Today's LACP news:
March 10, 2014
US Network to Scan Workers With Secret Clearances
by STEPHEN BRAUN
U.S. intelligence officials are planning a sweeping system of electronic monitoring that would tap into government, financial and other databases to scan the behavior of many of the 5 million federal employees with secret clearances, current and former officials told The Associated Press.
The system is intended to identify rogue agents, corrupt officials and leakers, and draws on a Defense Department model under development for more than a decade, according to officials and documents reviewed by the AP.
Intelligence officials have long wanted a computerized system that could continuously monitor employees, in part to prevent cases similar to former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden. His disclosures bared secretive U.S. surveillance operations.
An administration review of the government's security clearance process due this month is expected to support continuous monitoring as part of a package of comprehensive changes.
Privacy advocates and government employee union officials expressed concerns that continuous electronic monitoring could intrude into individuals' private lives, prompt flawed investigations and put sensitive personal data at greater risk. Supporters say the system would have safeguards.
Workers with secret clearances are already required to undergo background checks of their finances and private lives before they are hired and again during periodic re-investigations.
"What we need is a system of continuous evaluation where when someone is in the system and they're cleared initially, then we have a way of monitoring their behavior, both their electronic behavior on the job as well as off the job," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress last month.
Clapper provided lawmakers with few details but said the proposed system would extend "across the government," drawing on "six or seven data streams." Monitoring of employees at some agencies could begin as early as September and be fully operational across the government by September 2016. The price tag, Clapper conceded, "is going to be costly."
In separate comments last week, retiring NSA Director Keith Alexander said intelligence, Defense and Cyber Command officials are collaborating on "insider threat" planning. Recently declassified federal documents show that the NSA is already conducting electronic monitoring of agency staffers involved in surveillance operations.
Budget documents released this week show the Pentagon requesting nearly $9 million next year for its insider threat-related research.
Current and former officials familiar with the DNI's planning said the monitoring system will collect records from multiple sources of information about employees. They will use private credit agencies, law enforcement databases and threat lists, military and other government records, licenses, data services and public record repositories. During random spot checks, the system's software will sift through the data to spot unusual behavior patterns.
The system could also link to outside databases to flag questionable behavior, said the officials, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the plans. Investigators will analyze the information along with data separately collected from social media and, when necessary, polygraph tests, officials said.
The proposed system would mimic monitoring systems already in use by the airline and banking industries, but it most closely draws from a 10-year-old Pentagon research project known as the Automated Continuous Evaluation System, officials said. The ACES program, designed by researchers from the Monterey, Calif.,-based Defense Personnel and Security Research Center and defense contractor Northrop Grumman, has passed several pilot tests but is not yet in full operation.
The ACES project and clearance-related Defense Department research cost more than $84 million over the past decade, documents show.
Gene Barlow Jr., a spokesman for the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, the DNI agency coordinating the system's development, said ACES would be part of the DNI's "continuous evaluation solution." The DNI's system would extend across the executive branch, he said.
Clapper and other senior administration officials cited the ACES program in a February 2010 report laying out the government's plan for improving security clearances. Former Adm. Mike McConnell, who headed the DNI during the Bush administration, was an early proponent of electronic monitoring research.
"If one guy has a Jaguar on a (government) GS-12 salary, that's a red flag," McConnell said.
According to project documents, ACES links to up to 40 databases. While many are government and public data streams already available, ACES also taps into the three major credit agencies — Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.
One former official familiar with ACES said researchers considered adding records from medical and mental health files but due to privacy concerns left that decision unresolved for policy makers.
The government's inability to review information from local police reports, his employer, family and personal health records was cited as a glaring weakness in background checks on computer specialist Aaron Alexis, who fatally shot 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard last September before killing himself.
The Alexis case and the Snowden disclosures raised concerns about the flawed or inadequate work of outside contractors in background checks.
A federal official acknowledged that outside contractors would likely be used to support electronic monitoring. It was not clear whether Northrop Grumman, the company that helped develop ACES, would have a role in its government-wide deployment.
