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G M
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« Reply #150 on: June 24, 2008, 08:47:25 AM »

Again, these are not private citizens being fingerprinted for no reason, they choose to work in a field regulated by congress under it's constitutional authority, and for reasons apparently not understood by the author of the article.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #151 on: June 24, 2008, 09:11:52 AM »

Nor by me , , ,
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G M
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« Reply #152 on: June 24, 2008, 09:35:37 AM »

In this country, robbing a bank or store will net you a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, and you risk a long prison stretch, especially if a weapon is involved. On the other hand, financial crimes can net you millions of dollars and much lower risk of serious incarceration since it's not a violent crime and the ultimate victims tend to be faceless financial entities that eat the loss. Only the key problem is that they really don't suffer the loss, as it's passed onto we the consumers. We all end up paying a "crime tax" to various criminal entities that impact this country's financial infrastructure.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #153 on: June 24, 2008, 09:44:08 AM »

"The rationale for this new fingerprint registry is thin. Were a significant number of bad loans made by ex-convicts? And how would the targeting of lower-level employees – rather than executives like Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo – stem the creation of problematic mortgages?"
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G M
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« Reply #154 on: June 24, 2008, 09:54:30 AM »

http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/20080429_brodreport.htm

April 29, 2008
Mortgage Fraud Now An Organized Crime Staple
by Broderick Perkins

Mortgage fraud has become a staple in today's organized crime circles.

Fraud associated with home loans first cashed in on the greed that came with the previously booming housing market, when some buyers would do anything to own a home.

The cons used falsified applications, inflated appraisals and other techniques to get home loans approved on the home buying end.

Now, mortgage fraud is taking advantage of vulnerabilities that come with the housing market's down cycle, including homeowners, down on their luck, who face losing their homes and would do anything to avoid losing their homes.

FBI Director Robert Mueller recently testified before the U.S. Senate Appropriations panel that the "tremendous surge" in mortgage fraud investigations has been so great he has diverted agents and resources from other areas of white collar crime.

Suspicious activity reports the FBI reviews for potential mortgage fraud have grown from 3,000 in fiscal year 2003 to 48,000 in fiscal year 2007. In 2008, the FBI is on track to receive more than 60,000 such reports.

The subprime crisis will only aggravate matters, Mueller testified.

"I'm not sure at this point we can see the extent of the surge," he added.

Fraud that once primarily used inflated appraisals, "flipping" schemes and identity theft ruses to target home buying and home equity growth is now muscling in on foreclosures, reverses mortgages and subprime loans.

The FBI says known organized crime syndicates, terrorists and recognized political activists are not currently associated with mortgage fraud, but the crime does come with the hallmarks of what is considered organized crime -- collusion, conspiracy, insider cooperation and now, identity theft, one of the newest growth sectors in organized crime recognized by the FBI.

"We are investigating more than 1,300 individual mortgage fraud matters. Perhaps more importantly, we have identified 19 corporate fraud matters related to the subprime lending crisis -- cases that may have a substantial impact on the marketplace," he said.

The racketeers are also using insider trading violations connected to risky loans and the investments spun off of those loans.

On the consumer level, one of the latest cons is a bold one called "House Stealing". A con artist assumes the identity of a homeowner and transfers the deed into the con's name or sells the home outright -- even while the owner is still living there.

A variation on House Stealing includes the con artist preying on homeowners having mortgage troubles. The con promises to refinance the mortgage, but instead buys the home using a fake identity.

Mortgage fraud hotspots include California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Utah.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #155 on: June 24, 2008, 10:17:12 AM »

That helps understand the rationale, although I am still not persuaded.  And the question remains "Were a significant number of bad loans made by ex-convicts?"
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G M
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« Reply #156 on: June 24, 2008, 10:48:05 AM »

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I bet some were. Say you or a loved one were the victim of a mortgage fraud and the perp disappeared after emptying his bank accounts. What leads do I have if as many fraudsters do, he was using a false identity?
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G M
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« Reply #157 on: June 24, 2008, 10:55:13 AM »

I once assisted in an investigation of an LA based interstate financial fraud ring that racked up more than a million dollars in losses. This was back when a million was real money. One of the tasks I had was putting the real identity of the perps to their dozens of false identities and trying to link all the other players associated with the scheme. Also, at a million plus in losses, it was still too small for the feds to be interested and was left up to the local DA to prosecute.
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G M
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« Reply #158 on: June 24, 2008, 11:39:40 AM »

http://www.usdoj.gov/ust/eo/public_affairs/articles/docs/idtheftfinal.htm

"Fresh Start or False Start?--
Identity Theft in Bankruptcy Cases"

By Jane E. Limprecht (1)
Executive Office for U.S. Trustees
Washington, D.C. (2)
      Janet Doe (3) received an official-looking letter addressed to her son John. She opened the letter and discovered that it directed John to appear at a meeting of creditors convened as part of his Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. Janet was shocked at this notice, because she knew John had never filed for bankruptcy. John was five years old. Janet sought help from the nearest United States Trustee field office. She suspected that John's father--her estranged husband--filed the case to stay an impending foreclosure of the family home. The father had filed for bankruptcy twice before, and his second case had been dismissed less than three months earlier.

      Ruth Roe's employment regularly took her away from home for extended periods of time. At some point, another woman began to impersonate Ruth, using Ruth's name, Social Security number, and educational and professional licensing information to take out loans for real property and vehicles in Ruth's name, and even to obtain a professional license and employment in Ruth's field. The woman failed to repay the loans, and ultimately filed a Chapter 13 petition using Ruth's name and SSN. Ruth found out about the long-standing fraud when she returned from her work assignment and discovered that her credit record was severely damaged.
      One of Beth Boe's friends asked if she could transfer her house into Beth's name because she had some "tax problems." Beth also co-signed a mortgage note on her friend's house. After falling behind on the mortgage payments, the friend filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Beth's name. The friend actually made payments on "Beth's" Chapter 13 plan for several years. Beth found out about the bankruptcy when she applied for a vacation loan. The loan was denied because of the bankruptcy filing and large home loan listed on her credit record.

      At the request of her landlord, eighteen-year-old Martina Moe signed some documents the landlord needed to "help him own property." Martina did not understand that the documents named her as a co-owner of an apartment building guaranteed by a Federal Housing Administration loan. Some time later, Martina was denied credit because she had two bankruptcy filings listed on her credit record. She discovered that her landlord had filed for bankruptcy in her name to stay foreclosure on one of his rental properties. In fact, he had filed multiple bankruptcy cases in the names of numerous current or former tenants and employees. The U.S. Trustee, the Chapter 13 trustee, and an employee of the Bankruptcy Clerk had flagged the petitions as unusual; they were all filed on behalf of pro se debtors by a bankruptcy petition preparer who had previously used a false SSN, and none attempted to discharge anything but real property debt.
New Law; Federal Initiatives

      Each of these cases represents a variation of identity theft--the use of another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. Historically, the "victim" of identity theft was considered to be the creditor who was deceived into extending goods or services; the person whose identity was actually appropriated had little legal recourse. In October 1998, Congress enacted theIdentity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, 18 U.S.C. §1028 ("Identity Theft Act") to ameliorate this situation. The Identity Theft Act made it a crime to "knowingly transfer[] or use[], without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law."
      To assist wronged victims, the Identity Theft Act designated the Federal Trade Commission as the federal clearinghouse for receiving and processing identity theft complaints, providing information to consumers, and referring consumers to the appropriate agencies for investigation of their complaints. (4) In July 2000, an FTC official testified before Congress that the agency's Identity Theft Hotline, in operation since November 1999, was already receiving more than 800 calls per week. (5) About two-thirds of these calls were from consumers who suspected they were victims of identity theft.
      Violations of the Identity Theft Act are investigated by agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Secret Service, for bank and credit card fraud; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, for mail fraud; the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General, for fraud relating to Social Security benefits; and the Internal Revenue Service, for tax fraud. The Justice Department handles the prosecution of cases under the Identity Theft Act. To help coordinate identity theft investigation and prosecution, the Justice Department created a working group that includes members from Justice components such as the U.S. Trustees, the FBI, and the Criminal Division; from other federal entities including the FTC, Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS, and Social Security Administration; and from state and local governments.

