Anonymous Hijacks U.S. Sentencing Commission Website Over Internet Activist's Death
Anonymous, the hacker-activist group, said it hijacked the U.S. Sentencing Commission's website in order to avenge Aaron Swartz's death. Swartz, who was an Internet activist, recently committed suicide.
The commission's website, which is a single entity of the judicial branch, was hijacked early Saturday morning and had a warning message on it that read that Swartz's death was a crossed line.
Here is part of the message from Anonymous:
“Citizens of the World,
Anonymous has observed for some time now the trajectory of justice in the United States with growing concern. We have marked the departure of this system from the noble ideals in which it was born and enshrined. We have seen the erosion of due process, the dilution of constitutional rights, the usurpation of the rightful authority of courts by the “discretion” or prosecutors. We have seen how the law is wielded less and less to uphold justice, and more and more to exercise control, authority and power in the interests of oppression or personal gain.”
According to Anonymous hackers, they were able to break into several government computers and make copies of top-secret information that they are threatening to release to the public.
Swartz's family and friends said upon continuous hounding from the federal prosecutors, the co-creator of RSS and Reddit, committed suicide.
Officials have said Swartz posted millions of court documents on the Internet for free and that he illegally downloaded academic articles from an Internet clearinghouse.
The website, by mid-Saturday morning, was taken offline.
FBI's Executive Assistant Director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch Richard McFeely said the instant the attack happened, the agency knew about it and is currently handling the matter as a criminal investigation. He said the agency is always concerned when somebody gains access to another person's or entity's computer illegally.
Mexican Violence Prompts Self-Policing by Civilians
by KARLA ZABLUDOVSKY
MEXICO CITY — An outbreak of violence in rural southwestern Mexico has led civilians in a string of communities to take up arms and police their own communities, shining a light on the lack of state security as a new administration prepares to take on the country's violence.
The latest eruption of citizen policing began about three weeks ago in the small, mountainous town of Ayutla de los Libres, in Guerrero State, when residents picked up rifles and machetes and arrested at least three dozen people they said the authorities had failed to apprehend.
Since then, the practice has spread to other areas of the state, with movement leaders and local human rights officials saying more than a hundred small communities are now patrolling themselves.
Last week, local news media reported that indigenous communities in Jalisco State were also planning their own citizen police forces.
Vigilante justice is not uncommon in Mexico, particularly in rural, indigenous areas where there is a lack of police officers and mistrust of state institutions runs deep. But the spread of drug and organized crime gangs into remote regions in recent years has worsened the sense of lawlessness there, creating the kind of flare-ups in violence that the new government of President Enrique Peña Nieto has promised to control with a planned paramilitary force.
The new vigilante movements join older, more established citizen police forces in Guerrero State, some dating to 1995. Before the outbreak this month, the vigilante movement already claimed to be the law in 77 towns and villages in the state. The movement has also spread to Colonia Lebarón, in the border state of Chihuahua, where residents set up a civilian defense force in 2009 after two residents were murdered, and Cherán, in Michoacán State, whose residents expelled the police in 2011, closed entrances to the town and armed themselves against violent illegal loggers believed to be protected by criminal syndicates.
In Ayutla de los Libres, the citizen police squads have built their own checkpoints, copying the other grass-roots police movements in the region. The fate of those arrested, who are suspected of extortion and kidnapping, is uncertain. Abel Barrera Hernández, a human rights official in Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero, said residents would investigate the offenses and hold a public trial by month's end.
There are no independent estimates of how many people are participating in these efforts. But movement leaders expect more and more communities to join in.
“The most important weapon will be the organization of the people,” said Bruno Plácido Valerio, who helps organize community policing in Guerrero. He said he had been getting regular calls from other community leaders who want to join the movement.
The state governor, Ángel Aguirre Rivero, appears to be tolerating the turn of events, striking a balance between promises to restore state authority while acknowledging the gaps in policing by providing some of the more established community police with vehicles, uniforms and radios. Federal officials sent in the military to take control of checkpoints in Ayutla de los Libres and several other towns on Wednesday, according to the Guerrero State government.