Critics worry about the potential misuse of personal information. Private contractors supporting the monitoring system would have access to sensitive data. Credit agencies and other outside data sources would know the identities of government employees under scrutiny.
"The problem is you're spreading all this private data around to more and more people, both inside and outside," said David Borer, general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees.
The union represents federal workers with top secret clearances but recently joined in a lawsuit against the government to prevent lower-level employees from being reclassified into jobs requiring clearances.
"As a result of the Snowden disclosures I think we're seeing what an open book workers' lives are becoming," Borer said.
Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Freedom Foundation, a civil liberties group, said workers' free speech, political allegiances and outside activities could be chilled under the threat of constant monitoring. Some workers might face scrutiny because of inaccurate reporting, Tien said.
Officials familiar with the DNI's system said internal guidelines, audits, encryption and other precautions built into the proposal were designed to minimize abuses of private information. A 2007 Homeland Security review of the ACES project concluded that "the system contains security and procedural controls to ensure that data is made available to only those with a legitimate need as defined by the underlying legal authorities."
Congressional officials said the DNI already has sufficient permission under U.S. law to launch the new electronic monitoring on its own, but a bill recently introduced by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, would provide additional legal support. Collins' bill calls for at least two random computerized reviews every five years for each of the 5 million government workers with a secret clearance.
Intelligence community veterans said electronic monitoring was designed to detect lavish spending and discipline problems that can go undetected during the years between a worker's first background check and re-investigation — every 5 or 10 years, depending on the clearance level.
The Intelligence and National Security Alliance, a consortium of public and private national security interests, called for continuous monitoring in a new report released last week.
Intelligence veterans say rogue agents John Walker, Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen might have been exposed much earlier by such a system.
"We have to be willing to look at indications of behavior," said Joel Brenner, former senior counsel at the NSA and head of counterintelligence for the DNI. Brenner pointed to Hanssen as the sort of "serial rule-breaker" who might have been quickly detected by electronic monitoring.
Brenner cautioned that the success of electronic monitoring depends on those manning its controls. "The system only works well," he said, "if it has thoughtful, educated, careful human beings behind it."
'We are burying a body,' teen suspect tells Texas police
by Ralph Ellis and Joe Sutton
Ask a simple question.
Police in Wylie, Texas, wanted to know what two teenagers were doing in the woods Saturday night.
"We are burying a body," one of them said.
They weren't kidding. When police looked in the woods northeast of Dallas they found the corpse of 17-year-old Ivan Mejia of Wylie. The two 16-year-olds were charged with murder.
Police first became interested when they checked out a suspicious, unoccupied vehicle backed up to the treeline, according to a department statement. Officers went into the woods and saw two suspects running from the area.
Police returned to the car and the 16-year-olds walked up and answered the question that set off bells, the statement said.
Mejia was killed behind Wylie East High School, where all three teenagers were students, and taken to the wooded area, police said. No motive has been released, but police say the killing was planned.
The school system said the incident was not connected to a school-sponsored activity.
Literacy day shines spotlight on public safety
by Adam Curtis
SIERRA VISTA — When U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Timothy Chatlos was deployed to Kuwait for 15 months, his son was just 3 years old.
“There wasn't a book to explain to somebody so young, ‘hey I'm leaving but I'm coming back,'” Chatlos said.
So he wrote one.
Illustrated by former Marine Sgt. Michael Knight, whom Chatlos met while deployed, “Because Daddy's Coming Home Today” describes the day his son was waiting for.
On Friday, Chatlos shared his book with students at Town and Country Elementary School as part of its second-ever law enforcement literacy day. The Army soldiers were a new addition this year, joining police officers, firefighters, sheriff's deputies, Border Patrol agents and LifeNet helicopter pilots as they read to the students and taught them about what they do.
“I love it, I love the questions … You never know what the kids are going to say,” Chatlos said.
Organized by the school's PTO, the event capped off a week of literacy activities, honoring Dr. Seuss's birthday and national Read Across America Day.
