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New York Times Accidentally Undermines John Bolton “Bomb Iran” Op-Ed in Own Pages

The Intercept - Engl. - 2 ore 57 min fa

The New York Times yesterday published an op-ed by the characteristically bellicose John R. Bolton, headlined ‘To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.’ Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration.

In an unusual touch, a link added to the original online edition of Bolton’s op-ed directly undermines Bolton’s case for war:

…Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq…can accomplish what is required.

U.S. and Israeli politicians often claim that Israel’s bombing of Iraq in 1981 significantly set back an already-existing Iraqi nuclear weapons program. The truth is almost exactly the opposite. Harvard Physics Professor Richard Wilson, who visited the ruins of Osirak in 1982 and followed the issue closely, has said the available evidence “suggests that the bombing did not delay the Iraqi nuclear-weapons program but started it.” This evidence includes the design of the Osirak reactor, which made it unsuitable for weapons production, and statements by Iraqi nuclear scientists that Saddam Hussein ordered them to begin a serious nuclear weapons program in response to the Israeli attack.

This perspective rarely appears in mainstream U.S. media outlets. One time it did, however, was in a 2012 Washington Post op-ed titled “An Israeli attack against Iran would backfire — just like Israel’s 1981 strike on Iraq.”

And it was that Post op-ed to which the Times chose to link as backup for Bolton. In other words, anyone looking for additional facts about Bolton’s case were led to an explanation of how what Bolton was saying was factually wrong, and that following the advice of people like Bolton would be disastrous.

Sewell Chan, Deputy Editor of the Times op-ed section, said that the link was “mistakenly added by an editor, not the writer, during the fact-checking process.” The Times said it plans to replace the link with one sending readers to a Times news article.

Bolton helped force out José Bustani, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, in 2002. According to Bustani and others, Bolton was infuriated that Bustani was making plans for his organization to determine whether Iraq still possessed chemical weapons, since it would undermine the Bush administration’s plans for war. Bolton also appears to have played a key role in the notorious U.S. claims that Iraq was seeking yellowcake uranium from Niger.

Bolton claimed in a 2002 speech that Cuba is making “at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort.” When a government intelligence analyst had disputed stronger language in Bolton’s original draft of his speech, Bolton and his staff berated him and attempted to have him removed from his job.

For its part, the Times famously helped the Bush administration make its case for invading Iraq by providing a conduit for false pre-war claims by government officials. (In addition, the Times’ 2002 story about Bolton’s Cuba speech was written by Judith Miller, the same reporter responsible for much of the Times’ worst coverage of Iraq.)

Photo: AP

The post New York Times Accidentally Undermines John Bolton “Bomb Iran” Op-Ed in Own Pages appeared first on The Intercept.

Jetzt erst recht: Aktiv werden gegen Kampfdrohnen!

IMI Tübingen - 5 ore 10 min fa
Über die Zeitung “BILD” erfuhren wir aus dem geheim tagenden Verteidigungsausschuss, dass die Bundesregierung angeblich plane, noch dieses Jahr bewaffnete Drohnen samt Munition anzuschaffen. Zuvor war wiederholt angekündigt worden, vor einer solchen Entscheidung eine breite gesellschaftliche Debatte über die hochumstrittenen (…)

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[Kolumbien] Zwei Versionen eines Militärübergriffs

Indymedia antimil - 5 ore 13 min fa
von: Kolumbien Info am: 27.03.2015 - 16:40

Zwei Versionen inklusive Video eines Militärübergriffs im kolumbianischen Cauca.

Exclusive: TSA’s Secret Behavior Checklist to Spot Terrorists

The Intercept - Engl. - 6 ore 53 min fa

Fidgeting, whistling, sweaty palms. Add one point each. Arrogance, a cold penetrating stare, and rigid posture, two points.

These are just a few of the suspicious signs that the Transportation Security Administration directs its officers to look out for — and score — in airport travelers, according to a confidential TSA document obtained exclusively by The Intercept.

The checklist is part of TSA’s controversial program to identify potential terrorists based on behaviors that it thinks indicate stress or deception — known as the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT. The program employs specially trained officers, known as Behavior Detection Officers, to watch and interact with passengers going through screening.

The document listing the criteria, known as the “Spot Referral Report,” is not classified, but it has been closely held by TSA and has not been previously released. A copy was provided to The Intercept by a source concerned about the quality of the program.

