9:41 AM 10/18/2017: In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News – NYT

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In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News

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Italy, of course, is not alone in trying to find a way to grapple with the global proliferation of propaganda that has sown public confusion and undermined the credibility of powerful institutions.

Pope Francis recently announced that he would dedicate his 2018 World Communications Day address to the topic of fake news, and the United States Congress is investigating how Russian agents manipulated Facebook and Twitter to spread false stories and stoke conspiracy theories to sway the 2016 presidential election.

But ahead of crucial Italian elections early next year, the country has become an especially fertile ground for digital deceit. Frustrated by economic woes, upset by a migrant crisis and fed a steady diet of partisan media, many Italians subscribe to all kinds of conspiracy theories. It is what they call dietrologia, the belief that there is also always something dietro, or behind, the surface.

The Italian passion for seeing intrigue — whether or not it exists — around every corner runs deep, said Alessandro Campi, a professor of political science at Perugia University. “All of this is part of the Italian cultural heritage,” he said.

A history of scheming Borgia cardinals, waves of foreign domination, papal crackdowns and corrupt governments had imbued Italians with an abiding distrust in authority, Mr. Campi said.

In recent years, this background has helped erode the standing of traditional political parties while being expertly exploited by political upstarts, insurgents and outsiders, none more so than the surging Five Star Movement and its founder, Beppe Grillo.

“I’d say that the Five Star Movement believes more than any other political party in conspiracy theories,” said Mr. Campi, an editor of “Conspiracies and Plots — From Machiavelli to Beppe Grillo.”

“It’s not only a tactic,” Mr. Campi said of the movement, which has succeeded in attracting votes from the left and the right with an ideologically ambiguous form of populism. “It’s their political worldview.”

Nicola Biondo, a former chief of communications for the Five Star Movement, said that for the party, spreading conspiracies was akin to a policy.

“They use the term Great Powers, never specifying who those powers are,” said Mr. Biondo, who has recently written a book, “Supernova: How Five Star Was Killed,” with another party defector. “It is a mantra.”

Ms. Boldrini, sponsor of the new student curriculum, asserts that the web cannot be forfeited to the fringes, and that the government must teach the next generation of Italian voters how to defend themselves against falsehoods and conspiracy theories designed to play on their fears.

She said she had included Google and Facebook in the project in an acknowledgment that virtual space is where many young Italians live.

Nevertheless, she expressed skepticism in particular about Facebook’s commitment to reining in fake news and hate speech, and recognized the possibility that the Italian school project provided the embattled giant with a much-needed public relations boon.

Facebook was quick to applaud the program. Laura Bononcini, chief of public policy for Facebook in Italy, Greece and Malta, said on Tuesday that “the program is part of an international effort. Education and media literacy are a crucial part of our effort to curb the spread of false news, and collaboration with schools is pivotal.”

Ms. Boldrini also noted that Facebook was contributing by promoting the initiative through targeted ads to high-school-age users, and she said she hoped that the program, which aimed to show students how their “likes” were monetized and politicized, could become a “pilot program” for Facebook throughout Europe.

But some of the Italian course load seems unrealistic. While some tips are useful, such as keeping an eye out for parody URLs, students are also called upon to reach out to experts to verify news stories, essentially asking the students to re-report articles.

The program seeks to deputize students as fake-news hunters, showing them how to create their own blogs or social accounts to expose false stories and “showing how you uncovered it.”

In Italy, that gives them a lot of ground to cover.

For months here, conspiracy theorists who reject scientific consensus have connected vaccinations to medical conditions including autism in children, often blaming pharmaceutical companies as a dark force behind the medical practice. It was an issue that struck a nerve in Italy and played right into the wheelhouse of the Five Star Movement’s distrust of expertise and authority.

In May, amid a measles outbreak, Italy strengthened its vaccination requirements for school-age children, prompting so-called No-Vax activists to protest outside the Italian Parliament for the right to choose.

The vaccination opponents were especially strong in the Five Star Movement, whose leader, Mr. Grillo, once attacked vaccines as a scam by pharmaceutical companies with the intention of “weakening children’s immune systems.”

His wildly popular blog has alleged that some vaccines “can kill,” and websites, such as La Fucina, run by another party leader, Davide Casaleggio, have published anti-vaccine reports.