“We understand you, and that's why we have to exercise all the force of the state to protect you,” Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, the interior secretary, said Thursday at a news conference in Nayarit State.
Much of the self-policing occurs in indigenous communities, where poverty and marginalization run deep. Many of these communities have long harbored suspicion of the state; indeed some consider themselves autonomous from Mexico, which at times has granted them de facto self-rule. “They have been permitted to re-evaluate their institutions, recreate them, and confront something that the Mexican state has not been able to resolve,” said Sergio Sarmiento Silva, an expert on indigenous movements at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Some officials, including the governor, are balancing calls to respect state authority while advocating for some legal recognition of the community police groups to fill obvious gaps in law and order. “We should propose a constitutional reform where the participation of the community police is included, because in many places where they operate, delinquency levels are down,” Mr. Aguirre Rivero said.
Mr. Plácido Valerio said the community police would abide by due process for those detained.
Meanwhile, they are already facing some of the thorny issues encountered by the professionals they replaced. On Tuesday, a self-defense civilian unit in Atliaca, Guerrero, shot and killed Benito García, a 30-year-old suspected of stealing. The details remain murky. Mr. García's family says he was innocent and has demanded a state investigation.
Police calls up, major crimes down in Cheyenne
by Kelsey Bray
CHEYENNE -- Crimes like robbery and aggravated assault appear to be decreasing here, thanks in part to vigilant community members, officials say.
From the Department of Justice
Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women Acting Director Bea Hanson Speaks
In the last three years, part one crimes have fallen by 14 percent for the Cheyenne Police Department. Those crimes include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, larceny and vehicle theft.
There was an increase in 2012, from 370 in 2011 per 10,000 residents to 404, according to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and the FBI.
But between 1999 and 2009, there was an average of 455 such crimes per 10,000. The figure from 2010-12 was 392.
“This reduction has a lot to do with people helping the department,” Police Chief Brian Kozak said. “We really wanted to communicate with citizens, because that's the key in policing.
“We can't do it by ourselves. We need to have those extra ears and eyes out there to report crimes to us.”
Kozak said that over the last several years, his staff has been working on communicating with residents and educating them about police work.
Along with a Facebook page and revamped website, the department also has introduced programs like Cheyenne Neighborhood Night Out. That is a series of block parties around the city that police and other emergency responders attend.
Another program is the Citizens Police Academy, where people can learn about police work, such as criminal investigations and building searches.
These efforts may have encouraged more people to talk to police, Kozak said, as there were 3,435 suspicious activity calls in 2012.
“That's what we stress for the community: Let us know if something's not right in your neighborhood so we can check it out,” he added.
The department also has been working harder on traffic enforcement. Along with more police patrolling school zones, officers have been focusing on high-crash areas such as Dell Range Boulevard.
And the effort may have had an effect: In 2011, there were 1,608 reported crashes compared to 1,332 in 2012 n a 21 percent decrease.
“A lot of it could be luck at the end of the day,” Kozak said. “But I know the people at the police department worked hard to have a reduction.”
More resident involvement has meant more calls for service. In 2010, there were about 51,000 calls, compared to more than 58,000 in 2012.
This has put a strain on the department, which is short staffed, Kozak said. Officers don't have as much time to do activities like patrolling near banks and shopping centers.
“The officers, particularly on day shift, don't have a lot of time for proactive enforcement or more of the community policing efforts,” he added. “They're going from one call to another, and they don't have any time in between.”
Ara Maljian, who has been an officer for 23 years, has experienced the increase.
“In the time I've been here, calls for service have tripled annually,” he said. “It's a huge burden on officers when you want to be proactive.”
He said the increase has a lot to do with technology. Most people now have smartphones that they can use to call and text crimes to the police.
To relieve the strain, Maljian said the department is exploring options like online reporting or adding officers.
Currently, there are 101 officers. When fully staffed, there would be 105.
Kozak said it is hard to recruit because his department does not offer competitive wages. It has lost applicants and officers to higher-paying jobs.
“We've been short ever since I've been here,” he said. “We've never been able to catch up.”
But employees working on recruiting officers and department officials recently asked for three more officer slots to be added. They are waiting for city approval on the additions.
