Anonymous Hacks US Department Of Justice Server, Posts Data Online

May 22, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The hacker activist group Anonymous hacked into a Justice Department server and posted troves of data online on Monday.

The group claimed it was releasing 1.7GB of data belonging to the “United States Bureau of Justice” and said the data included internal emails.

A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed that someone had gained unauthorized access to a department server.

But she said the only server affected was the one that contains the data for the public website of the Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, which compiles national crime statistics.

The spokeswoman said the Bureau of Justice Statistics website had remained operational and the main website, justice.gov, was not affected.

“The department is continuing protection and defensive measures to safeguard information and will refer any activity that is determined to be criminal in nature to law enforcement for investigation,” she said.

It is not immediately clear whether the data dump included any sensitive information. But the fact that Anonymous had gained access to a Justice Department server makes the attack much more serious than the group’s more common tactic of overloading a government website with requests from thousands of computers.

Anonymous has used that method, known as a denial-of-service attack, in the past to crash the websites of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA and major record labels and movie studios. But that method does not give the hackers access to classified information.

In a statement, the hacker group said it released the data “to spread information, to allow the people to be heard and to know the corruption in their government.”

“We are releasing it to end the corruption that exists, and truly make those who are being oppressed free,” the group claimed.

The Justice Department arrested five alleged leaders of Anonymous earlier this year after one of the hackers became a government informant in exchange for a lighter sentence.

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Seattle Washington Police Object To Reforms That Would Help Eliminate Random Beatings By Officers, Often For Minor Offenses

May 16, 2012

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – The Seattle Police Department is objecting to reforms proposed by the Justice Department as wildly unrealistic and expensive, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

The DOJ presented its confidential settlement proposal to the city at the end of March, after finding that Seattle police regularly used illegal force, often for minor offenses. The DOJ threatened to sue unless the problems were fixed.

The AP reviewed a copy of the proposal Tuesday, which shows the DOJ wants the city to change policies, add training for officers and hire more sergeants to supervise patrol officers. The city must also agree to the appointment of an outside monitor, at city expense.

A Seattle Police analysis of the DOJ’s proposal, also reviewed by the AP, takes issue with the cost of the reforms — $41 million, according to a preliminary estimate — as well as the four- to six-month timelines for many of them. It complains that the 1-to-6 ratio of sergeants to patrol officers that prosecutors are seeking, as opposed to the department’s current ratio of 1-to-8, is not a standard found in most major city police agencies, and would take, conservatively, two to three years to accomplish.

“Plainly stated, the overwhelming majority of programs proposed by DOJ cannot be implemented in less than one to three years, if at all,” the analysis reads. “These timelines can only be described as impossible and prompt serious questions about the analytical thoroughness and organizational experience of those who proposed them.”

The DOJ’s proposal calls for reaching the 1-to-6 ratio of sergeants to officers in six months, but appears to give some flexibility by saying that before that, the city and police department should evaluate the ratio to determine whether the suggestion is appropriate.

In the first year, the analysis said, officers would be recruited and trained to fill in for promoted sergeants. The sergeant exam must be announced a year in advance, according to civil service laws, and by city rules, the exams are given every other year. Any shortcut to the rules can result in appeals, and typically no more than 20 percent of those taking the exam are promoted.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is due to present his response to the DOJ’s proposal this week, which he expects will be followed by “good-faith negotiations” between the city and DOJ. If no agreement is reached by the end of the month, the city expects to face a lawsuit from DOJ on June 1.

Last week, the DOJ sued tough-talking Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Ariz., over allegations that his department racially profiled Latinos. It was only the second time since the verdict in the Rodney King police brutality case and Los Angeles riots that the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against a law enforcement agency with which it was unable to reach an agreement.

McGinn first announced the cost estimate of $41 million on Monday, prompting the U.S. attorney’s office in Seattle to describe the figure as inflated. The city is facing a budget hole of about $30 million.

“The budget numbers being projected by the city are simply wrong,” Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Bates said in a written statement Monday. “The cost of any agreement will not be remotely close to the figure cited today. We are confident that once the city understands our proposed agreement, it will conclude that what we cannot afford is further delay.”

The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment Tuesday.

The Justice Department launched its formal civil rights investigation early last year, following the fatal shooting of a homeless, Native American woodcarver and other incidents of force used against minority suspects.

Surveillance cameras and police-cruiser videos captured officers beating civilians, including stomping on a prone Latino man who was mistakenly thought to be a robbery suspect, and an officer kicking a non-resisting black youth in a convenience store.