(In the past, other sites associated with Mr. Casaleggio or Mr. Grillo have also carried sensational reports by Russian-backed news outlets that were deemed false and damaging to the movement’s political enemies.)

“It’s what the pharmaceutical companies do, and it’s questionable,” said Paola Barile, 65, as she stood with a Five Star Movement flag wrapped around her shoulders at a protest last week in front of Parliament. “The spell has been broken for us also on vaccines.”

At the same rally, Five Star activists screamed “shame” and railed against the political parties, right and left, for joining forces to draft a new electoral law they considered (maybe correctly this time) designed to keep the movement out of power.

But the Five Star Movement is not the only political force to have profited from fake news, and students are not the only ones who can be deceived by it.

Last weekend, Gian Marco Centinaio, a senator from the Northern League, a right-leaning party, acknowledged that he had put on Facebook a post, subsequently shared 18,000 times, of a picture of a man identified as Ms. Boldrini’s brother, and complained how the news programs “don’t cover” the man’s no-show job that paid 47,000 euros, or more than $55,000, a month. The man in the image was not her brother and none of the allegations were true.

Mr. Centinaio called the post a joke and said, “People should be less credulous.”

A healthy dose of skepticism is exactly what the new Italian program hopes students will adopt.

“If people are prepared, educated on digital,” Ms. Boldrini said, “maybe they don’t fall for it.”

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -A former high-ranking FBI official in Honolulu is under fire after a local nonprofit accused him of stealing more than $33,000.

In a police statement filed last month, the nonprofit Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation said that between November 2016 and August 2017, 56-year-old Robert Kauffman wrote improper checks and made several unauthorized withdrawals from the foundation’s bank account.

Kauffman is a former assistant special agent-in-charge of the FBI’s Honolulu field office, and served with the bureau for more than 20 years where he investigated organized crime and espionage cases. He also served as the foundation’s treasurer.

“Several of these checks and bank account withdrawals were in excess of $3,000, which requires the approval of two board members,” attorney and foundation director David Brustein wrote.

“Robert did not have signatures or board approval,” Brustein added.

But Kauffman’s attorney, Myles Breiner, said his client is “innocent of any embezzlement,” and was safeguarding the money from being misspent.

He said Kauffman returned the money with a cashier’s check even before the foundation went to the police.

“Mr. Kauffman is innocent of any embezzlement. We believe that there was a disagreement over the handling of funds by the Legacy Foundation,” said Breiner.

“(He) was concerned about some of the decision being made about the costs and financing of various projects the foundation was endorsing.”

Kauffman is currently chief investigator for the state Judiciary’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which oversees attorney conduct.

He’s also listed as the CEO of The Wellness Group LLC, which unsuccessfully applied for a medical marijuana dispensary license. Among the Wellness Groups’ investors included foundation board members Brustein and Dr. David McEwan.

Brustein said Kauffman’s role at the two organizations are unrelated.

The Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation is a tax-exempt organization that supports causes for the gay, lesbian and transgendered people and is a big organizer of the Honolulu Pride festival happened throughout October.

The $33,000 is nearly half of the foundation’s annual revenues. Legal experts said allegations of theft or mismanagement can be financially exhausting for a nonprofit.

“It is more damaging, not only to the organization but the people who the organization was set up to assist,” said Hawaii Pacific University assistant professor Randal Lee, a retired Circuit Judge who has investigated hundreds of white-collar crime cases as a Honolulu deputy prosecutor.

Honolulu police are investigating and have turned over the case to its white-collar division. Kauffman plans to fight the allegations.

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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But a dozen Republican consultants and former Trump campaign aides, along with current and former Cambridge employees, say the company’s ability to exploit personality profiles — “our secret sauce,” Mr. Nix once called it — is exaggerated.

Cambridge executives now concede that the company never used psychographics in the Trump campaign. The technology — prominently featured in the firm’s sales materials and in media reportsthat cast Cambridge as a master of the dark campaign arts — remains unproved, according to former employees and Republicans familiar with the firm’s work.

“They’ve got a lot of really smart people,” said Brent Seaborn, managing partner of TargetPoint, a rival business that also provided voter data to the Trump campaign. “But it’s not as easy as it looks to transition from being excellent at one thing and bringing it into politics. I think there’s a big question about whether we think psychographic profiling even works.”