Mayor Rick Kaysen said officials are looking at staffing options for emergency responders and other city positions.
“That's always a tough balance n having the workforce and still being able to fund it,” Kaysen said. “Looking at staffing is always something that goes on.”
He said it is important to have enough police, though, since they protect the community.
In the meantime, Kozak said his agency will continue with current projects and work on a recent change in officer evaluations.
“We previously rated officers on quantity, which changed to quality,” he said. “We now encourage officers to do thorough investigations, show compassion and try to find the bad guy and arrest him.”
They also will focus on several projects, like lowering domestic violence incidents.
“One of the things I hate to see as high as it is the 1,225 domestic violence calls,” Kozak said. “We just obtained a federal grant to put officers out on the street who are specialized in domestic violence investigations.”
He added he is optimistic that the changes will help crime go down.
Officer Maljian is hopeful as well.
“I'm excited about the future,” he said. “It's nice to see some change in the right direction.”
at the D.C. Office of Victim Services' National Stalking Awareness Month Event
Washington, D.C. ~ Friday, January 25, 2013
I try to start each day by combing the news for articles relevant to the work of my office. I thought I'd begin my comments by sharing a few of the stories I came across recently:
In Park Ridge, IL, a 31-year-old man was arrested and charged with cyber stalking. According to police, he sent more than 1,000 social media or text messages to the victim, some of which were inappropriate. He would also call the woman from her backyard and ask her to look outside while partially clothed, police said. Officers made an arrest the same day as the complaint.
In Cleveland, OH after ignoring several warnings from police, an 18-year-old man was charged with both felony and misdemeanor crimes for stalking his ex-girlfriend. The man repeatedly called and sent text messages to the 17-year-old girl. He also went to a home where she was babysitting and tried to force his way into the home. Both attend the same high school.
Athens-Clarke, GA police arrested a man for aggravated stalking after he tried to kick in the door of his victim's residence in a housing project where he had been banned for two years, according to a police report. A police officer handling the case noted in the report that he will ask a judge to keep the suspect in jail until his court date because of his unwillingness to stay away from the victim.
Stalking is a complex crime that is often missed, misunderstood, and underestimated. Results of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), found that, conservatively, 6.6 million U.S. citizens were stalked in a year and that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men were stalked at some point in their lives. For those of you unfamiliar with this study or the alarming rates of stalking perpetration, I'll review a few more facts. Although anyone can be a victim of stalking, females are nearly three times more likely to be stalked than males, and young adults have the highest rates of stalking victimization. For the overwhelming majority of victims, the stalker is someone known to them — an acquaintance, a family member, or, most often, a current or former intimate partner. The NISVS report also confirmed what law enforcement, prosecutors, victim service providers, and other professionals have been hearing from victims for years — that most stalking cases involve some form of technology.
These realities indicate that stalking is a serious issue for every community across the United States that requires a multidisciplinary approach – Fortunately, many of the agencies that are needed to appropriately address and respond to the crime of stalking are represented on this panel today.
We all know that stalking victims often require a broad range of services. A multidisciplinary approach encourages faster customized responses from the most appropriate providers. This, in turn, helps to improve the investigation and prosecution of cases, as well as victim safety. Community resources that may be necessary to address stalking include:
• law enforcement and the courts,
• victim advocacy organizations,
• mental health treatment providers,
• housing associations,
• local businesses and employers,
• telephone and internet service providers,
• schools and colleges,
• faith-based organizations, and
• domestic violence shelters.
The Department of Justice has focused on strengthening the criminal justice response to stalking through its implementation of the Violence Against Women Act. Since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, we have made significant strides in enhancing the criminal justice system's response to stalking. Today, stalking is a crime under Federal law and under the laws of all 50 states, the U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
At the Office on Violence Against Women or OVW, we know that stalking is often a precursor to other forms of violence, including rape, sexual assault, and homicide. We have made stalking one of our four priority areas (the others being domestic violence, sexual assault, and dating violence). Because stalking can be challenging to recognize, OVW saw a pressing need to do more to train law enforcement, prosecutors, parole/probation officers, and victim service providers to recognize stalking, to aggressively investigate and prosecute cases, and to work to ensure victim safety and support.
