Archive for June, 2013

A top German official accused the United States on Sunday of using “Cold War” methods against its allies, after a German magazine cited secret intelligence documents to claim that U.S. spies bugged European Union offices.

Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger was responding to a report by German news weekly Der Spiegel, which claimed that the U.S. National Security Agency eavesdropped on EU offices in Washington, New York and Brussels. The magazine cited classified U.S. documents taken by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that it said it had partly seen.

“If the media reports are accurate, then this recalls the methods used by enemies during the Cold War,” Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said in a statement to The Associated Press.

“It is beyond comprehension that our friends in the United States see Europeans as enemies,” she said, calling for an “immediate and comprehensive” response from the U.S. government to the claims.

Other European officials demanded an explanation from the U.S.

“I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in a statement, according to CNN. “If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations. On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the U.S. authorities with regard to these allegations.”

The revelations come at a particularly sensitive time for U.S.-E.U. relations, as long-awaited talks about a new trade pact are scheduled to begin next week. It is unclear how the latest report on NSA spying are going to affect them, but the trade pact has been a centerpiece of the Obama administrations diplomatic efforts in Europe for some time.

According to Der Spiegel, the NSA planted bugs in the EU’s diplomatic offices in Washington and infiltrated the building’s computer network. Similar measures were taken at the EU’s mission to the United Nations in New York, the magazine said.

Der Spiegel didn’t publish the alleged NSA documents it cited or say how it obtained access to them. But one of the report’s authors is Laura Poitras, an award-winning documentary filmmaker who interviewed Snowden while he was holed up in Hong Kong.

The magazine also didn’t specify how it learned of the NSA’s alleged eavesdropping efforts at a key EU office in Brussels. There, the NSA used secure facilities at NATO headquarters nearby to dial into telephone maintenance systems that would have allowed it to intercept senior EU officials’ calls and Internet traffic, Der Spiegel report said.

Germany was allegedly the focus of the European spying, according to The Guardian, categorising Washington’s key European ally alongside China, Iraq or Saudi Arabia in the intensity of the electronic snooping.

During a trip through Europe two weeks ago, President Obama assured an audience in Germany that America is not indiscriminately “rifling” through the emails of ordinary European citizens, describing the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs as a “circumscribed” system that has averted threats in America, Germany, and elsewhere.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger urged EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to take personal responsibility for investigating the allegations.

In Washington, a statement from the national intelligence director’s office said U.S. officials planned to respond to the concerns with their EU counterparts and through diplomatic channels with specific nations.

However, “as a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations,” the statement concluded. It did not provide further details.

NSA Director Keith Alexander last week said the government stopped gathering U.S. citizens’ Internet data in 2011. But the NSA programs that sweep up foreigners’ data through U.S. servers to pin down potential threats to Americans from abroad continue.

Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” former NSA and CIA Director Mike Hayden downplayed the European outrage over the programs, saying they “should look first and find out what their own governments are doing.” But Hayden said the Obama administration should try to head off public criticism by being more open about the top-secret programs so that “people know exactly what it is we are doing in this balance between privacy and security.”

“The more they know, the more comfortable they will feel,” Hayden said. “Frankly, I think we ought to be doing a bit more to explain what it is we’re doing, why, and the very tight safeguards under which we’re operating.”

Hayden also defended a secretive U.S. court that weighs whether to allow the government to seize the Internet and phone records from private companies. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is made up of federal judges but does not consider objections from defense attorneys in considering the government’s request for records.

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This week, the Navy announced that the MK18 Mod 2 Kingfish underwater unmanned vehicle has been deployed for operations in the 5th Fleet area, a region covering about 2.5 million square miles of water area, which includes the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, and parts of the Indian Ocean.

The Kingfish is a next generation defense system used by the Navy for mine detection missions, replacing the current Swordfish system.

Here, engineers secure a Kingfish to the deck of a rigid hull inflatable boat. The Kingfish uses side scan sonar to search and discover objects of interest.

Though airborne drones are more well known and more high profile, underwater drone technology is expanding rapidly, and everyone from hobbyists to the military to commercial businesses already has a hand on undersea robotics.

Obstacles to the proliferation of technology like this — primarily communications and energy — are being overcome quickly, and the Navy believes that in the next few years we’ll likely see swarms of combat-ready undersea drones, the next wave of autonomous robotics.

