Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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NOTE: I'm going to take a few days off. Be back Monday, June 24th. - Mike
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Community Safety Act / Independent I.G. for Department
Quinn Outmaneuvers Vallone
NYPD IG Bill Moving; DEA: It’s Bad Timing
By MARK TOOR — Monday, June 17th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said last week that she expected to bring bills creating an NYPD Inspector General and expanding the definition of police profiling to a vote in the next few weeks.
She said June 10 that she had found a way around a roadblock thrown up by Public Safety Committee Chair Peter F. Vallone Jr., who is unalterably opposed to the profiling bill. He has refused to hold hearings on the bills, which are generally required before a vote of the full Council, as long as their sponsors insist they be heard together.
‘Can Bypass Committee’
The sponsors of the two bills, Council Members Jumaane Williams and Brad Landers, submitted petitions on the bills at the end of last week, Mr. Williams's office said. “Once passed by the Council, these motions will allow the bills to bypass the committee,” an aide to Ms. Quinn said in an e-mail.
Meanwhile, Detectives Endowment Association President Michael J. Palladino sent a letter June 12 to all Council Members asking them to hold off on the IG bill, the profiling bill and two other that are part of the Community Safety Act.
“These bills are premature and dangerous: creating what amounts to a ‘presumption’ that any encounter with the police, whether it is a stop, a summons, or an arrest situation, was based in bias, subjecting hardworking officers to frivolous lawsuits at a costly expense to taxpayers,” he wrote.
The bills would have a “chilling effect” on policing, he said, “which ultimately will compromise the safety of all New Yorkers and the cops who risk their lives trying to protect them...”
‘Not in City’s Interests’
“During this highly-charged period in the midst of a citywide election which will bring in a new administration, and amidst a Federal lawsuit challenging the NYPD stop-and-frisk program, to act on this legislation now would not be in the best interests of our city or its citizens,” Mr. Palladino wrote “...We urge the sponsors to respectfully withdraw their legislation or, at the very least, await the decisions of the voters and the Federal court.”
The Inspector General bill would create independent oversight for the NYPD, which is the only large city agency without one. Mayor Bloomberg and other opponents say the department already has sufficient oversight and that an IG would confuse the chain of command.
The profiling bill would replace the current bill outlawing racial and ethnic profiling—which civil libertarians say is so vague as to be unenforceable—with one outlawing profiling based on a wide variety of demographic factors including gender, homeless and immigration status.
Fear Impact on Safety
People who feel they were wrongly profiled could sue in state court not for damages, but for an order stopping the police actions that were taken against them. Opponents said it would cost the city millions and allow judges to micromanage the Police Department. Mr. Vallone said it would discourage officers from doing police work and could cost city residents their lives.
The other two bills in the Community Safety Act would require officers to obtain proof of consent to conduct a search of someone they stop and add new requirements for them to identify themselves.
The Community Safety Act was introduced after Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly refused for more than a year to meet with Council Members and community leaders who opposed the way the NYPD was conducting its stop-and-frisk policy.
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NOTE: A somewhat related article, pertaining to Quinn's political skills — that is non-police related — appears in today's N.Y. Times.
Quinn’s History of Mastering the Insiders’ Game
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
If you are interested in reading it, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/18/nyregion/for-quinn-a-long-history-of-playing-the-insiders-game.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130618&pagewanted=print
NYPD Communications Div. Embarrassment: ICAD / Unified Call Taking System Stupidity and Incompetence
Mayor’s Consultant: Revamped 911 Setup ‘A Complete Failure’
By SARAH DORSEY — Monday, June 17th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
COMMENT: Boob Management! Didn't Kelly just promote Charles Dowd to Assistant Chief on April 26 for a job well done? Go figure. - Mike Bosak
In a scathing series of draft reports, the outside consultants hired by Mayor Bloomberg to review his 911 system overhaul found in 2011 that the system initiated two years earlier—which is still in use today—was “dangerous” to citizens and first-responders, and that it introduced “new, unacceptable risks” for them.
The report, produced by Winbourne & Costas, was especially harsh about the Unified Call Taking system, a portion of the overhaul that reassigned all calls—including fire emergencies—to NYPD dispatchers, who now forward information to the Fire Department electronically. The fire unions obtained the Winbourne drafts last week after suing for them as part of a public-safety challenge to UCT before the Board of Collective Bargaining.
A Mess From the Start
While the consultants maintain that a properly-implemented UCT program can significantly improve emergency response, they said the city’s version failed because it was poorly planned, inefficiently run, and lacked a clear command structure.
Major errors in the new system’s electronic mapping of city addresses posed a “significant risk to successful public-safety operations,” the consultants said. They confirmed the fire unions’ repeated complaints that wrong addresses, unclear information, and miscoding of incidents have hampered the efforts of FDNY responders since the revamp.
The authors also echoed complaints by Fire Alarm Dispatchers Benevolent Association President Faye Smyth, who told THE CHIEF-LEADER last year that her members were inundated with extra computer screens’ worth of information. Ms. Smyth said the extraneous notes, which are poorly organized, hampered response efforts during Hurricane Sandy.
The Winbourne report found that under UCT, Fire Dispatchers saw a 124-percent increase in informational screens, and that “the design and configuration of the UCT interface does not meet the requirements that allow for Fire Dispatch to operate in an efficient and accurate manner.”
Faults Police/Fire Schism
Earlier versions of the report, which was revised several times during the summer of 2011, were damningly worded, though later versions were also harsh. In notes prepared in April 2011 for Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, the authors called UCT “a complete failure,” and wrote, “The dysfunctional relationship between NYPD & FDNY concerning the 9-1-1 system is dangerous to everyone and requires immediate attention.”
“NYPD thinks they own the 9-1-1 system,” the authors added, calling for teamwork between the two agencies and proper governance between them.
The consultants also contended that dispatchers weren’t trained properly, writing that two years after the overhaul, “no person from either dispatch center understands how the UCT interface works.”
“In this case, a huge waste of tax revenue was expended on a failed project,” they concluded.
Later drafts were somewhat more diplomatically phrased, but by August 2011, the consultants still described the UCT system as creating “new unacceptable risks for both first responders and citizens that have yet to be resolved.”
Blue, Red and Redundant
Ten years after the Sept. 11 attacks prompted experts to recommend better collaboration between city first-responding agencies, the consultants wrote that there was “little to no collaboration and cooperation” between the NYPD and FDNY, either during normal daily 911 operations or during major crises. They said that response times were increased by a “disorganized” system that often left NYPD and FDNY operators performing redundant operations.
The authors also slammed the city for its financial management of the project. In a June draft, they said the UCT system “fail[ed]” in part because the administration didn’t properly plan for the change. The Mayor failed to do a cost-benefit analysis or return-on-investment research before the project was implemented, they said, and didn’t identify any baseline performance standards to measure the new system against.
They faulted the city for consulting expert contractors and then refusing to follow their recommendations, and accused the administration of providing statistical analysis to demonstrate the success of the project that were “erroneous and provide[d] no value regarding the effectiveness of UCT-related business processes.”
‘No Meaningful Analysis’
“In essence, over $19 million was spent on the UCT project without exploring any of the available options in advance,” the consultants wrote in one of the last of many drafts, which totaled more than 5,000 pages altogether. They added that “had any meaningful operational analysis been completed,” the city could have avoided many of the pitfalls.
An FDNY spokesman declined comment on the report, but Uniformed Fire Officers Association President Alexander Hagan said that none of the report’s recommendations had yet been implemented.
“Our entire organization feels vindicated in our quest to expose the truth,” he said. “We knew [UCT] was dangerous for our members. I’m positive that it also jeopardizes the lives of our brave police officers and not least, it seriously jeopardizes the safety and lives of the citizens. And if for no other reason than our ability to finally expose that, we are we’re extremely gratified that we didn’t give up the pursuit.”
Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy, who led the fight to obtain the report, said, “Starting in 2011 the Bloomberg Administration denied this taxpayer-funded report existed. The UFA fought for two years to force the administration to produce the report because it highlights the numerous flaws in the 9-1-1 system. The report shows that the Fire Commissioner’s testimony to the City Council over the past four years, in relation to response times, has been rendered false.”
Mr. Bloomberg ordered the 911 system revamped after an August 2003 blackout, when a lack of backup power left the city’s four emergency call centers incapable of handling a flood of extra calls. Fire, Police, and EMS dispatchers are now all located in a single Brooklyn building, with a backup center still to be completed.
Exposed by Blizzard
During the Dec. 26, 2010 blizzard, however, the system failed to handle the high volume of emergency calls, prompting the Mayor to order the consultant’s report.
He released a final version to the public in May 2012, which was critical of the UCT system but was then widely rumored to be sanitized. A Second Circuit Court of Appeals panel in April ordered the earlier drafts released to the fire unions in their entirety.
Editorial: 911 Mismanagement
By RICHARD STEIER — Monday, June 17th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
After two years of stalling, the Bloomberg administration last week was finally forced to turn over to the fire unions copies of a 2011 draft report produced by a consultant, Winbourne & Costas, it had hired to examine the Mayor’s overhaul of the city’s 911 system. A review of its contents makes clear that the administration’s resistance was an attempt to save face because the consultant found that what had been installed was an unwieldy and costly system that decreased safety, while also taking issue with the lack of teamwork between the Police and Fire departments in handling emergency communications.
Try these excerpts of the report: “The dysfunctional relationship between NYPD and FDNY concerning the 9-1-1 system is dangerous to everyone and requires immediate attention.” “NYPD thinks they own the 9-1-1 system.” “...no person from either dispatch center understands how the UCT interface works.” “In this case, a huge waste of tax revenue was expended on a failed project.”
The consultants also found that because of “little to no collaboration and cooperation” between the two agencies, response times were increased by a “disorganized” system in which Police and Fire department operators were performing the same work. The report’s authors also faulted Mayor Bloomberg for failing to do a cost-benefit analysis or identify baseline performance standards against which to measure the new system before it was implemented.
Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy and Uniformed Fire Officers Association leader Al Hagan said the report confirmed the criticisms they had made the past couple of years about the system’s flaws and the danger it posed.
Aside from the technological blundering that has become astonishingly familiar in an administration headed by a man who made his fortune in that area, the biggest cause for concern is the finding that FDNY/NYPD turf wars have hindered implementation of a smooth emergency-response protocol.