The checklist ranges from the mind-numbingly obvious, like “appears to be in disguise,” which is worth three points, to the downright dubious, like a bobbing Adam’s apple. Many indicators, like “trembling” and “arriving late for flight,” appear to confirm allegations that the program picks out signs and emotions that are common to many people who fly.

A TSA spokesperson declined to comment on the criteria obtained by The Intercept. “Behavior detection, which is just one element of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) efforts to mitigate threats against the traveling public, is vital to TSA’s layered approach to deter, detect and disrupt individuals who pose a threat to aviation,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Since its introduction in 2007, the SPOT program has attracted controversy for the lack of science supporting it. In 2013, the Government Accountability Office found that there was no evidence to back up the idea that “behavioral indicators … can be used to identify persons who may pose a risk to aviation security.” After analyzing hundreds of scientific studies, the GAO concluded that “the human ability to accurately identify deceptive behavior based on behavioral indicators is the same as or slightly better than chance.”

The inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security found in 2013 that TSA had failed to evaluate SPOT, and “cannot ensure that passengers at United States airports are screened objectively, show that the program is cost-effective, or reasonably justify the program’s expansion.”

Despite those concerns, TSA has trained and deployed thousands of Behavior Detection Officers, and the program has cost more than $900 million since it began in 2007, according to the GAO.

The 92-point checklist listed in the “Spot Referral Report” is divided into various categories with a point score for each. Those categories include a preliminary “observation and behavior analysis,” and then those passengers pulled over for additional inspection are scored based on two more categories: whether they have “unusual items,” like almanacs and “numerous prepaid calling cards or cell phones,” and a final category for “signs of deception,” which include “covers mouth with hand when speaking” and “fast eye blink rate.

Points can also be deducted from someone’s score based on observations about the traveler that make him or her less likely, in TSA’s eyes, to be a terrorist. For example, “apparent” married couples, if both people are over 55, have two points deducted off their score. Women over the age of 55 have one pointed deducted; for men, the point deduction doesn’t come until they reach 65.

Last week, the ACLU sued TSA to obtain records related to its behavior detection programs, alleging that they lead to racial profiling. The lawsuit is based on a Freedom of Information Act request the ACLU filed last November asking for numerous documents related to the program, including the scientific justification for the program, changes to the list of behavior indicators, materials used to train officers and screen passengers, and what happens to the information collected on travelers.

“The TSA has insisted on keeping documents about SPOT secret, but the agency can’t hide the fact that there’s no evidence the program works,” said Hugh Handeyside, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, in a statement announcing the lawsuit.

Being on the lookout for suspicious behavior is a “common sense approach” that is used by law enforcement, according to TSA. “No single behavior alone will cause a traveler to be referred to additional screening or will result in a call to a law enforcement officer (LEO),” the agency said in its emailed statement. “Officers are trained and audited to ensure referrals for additional screening are based only on observable behaviors and not race or ethnicity.”

One former Behavior Detection Officer manager, who asked not to be identified, said that SPOT indicators are used by law enforcement to justify pulling aside anyone officers find suspicious, rather than acting as an actual checklist for specific indicators. “The SPOT sheet was designed in such a way that virtually every passenger will exhibit multiple ‘behaviors’ that can be assigned a SPOT sheet value,” the former manager said.

The signs of deception and fear “are ridiculous,” the source continued. “These are just ‘catch all’ behaviors to justify BDO interaction with a passenger. A license to harass.”

The observations of a TSA screener or a Behavior Detection Officer shouldn’t be the basis for referring someone to law enforcement. “The program is flawed and unnecessarily delays and harasses travelers. Taxpayer dollars would be better spent funding real police at TSA checkpoints,” the former manager said.

A second former Behavior Detection Officer manager, who also asked not to be identified, told The Intercept that the program suffers from lack of science and simple inconsistency, with every airport training its officers differently. “The SPOT program is bullshit,” the manager told The Intercept. “Complete bullshit.”

DV.load('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1695316-spot-referral-report.js', { width: '100%', height: '450', sidebar: false, container: '#dcv-1695316-spot-referral-report' });

 

Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP

The post Exclusive: TSA’s Secret Behavior Checklist to Spot Terrorists appeared first on The Intercept.

Why Should Bergdahl Suffer More Than Generals Who Did Far Worse?

