Pelosi Doubles Down on IRS Looking Into Bank Transactions

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has doubled down on a provision in the Democrats’ multi-trillion-dollar reconciliation bill that would allow the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to see information on all Americans’ bank transactions totaling $600 or more. Republicans and banks have raised the alarm about the provision, reporting that their constituents and clients are deeply concerned about the proposal.

Since the introduction of their reconciliation bill, Democrats have insisted that the bill will not add to the debt or the deficit, claiming that all new spending in the bill will be paid for.

Along with significantly increasing marginal tax rates to pay for the bill, Democrats proposed and wrote into the bill a section to allow the IRS to gather Americans’ private information from banks, including information on all transactions totaling more than $600.

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Government Eyes In the Sky

In August 2016, Bloomberg Businessweek revealed the existence of a pilot program being operated by the Baltimore Police Department in which small manned aircraft circled over the city all day, using cameras to continuously photograph a 32-square-mile area and giving police the ability to retroactively track any vehicle or pedestrian within that area. It was the ultimate Big Brother “eye in the sky”—and yet the Baltimore police had not notified the public or even the mayor or city council about the program. Revelation of the secret program generated a storm of controversy, and eventually it was put on hold—though in December 2019, the city’s police commissioner announced that the program would be revived.

The technology behind the Baltimore program involves pointing multiple cameras toward the ground and stitching those images together into a single, larger photograph. It also uses computers to automatically correct for the changing camera angles of the circling planes as well as factors such as topographic variances and lens distortion.

The result is a surveillance system of enormous power, able to reconstruct the movements of all visible vehicles and pedestrians across a city—where they start and finish each journey and the paths they take in between. It can allow tracking of a great proportion of people’s movements throughout a city.

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LAPD Orders Cops To Collect Social Media Data On Every Single Person They Stop

Los Angeles police officers have been directed to collect social media information on every civilian they interview, including people who haven’t been arrested or accused of a crime, according to the Guardian, citing leaked records.

According to the report, “field interview cards” used by LAPD officers contain instructions to record a civilian’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other social media accounts – along with basic biographical information. Chief Michael Moore has reportedly told cops to collect the data for use in “investigations, arrests, and prosecutions,” and has warned officers that the cards will be audited by supervisors to ensure they’re filled out completely.

“There are real dangers about police having all of this social media identifying information at their fingertips,” said Rachel Levinson-Waldman, a deputy director at the Brennan Center for Justice, which obtained the documents.

The Brennan Center conducted a review of 40 other police agencies in the US and was unable to find another department that required social media collection on interview cards (though many have not publicly disclosed copies of the cards). The organization also obtained records about the LAPD’s social media surveillance technologies, which have raised questions about the monitoring of activist groups including Black Lives Matter. -Guardian

Monitoring of social media accounts began in 2015, when the LAPD’s interview cards contained a line for “social media accounts.”

“Similar to a nickname or an alias, a person’s online persona or identity used for social media … can be highly beneficial to investigations,” wrote former LAPD Chief, Charlie Beck.

According to the LA Timesover half of civilians stopped by LAPD and had their personal details taken were not arrested or cited. Last October, criminal charges were filed against three officers in the LAPD’s metro division for using cards to falsely label civilians as gang members once they were stopped.

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Court Ruling Strips Apartment Dwellers Of Fourth Amendment Rights – Leaves Hallways Open To Warrantless Police Surveillance & Arrests

Pushing back against a lower court ruling that leaves apartment dwellers vulnerable to warrantless surveillance and arrests, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the hallways outside apartments are protected curtilage which police may not invade without a warrant or a resident’s consent. In an amicus brief filed in Sorenson v. Massachusetts, Rutherford Institute attorneys argue that just as the “curtilage” of detached homes are off-limits to police without a warrant, areas immediately adjacent to an apartment should also be considered protected curtilage under the Fourth Amendment.

Affiliate attorneys David J. Feder, Nathaniel P. Garrett, and Jeremy R. Kauffman of Jones Day in California assisted in advancing the arguments in the Sorenson brief.

“As James Otis recognized, ‘A man’s house is his castle.’ Whether that castle takes the form of an apartment, a humble hut, or a mansion is not the issue,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “Privacy should not depend on your home’s square footage. The Fourth Amendment forcefield that protects against warrantless government invasions and surveillance does not discriminate.”