We would have hoped that in the wake of the findings about such turf wars contributing to problems on 9/11 that led to hundreds of firefighters not getting orders to evacuate the World Trade Center shortly before the second tower crumbled, Mr. Bloomberg would have ensured the issue was seriously addressed. That has not been the case, judging by the consultant’s findings.
Hypocrisy on High / Mr. ‘Transparency’ Himself Pontificates
‘It should not be a secret’: Ray Kelly rips feds phone & Web snooping
By JENNIFER BAIN — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
NOTE: Last year, Kelly, himself was roundly criticized for his secrecy of NYPD's Counterterrorism's surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey and elsewhere. - Mike Bosak
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly launched a stinging rebuke to the federal government’s secret phone- and Internet-monitoring campaign — and suggested leaker Edward Snowden was right about privacy “abuse.”
“I don’t think it ever should have been made secret,” Kelly said yesterday, breaking ranks with other US law-enforcement officials.
His blast came days after the Obama administration and US Attorney General Eric Holder outraged New York authorities by endorsing a federal monitor for the NYPD.
Kelly appeared to firmly reject Holder’s claim that disclosure of the monitoring campaign seriously damaged efforts to fight terrorism.
“I think the American public can accept the fact if you tell them that every time you pick up the phone, it’s going to be recorded and it goes to the government,” Kelly said. “I think the public can understand that. I see no reason why that program was placed in the secret category.
“Secondly, I think if you listen to Snowden, he indicates that there’s some sort of malfeasance, people . . . sitting around and watching the data.
“So I think the question is: What sort of oversight is there inside the [National Security Agency] to prevent that abuse, if it’s taking place?”
Kelly has been on the receiving end of just that kind of criticism. The NYPD secretly spied on Muslim organizations, infiltrated Muslim student groups and videotaped mosque goers in New Jersey for years, it was revealed in 2012. The NYPD said its actions were lawful and kept the city safe.
After the vast federal phone/Internet-monitoring program was revealed, President Obama said he had struck the right balance between ensuring security and protecting privacy.
But yesterday, Kelly indicated Obama was wrong.
“I think we can raise people’s comfort level if, in fact, information comes out as to that we have these controls and these protections inside the NSA,” he said.
Kelly’s allies viewed his criticism as payback for Holder’s decision to recommend — at the tail end of a controversial court case — that a federal monitor oversee the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program.
“Everything that Ray Kelly does has a purpose,” said City Council Public Safety Chairman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens).
In an interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose that aired last night, Obama said that the NSA has not tapped the phones of American citizens.
“What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a US person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your e-mails,” the president said.
Obama also said he is seeking to declassify information about the NSA programs.
“What I’ve asked the intelligence community to do is see how much of this we can declassify without further compromising the program,” he said.
Additional reporting by Carl Campanile
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly criticizes NSA secrecy over phone records collection
Kelly said Americans would accept the program revealed by leaker Edward Snowden if they were told up front.
By Barry Paddock AND Stephen Rex Brown — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly criticized the secrecy surrounding the National Security Agency on Monday, saying Americans would likely be comfortable knowing their conversations are monitored.
“I don't think it ever should have been made secret. I think the American public can accept the fact if you tell them that every time you pick up the phone it's going to be recorded and goes to the government,” Kelly said at an event dedicating two new harbor patrol boats.
“I think the public can understand that.”
Top-secret NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden this month revealed the NSA gathers revealing data on phone calls in bulk, but does not actually listen in on the conversations themselves.
Kelly also called for more oversight of the NSA if Snowden’s allegations that the surveillance system is ripe for abuse are true.
“The question is ‘What sort of oversight is there inside the NSA to prevent that abuse, if it's taking place?’” Kelly said.
More transparency about the checks governing what analysts can monitor would help put the public at ease, he added.
“We can raise people's comfort level ... that we have these controls and these protections inside the NSA,” Kelly said.
Snowden’s leaks regarding the gathering of call data as well as the government’s access to the servers of major Internet companies have spurred a debate on the trade-offs between national security and personal privacy.
Though Monday was the first time Kelly publicly expressed his opinion on NSA surveillance, he’s no stranger to the issues it involves.
The NYPD has faced withering criticism since last year, when it was revealed Kelly dispatched undercover officers into Muslim communities in an effort to uncover terrorism plots.
Critics said the practice amounted to racial profiling and was unconstitutional given that many of the people monitored were not suspected of wrongdoing.
On Tuesday, the New York Civil Liberties Union and other civil liberties groups will announce a legal action pertaining to the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims.
NYPD Stop, Question and Frisk Search / Justice Dept. Monitor
Mayor Vehemently Opposed
Justice Dept.: Monitor Could Cure Stop/Frisk
By MARK TOOR — Monday, June 17th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
The U.S. Department of Justice gave Judge Shira A. Scheindlin some advice last week as she decides a class-action lawsuit in Manhattan Federal Court challenging stop-and-frisk: if you find the NYPD needs one, appointing a Federal monitor would be a fine thing to do.
In a “statement of interest” filed just before the period for written comments in Floyd vs. New York expired June 13, the department said it was not taking sides on whether the Police Department was violating the constitutional rights of New Yorkers by the way it carries out its policy of stop, question and frisk.
But it said that if Judge Scheindlin decides those rights have been violated, she has the authority to grant plaintiffs’ request that she name an independent monitor to make sure whatever changes she orders in department policies are implemented.
City Lawyers Disagree
Attorneys for the city contend that such an appointment is both unauthorized and unnecessary. But DOJ said it has seen Federal monitors appointed in other cities with positive results.
“The city has argued that [appointment of a monitor] will negatively impact NYPD’s capacity to combat crime,” according to the 21-page document. “In the experience of the United States, however, reform through a court-ordered process improves public confidence, makes officers’ jobs safer, and increases the ability of the department to fight crime.”
Nonsense, replied an outraged Mayor Bloomberg, whose defense of the policy that he says helped create “the safest big city in America” has remained strident as the end of his term approaches.
‘A Terrible Idea’
“This is just a terrible idea, and it’s not needed,” he said of the proposed monitor. ”The NYPD has brought crime down in ways that nobody—nobody—thought was possible ... The NYPD has just done a spectacular job, and it just makes no sense whatsoever when lives are on the line to change the rules and hamper the Police Department from doing their job. They comply with the law; we are 100-percent confident in that.”
Opponents of the way the NYPD handles stop-and-frisk counter that too often, officers pressured by performance quotas target people for stops on the basis of their color and ethnicity. Under guidelines set by the U.S. Supreme Court, officers who stop someone must have reasonable suspicion that he or she has just been, is currently or is about to be involved in a crime.
In a second stop-and-frisk case involving privately-owned apartment buildings in The Bronx, Judge Scheindlin has already said that NYPD stops violated the rights of thousands of people. She said she would deal with remedies in that case after she decides the Floyd lawsuit. The Floyd trial ended last month, and she is expected to rule in the next several weeks.
Other Cities Got Monitors
The DOJ filing talked about independent monitors appointed in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C, Seattle, Cincinnati, Detroit and other cities. The monitors are crucial to “measuring compliance; early detection of any non-compliance; and entry of relief to correct any barriers” to implementing policy changes ordered by the court, it said. “Without an independent monitor, the court will be forced to depend on motions...to assess progress; a costly, contentious, inefficient, and time-consuming process.”
The filing responded to arguments by the city’s lawyers that the NYPD already has more than sufficient oversight from its Internal Affairs Bureau, from the District Attorneys’ Offices and from the Civilian Complaint Review Board, saying the dispute “highlights why independence in monitoring is critical. That independence allows a monitor to effectively provide credible assessments of whether the review and accountability systems within a police department are effectively promoting constitutional policing.”
Don’t Look At Big Picture
It continues, “Moreover, many of the ‘oversight’ entities cited by the city, such as Federal prosecutors, the State Attorney General, and District Attorneys, when focused on officer misconduct at all, are focused primarily on prosecuting individual instances of criminal misconduct by officers. These entities have neither the institutional focus nor the resources to review whether police officers are routinely complying with the Constitution in conducting stops and searches.”
Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, who is handling a third stop-and-frisk lawsuit pending before Judge Scheindlin, told the Wall Street Journal that the DOJ filing was a positive development “not only because it signals to Judge Scheindlin that the case before her warrants the Justice Department’s attention but also because it loudly announces to the public that NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program may be so rife with problems as to justify Federal intervention.”
Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’ Editorial:
Murder & monitors
If Eric Holder is looking for a police force that could use a federal monitor, maybe he should look in his boss’s hometown.
Last week at the last hour, the attorney general chose to insert himself in New York, where we have a trial in federal court over the constitutionality of the stop-and-frisk program. The argument is that the NYPD is violating the civil rights of minority citizens. So Holder’s Department of Justice entered a brief supporting the idea of a federal monitor for our cops, which is bound to happen because Judge Shira Scheindlin wants to do it anyway.
Meanwhile, in a city rapidly becoming known as Murder Capital USA, Chicago just experienced another bloody weekend. Forty-six people were shot, with at least seven killed. That brings the total number of killings in Chicago for this year to 171 — out of a population of 2.7 million.
Compare that with New York. We have had fewer murders (144) even though we have three times as many people.
Given these numbers, if ever there were a city crying out for a federal monitor it would seem to be Chicago. Especially if you believe that the government ought to intervene when police policies have such a disparate impact by race.
It’s hard to argue with the numbers. In Chicago, which is 45 percent white and 33 percent black, African-Americans make up 77 percent of the murder victims against only 2 percent for whites. In New York, blacks also suffer disproportionately from murder. The difference is that Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s success in bringing the murder rate down to record lows means hundreds of African-Americans in this city are alive today because of the NYPD.
If the Department of Justice’s concern is for fundamental civil liberties, it’s hard to see how there’s anything more fundamental than the right not to be murdered. Just ask the suffering citizens of Chicago.
NYPD Pensions: MOS Called Up for Active Military Duty / Dept. Had Been Under Calculating Pension Benefits
Pension boost for city vets
By BRUCE GOLDING — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
The city has agreed to recalculate pension benefits for municipal workers who lose out on overtime and other extra pay while serving in the military, the feds announced yesterday.
