Government surveillance system Trapwire could be illegal

Well, I have been having problems with my left hand, the little pinky and the ring fingers have been tingling and making it a bit hard to type at times, and this has been going on for the past month. So this morning, off we go to my doctor. So he pinched, prodded, and messed with my fingers and hand and arm and shoulder. He said I have the classic symptons of carpal tunnel syndrome, but from the way I was feeling his prodding, etc, he said it could be a pinched nerve further up my arm somewhere. So he is setting me up with a specialist who will insert (yes, as in put in my hand and arm) a series of electrodes so they can test how fast impulses travel from one point to my fingers. He said it might be a bit uncomfortable, but surely not much if any pain on my part. Will see about that! That way, they can see if it is just a pinched nerve or carpal tunnel. Doctor gave me the two ways they would fix the problem. Minor surgery, but still. Anyways, glad we went to the doctor and glad now we both know what will happen and what could happen. In the meantime, got to were this contraption on my left hand and take some aleve or ibuprofen. No pain really, just that the fingers tingle constantly and make it a bit hard to type at times.

So much about me, on with the articles and more.


Last week, whistleblower site Wikileaks posted some internal company documents about a high-tech surveillance system called Trapwire, which is used by governments and private companies to identify “suspicious” or “terrorist” behavior. Subsequently, Wikileaks was brought down by a concerted DDOS attack, and conspiracy theories mushroomed online about the Trapwire system, which was said to include foolproof facial recognition software (it doesn’t) and to siphon private surveillance camera footage to intelligence agents (this is what Trapwire claims that its eponymous product does). Much has also been made of the many former CIA agents and officials who work at Trapwire and its former parent company Abraxas.

Conspiracy theories aside, there are a lot of shady aspects to Trapwire. And one of the shadiest is its dubious legal status. A recent ruling by the Supreme Court could mean that using Trapwire to track people is illegal without a search warrant.

US v. Jones

At issue is a case called US v. Jones, decided by the Supreme Court earlier this year, in which police had secretly put a GPS device on a suspect’s car and tracked it for nearly a month without a warrant. As a result, they convicted the suspect of dealing drugs. But the Court decided that the use of a GPS in this case was a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which is designed to protect people from unreasonable, privacy-invading searches. How could tracking this man’s car in public really be a violation of privacy? After all, many people saw him driving around.

Several members of the Court found that the problem was that the officers were going beyond simply seeing the car in public. They were tracking its every move for a month, and then analyzing all that data for patterns they never would have seen if they simply spotted the car as it drove by. This act tipped the police officers’ acts from reasonable to unreasonable under the law. One of the barometers the Court uses to measure whether an act invades privacy is to compare it to what would have been possible at the time the Constitution was framed, over 200 years ago. Concurring with the US v. Jones decision, Justice Alioto wrote, memorably:

Is it possible to imagine a case in which a constable secreted himself somewhere in a coach and remained there for a period of time in order to monitor the movements of the coach’s owner? . . . The Court suggests that something like this might have occurred in 1791, but this would have required either a gigantic coach, a very tiny constable, or both-not to mention a constable with incredible fortitude and patience.

In other words, the kind of public monitoring referred to in the Fourth Amendment does not include monitoring people’s every move and analyzing it using surveillance technology.

Given this interpretation of the Fourth Amendment, it’s very possible that the government’s warrantless use of Trapwire would also be deemed an invasion of privacy.

The Problem With Datamining

Over the past few days, a couple of “debunker” articles have come out in the US media which attempt to explain why Trapwire isn’t as harmful as the conspiracy theorists say. Unfortunately, many of these articles have missed the point. They seek to reassure us that Trapwire is harmless because it isn’t a secret technology, or because facial recognition technology sucks. Both of those things are true. But in the very act of trying to debunk Trapwire as a dangerous technology, FutureTense’s Ryan Gallagher identifies what may be the most troubling part of the system — it’s ability to track, aggregate, and automatically analyze surveillance data:

What makes TrapWire stand out is what it does with the stored information. Using algorithms, it is designed to automatically identify “patterns indicative of terrorist activity” at a site-and across various sites-before issuing advance warning that outlines the level of threat to a given location. It does this by, with prior approval of each client, aggregating and analyzing event reports from all facilities that are using the system. The underpinning logic is that terrorists who are going to attack a building or buildings will conduct rigorous planning and surveillance of a target before they attack. This type of reconnaissance activity would, in theory, be logged onto TrapWire by security personnel-triggering a pre-emptive alert if a pattern were detected.

So basically Trapwire stores surveillance information about people across several locations and analyzes them automatically. This kind of tracking and analysis is precisely what the Supreme Court suggested wasn’t constitutional in US v. Jones.