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Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department To Sue Nutcase Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Department

May 9, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Federal authorities say they intend to file a lawsuit against Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and his department over allegations of civil rights violations.

The U.S. Justice Department sent a letter dated Wednesday to lawyers for the Maricopa County sheriff, giving his office “notice of intent to file civil action.”

Arpaio’s office has been accused of racially profiling Latinos, basing immigration patrols on racially-charged citizen complaints that didn’t allege crimes and punishing Hispanic jail inmates for speaking Spanish.

The DOJ also has accused Arpaio of having a culture of disregard for basic constitutional rights.

Arpaio has denied allegations of systematic discriminatory policing and has insisted the Justice Department provide facts to prove its allegations.

The Justice Department said a 22-page letter that it sent Arpaio’s office in December provides those details.

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“Justice For Sale” Under Obama And Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder – Department Of Justice Not Prosecuting Wall Street Execs Represented By Law Firms Where Holder And His Top Aides Worked

May 8, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – In an explosive Newsweek article set to rock official Washington, reporter Peter Boyer and Breitbart contributing editor and Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer reveal how Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice are operating under a “justice for sale” strategy by forgoing criminal prosecution of Wall Street executives at big financial institutions who just so happen to be clients of the white-shoe law firms where Holder and his top DOJ lieutenants worked.

There’s more.

Even as President Barack Obama and Holder co-opt the Occupy Wall Street rhetoric of getting “tough” on the Big Banks and Big Finance, the Newsweek investigative report reveals that Eric Holder has not criminally charged or prosecuted a single top executive from any of the elite financial institutions thought responsible for the financial crash. And why would they? As Boyer and Schweizer report, “through last fall, Obama had collected more donations from Wall Street than any of the Republican candidates; employees of Bain Capital donated more than twice as much to Obama as they did to Romney, who founded the firm.”

Collecting millions from Wall Street was hardly the plan Obama and Holder telegraphed upon entering office. In 2009, the new Attorney General said boldly:

We face unprecedented challenges in responding to the financial crisis that has gripped our economy for the past year. Mortgage, securities, and corporate fraud schemes have eroded the public’s confidence in the nation’s financial markets and have led to a growing sentiment that Wall Street does not play by the same rules as Main Street. Unscrupulous executives, Ponzi scheme operators, and common criminals alike have targeted the pocketbooks and retirement accounts of middle class Americans, and in many cases, devastated entire families’ futures. We will not allow these actions to go unpunished….This Task Force’s mission is not just to hold accountable those who helped bring about the last financial meltdown, but to prevent another meltdown from happening.

Obama unloaded on Wall Street too. In 2009, Obama created the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and announced that its purpose was to hold “accountable those who helped bring about the last financial crisis as well as those who would attempt to take advantage of the efforts at economic recovery.”

But Holder and Obama’s anti-Wall Street “law and order” rhetoric has turned out to be a smokescreen that allows the Obama campaign to talk the talk of the 99% while taking money from Wall Street’s 1%. The result is extortion by proxy. As President Obama put it to the Big Finance executives who met with him at the White House just two months into his presidency, “My Administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

Not surprisingly, of the elite bundlers who made up Obama’s 2008 campaign, the second most represented industry after law was the securities and investment industry. It’s a level of hypocrisy that has outraged even committed leftists. Industrial Areas Foundation activist Mike Gecan put it squarely: “I’m from Chicago, I’ve seen this game played my whole life.”

So what have the securities and banking industries received for their political contributions?

As Boyer and Schweizer report, Department of Justice criminal prosecutions are at 20-year lows for corporate securities and bank fraud. And while large financial institutions have faced civil prosecution, those typically end in settlement fees with the major banks that represent a fraction of their profits, often paid through special taxes on mortgage-backed securities.

It’s the most crass and cynical brand of politics imaginable, the Chicago Way writ large: pay to play justice from the nation’s highest law enforcement official.

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Miami Florida Police Under Investigation For Shooting And Killing Blacks

November 17, 2011

MIAMI, FLORIDA – The U.S. Justice Department will investigate whether Miami police violated the constitutional rights of seven black men who were shot to death by officers over an eight-month span, raising tensions in the inner city and sparking demands for an independent review.

The civil investigation — known as a “pattern and practice’’ probe — will examine Miami police policies and training involving deadly force. The goal: to determine if systemic flaws made shootings of black men more likely, rather than unfortunate, last-choice actions, as the officers’ supporters maintain.

