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Watchdog: D.E.A. Informant Program Undermines Foreign Policy and U.S. Security

More damning information came out on Thursday about the Drug Enforcement Administration’s reliance on confidential informants, including new details about how it jeopardizes “national security, foreign relations, and civil liberties.” The Department of Justice Inspector General released a public summary of a classified addendum that was affixed to a scathing report, released last September, on the DEA’s use of confidential sources. The prior audit discovered that the agency did not properly oversee its network of informants, increasing the risk of fraud and constitutional abuses. The new… Keep Reading

Distrust of Surveillance State Grows, As Expiration of Key Law Inches Closer

Democrats and Republicans teamed up to blast the FBI on Wednesday, using a government audit on facial recognition capabilities to suggest that surveillance reform could be in the offing. The Bureau has been the target of anger from both parties over the past few months, with criminal investigations impacting presidential politics like they haven’t since the Nixon Era. House Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) brought up some of the recent displeasure from conservatives, in a hearing before the panel. “Somebody decided to take off… Keep Reading

Pro-Gorsuch Dark Money Raises Doubts About Judicial Independence

A Democratic lawmaker expressed concerns on Tuesday about a well-funded advocacy campaign compromising the independence of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) noted that conservative donors are anonymously spending $10 million on lobbying for Gorsuch’s appointment. He said the initiative raises questions about Gorsuch needing to recuse himself from future cases, should his nomination pass the Senate. Those queries, however, cannot currently be answered, with the money having been given anonymously. When asked by Whitehouse about the source of the funding, Gorsuch… Keep Reading

Pattern of Deportation As Retaliation Emerging in Trump Era

Recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions raise questions about the Trump Administration using deportation proceedings to punish political opponents—both institutions and individuals. Three undocumented activists in Vermont were arrested over the past week by ICE agents—two of them, while leaving the office of an organization that advocates for immigrants’ rights. In Texas, meanwhile, a federal magistrate judge on Monday confirmed that immigration agents were conducting raids in response to policy changes carried out by the county seat of Austin. The Texas-based federal magistrate, Judge Andrew… Keep Reading

Dem Intel Leader Praises Trump’s Electronics Ban

The Department of Homeland Security enacted a new policy in the early morning hours on Tuesday, blocking travelers from certain Muslim-majority nations from bringing larger electronics on flights to the US. The rules affect 10 airports in eight nations, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Morocco, Turkey, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt. They apply only to foreign carriers, not US airliners. Electronics covered by the ban include laptops, tablets, cameras, and larger gaming consoles. They can, however, be carried in checked bags. Officials told the… Keep Reading

Comey Hearing Confirms Counter-Intel Investigation into Trump Campaign; No Evidence of Trump’s Wiretap Claim

FBI Director James Comey announced on Monday that his bureau’s probe of suspected Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election also includes looking into alleged ties between Trump campaign officials and Moscow. In testimony before the House intelligence community, Comey provided few other details about the inquiry and which individuals might be targets. He did note that the probe was initiated late July of last year. “I have been authorized by the DOJ to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating… Keep Reading

Corruption Case Against Sen. Menendez Can Proceed, SCOTUS Rules

The Supreme Court won’t consider throwing out corruption charges filed against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). Justices did not give any reasoning for not granting Menendez a hearing, as is the norm. The lawmaker’s appeal was one of many on Monday that the high court declined to hear. The decision means prior rulings on the indictment will stand, and that a criminal trial can now proceed this fall. Last summer, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia rejected Menendez’s arguments for dismissing the charges. Menendez… Keep Reading

Senior Navy Officials Accused of Interfering in Sexual Assault Investigation

The Pentagon is investigating charges that senior Navy officials “adversely affected the independence” of an internal probe into the “career paths” of those who claim to be victims of sexual assault. The Department of Defense Inspector General said Wednesday that it is launching the inquiry after receiving “hotline allegations.” Carolyn Hantz, an official within the Pentagon’s primary watchdog, disclosed the opening of the investigation in a letter her naval counterparts. “This evaluation will include but is not limited to reviewing relevant supporting documentation and interviews… Keep Reading

Trump the Slasher Releases 2018 Budget: Climate Change, Job Assistance, the Arts Take Backseat to War and the Wall

Fifteen major government departments would see their funding cut, and 19 agencies would be completely eliminated under the proposed budget released by the White House on Thursday. The preliminary document calls for massive spending reductions at the Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department, the Agricultural Department, and the Labor Department. All would see more than a fifth of their budget go up in smoke. The cutbacks finance significant spending increases at three departments: Defense (up 9 percent), Homeland Security (up 7 percent), and Veterans’ Affairs… Keep Reading

Congress Approves of Drug Test Measure that “Vilifies Unemployed Workers”

Congress has voted to jettison Labor Department regulations that limit who can be drug-tested before collecting unemployment benefits from state governments. The Senate on Tuesday passed a resolution under the Congressional Review Act, disapproving of the rule in a 51-48 party line vote. Lawmakers in the House had already advanced the measure, and it now only needs the signature of President Trump before the Obama-era framework is fully scrapped. “It isn’t some fringe or mean-spirited notion that there’s a connection between the use of illegal… Keep Reading

Charges Filed Against Russian Hackers—Unrelated to DNC, Podesta Breach

The Justice Department filed charges against Russian intelligence operatives for their alleged role in a 2014 cyber attack against a half-million Yahoo users. The indictments mark the first time that any such charges have been brought against members of the Russian government, which is often accused by US officials of sponsoring aggressive cyber warfare. Four people were charged altogether. Among those standing accused of hacking, economic espionage, and wire fraud, are Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin—members of the FSB, a Russian intelligence and law enforcement… Keep Reading

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