The proposed deal settles a class-action suit initially filed by the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office on behalf of retired NYPD Detective David Goodman, who claimed he was short-changed on his retirement income by serving four tours of duty as an Army reservist in the Mideast.
The 2010 suit accused the city of violating the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994, which bars employers from denying benefits that workers would have received if not for their military service.
Evidence uncovered during the litigation revealed that about 1,500 NYPD cops have been called up to active military duty since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the feds said.
Under the agreement, which remains subject to court approval, all eligible NYPD retirees would get pro-rated, retroactive payments and have their future pensions adjusted accordingly.
City in Pension Settlement
Lawsuit Alleged Police and Others Were Penalized From Time Spent in Military Service
By SEAN GARDINER — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
The city reached a proposed settlement agreement Monday stemming from a lawsuit filed by federal prosecutors last year alleging the New York Police Department had been under calculating pension benefits for police officers who were thrust into active military duty since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Last August, the office of Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, filed a class-action lawsuit against the city, the NYPD and the city's police pension fund alleging that since 2001 they had been calculating the pensionable earnings of police officers on active military duty based only on salaries and not estimates of the overtime and other money they would have made. The settlement also covers other city workers whose pensionable incomes weren't properly calculated, Mr. Bharara's office said.
The proposed settlement "is an important step forward in the process of ensuring that the brave men and women who unselfishly serve both their city and their country receive the pensions they have earned, will earn and under the law which they are entitled," Mr. Bharara said in a statement.
Officials didn't have an estimate for how many city workers were effected or the total amount of the under calculated pension earnings.
"The City initially disagreed with the United States' interpretation of the statute at issue; however, we believe this resolution is fair and in the best interests of the city, NYPD, and Police Pension Fund as well as the proposed class members who served our country," said Assistant Corporation Counsel Keri Reid McNally, of the city Law Department's Labor and Employment Law Division.
The lawsuit was brought under the Uniformed Services Rights Employment and Reemployment Act of 1994. U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in Manhattan must still sign off on the proposed settlement.
City to Settle Pension Suit for Workers Called to Arms
By BENJAMIN WEISER — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
New York City has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit that accused it of improperly withholding some pension benefits from police officers who were called to active military service after Sept. 11, 2001, newly filed court papers show.
The settlement would reach broadly across the city’s work force, covering current and former police officers as well as firefighters, teachers and other city employees who were summoned to active duty during those years.
The agreement, which was filed on Monday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, was reached after months of settlement negotiations between the city and the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, which represented three officers who filed the original complaints. The case was later broadened to seek class-action status.
“We view this case to be among the more important cases that we have brought,” Mr. Bharara said, “because it vindicates a principle, and that is that people who give to their country in the most impressive way that one can — through military service — are treated according to the rule of law.”
The settlement would require the city to change the way it calculates the earnings on which such pensions are based, which could increase future benefits for current employees and could result in the payment of back benefits to retirees.
The lawsuit contended that the city, in calculating the pension benefits, had violated federal law by failing to account for the increased earnings officers would have received had they not been called to active duty, including overtime, night-shift differentials and pay for worked vacations.
An assistant corporation counsel for the city, Keri Reid McNally, said Monday that the city had “initially disagreed with the United States’ interpretation of the statute at issue; however, we believe this resolution is fair and in the best interests of the city, N.Y.P.D., and Police Pension Fund as well as the proposed class members who served our country.”
The proposed settlement must still be approved by the judge assigned to the suit, Richard J. Sullivan.
The number of city employees who could be affected by the settlement and the amount of money they could receive was not immediately clear. As of December 2012, there were just over 1,500 members of the police force who had been called to active military service since Sept. 11, 2001; of those, 287 had retired, according to a court filing by Mr. Bharara’s office that cited the city’s data.
A city document dated in 2006 indicated then that several hundred fire, correctional, sanitation and social services employees had been called to military duty.
“The Police Department has far and away the highest number of military veterans and reservists among its ranks as compared to the other city agencies,” the city lawyer, Ms. McNally, said.
The original plaintiffs, all retired, had each been called to active duty while serving in the department, documents show. They included David Goodman, a detective assigned to the counterterrorism division who was a member of the Army Reserves, and Michael Doherty, a detective, and Robert D. Black, a sergeant, who were both Coast Guard reservists.
Mr. Goodman, 51, said Monday he was pleased that the city had agreed to the deal. “I think it’s certainly overdue,” he said, “and it’ll be good to see them correct this and make it right.”
Mr. Goodman joined the Police Department in 1992 and held the position of detective from 1999 until he retired in 2009, the lawsuit says. He was called to active duty on different occasions, serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan and elsewhere. In Jordan, he helped train Iraqi counterterrorism forces, the lawsuit says.
The settlement would not only help the men and women who had been affected in the past, Mr. Goodman said, but also “more importantly, it’ll fix it going forward, so reservists and guardsmen who get mobilized in the future won’t have to face the same issue.”
He added that the settlement “saves everybody a lot of unnecessary litigation to get to the exact same result.”
101 Precinct P.O. Joseph Koch Loses Knuckle on Ring Finger, Still in Danger of Losing Finger
New York City Police Officer Acted Fast After a Barbecue
Officer Rushed to Scene of Attack After Boy Cried for Help for His Mother
By TAMER EL-GHOBASHY, JOE JACKSON and PERVAIZ SHALLWANI — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
It began with a young boy running outside of his Queens home and shouting that his mother's life was in danger. Off-duty NYPD Officer Joseph Koch, leaving a Father's Day barbecue down the street, decided to help.
He "bolted down the block and jumped over the gate like Captain America," said a neighbor, Troy Jordan, 53 years old. Gun drawn, Officer Koch went into the house.
The confrontation that ensued Sunday night in Jamaica left both the officer and another man, Jose Bernazard, hospitalized with gunshot wounds, authorities said. Mr. Bernazard was charged Monday with several felony counts in connection with the assault of the 11-year-old boy's mother and the injuries suffered by Officer Koch.
While the officer recovered from a gunshot wound to the hand, Mr. Bernazard, who sustained several gunshot wounds, was awaiting arraignment on multiple charges including assault, aggravated harassment, burglary and endangering the welfare of a child.
It wasn't clear late Monday whether Mr. Bernazard would be arraigned in the hospital or whether he had retained an attorney.
The charges against Mr. Bernazard came as officials and relatives of the alleged domestic-violence victim spoke of the couple's tumultuous past and praised the officer for his efforts during the harrowing Sunday night incident in Queens.
According to New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Officer Koch was heading to his car after a barbecue around 10 p.m. when he saw the boy run out of a home on South Road shouting that " 'he's killing my mother,' or words to that effect."
The neighbor, Mr. Jordan, said he saw the off-duty officer running to the boy's aid. Officer Koch entered the house with his weapon drawn and was allegedly rushed by Mr. Bernazard, Mr. Kelly said.
"He enters the door as this individual is coming out," he said. "He apparently sees the weapon and charges into the officer. A struggle ensues. Shots are fired."
In all, the two men suffered four wounds from three bullets fired from the Glock 26, with one of the bullets striking both of the men, police said. Mr. Koch was struck in the left hand and Mr. Bernazard was hit in the abdomen, neck and hand.
As part of department protocol, Officer Koch was given a breathalyzer test that showed a blood-alcohol level of zero, Mr. Kelly said.
Mr. Kelly said Officer Koch, 29, has been with the NYPD for seven years and is assigned to a domestic-violence unit in the 101st precinct in Far Rockaway, Queens.
Police were still trying to determine if the officer identified himself before the scuffle, but Mr. Kelly said it appeared that Officer Koch didn't "have a chance to speak."
A law-enforcement official said the female victim, who wasn't identified, told investigators she believes Officer Koch was wearing a badge identifying himself as an officer.
The official said Mr. Bernazard is the ex-boyfriend of the victim and that she had an active order of protection against him.
Mr. Kelly said officers had visited the home six times in the past three years on domestic-violence calls.
The woman was also taken to the hospital, where she was treated for a 7-inch gash to her head, Mr. Kelly said. The boy was allegedly struck in the face by Mr. Bernazard when he tried to intervene to protect his mother, but he wasn't seriously hurt, Mr. Kelly said.
The law-enforcement official said Mr. Bernazard had called the victim repeatedly on the phone earlier Sunday.
When she told him to stop calling, he went to the home, forced his way in and began kicking and punching the victim and hitting her head against the floor, the official said.
Relatives of the victim said she had a turbulent past with Mr. Bernazard and praised Officer Koch's actions.
A cousin, Virgen Lopez, 34, who visited the victim at the hospital, worried that if Officer Koch hadn't intervened, the victim could have suffered even more.
City Council Member Ruben Wills, who represents the area where the shooting occurred, briefly visited the scene late Sunday and said the young boy acted bravely and that Officer Koch was right to get involved.
"The little boy was brave; he tried to come to his mother's aid," he said.
"Thank God the officer was there. He saved her life," Mr. Wills added.
Mr. Kelly said the boy asked to meet the officer at the hospital late on Sunday.
"I want to go see him and thank him," Mr. Kelly said the boy told him. "He said, 'Thank you very much,' and Officer Koch said, 'Oh, any time.'"
—Danny Gold contributed to this article.
Cop shot during Father's Day scuffle thanked by kid for saving his mom
Joseph Koch, the cop who tussled with an abusive man who was beating a woman on Father’s Day, is still recovering from his hand being mangled during the incident, but his soon-to-be father-in-law, Wilfredo Medina calls him a ‘great, great man’ after his intervention.
By Nicholle Buckley , Joseph Stepansky , Corky Siemaszko AND Kerry Burke — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
Forget Superman, this brave little Queens boy’s hero is Joe the cop.
So said 10-year-old Jacob Rodriguez a day after NYPD Officer Joseph Koch rescued his mom from a stalker during a bloody Father’s Day fracas.
“Everybody is calling me a hero,” said Jacob, whose screams sent Koch running to the rescue Sunday night. “I’m thinking about becoming a police officer because of what Joe did. He saved me and my mom. Maybe I can do that for others.”
Koch, said Jacob, is “a pretty cool guy.”
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Koch was touched when Jacob came to see him at Jamaica Hospital and personally thanked him.
“Oh, anytime,” Koch, 29, replied, according to the commish.