A source close to the investigation confirmed Wednesday night that Thomas E. Perez, head of Justice’s civil rights division, and Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer will announce the investigation during a press conference in downtown Miami Thursday morning.

Family members of the deceased, church leaders and activists have been invited to meet with Ferrer Wednesday afternoon, but they were not told why. They reacted with relief when told the news.

“Oh, that’s great, great, really good,” said Sheila McNeil, whose unarmed son Travis McNeil, 28, was shot to death in his car in Little Haiti Feb. 10 by Officer Reinaldo Goyo. The officer said McNeil was driving erratically. No weapon was ever found.

“I’m just glad to know it’s not forgotten,’’ McNeil told The Miami Herald. “Right now I don’t know more than I did the night he died, so I’m just waiting to hear what they have to say.”

But Nathaniel Wilcox, executive director of People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality, or PULSE, who has stood with many of the dead men’s families during a series of emotional public meetings, criticized federal authorities for not opening a criminal investigation into the shooting deaths. They spanned July 2010 to February 2011.

“We think they really took too long and we feel abandoned,’’ Wilcox said. “We expected the Obama administration to do a lot more and a lot quicker than they did.”

The Justice Department will not conduct criminal investigations into the seven shootings, which are under review by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. But Justice will look into the Miami Police Department’s training methods, leadership and practices. Any adverse findings could lead to court-enforced reforms, but more frequently, Justice works with a police department to iron out any problems.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami declined comment Wednesday.

Acting Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa did not respond to interview requests. But spokesman Delrish Moss said the department is being revamped under the new chief, who assumed the post in September and is conducting a “top to bottom review of everything, from training to hiring.”

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado did not return calls.

The impending investigation marks the second time in a decade that federal authorities have conducted an investigation into alleged systemic violations of constitutional rights by Miami police officers.

In 2002, Justice conducted a much broader civil probe, concluding in 2003 that the department had serious flaws in the way it conducted searches and seizures, used firearms, defined use of force and worked with police dogs. The inquiry began at the city’s request after several controversial police shootings.

However, the report did “not reach any conclusion” about whether the police department’s policies caused civil rights violations.

Since the latest spate of shootings began in July 2010, the public and families of the slain men have clamored for answers, repeatedly seeking transparency from police and the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office.

The police, under the leadership of then-Chief Miguel Exposito, who was terminated in September for insubordination, took heat for keeping quiet. Exposito even refused to turn over information to a civilian oversight panel when it sought details on the first shooting, of DeCarlos Moore in Overtown in July 2010.

Exposito blamed the shootings on a turf war created after his officers took guns off the streets. He also criticized State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle for taking too long to close out her investigations, ham-stringing his ability to speak about the shootings.

Friction over the shootings intensified as the number of incidents grew. The NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union called for a federal investigation. In late February, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson asked U.S. Attorney Eric Holder, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, to look into Miami police policies involving deadly force.

Regalado also requested an investigation, in August.

On Tuesday, Wilson called the investigation “a step in the right direction.” “I think it’s important because of the injustice that happened,” Wilson told The Herald. “I want [Miami police] to respect each other, and drop the racist tactics in training.”

The ACLU praised the development. “We have a crisis in this community where the police department is too quick to use deadly force, especially aimed at young black men, and it doesn’t have the mechanism to control itself,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.

Locally, the state attorney’s office has closed only one criminal review, clearing the officer in the Moore shooting. Police said Moore disobeyed an order to stay put, and returned to his car where officers thought they saw him holding a shiny object, possibly a weapon. No weapon was found at the scene.

The other men killed by police were Joell Lee Johnson, Tarnorris Tyrell Gaye, Gibson Junior Belizaire, Brandon Foster, Lynn Weatherspoon, and McNeil, who was followed by police from a lounge on Northwest 79th Street. McNeil’s friend, Kareem Williams, was shot too, but survived.

The Justice investigation into Miami police will be the 18th being conducted by the Obama administration, which has stepped up civil rights investigations across the country. The federal effort has won praise from advocacy groups and experts on police brutality.

Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, said recently that the investigations into local police are “really a cornerstone of our work.” He was speaking to reporters about a Justice report on Puerto Rico, which accused officers of widespread brutality, unconstitutional arrests and targeting people of Dominican descent. That followed a Justice Department report in March that said the New Orleans Police Department repeatedly violated constitutional rights by using excessive force, illegally arresting people and targeting black and gay residents.

