Tagged: state

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Indiana awaits Homeland Security election risk assessment review as primaries heat up

INDIANAPOLIS — With the midterm congressional primaries about to go into full swing, the Department of Homeland Security has completed security reviews of election systems in only about half the states that have requested them so far.

The government’s slow pace in conducting the reviews has raised concerns that the nation’s voting systems could be vulnerable to hacking, especially after U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Russia plans to continue meddling in the country’s elections.

Among those still waiting for Homeland Security to conduct a risk assessment is Indiana, one of four states with primaries on Tuesday. Its ballot includes several hotly contested races, including a Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said she is confident state officials have done what they can to safeguard Tuesday’s voting, but acknowledged: “I’ll probably be chewing my fingernails during the entire day on Election Day.”

Like other states, Indiana used a private vendor to conduct a risk assessment and is one of 33 states and 32 local election offices that are receiving remote cyber scanning services from Homeland Security to identify vulnerabilities in their networks.

The concerns aren’t just theoretical.

The nation’s intelligence chiefs warned earlier this year that Russia remains interested in disrupting U.S. elections after a multipronged effort to interfere two years ago. That included attempts to hack into the election systems of 21 states.

Election officials in nine of those states said they were still waiting for a DHS risk assessment, according to a nationwide AP survey.

There is no indication Russian hackers succeeded in manipulating any votes, but U.S. security agencies say they did manage to breach the voter rolls in Illinois. That state and Texas are the only two to hold statewide primaries so far this year, and neither reported any intrusions into their election systems.

But a local election in Tennessee last week highlights the concern: Knox County has hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate why a website that reports election results crashed after the polls closed.

The county’s technology director said some of the unusually heavy traffic came from overseas servers. DHS spokesman Scott McConnell said there is no indication so far that the outage was caused by a “malicious actor.”

Homeland Security designated elections systems critical infrastructure just months after the 2016 presidential election, adding them to a list that includes chemical plants, dams and nuclear reactors.

The department said it has completed risk assessments of election systems in just nine of the 17 states that have formally requested them so far. It has pledged to finish them by November for every state that asks, but the reviews are not likely to be done in time for some state primaries, many of which are in May and June.

The number of states is likely to grow. At least 28 said they want Homeland Security to conduct the risk assessments, according to a 50-state survey of state election officials by The Associated Press.

The security reviews are designed to identify any weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers; such examinations are routinely conducted in the private sector. They are just one tool, although an important one, in ensuring a computer network has a robust defense.

Homeland Security officials attribute the backlog to increased demand for such reviews since the 2016 election and say they are devoting more money and shifting resources to reduce wait times. The reviews typically take two weeks each.

“Elections remain a top priority,” said Matt Masterson, the department’s senior adviser for cybersecurity.

Some states prefer to do the security checks on their own, with some, such as New Hampshire, expressing concern about federal overreach in a country where elections are run by state and local governments.

Cybersecurity experts say that as long as the process is robust, it should not matter who conducts the risk assessments.

“You could do this right in a number of different ways,” said Mike Garcia, lead author of a handbook for state and local election officials released recently by the nonprofit Center for Internet Security. “What matters is that you are doing it right.”

The delays have caught the attention of Congress, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which recommended in March that Homeland Security expand capacity to reduce wait times.

“DHS and the FBI have made great strides, but they must do more,” committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said at the time.

Of the other states holding primaries on Tuesday, the traditional battlegrounds of North Carolina and Ohio said they had received on-site reviews by Homeland Security. Election officials in the fourth state, West Virginia, told the AP they have yet to request a federal risk assessment but plan to do so before the November election. They asked the National Guard to help monitor the state’s election networks on Tuesday.

Other states that told the AP they had received the DHS reviews are Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oregon.

Two of the states targeted in 2016 — Alabama and Oklahoma — have yet to request a DHS security review.

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill said the state could still decide to make the request before the election.

“We are trying to be as prepared as we can possibly be with our existing partners,” Merrill said. “We want to keep every option open that we have.”