One of Trapwire’s big proponents is Fred Burton, VP of private intelligence company Stratfor, who described Trapwire like this:

Camera surveillance technology is in my opinion one of the most innovative tools developed since 9-11 to help mitigate terrorist threats. One of the systems known as TrapWire is leading the way in this field.

From a protective intelligence perspective, surveillance technology has the ability to share information on suspicious events or suspects between cities. Operationally, the ability to identify hostile surveillance at one target set – in multiple cities – can be used to neutralize terror threats by interrupting the attack cycle. Meaning, a suspect conducting surveillance of an HVT in one city can also be spotted by TrapWire conducting similar activity in another location, connecting the infamous dots.

It’s important to note that Burton said this while trying to sell Trapwire, so he may have exaggerated its capabilities. But if his description is even partly accurate, he is describing an invasion of privacy, where people are being tracked and monitored over time and in different places without a warrant.

Why Trapwire May Be Unconstitutional

More to the point, the behaviors described by Burton could be a violation of the Fourth Amendment. In US v. Jones, the Supreme Court found that GPS tracking was a “search” that requires a warrant and judicial oversight. If tracking people with a GPS requires a warrant, then surely tracking people with Trapwire should too. Remember, Trapwire isn’t just a stationary security camera outside one building. It’s a network of surveillance devices that all feed into a database, where agents can analyze a suspect’s behavior throughout a city for months.

Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Kurt Opsahl told io9 via email:

We need to get more information to fully analyze the TrapWire situation. However, the information available raises important questions. When surveillance networks become ubiquitous, and capable of tracking individual people over multiple locations, it creates the same Fourth Amendment issues whether done by a GPS tracker (like in U.S. v. Jones) or by a network of cameras, or by other technologies. Regardless of the technology, the government should need a warrant for persistent tracking of individuals.

Chris Conley, a privacy lawyer and technologist with the ACLU of Northern California amplified this sentiment, telling io9 that what might be unconstitutional about Trapwire is the fact that the system essentially follows people around for an unlimited amount of time. It also seems to create profiles of suspicious individuals and activities. Conley explained that it’s perfectly legal in most cases for private companies using Trapwire to share all their data with the government. That isn’t the problem. The problem is when Trapwire users — government or otherwise — start using that data to track people.

So the question we should be asking about Trapwire is whether this surveillance system is lawful under the Constitution. Right now, it’s looking like Trapwire violates the rules of the very government it was invented to serve.

Further Reading:

There is a terrific article that the ACLU has posted, outlining all the other privacy-invading technologies like Trapwire that are already being used throughout the country.

EFF’s US v. Jones page

Noah Shachtman has a fascinating investigation over at Danger Room of all the shady business dealings behind the invention and marketing of Trapwire

From HERE.


America was Designed by Geniuses but Now Run by Idiots


From HERE.


The War Against the Nuba

The jagged, 1,357-mile-long border between Sudan and the newly independent nation of South Sudan is the most contentious on the continent of Africa (see the map below). Tens of thousands of troops are massed on either side and, despite peace negotiations, border skirmishes recently broke out, in which scores of soldiers were killed. The two countries are bitterly divided over how to split oil profits and how to resolve contested territory.

The war between the northern and southern Sudanese is one of the longest and most complex in Africa, driven by religious schisms, racial politics, oil, and an especially convoluted colonial legacy. The first period of fighting began in 1955 and lasted until 1972. During the second period of conflict, between 1983 and 2005, more than two million people were killed and hundreds of thousands of starving people became refugees, including the Lost Boys, southern Sudanese children who were cast off to wander for hundreds of miles across the savannah, dodging lions and bombers. One of the terms of the peace agreement that ended the fighting in 2005 was a referendum held in 2011 in which southern Sudanese voted overwhelmingly for independence from the north.





Welcome To The Golden State—Of Absurdity.

The Cal State University system has now announced that most campuses won’t be accepting any new students for the spring. And only non-California or international students for graduate programs. Because money.

Cal State leaders have told the university’s 23 campuses they will not be allowed to admit California graduate students for the spring term, which starts in January. Budget cuts made the system in the coming spring term unable to afford residents’ heavily discounted education, campus leaders were told.

But nonresident students — who pay considerably higher fees — remain welcome, at least at some campuses, and that has become an issue leading some rebellious graduate schools to turn away the non-Californians — and the financial windfall they would bring in.

So a state university system has decided to exclude the very students it was created to support. What exactly are California taxpayers getting for their taxes that go to the CSU system then?




From HERE>


June 6, 1933 – The first Drive-In Theater opens, in Camden, New Jersey.  The first movie shown was Wives Beware, starring Adolphe Menjou. The charge was 25¢ per person and 25¢ per automobile, with a maximum cost of $1.


He is serious?