      Federal agencies scheduled three identity theft workshops for the fall of 2000. These workshops were designed to build upon the Treasury Department's March 2000 identity theft "summit meeting," which brought together federal, state, and local government representatives, consumer advocacy groups, credit organizations, and others in the private sector to develop a public/private partnership to prevent identity theft and help its victims. On October 23-24, the FTC hosted a public workshop focusing on assisting victims of identity theft, which included a presentation by U.S. Trustee staff. On October 25, the Social Security Administration held a second public workshop to address means to prevent identity theft. On December 6, the Justice Department's Criminal Division and the Secret Service will host a workshop on law enforcement, with attendance limited to representatives of law enforcement agencies.

Identity Theft and Bankruptcy

      A significant number of identity theft cases are related to bankruptcy in some way. The U.S. Trustee Program's primary role on the Justice Department's identity theft working group is to outline the various ways in which identity theft intersects with bankruptcy, and to explain how the Program can assist law enforcement as it monitors the integrity of the bankruptcy system.
       The cases described earlier in this article merely hint at the range of actions that may constitute bankruptcy-related identity theft. Forms of bankruptcy-related identity theft include, without limitation:

Filing for bankruptcy using the name and/or SSN of another known person, such as a parent, sibling, child, or other relative; a spouse, ex-spouse, "significant other" or ex-significant other; a current or former business partner, co-employee, cosigner on a debt, friend, neighbor, or fellow student; or even a deceased person.


Incurring debt under a false name and/or Social Security number and then filing for bankruptcy, using that name and/or number, to discharge the debt. Sometimes this debt is owed to the government, via a farm loan, small business loan, student loan, or similar obligation.


Transferring property into the name of a relative or friend, and then filing for bankruptcy using that person's name and/or SSN to avoid foreclosure. Typically the transferee agrees to the transfer "to help out," but does not understand the legal ramifications.
Filing for bankruptcy using a false name and/or SSN that was apparently randomly chosen, because it does not belong to a person known to the perpetrator.


Transferring a fractional interest in real property into the name of an innocent person whose bankruptcy case is pending. The pending case stays foreclosure on the perpetrator's real property once the innocent debtor is listed as a partial owner.


Using a false SSN when identifying oneself as a bankruptcy petition preparer.
      In many instances, it appears that bankruptcy cases are filed under a false identity solely to obtain the benefit of the automatic stay, primarily to delay foreclosure or eviction. In such cases, the filer fails to appear at the Section 341 meeting of creditors and the case is dismissed. A record of the filing remains, however, in the court record and on the victim's credit record.

      In extreme cases of identity theft, a perpetrator may wholly co-opt another person's identity--obtaining driver's and professional licenses, obtaining employment, applying for apartments, taking out home and automobile loans, applying for credit cards, and even receiving traffic tickets and warrants under the false identity. Illegal immigration rings have used this method to create identities for illegal aliens. The false name and SSN are initially used to obtain employment, and subsequently to establish credit; ultimately, the illegal alien files for bankruptcy using the false name and SSN to discharge the debt incurred. Whatever the circumstances surrounding such a "total identity steal," the bankruptcy filing is only part of a complex scheme of impersonation, which often collapses only when the victim discovers the fraudulent bankruptcy cases listed in his or her name.

Warning Signs

      Typically, a fraudulent bankruptcy filing comes to the attention of bankruptcy professionals when the victim contacts the U.S. Trustee's office to inquire why he or she has received notice of a Section 341 meeting in the mail, or why a bankruptcy is listed on his or her credit record. There are other warning signs, however, to which bankruptcy professionals and lenders should be alert. They include:
A client's failure to bring a purported joint debtor to meet with bankruptcy counsel. One debtor wife asked her bankruptcy attorney to let her take the bankruptcy petition home for her husband to sign, because he was too busy to come with her to the attorney's office. In fact, she forged her husband's name on the joint petition and filed it without his knowledge.
A debtor's failure to appear at the Section 341 meeting. In the case described above, the debtor wife appeared at the meeting of creditors with a man who falsely claimed to be her spouse and falsely testified that he had signed all of the documents. It is much more common, however, for the fraudulent filer not to appear at the Section 341 meeting. In such a case, the bankruptcy petition may have been filed solely for the purpose of temporarily avoiding foreclosure or eviction, without the knowledge of the true holder of the name and SSN.


The same real property listed in different bankruptcy cases. This may indicate that a perpetrator is filing serial cases in multiple false names to avoid foreclosure on the property.


Bankruptcy petitions, filed serially in the same or neighboring jurisdictions, that contain the same debtor's name but different SSNs; the same names with different middle initials; or slightly different forms of the same name.


Remedies

      Cases of suspected bankruptcy-related identity theft should be reported to the nearest U.S. Trustee field office (6). In addition to harming the victim, identity theft clearly impairs the integrity of the bankruptcy system. U.S. Trustee employees may, if appropriate, pursue various civil enforcement remedies.
      By statute, the Program is a neutral party that represents the public interest. Thus, U.S. Trustee staff cannot directly represent the victim, who would be well advised to obtain private counsel to address the specific problems caused by the identity theft. Nonetheless, civil enforcement remedies that promote the integrity of the bankruptcy system often benefit the identity theft victim as well, and staff often work with the victim to obtain information necessary for enforcement actions. Depending upon the circumstances of the case and the procedures preferred by the Bankruptcy Courts in the local jurisdiction, actions by U.S. Trustee staff may include:

Moving to dismiss a pending case in which the bankruptcy filer used a false name and/or SSN. In some cases the U.S. Trustee also seeks a specific court finding that the named person did not file the case or authorize the filing, and that the signature was a forgery.


Moving to expunge or void a pending or closed case. The U.S. Trustee seeks expungement from the case docket as well as the court's automated system, and in some cases seeks to have the hard copy of the case file sealed.


Moving to correct the debtor's SSN in the bankruptcy court record.


Moving to have the discharge revoked or the discharge date extended until the SSN is corrected.
Moving for an in rem order for relief from the automatic stay with respect to all real property interests in the debtor's name.

Moving to vacate the order for relief.


Placing the burden upon the debtor to amend the petition to correct the SSN; to obtain a court order that the true holder of the number did not file the bankruptcy case or authorize it to be filed; and to serve that order upon the three major credit reporting agencies.
As in any other case of suspected criminal bankruptcy fraud, assisting law enforcement by helping to obtain relevant information and documents, advising on bankruptcy law, providing expert testimony at trial, and generally providing expertise on bankruptcy law and procedure.
New Identification Procedure

      Over the last few years, a number of U.S. Trustee offices and private trustees have introduced procedures to better detect the use of a false name and/or SSN in bankruptcy cases. In some districts, for example, the U.S. Trustee requires photo identification or notarized verification of SSN for Section 341 meetings conducted by tele-conference. In other districts, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 trustees require debtors to produce photo identification and proof of SSN.
      The U.S. Trustee Program has begun work to initiate, in 19 districts, a pilot program that will require identification at the Section 341 meeting. The pilot program is modeled after the Program's first region-wide debtor identification procedure, launched by Region 11 U.S. Trustee Ira Bodenstein in the fall of 1999. All Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 debtors who file in the region--which consists of Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, with headquarters in Chicago--are now required to provide the panel trustees and standing trustees with proof of identity and SSN at the Section 341 meeting.

      Region 11 adopted this policy after uncovering a substantial number of instances of incorrect SSNs on bankruptcy petitions. While some of these were typographical errors, others were instances of Social Security and/or identity fraud that were referred to the U.S. Attorney's office for prosecution.
      Region 11 initiated the identification procedure in September 1999 with the Chapter 7 panel trustees in Chicago. By mid-November 1999, all panel trustees and standing trustees in the region were requiring all debtors to comply. In general, implementation proceeded smoothly, and practitioners in the region now routinely inform their clients that proof of identity and SSN will be requested at the Section 341 meeting. Acceptable forms of identification include a driver's license, state identification card, or passport. Proof of SSN may be provided through documents such as a driver's license, Social Security card, or payroll check stub.
      If a debtor fails to provide adequate proof of identity and SSN at the Section 341 meeting, the trustee automatically continues the meeting to the trustee's next date for meetings. If the debtor provides an SSN different from the one listed on the petition, the trustee asks the debtor to explain the discrepancy, reports the matter to the U.S. Trustee field office, and continues the Section 341 meeting; the debtor's attorney is expected to file an amended petition with the correct SSN before the continued meeting date. The debtor's attorney may be required to notify the three major credit reporting agencies that the SSN was used erroneously.