The Intercept - Engl. - 7 ore 50 min fa

What punishment should Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl receive for allegedly deserting his post in Afghanistan? The answer comes by asking another question: What punishment has been handed out to American generals and politicians whose incompetence caused far more bloodshed and grief than anything Bergdahl did?

A key thing about justice is that it should be fair–people should be punished no matter their rank or title. The problem with the bloodlust for more action against Bergdahl–beyond his five years of horrific suffering as a Taliban prisoner–is that inept generals, rather than being court-martialed or demoted or reprimanded, have been rewarded and celebrated despite their dereliction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This duality is crystallized in a now-famous article written by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling in 2007 for Armed Forces Journal. After describing the failures of general officers after 9/11 as well as in the Vietnam war, Yingling, who served three tours in Iraq and is now a teacher in Colorado, wrote a stinging sentence about justice and responsibility in the military: “A private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.”

Let’s be clear about what it means to lose a war in the context of Iraq. It does not only mean that America failed to achieve its political or military goals. It means that more Americans and Iraqis lost their lives than needed to, and it means that war crimes were committed for which general officers bear command responsibility. Due to failures that Yingling and many others have noted—not anticipating the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, not recognizing the emergence of an insurgency, not figuring out the right strategy to respond to it—the war in Iraq ground on and the bloodshed has been enormous on all sides. Afghanistan is yet another graveyard of failures by general officers.

Two generals, in particular, have been criticized but not punished for serious mistakes that they and their subordinates made—Tommy Franks, who commanded U.S. forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and Ricardo Sanchez, who led U.S. forces in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. The military writer Tom Ricks has done the best job so far of exposing their battlefield failures and the failure of our political and military leaders to do anything about it. Sanchez oversaw, among other disasters, the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, for which low-ranking soldiers were sternly punished, such as Specialist Lynndie England, who served a year and a half in prison for her role in abusing Iraqi detainees. Ricks has noted, in a startling case of military chutzpah, that Sanchez was indignant he didn’t receive an extra star for his Iraq service.

“As far as I can tell, no general has been fired for incompetence in combat since Maj. Gen. James Baldwin was fired as commander of the Americal Division in 1971,” Ricks has said. “Since then, others have been relieved for moral and ethical lapses that are embarrassing to the Army, but not, to my knowledge, for combat ineffectiveness.”

If firing generals for incompetence is too much to ask for, how about retiring them at a lower rank? As Yingling noted, “A general who presides over a massive human rights scandal or a substantial deterioration in security ought to be retired at a lower rank than one who serves with distinction. A general who fails to provide Congress with an accurate and candid assessment of strategic probabilities ought to suffer the same penalty.” Yet even that modest level of reprimand has almost never occurred. Holding generals to account for war crimes committed on their watch is like waiting for Haley’s comet–it happens with excruciating rarity.

Instead, dereliction is rewarded. In Oklahoma, for instance, there is the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum. Franks is a frequent public speaker (here’s his bio at the speakers bureau that represents him) and was tapped as an adviser to presidential candidate Mitt Romney. In Texas, Sanchez was sufficiently celebrated and popular to mount a primary run for an open Senate seat (he pulled out before the election), he has a school named after him, and like so many other retired generals, he gives a lot of speeches to admiring audiences.

So we circle back to Bowe Bergdahl, who could spend the rest of his life in prison for desertion and misbehaving before the enemy, unless there is a plea deal. If he is guilty, he should be convicted. But punishment beyond his torment at the hands of the Taliban would be unfair, even if it is true, as some allege, that G.I.s were killed while searching for him. Whatever blood he might have on his hands–and it’s far from clear there’s any–is minor compared to the generals and politicians who made far graver errors. It would be particularly unfortunate if Bergdahl became another sort of pawn, this time in the partisan polemics over President Obama’s decision to exchange five Taliban prisoners for him.

I reported on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the conflicts in Bosnia, Somalia and Sudan, so I understand the sense of betrayal among soldiers who served with Bergdahl, even if my understanding is that of a civilian who watched rather than fought. Their anger and desire for justice are not unreasonable. I share it, but my anger is directed upwards at the unpunished and unapologetic, rather than downwards at men and women who have suffered enough.

Photo: AP

The post Why Should Bergdahl Suffer More Than Generals Who Did Far Worse? appeared first on The Intercept.