At stake are not merely bragging rights, but also an emerging science that many believe could reshape American politics and commerce. Big data companies already know your age, income, favorite cereal and when you last voted. But the company that can perfect psychological targeting could offer far more potent tools: the ability to manipulate behavior by understanding how someone thinks and what he or she fears.

A voter deemed neurotic might be shown a gun-rights commercial featuring burglars breaking into a home, rather than a defense of the Second Amendment; political ads warning of the dangers posed by the Islamic State could be targeted directly at voters prone to anxiety, rather than wasted on those identified as optimistic.

“You can do things that you would not have dreamt of before,” said Alexander Polonsky, chief data scientist at Bloom, a consulting firm that offers “emotion analysis” of social networks and has worked with the center-right Republican Party in France.

“It goes beyond sharing information,” he added. “It’s sharing the thinking and the feeling behind this information, and that’s extremely powerful.”

Both conservatives and liberals are eager to harness that power. In Washington, some Democratic operatives are scrambling to develop personality-profiling capabilities of their own. But even as Cambridge seeks to expand its business among conservative groups, questions about its performance have soured many Republicans in Mr. Trump’s orbit.

Cambridge is no longer in contention to work for Mr. Trump at the Republican National Committee, a company spokesman confirmed, nor is it working for America First Policies, a new nonprofit formed to help advance the president’s agenda.

In recent months, the value of Cambridge’s technology has been debated by technology experts and in some media accounts. But Cambridge officials, in recent interviews, defended the company’s record during the 2016 election, saying its data analysis helped Mr. Trump energize critical support in the Rust Belt. Mr. Nix said the firm had conducted tens of thousands of polls for Mr. Trump, helping guide his message and identify issues that mattered to voters.

But when asked to name a single race where the firm’s flagship product had been critical to victory, Mr. Nix declined.

“We bake a cake, it’s got 10 ingredients in it. Psychographics is one of them,” he said. “It’s very difficult to isolate exactly what the impact of that ingredient is.”

DRAWN TO AMERICA

Cambridge’s parent company, the London-based Strategic Communication Laboratories Group, has a long record of trying to understand and influence behavior. Founded in 1993 by a former British adman, the firm has worked for companies and candidates around the world, as well as for government and military clients. SCL has studied Pakistani jihadists for the British government and provided intelligence assessments for American defense contractors in Iran, Libya and Syria, according to company documents obtained by The New York Times.

“Their approach was seen as serious and focused,” said Mark Laity, chief of strategic communications at NATO’s military headquarters in Europe, who has taken part in NATO-affiliated conferences where SCL has made presentations.

In recent years, the company has moved to exploit the revolution in big data to predict human behavior more precisely, working with scientists from the Cambridge University Psychometrics Center. The United States represented a critical new market. Europe has strict privacy protections that limit the use of personal information, but America is more lightly regulated, allowing the sale of huge troves of consumer data to any company or candidate who can afford them.

In 2013, Cambridge Analytica was created as SCL’s American operation, and the two companies today share many of their roughly 200 employees, several top executives, and offices in New York and Washington.

To develop its profiling system, Cambridge conducts detailed psychological surveys — by phone and online — of tens of thousands of people, differentiating them by five traits, a model widely used by behavioral researchers.

Uniquely, the company claims to be able to extrapolate those findings to millions of other people it has not surveyed, assigning them one of 32 distinct personality types. Cambridge then blends those profiles with commercial data and voting histories, revealing “hidden voter trends and behavioral triggers,” according to a 2016 company brochure.

Those profiles, in turn, would allow campaigns to customize advertising, direct-mail slogans and door-knocking scripts, each calibrated to prod the targeted voter toward — or away from — a candidate.

The promise of psychometrics appealed to Mr. Mercer, a computer scientist who made a fortune helping to lead Renaissance Technologies, a Long Island-based hedge fund. Mr. Mercer and his daughter Rebekah presided over a growing political empire that included millions of dollars in contributions to conservative groups and a stake in Breitbart, whose nationalist and racially antagonistic content prefigured Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

Mr. Mercer became Cambridge’s principal investor, according to two former employees. (Like several others interviewed for this article, they spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing nondisclosure agreements and the threat of lawsuits.) Mr. Bannon, the family’s political guru, also advised the company and served as vice president of its board, according to Delaware public records.