      If debtor's counsel does not file the amended petition, the trustee delays the filing of the no-asset report and/or seeks dismissal of the case. Before the continued Section 341 meeting, the U.S. Trustee field office investigates whether the incorrect SSN was used intentionally or inadvertently, using a proprietary public records search data base. If it appears that the use was intentional, the U.S. Trustee or the private trustee files a motion to dismiss the case or deny discharge, and the matter is referred to the U.S. Attorney for criminal prosecution.
       Typographical errors in SSNs have declined noticeably since this identification procedure was instituted in Region 11, resulting in a more reliable official record. In addition, the new policy has helped to maintain the accuracy of innocent victims' credit records, by identifying incorrect use of an SSN long before the victim might otherwise have learned of the error.
      Clearly, this identification procedure will not catch all instances of bankruptcy-related identity theft. Some filers will fail to attend the Section 341 meeting; others may produce false identification at the meeting. As the nationwide pilot program takes shape, however, the identification procedure will be fine-tuned--with input from the bankruptcy community--to improve its efficiency and effectiveness within each pilot location. Taken as a whole, the Section 341 meeting identification procedure, the civil enforcement remedies pursued by U.S. Trustee staff and private trustees, and the Program's continuing participationwith concerned public and private groups will help fight bankruptcy-related identity theft.


End Notes

1. All views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the United States Department of Justice or the United States Trustee Program.

2. The author wishes to thank the United States Trustee Program employees who provided information for this article. For more information about bankruptcy-related identity theft, see "'What Do You Mean, I Filed Bankruptcy?' or How the Law Allows a Perfect Stranger to Purchase an Automatic Stay in Your Name," Maureen Tighe (United States Trustee for Region 16) and Emily Rosenblum, 32 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 1009 (June 1999).

3. These examples of identity theft are based on cases reported to the United States Trustees, but the names of all individuals have been changed.

4. To help disseminate information to the public, both the Justice Department and the FTC have developed web sites containing a wealth of information about identity theft. The Justice Department web site is www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/idtheft.html. The FTC web site is www.consumer.gov/idtheft.

5. Testimony of Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information (7/12/00).

6. Contact information for United States Trustee field offices is available at www.usdoj.gov/ust.
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G M
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« Reply #159 on: June 24, 2008, 11:45:09 AM »

http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft.html

Part of the bigger picture.
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G M
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« Reply #160 on: June 24, 2008, 12:00:44 PM »

http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/images/uploads/Bonneau_Indictment.pdf

An indictment worth reading.
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G M
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« Reply #161 on: July 05, 2008, 07:19:49 PM »

http://michellemalkin.com/2008/07/05/narcoterrorists-i-hate-these-guys/

The global nature of crime in the 21st. century.
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G M
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« Reply #162 on: July 06, 2008, 07:39:57 PM »


  MSNBC.com
Post 9/11 dragnet turns up surprises
Biometrics link foreign detainees to arrests in U.S.
By Ellen Nakashima
The Washington Post
updated 12:49 a.m. MT, Sun., July. 6, 2008

In the six-and-a-half years that the U.S. government has been fingerprinting insurgents, detainees and ordinary people in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, hundreds have turned out to share an unexpected background, FBI and military officials said. They have criminal arrest records in the United States.

There was the suspected militant fleeing Somalia who had been arrested on a drug charge in New Jersey. And the man stopped at a checkpoint in Tikrit who claimed to be a dirt farmer but had 11 felony charges in the United States, including assault with a deadly weapon.

The records suggest that potential enemies abroad know a great deal about the United States because many of them have lived here, officials said. The matches also reflect the power of sharing data across agencies and even countries, data that links an identity to a distinguishing human characteristic such as a fingerprint.

"I found the number stunning," said Frances Fragos Townsend, a security consultant and former assistant to the president for homeland security. "It suggested to me that this was going to give us far greater insight into the relationships between individuals fighting against U.S. forces in the theater and potential U.S. cells or support networks here in the United States."

The fingerprinting of detainees overseas began as ad-hoc FBI and U.S. military efforts shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It has since grown into a government-wide push to build the world's largest database of known or suspected terrorist fingerprints. The effort is being boosted by a presidential directive signed June 5, which gave the U.S. attorney general and other cabinet officials 90 days to come up with a plan to expand the use of biometrics by, among other things, recommending categories of people to be screened beyond "known or suspected" terrorists.

Fingerprints are being beamed in via satellite from places as far-flung as the jungles of Zamboanga in the southern Philippines; Bogota, Colombia; Iraq; and Afghanistan. Other allies, such as Sweden, have contributed prints. The database can be queried by U.S. government agencies and by other countries through Interpol, the international police agency.

Civil libertarians have raised concerns about whether people on the watch lists have been appropriately determined to be terrorists, a process that senior government officials acknowledge is an art, not a science.

Large-scale identity systems "can raise serious privacy concerns, if not singly, then jointly and severally," said a 2007 study by the Defense Science Board Task Force on Defense Biometrics. The ability "to cross reference and draw new, previously unimagined, inferences," is a boon for the government and the bane of privacy advocates, it said.

An FBI mission
The effort, officials say, is bearing fruit.

"The bottom line is we're locking people up," said Thomas E. Bush III, FBI assistant director of the Criminal Justice Information Services division. "Stopping people coming into this country. Identifying IED-makers in a way never done before. That's the beauty of this whole data-sharing effort. We're pushing our borders back."

In December 2001, an FBI team was sent on an unusual mission to Afghanistan. The U.S. military had launched a wave of airstrikes aimed at killing or capturing al Qaeda fighters and their Taliban hosts. The FBI team was to fingerprint and interview foreign fighters as if they were being booked at a police station.

The team, led by Paul Shannon, a veteran FBI agent embedded with U.S. special forces, traveled to the combat zone toting briefcases outfitted with printer's ink, hand rollers and paper cards. The agents worked in Kandahar and Kabul. They traversed the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. They hand-carried the fingerprint records from Afghanistan to Clarksburg, W.Va., home to the FBI's criminal biometric database.

As they analyzed the results, they were surprised to learn that one out of every 100 detainees was already in the FBI's database for arrests. Many arrests were for drunken driving, passing bad checks and traffic violations, FBI officials said.

"Frankly I was surprised that we were getting those kind of hits at all," recalled Townsend, who left government in January. They identified "a potential vulnerability" to national security the government had not fully appreciated, she said.

The people being fingerprinted had come from the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan. They were mostly in their 20s, Shannon recalled. "One of the things we learned is we were dealing with relatively young guys who were very committed and what they would openly tell you is that when they got out they were going back to jihad," he said. "They'd already made this commitment."

One of the first men fingerprinted by the FBI team was a fighter who claimed he was in Afghanistan to learn the ancient art of falconry. But a fingerprint check showed that in August 2001 he had been turned away from Orlando International Airport by an immigration official who thought he might overstay his visa. Mohamed al Kahtani would later be named by the Sept. 11 Commission as someone who allegedly had sought to participate in hijackings. He currently is in custody at Guantanamo Bay.

Similarly, in 2004, an FBI team choppered to a remote desert camp on the Iraq-Iran border, home to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), whose aim is to overthrow the Iranian government. The MEK lead an austere lifestyle in which men are segregated from women and material goods are renounced. The U.S. State Department considers the organization to be a terrorist group.

The FBI team fingerprinted 3,800 fighters. More than 40, Shannon said, had previous criminal records in the agency's database.

While the FBI was busy collecting fingerprints, the military was setting up its own biometrics database, adding in iris and facial data as well. By October, the two organizations agreed to collaborate, running queries through both systems. The very first match was on the man who claimed to be a poor dirt farmer. Among his many charges were misdemeanors for theft and public drunkenness in Chicago and Utah, a criminal record that ran from 1993 to 2001, said Herb Richardson, who serves as operations manager for the military's Automated Biometric Identification System under a contract with Ideal Innovations of Arlington.