“With literacy week, we really wanted to make reading fun,” PTO President Christy Gridley said. “It's a great opportunity for our students to see law enforcement in a positive setting. We can mix those good safety messages with reading.”
Plus kids are suckers for uniforms and toys.
“I like the ATV,” first-grader Daniel Raygoza said. He thought the Border Patrol agents were awesome.
“They, like, have gadgets,” he said.
After looking through a pair of night-vision binoculars, first-grader Nick Reeves said it looked blue and red.
“You could see people in the night, when they're hiding,” he said.
Reeves thinks the Border Patrol agents are important, “because they help our community,” he said.
“It's great, we love working with kids,” Border Patrol Agent Craig Hayes said. Promoting reading is a big plus too.
“They're going to need literacy for everything they do in life,” Hayes said.
Gridley said reading is the foundation of education. Earlier in the week, parents came in to read with their kids and share lunch. With some Title I dollars, the school was able to give them a book to take home.
“Books open doors for the imagination,” Gridley said.
The events also help expose parents to the school's Accelerated Reading program and reinforce preparation for the AIMS test.
An Army dad
Chatlos said he's had it easy.
“My kids, I lucked out, they love to read,” he said.
Still, being an Army dad can be tough. When he was deployed to Kuwait he didn't just leave his 3-year-old son at home, he also had to part with his 4-day-old daughter for the next 15 months.
“Skype is a wonderful thing,” Chatlos said.
Every night, as he prepared for bed, his family, back in Alaska, was just starting the day. “So, every morning, I would have breakfast with them,” he said.
Six years later, his son still values the book Chatlos wrote for him and brings copies to the library every time they move to a new post. His son did find fault with one detail.
The artist envisioned the story coming from the perspective of a daughter, not a son.
“He's nine now and he still gets mad at me,” Chatlos said.
Authorities honor four-legged partners
by Amanda Banks
PARKER – Jaz, a seven-year-old bloodhound, has tracked down missing children and sniffed out criminals. She has lived, trained and worked with her handler, Deputy Nick Hall, since she was a puppy.
“She does it for the praise. She doesn't like toys; she doesn't even have a toy in the house that she likes to play with. It's all about me getting excited and loving on her,” said Hall.
The Bay County Sheriff's Office honored police, military, search and rescue team and other service dogs like Jaz on Sunday in its sixth annual K9 Veterans Memorial Service.
“Any working dog from the past up to the present time, we want to honor them,” said Lt. Kevin Francis, who first had the idea to hold the annual service and has been in charge of it ever since.
This year's service was held in Parker's Memorial Park. Parker Mayor Richard Musgrave read a proclamation declaring March 13, the birthday of the United States K9 Corps, as K9 Veterans Day.
Previous services have been held in every Bay County city except Springfield, where it will be held next year.
“At that point, every city within this county has gone through the proclamation process of March 13 as K9 Veterans Day,” Francis said. That is his ultimate goal for the service; Francis may step down from heading it up every year once that goal is met, but he said the sheriff's office will still hold the yearly service.
The Warriors Watch Riders came out to honor the dogs as well. The group honors veterans in parades, at funerals and other memorial services. About a dozen members lined up with American flags at the park.
“These four-legged guys are also veterans … Just because they have four legs doesn't mean they aren't deserving of the honor and respect that they're entitled to,” said Ken Mouzon, a Warriors Watch Rider member.
Mouzon is a veteran himself and a former corrections officer who has worked with service dogs.
“They do their job and they're good at it,” he said of the dogs.
Several K9s stood quietly with their handlers as BCSO Lt. Dennes Hutto and Greg May, director of Gulf Coast State College's criminal justice program, spoke and read poems in ode to service dogs. Francis and a representative from Bay County Sheriff's Office search and rescue team read the names of service dogs that have retired or passed on.
The service closed with a shotgun salute and playing of “Taps.”
