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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 127755 times)
WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8910 on: Aug 2nd, 2013, 4:30pm »

on Aug 2nd, 2013, 2:36pm, jjflash wrote:
Marine helps lost 9-year-old boy finish race

The CW2

August 1, 2013

DENVER — A Marine running a 5K charity race in Charlevoix, Mich., helped a young racer who had become lost in the crush – and became an internet hero in the process.

Boden Fuchs, 9, was looking for someone to help him after he lost his group, USA Today reported. That’s when he spotted 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Myles Kerr, who was running the race wearing his boots and rucksack.

“Sir, will you please run with me?” Boden asked him.

Kerr was happy to help — “I was just doing what any man would do,” he later tweeted — and ran the rest of the race with the boy. He let him cross the finish line first, then helped him find his group.

Meanwhile, Kerr’s Marine buddies had finished well ahead and were wondering where he went. As they went to look for him, they saw him rounding the final corner, coaching Boden to the end.

The picture of that scene has become a massive hit on Facebook.


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(Credit: Seal of Honor via Facebook)




Thank you for posting that Jjflash,

God bless that wonderful man.

Crystal



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« Reply #8911 on: Aug 2nd, 2013, 5:13pm »

Telegraph

CIA 'running arms smuggling team in Benghazi when consulate was attacked'

The CIA has been subjecting operatives to monthly polygraph tests in an attempt to suppress details of a US arms smuggling operation in Benghazi that was ongoing when its ambassador was killed by a mob in the city last year, according to reports.

By Damien McElroy
11:06AM BST 02 Aug 2013

Up to 35 CIA operatives were working in the city during the attack last September on the US consulate that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, according to CNN.

The circumstances of the attack are a subject of deep division in the US with some Congressional leaders pressing for a wide-ranging investigation into suspicions that the government has withheld details of its activities in the Libyan city.

The television network said that a CIA team was working in an annex near the consulate on a project to supply missiles from Libyan armouries to Syrian rebels.

Sources said that more Americans were hurt in the assault spearheaded by suspected Islamic radicals than had been previously reported. CIA chiefs were actively working to ensure the real nature of its operations in the city did not get out.

So only the losses suffered by the State Department in the city had been reported to Congress.

"Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency's missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency's workings," CNN reported.

Frank Wolf, a US congressman who represents the district that contains CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, is one of 150 members of Congress for a new investigation into the failures in Benghazi.

"I think it is a form of a cover-up, and I think it's an attempt to push it under the rug, and I think the American people are feeling the same way," he said. "We should have the people who were on the scene come in, testify under oath, do it publicly, and lay it out. And there really isn't any national security issue involved with regards to that."

A CIA spokesman said it had been open about its activities in Benghazi.

"The CIA has worked closely with its oversight committees to provide them with an extraordinary amount of information related to the attack on US facilities in Benghazi," a CIA statement said. "CIA employees are always free to speak to Congress if they want," the statement continued. "The CIA enabled all officers involved in Benghazi the opportunity to meet with Congress. We are not aware of any CIA employee who has experienced retaliation, including any non-routine security procedures, or who has been prevented from sharing a concern with Congress about the Benghazi incident."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/10218288/CIA-running-arms-smuggling-team-in-Benghazi-when-consulate-was-attacked.html

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8912 on: Aug 2nd, 2013, 5:37pm »

on Aug 2nd, 2013, 4:30pm, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Thank you for posting that Jjflash,

God bless that wonderful man.

Crystal





You're welcome. smiley

I thought you might like that... you and the ol' 'rat. smiley
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« Reply #8913 on: Aug 3rd, 2013, 09:24am »

on Aug 2nd, 2013, 5:37pm, jjflash wrote:
You're welcome. smiley

I thought you might like that... you and the ol' 'rat. smiley



Good morning Jjflash cheesy

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« Reply #8914 on: Aug 3rd, 2013, 09:27am »









~


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« Reply #8915 on: Aug 3rd, 2013, 10:43am »

"I thought you might like that... you and the ol' 'rat."