Many of those with U.S. arrest records had come to the United States to study, said former Criminal Justice Information Services head Michael Kirkpatrick, who led the FBI effort to use biometrics in counterterrorism after Sept. 11. "It suggests there was some familiarity with Western culture, the United States specifically, and for whatever reason they did not agree with that culture," he said. "Either they became disaffected or put up with it, and then they went overseas."

Errors in matching, though rare, have occurred. In a noted 2004 case, Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield was erroneously named as a suspect in the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people. FBI lab analysts matched a print lifted from a plastic bag at the crime scene to his fingerprints that were stored in the FBI's criminal database because of a 1985 arrest for auto burglary when he was a teenager. The charge had been dismissed. After a critical Justice Department Inspector General audit, the FBI made fixes in its system. A recent inspector general report found the FBI fingerprint matching to be generally accurate.

Worries about watch list
Civil libertarians, however, worry that the systems are not transparent enough for outsiders to tell how the government decides who belongs on a watch list and how that information is handled.

"The day when the federal government can tell people the basis they've been put on the watch list is the day we can have more confidence in biometric identification," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Vetting the data is the job of analysts at the National Counterterrorism Center, an office park-like complex in McLean run by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Analysts there scour intelligence reports to create the master international terrorist watch list.

"You cannot draw a bright red line and say that's a terrorist, this person isn't," said Russ Travers, an NCTC deputy director. "If somebody swears allegiance to Bin Laden, that's an easy case. If somebody goes to a terrorist training camp, that's probably an easy case. What if a person goes to a camp and decides, 'I don't want to go to a camp, I want to go home.' Where do you draw the line?"

Investigators are working on ever more sophisticated ways to evaluate the data. Analysts at the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center in Charlottesville, for instance, use software to scrutinize intelligence reports from sources such as electronic surveillance and informants. They then link the information to a person's biographic and biometric data, and look for relationships that might detect terrorists and plots.

For example, a roadside bomb may explode and a patrol may fingerprint bystanders because insurgents have been known to remain at the scene to observe the results of their work. Prints also can be lifted off tiny fragments of exploded bombs, said military officials and contractors involved in the work.

Analysts are not just trying to identify the prints on the bomb. They want to find out who the bomb-carrier associates with. Who he calls. Who calls him. That could lead to the higher-level operatives who planned and financed attacks.

Already, fingerprints lifted off a bomb fragment have been linked to people trying to enter the United States, they said.

In a separate data-sharing program, 365 Iraqis who have applied to the Department of Homeland Security for refugee status have been denied because their fingerprints turned up in the Defense Department's database of known or suspected terrorists, Richardson said.

If Iraq and Afghanistan were a proving ground of sorts for biometric watch-listing, the U.S. government is moving quickly to try to build a domestic version. Since September 2006, Homeland Security and the FBI have been operating a pilot program in which police officers in Boston, Dallas and Houston run prints of arrestees against a Homeland Security database of immigration law violators and a State Department database of people refused visas. Federal job applicants' prints also are run against the databases. To date, some 500 people have been found in the database and thus are of interest to Homeland Security officials.

Steve Nixon, a director at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the effort is key to national security.

"When we look at the road and the challenges, globalization and the spread of technology has empowered small groups of individuals, bad guys, to be more powerful than at any other time in history," he said. "We have to know who these people are when we encounter them. A lot of what we're doing in intelligence now is trying to identify a person. Biometrics is a key element of that."

Staff researcher Richard Drezen contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25550354/
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« Reply #163 on: July 07, 2008, 04:57:24 PM »

http://www.nwfdailynews.com/common/printer/view.php?db=nwfdn&id=9057

Think about 911 before ditching your landline

Robbyn Brooks
June 29, 2008 - 8:12PM
In some ways, it makes sense to ditch a landline bill and use a cellular telephone service.

And it may be awfully tempting to switch to a Voice over Internet Protocol phone service, such as Vonage, when the company advertises lower rates and no need for a long-distance service.

However, such choices come at the cost of a potentially longer response time for an emergency call.

"911 is sometimes an afterthought," said Daniel Dunlap, Okaloosa County's 911 coordinator.

When a call comes through a landline, a 911 dispatch center can see the caller's physical address at the least, Dunlap said. If you're choking and can't speak, rescuers will still know where to go.

A cell phone call, on the other hand, uses global positioning technology to create a map that helps rescuers locate a caller. Triangulation between three towers pinpoints the location, but even then the result may be off by about 300 meters.

"It might just give me a general location," Dunlap said. "Sometimes, we get the location of the nearest cell
tower instead of the cell phone."

Even so, that technology has its benefits. Dunlap remembers a caller who said he was in Fort Walton Beach when he really was in Destin Commons' parking lot.

Companies that offer phone service over the Internet (VoIP) don't use a traditional 911 center, said Ken Bass, the 911 coordinator for Santa Rosa County.

A VoIP emergency call placed through Vonage, for example, is routed through that company's 911 center. A customer service representative then patches the call through to police, fire or medical agencies.

A couple of problems can emerge then, Bass said. When the call is patched through to a local dispatch center, the caller's phone number and address don't appear on the screen. Also, if callers fail to update their home address information after a move, the wrong address is passed from the VoIP service to 911.

Portability available with that type of phone service can be a hurdle. Vacationers sometimes bring their VoIP phones on a trip and don't realize they need to register a temporary location with the company.

"Their system doesn't know you packed your phone up and moved it," Bass said.

As a rule, 911 is available all the time, whether a caller is paying for phone service or not, Dunlap said.

With a landline, a person needs only plug a working phone to access the service. However, that line may not register with the correct home address because numbers are reassigned by phone companies.

Cell phones work in the same fashion. As long as a phone is charged, 911 calls can be made even if service is not paid for.

Bass cautions that even landlines aren't foolproof.
Those who pay a phone service that isn't at their home should make certain the phone company knows the 911 address is different from the billing address. That mixup occurs often with people who pay for an elderly parent's phone service or with people who have vacation homes.

"The biggest problem is that people don't think they'll ever need 911," Bass said. "None of us do until we have to use it."
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« Reply #164 on: July 24, 2008, 09:02:31 PM »

http://online.wsj.com/public/article_print/SB121694247343482821.html

What Bush and Batman Have in Common
By ANDREW KLAVAN
July 25, 2008

A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . .

Oh, wait a minute. That's not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a "W."


Warner Bros. Pictures
There seems to me no question that the Batman film "The Dark Knight," currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society -- in which people sometimes make the wrong choices -- and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

"The Dark Knight," then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year's "300," "The Dark Knight" is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans.

Conversely, time after time, left-wing films about the war on terror -- films like "In The Valley of Elah," "Rendition" and "Redacted" -- which preach moral equivalence and advocate surrender, that disrespect the military and their mission, that seem unable to distinguish the difference between America and Islamo-fascism, have bombed more spectacularly than Operation Shock and Awe.

Why is it then that left-wingers feel free to make their films direct and realistic, whereas Hollywood conservatives have to put on a mask in order to speak what they know to be the truth? Why is it, indeed, that the conservative values that power our defense -- values like morality, faith, self-sacrifice and the nobility of fighting for the right -- only appear in fantasy or comic-inspired films like "300," "Lord of the Rings," "Narnia," "Spiderman 3" and now "The Dark Knight"?

The moment filmmakers take on the problem of Islamic terrorism in realistic films, suddenly those values vanish. The good guys become indistinguishable from the bad guys, and we end up denigrating the very heroes who defend us. Why should this be?

The answers to these questions seem to me to be embedded in the story of "The Dark Knight" itself: Doing what's right is hard, and speaking the truth is dangerous. Many have been abhorred for it, some killed, one crucified.

Leftists frequently complain that right-wing morality is simplistic. Morality is relative, they say; nuanced, complex. They're wrong, of course, even on their own terms.

Left and right, all Americans know that freedom is better than slavery, that love is better than hate, kindness better than cruelty, tolerance better than bigotry. We don't always know how we know these things, and yet mysteriously we know them nonetheless.

The true complexity arises when we must defend these values in a world that does not universally embrace them -- when we reach the place where we must be intolerant in order to defend tolerance, or unkind in order to defend kindness, or hateful in order to defend what we love.