Koch’s heroics also brought him kudos from his future father-in-law.
“He saved the lady’s life,” Wilfredo Medina said Monday. “To me, he is a hero.”
But Koch’s bravery came at a steep price. In the struggle with 40-year-old Jose Bernazard, he fired three shots, including one that went through his left hand.
Kelly said Koch — on the job seven years — has undergone one operation on the hand and may need several more.
“It’s a serious wound,” he said. “He lost his knuckle on his ring finger.”
Luckily, Koch is right-handed.
Jacob’s mom, 34-year-old Christina Rodriguez, needed 11 stitches to close a head cut, relatives said.
Meanwhile, Bernazard remained hospitalized in stable condition with three bullet wounds to his abdomen, neck and hand, Kelly said.
He is charged with five counts of assault and five counts of criminal contempt, along with aggravated harassment, burglary, endangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest.
Bernazard, whose rap sheet includes numerous drug arrests, once rented a room at Rodriguez’s home. But he had long worn out his welcome.
In December, Christina Rodriguez took out an order of protection after she awoke to find him on top of her, and he broke her nose, according to court papers.
“He’s been stalking her for three years after renting a room from her for a month,” said the beaten woman’s cousin, Daisy Velazquez, 53.
Koch is a father of three daughters — two from a previous marriage, one with Medina’s daughter, Linda, 31.
A domestic violence officer at the 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway, Koch was at Medina’s home in Jamaica for a Father’s Day barbecue when the fracas erupted around 10 p.m. Sunday.
Jacob, who lives further down on South Road, said he was working on a Father’s Day card for his dad in Florida when Bernazard broke down his door.
His father, a long-distance trucker, arrived back in the city Monday night.
“He’s my boy,” said Julio Rodriguez, 38, during an emotional homecoming at Kennedy Airport. “He’s mom and daddy’s heart. He’s definitely a hero.”
With Barry Paddock and Rocco Parascandola
Boy visits shot cop who saved him, ma
By REUVEN FENTON, JENNIFER BAIN — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
A 10-year-old Queens boy begged his mother to let him visit the cop who was shot while saving them both, leading to an emotional reunion between the youngster and his hero.
“He saved my life, me and my mom’s,” said young Jacob Rodriguez, sporting a wound under an eye from when he tried to stop his mom’s ex from allegedly beating her at their Jamaica home Sunday night.
Jacob yesterday recalled that while at Jamaica Hospital, he told Officer Joseph Koch, “Thanks for everything. You saved my life.”
“He was like, ‘Anytime,’ ” the boy said. “He’s a pretty cool guy.”
Koch was shot in the hand — and could lose a finger — as he struggled with José Bernazard, who allegedly left Jacob’s mom with a gash to the head.
Koch, a father of three, — who works in Far Rockaway’s 101st Precinct — had been down the street at his fiancée’s home for a Father’s Day barbecue when he heard the screams and rushed to help.
Jacob’s relatives said Bernazard, 40, had dated the boy’s mom briefly a year ago before she broke it off.
Attempted Murder of Sgt. Kevin Brennan: NY Supreme Court Trial of Gangbangers
Gangbanger taunted wounded NYPD cop with vile curse, prosecutors say
Luis ‘Baby’ Ortiz shot police officer Kevin Brennan in the head and cursed him dead. But defense attorney John Burke said the shootings were both quick and chaotic, adding his client never intended to kill Brennan.
By Oren Yaniv — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
After a Brooklyn, N.Y., gangbanger shot NYPD Officer Kevin Brennan in the head, the thug allegedly fired one last epithet as he ran: "F--- you, die."
The disturbing detail came as a prosecutor laid out the account of a foot chase on Jan. 31, 2012, that ended with Luis “Baby” Ortiz nearly killing the hero cop.
Brennan, 29, was responding to a report of shots fired at the Bushwick Houses when he and his Anti-Crime Unit partners noticed the gun-toting Ortiz, who "appeared to be taunting them," Assistant District Attorney Lewis Lieberman said during opening statements at Ortiz' trial Monday.
By the time Brennan, who took over 100 guns off the streets, caught up with the fleeing suspect, he believed Ortiz had ditched the pistol, like criminals escaping police often do, the prosecutor said.
But the avowed Latin Kings member couldn't do that, Lieberman argued, because he had used the same weapon a month earlier to murder Shannon McKinney, 34, during a botched robbery.
Defense lawyer John Burke claimed the shootings were both quick and chaotic, adding his client never intended to kill the cop.
"It's an attempt to flee, it's not an attempt to murder," he told the jury.
Ortiz, 23, is on trial for both incidents, charged with first-degree murder and an attempted murder of a police officer. He's facing life in prison without parole if convicted.
Parts of both shootings were captured by surveillance cameras, prosecutors said, and Brennan, who miraculously survived, is expected to give his own version from the stand.
He "remembers every second of this," Lieberman said. "He went to tackle him but he didn't know the defendant will put a gun to his head and shoot."
After the bullet hit his skull, the hulking officer fell, motionless, on Ortiz, who then wiggled from underneath the cop and uttered the curse words, Lieberman said.
"That's what P.O. Brennan remembers hearing," the prosecutor told jurors, "and he's going to tell you that he had a new baby girl and he thought he wasn't going to see her again."
‘Fiend’ to shot cop: Just die!
By JOSH SAUL — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
“F--k you! Die!”
Those were the words an evil gangbanger hissed at a brave NYPD cop right after he put a bullet in the officer’s head, prosecutors revealed yesterday in the first day of the thug’s trial.
Luis Ortiz, 23, is charged with attempted murder for shooting NYPD Officer Kevin Brennan as the hero cop tried to tackle the Latin King after chasing him through the Bushwick Houses on Jan. 31, 2012.
The shot cop collapsed onto Ortiz and the gunman had to squirm out from underneath.
Ortiz also faces murder charges for allegedly killing a man a month before Brennan was shot.
NYPD Cop Killer Junk Justice / Hero Detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin
Paternity test proves jailed cop killer Ronell Wilson is father of ex-prison guard’s baby
Nancy Gonzalez willing to have results provided to defense team in his upcoming sentencing
By John Marzulli — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
The ex-prison guard charged with having sex with jailed cop killer Ronell Wilson recently had a paternity test proving he is the father of her baby, it was disclosed Monday.
Nancy Gonzalez told a federal judge that she has no problem with the test results being provided to Wilson's defense team as a possible mitigating factor in his upcoming resentencing.
"He's the father of my son and I do want him to live," Gonzalez told Brooklyn Judge Brian Cogan.
Wilson is facing the death penalty or life in prison without parole for murdering undercover NYPD Detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection by a jury in 2007, but the penalty was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals because of prosecutorial error.
Since the test result is damning evidence against Gonzalez in her own criminal case, federal prosecutors - and the judge — wanted to be sure that she and defense lawyer Anthony Ricco were on the same page. She intends to plead guilty in the coming weeks, according to Ricco.
The judge referred to sealed court papers that describe a taped conversation in which Gonzalez expressed concern about Ricco's legal strategy. But Gonzalez assured the judge that she made those comments because she was about to give birth and was "dealing with all kinds of emotions."
Gonzalez gave birth to Justus Liam Gonzalez on March 21. She was arrested in February for having sex with Wilson at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn where she was working.
Prosecutors could argue to the jury at Wilson's resentencing that impregnating the guard shows he is manipulative and dangerous, while defense lawyers may beg the jury not to execute him because the young father's life has value.
Gonzalez did not say in court what motivated her to have the paternity test, but on May 28 Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis - who is presiding over Wilson's case - told the government and defense lawyers that the issue of whether he is actually the father of the baby had to be resolved if it was going to become an issue in the resentencing.
Hero Detectives Robert Parker and Patrick Rafferty
Two new police boats dedicated to slain NYPD detectives
By JENNIFER BAIN and KIRSTAN CONLEY — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
A pair of cops who paid the ultimate price protecting New York were honored today by the city and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who dedicated two harbor boats in their names.
"We will always consider them a part of our one, inseparable police family,” Kelly said as he named two boats for NYPD Detectives Robert Parker and Patrick Rafferty, who were shot and killed responding to a domestic violence call in Brooklyn nine years ago.
The officers were gunned down by a thug in East Flatbush in September 2004, but both were able to provide dispatchers with enough information to point to their killer.
Before Parker died from his gunshot wounds, he gave a 911 operator information about the shooter and told a dispatcher where to find a mug shot of him in their patrol car.
Rafferty had returned fire at the gunman, wounding him, before he died.
Their final acts helped cops catch the killer in fewer than two hours.
Both were veteran officers who had made more than 300 arrests each before they died in the line of duty.
“We owe them a debt of gratitude,” Kelly said. “Detective Robert Parker was a seasoned veteran of 22 years in the department, a gentle giant whose heart was as big as he was. Bobby was universally respected and loved. Bobby savored every ounce of life, from the grittiest crime scenes to the cherished company of his beloved daughter. He was indeed one of our best."
The new boats will be used to patrol New York Harbor and in water rescues. They have thermal cameras and state-of-the-art navigation for improved night searches.
Rafferty’s daughter, Emma Rafferty, 13, was impressed by the technology on board the vessels and explained what the dedication meant to her.
"I think he would have been really happy,” she said of her dad. “He loves boats.”
Rafferty's widow, Eileen, agreed.
"He was very happy out on the water,” she said.
Ret. Bklyn. North Homi Det. Louis Scarcella
Wheels Of Justice Slowly Turning Against Shady Former NYPD Detective
By Christopher Robbins — Monday, June 17th, 2013 ‘The Gothamist’ / New York, NY
Only a few months ago the head of the Brooklyn DA's Conviction Integrity Unit said they had "ruled out" the possibility that more innocent people had been thrown in jail because of the sloppy, possibly criminal police work of former NYPD detective Louis Scarcella. Now the Daily News confirms that the DA's office is reviewing 50 murder convictions, and that the Conviction Integrity Unit is asking former federal judges and state supreme court jurists to help.
After David Ranta was released from prison in March after serving 23 years for a murder he didn't commit (the confession Scarcella coaxed out of the witness proved false) a deluge of evidence surfaced to cast doubt on Scarcella's convictions. Scarcella used the same crack addicted prostitute as a witness in six different murder cases. He never took notes during interrogations, and boasted on Dr. Phil that he did anything to get a conviction—which apparently included letting witnesses smoke crack or see prostitutes while they were in custody.
