Key federal jobs vacant under chaotic Trump administration

As tweet-storm controversies and allegations and investigations of Russian meddling in the U.S. election continue, President Donald Trump is having trouble -- for reasons both self-made and external -- filling vacancies in top jobs throughout the federal government. Trump has recently announced a few nominations. These include Richard V. Spencer (not to be confused with … Continue reading Key federal jobs vacant under chaotic Trump administration

Local police cell phone snooping highlights lack of surveillance oversight

In December, a congressional oversight committee released a report on the use of cell-site simulators, and claimed federal authorities only use the mobile phone surveillance devices to determine suspects' locations, rather than to intercept content. A new investigation, however, shows that local law enforcement, at least, has often been using the sophisticated surveillance technology under … Continue reading Local police cell phone snooping highlights lack of surveillance oversight

Activism and ‘extremism’ in the era of Trump

Following protests and rioting in Berkeley, California last week over a scheduled -- and then cancelled -- appearance by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos that brought condemnation from President Donald Trump, and new executive orders signed this week including one aimed at "preventing violence" against law enforcement,  many are wondering how aggressively the new administration plans … Continue reading Activism and ‘extremism’ in the era of Trump

House Oversight Committee calls for clearer rules on cell-site simulators

A report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released last week, provides new details on the federal government's use of "cell-site simulators" -- cell phone surveillance devices also commonly known as Stingrays or IMSI-catchers -- and suggests changes to policies governing their use. The report confirms that federal agencies -- primarily the … Continue reading House Oversight Committee calls for clearer rules on cell-site simulators

DNI Clapper resigns, leaving uncertainty about his replacement

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper announced his resignation this week, following Donald Trump's election win. Clapper, who endured a few controversies in his six years as DNI, will step down from his position January. Clapper's most memorable moment in the media spotlight was probably following his congressional testimony in 2013, when he answered a … Continue reading DNI Clapper resigns, leaving uncertainty about his replacement

Officials, tech execs suggest more bureaucracy, scapegoating as cybersecurity solutions

As hacking fears remain in the media spotlight leading up to the presidential election, a debate is raging in Washington, D.C. over how to best approach cybersecurity and other technological challenges. While there is no consensus, however, there seems to be a common thread among many suggestions: the answer is to hold somebody accountable for … Continue reading Officials, tech execs suggest more bureaucracy, scapegoating as cybersecurity solutions

Officials offer conflicting statements on election hacking vulnerability

Following news of hacks of the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton campaign, and state election boards in Illinois and Arizona, federal officials in the past week have offered conflicting statements regarding the possibility that hackers, possibly sponsored by a foreign government, could influence the upcoming presidential election. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson … Continue reading Officials offer conflicting statements on election hacking vulnerability

Feds’ attempted search of reporter’s phone highlights egregious border rules

An incident Thursday in which federal agents reportedly demanded access to a Wall Street Journal reporter's mobile phone as she entered the country highlights the broad and vague powers of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). But the government is actually using a little-discussed loophole in border security law to dubiously claim authority that goes … Continue reading Feds’ attempted search of reporter’s phone highlights egregious border rules

New Documents Raise More Boston Bombing Questions

Three years after the Boston Marathon bombing, previously undisclosed documents continue to emerge that challenge official explanations of circumstances surrounding the terrorist attack, specifically relating to actions of the FBI. In the aftermath of the bombing, it was widely reported that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers sought in connection with the attack who … Continue reading New Documents Raise More Boston Bombing Questions