OOOORAH! smiley
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« Reply #8916 on: Aug 4th, 2013, 09:09am »

Associated Press

Top US officials meet to discuss embassy threat

Aug. 3 9:24 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top U.S. officials met Saturday to review the threat of a terrorist attack that led to the weekend closure of 21 U.S. embassies and consulates in the Muslim world and a global travel warning to Americans. President Barack Obama was briefed following the session, the White House said.

Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, led the meeting and then joined Lisa Monaco, Obama's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, in briefing the president, the White House said in a statement.

"The president has received frequent briefings over the last week on all aspects of the potential threat and our preparedness measures," according to the statement.

Among those at the meeting Saturday afternoon were the secretaries of state, defense and homeland security and the directors of the FBI, CIA and the National Security Agency, according to the White House. Also attending was Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In an interview Friday with ABC News, Dempsey said officials had determined there was "a significant threat stream" and that the threat was more specific than previous ones. The "intent is to attack Western, not just U.S. interests," he said.

The global travel warning was the first such alert since an announcement before the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The warning comes less than a year since the deadly September attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, and with the Obama administration and Congress determined to prevent any similar breach of an American embassy or consulate.

The State Department's warning urged U.S. travelers to take extra precautions overseas. It cited potential dangers involved with public transportation systems and other prime sites for tourists, and noted that previous attacks have centered on subway and rail networks as well as airplanes and boats.

Travelers were advised to sign up for State Department alerts and register with U.S. consulates in the countries they visit.

The statement said that al-Qaida or its allies might target either U.S. government or private American interests. The alert expires on Aug. 31.

The State Department said the potential for terrorism was particularly acute in the Middle East and North Africa, with a possible attack occurring on or coming from the Arabian Peninsula. The diplomatic facilities affected stretch from Mauritania in northwest Africa to Afghanistan.

U.S. officials pointed specifically to Yemen, the home of al-Qaida's most dangerous affiliate and the network blamed for several notable plots against the United States, from the foiled Christmas Day 2009 effort to bomb an airliner over Detroit to the explosives-laden parcels intercepted the following year aboard cargo flights.

"Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August," a department statement said.

Yemen's president, Abdo Rabby Mansour Hadi, met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday, where both leaders cited strong counterterrorism cooperation. This past week, Yemen's military reported a U.S. drone strike killed six alleged al-Qaida militants in the group's southern strongholds.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, said the embassy threat was linked to al-Qaida and concerned the Middle East and Central Asia.

"In this instance, we can take a step to better protect our personnel and, out of an abundance of caution, we should," Royce said. He declined to say if the National Security Agency's much-debated surveillance program helped reveal the threat.

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/terror-threat-prompts-weekend-us-embassy-closings

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« Reply #8917 on: Aug 4th, 2013, 09:57am »

Science News

News in Brief: Spider's personality matters when job hunting

Boldest individuals of social species tasked with seeking out prey

By Meghan Rosen
Web edition: August 2, 2013

The career choices of one type of social spider depend on its personality. Character wins out over factors such as age or body size in shaping the spider’s job prospects, researchers report July 31 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Lena Grinsted of Aarhus University in Denmark and colleagues marked more than 600 Stegodyphus sarasinorum spiders with brightly colored paint to identify individuals. Then the team gave the spiders a personality quiz.

Researchers measured spiders’ boldness by blasting them with a puff of air and aggression by prodding them with a stick. Bold spiders froze when they first felt the air but quickly recovered. Aggressive spiders struck a threatening pose after feeling the stick.

Then the team let the spiders build nests for hiding and webs for capturing prey. When the researchers wiggled a leaf in the webs to mimic a struggling insect, the boldest spiders hustled out to investigate. The findings bolster the idea that spider colonies are not homogenous societies where everyone contributes in the same way, the authors suggest.

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/352092/description/News_in_Brief_Spiders_personality_matters_when_job_hunting

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« Reply #8918 on: Aug 4th, 2013, 09:59am »

Defense News

Sikorsky the Only Apparent Bidder for VXX

Aug. 3, 2013 - 10:35AM
By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS

WASHINGTON — The US president apparently will continue to fly on Sikorsky helicopters — as he always has — if the latest competition to build a new white-top helo fleet is any indication.