Last week the Times found that several of the confessions Scarcella elicited have the same language. At least four confessions credited to Scarcella have the suspect beginning with the words, "You got it right" or "I was there."
Attorney Ron Kuby, who is representing six people who were convicted by Scarcella's police work, told the News that reviewing murder cases is a formidable task. “The work of excavating 50 old murder cases is daunting. It’s unimaginably difficult. I’ve been digging into six of them and I’m utterly overwhelmed.”
Why would DA Hynes plunge into this messy work after initially dismissing its merit? Well, there is a Democratic primary on September 10. Last week when it was reported that one of Hynes' rivals, former Manhattan prosecutor Abe George, had not voted in any city election, George responded, “This is a story being driven by the Hynes campaign to create a smoke screen to hide Hynes's abysmal record on wrongful convictions, protecting pedophiles, protecting Vito Lopez, and not curbing the abuses of stop and frisk.”
Hynes's other opponent, Kenneth Thompson, has called on Governor Cuomo to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the convictions.
Scarcella, who used New York Post to proclaim his innocence, has said, "I sleep well at night." But the News reports that the DA's investigation would "drag down" cops, prosecutors, and possibly even judges who allowed Scarcella's work to hold up in court.
That means current Manhattan criminal court judge and former Brooklyn prosecutor Neil Ross, who is probably should have stuck to the topic of cigars on a cigar message board several years ago.
Ross recounts the story of his first real cigar and how it was "given to me by a legendary detective of the Brooklyn North Homicide Squad named Louis Scarcella." Ross helped secure that conviction thanks to the aforementioned crack-addicted prostitute. “It was near folly to even think that anyone would believe [her] about anything," Ross typed. "Damn, do lawyers ever run on, or what?"
NYPD School Safety Division
Floyd: Reflects Family Turmoil
Clash Over Disparity In Minority-Student Arrests
By DAVID SIMS — Monday, June 17th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said the Department of Education’s suspension policies are too punitive and disproportionately punish students of color and those in Special Education, but Teamsters Local 237 President Gregory Floyd accused the mayoral candidate of ignoring the impact single-parent households have in creating that disparity.
Mr. de Blasio said in a letter to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott that children in Special Education and African-American students were both four times more likely to be suspended than their peers in the general population; Latino students are suspended twice as much.
‘Exacerbating the Problem’
“The use of suspensions as a stopgap measure to handle minor misbehavior and outbursts has skyrocketed,” he said in the letter. “Calling 911, arresting students or suspending them is not the answer. These methods just exacerbate the problem. They don’t solve it. We need more mental-health services and preventative policies in our schools.”
African-American students are 14 times as likely to be arrested as whites, and Latino students are five times as likely to be arrested. Mr. de Blasio said Principals should be granted more support and resources to address problems without having to rely on suspensions or the Police Department.
Guidance interventions, emotional and mental-health support, “restorative justice practices” like mediation and counseling, and changing some infractions to not result in automatic suspensions would help address the problem, the Public Advocate said.
But Mr. Floyd, whose union represents School Safety Agents, accused Mr. de Blasio of arriving late to the debate.
“It’s nice that he waits until he’s running for Mayor, in June, a couple months before the primary, to send the letter,” he said in a phone interview. “He’s been the Public Advocate for four years and this is nothing new; we’ve heard this before.”
‘Raised Without Fathers’
Mr. Floyd acknowledged the statistics but said they were merely a facet of a larger issue.
“Yes, the statistics show that African-Americans are more likely to be suspended,” he said. “But we also have to look at the people problem, which is that there are a lot of African-American children being raised without fathers. That’s a disparity, also, that plays into the disciplinary process.
“They’re being raised in single-parent households where the parent has to focus on bringing home enough money to provide for the family,” he continued. “Why don’t we focus on the problem, and try to alleviate the problem? The best way to address it is, we need more programs to help single parents. We need social programs, mentoring programs, educational programs at the school.”
Mr. Floyd has often defended his members against accusations of brutality by the New York Civil Liberties Union. He said their arrest numbers reflect larger problems in the surrounding communities.
“Yes, we know there’s a problem. I understand why there’s a problem,” he said. “It’s the bottom line, but how do we change the bottom line? We could get a different outcome if we have a different approach.”
Westchester County cops agree to 6-year contract
Union contract includes health-care premiums
By Elizabeth Ganga — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The Journal News’ / White Plains, NY
The union representing Westchester County police officers has agreed to a six-year contract that will make it the fifth county union to contribute to health premiums.
The contract for the 265-member Police Benevolent Association will run from 2009 to the end of 2014 and includes pay increases of 3 percent for 2009, 2.75 percent for 2010 and 2.5 percent for each year from 2011 to 2014.
The health contributions, which the administration of County Executive Rob Astorino has insisted on in negotiations with the county’s eight unions, will total about $1,100 a year for individuals and $3,100 for families. New hires will continue to pay during retirement while current employees will have no retirement health contributions.
Astorino used the announcement Monday to call on the Civil Service Employees Association, the county’s largest union, to agree to health contributions.
“This agreement is in the best interests of Westchester County,” Astorino said in a statement. “This is a good contract, fair to the union and fair to our taxpayers.”
The PBA president, Sgt. Michael Hagan, has been critical of the administration in the past for what he said was inadequate staffing and patrols. But he said he was pleased with the contract.
“This agreement is the result of the prolonged, good-faith efforts by both sides, and addresses important issues, including health-care costs, in a way that is fair and equitable to our membership and the residents that they serve,” he said.
The contract must be approved by the union membership and the county Board of Legislators.
Along with the CSEA, the county is continuing negotiations with the county police superior officers union and the union for district attorney investigators.
NJ wants notice of outside agencies' surveillance
By Unnamed Author(s) (The Associated Press) — Monday, June 17th, 2013; 12:41 p.m. EDT
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey lawmakers are trying to require law enforcement agencies from elsewhere to tell local authorities before conducting counterterrorism surveillance in the state.
The proposal comes after a series of articles by The Associated Press revealed that New York City's police department operated secretly in New Jersey neighborhoods where Muslims lived and worked. Officers spied on Muslim organizations, infiltrated Muslim student groups and videotaped mosque-goers.
The NYPD has said its operations are lawful and necessary to keep the city safe. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the NYPD can gather intelligence anywhere in the country it wants and is not required to tell local authorities.
A New Jersey Senate committee voted Monday to send the bill to the full Senate. The Assembly has already passed it.
Cyberattacks on the rise as credit, debit card numbers become commodities
By Claudia Buck — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The Sacramento Bee’ / Sacramento, CA
It's a sad fact of modern American consumer life. Every time we swipe a piece of plastic at a gas station, grocery store or anywhere else, we're vulnerable to cyberpickpockets.
That reality hit Sacramento earlier this month when the Raley's grocery chain said it had been the victim of a cyberattack targeting customers' credit and debit card numbers. The attack, which was reported to the FBI, is just one bite of a growing problem: Increasingly, credit and debit card numbers have become commodities sold by cyberthieves who harvest them from banks, businesses, restaurants and retailers.
"The sophistication of these attacks is unprecedented," said G. Mark Hardy, president of National Security Corp., a Tampa-based cybersecurity consulting firm.
Avoiding the snoops: 6 tips to keep your data safer
Last year, targeted attacks on businesses jumped 42 percent, according to Symantec, the Mountain View-based security software firm. Attacks spiked 31 percent among companies with fewer than 250 employees.
In recent years, restaurants like Paul Martin's American Bistro and even the city of Sacramento have had their computer systems hacked or compromised.
It's part of a shift from mass attacks by computer viruses, worms and other cyberthreats to more pinpointed, targeted infiltrations, say online security experts. The attackers, often located overseas, "find this method more effective because it allows them to fly under the radar and avoid drawing widespread attention to their malware," said Brian Burch, vice president of consumer and small business marketing at Symantec, in an email.
Small businesses are frequently targeted because they often lack adequate security practices, said Burch. Additionally, because small firms often partner with bigger organizations, cybercriminals "sometimes use them to gain access to a larger company."
Raley's spokesman John Segale said forensic computer experts arrived "within hours" of the company being alerted to a possible security breach on May 30, and continue to investigate. The West Sacramento-based grocery chain also said it reported the incident to the FBI.
In an email, FBI spokeswoman Gina Swankie said the Sacramento office was aware of the Raley's incident but could neither confirm nor deny that a formal investigation is under way.
For some Raley's shoppers, the cyberattack was unnerving.
Longtime customer Pat Hoschler got a call June 3 from her financial institution, Schools Federal Credit Union, telling her that a suspicious $95 charge was made on her card in Atlanta. A second charge, for $125, was stopped by the credit union before it went through, she said.
The experience has made the Granite Bay resident nervous about swiping her debit card again.
"It gives me the creeps to think someone might be using my name and (debit) card information. I worry about it. I may not use my debit card anymore," said Hoschler, who said she uses her debit card for Raley's purchases several times a week.
Typically, the thieves who steal the data from retailers and other targets aren't the ones who use it to rack up fraudulent charges. "There's an underground ecosystem for the sale, transfer, purchase and exchange of stolen credit card and debit card information," said security expert Hardy.
Total protection elusive
Investigations, arrests and convictions of cybercriminals are continual. Last week, federal prosecutors in New Jersey announced charges against eight members of an alleged international cyberring that hacked into the computers of major financial institutions and the U.S. military payroll service, attempting to steal at least $15 million from customer accounts.
In April, a Russian cybercrook was sentenced in Washington, D.C., to more than seven years in federal prison for trafficking in stolen credit and debit cards. When arrested, he was in possession of more than 2.5 million stolen credit and debit card numbers, according to the FBI.
Retailers like Raley's that process credit card transactions must follow the industry's safe-practices guidelines, known officially as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. The so-called PCI guidelines require retailers who accept credit and debit cards to maintain a computer network fire wall, employ tough passwords and take other precautions.
Retailers who don't comply face fines of up to $100,000 per month and can be held financially responsible for fraud investigations and compensation to victims.
Raley's said it recently passed its PCI audit.
