

The Sixth Circuit held that it was enough that the officers felt threatened by the dogs. The first dog was described by the police as lunging as well as growling. However, it is the second dog that will raise issues for pet owners:

At the hearing, the district court held that, even if it did take the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, the unrebutted fact that Officer Klein said the large brown pit bull lunged at him before he shot her would still establish that his actions were reasonable. (R. 72 at 24, 45.) A jury could reasonably conclude that a 97-pound pit bull, barking and lunging at the officers as they breached the entryway, posed a threat to the officers’ safety and it was necessary to shoot the dog in order for them to safely sweep the residence and insure that there were no other gang members in the residence and that evidence was not being destroyed.

After Officer Klein shot the first dog, the dog went through the kitchen and into the basement. As the officers were moving down the stairs to clear the basement, they noticed that the wounded dog was at the bottom of the stairs. When the officers were halfway down the stairs, the first dog turned towards them and started barking again from the bottom of the stairs. Officer Klein reasonably fired two fatal rounds at the pit bull. The officers testified that the basement was filled with various objects and it was difficult to determine if there was anybody in the basement hiding behind one of the large objects. The officers had to sweep the basement, and the wounded animal was preventing them from entering the basement and safely sweeping it. Therefore, the seizure of the first dog was reasonable.

With regard to the second pit bull, the question before the district court was whether Plaintiffs presented a genuine issue of material fact as to whether it posed an imminent threat to the officers’ safety. The dog was not present in the entryway and was not standing at the bottom of the basement stairs as the officers descended. The second pit bull was in the basement when they descended the stairs and was barking as the officers were attempting to enter and clear the basement. Officer Klein testified that the dog, a 53-pound unleashed pit bull, was standing in the middle of the basement, barking, when he fired the first two rounds. The officers testified that they were unable to safely clear the basement with both dogs there. Therefore, we find that it was reasonable for Officer Klein to shoot the second dog.

After being shot by Officer Klein, the second dog ran to the back corner of the basement and was in the corner when Officer Young shot her. Officer Young testified that he was unable to clear that corner of the basement with a 53-pound unleashed pit bull moving in his direction. We find that Officer Young’s shooting of the second dog was reasonable. Officer Case then fired the fatal shot at the second dog when he found it bleeding profusely behind the furnace. As with Officers Klein and Young, we find Officer Case’s actions reasonable.

Three Michigan police officers, who shot two dogs for lunging and barking at them during a drug raid, were once again justified in their actions — this time by a federal appeals court.

Underlying the decision is the treatment of the dogs as simple property even though the court acknowledges the emotional attachment. The mere fact that the second dog was barking and in the path of the officer was enough to justify the shooting. That is a standard that is likely to outrage many pet owners, particularly given the past cases that we have discussed (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here).

Here is the opinion: http://www.opn.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/16a0293p-06.pdf

The Internets of Ars Miranda | Simple Justice

The Internets of Ars Miranda

Ars Technica isn’t a website for criminal lawyers, even though there are often posts that will be of interest to criminal lawyers. It’s a tech website. So why then, aside from having shit to throw up on the screen, would they try their best to make their readers stupider?…

http://blog.simplejustice.us/2016/12/29/the-internets-of-ars-miranda/

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No, the IRS may not deny tax exemptions on the grounds that a group is a supposed ‘hate group’ – The Washingto n Post

https://images.washingtonpost.com/?url=https://img.washingtonpost.com/pb/resources/img/twp-3000x1568.jpg&w=1484&op=resize&opt=1&filter=antialias

No, the IRS may not deny tax exemptions on the grounds that a group is a supposed ‘hate group’

Some raise "concerns that [the IRS] is essentially granting government subsidies to groups holding views that millions of Americans may find abhorrent." But First Amendment precedents make clear that the government can’t deny tax-exempt status based on a group’s viewpoints, "abhorrent" or not.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/12/29/no-the-irs-may-not-deny-tax-exemptions-on-the-grounds-that-a-group-is-a-supposed-hate-group/?utm_term=.53c3d25b6d08