When heroes arise who take on those difficult duties themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness. We prosecute and execrate the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve. As Gary Oldman's Commissioner Gordon says of the hated and hunted Batman, "He has to run away -- because we have to chase him."

That's real moral complexity. And when our artistic community is ready to show that sometimes men must kill in order to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate their values in order to maintain those values; and that while movie stars may strut in the bright light of our adulation for pretending to be heroes, true heroes often must slink in the shadows, slump-shouldered and despised -- then and only then will we be able to pay President Bush his due and make good and true films about the war on terror.

Perhaps that's when Hollywood conservatives will be able to take off their masks and speak plainly in the light of day.

Mr. Klavan has won two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. His new novel, "Empire of Lies" (An Otto Penzler Book, Harcourt), is about an ordinary man confronting the war on terror.
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ccp
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« Reply #165 on: July 25, 2008, 08:48:22 AM »

I have to say I believe there is some validity to the argument that it is more OK for blacks to use the N word than whites.  There were many times I have seen Jewish comedians over the years poke fun of Jews, "yentas", "making reservations for dinner" (not food), "black belt in shopping" etc.  Can one imagine the Jewish outrage we would have heard if a *non-Jew* used these kinds of jokes in their comedy routine?

But I agree with Chuck's point about this.  There is a line that gets crossed.  The N word is deragatory no matter who uses it.  It would be the equivalent of someone making jokes about the holocaust.  Even Jews couldn't get away with that outrage.  I agree with the notion that black slavery was their "black holocaust".  Lets get rid of the N word.  And Whoopi stop being a jerk and do not defend the use of that word.  You only disparage your own when you do.

With regards to using the "N" word this is Chuck Norris" view:

****Chuck Norris: What the Bleep?!
Thursday, July 24, 2008 10:54 AM


Jesse Jackson (on an off-air mic before "Fox & Friends") and Whoopi Goldberg (and another host on "The View") have raised the cultural language debate to a new level: Who has the right to say the N-word? Their answer: Blacks can, but whites can't. Unfortunately, this derogatory debate has degraded into Don Imus on steroids.

I agree with a lot that Whoopi had to say about the imbalances between the races. But I disagree with her for going off on an intentional N-word marathon, which was bleeped out repeatedly in order to demonstrate her point. There's a reason her diatribe was bleeped and our society still veils our full expression of the N-word: because it still is regarded by most as derogatory and demeaning. (Even among blacks, the N-word obviously can be defamatory, as Jesse Jackson proved when he used it in the same breath he used
This is more than a race issue and far more than a debate over freedom of speech. When will we learn that just because we can say something doesn't mean that we should? Once again, we're confusing liberty for licentiousness. It is a classic example of what happens when a society leaves its moral absolutes: Everything becomes culturally relative, with each deciding what's right in his own eyes. Language is one more infected arena in America's societal degradation.****

By the way, Crafty, have you ever met Chuck?
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« Reply #166 on: July 25, 2008, 09:26:43 AM »

Not sure why this is in the Libertarian thread-- I'd have placed it in the Politically (In)correct thread  cheesy

In my lifetime I have seen the PC word for blacks go from "negro" to "black" to "African-american".  I have been the only white member of a 9 man band and heard them use the N-word amongst themselves.  What of it?

For me the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot. 


PS:  I met Chuck once through the Machado Brothers.  He seemed very humble and genuine-- which is his reputation.
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« Reply #167 on: August 01, 2008, 09:45:05 AM »

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. federal agents have been given new powers to seize travelers' laptops and other electronic devices at the border and hold then for unspecified periods the Washington Post reported on Friday.
Under recently disclosed Department of Homeland Security policies, such seizures may be carried out without suspicion of wrongdoing, the newspaper said, quoting policies issued on July 16 by two DHS agencies.
Agents are empowered to share the contents of seized computers with other agencies and private entities for data decryption and other reasons, the newspaper said.
DHS officials said the policies applied to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens, and were needed to prevent terrorism.
The measures have long been in place but were only disclosed in July, under pressure from civil liberties and business travel groups acting on reports that increasing numbers of international travelers had had their laptops, cellphones and other digital devices removed and examined.
The policies cover hard drives, flash drives, cell phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes -- as well as books, pamphlets and other written materials, the report said.
The policies require federal agents to take measures to protect business information and attorney-client privileged material. They stipulate that any copies of the data must be destroyed when a review is completed and no probable cause exists to keep the information.

===========
Quoting from another forum- caveat lector:

"Here's a link to the actual government DHS policies "allowing" them to do this:

http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/..._authority.pdf

There's two current solutions:

1) Encrypt everything (PGP Whole Disk would be my recommendation)
2) Don't travel with electronic media

Keep in mind if you encrypt, shut your computer OFF entirely before travelling - don't leave it hibernating or sleeping, as it's potentially possible to capture the keys out of memory with a hardware hack."
« Last Edit: August 01, 2008, 12:44:58 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #168 on: August 01, 2008, 03:07:28 PM »

    http://news.cnet.com/
Police blotter: Laptop border searches OK'd

By Declan McCullagh
http://news.cnet.com/Police-blotter-Laptop-border-searches-OKd/2100-1030_3-6098939.html

Story last modified Thu Jul 27 05:30:52 PDT 2006


"Police blotter" is a weekly CNET News.com report on the intersection of technology and the law.
What: A business traveler protests the warrantless search and seizure of his laptop by Homeland Security at the U.S.-Canada border.

When: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on July 24.

Outcome: Three-judge panel unanimously says that border police may conduct random searches of laptops without search warrants or probable cause. These searches can include seizing the laptop and subjecting it to extensive forensic analysis.

What happened, according to court documents:

In January 2004, Stuart Romm traveled to Las Vegas to attend a training seminar for his new employer. Then, on Feb. 1, Romm continued the business trip by boarding a flight to Kelowna, British Columbia.

Romm was denied entry by the Canadian authorities because of his criminal history. When he returned to the Seattle-Tacoma airport, he was interviewed by two agents of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division.

They asked to search his laptop, and Romm agreed. Agent Camille Sugrue would later testify that she used the "EnCase" software to do a forensic analysis of Romm's hard drive.

That analysis and a subsequent one found some 42 child pornography images, which had been present in the cache used by Romm's Web browser and then deleted. But because in most operating systems, only the directory entry is removed when a file is "deleted," the forensic analysis was able to recover the actual files.

During the trial, Romm's attorney asked that the evidence from the border search be suppressed. The trial judge disagreed. Romm was eventually sentenced to two concurrent terms of 10 and 15 years for knowingly receiving and knowingly possessing child pornography.

The 9th Circuit refused to overturn his conviction, ruling that American citizens effectively enjoy no right to privacy when stopped at the border.

"We hold first that the ICE's forensic analysis of Romm's laptop was permissible without probable cause or a warrant under the border search doctrine," wrote Judge Carlos Bea. Joining him in the decision were Judges David Thompson and Betty Fletcher.

Bea cited the 1985 case of U.S. v. Montoya de Hernandez, in which a woman arriving in Los Angeles from Columbia was detained. Police believed she had swallowed balloons filled with cocaine, even though the court said they had no "clear indication" of it and did not have probable cause to search her.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court said police could rectally examine De Hernandez because it was a border crossing and, essentially, anything goes. (The rectal examination, by the way, did find 88 balloons filled with cocaine that had been smuggled in her alimentary canal.)

Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall dissented. They said the situation De Hernandez experienced had "the hallmark of a police state."

"To be sure, the court today invokes precedent stating that neither probable cause nor a warrant ever have been required for border searches," Brennan wrote. "If this is the law as a general matter, I believe it is time that we re-examine its foundations."

But Brennan and Marshall were outvoted by their fellow justices, who ruled that the drug war trumped privacy, citing a "veritable national crisis in law enforcement caused by smuggling of illicit narcotics." Today their decision means that laptop-toting travelers should expect no privacy either.

As an aside, a report last year from a U.S.-based marijuana activist says U.S. border guards looked through her digital camera snapshots and likely browsed through her laptop's contents. A London-based correspondent for The Economist magazine once reported similar firsthand experiences, and a 1998 article in The New York Times described how British customs scan laptops for sexual material. Here are some tips on using encryption to protect your privacy.