Leiser Tod im Garten Eden

Hintergrund.de - 10 ore 2 min fa

Unter dem Titel „Leiser Tod im Garten Eden – Die Folgen der Golfkriege“ läuft im Bayerischen Fernsehen eine sehenswerte Dokumentation an -

Von REDAKTION, 27. März 2013 -

Es ist ein Thema, das lange Zeit kaum Aufmerksamkeit erfahren hat. Am Mittwoch, den 1. April 2015, kommt nun endlich mit dem Dokumentarfilm „Leiser Tod im Garten Eden“ eine Recherche ins deutsche Fernsehen, die sich mit den Auswirkungen der Verwendung von Uran-Munition in den Irakkriegen befasst. Markus Matzel und Karin Leukefeld, die als Journalistin auch für Hintergrund tätig ist, haben sich auf die Suche nach den Folgen des Beschusses mit Uran-Munition gemacht.


Mittwoch, 01.04.2015

Weiterlesen...

Im Stellvertreterkrieg

Hintergrund.de - 10 ore 2 min fa

Überlegungen zur geostrategischen Rolle des Islamischen Staates -

Von KARIN LEUKEFELD, Damaskus -

„Der Islamische Staat im Irak und in Sham (Levante) kommt über Euch aus dem Nichts“. So steht es neuerdings an den Häusern von Christen in Qaryatayn. Die Stadt liegt etwa 150 km östlich von Homs, abseits der Wüstenstraße nach Palmyra. Gut 30 Prozent der  etwa 20 000 Einwohner von Qaryatayn gehören der Syrisch-Katholischen und Syrisch-Orthodoxen Kirche an, einer der ältesten Christengemeinden im Herzen Syriens. Die Schriften an den Mauern erschienen über Nacht, berichtet Pater Jacques Mourad, der das nahe

Weiterlesen...

Die Rüstungsprojekte der Bundeswehr

IMI Tübingen - 11 ore 9 min fa
Dieser Text erschien in der Broschüre “Deutschland: Wi(e)der die Großmacht” (68 Seiten, DinA4), die zum Preis von 4 Euro unter imi@imi-online.de bestellt werden kann. Hier die PDF-Version.   Derzeit laufen bei der Bundeswehr rund 2.300 Rüstungsvorhaben, darunter 700 Forschungsprojekte. “Die (…)

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Frontalangriff auf die Parlamentskontrolle

IMI Tübingen - 11 ore 19 min fa
Dieser Text erschien in der Broschüre “Deutschland: Wi(e)der die Großmacht” (68 Seiten, DinA4), die zum Preis von 4 Euro unter imi@imi-online.de bestellt werden kann. Hier die PDF-Version.   Ich freue mich, dass wir uns auf diesem IMI-Kongress inhaltlich mit einem (…)

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Die Ukraine und EUropas Nachbarschaftspolitik

IMI Tübingen - 11 ore 39 min fa
Dieser Text erschien in der Broschüre “Deutschland: Wi(e)der die Großmacht” (68 Seiten, DinA4), die zum Preis von 4 Euro unter imi@imi-online.de bestellt werden kann. Hier die PDF-Version.   Lautstark forderte Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck, flankiert von Verteidigungsministerin Ursula von der Leyen (…)

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Antifaschist_innen gedachten der Befreiung Rüsselsheims am 25. März 1945

Indymedia antimil - 12 ore 28 min fa
von: Georgi K. Shukow am: 27.03.2015 - 09:24

 

 

Rüsselsheimer Antifaschist_innen haben am 25.März der Befreiung Rüsselsheims vom Faschismus vor 70 Jahren gedacht.

 

 

Die NATO-Sicherheitskonferenz und die Proteste 2001 bis jetzt

IMI Tübingen - 13 ore 32 min fa
Dieser Text erschien in der Broschüre “Deutschland: Wi(e)der die Großmacht” (68 Seiten, DinA4), die zum Preis von 4 Euro unter imi@imi-online.de bestellt werden kann. Hier ist die PDF-Version.   Die Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz startete bekanntlich als “Wehrkundetagung”, und der Ort war (…)

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Inquiry Launched into New Zealand Mass Surveillance

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 26/03/2015 - 20:28

New Zealand’s spy agency watchdog is launching an investigation into the scope of the country’s secret surveillance operations following a series of reports from The Intercept and its partners.

On Thursday, Cheryl Gwyn, New Zealand’s inspector-general of intelligence and security, announced that she would be opening an inquiry after receiving complaints about spying being conducted in the South Pacific by eavesdropping agency Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB.