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The NSA’s Inspector General Opens Investigation Into Allegations of Illegal Spying on Tucker Carlson

The independent watchdog agency which investigates potential wrongdoing by the National Security Agency (NSA) announced on Tuesday morning that it has opened an investigation into “recent allegations that the NSA improperly targeted the communications of a member of the U.S. news media.” Though the oversight unit, the NSA’s Office of the Inspector General, did not specify the journalist in question, the statement leaves no doubt that the investigation pertains to news reports that the identity of Fox News host Tucker Carlson had been improperly “unmasked” and illegally revealed within the intelligence community.

The NSA’s Inspector General, Robert P. Storch, is a long-time Executive Branch functionary. He was first appointed to this position by President Obama in 2016 but failed to receive Senate confirmation. He was then re-appointed by President Trump in 2018 and the Senate then confirmed him. A widely respected bureaucrat in Washington, he also previously served as deputy Inspector General in Obama’s Justice Department, and, prior to that, was a federal prosecutor. It is, to put it mildly, difficult to imagine him opening an investigation into frivolous allegations.

The scandal began when Carlson announced on his show in late June that he had heard from a source inside the government that the NSA was in possession of his communications, as proven by their knowledge of what he was doing. The NSA then issued a meaningless non-denial denial, insisting that the Fox host “has never been an intelligence target of the Agency.” Even Fox’s critics acknowledge the irrelevance of that claim: there are many ways for the NSA to spy on an American citizen without having them be a formal “target” of the agency. In a follow-up interview on Fox, Carlson said he was told by a second source that the NSA had discovered his attempts to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin and viewed leaking of that information as potentially damaging to his reputation.

Corporate media outlets largely sided with the NSA, mocking Carlson for being conspiratorial and even accusing him of fabricating a story. One might think that journalists would have more interest in finding out whether the NSA was abusing their powers to discredit a journalist than cheering the security state for partisan reasons, but one would be wrong. Disdain for Carlson’s claims were widespread in media circles.

But Carlson’s concerns appeared to be at least partially corroborated when Axios’ Jonathan Swan reported that “U.S. government officials learned about Carlson’s efforts to secure the Putin interview.” Though Swan emphasized that none of this meant that the NSA was targeting Carlson for surveillance or even that his communications had been “incidentally” collected — meaning that the NSA read his emails or heard his conversations because he was communicating with one of their targets — their knowledge of Carlson’s activities raised the question of whether Carlson’s identity had been “unmasked” by the agency. As Swan wrote:

In order to know that the texts and emails were Carlson’s, a U.S. government official would likely have to request his identity be unmasked, something that’s only permitted if the unmasking is necessary to understand the intelligence.

When the NSA learns about the communications or activities of an American citizen without having a warrant from the FISA court to spy on that person, they are required by law to engage in “minimization” efforts to protect the privacy of that citizen. In particular, when preparing reports involving such spying, they are required to conceal — to “mask” — the identity of the American about whom they learned information, referring to them only by a generic title sufficient to describe their work or status without revealing their specific identity (e.g., “an American journalist” or “a business executive”).

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Victory! Fourth Circuit Rules Baltimore’s Warrantless Aerial Surveillance Program Unconstitutional

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled last week that Baltimore’s use of aerial surveillance that could track the movements of the entire city violated the Fourth Amendment.

The case, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle v. Baltimore Police Department, challenged the Baltimore Police Department’s (BPD) use of an aerial surveillance program that continuously captured an estimated 12 hours of coverage of 90 percent of the city each day for a six-month pilot period. EFF, joined by the Brennan Center for Justice, Electronic Privacy Information Center, FreedomWorks, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Rutherford Institute, filed an amicus brief arguing that the two previous court decisions upholding the constitutionality of the program misapplied Supreme Court precedent and failed to recognize the disproportionate impact of surveillance, like Baltimore’s program, on communities of color.