Mr. Mercer has never spoken publicly about his policy views in depth, but his giving is eclectic: He has financed anti-Clinton documentaries, right-wing media watchdogs, libertarian think tanks and both Senator Ted Cruz, a religious conservative, and Mr. Trump, a thrice-married nationalist.

“The genius here is Bob, and the billionaire in this is Bob, and the person with the extreme views of how the world should be is Bob,” said David Magerman, a Renaissance research scientist who was recently suspended after criticizing his boss’s support for Mr. Trump.

In the run-up to the 2014 elections, Breitbart, under Mr. Bannon, set up a London office and made common cause with populist conservatives in Europe. But back in the United States, Cambridge was at first slow to land big accounts. It was rebuffed by the political network overseen by the billionaire conservative brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, to which the Mercers were major donors. Federal Election Commission records show that the firm had nine clients in House and Senate races that year, among them three “super PACs” partly financed by Mr. Mercer.

As the 2016 presidential campaign began, however, Cambridge landed a marquee political client: Mr. Cruz, the Texas senator. Mr. Mercer seeded a super PAC with $11 million to support him.

Cambridge had a talented salesman in Mr. Nix, an Eton-educated SCL director chosen to lead the American effort. Among colleagues, his skills at cajoling clients are legendary. At an office party at a London dog track in the summer of 2015, one young employee offered an affectionate toast.

“He is so smooth he’ll rub shoulders with politicians and their campaigns,” the employee joked, according to a video of the event posted on YouTube, “and, in their face, tell them he’s going to rip them off.”

‘NOT ABOUT TRICKING PEOPLE’

But Cambridge’s psychographic models proved unreliable in the Cruz presidential campaign, according to Rick Tyler, a former Cruz aide, and another consultant involved in the campaign. In one early test, more than half the Oklahoma voters whom Cambridge had identified as Cruz supporters actually favored other candidates. The campaign stopped using Cambridge’s data entirely after the South Carolina primary.

“When they were hired, from the outset it didn’t strike me that they had a wide breadth of experience in the American political landscape,” Mr. Tyler said.

Ms. Mercer and Mr. Bannon were aggressive advocates for Cambridge. When the campaign disputed a $2.5 million invoice, they lit into Mr. Cruz’s senior campaign team during a conference call, according to the consultant. Cambridge Analytica, Ms. Mercer and Mr. Bannon claimed, was the only thing keeping Mr. Cruz afloat. (The company declined to comment on the exchange, as did a personal spokeswoman for Mr. Bannon and the Mercers.)

After the Cruz campaign flamed out, Mr. Nix persuaded Mr. Trump’s digital director, Brad Parscale, to try out the firm. Its data products were considered for Mr. Trump’s critical get-out-the-vote operation. But tests showed Cambridge’s data and models were slightly less effective than the existing Republican National Committee system, according to three former Trump campaign aides.

Mr. Bannon at one point agreed to expand the company’s role, according to the aides, authorizing Cambridge to oversee a $5 million purchase of television ads. But after some of them appeared on cable channels in Washington, D.C. — hardly an election battleground — Cambridge’s involvement in television targeting ended.

In postelection conversations with potential clients, Cambridge has promoted itself as the brains behind Mr. Trump’s upset victory. One brochure circulated to clients this year, which details Cambridge’s expertise in behavioral targeting, also calls the company’s “pivotal role” in electing Mr. Trump its “biggest success politically in the United States.”

Trump aides, though, said Cambridge had played a relatively modest role, providing personnel who worked alongside other analytics vendors on some early digital advertising and using conventional microtargeting techniques. Later in the campaign, Cambridge also helped set up Mr. Trump’s polling operation and build turnout models used to guide the candidate’s spending and travel schedule. None of those efforts involved psychographics.

In some recent public settings, Cambridge executives have acknowledged that. “I don’t want to break your heart; we actually didn’t do any psychographics with the Trump campaign,” Matt Oczkowski, Cambridge’s head of product, said at a postelection panel hosted by Google in December.