Bidding on the VXX program closed on the afternoon of Aug. 1, and the Connecticut-based company is the only acknowledged bidder.

Days before, both Northrop Grumman-AgustaWestland and Bell-Boeing announced their intent not to bid on the program.

“We determined we were unable to compete effectively given the current requirements and the evaluation methodology defined in the RFP [request for proposals],” AgustaWestland, which was offering a version of its AW101 helicopter, said in a statement. “There are fundamental proposal evaluation issues that inhibit our ability to submit a competitive offering, and that provide a significant advantage to our likely competitor.”

Boeing, which had been expected to propose its H-47 Chinook helicopter or the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft made with Bell, also demurred.

“We do not believe these aircraft would be competitive for this program as it is currently structured,” Boeing spokesman Damien Mills said in a statement.

Partnered with Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky is offering a VIP version of its S-92 helicopter to replace older VH-3D and VH-60N aircraft, also built by the company.

The presidential helicopter fleet is flown by the US Marine Corps, while the aircraft are procured through the Navy. When he is aboard, the president’s helicopter is known as Marine One.

The government is seeking to acquire up to 23 operational helicopters, the first of which is to enter service in 2020.

In 2005, Lockheed Martin, partnered with AgustaWestland, beat out Sikorsky to win a VXX contract with the US101 helicopter. But increasing requirements from the White House and the Secret Service drove costs up prohibitively, and the program was canceled in 2009 after nine test aircraft had been delivered.

The 2005 competition was characterized by intense made-in-the-USA campaigns by both teams. Even though Lockheed incorporated more domestically-made components than Sikorsky, the team, whose airframe was to be built in Europe, could never shed the foreign-made label, particularly in Congress.

After the first VXX program was canceled and a new competition was announced, many industry observers felt the program would be greased for Sikorsky, particularly after the Osprey was found unsuitable for operations on the White House’s South Lawn.

The Navy, for its part, tried mightily to conduct a free and open competition. While the service is prohibited by law from revealing the number of bids, it is adamant that the competition was fair.

“The Navy is expecting competitive bids for this program,” said Capt. Cate Mueller, a Navy spokeswoman at the Pentagon. “If only one bid is received, that would indicate that no other prospective bidder believed they could meet the government’s minimum requirement at a lower cost than their expected competition. Regardless of the number of proposals received, we will absolutely ensure a cost-effective solution for VXX before moving forward.”

Mueller said the service took pains in the RFP to avoid favoring any one platform.

“The requirements are not aligned to any specific mature air vehicle, and these adjustments to performance requirements were to the benefit of all potential offerors,” she said.

Mueller noted that the Navy remained engaged with the industry teams throughout the process.

“Following release of a draft RFP on Nov. 23, 2012, extensive communication with industry facilitated refinement of the specification and contract structure,” she said. “Numerous changes were made to the RFP to accommodate different approaches by industry without giving any one offeror an advantage or disadvantage.”

While Mueller said the service would be “disappointed” if only one bid was received, mechanisms are in place to keep costs down.

“In a full and open competition in which a single bid is received, provisions exist to gather additional cost data from the bidder to ensure a fair and reasonable price has been submitted for evaluation,” she said.

Sikorsky claimed its bid is competitive, regardless of the number of bidders.

“We intend to provide the best deal to the taxpayer regardless of the number of competitors, and our proposal reflects that,” spokesman Fran Jurgens said on Aug. 2 “This is a full and open competition.”

Industry Experience

More than 200 S-92s are in service around the world, Jurgens said, accumulating more than 550,000 flying hours since the type’s introduction in 2004. Ten countries fly their heads of state in the aircraft, including Turkey, where the first of two presidential aircraft was delivered in May.

The largest use of the S-92 — often configured for 19 passengers — is in the offshore oil industry, where a major customer is China. In June, Sikorsky announced a new contract with Zhuhai Helicopter Co. for more S-92s, giving the company a total of nine.

Operated along with Sikorsky S-76s, Zhuhai helos support offshore oil operations in the South China Sea.

On the same day, Sikorsky announced a contract with China’s CITIC Offshore Helicopter Co. for two S-92s, also for offshore oil industry use.