“We’re going around the country, talking about, ‘How do we put people back to work? How do we improve our schools? How do we make sure that we’re producing American energy? How do we lower our debt in a responsible way?’ And I don’t think you or anybody who’s been watching the campaign would say that in any way we have tried to divide the country. We’ve always tried to bring the country together,” President Obama said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.


Exclusive: Air Force Warned of Fatal F-22 Fighter Flaw Decade Before Crash

The Air Force and major defense contractors were warned about a design flaw in the F-22 Raptor fighter jet more than a decade before it directly contributed to the death of an American pilot, according to an internal Air Force document obtained exclusively by ABC News.

Air Force officials also revealed that early in the plane’s development, in order to save money on the $79 billion program, the service had decided against a safety measure that would’ve addressed the flaw — the same safety measure the military is now paying millions to install and that the pilot’s family insists would have saved his life.

“It’s really nice of the Air Force to have known about this 12 years ago and then let my brother die,” Jennifer Haney, sister of the late Capt. Jeff Haney and family spokesperson, told ABC News.



Desmond Tutu And Fellow Nobel Peace Prize Winners Demand NBC Show Cancel Show “Stars Earn Stripes” Because It Glorifies The Military…

Bloody conflicts are raging throughout the world and the leftist Nobel Peace Prize gang is worried about a show on NBC?

NEW YORK (AP) — Nine Nobel Peace Prize winners are speaking out against a new NBC competition series they say treats military maneuvers like athletic events.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the other Nobel laureates protested in an open letter that the show, “Stars Earn Stripes,” glorifies war and armed violence.

The series, which premiered on Monday night, pairs celebrities with inactive U.S. military personnel for simulated military challenges. Celebrity participants include boxing champion Laila Ali, Superman actor Dean Cain, Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s husband, Todd Palin.

The program is hosted by retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark.

“I’m doing this series for one reason,” says Clark at the top of the show — “to introduce you, the American people, to the individuals that sacrifice so much for all of us.”

The series is billed on its website as a “fast-paced competition” whose contestants “will gather at a remote training facility where they will be challenged to execute complicated missions inspired by real military exercises.”

“Stars Earn Stripes” says it “pays homage to the men and women who serve in the U.S. armed forces and our first-responder services.”

The letter, sent Monday to Clark, NBC boss Robert Greenblatt, producer Mark Burnett and others connected with the show, argues “this program pays homage to no one anywhere” and criticizes it for “trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition.”

The letter calls for NBC to stop airing the series.


19 Old-Timey Slang Terms to Bolster Your Vocabulary

  1. In the ketchup: Operating at a deficit
  2. John Hollowlegs: A hungry man [hobo use]
  3. Lobbygow: One who loafs around an opium den in hopes of being offered a free pipe
  4. Happy cabbage: A sizable amount of money to be spent on self-satisfying things
  5. Zib: A nondescript nincompoop
  6. Give someone the wind: To jilt a suitor with great suddenness
  7. The zings: A hangover
  8. Butter and egg man: A wealthy, unsophisticated, small-town businessman who tries to become a playboy, especially when visiting a large city
  9. Cluck and grunt: Eggs and ham
  10. Off the cob: Corny
  11. Dog robber: A baseball umpire
  12. Happies: Arch supporters [shoe salesman use]
  13. High-wine: A mixture of grain alcohol and Coca-Cola [hobo use]
  14. Flub the dub: To evade one’s duty
  15. Donkey’s breakfast: A straw mattress
  16. George Eddy: A customer who does not tip
  17. Wet sock: A limp, flaccid handshake
  18. Gazoozle: To cheat
  19. On a toot: On a drunken spree

Mental Floss


No Joke: Chicago Erects Monument At Spot Where Barack And Michelle Had Their First Kiss…

North Korea has nothing on Chicago when it comes to Dear Leader worship.

Via Chicago Tribune:

She was an attorney at a big Chicago law firm. He was a Harvard Law student who landed a job there as a summer associate. He was immediately smitten. She wasn’t so sure. But he won her over, and the couple sealed their budding romance with a kiss at the Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop in Hyde Park.

So goes the story of how Michelle and Barack Obama fell in love in 1989. And on Wednesday, a historical marker went up at the corner of Dorchester Avenue and 53rd Street noting the exact location where the couple had their first smooch.

A quote from President Obama, taken from an interview published in “O, The Oprah Magazine” in February 2007, is inscribed beneath an embedded photo of the couple.

“On our first date, I treated her to the finest ice cream Baskin-Robbins had to offer, our dinner table doubling as the curb. I kissed her, and it tasted like chocolate.”

As landscapers added the finishing touches, placing orange impatiens around the boulder placed in a flower bed near the entrance of the Dorchester Commons shopping center, curious residents trickled by to snap pictures.