Unfortunately, said Hardy, retailers can do all the right things but still get attacked.
"It's like wearing your seat belt, putting your kid in a car seat and having air bags in your car," said Hardy. "You can still be hit by someone driving through a red light."
Under PCI standards, retailers cannot hold onto a card's PIN, the three-digit security code or sensitive information stored in a card's magnetic stripe. In any card transaction, the company's software must automatically delete that information.
Companies can, however, keep a card holder's name, account number and expiration date, such as when they ask your permission to retain the information for automatic payments, subscriptions and the like.
Source of attack unknown
While the PCI standards are considered a good starting point, there are additional layers of software and computer security precautions available, say computer security experts. Among them: Change default passwords so they're not easy to guess, restrict the use of PCs involved in processing card transactions so that employees surfing the Web don't unwittingly pick up computer viruses, and train cashiers to look for plastic devices stuck into card readers to steal information.
Consultants like Hardy will conduct "penetration testing" where they deliberately break into a business's computer network to pinpoint weaknesses.
Small businesses "need to come to grips with the fact that they could lose a lot more than just data," said Robert Siciliano, online security expert for McAfee, in an email. "Their reputations are at stake, and their customers will lose confidence in their abilities to provide a safe haven for their data."
In Raley's case, the grocery chain announced June 6 that it was notified by a major credit card company that there was "questionable activity" connected to its computer network. Following that announcement, a number of Raley's shoppers reported that their bank or credit union had alerted them to fraudulent charges on their credit cards.
The Raley's investigation is ongoing and has yet to determine how or when the alleged attempt occurred, or how many customers may be affected. Segale said it does not appear that customers' PINs or data used to create their "Something Extra" rewards card were accessed. He also noted that Raley's doesn't collect Social Security or driver's license numbers, so identity theft is unlikely.
Without being specific, Segale said Raley's has taken "a series of immediate steps to address this situation so our customers can have confidence in using their payment cards in any of our stores."
He said the investigation is currently "a top priority" and the company is "sparing no expense" to uncover what happened.
Cybertheft can take many forms, such as card readers that are physically attached to ATM machines to "skim" account numbers or more sophisticated thievery that invades a computer network and gobbles up vast amounts of data.
In 2012, computer security experts identified a new type of widespread targeting, known as a "watering-hole" attack. In that scenario, cybercriminals seek to electronically invade a group or organization by noting the kind of websites the intended victim frequently visits. When a weakness is detected in one of those sites, it's injected with malware or spyware, which then infects the entire group.
According to Symantec, one watering-hole attack last year infected 500 organizations in a single day.
For consumers, the best precaution is simple: Routinely check your monthly credit card and bank statements for suspicious charges.
"All that consumers can do is to pay close attention to their statements weekly and refute unauthorized charges ASAP, within 60 days as federal law (requires)," said McAfee's Siciliano. If the charges are due to fraud and reported promptly, consumers are not held liable.
Ultimately, there's one surefire defense: Cancel your card, and ask your bank to re-issue a new one. "In this situation," said Hardy, "that's probably the easiest, cheapest action an individual consumer can take."
White House cites progress on gun issue
By David Jackson — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘USA Today’
The White House says President Obama is close to completing a series of executive actions to address gun violence, but they are not a substitute for congressional legislation.
In a report issued Tuesday, the administration has "completed or made significant progress" on 21 of 23 executive actions that Obama outlined Jan. 16 as part of a major gun control initiative.
"But Congress must also act," the report says. "Passing common-sense gun safety legislation, including expanding background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime, remains the single most important step we could take to reduce gun violence."
With Obama in Northern Ireland for the G-8 summit, Vice President Biden will discuss the report in a speech on Tuesday afternoon.
The Senate blocked a background check bill in April, thanks mostly to the votes of Republicans. Obama administration officials and Senate Democrats are trying to revive the bill by pressuring senators who voted against it to reconsider.
Gun control opponents say the proposals are ineffective, and undermine the Second Amendment rights to gun ownership.
The Obama administration began pushing for new gun legislation after the Dec. 14 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 students and six educators.
The new White House report listed the executive actions on guns taken by the administration.
Among them: Ending a freeze on federal research into the causes of gun violence, reducing barriers that prevent states from submitting certain records to the existing background check system, and easing the ways in which federal law enforcement agencies can trace guns recovered in investigations.
The report did not mention two other legislative proposals backed by gun control supporters: A new ban on assault weapons, and restrictions on the size of ammunition magazines. Neither proposal has sufficient support in Congress as of yet.
The White House report says the president's executive actions are designed to address several goals, including improvements to the existing background check system, law enforcement, and school safety, as well as promote responsible gun ownership.
'Right to Remain Silent' Is Limited
By JESS BRAVIN — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
WASHINGTON—A defendant's silence under police questioning can be used against him at trial in certain instances, the Supreme Court found Monday, dividing along the court's 5-4 conservative-liberal split to place limits on the constitutional right against self-incrimination.
In a second criminal-law ruling, however, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas joined with four liberal colleagues to hold that defendants are entitled to a jury finding, rather than a judge's opinion, on facts that increase the mandatory minimum sentences they face upon conviction.
The self-incrimination case involved Genovevo Salinas, who agreed to speak with Houston police investigating a 1992 double murder. At first Mr. Salinas answered questions, but fell silent when asked if his shotgun "would match the shells recovered" at the crime scene.
Under the Fifth Amendment, no criminal defendant can be compelled "to be a witness against himself." In 1965, the Supreme Court held that prosecutors and judges may not comment on a defendant's failure to testify, lest exercise of the right against self-incrimination be cited as evidence of guilt. A year later, in the Miranda case, the court held that authorities must advise suspects in custody of that privilege, the "right to remain silent" made familiar through countless detective shows and movies.
Having voluntarily accompanied police to the station, Mr. Salinas wasn't formally in custody—and that, Justice Samuel Alito wrote for a plurality including Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, resolved the matter.
Were he in custody, not only would Mr. Salinas have been entitled to a Miranda warning, but the inherently coercive nature of the situation also would protect his silence under the Fifth Amendment.
When not in custody, however, a suspect must explicitly invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege in order to obtain its protections, Justice Alito wrote. Otherwise, it would be unclear whether the suspect fell silent on constitutionally protected grounds or for reasons entitled to no privilege, such as embarrassment or an effort to shield someone else.
Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, concurred, but in a separate opinion would have gone further still, overruling the 1965 precedent barring adverse inferences from a defendant's silence.
In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the court forced "Salinas to choose between incrimination through speech and incrimination through silence." Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent.
The second case involved a defendant who faced two extra years in prison under a law increasing penalties for those who "brandish" a firearm rather than merely carrying it.
In 2000, the court held that the right to a jury trial, along with the right of due process, entitles defendants to a jury finding of any fact that increases their maximum punishment, rather than allowing judges to make such determinations. Two years later, the court rejected that requirement for setting minimum sentences. Monday's decision written by Justice Thomas overruled the 2002 case.
In dissent, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the Sixth Amendment was intended to protect defendants from "judicial overreaching" by prohibiting judges from imposing harsher sentences "than the jury has authorized." Because judges can take various factors into account when imposing sentences, regardless of mandatory minimums, "there is no such risk of judicial overreaching here," the chief justice wrote, joined by Justice Scalia and Justice Kennedy. Justice Alito dissented separately.
A 5-4 Ruling, One of Three, Limits Silence’s Protection
By ADAM LIPTAK — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
(Edited for brevity, the 5th Amendment and the ‘Right to remain silent’)
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court issued three 5-to-4 decisions on Monday. One limited a criminal suspect’s right to remain silent before being taken into custody.
RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT The court ruled that a suspect’s failure to answer a police officer’s questions before an arrest may be used against the suspect at trial.
The Supreme Court has long said the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination applies after arrest and at trial. But it had never decided, in the words of a 1980 decision, “whether or under what circumstances pre-arrest silence” in the face of questioning by law enforcement personnel is entitled to protection.
The case decided Monday, Salinas v. Texas, No. 12-246, arose from the 1992 murder of two brothers, Juan and Hector Garza, in Houston. Among the evidence the police found were discarded shotgun shells.
The police questioned Genovevo Salinas, who was said to have attended a party at the Garzas’ apartment. Mr. Salinas answered questions for almost an hour but would not say if a shotgun the police had taken from his home would match the recovered shells.
At trial, a prosecutor commented on Mr. Salinas’s silence about the shells. “An innocent person,” the prosecutor told the jury, “is going to say: ‘What are you talking about? I didn’t do that. I wasn’t there.’ He didn’t respond that way. He didn’t say, ‘No, it’s not going to match up.’ ”
Mr. Salinas was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The justices in the majority on Monday offered differing rationales for sustaining the conviction. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, said Mr. Salinas had to expressly invoke his right to remain silent to benefit from it.
Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote that “Salinas’s claim would fail even if he had invoked the privilege.”
Justice Stephen G. Breyer, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, said allowing “a prosecutor to comment on a defendant’s constitutionally protected silence would put that defendant in an impossible predicament.” Mr. Salinas’s choice, Justice Breyer wrote, was “between incrimination through speech and incrimination through silence.”
Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’ Editorial:
The Court: Right and Wrong on Criminal Justice
(Edited for what the NY Times considers a ‘wrong’ decision on the ‘Miranda Warning’ and the Fifth Amendment.)
Under the Fifth Amendment, the subject of the other ruling, no one can be compelled to be a witness against himself in a criminal case. Thus, the prosecution cannot raise a defendant’s decision not to testify in court as evidence of guilt. Nor, under the Miranda ruling, can prosecutors use a suspect’s decision to remain silent as evidence of guilt. In a troubling departure, the court’s conservative majority said the right to silence does not apply before suspects are arrested and read Miranda warnings.
The defendant in this case, Genovevo Salinas, voluntarily went with police officers for questioning before being charged with murder in Texas. After answering questions for an hour, he fell silent rather than answer whether shotgun shells found at the crime scene would match a shotgun found at his home. The prosecutor cited his refusal to answer as “a very important piece of evidence,” and Mr. Salinas was convicted of murder. The Supreme Court’s plurality ruling said that the prosecutor’s damaging remark was perfectly fine because Mr. Salinas “did not expressly invoke the privilege against self-incrimination” during the police questioning.