Canada’s CHC Helicopters operates 33 S-92s worldwide, flying in Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Malaysia, Norway and the United Kingdom. The aircraft is frequently seen in the North Sea, where Bristow Norway operates 52 S-92s.

But it is in the North Sea that the aircraft has acquired the reputation as something of a pilot-buster.

According to several published articles and Web message boards, the noise level in the cockpit has led some pilots and air crew members to suffer from tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, along with discomfort possibly linked to noise and vibration.

The Norwegian technical magazine Teknisk Ukeblad reported in November that of 110 Bristow S-92 pilots, five had lost their air certifications because of tinnitus, and six others were on sick leave due to problems related to cockpit noise. Together, they constitute 10 percent of the company’s S-92 pilots.

Negative comments on the S-92’s noise level date from 2005 on the PPRuNe Professional Pilots Rumour Network billboard. Many of the comments pointed to cockpit cooling fans as a culprit.

“After only a short exposure to the S-92, it is the loudest work environment I know,” one pilot wrote in September 2007. “Every bit of glass and plexi[glass] in the front office is moving like a drum skin. The windshield must be moving in and out 0.5 cm with the passage of each blade (roughly 16 Hz). It is an astounding acoustic assault.”

“I started getting problems with tinnitus almost immediately after I started flying the S-92,” another wrote in February 2009.

Sikorsky said the company has made fixes.

“Sikorsky is continually improving the S-92 aircraft and its systems in response to customer feedback, something we do all the time,” Jurgens said. “We have made improvements to the cockpit noise and vibration levels since we began delivering S-92 aircraft in airliner configuration in 2004.

“S-92 helicopters contain both passive and active vibration control systems,” Jurgens continued. “S-92 VIP aircraft feature additional soundproofing, and an expanded vibration control system. Those customers who want an exceptionally quiet cabin will have a differently configured aircraft, which also have lower cockpit noise and vibration levels.

“The S-92 will give the office of the president a quieter ride than the current Marine One fleet,” he predicted.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130803/DEFREG02/308030007/Sikorsky-Only-Apparent-Bidder-VXX

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« Reply #8919 on: Aug 4th, 2013, 10:07am »






~

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« Reply #8920 on: Aug 5th, 2013, 08:54am »

Lincolnshire Echo

UFO sightings above Lincolnshire town

Monday, August 5 2013

REPORTS have been made of possible UFO sightings in the Sleaford area within the last few nights.

Hovering, flashing lights, have reportedly been seen from Heckington and from Sleaford.

Pete Willerton, from Heckington, said he has seen the lights from his home at around 10pm the last couple of nights.

He said: “It looks a bit like a chinese lantern but it flashes and changes colour from orange to red to white. It moves around slightly then just disappears.

“It was in the direction of Asgarby.”

Pete said he moved to Heckington from Sleaford last year but used to see the same lights hovering around the Bass Maltings area when he lived there.

A Twitter user called @lincssimon tweeted yesterday: “Did anyone grab a video of the strange dancing lights over Sleaford last night? #ufo #lincs”.

Then last night he tweeted: “Has anyone got a camera handy. There’s strange lights in the sky over Sleaford right now. #lincs #ufo” followed by: “They disappeared then instantly reappeared halfway across the sky. It looks like they can also come to an instant stop #sleaford #lincs #ufo”.

Have you seen the lights? Get in touch sleafordnews@targetseries.co.uk.

http://www.thisislincolnshire.co.uk/UFO-sightings-Lincolnshire-town/story-19614599-detail/story.html#axzz2b6Q2XeJg

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« Reply #8921 on: Aug 5th, 2013, 08:57am »

Japan Times

Tokyo man discovers Sotheby’s auctioned his Renoir stolen in 2000

Kyodo
5 August 2013

An oil painting by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir that was stolen from a private residence in Tokyo in 2000 was auctioned in February at Sotheby’s in London for about £1.05 million ($1.6 million), investigative sources said Monday.

The work, “Madame Valtat,” painted in 1903, is a portrait of Suzanne Valtat, wife of Renoir’s close friend and painter Louis Valtat.

