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Posted inMoney and Politics

Report highlights questionable purchases made in the name of national security

Derek Purdy/Flickr An armored personnel carrier bought by a sheriff’s office in Washington state with anti-terrorism dollars was used to pull over a suspected drunk driver. A $21 fish tank, a hog catcher and a $24,000 “latrine on wheels” were purchased with homeland security funds in Texas. A counter-terrorism summit was held on an island […]

Posted inBorder PatrolImmigrationNational Security

Immigrant busts fall, but is border enforcement the reason?

Flickr/Brian Auer When the Department of Homeland Security trudged up to Capitol Hill this year and asked lawmakers for another 365 days worth of funding, as every federal agency does each year, officials ticked off a list of accomplishments they presented as evidence of the agency’s ongoing success. The department pointed to a marked decrease in […]

Posted inNational Security

Homeland Security office OKs efforts to monitor threats via social media

Surfing the InternetBrian Lane Winfield Moore/Flickr A little-known privacy office in the Department of Homeland Security has given its stamp of approval to an ongoing initiative aimed at monitoring social media sites for emerging threats. Congress created the department’s privacy office in 2003 to review major initiatives and databases and make certain those initiatives respected […]

Posted inSurveillance and Privacy

Rare case sheds light on cellphone surveillance device

Flickr/jtrout FBI investigators used a court order authorizing access to cellphone customer data to quietly deploy a powerful surveillance technology known as “stingrays,” privacy groups contend in a new court filing [PDF] that claims the devices are overly invasive. Your cellphone can be singled out by its international mobile subscriber identity, or IMSI, which then makes […]

Posted inCriminal JusticeLocal Law EnforcementSurveillance and Privacy

Amid drone debate, police spend millions on spy planes

A Pilatus PC-12 NG Spectre in flight.Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. While the nation disputes if, when and where the government should use drones over U.S. soil, Texas state police are taking their surveillance efforts to the next level. In a little-noticed July purchase, officials at the Texas Department of Public Safety inked a $7.4 million contract […]

Posted inNational Security

Report savages terrorism ‘fusion centers’ for high cost, low value

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick looks through a microscope to see how bullet casings are matched at the Commonwealth Fusion Center and State Police Crime Lab on July 15, 2011. A new U.S. Senate report has criticized fusion centers for failing to produce meaningful results. Office of Gov. Deval Patrick The nation’s vast network of anti-terrorism “fusion centers” […]

Posted inNational Security

$245M program under way for new type of airport body scanners

San Francisco International AirportFlickr/Trodel Airports in California could soon see the second generation of full-body scanners used to detect nonmetallic weapons and improvised explosive devices after earlier machines raised privacy and health concerns. Following a solicitation process that began in February, the Transportation Security Administration last week selected two contractors as part of a $245 […]

Posted inCybersecurityNational Security

Plugins to kill Facebook Timeline come with security headaches

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shows off his profile page using Facebook Timeline.Niall Kennedy/Flickr Not all of Facebook’s 900 million global users are pleased with the mega-site’s slow lurch toward what it calls Timeline, a new profile format that displays photos, updates, wall messages and more based on when the material was posted over the lifetime […]