Excerpt from the court's opinion (Click here for PDF):

"First, we address whether the forensic analysis of Romm's laptop falls under the border search exception to the warrant requirement...Under the border search exception, the government may conduct routine searches of persons entering the United States without probable cause, reasonable suspicion, or a warrant. For Fourth Amendment purposes, an international airport terminal is the "functional equivalent" of a border. Thus, passengers deplaning from an international flight are subject to routine border searches.

Romm argues he was not subject to a warrantless border search because he never legally crossed the U.S.-Canada border. We have held the government must be reasonably certain that the object of a border search has crossed the border to conduct a valid border search....In all these cases, however, the issue was whether the person searched had physically crossed the border. There is no authority for the proposition that a person who fails to obtain legal entry at his destination may freely re-enter the United States; to the contrary, he or she may be searched just like any other person crossing the border.

Nor will we carve out an "official restraint" exception to the border search doctrine, as Romm advocates. We assume for the sake of argument that a person who, like Romm, is detained abroad has no opportunity to obtain foreign contraband. Even so, the border search doctrine is not limited to those cases where the searching officers have reason to suspect the entrant may be carrying foreign contraband. Instead, 'searches made at the border...are reasonable simply by virtue of the fact that they occur at the border.' Thus, the routine border search of Romm's laptop was reasonable, regardless whether Romm obtained foreign contraband in Canada or was under "official restraint."

In sum, we hold first that the ICE's forensic analysis of Romm's laptop was permissible without probable cause or a warrant under the border search doctrine."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #169 on: August 01, 2008, 05:11:06 PM »

Good contribution GM, as usual.

Still, does not the idea of the government prowling through people's papers (i.e. their computers) make you uneasy?
« Last Edit: August 01, 2008, 06:55:15 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
G M
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« Reply #170 on: August 01, 2008, 05:34:44 PM »

Not really. Without googling the numbers, the number of people, cargo and vehicles crossing US borders daily is immense. Only a tiny fraction are searched under the border search doctrine. There is a compelling interest for the US government to control what enters and exits the United States. Also, very few nations you might be transiting to/from have a greater degree of privacy rights than the US, thus your "reasonable expectation of privacy" is very little, if any.
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« Reply #171 on: August 21, 2009, 10:27:53 AM »

Left behind on the board and left behind by the country is the libertarian aspect of government-run healthcare.   A questioner of soon to be former Sen. Arlen Specter put it bluntly and accurately: ""I have spent 35 years in information technology. I read this bill very closely. You are about to concentrate more information about more Pennsylvanians and Americans in this bill in one place in the computers of Washington that has ever occurred."

If anyone out there is undecided about 'universal' coercive, healthcare or against it but haven't communicated that strongly to all your representatives yet, did you know:

*  Besides asking about bike helmets, your pediatrician already asks your kid if there are guns in the house and puts the note in the file, soon to be government file. 

*  The IRS that some wanted to eliminate is the enforcement agency written into the healthcare bill.

*  The U.S. Census will be asking in your MANDATORY questionnaire about your health insurance VERIFICATION and the coverage you carry for all in your household (in spite of the fact that they will communicate nothing they find about illegal immigration to the INS.)  http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/hlthins/verif.html "In March 2000, the March Current Population Survey (CPS) added an experimental health insurance "verification" question. Anyone who did not report any type of health insurance coverage was asked an additional question about whether or not they were, in fact, uninsured. Those who reported that they were insured were then asked what type of insurance covered them."

"The Verification Questions

The universe for the March CPS verification questions consists of all households with at least one uninsured person. (The March CPS employs household-level screening questions, so the question universe has to be described in household terms.) The ultimate aim of the questions was to find out which of the 42. 6 million people classified as uninsured from the sequence of questions that ask about specific insurance types are, in fact, uninsured. For all households that fall into this universe, a version of the question below is asked.1

I have recorded that (read names) were not covered by a health plan at any time in 1999. Is that correct?

<1> Yes

<2> No

If the answer is "NO", we ask: Who should be marked as covered?

For all those people, we then ask: What type of insurance was (name) covered by in [year xxxx]?"
-----
Quoting straight from the Census link above.  I will re-post in Census thread, but I felt a strong need to link this to the issue and principle of citizen liberty and government-invaded privacy.  - Doug
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« Reply #172 on: October 25, 2009, 09:48:48 AM »

Ever-Present Surveillance Rankles the British Public

By SARAH LYALL
Published: October 24, 2009
POOLE, England — It has become commonplace to call Britain a “surveillance society,” a place where security cameras lurk at every corner, giant databases keep track of intimate personal details and the government has extraordinary powers to intrude into citizens’ lives.




A report in 2007 by the lobbying group Privacy International placed Britain in the bottom five countries for its record on privacy and surveillance, on a par with Singapore.
But the intrusions visited on Jenny Paton, a 40-year-old mother of three, were startling just the same. Suspecting Ms. Paton of falsifying her address to get her daughter into the neighborhood school, local officials here began a covert surveillance operation. They obtained her telephone billing records. And for more than three weeks in 2008, an officer from the Poole education department secretly followed her, noting on a log the movements of the “female and three children” and the “target vehicle” (that would be Ms. Paton, her daughters and their car).

It turned out that Ms. Paton had broken no rules. Her daughter was admitted to the school. But she has not let the matter rest. Her case, now scheduled to be heard by a regulatory tribunal, has become emblematic of the struggle between personal privacy and the ever more powerful state here.

The Poole Borough Council, which governs the area of Dorset where Ms. Paton lives with her partner and their children, says it has done nothing wrong.

In a way, that is true: under a law enacted in 2000 to regulate surveillance powers, it is legal for localities to follow residents secretly. Local governments regularly use these surveillance powers — which they “self-authorize,” without oversight from judges or law enforcement officers — to investigate malfeasance like illegally dumping industrial waste, loan-sharking and falsely claiming welfare benefits.

But they also use them to investigate reports of noise pollution and people who do not clean up their dogs’ waste. Local governments use them to catch people who fail to recycle, people who put their trash out too early, people who sell fireworks without licenses, people whose dogs bark too loudly and people who illegally operate taxicabs.

“Does our privacy mean anything?” Ms. Paton said in an interview. “I haven’t had a drink for 20 years, but there is nothing that has brought me closer to drinking than this case.”

The law in question is known as the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, or RIPA, and it also gives 474 local governments and 318 agencies — including the Ambulance Service and the Charity Commission — powers once held by only a handful of law enforcement and security service organizations.

Under the law, the localities and agencies can film people with hidden cameras, trawl through communication traffic data like phone calls and Web site visits and enlist undercover “agents” to pose, for example, as teenagers who want to buy alcohol.

In a report this summer, Sir Christopher Rose, the chief surveillance commissioner, said that local governments conducted nearly 5,000 “directed surveillance missions” in the year ending in March and that other public authorities carried out roughly the same amount.

Local officials say that using covert surveillance is justified. The Poole Borough Council, for example, used it to detect and prosecute illegal fishing in Poole Harbor.

“RIPA is an essential tool for local authority enforcement which we make limited use of in cases where it is proportionate and there are no other means of gathering evidence,” Tim Martin, who is in charge of legal and democratic services for Poole, which is southwest of London, said in a statement.

The fuss over the law comes against a backdrop of widespread public worry about an increasingly intrusive state and the growing circulation of personal details in vast databases compiled by the government and private companies.

“Successive U.K. governments have gradually constructed one of the most extensive and technologically advanced surveillance systems in the world,” the House of Lords Constitution Committee said in a recent report. It continued: “The development of electronic surveillance and the collection and processing of personal information have become pervasive, routine and almost taken for granted.”

The Lords report pointed out that the government enacted the law in the first place to provide a framework for a series of scattershot rules on surveillance. The goal was also to make such regulations compatible with privacy rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

RIPA is a complicated law that also regulates wiretapping and intrusive surveillance carried out by the security services. But faced with rumbles of public discontent about local governments’ behavior, the Home Office announced in the spring that it would review the legislation to make it clearer what localities should be allowed to do.

“The government has absolutely no interest in spying on law-abiding people going about their everyday lives,” Jacqui Smith, then home secretary, said.

One of the biggest criticisms of the law is that the targets of surveillance are usually unaware that they have been spied on.