The firm’s claims about its client base have also shifted. As recently as October, the firm said it had 50 clients in the 2016 elections. But a company spokesman said federal elections records showing just a dozen were correct.

The spokesman also said neither Cambridge nor SCL had done any work, paid or unpaid, with the pro-“Brexit” Leave.eu campaign last year, although Mr. Nix once claimed that Cambridge had helped “supercharge” Leave.eu’s social media campaign. British authorities are now investigating the company’s exact role with Leave.eu and whether Cambridge’s techniques violated British and European privacy laws.

At a conference in Munich last month, Alexander Tayler, Cambridge’s chief data officer, dodged a question about whether Cambridge would work with far-right parties in European elections this year. He also played down the role of psychological profiling in the company’s work, much of which, Mr. Tayler suggested, is still based on traditional data analytics and marketing.

“It’s not about being sinister,” Mr. Tayler said. “It’s not about tricking people into voting for a candidate who they wouldn’t otherwise support. It’s just about making marketing more efficient.”

LOOKING TO EXPAND

Even before the election, according to one former employee, Cambridge employees attended sessions about soliciting government business in the United States — where Mr. Trump now oversees the federal bureaucracy and Mr. Bannon is arguably the White House’s most powerful staff member. According to documents obtained by The Times, SCL is pursuing work for at least a dozen federal agencies, including the Commerce Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Mr. Bannon’s spokeswoman said he stepped down from the Cambridge board in August, when he joined the Trump campaign, and “has no financial involvement” with the firm currently. She declined to say whether Mr. Bannon previously held equity in the firm.

Late last month, SCL executives met with Pentagon officials who advise the Joint Chiefs of Staff on information warfare. A reference document submitted in advance of that meeting indicates that the company has worked as a subcontractor on roughly a dozen Pentagon projects, many of them “counter-radicalization” assessments in Pakistan and Yemen.

Such intelligence work is the bread and butter of SCL’s government contracting in other countries. And the firm’s experience in trying to influence Muslim sentiment abroad dovetails with Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon’s focus on combating the Islamic State.

The Washington Post reported last month that SCL had secured a contract for a similar program at the State Department and was seeking military and Homeland Security work.

In an email, a Joint Chiefs spokesman confirmed that the Pentagon meeting, first reported by BuzzFeed, had occurred, but said he could not elaborate on the discussions “in order to avoid any undue influence or unintended consequences.”

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At the moment, according to former employees, Cambridge has relatively few well-known corporate clients in the United States. Among them are ECI New York, a clothing company, and Goldline, which sells gold coins and markets heavily to listeners of conservative talk radio.

A spokesman for MasterCard declined to say if it would do business with Cambridge. The Yankees did not sign on.

But Mr. Nix appears to have bigger ambitions. “I think were are on the cusp of something enormous,” he said.

Data science is about to reshape marketing, Mr. Nix maintained, and the big advertising conglomerates would survive only by developing their own targeting technology — or acquiring companies like Cambridge.

“Those agencies that don’t adapt will die,” Mr. Nix said.

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Duration: 01:05

After Sen. Bob Corker criticized President Donald Trump for his “castration” of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the secretary responded by saying he is “fully intact.”

12:36 PM 10/16/2017 Surveillance Reform: The Fourth Amendments Long, Slow, Goodbye
 

mikenova shared this story from Trump Investigations Report.

Trump Investigations Report | Latest Posts Trump Investigations Report from mikenova (18 sites) FBI News Review: 12:12 PM 10/16/2017 FBI: Oh, by the way, we just found 30 pages of information about the Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting Canada Free Press (blog) FBI: Oh, by the way, we just found 30 pages of information about the Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting Canada Free … Continue reading“12:36 PM 10/16/2017 – Surveillance Reform: The Fourth Amendments Long, Slow, Goodbye”

Donald Trump and WikiLeaks arent even trying to hide their collusion anymore
 

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

Investigators are still piecing together how the Donald Trump campaign and international cyberterrorist group WikiLeaks were communicating and coordinating their efforts during the course of the 2016 election. Although Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone bragged that he was using backchannels to coordinate with WikiLeaks, the rest of the effort was a secret one. However, at this point, Trump and WikiLeaks are no longer even trying to hide it.