The male owner of the home in Setagaya Ward discovered the theft of the Renoir and five other pieces, including those by Russian-born French painter Marc Chagall and Japanese artist Ikuo Hirayama, in August 2000, the sources said.

The painting was auctioned off on Feb. 5 in London and the owner, who noticed that the piece had been sold at auction, informed police in Japan in March.

Japanese investigators have not yet identified the thief. The Renoir was not listed on an international database of lost and stolen artworks and thus slipped through a check at Sotheby’s for stolen items, allowing the auctioneer to put it under the hammer, the sources said.

The owner intends to seek the return of the work, but it may be difficult to specify the person who purchased it at the auction because Sotheby’s keeps client information confidential.

Sotheby’s told Kyodo News that the seller of the Renoir had acquired it legitimately in 2000 and provided representations and warranties on rightful ownership of the painting. This means the painting was probably sold to the seller shortly after it was stolen.

The auctioneer said it has been looking into the possibility the work was a stolen item and is in discussion over the issue with the parties involved.

It is believed the owner notified police in Japan at the time of the theft, but neither he nor the authorities contacted the stolen items database to have the works listed.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/05/national/tokyo-man-discovers-sothebys-auctioned-his-renoir-stolen-in-2000/#.Uf-uuZDn-1s

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« Reply #8922 on: Aug 5th, 2013, 09:00am »

Der Spiegel

Mass Data: Transfers from Germany Aid US Surveillance

By Hubert Gude, Laura Poitras and Marcel Rosenbach
August 5 2013

Agents with the United States National Security Agency (NSA) sometimes wax lyrical when they look back on their time in Germany -- to the idyllic Chiemsee lake and the picturesque Bavarian town of Bad Aibling. Anyone who has received "a free beer at the club email" and knows "that leberkäse is made of neither liver, nor cheese" can claim to be a real Bavaria veteran, former NSA employees write in a document called the "A Little Bad Aibling Nostalgia."

The profession of love for the Bavarian lifestyle and the large surveillance base southeast of Munich is among the documents in the possession of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, some of which SPIEGEL has seen. The surveillance facility is known for its large "radomes," giant golf ball-like structures which contain state-of-the-art surveillance technology. They were officially closed in September 2004.

The Americans, though, were quietly replaced by telecommunications experts from the German military, part of the Fernmeldeweitverkehrsstelle der Bundeswehr. They moved into the Mangfall barracks, only a few hundred meters from the abandoned NSA structures, laid cables to the radomes and secretly took over the NSA's large-scale surveillance of radio and satellite communications.

The supposed military site is in fact a secret facility operated by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency. NSA surveillance specialists also moved onto the grounds of the barracks, into a windowless building that had been erected within just a few months. Because of its metal shell, German BND agents refer to the building, with a mixture of affection and derision, as the "Tin Can."

The tête-à-tête between the two intelligence agencies at the Mangfall barracks was given various code names in the ensuing years and became one of their most extensive cooperative projects in Germany.

Day After Day

And the site in Bad Aibling could very well provide the answer to a question that has been on the minds of German politicians and the public in recent weeks.

The Snowden documents mention two data collection sites known as signals intelligence activity designators (SIGADs), through which the controversial US intelligence agency gathered about 500 million pieces of metadata in December 2012 alone. The code names cited in the documents are "US-987LA" and "US-987LB." The BND now believes that the first code name stands for Bad Aibling.

Day after day and month after month, the BND passes on to the NSA massive amounts of connection data relating to the communications it had placed under surveillance. The so-called metadata -- telephone numbers, email addresses, IP connections -- then flow into the Americans' giant databases.

When contacted, the BND stated that it believed "that the SIGADs US-987LA and US-987LB are associated with Bad Aibling and telecommunications surveillance in Afghanistan."

Officially, the German government is still waiting for an answer from Washington as to where in Germany the metadata documented in the NSA files was obtained. For the BND and the Chancellery, which supervises the foreign intelligence agency, the clarification of what and who are behind the two SIGADs, and exactly what sort of information was passed on, is an extremely delicate matter.

