Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Allegations arise of abuses of power and wrongdoing in a subordinate agency of a Cabinet department, which then conducts an investigation that lays the blame on a few low-level staffers and then insists that any further debate on the issue is nothing more than a “phony scandal.” The State Department did that with Benghazi, Treasury (or at least the White House’s spin on the IG report) with the IRS, and the Department of Justice with Operation Fast and Furious. The DoJ will now take a second spin on the Wheel Of Scapegoats by launching its own investigation into the DEA’s alleged widespread spying:
The US Department of Justice has launched an investigation into revelations that the Drug Enforcement Agency uses surveillance tactics – including wiretapping and massive databases of telephone records – to arrest Americans, amid growing concerns from lawyers and civil rights groups over its lack of transparency.
In a related story, the Obama Department of Agriculture has now announced that foxes make good guards of henhouses.
Security researchers tonight are poring over a piece of malicious software that takes advantage of a Firefox security vulnerability to identify some users of the privacy-protecting Tor anonymity network.
The malware showed up Sunday morning on multiple websites hosted by the anonymous hosting company Freedom Hosting. That would normally be considered a blatantly criminal “drive-by” hack attack, but nobody’s calling in the FBI this time. The FBI is the prime suspect.
“It just sends identifying information to some IP in Reston, Virginia,” says reverse-engineer Vlad Tsyrklevich. “It’s pretty clear that it’s FBI or it’s some other law enforcement agency that’s U.S.-based.
TOR has some big problems, because some people who don’t want their activities to come to light aren’t doing so out of concerns of privacy, but criminality. This story, however, falls in a pattern of spying by the fedgov that keeps looking more and more ominous, like how the DEA is using NSA snooping for their own purposes – from Huffpo:
WASHINGTON, Aug 5 (Reuters) – A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.
Lavabit announced today that it would shut down its encrypted email service rather than “become complicit in crimes against the American people.” Lavabit did not say what it had been asked to do, only that it was legally prohibited from sharing the events leading to its decision.
Lavabit was an email provider, apparently used by Edward Snowden along with other privacy sensitive users, with an avowed mission to offer an “e-mail service that never sacrifices privacy for profits” and promised to “only release private information if legally compelled by the courts in accordance with the United States Constitution.”
And how the fedgov is demanding your passwords (from CNET):
The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users’ stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.
Of course, with the Associated Press being spied on, reporter James Rosen and reporter Sharyl Attkisson being targeted, this isn’t really a surprise. The Obama administration uses every tool to target opponents, and the Constitution and its protections are meaningless to them.