MORE TOP STORIES | More than 35,000 pounds of ground beef sold at Kroger stores in Indiana recalled for contamination | Dozens of Indianapolis area concerts discounted to just $20 for National Concert Week | Body found on Indy’s southeast side identified as missing 35-year-old man | Mother wants answers after daycare claims another child beat up her 1-year-old son | State closes Indianapolis day care after 1-year-old seriously hurt[1][2][3][4][5][6]

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[embedded content]

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Indiana awaits Homeland Security election risk assessment review as primaries heat up

INDIANAPOLIS — With the midterm congressional primaries about to go into full swing, the Department of Homeland Security has completed security reviews of election systems in only about half the states that have requested them so far.

The government’s slow pace in conducting the reviews has raised concerns that the nation’s voting systems could be vulnerable to hacking, especially after U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Russia plans to continue meddling in the country’s elections.

Among those still waiting for Homeland Security to conduct a risk assessment is Indiana, one of four states with primaries on Tuesday. Its ballot includes several hotly contested races, including a Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said she is confident state officials have done what they can to safeguard Tuesday’s voting, but acknowledged: “I’ll probably be chewing my fingernails during the entire day on Election Day.”

Like other states, Indiana used a private vendor to conduct a risk assessment and is one of 33 states and 32 local election offices that are receiving remote cyber scanning services from Homeland Security to identify vulnerabilities in their networks.

The concerns aren’t just theoretical.

The nation’s intelligence chiefs warned earlier this year that Russia remains interested in disrupting U.S. elections after a multipronged effort to interfere two years ago. That included attempts to hack into the election systems of 21 states.

Election officials in nine of those states said they were still waiting for a DHS risk assessment, according to a nationwide AP survey.

There is no indication Russian hackers succeeded in manipulating any votes, but U.S. security agencies say they did manage to breach the voter rolls in Illinois. That state and Texas are the only two to hold statewide primaries so far this year, and neither reported any intrusions into their election systems.

But a local election in Tennessee last week highlights the concern: Knox County has hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate why a website that reports election results crashed after the polls closed.

The county’s technology director said some of the unusually heavy traffic came from overseas servers. DHS spokesman Scott McConnell said there is no indication so far that the outage was caused by a “malicious actor.”

Homeland Security designated elections systems critical infrastructure just months after the 2016 presidential election, adding them to a list that includes chemical plants, dams and nuclear reactors.

The department said it has completed risk assessments of election systems in just nine of the 17 states that have formally requested them so far. It has pledged to finish them by November for every state that asks, but the reviews are not likely to be done in time for some state primaries, many of which are in May and June.

The number of states is likely to grow. At least 28 said they want Homeland Security to conduct the risk assessments, according to a 50-state survey of state election officials by The Associated Press.

The security reviews are designed to identify any weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers; such examinations are routinely conducted in the private sector. They are just one tool, although an important one, in ensuring a computer network has a robust defense.

Homeland Security officials attribute the backlog to increased demand for such reviews since the 2016 election and say they are devoting more money and shifting resources to reduce wait times. The reviews typically take two weeks each.

“Elections remain a top priority,” said Matt Masterson, the department’s senior adviser for cybersecurity.

Some states prefer to do the security checks on their own, with some, such as New Hampshire, expressing concern about federal overreach in a country where elections are run by state and local governments.

Cybersecurity experts say that as long as the process is robust, it should not matter who conducts the risk assessments.

“You could do this right in a number of different ways,” said Mike Garcia, lead author of a handbook for state and local election officials released recently by the nonprofit Center for Internet Security. “What matters is that you are doing it right.”

The delays have caught the attention of Congress, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which recommended in March that Homeland Security expand capacity to reduce wait times.

“DHS and the FBI have made great strides, but they must do more,” committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said at the time.

Of the other states holding primaries on Tuesday, the traditional battlegrounds of North Carolina and Ohio said they had received on-site reviews by Homeland Security. Election officials in the fourth state, West Virginia, told the AP they have yet to request a federal risk assessment but plan to do so before the November election. They asked the National Guard to help monitor the state’s election networks on Tuesday.

Other states that told the AP they had received the DHS reviews are Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oregon.

Two of the states targeted in 2016 — Alabama and Oklahoma — have yet to request a DHS security review.

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill said the state could still decide to make the request before the election.

“We are trying to be as prepared as we can possibly be with our existing partners,” Merrill said. “We want to keep every option open that we have.”