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A bipartisan group of 26 US senators has written to intelligence chiefs to complain that the administration is relying on a “secret body of law” to collect massive amounts of data on US citizens.

The senators accuse officials of making misleading statements and demand that the director of national intelligence James Clapper answer a series of specific questions on the scale of domestic surveillance as well as the legal justification for it.

In their strongly-worded letter to Clapper, the senators said they believed the government may be misinterpreting existing legislation to justify the sweeping collection of telephone and internet data revealed by the Guardian.

“We are concerned that by depending on secret interpretations of the Patriot Act that differed from an intuitive reading of the statute, this program essentially relied for years on a secret body of law,” they say.

“This and misleading statements by intelligence officials have prevented our constituents from evaluating the decisions that their government was making, and will unfortunately undermine trust in government more broadly.”

This is the strongest attack yet from Congress since the disclosures began, and comes after Clapper admitted he had given “the least untruthful answer possible” when pushed on these issues by Senators at a hearing before the latest revelations by the Guardian and the Washington Post.

In a press statement, the group of senators added: “The recent public disclosures of secret government surveillance programs have exposed how secret interpretations of the USA Patriot Act have allowed for the bulk collection of massive amounts of data on the communications of ordinary Americans with no connection to wrongdoing.”

They said: “Reliance on secret law to conduct domestic surveillance activities raises serious civil liberty concerns and all but removes the public from an informed national security and civil liberty debate.”

A spokesman for the office of the director of national intelligence (ODNI) acknowledged the letter. “The ODNI received a letter from 26 senators this morning requesting further engagement on vital intelligence programs recently disclosed in the media, which we are still evaluating. The intelligence and law enforcement communities will continue to work with all members of Congress to ensure the proper balance of privacy and protection for American citizens.”

The letter was organised by Oregan Democrat Ron Wyden, a member of the intelligence committee, but includes four Republican senators: Mark Kirk, Mike Lee, Lisa Murkowski and Dean Heller.

They ask Clapper to publicly provide information about the duration and scope of the program and provide examples of its effectiveness in providing unique intelligence, if such examples exist.

The senators also expressed their concern that the program itself has a significant impact on the privacy of law-abiding Americans and that the Patriot Act could be used for the bulk collection of records beyond phone metadata.

“The Patriot Act’s ‘business records’ authority can be used to give the government access to private financial, medical, consumer and firearm sales records, among others,” said a press statement.

In addition to raising concerns about the law’s scope, the senators noted that keeping the official interpretation of the law secret and the instances of misleading public statements from executive branch officials prevented the American people from having an informed public debate about national security and domestic surveillance.

The senators said they were seeking public answers to the following questions in order to give the American people the information they need to conduct an informed public debate. The specific questions include:

• How long has the NSA used Patriot Act authorities to engage in bulk collection of Americans’ records? Was this collection underway when the law was reauthorized in 2006?

• Has the NSA used USA Patriot Act authorities to conduct bulk collection of any other types of records pertaining to Americans, beyond phone records?

• Has the NSA collected or made any plans to collect Americans’ cell-site location data in bulk?

• Have there been any violations of the court orders permitting this bulk collection, or of the rules governing access to these records? If so, please describe these violations.

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New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder in the shooting death of a friend prosecutors say had angered the NFL player at a nightclub a few days earlier by talking to the wrong people.

Hernandez, 23, was taken from his North Attleborough home in handcuffs just over a week after Boston semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd’s bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park a mile away.

Less than two hours after the arrest, the Patriots announced they had cut Hernandez, a 2011 Pro Bowl selection who signed a five-year contract last summer worth $40 million.

Lloyd was a 27-year-old athlete with the Boston Bandits who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. He was shot multiple times on a secluded gravel road, authorities said.

Hernandez “drove the victim to that remote spot, and then he orchestrated his execution,” prosecutor Bill McCauley said.

If convicted, Hernandez could get life in prison without parole.

“It is at bottom a circumstantial case. It is not a strong case,” his attorney, Michael Fee, said at a court hearing during which Hernandez was ordered held without bail on murder charges and five weapons counts.

Lloyd’s family members cried and hugged as the prosecutor outlined the killing. Two were so overcome with emotion that they had to leave the courtroom.

McCauley said the slaying stemmed from a night out at a Boston club called Rumor on June 14. He said Hernandez was upset about certain things, including that Lloyd had talked to some people Hernandez “had troubles with.” The prosecutor did not elaborate.

