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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Operation Torpedo: Fed Tactics on Trial in Porn Case by Tim Cushing

Operation Torpedo: Fed Tactics on Trial in Porn Case by Tim Cushing

The FBI is on trial, caught in the middle of allegations that it stepped out of bounds by sending what was essentially a virus to unsuspecting computer users. Operation Torpedo originated out of computers in Bellevue.

One of the targeted websites had 10,000 images of child pornography. It had 5,600 members and 24,000 postings on the message boards with categories that include babies and teenage girls.

At issue in the suppression hearing is how the government collected the IP addresses and whether the rules of search warrants were followed.

Over the course of the day, 17 attorneys for 14 defendants filed into a courtroom as local FBI representatives explained how the Bureau tracked down dozens of child pornography suspects.

It's a case that has spanned the globe. Servers were seized in the Netherlands and dozens of arrests were made in the United States.

Law enforcement tracked down people online who, investigators say, had done their homework in trying to remain anonymous.

The FBI identified 25 users from Utah to Pennsylvania and states all over the country.

The key break in the case started in Sarpy County - in Bellevue. In November of 2012, FBI agents in Omaha arrested Aaron McGrath. From a server farm in Bellevue, he served as administrator of three websites that advertised and distributed child pornography.

The sites were only available through an anonymous network called TOR, where it was easy for users to cover their tracks online.

After his arrest, the FBI kept Aaron McGrath's child porn websites running and planted their own computer code, like a virus. The feds had never used this technique before the Bellevue case.

When someone clicked the link to those websites, the virus would navigate the layers of secrecy and anonymity so the FBI could trace and pinpoint the specific computers where child pornography was accessed. That search warrant process is under fire in federal court.

Glenn Shapiro represents a child porn suspect from Utah and Shapiro said, “It doesn't matter if it's jaywalking, murder, child porn or anything in between. It’s for protection of all society that the rules are followed by everybody."

New world technology has met old world rules. Federal Judge Thomas Thalken will decide if the FBI met the rules of law when it came to sending the virus to those computers. If not, any evidence collected from the search warrants would be inadmissible.

While the government operated the Bellevue child porn sites for three weeks in 2012, the actual raids of people's homes and seizure of computers didn't happen until four months later -- April 2013.

Attorneys are questioning whether the feds followed what's known as the 30-day standard of notification.

Aaron McGrath, the Omaha man who administered the websites, is serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison.

Invasion Of Privacy: Just Because Government Can, Doesn't Mean They Should by Cheryl Pass

Invasion Of Privacy: Just Because Government Can, Doesn't Mean They Should by Cheryl Pass 

Technology is moving into the culture at such a fast pace that Joe and Jane Citizen can't even wrap their minds around it. And, no, I am not suggesting paranoia is the best response to it. But when government uses Joe's and Jane's money to use technology to take away their privacy and their freedoms, I think it's time to take a hard look at what this "Brave New World" is foisting upon us. Science fiction has become reality. This is why we are looking at drone strikes on American citizens and why Rand Paul's filibuster was such a dramatic and seminal moment.

My readers know I have been on the rabbit trail, chasing down the power grab of Councils of Governments and trying to warn our elected officials. To that end, I am going to share a few details with you from the grant application and grant that our Centralina Council of Governments took from the Federal government. The grant is based on United Nations global governance. But to hide that fact, our Federal government has obfuscated the jargon in an attempt to snooker the American public. And a good job they've done so far.

How do you like the idea that an unelected bureaucracy has given itself the power to assess and collect data on your personal belongings and your lifestyle? (Worse that your elected officials are letting them do it.) We know the Federal government is implementing data collection through the healthcare bill and through the public school system. So why no do it through unelected planning agencies as well? They are!

This may be too much "getting into the weeds" for some, but here is an example of what I mean:

Under the heading of "Energy Conservation" the HUD grant application sets out the budget to be spent on data collection on your home, your assets, and your activities. This bureaucratic cabal of self-important controllers. is using your tax dollars to pay people with infra-red thermal imaging equipment to come to your house and assess the greenhouse gases your house may be emitting. Is your house leaking heat or cooling emissions? Remember this CCOG has captured 14 counties and all of the towns and cities within that area....four of the counties are not even in this state.

This project provides comparable analyses of energy-savings potentials for a cross-section of neighborhood houses in the CCOG/Catawba COG represented county region. Deliverables for this project include: (1) a compilation of neighborhood housing sampling per county for the Neighborhood Energy Profile Database; (2) assessments will be made as to which neighborhoods collectively have the best potential for realizing cost-effective energy savings; (3) targeting those identified neighborhoods with messages on how households can realize these savings through proven, affordable, achievable and accessible measures.