U.S. Justice Department to investigate shootings by Miami police – Miami-Dade – MiamiHerald.com


Subpoena Issued As Congress Investigates US Justice Department Efforts That Armed Mexican Drug Cartels With High Power Assault Weapons

October 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional investigators issued a subpoena Wednesday for communications from several top Justice Department officials — including Attorney General Eric Holder — relating to the discredited “Fast and Furious” federal gunrunning operation.

The subpoena, issued by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also covers communications from Holder’s chief of staff, Gary Grindler, and from Lanny Breuer, head of the department’s criminal division.

Among other things, the subpoena includes a request for information regarding relevant Justice Department communications with the White House, as well as details about the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent last December, the source added.

“Top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Holder, know more about Operation Fast and Furious than they have publicly acknowledged,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“The documents this subpoena demands will provide answers to questions that Justice officials have tried to avoid since this investigation began eight months ago. It’s time we know the whole truth.”

Holder has promised to comply with any Capitol Hill subpoena, though a Justice Department spokeswoman appeared to dismiss the development as a political exercise.

“We’ve made clear from the beginning that the department intends to work with the committee to answer legitimate questions,” Tracy Schmaler said. “However, this subpoena shows that Chairman Issa is more interested in generating headlines than in real oversight important to the American people.”

Operation Fast and Furious involved agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowing illegal sales of guns, believed to be destined for Mexican drug cartels, to “walk” from Phoenix gun stores into Mexico.

The idea was to track the sellers and purchasers of guns to Mexican cartels. But the program became mired in controversy after weapons found at Mexican and American murder scenes were traced back to the program. Mexican officials and critics in the United States called the operation a failure, saying it exacerbated the longstanding problem of U.S. weapons getting into the hands of the violent Mexican cartels.

A GOP-led congressional investigation into the matter has become politically contentious, with administration and Capitol Hill leaders accusing each other of acting irresponsibly.

In a letter to Holder released Monday, Issa, a California congressman, accused the attorney general of actively obstructing Congress’ oversight function and damaging his own credibility as a top national law enforcement officer.

“Numerous statements” made by Holder about Operation Fast and Furious have “been proven to be untrue,” Issa said.

“The time for deflecting blame and obstructing our investigation is over,” Issa wrote in the letter, which was dated Sunday. “The time has come for you to come clean to the American public about what you knew about Fast and Furious, when you knew it, and who is going to be held accountable for failing to shut down a program that has already had deadly consequences, and will likely cause more casualties for years to come.”

Issa blasted Holder for “negligence and incompetence” on the issue, and for offering a “roving set of ever-changing explanations” designed primarily to “circle the wagons around (the Justice Department) and its political appointees.”

The operation was the Justice Department’s “most significant gun trafficking case,” Issa said. “On your watch, it went spectacularly wrong. Whether you realize yet or not, you own Fast and Furious. It is your responsibility.”

Holder testified before the Judiciary Committee in May that he had known about the Fast and Furious program for just a few weeks. Republicans insist that recently released Justice Department documents show the attorney general actually knew about the program much earlier.

Holder and his aides continue to vehemently deny that charge.

The attorney general responded angrily Friday to GOP critics of his handling of the operation, charging them with using “irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric.”

“I simply cannot sit idly by as a (Republican) member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform suggests, as happened this week, that law enforcement and government employees who devote their lives to protecting our citizens be considered ‘accessories to murder,’” Holder said in a letter to members of Congress.

Such rhetoric, Holder declared, “must be repudiated in the strongest possible terms.”

On Sunday, Issa said the Judiciary Committee has invited Holder to “come and clear the record.”

“Clearly, he knew when he said he didn’t know,” Issa said. “Now the question is, what did he know and how is he going to explain why he gave that answer?”

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Oversight Committee Letter Questions Disgraced US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr’s Trustworthiness And Credibility After Lies About His Department Supplying Guns To Mexican Drug Cartels

October 11, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s “lack of trustworthiness” in explaining what he knew about the failed “Fast and Furious” weapons investigation has “called into question his overall credibility” to serve as the nation’s top prosecutor, the chairman of a House committee investigating the operation said Monday.

In a blistering letter, Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told Mr. Holder that it was time for him “to come clean to the American public” on what he knew and when about the weapons investigation, saying Mr. Holder has made numerous statements about the operation that have “proven to be untrue.”

“The time for deflecting blame and obstructing our investigation is over,” Mr. Issa wrote. “Operation Fast and Furious was the department’s most significant gun-trafficking case. It related to two of your major initiatives — destroying the Mexican [drug] cartels and reducing gun violence on both sides of the border.