Public safety plan, rules for spectators at Boston Marathon to be released
by Associated Press
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Public safety officials are getting ready to release more details about enhanced security for this year's Boston Marathon.
Local, state and federal agencies, the Boston Athletic Association and leaders from the eight communities that make up the marathon route are expected to reveal the new security measures during a news conference Monday at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency's headquarters in Framingham.
Authorities have been meeting for months to come up with a plan to beef up security for the April 21 marathon following last year's deadly terror attack. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured after two bombs exploded near the finish line of the race.
This year, police are expecting about 36,000 runners and up to a million spectators.
Time to change a law that harms kids and public safety
by Rep. Kenneth L. Weyler
In 1995, I was serving my 4th term in the Legislature when New Hampshire lowered the age of juvenile jurisdiction so that 17-year-olds, no matter how minor the charges against them, would be prosecuted as adults. Those of us who favored the change, including then-Governor Steve Merrill, the Attorney General, state corrections officials and local law enforcement, were motivated by a desire to make our communities safer.
I am now serving my 13th term as a state legislator, and while it sometimes seems that things don't change that much at the Statehouse, or in society as a whole, some things do. While I am still motivated by a desire to keep communities safe, I have realized that it is time to return 17-year-olds to the juvenile justice system and treat kids as kids.
In 1995, treating 17-year-olds as adults seemed like sound policy, but two decades of new information, research and experience has changed my view on this issue. We should change the law and raise the age to 18 this year.
One reason is that the states around us have raised the age, so arguments we heard in the 1990s that drug dealers from Massachusetts and other states would take advantage of our laws and send juveniles here to commit crimes are not valid. We are one of only ten states in the nation that still prosecute children under 18 in the adult system. Another compelling reason is that we know a lot more about brain development than we did twenty years ago. Anyone who has raised teenagers knows that adolescents often have a limited capacity to think through the consequences of their actions. Teenagers are risk-takers and are highly susceptible to peer pressure. Neuroscience tells us that the human brain continues to develop into the mid-twenties, and the last area to reach maturity is the frontal cortex — the seat of judgment. So law breaking as an adolescent does not necessarily lead to a life of crime. Most kids will reform, under the right circumstances.
Research shows that young offenders who are handled in the juvenile justice system are less likely to repeat their crimes than those who go to the adult system. Adult prosecution also increases the likelihood that young offenders will escalate into violent crime. A 1996 study found that the recidivism rate went up 90 percent for kids who did time in adult facilities. The same study showed that processing in adult court increased by 80 percent the likelihood of being subsequently arrested for a weapons offense. Multiple studies in various states have shown similar results.
Something else that has changed measurably since 1995 is the prevalence of youth crime, which was a large part of the argument for lowering the age to 17. Both nationally and in New Hampshire, juvenile delinquency is on the decline. In 2003, the state processed 5,800 delinquency cases; by 2012, the number fell to 2,880, a drop of just over half. We have the capacity to add 17-year-olds to our juvenile justice system; and even with the addition of 17-year-olds, the juvenile justice system will still be smaller than it was in 2003.
The vast majority of offenses committed by people under 18 are misdemeanors, and if the age is raised, judges will still have the option of transferring any juvenile accused of a felony to adult court. Even 17-year-olds who receive long sentences will eventually be released. The younger the offender, the more important it is that our policies promote rehabilitation. Adult prosecution does the opposite.
I am a firm believer that young people should be held accountable, but it should be within the juvenile justice system where they'll be mandated to go to school, have counseling and participate in other rehabilitative activities. We know that most adolescents who engage in delinquent acts do not persist in crime long into adulthood. The juvenile justice system capitalizes on adolescents' capacity for rehabilitation, while the adult system diminishes it. Putting children in an adult prison gives them a new peer group — adult criminals — which exposes them to horrific danger.
Returning 17-year-olds to the juvenile system is the right thing to do, for our kids and for the safety of our communities. It's time for New Hampshire to join 40 other states and raise the age to 18.
Rep. Kenneth Weyler (R) represents the towns of Kingston and Hampstead.