Indeed, Ms. Paton learned what had happened only later, when officials summoned her to discuss her daughter’s school application. To her shock, they produced the covert surveillance report and the family’s telephone billing records.

====

Page 2 of 2)



“As far as I’m concerned, they’re within their rights to scrutinize all applications, but the way they went about it was totally unwarranted,” Ms. Paton said. “If they’d wanted any information, they could have come and asked.”

She would have explained that her case was complicated. The family was moving from their old house within the school district to a new one just outside it. But they met the residency requirements because they were still living at the old address when school applications closed.

At the meeting, Ms. Paton and her partner, Tim Joyce, pointed out that the surveillance evidence was irrelevant because the surveillance had been carried out after the deadline had passed.

“They promptly ushered us out of the room,” she said. “As I stood outside the door, they said, ‘You go and tell your friends that these are the powers we have.’ ”

Soon afterward, their daughter was admitted to the school. Ms. Paton began pressing local officials on their surveillance tactics.

“I said, ‘I want to come in and talk to you,’ ” she said. “ ‘How many people were in the car? Were they men or women? Did they take any photos? Does this mean I have a criminal record?’ ”

No one would answer her questions, Ms. Paton said.

Mr. Martin said he could not comment on her case because it was under review. But Ms. Paton said the Office of the Surveillance Commissioners, which monitors use of the law, found that the Poole council had acted properly. “They said my privacy wasn’t intruded on because the surveillance was covert,” she said.

The case is now before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which looks into complaints about RIPA. It usually meets in secret but has agreed, Ms. Paton said, to have an open hearing at the beginning of November.

The whole process is so shrouded in mystery that few people ever take it this far. “Because no one knows you have a right to know you’re under surveillance,” Ms. Paton said, “nobody ever makes a complaint.”
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« Reply #173 on: January 06, 2010, 01:07:27 PM »

**I take back everything I've said to those that see every attempt at law enforcement as evidence of the US rapidly devolving into a police state. The evidence for your arguements has become too compelling.**

NH artist protests halt to Bigfoot project
From Associated Press
January 06, 2010 12:42 AM EST

JAFFREY, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire artist and videographer who dressed as Bigfoot in a state park says his rights were trampled by big government.

Jonathan Doyle, of Keene, has complained in a letter to the state parks department that a Mount Monadnock park ranger halted his performance art project in the fall because he didn't have a permit.

Doyle is arguing through the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union Foundation that his free-speech rights were violated when he was expelled from the state park in Jaffrey. He says he and others with him, some also in costume, were on a lesser-used trail and weren't bothering other park visitors.

Doyle says the state hasn't responded to his letter. The Division of Parks and Recreation says it has been forwarded to the state attorney general's office.

___

Information from: The Keene Sentinel, http://www.keenesentinel.com


**First they came for those in the bigfoot suits, I said nothing as I did not wear a bigfoot suit.....**
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Rarick
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« Reply #174 on: January 07, 2010, 06:55:27 AM »

Now I know why I am avoiding you- why is a permit required?  It is simply another means to tax people.  The guy is a nut, but does that give you the right to whip out the big "curbside manner" stick?

Too bad there isn't an ignore button mr prison bull.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #175 on: January 07, 2010, 09:49:33 AM »

Quote
Too bad there isn't an ignore button mr prison bull.

Ya know, I'd write a comment on just how futile name calling is likely to prove to be in this particular circumstance, but for the fact that I already know how unrewarding a turn things will soon take.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2010, 11:38:58 AM by Body-by-Guinness » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #176 on: January 07, 2010, 11:42:55 AM »

Gentlemen:

Let us remember we are sitting at the dinner table having a pleasant post-prandial conversation. 

Crafty Dog
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« Reply #177 on: August 22, 2011, 08:30:20 AM »



By JOHN R. EMSHWILLER And GARY FIELDS
New York businessman James Lieto was an innocent bystander in a fraud investigation last year. Federal agents seized $392,000 of his cash anyway.

An armored-car firm hired by Mr. Lieto to carry money for his check-cashing company got ensnared in the FBI probe. Agents seized about $19 million—including Mr. Lieto's money—from vaults belonging to the armored-car firm's parent company.

He is one among thousands of Americans in recent decades who have had a jarring introduction to the federal system of asset seizure. Some 400 federal statutes—a near-doubling, by one count, since the 1990s—empower the government to take assets from convicted criminals as well as people never charged with a crime.

Last year, forfeiture programs confiscated homes, cars, boats and cash in more than 15,000 cases. The total take topped $2.5 billion, more than doubling in five years, Justice Department statistics show.

The expansion of forfeiture powers is part of a broader growth in recent decades of the federal justice system that has seen hundreds of new criminal laws passed. Some critics have dubbed the pattern as the overcriminalization of American life. The forfeiture system has opponents across the political spectrum, including representatives of groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union on the left and the Heritage Foundation on the right. They argue it represents a widening threat to innocent people.

"We are paying assistant U.S. attorneys to carry out the theft of property from often the most defenseless citizens," given that people sometimes have limited resources to fight a seizure after their assets are taken, says David Smith, a former Justice Department forfeiture official and now a forfeiture lawyer in Alexandria, Va.

Backers of the system say there are adequate protections for the innocent, and describe the laws as a powerful tool for returning money to crime victims.

The government has recovered for eventual distribution to victims more than $650 million from imprisoned swindler Bernard Madoff and others who received money from his scheme. Federal officials are in the process of recovering over $6.5 billion more from the Madoff fraud.

Last year, federal authorities say, some $293 million of forfeiture proceeds were returned to crime victims nationally, nearly double the amount in 2009. The Justice Department filed about 90,000 criminal cases last year. There were forfeiture actions in a total of about 3,700 criminal cases, double the number of five years earlier.

 .Supporters further say there should be many more forfeiture actions. Even an imprisoned criminal "can have a smile on his face because he is going to be able to enjoy the proceeds of his crime when he gets out," says Charles Intriago, a former federal prosecutor and now president of the International Association for Asset Recovery, a Miami organization for asset-recovery specialists.

Forfeiture law has its roots in the Colonial days, when it was used to battle pirates and smugglers. In the 1970s and 1980s, Congress began giving law-enforcement officials power to go after the assets of other criminals, such as organized-crime figures.

The more than 400 federal statutes allowing for forfeiture range from racketeering and drug-dealing to violations of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act, according to a December 2009 Congressional Research Service report. The report shows that seizure powers were extended to about 200 of those laws in 2000 in a major congressional overhaul of the forfeiture system.

Top federal officials are also pushing for greater use of civil-forfeiture proceedings, in which assets can be taken without criminal charges being filed against the owner. In a civil forfeiture, the asset itself—not the owner of the asset—is technically the defendant. In such a case, the government must show by a preponderance of evidence that the property was connected to illegal activity. In a criminal forfeiture, the government must first win a conviction against an individual, where the burden of proof is higher.

Raul Stio, a New Jersey businessman, is caught up in the civil-forfeiture world. Last October, the Internal Revenue Service, suspicious of Mr. Stio's bank deposits, seized more than $157,000 from his account. Mr. Stio hasn't been charged with a crime.

In a court filing in his pending civil case, the Justice Department alleges that Mr. Stio's deposits were structured to illegally avoid an anti-money-laundering rule that requires a cash transaction of more than $10,000 to be reported to federal authorities. Mr. Stio made 21 deposits over a four-month period, each $10,000 or less, the filing said.

Steven L. Kessler, Mr. Stio's attorney, says there was no attempt to evade the law and that the deposits merely reflected the amount of cash his client's businesses, a security firm and bar, had produced. Mr. Stio was saving to buy a house, he says.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the case.

Speaking about civil forfeiture broadly, another Justice Department official called it a tool of "critical" importance in taking away the ill-gotten gains of international criminal organizations operating in the U.S. Otherwise, participants in criminal operations such as these might often be beyond federal authorities' reach, leaving asset seizure as one of the ways authorities can target an operation.

In fiscal year 2010, there were more than 11,000 noncriminal forfeiture cases, according to available federal statistics. That figure has held fairly steady the past five years.

It's tough to know how many innocent parties may be improperly pulled into the forfeiture system. Last year, claimants challenged more than 1,800 civil-forfeiture actions in federal court, Justice Department figures show.