The Neighborhood Energy Profile Database and Energy Enhancement Recommendations project team will be led by Jim Kirby, GREENTHINC., PLLC and Hamilton Cort, Cort Architectural Group, PA. Both will share the two-state/multi-county management/database development responsibilities for residential building energy performance assessment, corresponding database development, and publication of proven/affordable energy enhancement strategies. Members of the US Green Building Council-Charlotte Region Chapter (USGBC-CRC) will serve in the outreach messaging efforts and home sampling selection efforts for the 14 county CCOG region. Matthew Ryan, Efficiency 1st, LLC will provide on-site residential building diagnostics, assessment and reporting responsibilities for the two state/ multi-county residential buildingsthrough blower-door/pressurization testing, HVAC systems review and envelope thermal imaging.

Under "Climate Change" is the taking of inventory on both public and private vehicle fleets.

ATC Associates will conduct an inventory of construction equipment used in the region to determine the model year, estimated usage hours and engine upgrade retrofits. This inventory will be conducted on both municipally-owned fleets and privately owned fleets (general contractors, grading, construction, and equipment rental companies) and entered into a database.The purpose will be to assess the age and emission levels of construction equipment used in our region to determine the scope of the problem that aging diesel fleets represents. The cost for their work, all of which is to be paid for using grant funds, is $85,760.

Mecklenburg County will assess the feasibility of expanding their highly successful GRADE (Grants to Reduce Aging Diesel Engines) Program.Currently the program targets older construction equipment in the region for engine repowers or replacement to reduce the emission of nitrogen oxide, a major component of ozone pollution. Expanding the program or creating a similar model to provide grant funding for diesel particulate filter retrofits will address the emissions of black carbon. Potential sources of funding for this program will also be explored. All of Mecklenburg County’s staff time (valued at $23,940) is being provided through an in-kind match.

UNCC will assess the job creation opportunities within the diesel retrofit sector (manufacturing, installation and maintenance) that would result from increasing the installation of diesel particulate filters on pre-2008 construction equipment and vehicles in the region. UNCC will also identify workforce retraining options for manufacturing and diesel mechanics. All funds attributed to UNC Charlotte, $31,705, are to be paid for by the grant.

Supporting work will also be provided by Clean Air Carolinas (CAC), a clean air advocacy group in the Charlotte region and by Jason Wager (CCOG Sustainability Program Manager). CAC is providing $2000 in in-kind staff assistance. Approximately 23.3% of Wager’s time is being provided by an in-kind match through CCOG. (NOTE: Wager’s time is accounted for in Section 1, Personnel Labor Costs, of the Budget Narrative.)

Presto! There you have just two of the invasive Federal intrusions into our personal and private lives. say pollution is not personal and private, but is a "public" problem. Well, the truth is the town I live in is 20 miles west of Charlotte and we do not have an air quality problem. In fact, none of the other counties and communities outside Charlotte / Mecklenburg have any of the air quality problems that Charlotte has. Furthermore, the idea that personal homes are causing Climate Change is just ridiculous. Energy conservation can and should be left up to individuals who purchase energy. That is the free market. Here we have an unelected, self-appointed, group of meddling bureaucrats who intend to walk into your neighborhood with thermal imaging equipment, paid for with your Federal taxes, and then proceed to get the Federal government involved in your roofing, insulation, and HVAC system.

Or, how about this? The friends I have who are in the construction business or the equipment rental business will be forced to have their equipment inspected by (again unelected) guns for hire who will then sic the Feds on them to pay for retrofits and or new equipment. As you can see from the cited bits of that grant, the intention is to get more government grant money should the public and private entities not be able to pay for this "upgrade. And how could they pay for this? City governments are broke. County governments are broke. Personally owned businesses can't cough up money for this willy nilly. So, who do you think is going to pay for that? Got money? You'd better hang onto your wallet. Government is about to stick you with the tab, and has already to the tune of $4.9 million (funny money that was borrowed from somewhere out there or printed out of fiction!) for this "Sustainable Communities Initiative" planning grant.

Technology makes a lot of things possible. Thermal imaging. Carbon Capture. Energy efficiency. But does that mean government has the right to trample on your rights to force you to comply with some other person's idea? What does that do to the free market? I have some friends who own antique vehicles that are street legal. Should these bureaucrats force them off the street? And in doing so, does that make light rail less expensive or more environmentally friendly? No. Does forcing people to seal up their homes do anything to help the environment? No. So they use a tiny bit less energy, does that keep the snow from falling or a river from flooding? No.

Just because you can invade someone's privacy or personal choices, doesn't mean you should! As compared with drone strikes on American citizens, this may seem trivial. Trust me it is not trivial and will threaten our economic survival even more than it already is.