Justice Breyer noted in a cogent dissent that the court has previously applied the Fifth Amendment without requiring express invocation of the right to remain silent. Mr. Salinas, “not being represented by counsel, would not likely have used the precise words ‘Fifth Amendment’ to invoke his rights because he would not likely have been aware of technical legal requirements, such as a need to identify the Fifth Amendment by name,” Justice Breyer wrote.
By elevating form over substance and ignoring the real-life circumstances of the police interrogation, the majority gave police officers excessive leverage and badly undermined the Fifth Amendment’s protection.
F.B.I. (Corruption at the Boston Office)
At Trial, Hit Man Says ‘It Broke My Heart’ to Learn Bulger Was an F.B.I. Informer
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
(Edited for brevity and generic law enforcement pertinence)
BOSTON — Mr. John Martorano, known as The Executioner or The Enforcer, was the longtime hit man for James (Whitey) Bulger, who prosecutors say was at the center of “murder and mayhem” in the Boston underworld for almost three decades.
Mr. Bulger, 83, is finally on trial here in federal court on a 32-count indictment, including charges that he participated in 19 murders. Mr. Martorano, a star witness for the prosecution, took the stand Monday against him; it was their first contact in decades, and they barely exchanged a glance.
Mr. Martorano provided a window into another intriguing aspect of the Bulger case — the role of one of Mr. Bulger’s younger brothers, William, who was a powerful politician while his brother ruled the rackets.
The Bulgers had grown up in the insular confines of South Boston as had John Connolly, the F.B.I. agent who became Whitey Bulger’s corrupt handler. Mr. Martorano recounted a conversation from decades ago in which Mr. Connolly thanked William for encouraging him to stay in school as a youth and make something of himself.
“I owe you for keeping me honest, being an FBI agent, and staying out of trouble,” Mr. Connolly told William, according to Mr. Martorano. “If there is anything I can do for you, let me know.”
As it happened, there was something. Whitey Bulger had returned home after serving time in Alcatraz, among other places, for bank robbery. It is not clear how deeply he had slid into the Boston underworld by the time of the conversation, but William Bulger said to Mr. Connolly: “If you can keep my brother out of trouble, that would be helpful.”
Perhaps Mr. Connolly took this request more literally than it was intended, but he provided countless tips to Whitey Bulger that kept him from falling into law enforcement traps for decades. And that relationship would eventually destroy his career.
Mr. Martorano returns to the stand Tuesday for continued questioning by the government.
Immigration Enforcement / Illegal Aliens
Immigration agency ordered to name felons it has released
By Maria Sacchetti — Sunday, June 16th, 2013 ‘The Boston Globe’ / Boston, MA
A federal judge has ordered the US Department of Homeland Security to disclose the names of thousands of criminal immigrants released in the United States because their homelands refused to take them back, handing the news media a rare victory against one of the most secretive agencies in the federal government.
US District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, ruling in New York on a lawsuit filed by The Boston Globe, rejected the Obama administration’s argument that providing the newspaper with the names of criminals freed since 2008 would violate the immigrants’ privacy. Instead, the judge ordered the agency to make public the first comprehensive list of criminal immigrants released in the United States since a crucial Supreme Court decision in 2001.
“The public has an interest in knowing how [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] handles aliens convicted of crimes who are required to be released,” the judge wrote in her ruling Thursday, noting that some of the released offenders go on to commit new violent crimes.
The decision comes nearly two years after the Globe initially requested the names through a Freedom of Information Act request with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
The agency provided a list of more than 6,800 criminals, nationwide, including 201 convicted of murder and other serious offenders, but refused to provide names.
‘This is a win for government transparency and common sense.’ — Thomas H. Dupree Jr., a former deputy assistant US attorney general
The Globe appealed to the agency and lost and then filed a lawsuit in US District Court through its parent company, The New York Times Co. The number of criminals released has since climbed past 8,500.
The US attorney’s office, which represented Homeland Security in the case, declined comment on the judge’s decision through a spokeswoman Friday. The agency has 60 days to decide whether to appeal.
A spokesman for ICE, which is part of Homeland Security, said the agency is reviewing the decision and had no additional comment.
In court filings, government lawyers had argued that the names of freed criminals were exempt from release under the Freedom of Information Act because they could lead to “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
Homeland Security argued that the released immigrants “have a strong interest in avoiding any embarrassment or retaliation that may be caused by the government’s publicly identifying them both as convicted criminals and illegal aliens.”
But the judge said public interest in the information outweighed any privacy concerns.
She pointed out “several questionable” decisions uncovered by the Globe in a three-part series, “Justice in the Shadows,” including the decision to release McCarthy Larngar in 2007 shortly after immigration officials called him a danger to the community.
Larngar was later arrested and charged with a violent home invasion in Rhode Island and jailed.
Immigration officials also released Huang Chen, a mentally ill man, in Texas without warning Qian Wu, a woman he had earlier attacked in New York. In January 2010, he stalked and killed her with a hammer and knife, fled, and was arrested.
Department of Homeland Security officials had dismissed the tragic examples cited by the Globe as anomalies, but the judge said the agency could not make that assertion without providing proof.
“There is merit in plaintiffs’ argument that DHS cannot dismiss the value of the Globe’s inquiry by asserting that the troubling cases “do not indicate any failing on the part of the agency” but refuse to provide the data that would refute the Globe’s suspicions,” the judge wrote.
She said the Globe established “that disclosure of the names would further the legitimate public interest in knowing how government agencies make decisions.”
Federal immigration officials have been under legal pressure to free immigrants who cannot be deported since a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that they cannot hold immigrants longer than six months if their deportation is not likely in the foreseeable future.
The Globe found that immigration officials could try to detain violent criminals longer by declaring them dangerous to the public, but the government rarely does.
The Globe also found that federal officials fail to notify most crime victims of the criminals’ release and rarely hold foreign governments accountable for refusing to accept their citizens.
The Globe hailed the decision Friday. The newspaper filed more than 20 FOIA requests as part of its broader investigation into the consequences of secrecy in the US immigration system for immigrants and Americans alike.
“The public has a right to know when the government frees criminals who were supposed to be deported,” said Globe editor Brian McGrory. “For more than a decade, federal immigration officials have kept citizens in the dark about these releases, sometimes with deadly consequences. We’re gratified that Judge Scheindlin has recognized the compelling public interest in knowing which criminal aliens are being released to US streets.”
“The court took a close look at the immigration court system, which is too often shrouded in secrecy, and rightly concluded that openness was in the public interest here,” said David E. McCraw, assistant general counsel of the New York Times Co., who handled the lawsuit with Stephen N. Gikow, the company’s First Amendment fellow.
Current and former law enforcement officials also praised the ruling as a victory for government accountability.
“This is a win for government transparency and common sense,” said Thomas H. Dupree Jr., a lawyer and former deputy assistant US attorney general who has testified before the House Judiciary Committee about the release of criminal immigrants.
Local law enforcement and domestic violence advocates said the names could aid crime victims who are unaware their attackers had been released.
US immigration data show ICE has released or deported at least 1 million criminals in the past decade, but has made just 1,000 to 3,000 victim notifications through its little-known program.
“The names of American citizens who are criminals are public record, so why should alien criminals be treated better than a citizen criminals?” said Paul Czajka, district attorney in Columbia County, New York, who prosecuted a Bangladeshi man who was released because he could not be deported. That man later killed an elderly woman.
Obama Defends Authorization of Surveillance Programs
By PETER BAKER — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
WASHINGTON — President Obama defended his authorization of recently revealed domestic and international surveillance programs in comments broadcast Monday night but rejected the suggestion that his policies were basically a warmed-over version of those of the last White House.
“Some people say, ‘Well, you know, Obama was this raving liberal before. Now he’s, you know, Dick Cheney,’ ” Mr. Obama told Charlie Rose on his PBS interview show. “Dick Cheney sometimes says, ‘Yeah, you know, he took it all lock, stock and barrel.’ My concern has always been not that we shouldn’t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather, are we setting up a system of checks and balances?”
In perhaps his most expansive explanation of his surveillance policies since leaked documents exposed a pair of secret programs, Mr. Obama said he had made important changes from the policies of George W. Bush, including making sure that surveillance was approved by Congress and a secret foreign intelligence court. “But I think it’s fair to say that there are going to be folks on the left – and what amuses me is now folks on the right who are fine when there’s a Republican president, but now, Obama’s coming in with the black helicopters,” he said.
Yet like Mr. Cheney, who appeared on “Fox News Sunday” over the weekend, Mr. Obama defended the effectiveness of surveillance programs in heading off threats to the United States. “The one thing people should understand about all these programs, though, is they have disrupted plots, not just here in the United States but overseas as well,” he said. He added that while other factors were at work, “we are increasing our chances of preventing a catastrophe like that through these programs.”
The White House hoped to use the interview to calm concerns about the surveillance programs, and Mr. Obama emphasized that intelligence agencies were not listening in on Americans’ telephone calls without court orders. A new CNN/ORC International poll suggested that many Americans were uncomfortable with his handling of surveillance, and in the wake of several recent controversies, his approval rating had slipped to 45 percent from 53 percent.
Mr. Obama said he had directed intelligence agencies to examine whether more information about the surveillance programs could be declassified to satisfy Americans that they were conducted within legal bounds and were far less intrusive into personal privacy than critics assume. He said that the intelligence agencies were only collecting data like telephone numbers called and the duration of calls. An Internet monitoring program, he added, was directed at foreigners with ties to terrorism, cyberhacking and the spread of dangerous weapons or technology.
In his first public remarks about his shift on Syria, Mr. Obama said he wanted to bolster the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad “so there’s a counterweight that can potentially lead to political negotiations.” But he rejected more assertive measures like establishing a no-fly zone or a humanitarian corridor to help refugees. He said that “90 percent of the deaths” had not been caused by airstrikes and warned against anything that would “slip-slide your way into deeper and deeper commitments.”
Mr. Obama said it was important to understand “if you set up a no-fly zone, that you may not be actually solving the problem on the zone.”
“Or if you set up a humanitarian corridor, are you in fact committed not only to stopping aircraft from going that corridor but also missiles?” he continued. “And if so, does that mean that you then have to take out the armaments in Damascus and are you prepared then to bomb Damascus? And what happens if there’s civilian casualties?”
