News & Politics
TSA accessing government and private databases to pre-screen everyone
Category: News & Politics
Tags: DHS Intelligence Security TSA Terrorism USA

 AFP Photo/Karen Bleier AFP Photo/Karen Bleier

Jetsetters, take note: According to a front page article in Tuesday’s edition of the New York Times, the United State Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is learning much more about airline passengers than just their meal preference.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to many, but Times reporter Susan Stellin revealed this week that the TSA has access to a trove of huge databases — both federally and privately run — which it uses to keep track of information about almost anyone traveling through American airspace.

Tax identification numbers, old travel plans, property records and even physical characteristics are contained in these databases, Stellin wrote, which is then shared among government agencies and often combined with other information on record elsewhere, including intelligence maintained by the likes of debt collectors and other private agencies whose profits depend on digging up personal information.

This mass data-mining is being used by Department of Homeland Security agencies like the TSA as a tool to monitor suspected terrorists and other criminals, and could assist in an agency-wide goal of trimming time off of the notoriously lengthy security pat-downs currently in place at airports across the country. But while representatives from the TSA touted these efforts to the Times as necessary implements in ensuring utmost safety, privacy advocates are asking for change.

According to Stellin, the TSA is now not just conducting routine background and criminal checks on airline ticket holders, but also relying on these massive databases to identify any potential red flags. With computers — not humans — calling the shots, though, it could change the face of travel to one where everyone and everything is suspect, until the system ensures them otherwise.

“I think the best way to look at it is as a pre-crime assessment every time you fly,” Identity Project consultant Edward Hasbrouck told the Times. “The default will be the highest, most intrusive level of search, and anything less will be conditioned on providing some additional information in some fashion.”

Hasbrouck has previously sued the federal government in an attempt to learn about the information that agencies like the TSA compile on American travelers, and has long insisted that more than meets the eye is being collected.

Earlier this month, Hasbrouck noted on the Identity Project website that leaked security documents released to the media by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the US government is accumulating information from airline reservation systems and social media sites to scoop up information on travelers, both domestically and abroad.

Speaking to SF Weekly in 2010, Hasbrouck equated the Automated Targeting System started in 2006 by another DHS agency, Customs and Border Protection, as a “guilty-by-association machine” that can make any traveler appear suspicious since it relies on information compiled in a “database of detailed profiles of every person who'd crossed a US border.”

Even then, Hasbrouck said the government had access to personalized dossiers that contained more details on travelers than one might assume. "I've seen in one person's file that showed not merely who they were traveling with, but ... whether they asked for one bed or two in a hotel room, because their hotel was booked through the same reservation as their flight," Hasbrouck told the SF Weekly. "I don't think it's appropriate for anyone to be looking behind your hotel room and seeing who's sleeping with whom."

According to this week’s Times report more than three years later, the information being collected by the TSA is only expanding, and other government agencies are able to get their hands on it as well.

“For instance,” Stellin wrote, “an update about the TSA’s Transportation Security Enforcement Record System, which contains information about travelers accused of ‘violations or potential violations’ of security regulations, warns that the records may be shared with ‘a debt collection agency for the purpose of debt collection.’”

“A recent privacy notice about PreCheck notes that fingerprints submitted by people who apply for the program will be used by the FBI to check its unsolved crimes database,” she said of the new expedited screening process rolled out by the TSA at airports across the US earlier this month.

On the Identity Project website, Hasbrouck wrote that that same system authorizes the TSA to “create a new permanent file with everything from your fingerprints to ‘any other information provided . . . by government agencies or other entities.”

Couple that knowledge with leaked Snowden documents suggesting the NSA is independently accessing passenger records held by private airlines — then handing them over to the DHS — and the “pre-crime assessment” tools described by Hasbrouck are that much more powerful.

Obama administration caught in blatant software piracy
Category: News & Politics

Obama administration caught in blatant software piracy; script powering Healthcare.gov ripped off from UK company
Obama
 (NaturalNews) The Obama administration has been caught red-handed engaged in software piracy. Computer code used on Healthcare.gov was stolen (and then modified in an effort to conceal the theft) from a UK company called Spry Media.

 To my best knowledge, this story was broken by WeeklyStandard.com in a blog authored by Jeryl Bier.

The computer code that was stolen is called DataTables, and it is exclusively provided under a GPL v2 license which requires anyone who uses the software code to keep the copyright notice visible in the code itself. This allows the original author of the code to receive attribution for creating it.

An analysis of the code running Healthcare.gov reveals that the Obamacare development team maliciously removed the copyright notice and credit attributions from the code while copying and using the rest of the code. In the field of journalism, this would be called "plagiarism." In the field of computer software, it's called "piracy" according to the U.S. government.