The heads of both the BND and the Chancellery have stated their positions publicly with surprising clarity. BND President Gerhard Schindler said that data relating to German citizens was only passed on to the Americans in two instances, both in 2012. Chanceller Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla -- who is nominally in charge of coordinating Germany's intelligence agencies -- even stated that the German agencies had acted in full compliance with the country's data privacy laws.

Closer Cooperation than Thought

The opposition is now waiting for an opportunity to disprove these statements. The center-left Social Democrats have made the Snowden revelations an issue in Germany's upcoming parliamentary election. An SPD campaign poster depicts Chancellor Angela Merkel and the words: "Privacy. Virgin Territory for Merkel?"

The fact that massive amounts of metadata reached NSA databases from German soil is likely to ratchet up the discussion over the role of the BND and its cooperation with the NSA even further. New documents from the Snowden archive also show that there is much closer cooperation than previously thought in relation to the controversial XKeyscore surveillance program. SPIEGEL reported on the delivery and use of the program two weeks ago.

According to the documents, there was a meeting not long ago between agents from the NSA, the BND and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany's domestic intelligence agency, in which the latest potential applications of XKeyscore were discussed. In addition, it wasn't just Germans using American surveillance programs. According to the documents, US agents also showed an interest in two BND programs, which, according to American experts, were to some extent even more effective than their own solutions.

Should the BND information be correct, it could provide Berlin a convenient way to save face. The data gathered in Bad Aibling apparently would seem to relate to the BND's legal foreign surveillance targets, which consists primarily of data transmitted in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

more after the jump:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/german-intelligence-sends-massive-amounts-of-data-to-the-nsa-a-914821.html

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« Reply #8923 on: Aug 5th, 2013, 09:03am »

Reuters

Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans

By John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke

WASHINGTON | Mon Aug 5, 2013 9:11am EDT

(Reuters) - A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin - not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to "recreate" the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant's Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don't know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence - information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.

"I have never heard of anything like this at all," said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.

"It is one thing to create special rules for national security," Gertner said. "Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations."

THE SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION

The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.

Today, much of the SOD's work is classified, and officials asked that its precise location in Virginia not be revealed. The documents reviewed by Reuters are marked "Law Enforcement Sensitive," a government categorization that is meant to keep them confidential.

"Remember that the utilization of SOD cannot be revealed or discussed in any investigative function," a document presented to agents reads. The document specifically directs agents to omit the SOD's involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony. Agents are instructed to then use "normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD."

A spokesman with the Department of Justice, which oversees the DEA, declined to comment.

But two senior DEA officials defended the program, and said trying to "recreate" an investigative trail is not only legal but a technique that is used almost daily.

A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. "You'd be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.' And so we'd alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it," the agent said.

"PARALLEL CONSTRUCTION"

After an arrest was made, agents then pretended that their investigation began with the traffic stop, not with the SOD tip, the former agent said. The training document reviewed by Reuters refers to this process as "parallel construction."

The two senior DEA officials, who spoke on behalf of the agency but only on condition of anonymity, said the process is kept secret to protect sources and investigative methods. "Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day," one official said. "It's decades old, a bedrock concept."

A dozen current or former federal agents interviewed by Reuters confirmed they had used parallel construction during their careers. Most defended the practice; some said they understood why those outside law enforcement might be concerned.

"It's just like laundering money - you work it backwards to make it clean," said Finn Selander, a DEA agent from 1991 to 2008 and now a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates legalizing and regulating narcotics.

Some defense lawyers and former prosecutors said that using "parallel construction" may be legal to establish probable cause for an arrest. But they said employing the practice as a means of disguising how an investigation began may violate pretrial discovery rules by burying evidence that could prove useful to criminal defendants.

A QUESTION OF CONSTITUTIONALITY

"That's outrageous," said Tampa attorney James Felman, a vice chairman of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association. "It strikes me as indefensible."

Lawrence Lustberg, a New Jersey defense lawyer, said any systematic government effort to conceal the circumstances under which cases begin "would not only be alarming but pretty blatantly unconstitutional."

Lustberg and others said the government's use of the SOD program skirts established court procedures by which judges privately examine sensitive information, such as an informant's identity or classified evidence, to determine whether the information is relevant to the defense.