Noting extensive deliberations in the Situation Room, he added, “Unless you’ve been involved in those conversations, then it’s kind of hard for you to understand that the complexity of the situation and how we have to not rush into one more war in the Middle East.”
He rejected critics who said he should have intervened more aggressively and earlier in a civil war that has cost more than 90,000 lives. “This argument that somehow we had gone in earlier, or heavier in some fashion, that the tragedy and chaos taking place in Syria wouldn’t be taking place, I think is wrong,” he said.
He said that his team “had to sort out and figure out exactly who it is that is in the opposition” and that arming the rebels “willy-nilly is not a good recipe for meeting American interests over the long term,” given that some of the most effective fighters are with Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate.
Mr. Obama also reached out to Iran’s newly elected president, holding out hope for a rapprochement that would prevent the Iranian government from developing nuclear weapons and ultimately “normalize the relationship between Iran and the world.”
Mr. Obama said the election of Hassan Rowhani over a field of more hard-line candidates signaled that the Iranian public was eager to end its international isolation and could presage a new chapter in the fitful negotiations over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program. But he cautioned that the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was still calling the shots.
“Clearly you have a hunger within Iran to engage with the international community in a more positive way,” Mr. Obama said. “I do think that there’s a possibility that they decide, the Iranians decide to take us up on our offer to engage in a more serious, substantive way.”
Mr. Obama also addressed speculation about whether Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, would remain beyond Jan. 31, 2014, when his term expires.
“Ben Bernanke’s done an outstanding job,” Mr. Obama said about nominating him to another term. “He’s already stayed a lot longer than he wanted or he was supposed to.”
Mr. Bernanke, who convenes a two-day policy meeting of the Fed on Tuesday, is in his second four-year term.
More Data on Privacy, but Picture Is No Clearer
By VINDU GOEL and CLAIRE CAIN MILLER — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
SAN FRANCISCO — Technology companies, the custodians of reams of personal data from hundreds of millions of people around the world, have been under fire after recent revelations that they secretly handed over customer information, including e-mails, in response to requests by the federal government made in the name of national security.
Now, one by one, the companies are putting out data intended to reassure their users that the government gets information on just a tiny number of people. Over the weekend, Facebook and Microsoft released reports about the overall number of data requests they had received from United States law enforcement agencies. On Monday, Apple and Yahoo joined the chorus.
But rather than provide clarity, some of the disclosures have left many questions unanswered.
Apple, for example, said that from Dec. 1, 2012, through May 31, 2013, it received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests for data, covering 9,000 to 10,000 accounts, from American law enforcement agencies. Facebook said it got 9,000 to 10,000 requests for information about its users, covering 18,000 to 19,000 user accounts, in the last six months of 2012.
How many of those requests were from investigators seeking to sniff out the next terrorist?
The companies said they were not allowed to say, although they noted that the requests were commonly related to things like local police investigations and searches for missing children. That continuing restriction prompted both Google and Twitter to say they would not publish similar data until they could separate national security requests from the rest.
“We still don’t know what is allowed and how these programs are being implemented,” said Amie Stepanovich, director of the Domestic Surveillance Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit group.
But the companies were under immense pressure to announce something. If customers do not trust that Facebook or Microsoft or Google will keep private data confidential, they could use those services far less, undermining the companies’ business model.
“They’ve got to say to the consuming public that we care about your data, we’re going to do everything we can to preserve your data, and absent a national security contingency, no one gets access to your data,” said Adonis Hoffman, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, who has served as a legal adviser to both the government and the advertising industry.
Pressing on the companies from the other side are the country’s intelligence agencies, which prohibit companies from disclosing virtually anything about the requests for national security data without permission.
“The nature of these orders are that they themselves are secret,” said one frustrated executive at a company involved in discussions with the government over disclosure issues.
Despite a week of arduous negotiations since the first reports about the National Security Agency’s seeking private data from nine major technology companies, the firms still cannot say much. “The government will only authorize us to communicate about these numbers in aggregate, and as a range,” Facebook wrote when it posted its data late Friday night.
Still, for tech companies that had never before released a transparency report, like Facebook and Apple, the data shed some light on their practices.
Apple, for example, noted in its report that it never gives the government copies of electronic conversations that take place over iMessage and FaceTime because they are protected by encryption that even Apple cannot break. “Similarly, we do not store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form,” the company said.
Google and Twitter, which had previously released transparency reports, said that lumping all law enforcement requests together, like Apple and the others did over the weekend, would be even less transparent.
Microsoft, which put out its first transparency report in March, decided to disclose the aggregate numbers but said it was pressing for further disclosure. Google, which published its first transparency report in 2010, has been the most aggressive in pushing for more disclosure. In March, it began breaking out data on one type of government request — National Security Letters, which request information on Americans — saying it had received 0 to 999 requests.
Permission to disclose that came after more than a year of negotiations with the government, and Google had been seeking permission to publish data on the other major type of national security request — information on foreigners demanded under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — even before news of Prism, the government’s surveillance program, broke, according to a person briefed on those discussions. It is still in talks to try to publish more detailed data, the person said.
By pushing to be able to publish more data on national security requests, the companies were hoping to shift the debate from the data exchange between the tech companies and the government to how the government can be more transparent about it.
Still, even if the government gives permission to break out FISA requests as a separate data point, the numbers are unlikely to tell the whole story. For every formal FISA request the government makes, intelligence agents are able to add names and additional search queries to that request for up to a year afterward, so the amount of data requested could be much higher.
Also, when the government gave Google and Microsoft permission to publish the number of national security letters they receive, it required them to publish the numbers in increments of 1,000, instead of the exact number, and would most likely do the same for FISA requests.
$$ Outsourcing Counterterrorism $$
Put the Spies Back Under One Roof
By TIM SHORROCK — Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
WASHINGTON — THE revelation that Edward J. Snowden, a contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton, was responsible for the biggest leak in the history of the National Security Agency has sparked a furious response in Congress.
“I’m very concerned that we have government contractors doing what are essentially governmental jobs,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said last week. “Maybe we should bring some of that more in-house,” the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, mused.
It’s a little late for that. Seventy percent of America’s intelligence budget now flows to private contractors. Going by this year’s estimated budget of about $80 billion, that makes private intelligence a $56 billion-a-year industry.
For decades, the N.S.A. relied on its own computer scientists, cryptographers and mathematicians to tap, decode and analyze communications as they traversed phone lines and satellite networks. By the 1990s, however, advances in personal computing, the growth of the Internet, the advent of cellphones and the shift in telecommunications to high-speed fiber-optic lines has made it difficult for the N.S.A. to keep up.
As the commercial world began to surpass the N.S.A., some in the agency began looking to the private sector for solutions. In 2000, thanks in part to an advisory committee led by James R. Clapper Jr., now the director of national intelligence, the N.S.A. decided to shift away from its in-house development strategy and outsource on a huge scale. The N.S.A.’s headquarters began filling with contractors working for Booz Allen and hundreds of other companies.
In 2001 the N.S.A. even outsourced its I.T. infrastructure “to push more of our work to contractors,” as its director testified last week. Mr. Snowden was a systems administrator on the program. That’s how he knew about the highly classified programs he leaked.
But apart from the risk of leaking classified information, what’s wrong with the N.S.A. or any other agency’s outsourcing critical programs to the private sector? Are contractors really “not the issue,” as a former N.S.A. director, Michael V. Hayden, insisted on Sunday on NBC?
And if the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs are unlawful or unconstitutional, as many Americans (including myself) believe, does it make any difference whether the work is done by a government analyst or a private contractor?
It does. Here’s why. First, it is dangerous to have half a million people — the number of private contractors holding top-secret security clearances — peering into the lives of their fellow citizens. Contractors aren’t part of the chain of command at the N.S.A. or other agencies and aren’t subject to Congressional oversight. Officially, their only loyalty is to their company and its shareholders.
Second, with billions of dollars of government money sloshing around, and with contractors providing advice on how to spend it, conflicts of interest and corruption are inevitable. Contractors simply shouldn’t be in the business of managing large projects and providing procurement advice to intelligence agencies. Thomas A. Drake, one of the N.S.A. whistle-blowers who exposed the waste and fraud in the N.S.A.’s Trailblazer program — Mr. Hayden’s disastrous attempt to privatize the N.S.A.’s analysis of intercepted signals intelligence — estimates that the project cost taxpayers as much as $7 billion (it was canceled in 2006). Yet the contracts kept rolling in, and Mr. Hayden went on to head the C.I.A.
Third, we’ve allowed contractors to conduct our most secret and sensitive operations with virtually no oversight. This is true not only at the N.S.A. Contractors now work alongside the C.I.A. in covert operations (two of the Americans killed in Benghazi were C.I.A. contractors; we still don’t know who their employer was).
They also analyze imagery and intercepted intelligence to track and kill suspected terrorists for the United States Special Operations Command. In April, the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General found that nine of 28 tasks outlined in a $231 million contract the command awarded “may have included inherently governmental duties.” In other words, contractors were involved in secret and highly sensitive operations that by law are reserved for government operatives. After Blackwater’s sordid history in Iraq, we don’t need more unaccountable actors fighting terrorism for profit.
Finally, there’s the revolving door — or what President Dwight D. Eisenhower called “undue influence.” With few regulations and no questions being asked on Capitol Hill, hundreds of former top N.S.A. and C.I.A. officials have migrated from government to the private sector and back again. The poster boy is Michael McConnell, who served as N.S.A. director during Bill Clinton’s first term, then went to Booz Allen for a 10-year stint, became director of national intelligence for George W. Bush from 2007 to 2009, and is back at Booz Allen today.
We have no way of knowing how people like Mr. McConnell formed their business relationships, and what agreements or compromises they might have made to get their private-sector jobs (and vice versa). They may be honorable men, but as recent history has shown us, there’s no reason to take them at their word. And the current one-year ban on lobbying for former officials does little to prevent conflicts of interest.
Congress must act now to re-establish a government-run intelligence service operating with proper oversight. The first step is to appoint an independent review board — with no contractors on it — to decide where the line for government work should be drawn. The best response to the Snowden affair is to reduce the size of our private intelligence army and make contract spying a thing of the past. Our democracy depends on it.
Tim Shorrock is the author of “Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing.”