Two days later, McCauley said, on the night of June 16, Hernandez texted two friends from out of state and asked them to hurry back to Massachusetts.

Surveillance footage from Hernandez’s home showed him leaving with a gun, and he told someone in the house that he was upset and couldn’t trust anyone anymore, the prosecutor said.

The three men picked up Lloyd at his home around 2:30 a.m., according to authorities. As they drove around in their rented car, they discussed what happened at the nightclub, and Lloyd started getting nervous, McCauley said.

Lloyd texted his sister, “Did you see who I am with?” When she asked who, he answered, at 3:22 a.m., “NFL,” then, a minute later, he sent one final text: “Just so you know.”

Within a few minutes, people working the overnight shift at the industrial park reported hearing gunshots, McCauley said. Surveillance video showed the car going into a remote area of the industrial park and emerging four minutes later, the prosecutor said.

A short time later, Hernandez returned to his house, and he and one of the other men were seen on his home surveillance system holding guns, McCauley said. Then the system stopped recording, according to the prosecutor.

Hernandez had recently installed the system and had 14 cameras inside and out, according to McCauley, who said detectives found footage was missing from the six to eight hours after the slaying.

Investigators did not specify who fired the shots. They did not identify the two other people who were with Hernandez or say whether they were under arrest.

According to McCauley, Hernandez and his friends later returned the car to the rental agency, and Hernandez offered the attendant a piece of blue chewing gum. She found a .45-caliber shell casing and a piece of what appeared to be chewed blue gum in the car and threw them out.

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Army to Cut Its Forces by 80,000 in 5 Years

WASHINGTON — Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said Tuesday that the Army would institute the largest organizational change since World War II by eliminating combat forces from 10 bases across the United States, part of a planned reduction of 80,000 active-duty troops over the next five years.

he announcement supports the Army’s effort to downsize the active-duty force to 490,000 as the military winds down from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cuts were a result of the 2011 Budget Control Act that required $487 billion in military spending cuts over a decade. This is the fourth round of budget cuts for the military since President Obama took office.

Under the plan, the Army will cut its brigade combat teams to 33 from 45 by 2017 at bases in Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington State. A brigade is roughly 3,500 to 5,000 people. Two additional brigades in Germany, at Baumholder and Grafenwöhr, have already been scheduled for elimination this year.

General Odierno said the cutbacks are only a precursor to further action. “There is going to be another reduction,” he said at a Pentagon news conference. “There is no away around it.”

The across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, which calls for some $500 million in military spending reductions by 2022, could force the Army to speed up its current plans for cuts.

General Odierno said that most of the troop reductions will occur with natural attrition, but if “full sequestration occurs,” then the Army will have to cut more officers, including colonels, lieutenant colonels and captains.

The cuts are certain to be unpopular in the communities where the bases are a significant source of local jobs, although General Odierno said the Army had tried to minimize the damage. In the past year, the Army has conducted an extensive study on the economic impacts of the reductions and held community meetings across the country.

“I know in the local communities it will have its impact,” General Odierno said. But “we’ve tried to make it as small an impact as possible for as many communities as we could.”

The brigades will be cut from Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Hood, Tex.; Fort Bliss, Tex.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Representative Howard P. McKeon, the California Republican who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said that he would take a close look at the cuts. “As damaging as they are, these cuts don’t begin to reflect the crippling damage sequestration will do to our armed forces and national security,” he said in a statement. He added that “we all must understand that this is only the tip of the iceberg, much deeper cuts are still to come.”

Representative Adam Smith of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, also warned about sequestration. “Given the drawdown in Afghanistan, the Army can manage this reduction in end strength,” he said in a statement. But, he said: “The real hazard to military effectiveness will persist as long as Congress fails to act on sequestration. If sequestration is not removed, then more extensive force structure changes will need to be made.”

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The upcoming DEFCON hacking conference will have many presenters touching on a great number of subjects, including that of car hacking.

Security researcher Charlie Miller, former NSA and current Twitter employee well known for finding flaws in a variety of computer systems and programs, and Chris Valasek, Director of Security Intelligence at IOActive, are scheduled to speak about the potential security risks associated with using cars with on-board computers.

“Automotive computers, or Electronic Control Units (ECU), were originally introduced to help with fuel efficiency and emissions problems of the 1970s but evolved into integral parts of in-car entertainment, safety controls, and enhanced automotive functionality. This presentation will examine some controls in two modern automobiles from a security researcher’s point of view,” the two said in the presentation abstract.