To meet this need, in 2000 we launched a partnership with the National Center for Victims of Crime's Stalking Resource Center (SRC) – and that partnership is ongoing. Their work has been phenomenal and critical for the field. Their training and technical assistance has aided many thousands and the “STALKING: KNOW IT. NAME IT. STOP IT.” awareness campaign has helped to maintain an ongoing dialogue, increase recognition of stalking as an important issue, and provide resources to those in need.
OVW and the Stalking Resource Center felt this forum would be an appropriate place to introduce a series of tip sheets we've developed for specific audiences including law enforcement, prosecution, and victim services. We have copies of these one-pagers at this event, and we will post them on the SRC and OVW web sites. We will also work with OVW's stakeholders and national partners to distribute these to our constituents nationally. I want to thank the SRC publicly for this latest example of our very productive and proactive partnership.
I would also be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to recognize DC's Office of Victim Services for their pioneering work in this area. I look to DC as an example of coordination and collaboration and hope that communities across the country that have not deliberately tackled this issue will follow DC's lead. I'm going to let the panel tell the story of how they got to where they are today and their charge in addressing, deterring, and one day we hope PREVENTING the crime of stalking.
We know the serious toll that stalking can take on the victims — emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially — every aspect of their lives can be impacted and jeopardized. But stalking does not impact the victims alone. Their families, neighbors, friends, and indeed their entire communities can feel the negative impacts of their experience. That is why we all must come together and be resolute in our commitment to ending this crime. If we are going to prevent stalking, we first have to put it on the nation's radar. The stakeholders that I mentioned earlier need to be better educated about how to appropriately deter or respond to this crime and help protect potential victims.
I stand proudly with the SRC, DC's Office of Victim Services, the esteemed panel members, every person in the room who took time out of your busy schedules to attend this important event, and the President himself in recognizing January as National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM). As the first President to proclaim January as NSAM, I'll close with a quote from President Obama: “Though stalking can occur in any community, shame, fear of retribution, or concerns that they will not be supported lead many victims to forego reporting the crime to the police. As we strive to reverse this trend, we must do more to promote public awareness and support for survivors of stalking.”
From the Department of Homeland Security
Combating Human Trafficking: A Look at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's Efforts
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and it is, for me, an opportunity to reflect on the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's (FLETC) leadership in providing training for combating human trafficking nationwide.
At the FLETC, we have developed and delivered video, web-based and in-person human trafficking trainings to provide federal, state, and local law enforcement the tools and strategies they need to identify human trafficking victims and prosecute offenders. The FLETC developed and delivered a web-based training specifically for state and local law enforcement to educate them on how to differentiate human trafficking (compelling another to commit acts of commercial sex or forced labor), from human smuggling (voluntarily agreeing to illegally cross the US border), how to recognize the signs of human trafficking guring routine duties, and the immigration relief available to trafficking victims.
Recently, the FLETC partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI, the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit of the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Department of Labor to deliver training to specialized task forces called Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams. The FLETC expects to complete training for all six teams by the end of the fiscal year.
Next month, the FLETC will launch a two-part series of training videos to be played during roll-call briefings for law enforcement. The training videos focus on DHS' immigration relief to trafficking victims, which aids in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers; for example, DHS may allow undocumented victims to remain in the United States to assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of crimes.
Successfully combating human trafficking requires coordinated effort from law enforcement, individuals and our public and private sector partners. To that end, the FLETC has also partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, ICE and others to reach beyond the law enforcement audience to provide training to victims' service providers, emergency medical personnel, and other community groups. Other government agencies and partners—including Department of Transportation, Amtrak and air carriers—have also adapted the FLETC's materials to train their employees on identifying indicators of human trafficking.
We continue work with other DHS component agencies and partners to develop and enhance training, because everyone has a role to play in combating human trafficking. The DHS Blue Campaign provides a unified voice for these DHS components to fight human trafficking. This innovative approach will continue to provide the Department with effective training products for years to come. For more information about the Blue Campaign, please visit: www.dhs.gov/humantrafficking