The 3,000-pound granite boulder, commissioned by the owners of Dorchester Commons, was 2 1/2 years in the making, according to Jonelle Kearney, a spokeswoman for Mid-America Asset Management, which manages the shopping center. She said the idea came about after several queries from visitors.

“It’s a marker for the community, for posterity and tourism, too,” she said.



SPLC’s hatewatch gives cover to hate

William Jacobson

As long-time readers surely know, I have examined the pernicious methodology of the Southern Poverty Law Center in moving from fighting Klan and neo-Nazi groups to fighting for the Democratic Party agenda against conservatives and the Tea Party.

n seeking to justify its hefty salaries, budget and fundraising, SPLC made a very dangerous leap to treating political opponents as “hate groups” and speech it didn’t like as “hate speech.”

My first post about SPLC was when Mark Potok, head of SPLC’s Hatewatch project, smeared a prominent black female law professor at Vanderbilt as an “apologist for white supremacists,” based upon a complete misreading of her review of a movie involving racially inflammatory rhetoric.  It was a vicious attack, taken apart by James Taranto in The Wall Street Journal.

Since then I examined the SPLC’s tendency to exaggerate hate group statistics for fundraising purposes, including inventing hate groups in my home State of Rhode Island:

When it came to the Tea Party, I wrote that SPLC Completed Its Descent Into Madness when it called a speech by Sarah Palin at the National Tea Party Convention in February 2010 one of the landmark events in the “Patriot Movement” (which SPLC defined as Tim McVeigh-type anti-government violent groups):

Whatever SPLC once was, it now is a bastion of political hackery which, by equating legitimate political opposition with criminal violence, is doing substantial damage to our national fabric.

It is time for people of conscience to speak out against SPLC’s tactics.

SPLC continued its agenda against the Tea Party and conservatives when it persisted in claiming that Jared Loughner was “right wing” long after it was clear that was not the case.

SPLC also moved on to the issue of marriage equality.


(and the splc comes down very hard on anyone and any organization that disparages islam! )


Go to love this man!


A sign in Broken Arrow is raising some eyebrows.

A business owner is showing his disapproval of the President.

The sign is hanging next to Additive Systems, Inc. on Main Street in B.A.

It says “‘We’ built this business without gov’t. help. Obama can kiss our a**.”

It goes on to say, “I’m Bob Roggendorff and I approve this message.”

While our crew was on scene, a man pulled over just to get a picture of it.

“I was just driving by, saw it, kind of stuck out, figured I might as well take a picture for myself,” says John. “It’s pro-American, anti-Obama.”

We tried contacting Roggendorff in person and via phone, but have not heard back from him.



( – As part of its effort to combat “gender-based violence,” the U.S. State Department has trained 450 Muslim leaders (imams), using a curriculum focusing on the “compatibility of women’s rights and Islam,” according to a report released on Friday.

The report, “United States Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally,” was released by the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Aug. 10, after President Barack Obama issued an executive order instructing government agencies to come up with a “multi-year strategy that will more effectively prevent and respond to gender-based violence globally.”

The report cites “anecdotal evidence,” gleaned form interviews and focus groups, to show how the imam training has helped, as follows (verbatim):

– One religious leader from Herat (Afghanistan) explained that since participating in project trainings, when he presides over marriages, whether he officiates the wedding ceremony or not, he asks the age of the bride and for proof of her consent, and he uses the opportunity to publicly discuss the importance of the bride’s consent to marriage. He even reported stopping a marriage when he found out that the bride had not given her consent.


The MSM is working overtime trying to sweep this one under the rug, if he was a Tea Partier it would be wall-to-wall 24/7 coverage.

Via LifeNews:

The man who is alleged to have shot a security guard yesterday at the offices of the pro-life group Family Research Council has been formally charged and new FBI documents present more information.

A man posing as an intern shot the guard, Leo Johnson, at the FRC office located at 801 G Street, NW. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins confirmed the security officer was shot and said in a statement, “The police are investigating this incident. Our first concern is with our colleague who was shot today. Our concern is for him and his family.”

Additional reports show Johnson was a hero and worked with other guards to apprehend the shooter before more people were attacked. The suspect, a 28-year-old male from Virginia named Floyd Lee Corkins II, said, “Don’t shoot me, it was not about you, it was what this place stands for.” AP later confirmed that Corkins is a liberal activist who volunteers with a left-wing group in the D.C. area.

Now, Corkins has been charged with assault with intent to kill. According to an FBI affidavit, Corkins allegedly said words to the effect of “I don’t like your politics” when he encountered Johnson.

“The FBI said Corkins had 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol, two additional magazines loaded with ammunition and an additional box of 50 rounds of ammunition when he came into the building,” according to a report on the FBI intel. “His parents told the FBI that Corkins “has strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner.”