"You can't game the system," said former federal prosecutor Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. "You can't create this subterfuge. These are drug crimes, not national security cases. If you don't draw the line here, where do you draw it?"

Some lawyers say there can be legitimate reasons for not revealing sources. Robert Spelke, a former prosecutor who spent seven years as a senior DEA lawyer, said some sources are classified. But he also said there are few reasons why unclassified evidence should be concealed at trial.

"It's a balancing act, and they've doing it this way for years," Spelke said. "Do I think it's a good way to do it? No, because now that I'm a defense lawyer, I see how difficult it is to challenge."

CONCEALING A TIP

One current federal prosecutor learned how agents were using SOD tips after a drug agent misled him, the prosecutor told Reuters. In a Florida drug case he was handling, the prosecutor said, a DEA agent told him the investigation of a U.S. citizen began with a tip from an informant. When the prosecutor pressed for more information, he said, a DEA supervisor intervened and revealed that the tip had actually come through the SOD and from an NSA intercept.

"I was pissed," the prosecutor said. "Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you're trying to comply with the law because it can lead to all kinds of problems with discovery and candor to the court." The prosecutor never filed charges in the case because he lost confidence in the investigation, he said.

A senior DEA official said he was not aware of the case but said the agent should not have misled the prosecutor. How often such misdirection occurs is unknown, even to the government; the DEA official said the agency does not track what happens with tips after the SOD sends them to agents in the field.

The SOD's role providing information to agents isn't itself a secret. It is briefly mentioned by the DEA in budget documents, albeit without any reference to how that information is used or represented when cases go to court.

The DEA has long publicly touted the SOD's role in multi-jurisdictional and international investigations, connecting agents in separate cities who may be unwittingly investigating the same target and making sure undercover agents don't accidentally try to arrest each other.

SOD'S BIG SUCCESSES

The unit also played a major role in a 2008 DEA sting in Thailand against Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout; he was sentenced in 2011 to 25 years in prison on charges of conspiring to sell weapons to the Colombian rebel group FARC. The SOD also recently coordinated Project Synergy, a crackdown against manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of synthetic designer drugs that spanned 35 states and resulted in 227 arrests.

Since its inception, the SOD's mandate has expanded to include narco-terrorism, organized crime and gangs. A DEA spokesman declined to comment on the unit's annual budget. A recent LinkedIn posting on the personal page of a senior SOD official estimated it to be $125 million.

Today, the SOD offers at least three services to federal, state and local law enforcement agents: coordinating international investigations such as the Bout case; distributing tips from overseas NSA intercepts, informants, foreign law enforcement partners and domestic wiretaps; and circulating tips from a massive database known as DICE.

The DICE database contains about 1 billion records, the senior DEA officials said. The majority of the records consist of phone log and Internet data gathered legally by the DEA through subpoenas, arrests and search warrants nationwide. Records are kept for about a year and then purged, the DEA officials said.

About 10,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agents have access to the DICE database, records show. They can query it to try to link otherwise disparate clues. Recently, one of the DEA officials said, DICE linked a man who tried to smuggle $100,000 over the U.S. southwest border to a major drug case on the East Coast.

"We use it to connect the dots," the official said.

more after the jump:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/05/us-dea-sod-idUSBRE97409R20130805

Crystal

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« Reply #8924 on: Aug 5th, 2013, 09:32am »

CRYSTAL,

EXCELLENT ARTICLE...THE D...E...A...PRESSED THE INFAMOUS..."NEED AND GREED" BUTTON WITH VICTOR BOUT AND A WELL EXECUTED OP...ALL WENT HOME THAT NIGHT ...WELL ...WITH THE EXCEPTION OF ONE RUSSIAN PROFITEER...

WELL...CAN WE SAY..."PANDORA'S BOX"...HAS BEEN OPENED...I'M SURE MANY SOPHISTICATED ATTORNEYS WILL SUBPOENA FUTURE RECORDS FROM THIS PROGRAM...WHICH MAY IN TURN FORCE A MISTRIAL DUE TO...NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUES...WE SHALL SEE...

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