federal agencies

Big Brother Alert! Your neighbor could be an undercover federal agent.

Next Door Neighbor

Shocking revelations from “records and interviews” reveal at least 40 federal agencies are using undercover officers to infiltrate everyday scenarios including having them pose “as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors or ministers to ferret out wrongdoing,” according to a New York Times report.

From the story:

At the Supreme Court, small teams of undercover officers dress as students at large demonstrations outside the courthouse and join the protests to look for suspicious activity, according to officials familiar with the practice.

At the Internal Revenue Service, dozens of undercover agents chase suspected tax evaders worldwide, by posing as tax preparers or accountants or drug dealers or yacht buyers, court records show.

At the Agriculture Department, more than 100 undercover agents pose as food stamp recipients at thousands of neighborhood stores to spot suspicious vendors and fraud, officials said.

Undercover work, inherently invasive and sometimes dangerous, was once largely the domain of the F.B.I. and a few other law enforcement agencies at the federal level. But outside public view, changes in policies and tactics over the last decade have resulted in undercover teams run by agencies in virtually every corner of the federal government, according to officials, former agents and documents.

Rand Paul on Bundy Ranch: We should give federal land back to Nevada

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) disagrees with Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) assessment of the tense situation in southern Nevada between the Bundy family and the federal Bureau of Land Management.

Reid told reporters this week that the situation isn’t over, despite the federal agency’s decision to stand down over the weekend. “We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it,” he said. “So it’s not over.”

Paul, however, says that Reid has it wrong. In an interview with a Kentucky-based radio station, the potential 2016 presidential candidate questioned the need for armed federal agents threatening the Bundy family and explained some of the history of the situation.

“I think there’s an opposite thing to what Harry Reid said, and that’s that the federal government shouldn’t violate the law,” Paul told WHAS, “nor should we have 48 federal agencies carrying weapons and having SWAT teams.”

Surprise!: Obama administration not even close to living up to transparency promises

Though he once promised that his administration would be the most transparent in American history, the Obama administration has gone to great lengths to keep sunlight from shining, the Associated Press reports:

More often than ever, the administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.
[…]
The government’s own figures from 99 federal agencies covering six years show that halfway through its second term, the administration has made few meaningful improvements in the way it releases records. In category after category - except for reducing numbers of old requests and a slight increase in how often it waived copying fees - the government’s efforts to be more open about its activities last year were their worst since President Barack Obama took office.

In a year of intense public interest over the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times - a 57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama’s first year, when it cited that reason 3,658 times. The Defense Department, including the NSA, and the CIA accounted for nearly all those. The Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency cited national security six times, the Environmental Protection Agency did twice and the National Park Service once.

Federal agencies want access to NSA data

Big Brother

Well, this was completely inevitable. The New York Times reported over the weekend that a number of federal intelligence agencies want access to the surveillance tools used by the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect information on American citizens:

The National Security Agency’s dominant role as the nation’s spy warehouse has spurred frequent tensions and turf fights with other federal intelligence agencies that want to use its surveillance tools for their own investigations, officials say.

Agencies working to curb drug trafficking, cyberattacks, money laundering, counterfeiting and even copyright infringement complain that their attempts to exploit the security agency’s vast resources have often been turned down because their own investigations are not considered a high enough priority, current and former government officials say.
[…]
The security agency’s spy tools are attractive to other agencies for many reasons. Unlike traditional, narrowly tailored search warrants, those granted by the intelligence court often allow searches through records and data that are vast in scope. The standard of evidence needed to acquire them may be lower than in other courts, and the government may not be required to disclose for years, if ever, that someone was the focus of secret surveillance operations.

Decisions on using the security agency’s powers rest on many complicated variables, including a link to terrorism or “foreign intelligence,” the type of surveillance or data collection that is being conducted, the involvement of American targets, and the priority of the issue.


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