Last night Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks and a wanted fugitive who’s spent years hiding out in a basement closet, had an unhinged meltdown about Hillary Clinton. Assange posted a series of deranged tweets about Clinton’s “menacing glares” and far worse. It raised the question of whether perhaps Assange should be taken to a mental institution instead of a prison once he’s eventually apprehended. It was also one more reminder that WikiLeaks, the Russian government, and the Donald Trump campaign treasonously conspired to rig the election in in favor of Trump and against Clinton.

So how did Donald Trump handle Assange’s meltdown about Clinton? By joining in. Trump hadn’t tweeted about her in quite some time. Yet this morning he couldn’t wait to tweet “I was recently asked if Crooked Hillary Clinton is going to run in 2020? My answer was, ‘I hope so!’” It’s not a coincidence that Assange and Trump suddenly have the same message: they’re colluding as we speak to create a media distraction. They must know that a bombshell story is about to surface which helps expose their election rigging scheme, and they’re trying to force that bombshell to share some headline space with the Hillary controversy they’re manufacturing.

During the course of the 2016 election, Russian government hackers stole personal information from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. It then gave that information to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, which often altered that information to appear scandalous. WikiLeaks coordinated with the Donald Trump campaign to release that (dis)information at the most opportune time for Trump. Everyone knows this. All that’s left is to prove it, so everyone involved can face charges.

The post Donald Trump and WikiLeaks aren’t even trying to hide their collusion anymore appeared first on Palmer Report.

12:28 PM 10/16/2017 Timeline of Trump and Obstruction of Justice: Key Dates and Events
 

mikenova shared this story from Trump Investigations Report.

Trump Investigations Report | Latest Posts Trump Investigations Report from mikenova (18 sites) FBI News Review: 12:12 PM 10/16/2017 FBI: Oh, by the way, we just found 30 pages of information about the Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting Canada Free Press (blog) FBI: Oh, by the way, we just found 30 pages of information about the Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting Canada Free … Continue reading“12:28 PM 10/16/2017 – Timeline of Trump and Obstruction of Justice: Key Dates and Events”

Today’s Headlines and Commentary
 

mikenova shared this story from Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices.

Iraqi forces seized key positions in the disputed city of Kirkuk, pushing out Kurdish forces, Reuters reported. The U.S.-trained counterterrorism force took up positions outside the provincial government headquarters on Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Iraqi forces moved in to the city area. Kurdish fighters largely withdrew peacefully, the New York Times reported. One faction within the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) agreed to not contest the citys seizure while fighters aligned with the KRGs president continued to fight. The U.S. embassy called for an end to the fighting.

The Supreme Court will hear a case on government access to email data stored overseas, the Washington Post reported. The justices agreed to consider the Justice Departments appeal in U.S. v. Microsoft. The case asks whether the Justice Department could use a warrant to access emails that Microsoft stored on a server in Ireland.

Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who endured five years of Taliban captivity, plead guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, according to the Times. Army prosecutors argued that Bergdahls sudden departure from his base in Afghanistan endangered the troops that then searched for him.

A grand jury found Ahmad Khan Rahimi guilty of carrying out a plot to set off explosives in New Yorks Chelsea neighborhood and New Jersey last year, the Times reported. In the case, the FBI presented evidence that Rahimi set up nine different bombs in and around New York City, only two of which exploded.

The death toll from a pair of truck bombings in Mogadishu, Somalia rose past 300 on Monday, the Post reported. The bombings nearly totally destroyed a city block. Somalias government blamed the attacks on al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda linked extremist group. Al Shabab has not yet issued any statement, according to the Times. Counterterrorism experts suggested that the militant organization may have received help from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has expertise in bomb-making.

European foreign ministers condemned President Trumps decision to decertify Irans compliance with the nuclear deal, the Wall Street Journal reported. At a European Union meeting in Luxembourg, they pledged to honor the agreement and urged U.S. lawmakers not to reimpose sanctions that would effectively terminate the deal. Also at the meeting, the EU adopted new sanctions to put a blanket ban on business with North Korea and to totally ban oil exports to Pyongyang, Reuters reported.

Spains prime minister demanded that Catalonias leader cease his move to declare independence by Thursday, the Journal reported. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Catalan President Carlos Puigdemont had not clarified whether he had declared independence from Spain in an address last week. Rajoy threatened to invoke a provision of the Spanish constitution that would strip away some of Catalonias autonomy if Puigdemont does not withdraw his bid for independence by Thursday.