In a press release, Gwyn’s office said: “The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data.”

This month, The Intercept has shined a light on the GCSB’s surveillance with investigative reports produced in partnership with the New Zealand Herald, Herald on Sunday, and Sunday-Star-Times.

The reports, based on information from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and other sources, have revealed how the GCSB has been intercepting communications in bulk across a variety of neighboring South Pacific islands, raising concerns that New Zealand citizens’ emails and phone calls are being swept up in the dragnet.

The reports have also shown how the GCSB is funneling data into the NSA’s XKEYSCORE internet surveillance system from a surveillance base in the Waihopai Valley and is spying on about 20 countries across the world, predominantly in the Asia-Pacific region, including major trading partners such as Japan, Vietnam and China. The most recent stories have revealed that GCSB used XKEYSCORE to spy on the emails of candidates vying to be the director general of the World Trade Organization and targeted top government officials and an anti-corruption campaigner in the Solomon Islands.

The surveillance disclosures triggered concern among New Zealand’s political leaders, some of whom have filed complaints with Gwyn, the inspector-general of intelligence and security.

In her statement on Thursday announcing the initiation of an inquiry, Gwyn said she would be conducting “a focused review of a particular area of GCSB or New Zealand Security Intelligence Service practice.”

She added: “I have today notified the acting director of the GCSB of my inquiry and of my intention in this inquiry to provide as much information to the public on my findings as I can, withholding only that information that cannot be disclosed without endangering national security. The director has assured me of the Bureau’s full co-operation.”

John Key, New Zealand’s prime minister (pictured above), last year claimed that “there has never been any mass surveillance and New Zealand has not gathered mass information and provided it to international agencies.”

However, after The Intercept’s recent reports, former GCSB chief Bruce Ferguson admitted that the agency had been engaged in “mass collection” of data and said it was “mission impossible” to eliminate New Zealand citizens’ communications from being swept up in the dragnet.

Responding to the news about the inspector general’s inquiry on Thursday, Prime Minister Key told the media he was “not fearful in the slightest” about its findings.

“That’s the reason we beefed up the inspector-general and, in fact, we’ve been talking to her,” Key said. “We’ve got absolutely no concerns about it.”

Recent New Zealand reports on The Intercept:

Photo: Phil Walter/Getty

The post Inquiry Launched into New Zealand Mass Surveillance appeared first on The Intercept.

klammheimlich: bundesregierung will kurzfristig bewaffnete kampfdrohnen einkaufen

Deviancen (Blog) - Gio, 26/03/2015 - 19:20

überraschend plötzlich und (bislang) mit noch viel überraschend wenig öffentlichkeit:

die “BILD-zeitung” berichtet in ihrer heutigen ausgabe mittels einer kleinen meldung am inneren zeitungsfalz, dass der geheim tagende verteidigungsausschuss angeblich beschlossen habe – ganz anders, als bislang öffentlich behauptet – noch in diesem jahr kampfdrohnen samt bewaffnung und raketen einkaufen zu wollen.

merkwürdigerweise wird diese nachricht seit heute morgen von noch keinem einzigen namhaften deutschen presseorgan weiter verbreitet oder diskutiert.

es stellt sich die frage, welche einsätze die derzeitige bundesregierung andenkt, in denen diese kampfdrohnen anwendung finden können. von verteidigungsaufgaben kann sicher keine rede sein, denn diese drohnen (vermutlich entweder das US-amerikanische reaper-modell, das sich die militärs wünschen, oder die israelische IAI-heron-TP-drohne, die seitens der rüstungspolitiker bevorzugt wird) dürfen alleine aus rechtlichen gründen nicht in deutschland geflogen/eingesetzt werden.

sollte diese anschaffung tatsächlich durchgeführt werden wäre das ein klares signal, dass sich die “bundeswehr” noch mehr als bislang schon in afghanistan- und anderen einsätzen weg von einer verteidigungsarmee in eine agressive agierende kriegsarmee wandelt bzw. wandeln soll.

die vom ehemaligen “verteidigungs”minister de maiziere wie von der derzeitigen “verteidigungs”ministerin von der leyen versprochene öffentliche und offene debatte um die frage der anschaffung von kampfdrohnen für deutschland ist ausgeblieben, es war den kriegsministern nicht ernst damit.