Here's an image capture of the copyright notice which is supposed to remain in the code:



On Healthcare.gov, however, the copyright attribution is removed, leaving only the functional code of the script (which is a piracy violation):



Nearly all of the remainder of the script is identical to the Spry Media code, proving beyond any doubt that the Obama administration pirated this code in its construction of the failed website Healthcare.gov.

The 
Weekly Standard says they contacted SpryMedia for a comment: "A representative for the company said that they were 'extremely disappointed' to see the copyright information missing and will be pursuing it further with the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that runs the Healthcare.gov site." 

Will DHS now seize Healthcare.gov?

The Department of Homeland Security has seized hundreds of other websites that it says were engaged in piracy.

These website seizures are conducted completely outside of law and utterly without due process. When sites are seized by DHS, the following notice is placed on the website home page:




This notice reads, in part:

Willful copyright infringement is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution.

Will the developers of Healthcare.gov who pirated the DataTables 
software from SpryMedia now be sentenced to federal prison?

Don't hold your breath on that one. Prisons aren't used to lock up actual criminals anymore. They are "work camps" with the sole purpose of locking up black Americans so they can be exploited as a "human resource" of ultra-cheap labor. Yes, the prison labor industry needs more output, and that's why the entire "war on drugs" is allowed to continue even though it is a complete failure.

Sounds like 
Obamacare, come to think of it: A disastrous program that wastes billions of dollars while enslaving innocent Americans in a system where they will be financially raped for life.

Am I the only one who thinks we might be better off if we forced all politicians to trade places with all prison inmates?


 

US begins shifting Afghan logistics hub from Kyrgyzstan to Romania
Category: News & Politics
Tags: Afghanistan Military Missile defense NATO Russia USA War

US begins shifting Afghan logistics hub from Kyrgyzstan to Romania

U.S. military medics, who came from the Afghan city of Kandahar, boarding a plane before flying to Colorado in the Transit Center at the Manas U.S. Air Force base. (RIA Novosti/Vladimir Pirogov)U.S. military medics, who came from the Afghan city of Kandahar, boarding a plane before flying to Colorado in the Transit Center at the Manas U.S. Air Force base. (RIA Novosti/Vladimir Pirogov)

The Pentagon has begun transitioning its Afghanistan air logistics base to Romania and plans to complete the shift from Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan by July 2014 when its contract ends.

The announcement of the move to a new air hub in eastern Romania at forward operating site Mihail Kogalniceanu followed a visit to the Pentagon from Romanian Defense Minister Mircea Dusa on Friday. 

The site - on the Black Sea whereas the Kyrgyz site was landlocked - has been used by the US since 1999. A 2005 agreement allowed the US to access several Romanian bases for training, storage, and deployments, Reuters reported. 

In June, the Kyrgyz Parliament 
passed a bill that ended the US lease of Manas Transit Center near the country's capital Bishkek. 

The US rented the base near Bishkek for more than a decade as part of logistics support for the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, in order to refuel airlift transports carrying cargo and troops. 

In 2009, Kyrgyzstan's then-President Kurmanbek Bakiev planned to shut down the transportation hub, but instead rebranded it as a transit center in order to allow it to continue operations. This U-turn came after Washington agreed to triple its lease payment to about $60 million a year following Russian promises of $2 billion in loans to the Kyrgyz government. 

 

 

Members of the military maintenance personnel push a helicopter at the Aerian Military Base nr. 86, near the village of Mihail Kogalniceanu, some 250kms East of Bucharest (AFP Photo)

Members of the military maintenance personnel push a helicopter at the Aerian Military Base nr. 86, near the village of Mihail Kogalniceanu, some 250kms East of Bucharest (AFP Photo)

Bakiev was then ousted in a public uprising, and after a period of turmoil was replaced by newly elected President Almazbek Atambayev. After assuming Kyrgyzstan’s highest office in 2011, he announced that Bishkek does not plan to renew the lease after it expires in July 2014.  

The Pentagon said in a statement that "the US appreciates the support provided by the Kyrgyz people" to US forces operating in Afghanistan and "respects the decision of the government" to terminate the lease. 
The US base has been at the center of several scandals since its opening in 2001, including the fatal shooting of a local man by an American guard at a base checkpoint. The killing was not prosecuted by Kyrgyzstan, as US Military personnel have legal immunity in the country. Critics also voiced concerns over environmental damage and potential threats from US enemies against the stronghold. 

In addition, Bishkek took issue with the US paying hundreds of millions of dollars to secretive contractors for fuel supplies. Following the revolt in 2010, the new government accused two contractors - Mina Corp and Red Star Enterprises - of making a deal with the former leader’s son to ensure access to Manas. The agreement with the companies was eventually scuttled upon further scrutiny from Washington. 

The US and Romania previously agreed on the construction of a land-based Aegis missile defense system aimed at shielding against weapons fired from Iran. Work on the system is set to begin later this month. 

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