Archive for the ‘FBI’ category

President Obama’s Strange Position

March 15, 2016

Over the weekend, President Obama spoke several times about the current stand-off between the Justice Department and Apple over help in “breaking in” to a locked iPhone. The President came down, surprisingly, on the side of the FBI and urged Apple to reconsider its position.

President Obama likened the help the FBI is seeking as no different than when the police get a search warrant and enter someone’s home. Once inside the home, the police can open, read, and confiscate anything. The President stressed the search was a Court authorized event (therefore not unreasonable search and seizure).

The “surprising” part of President Obama’s position is that usually the President is suspicious of his cabinet bureaucracies.  In this case, however, the President sees strengthening the FBI (and by extension all other police departments) as a necessary step.

Apple maintains that security is important to all its customers and were Apple to help create a “backdoor”, then all its customers would be at risk from entry by criminals and hackers. While this may be true, Apple is clearly concerned about its iPhone security reputation is other countries. Foreign customer might be thinking, is the American Government listening?

I think the President has gotten this one wrong… or is practicing deception. Most computer experts believe that the NSA could open the phone in a heart beat since it staffs as many or more hackers and geeks as does Apple. According to Washington gossip, the NSA has told the FBI no thanks when asked for help. As President, NSA’s demur could vanish in an instant.  On this basis, one could reasonably conclude that the President is trying to deceive other governments over the possibility that the NSA already knows how to enter a locked iPhone.

Privacy rights were written into the Constitution for a reason. Governments, law enforcement, and other investigatory agencies do not always follow due process, nor do they always have a just reason in attempting to gain entry. The 4th Amendment was adopted specifically to moderate an over zealous search.

The best face I can put on the President’s position is that the President is trying to convince the world that iPhones are secure and that no one (read the NSA) can get through the phone’s encryption. The President may think that Apple will prevail and the President can tell the FBI, well I tried.

For a President who has seen the limits of his own government’s agencies, I can not bring myself to think he really believes his argument as applied to the San Bernardino terrorist.

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The Denny Hastert Tragedy

June 8, 2015

Former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert is under federal arrest charged with obscure banking rules violations. He has been charged with “structuring” bank withdrawals and “lying” to FBI agents who questioned him about these withdrawals. The banking rules which were developed as tools against organized crime (money laundering) serve as an example why governments can’t be trusted to collect data on private citizens’ lives. Hmmm.

The Hastert backstory, of course, doesn’t involve money laundering or tax fraud or anything where the public’s tax dollars have been misused.   The back story suggests Hastert engaged in homosexual behavior with students while a high school wrestling coach. No where in the federal charges are these claims made. So, why the arrest and charges?

Who knows.

The implications are that Hastert had been blackmailed by someone. Consequently, Hastert has apparently paid large amounts of money, taken from his personal bank accounts, in structured amounts (withdrawals below $10,000) in order to keep the incident(s) secret. So, why aren’t the federal authorities arresting the black mailers?

Who knows.

Statues of limitation must apply to these alleged homosexual encounters. If the incidents refer to his high school coaching time, Hastert is well beyond the time he could be charged.  To be sure misusing his authority position with someone younger, maybe even a minor, is disgraceful.  But laws are laws.

My guess is that there were more than one encounter with more than one person. A former Speaker of the House might be able to get the nod against one person but if the list grew, maybe the public might begin to suspect there was truth in the charges.  But again the statute of limitations would apply and no arrest could be made.

The second reason for these hush money payments is even more likely. Hastert is a lobbyist.

Since leaving office, Hastert has effortlessly swung from making laws to finding ways to skirt them or to get Congress to pass new and more favorable laws.   This was good business and showered Hastert with plenty of money. A slimy, drawn out public battle over his sexual proclivities would not have been good for business. Hmmm.

The FBI use of laws meant for completely different purposes and the gutless charge of “lying to the FBI” present on their own reasons for Americans to be concerned. As time passes, we may find out that Hastert’s earlier life will show him as a low life but rising to become Speaker of the House is noteworthy too. If Hastert used his position of authority to take advantage of youth under his supervision, shame on him and let the public opinion ruin his lobbying business.

On the other hand, lets speak out against misuse of Federal laws and policies with no comment on Hastert’s ethics.