“We will first cover the requisite tools and software needed to analyze a Controller Area Network (CAN) bus. Secondly, we will demo software to show how data can be read and written to the CAN bus. Then we will show how certain proprietary messages can be replayed by a device hooked up to an ODB-II connection to perform critical car functionality, such as braking and steering. Finally, we’ll discuss aspects of reading and modifying the firmware of ECUs installed in today’s modern automobile.”

Although definitely not the first ones to tackle the subject, the issue is slowly gaining prominence as more and more cars have such a system on board and are connected to the Internet.

Coincidentally, the recent tragic death of noted journalist Michael Hastings – and the (still unclear) circumstances of which have given rise to many theories about whether the death was accidental or the result of foul play – has also brought attention to the subject of car hacking.

Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke has shared with The Huffington Post his thoughts on whether it’s possible and likely that such an attack resulted in Hastings’ untimely death.

He thinks that publicly known details about the crash and burn of Hastings’ car are consistent with a car cyber attack, but that it’s impossible to tell whether it really happened that way.

“What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it’s relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn’t want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn’t want the brakes on, to launch an air bag,” he said, but pointed out that even if the onboard computers hadn’t melted in the fire that enveloped the car that crashed into the tree, the Los Angeles Police Department likely wouldn’t have the expertise to trace such an attack.

“I think you’d probably need the very best of the U.S. government intelligence or law enforcement officials to discover it. So if there were a cyber attack on the car – and I’m not saying there was – I think whoever did it would probably get away with it,” he concluded.

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LOS ANGELES ( — A fifth suspect was arrested earlier this week in an alleged Macy’s gift card scheme, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Friday.

Richard Reye Duenas was booked Wednesday at the Los Angeles County Walnut Sherriff’s Station in connection with alleged theft of gift cards valued at $218,000 from over 40 Macy’s stores across California, according to authorities.

Duenas was wanted by authorities since he was charged on Jan. 25, 2012 with one count of grand theft, one count of conspiracy to commit fraud, three counts of acquiring access card account information to commit grand theft and nine counts of access card forgery in connection with gift card fraud associated with Macy’s Department Store, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said.

The investigation began after Duenas was pulled over by Lakewood Sheriff’s station deputies on Dec. 6, 2010 for a traffic violation. He was arrested for being resistive, officials said. Deputies found 16 fraudulent Macy’s gift cards during the search of his vehicle.

A subsequent investigation by the LASD’s Commercial Crimes Bureau determined Duenas was obtaining gift card account numbers and associated PIN codes, which he utilized to prepare forged gift cards through inactive cards stolen from Macy’s Department stores.

“The forged Macy’s Department Store gift cards were sold at street level to consumers by Richard Reyes Duenas’ associates,” LA Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. “The fraudulent gift cards were also utilized by Richard Reyes Duenas, and his associates, to make Macy’s Department Store purchases of Apple electronics.”

Duenas’ four associates — Justin Delgadillo, Noemi Fuentefria, Geovani Vega, Daniel Alvarez — were arrested on May 16 and May 17, 2012.

Delgadillo was charged with one count grand theft, one count conspiracy to commit fraud and ten counts access card forgery; Fuentefria was charged with one count grand theft, one count conspiracy to commit fraud, seven counts access card forgery and one count access card sales; Vega was charged with one count grand theft, one count conspiracy, four counts access card forgery and one count of acquiring access card account information to commit grand theft; and Alvarez was charged with one count grand theft and one count conspiracy.

All four have been successfully prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, authorities said.

At time of their arrests, Duenas remained outstanding.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department was contacted and arrested him after the Commercial Crimes Bureau received information he was residing in Nevada.

Duenas waived extradition and was transported to Los Angeles Wednesday.

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Armed police officers will be on the University of Oregon campus when students return to Eugene in the fall.

The state Board of Higher Education voted unanimously Friday to allow officers with the newly formedUniversity of Oregon Police Department to carry guns.

University president Mike Gottfredson said armed officers are needed to ensure the safety and security of students and employees. The panel agreed, but board member Jim Francesconi warned that Portland has been divided by several controversial police shootings in the past decade.

If such an incident happens on campus, “it is going to be incredibly traumatic,” said Francesconi, a former Portland city commissioner and mayoral candidate.