“On your watch, it went spectacularly wrong. Whether you realize yet or not, you own Fast and Furious. It is your responsibility,” he wrote, adding that Mr. Holder had an obligation to say who is going to be held accountable “for failing to shut down a program that has already had deadly consequences, and will likely cause more casualties for years to come.”

Mr. Issa has been investigating Fast and Furious for several months with Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The operation involved the purchase of weapons at Phoenix-area gun shops that eventually were “walked,” or taken, into Mexico, where they were delivered to Mexican dug bosses.

Two of the weapons, both AK-47 assault rifles, were found at the scene of the killing of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry in December.

Mr. Issa said the Justice Department from the beginning of the probe has offered “a roving set of ever-changing explanations to justify its involvement in this reckless and deadly program.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman dismissed Mr. Issa’s letter Monday as “recycled” partisanship.

But Mr. Issa said Justice’s defenses were aimed at undermining the congressional investigation.

The Justice Department insisted from the start that no wrongdoing had occurred and asked that he and Mr. Grassley defer their oversight responsibilities because of concerns they would interfere with an ongoing investigation by the department’s Office of Inspector General, Mr. Issa said.

Additionally, he said, the department steadfastly insisted that none of the Fast and Furious guns had been “walked” into Mexico.

“Once documentary and testimonial evidence strongly contradicted these claims, the department attempted to limit the fallout from Fast and Furious to the Phoenix field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,” he said. “When that effort also proved unsuccessful, the department next argued that Fast and Furious resided only within ATF itself, before eventually also assigning blame to the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona.

“All of these efforts were designed to circle the wagons around [Justice] and its political appointees,” he said.

Last month, Mr. Holder claimed Fast and Furious did not reach the upper levels of the Justice Department, Mr. Issa said, although documents discovered through the course of the investigation proved that “each and every one of these claims advanced by the department to be untrue.”

“It appears your latest defense has reached a new low,” he said, adding that Mr. Holder in a letter Friday said he was unaware of the Fast and Furious operation because his staff failed to inform him of information contained in memos that were specifically addressed to the attorney general.

“At best, this indicates negligence and incompetence in your duties as attorney general,” Mr. Issa said. “At worst, it places your credibility into serious doubt.

“Instead of pledging all necessary resources to assist the congressional investigation in discovering the truth behind the fundamentally flawed Operation Fast and Furious, your letter instead did little but obfuscate, shift blame, berate and attempt to change the topic away from the department’s responsibility in the creation, implementation and authorization of this reckless program.”

On Friday, Mr. Holder denied that emails sent to his office showed that he knew of the Fast and Furious operation and did nothing about it. He said public comments about the inquiry and his involvement with it had become “so base and so harmful to interests that I hope we all share” that he had to publicly address the matter.

Mr. Holder said he took “decisive action” when he learned earlier this year about Fast and Furious in ordering the Office of Inspector General to investigate the matter. He said he also overhauled the leadership at ATF and the U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix, which oversaw the investigation.

“It has become clear that the flawed tactics employed in Fast and Furious were not limited to that operation and were actually employed in an investigation conducted during the prior administration,” Mr. Holder said, referring to a separate initiative known as “Operation Wide Receiver” managed by federal authorities during the George W. Bush administration.

“Regardless, those tactics should never again be adopted in any investigation,” he said.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said the Issa allegations, no matter how many times they are repeated, continue to be “baseless.” She said Mr. Holder took concerns about tactics used in Fast and Furious to the Office of Inspector General, where the operation is now under investigation.

“The department will continue to cooperate with both the inspector general and congressional investigations,” she said. “In the meantime, what the American people deserve is less partisan showboating and more responsible solutions to stopping gun violence on the Southwest Border.”

In the letter, Mr. Issa said documents obtained by congressional investigators show Mr. Holder was aware of Fast and Furious in the summer of 2010 at the latest, not April or May of this year as he testified. Mr. Issa said Mr. Holder was informed about the ATF investigation on at least five occasions and was told that straw buyers were responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug-trafficking cartels.

“Yet, you did nothing to stop this program,” Mr. Issa said. “You failed to own up to your responsibility to safeguard the American public by hiding behind” attorneys in your office, “who you now claim did not bring this information to your attention.”

Mr. Issa said the “most disturbing aspect of this intransigence” is that the Justice Department “has been lying to Congress ever since the inquiry into Fast and Furious began.”

“These firearms were not interdicted. They were not stopped. Your agents allowed these firearms purchases to continue, sometimes even monitoring them in person, and within days some of these weapons were being recovered in Mexico,” he said.

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