Philippine forces killed a terrorist on the FBIs most wanted terrorists list in an operation to retake the city of Marawi from militant control, the Journal reported. The Philippine military said it found the body of Isnilon Hapilon, a Justice Department-wanted terrorist who was involved in several kidnappings in the early 2000s, in a city block captured by advancing military units.

Israeli warplanes attacked a Syrian missile launcher site after being fired on while patrolling in Lebanese airspace, the Guardian reported. The Israeli military said the battery fired a surface-to-air missile at Israeli jets flying close to the Syrian border.

Researchers discovered a flaw in the WPA2 security protocol, making Wi-Fi vulnerable to hacking, Reuters reported. The Department of Homeland Security issued a security warning after researchers at KU Leuven in Belgium found a bug in WPA2 that could allow hackers to read transmitted information or infect devices with malware.

British intelligence blamed Iran for a hack that targeted 9,000 email accounts associated with the British parliament this summer, the Guardian reported. The attackers used a brute-force technique to try to gain access to members of parliaments emails, including the accounts of Prime Minister Theresa May and other cabinet members.

Hillary Clinton called Julian Assange a tool of Russian intelligence, Politico reported. Clinton spoke out against Assanges Wikileaks organization, which played a key role in spreading leaked information about her 2016 campaign, in an interview on Monday.

NATO began its annual nuclear exercises in Germany, demonstrating its nuclear deterrent capabilities, according to the Journal. The drill will take place at U.S. bases in Belgium and Germany, where the U.S. stores its Europe-based nuclear arsenal.

Writing for the Post, Philip Carter argued that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster should implement the lessons he drew from his past writing on the failures of national security policymaking at the White House.

The Times David Sanger, David Kirkpatrick and Nicole Perlroth detailed how North Korea has turned its hacking operations into a global threat.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation published a new report on reforming counterintelligence outreach to industry.

 

ICYMI: This weekend, on Lawfare

In the Foreign Policy Essay, Katerina Papatheodorou argued that the U.S. should implement better online countering violent extremism efforts by learning from guerilla marketing techniques.

Vanessa Sauter shared the Lawfare Podcast, featuring an interview with Shadi Hamid and William McCants on their new book Rethinking Political Islam.

Eliot Kim posted this weeks Water Wars, covering the U.S.s latest freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) and Britains FONOP policy revisions.

Elena Chachko analyzed the limited scope of the actual action items from President Trumps much-hyped Iran strategy announcement.

 

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Surveillance Reform: The Fourth Amendments Long, Slow, Goodbye
 

mikenova shared this story from Just Security.

Over 16 years after the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent repeated passage or renewal of draconian temporary but emergency domestic surveillance laws in response, its fair to ask: Have we officially abandoned the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights?

With the expiration of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) less than three months away, now is a good time to review the effects of these surveillance laws in the seemingly endless War on Terror. But first, a quick recap of Americas embrace of mass surveillance in the post-9/11 era.

Within six weeks of the terrorist attacks in 2001, and with virtually no serious debate, Congress passed the behemoth PATRIOT Act. The law created vast new government surveillance powers that abandoned the Fourth Amendments across-the-board probable cause warrant requirement. In an October 11, 2001 speech discussing the Senate version of the legislation, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) assured terrified civil libertarians that the PATRIOT Acts five-year sunset clause governing 15 of the bills provisions would serve as a valuable check on the potential abuse of the new powers granted in the bill.

Unbeknownst to the public and most members of Congress, the Bush administration allowed key authorities of the PATRIOT Act to be abused, a fact only brought to light in 2013 by Edward Snowdens revelations of mass telephone surveillance conducted under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.

Section 215 is one of the 15 temporary provisions that has been renewed repeatedly since 2001, making a mockery of Feinsteins assurance that the sunset provision would act as a check on any abuse of the law. Today, 12 of those 15 temporary and emergency surveillance measures are permanent law.