bleibt nur noch, sich zivilgesellschaftlich dagegen zu stemmen, z.b. mittels der breit aufgestellten drohnen-kampagne, deren intention, getragen von ca. 150 gruppen und organisationen und vielen tausend unterstützer-unterschriften und -online-zeichnungen wie folgt lautet:

Gegen die Etablierung von Drohnentechnologie im Einsatz für Krieg, Überwachung und Unterdrückung!

viele prominente, wie z.b. noam chomsky, saskia sassen, volker pispers, tocotronic, günter wallraff, medea benjamin, rolf gössner oder hans-christof von sponeck unterstützen die drohnen-kampagne.

bilder: cc-by-nc-sa

Deployment of Controversial Urban Sensor System Aided by Aggressive Lobbying

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 26/03/2015 - 18:35

“Is NYC’s new gunshot detection system recording private conversations?” asks Fusion in a recent story about ShotSpotter, a sensor technology currently being set up in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

ShotSpotter sensors use microphone and satellite technology to detect, locate and report gunshots to police. Critics worry that the microphones are prone to false alarms, and more troubling, appear to vacuum up street-level conversations in the neighborhoods where it has been installed. Evidence from conversations recorded by ShotSpotter microphones has been used to prosecute criminals in court.

While questions linger for watchdog and privacy groups about the use of ShotSpotter technology, an aggressive lobbying campaign has helped ensure the devices have been deployed in over 90 cities across the country.

The Ferguson Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm, boasts that it secured more than $7 million in federal funding to support the purchase of ShotSpotter. “TFG has conversations with interested communities and discusses process and assesses viability of request [sic], drafts and provides briefing sheets to communities and submits requests to their House and Senate delegation,” reads a case study posted on The Ferguson Group’s website.

ShotSpotter contracts with four D.C. lobbying shops, including the powerhouse Squire Patton Boggs and the Raben Group, the firm that helps orchestrate Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an advocacy group closely aligned with former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and various police unions across the country. The firm also has an array of local and state lobbyists on contract. In New York City, for instance, the company retained Greenberg Traurig in the past, and now works with a former aides to Sheldon Silver and Bloomberg through the firm Mercury Group Public Affairs.

The company’s approach is detailed in emails from Phil Dailly, Southeast Region Sales Director for ShotSpotter, to the City of Miami. Dailly references a supportive city resolution and lists viable funding mechanisms, including purchasing the technology through the Community Oriented Policing program, a special fund administered by the Department of Justice, or through police department asset forfeiture money, funds often raised through drug busts. Promotional materials also list the DOJ’s Justice Assistance Grant program, Public Housing Agencies and Community Benefit Funds as potential funding sources. The company retained two local lobbyists in Miami to help move the process along.

The company also maintains close ties with leading law enforcement officials. ShotSpotter’s senior vice president David Chipman is a former senior official at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and former fellow to the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Before returning to the New York Police Department as Police Commissioner, William J. Bratton served as a board member to ShotSpotter. (Bratton said he recused himself from the NYPD’s decision to embark on a pilot program in New York City this year.)

The company has downplayed privacy concerns. ShotSpotter vice president Lydia Barrett, asked about conversations recorded by the technology submitted as evidence in court, told South Coast Today that it is a “very unusual circumstance if (the sensors) actually picked up any voices,” adding that, “It’s an acoustic sensor. It’s not a microphone, and it’s only activated when a loud boom or bang happens.”

However, a WNYC investigation in 2013 found that 75 percent of the incidents reported by the company were false alarms, alerts in which audio recordings were made in which there was likely no crime in progress. ShotSpotter’s own privacy policy explains that it is constantly recording in order to be able to provide police with audio beginning two seconds before a gunshot and ending four seconds after.

ShotSpotter’s privacy policy claims this audio is “erased and overwritten” and “lost permanently” if its system does not sense a gunshot. However, even if this is true, the policy also states that ShotSpotter has detected and recorded “3 million incidents” over the past ten years. This also indicates the sensors report a staggering level of false alarms, and that the company has permanently recorded 18 million seconds — in other words, 5,000 hours or approximately seven months — of audio. According to a promotional document emailed to Miami city officials by ShotSpotter’s sales team, the technology allows end users to retain this audio online for two years and offline for another five.

Photo: John Moore/Getty

The post Deployment of Controversial Urban Sensor System Aided by Aggressive Lobbying appeared first on The Intercept.

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