University officers now carry batons, pepper spray and restraints, and call city of Eugene police if more powerful weapons are needed. School officials say officers must have guns to confront an active shooter and to safely perform routine police tasks, such as conducting traffic stops and transporting suspects to jail.

Most public four-year schools in the United State have campus police, according to a 2008 survey by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The survey also found that 88 percent had sworn officers and 76 percent had armed officers.

“It’s very standard for campuses of our size, we have close to 25,000 students, to have a police department,” said Jamie Moffitt, UO vice president for finance and administration.

But it hasn’t been standard in Oregon. The state’s seven public universities did not have the authority to create campus departments until 2011, when the University of Oregon asked the state Legislature to change the law.

None of the other six universities has approached the board about developing an armed police force. OregonState University, Oregon’s Pac-12 Conference rival, contracts to have armed state troopers provide police service on its Corvallis campus.

Before July 2011, the University of Oregon had a similar arrangement with Eugene Police Department. The city officers, who had guns, did not provide 24-hour coverage and the contract stipulated that they could leave campus to answer higher-priority calls in Eugene.

With enrollment growing and the city confronting budget problems, the university decided its own sworn police force would better serve the 295-acre campus. The university police department expects to have about 25 sworn officers when fully staffed. It has already purchased 20 Glock handguns.

Though no opponents of an armed police force traveled to Portland for Friday’s meeting, the idea is notuniversally embraced. More than three-quarters of the students who voted in a 2011 campus referendum said the department should remain without sworn officers or access to firearms.

Comments submitted more recently to the university note that the campus has little violent crime. “I cannot recall any incident where I felt that the situation would have turned out better if only someone with a gun would have gotten there sooner,” wrote an opponent identified as a graduate student.

The police department, led by Chief Carolyn McDermed, spent the past year conducting campus forums to ease concerns ranging from racial profiling to the potential chilling of free expression.

Sam Dotters-Katz, the incoming student body president, won his election despite his strong support for armed officers. He said student safety is the “most important promise” the university can make to parents and a ride-along with officers showed him the challenges.

“It’s a contentious issue,” Dotters-Katz said. “And I’ll tell you this, my two vice presidents don’t support the arming of the OPD, and I do.

“I don’t make any statements that this is the clear opinion of the student body,” he added. “This is my opinion because of what I’ve seen and what I’ve learned about the complex security needs we face.”

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A 16-year-old and three 14-year-old boys have been charged after the attempted theft of a wooden sailboat from Halifax harbour early Thursday morning.

A security guard at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic told Halifax Regional Police he spotted the boat — called the Dorothea — making its way towards Dartmouth around 3:15 a.m. The boat had previously been tied up on the Halifax side of the harbour.

The boat was intercepted by a fire crew in the harbour. Once on land, four teens were arrested and charged with theft over $5,000, possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 and taking a vessel without consent.

One of the 14-year-old boys also faces an extra charge of breaching court orders.

The Nova Scotia Sea School, which owns the Dorothea, said the boat has a few scrapes but it could’ve been worse.

“They didn’t have any night navigational lights,” said Heather Kelday, the executive director of the Nova Scotia Sea School.

“There are rules of the road on the harbour. It’s hard to predict what could have happened.”

The Dorothea, a 30-feet spritsail, ketch-rigged pulling boat, was modelled on the Sable Island surfboats that used to transport people and gear from tall ships to the shores of Sable Island.

It was built by 15 teenagers in the 1990s and continues to be used to train young people how to sail.

“That is, in a lot of ways, why it is such an interesting piece to us. It was teenagers — teenagers that we would want to come in our program,” said Kelday.

Tracy Oakley, a security supervisor on the Halifax waterfront, said boats are irresistible for some troublemakers.

“Bit of daredevil thing, I think. Someone wants that thrill, middle of the night,” she said.

The Dorothea is now secured to the dock with a padlock.

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United States Attorney James L. Santelle announced today that David J. Langemak, age 41, formerly of Plymouth, Wisconsin, and former bank president of Community Bank and Trust (CB&T), Plymouth Branch, was indicted June 18, 2013, on 18 counts of wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344 (2). If convicted, Landemak faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine on each count.

The indictment alleges that Langemak, while employed as president of CB&T, made unauthorized withdrawals that totaled approximately $250,000 from the accounts of various bank customers for the benefit of a single unrelated bank customer.

The case was investigated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Small Business Administration-Office of the Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Carol L. Kraft.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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