Justice Department officials say they rarely lose such cases, a fact they cite as evidence the system is working properly. Forfeiture attorneys counter that the government often settles cases, returning at least part of the seized assets, if it thinks it might lose.

Part of the debate over seizures involves a potential conflict of interest: Under a 1984 federal law, state and local law-enforcement agencies that work with Uncle Sam on seizures get to keep up to 80% of the proceeds.

Last year, under this "equitable-sharing" program, the federal government paid out more than $500 million, up about 75% from a decade ago.

The payments give authorities an "improper profit incentive" to seize assets, says Scott Bullock of the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public-interest law firm in Arlington, Va. It's a particular concern amid current state and local government budget problems, he contends.

Justice Department officials say the 8,000 state and local agencies in the equitable-sharing program have greatly expanded the federal government's ability to go after criminal activities, particularly the movement of drugs and drug cash along the nation's highways. The program is monitored to ensure seizures are handled properly, they add.

Seeming abuses occasionally emerge. In 2008, federal Judge Joseph Bataillon ordered the return of $20,000 taken from a man during a traffic stop in Douglas County, Neb. Judge Battaillon quoted from a recording of the seizure, in which a sheriff's deputy complained about the man's attitude and suggested "we take his money and, um, count it as a drug seizure."

The judge's order said the case produced "overwhelming evidence" that the funds were clean.

Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning said the remarks made by his officers on the recording were "uncalled for" and "had a potential for tainting the case." But overall, he says, the seizure was handled properly. Since 2002, he says, his department has earned $11 million in equitable-sharing money.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Nebraska said the deputy's remarks were "a rare and isolated event."

About a decade ago, the forfeiture system got a major overhaul. The 2000 Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, or Cafra, put in protections for individuals, including increasing the government's burden of proof in many proceedings. Cafra also extended forfeiture powers to additional crimes.

Cafra's new safeguards didn't go far enough, critics argue. For instance, reformers failed to win a broad guarantee that poor people would have access to a lawyer. "It isn't much good to say you have the right to get your property back if you can't afford a lawyer," said the late Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) at a 1999 congressional hearing.

Jorge Jaramillo, a construction worker, says he couldn't afford a lawyer after more than $16,000 was seized from him last year in a traffic stop. "I had all of $20 left," he says.

In a Delaware federal-court filing, the Justice Department argued the money was related to drug dealing. It pointed to air fresheners in the car, which could mask the smell of drugs, and a fast-food bag containing cigar tobacco, which the filing said was often a sign that the cigar wrapper had been used to smoke marijuana.

The filing also said a police dog had signaled that the cash carried residue of illegal drugs. Such "dog sniffs" are a common but controversial feature in forfeitures.

Mr. Smith, the Virginia attorney, represented Mr. Jaramillo at no upfront cost. In court documents, Mr. Jaramillo, who wasn't charged with a crime, said he was carrying the money because he was traveling to buy a car from a seller who wanted cash.

The government in May agreed to return Mr. Jaramillo's money, with interest. Mr. Smith was also awarded $6,000 in attorney's fees. Under Cafra, attorneys' fees in civil-forfeiture cases are at least partially payable if the claimant wins.

The Cafra reforms helped Mr. Jaramillo find a lawyer even though he says he had no money. Still, forfeiture attorneys say this feature of the law is being eroded in some instances. In April, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Cafra attorney's fee should be paid to the client, not directly to the lawyer. Lawyers say this makes it possible for the government to seize their fees if the client has a tax lien or other obligation.

Mr. Lieto, the New York businessman, discovered the frustrations an innocent party can face as he worked for months to keep open his check-cashing business after federal agents seized his firm's working capital.

For years, according to court filings, Mr. Lieto used an armored-car company to pick up cash from his bank for delivery to his check-cashing outlets. The sealed bank bags were routinely stored overnight in the car company's vault. In February 2010, the FBI raid seized the $19 million as part of the fraud probe.

Under the law, an innocent third party generally can't seek an asset's return until the underlying criminal case is resolved, which can take time. In this case, two men pleaded guilty last fall to a multi-million-dollar fraud.

An innocent party's money is returnable if it's clearly separate from the fraud. Mr. Lieto's two sealed and marked bank bags with the $392,000 qualified, his attorney, Mr. Kessler, argued in court filings. Others among the scores of customers made similar claims.

The government countered that the crooks' operation, which included the armored-car service, routinely commingled customers' money. Thus, everyone had to get in line as fraud victims.

Court records indicate that fraud victims might get about 25 cents or less on the dollar. However, in February the government agreed to give Mr. Lieto's money back in full.

Mr. Lieto's lawyer, Mr. Kessler, had filed a deposition from a vault manager who had watched Mr. Lieto's two still-sealed bags being loaded onto the FBI's truck. If the bags were opened and commingled, it was done by authorities, a Lieto court filing argued.

Write to John R. Emshwiller at john.emshwiller@wsj.com and Gary Fields at
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #178 on: April 01, 2012, 03:21:53 PM »



Sec. 40304. Revocation or denial of passport in case of certain unpaid taxes.

“Congress has included an item in the Highway Funding Bill S. 1813 – a provision that allows the IRS to order the State Department to revoke a US citizen’s passport if it is believed – not proven – that said taxpayer owes more than $50,000 in back taxes.”
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G M
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« Reply #179 on: April 01, 2012, 03:35:55 PM »



Sec. 40304. Revocation or denial of passport in case of certain unpaid taxes.

“Congress has included an item in the Highway Funding Bill S. 1813 – a provision that allows the IRS to order the State Department to revoke a US citizen’s passport if it is believed – not proven – that said taxpayer owes more than $50,000 in back taxes.”

That's just creepy.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #180 on: April 22, 2012, 10:37:26 AM »

In these parts we think of Al Franken as the 60th vote in the Senate that brought us Obamacare.

In Montana, the libertarian candidate in 2006 won 10,000 votes while the red state seat went to the Dems by 3500 votes.

To those voters: How are your new liberties working out for you?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/what-swing-states-senate-majority-hinges-on-red-states-and-blue-states/2012/04/20/gIQAQlVCWT_blog.html
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« Reply #181 on: May 21, 2012, 12:49:51 PM »



http://www.buzzfeed.com/mhastings/congressmen-seek-to-lift-propaganda-ban
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« Reply #182 on: November 17, 2012, 10:54:49 AM »



http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=q03cWio-zjk
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G M
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« Reply #183 on: November 17, 2012, 04:38:37 PM »

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/15/1162077/-Libertarians-provided-the-margin-for-Democrats-in-at-least-nine-elections#

 Matheson 108,275 Love 105,629 Vein 5,703 2.6% 2,646 -3,057

As we've perused last week's election returns, we'd noticed a number of races where Libertarian candidates appear to have played spoiler for Republicans—certainly, more than we're accustomed to. While we haven't run a comparison with prior cycles, we've identified no fewer than nine contests in 2012 where the Libertarian received more votes than the difference between the Democratic and Republican candidates. What's more, none of these involved the typical 1 or maybe 2 percent you ordinarily expect a Lib to garner: Looking at the three-way vote, all but one were over 3 percent, and three took 6 percent or more, with a high of 6.5 percent in the Montana Senate race. These definitely seem like unusually high figures.

So what's going on here? I wouldn't want to speculate too much based on this limited data set. But I could easily believe that a growing proportion of conservative-leaning voters are too disgusted with the GOP to pull the Republican lever, but who won't vote for Democrats either, are choosing a third option and going Libertarian instead. This thesis dovetails with something else we saw this year: independents generally leaning more rightward simply because at least some former Republicans are now refusing to identify with their old party. It's not much of a stretch to imagine that some folks like that don't want to vote for their old party either.

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« Reply #184 on: November 17, 2012, 04:44:58 PM »

Is that Mia Love who lost because of the Libertarian vote?
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G M
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« Reply #185 on: November 17, 2012, 04:46:55 PM »

Is that Mia Love who lost because of the Libertarian vote?

It looks like she is one of them.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #186 on: August 10, 2014, 01:54:44 PM »



http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/magazine/has-the-libertarian-moment-finally-arrived.html?emc=edit_th_20140810&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193 
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