In its decision, the full Fourth Circuit found that BPD’s use and analysis of its Aerial Investigation Research (AIR) data was a warrantless search that violated the Fourth Amendment. Relying on the Supreme Court’s decisions in United States v. Jones and United States v. Carpenter, the Fourth Circuit held that Carpenter—which ruled that cell-site location information was protected under the Fourth Amendment and thus may only be obtained with a warrant—applied “squarely” to this case. The Fourth Circuit explained that the district court had misapprehended the extent of what the AIR program could do. The district court believed that the program only engaged in short-term tracking. However, the Fourth Circuit clarified that, like the cell-site location information tracking in Carpenter, the AIR program’s detailed data collection and 45-day retention period gave BPD the ability to chronicle movements in a “detailed, encyclopedic” record, akin to “attaching an ankle monitor to every person in the city.”

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Microsoft exec: Targeting of Americans’ records ‘routine’

 Federal law enforcement agencies secretly seek the data of Microsoft customers thousands of times a year, according to congressional testimony Wednesday by a senior executive at the technology company.

Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for customer security and trust, told members of the House Judiciary Committee that federal law enforcement in recent years has been presenting the company with between 2,400 to 3,500 secrecy orders a year, or about seven to 10 a day.

“Most shocking is just how routine secrecy orders have become when law enforcement targets an American’s email, text messages or other sensitive data stored in the cloud,” said Burt, describing the widespread clandestine surveillance as a major shift from historical norms.

The relationship between law enforcement and Big Tech has attracted fresh scrutiny in recent weeks with the revelation that Trump-era Justice Department prosecutors obtained as part of leak investigations phone records belonging not only to journalists but also to members of Congress and their staffers. Microsoft, for instance, was among the companies that turned over records under a court order, and because of a gag order, had to then wait more than two years before disclosing it.

Since then, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, called for an end to the overuse of secret gag orders, arguing in a Washington Post opinion piece that “prosecutors too often are exploiting technology to abuse our fundamental freedoms.” Attorney General Merrick Garland, meanwhile, has said the Justice Department will abandon its practice of seizing reporter records and will formalize that stance soon.

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NSA Reveals in FOIA Response that the FBI Involved in “Improper Surveillance” of 16,000 Americans

Then on January 6, after one million Trump supporters rallied with President Trump at the Ellipse outside the White House, some 900 individuals went inside the US Capitol. Over 400 have since been arrested, including those who were waved into the US Capitol by the police standing at the exits.

Since January, the Deep State and Democrats will not release videotapes to Republican lawmakers from January 6th inside or outside the US Capitol.

Earlier this week Revolver News published an important piece on the “unindicted co-conspirators” in the Jan. 6 attack who were never charged by the DOJ or FBI for their part in the violence on Jan. 6.

The “unindicted co-conspirators” were frequently the most violent and leaders of the assault on the US Capitol. They are also likely FBI informants.

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FBI demands info on readers of USA Today story about agents killed in child porn raid

The FBI is demanding that newspaper giant Gannett hand over identifying information on readers of a USA Today story about a suspect in a child porn case who killed two agents in February.

Federal investigators served the company with a subpoena in April seeking the IP addresses and phone numbers of the people who accessed a news article, between 8:03 a.m. and 8:38 a.m. on Feb. 2, about the Florida shooting that left two FBI agents dead and three others wounded.

The information sought by the feds, “relates to a federal criminal investigation being conducted by the FBI,” according to the subpoena.

Gannett, the publisher of the paper, fought back against the order in federal court on May 27, claiming the demand is unconstitutional and in violation of the Department of Justice’s policy for subpoenaing information from the press.

“A government demand for records that would identify specific individuals who read specific expressive materials, like the Subpoena at issue here, invades the First Amendment rights of both publisher and reader, and must be quashed accordingly,” Garnett lawyers wrote in the motion, made public Wednesday.

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Pentagon collecting Americans’ phone data without warrants and hiding details, senator says

U.S. federal agencies including the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have been purchasing access to large databases of phone location data and hiding their motives in what Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) described as “warrantless surveillance” of Americans.

In a Thursday letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Wyden called on Austin to declassify all answers about the Department of Defense’s data collection practices. Wyden noted that of eight questions he raised with the DoD, he received unclassified answers to three questions, while the answers to the five remaining questions were offered in a classified manner.

“In February 2020, media reports revealed that U.S. government agencies are buying location data obtained from apps on Americans’ phones and are doing so without any kind of legal process, sich as a court order,” Wyden wrote. “I have spent the last year investigating the shady, unregulated data brokers that are selling this data and the government agencies that are buying it. My investigation confirmed the warrantless purchase of American’s location data by the Internal Revenue Service, Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).”

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