Thanks to another document made public by Snowden, we know that three days after the 9/11 attacks, then-NSA Director Michael Hayden initiated a secret warrantless surveillance program encompassing Americans in contact with anyone in Afghanistan. Over the ensuing weeks, it would become a multi-pronged warrantless spying effort code-named STELLAR WIND. After the New York Times revealed this unconstitutional surveillance in December 2005,  thanks to the help of a whistleblower at the Justice Department, the Congress and the Bush administration spent the next two years trying to make the illegal surveillance legal. Their final product, passed in 2008, was the FAArenewed with little debate in 2012 and now, because of a sunset provision, is set to expire on December 31.

The key provision of the FAA that is the primary focus of debate is Section 702, which allows the government to target the communications of foreign entities even if the government knows it will likely sweep up the emails, text messages, and phone calls of innocent Americans in the process.

Have FAAs authorities been used to subvert the Fourth Amendment and the constitutional rights of Americans, just as the PATRIOT Act has? Yes. Repeatedly.

In September, the politically progressive group Demand Progress issued a scathing report on documented abuses of the FAA, drawing directly from partially declassified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) records. The findings showed that aspects of the governments Section 702 information collection, revealed in 2011, acquired “non-targeted, entirely domestic communications,” violating the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, the FISC found that the NSA engaged for 12 years in types of surveillance that FISC would eventually deem unlawful, with NSA only ceasing the violations under repeatedbut ultimately emptythreats of criminal sanctions.

This report was preceded earlier this year by the publication of Stanford law professor (and Just Security editor) Jennifer Granicks excellent book American Spies, which chronicles in detail the rights violations and false claims of effectiveness of the PATRIOT Act and the FAA by NSA and FBI officials.

Sixteen years after creating the biggest unconstitutional mass surveillance dragnet in American history, we have documentary evidencefrom the federal governments own recordsof repeated, systemic abuses of these authorities. We also know theyre costing taxpayers, whose digital communications are swept up by these programs, tens of millions of dollars annually. What we dont have is any public evidence that these surveillance practices have made us safer.

Whats the response of Congress? Its proposing to reauthorize the same Section 702 program, which has led to these abuses.

On Oct. 6, on a bipartisan basis, the House Judiciary Committee introduced the ill-named USA Liberty Act (HR 3989). In my initial analysis of the bill, I noted that the proposed legislation ignored every major problem highlighted in the Demand Progress report. The bills authors also ignored an even longer list of Section 702 reform proposals put forward by nearly 60 civil society groups.

Meanwhile, the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers, and FBI Director Christopher Wray have mounted a public campaign to renew Section 702 unchanged. At a meeting with reporters on Sept. 25, Coats and his colleagues argued that 702 is a vital surveillance authority that has helped thwart numerous terrorist plots. On background, I asked one of the reporters who attended that meeting whether Coats, Rogers, or Wray offered a single example of 702 stopping an attack on the United States. They did notwhich tracks with Granicks findings in American Spies.

Despite the lack of public, independently confirmed evidence that 702 has prevented terrorist attacks on America, Coats, Rogers, and Wray are winning the argument that 702 should remain the law of the land.

If you think about it, the indifference of the House Judiciary Committee leadership to these proposals is not terribly surprising. The overwhelming majority of the groups calling for changes to a surveillance law that should never have existed have no political power.

Unlike the National Rifle Association, they operate no political action committee or similar electoral vehicle that could be used to strike fear into House or Senate members who dare to put forward such proposals. Thus, House and Senate members know that they can safely ignore these groups, no matter how many press releases, Facebook posts, or completely fact-based reports about surveillance abuses they churn out–just as they have ignored these same groups for nearly 20 years as Congress has passed or reauthorized laws that, bit by bit, have eviscerated the Fourth Amendment.

My prediction: Absent another Snowden-like revelation, Section 702 of the FAA will be reauthorized largely without change, and any changes will be cosmetic, and almost certainly abused. Whether it has a sunset provision or not is now politically and practically meaningless.

After this latest assault on the Bill of Rights has been signed into law by President Donald Trump later this year or early next, opponents will have one moreand probably finalchance to roll back the damage already done when the three remaining PATRIOT Act provisions subject to sunset come due at the end of 2019. Unless the privacy and civil liberties community revamps its entire approach and structure for advocacy on these issues, the long, slow goodbye to the Fourth Amendment will come to an end just before Christmas in 2019.

Image: The NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland/Getty Read on Just Security »


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