MORE TOP STORIES | More than 35,000 pounds of ground beef sold at Kroger stores in Indiana recalled for contamination | Dozens of Indianapolis area concerts discounted to just $20 for National Concert Week | Body found on Indy’s southeast side identified as missing 35-year-old man | Mother wants answers after daycare claims another child beat up her 1-year-old son | State closes Indianapolis day care after 1-year-old seriously hurt[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Top Trending Videos

[embedded content]

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Indiana awaits Homeland Security election risk assessment review as primaries heat up

INDIANAPOLIS — With the midterm congressional primaries about to go into full swing, the Department of Homeland Security has completed security reviews of election systems in only about half the states that have requested them so far.

The government’s slow pace in conducting the reviews has raised concerns that the nation’s voting systems could be vulnerable to hacking, especially after U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Russia plans to continue meddling in the country’s elections.

Among those still waiting for Homeland Security to conduct a risk assessment is Indiana, one of four states with primaries on Tuesday. Its ballot includes several hotly contested races, including a Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said she is confident state officials have done what they can to safeguard Tuesday’s voting, but acknowledged: “I’ll probably be chewing my fingernails during the entire day on Election Day.”

Like other states, Indiana used a private vendor to conduct a risk assessment and is one of 33 states and 32 local election offices that are receiving remote cyber scanning services from Homeland Security to identify vulnerabilities in their networks.

The concerns aren’t just theoretical.

The nation’s intelligence chiefs warned earlier this year that Russia remains interested in disrupting U.S. elections after a multipronged effort to interfere two years ago. That included attempts to hack into the election systems of 21 states.

Election officials in nine of those states said they were still waiting for a DHS risk assessment, according to a nationwide AP survey.

There is no indication Russian hackers succeeded in manipulating any votes, but U.S. security agencies say they did manage to breach the voter rolls in Illinois. That state and Texas are the only two to hold statewide primaries so far this year, and neither reported any intrusions into their election systems.

But a local election in Tennessee last week highlights the concern: Knox County has hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate why a website that reports election results crashed after the polls closed.

The county’s technology director said some of the unusually heavy traffic came from overseas servers. DHS spokesman Scott McConnell said there is no indication so far that the outage was caused by a “malicious actor.”

Homeland Security designated elections systems critical infrastructure just months after the 2016 presidential election, adding them to a list that includes chemical plants, dams and nuclear reactors.

The department said it has completed risk assessments of election systems in just nine of the 17 states that have formally requested them so far. It has pledged to finish them by November for every state that asks, but the reviews are not likely to be done in time for some state primaries, many of which are in May and June.

The number of states is likely to grow. At least 28 said they want Homeland Security to conduct the risk assessments, according to a 50-state survey of state election officials by The Associated Press.

The security reviews are designed to identify any weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers; such examinations are routinely conducted in the private sector. They are just one tool, although an important one, in ensuring a computer network has a robust defense.

Homeland Security officials attribute the backlog to increased demand for such reviews since the 2016 election and say they are devoting more money and shifting resources to reduce wait times. The reviews typically take two weeks each.

“Elections remain a top priority,” said Matt Masterson, the department’s senior adviser for cybersecurity.

Some states prefer to do the security checks on their own, with some, such as New Hampshire, expressing concern about federal overreach in a country where elections are run by state and local governments.

Cybersecurity experts say that as long as the process is robust, it should not matter who conducts the risk assessments.

“You could do this right in a number of different ways,” said Mike Garcia, lead author of a handbook for state and local election officials released recently by the nonprofit Center for Internet Security. “What matters is that you are doing it right.”

The delays have caught the attention of Congress, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which recommended in March that Homeland Security expand capacity to reduce wait times.

“DHS and the FBI have made great strides, but they must do more,” committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said at the time.

Of the other states holding primaries on Tuesday, the traditional battlegrounds of North Carolina and Ohio said they had received on-site reviews by Homeland Security. Election officials in the fourth state, West Virginia, told the AP they have yet to request a federal risk assessment but plan to do so before the November election. They asked the National Guard to help monitor the state’s election networks on Tuesday.

Other states that told the AP they had received the DHS reviews are Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oregon.

Two of the states targeted in 2016 — Alabama and Oklahoma — have yet to request a DHS security review.

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill said the state could still decide to make the request before the election.

“We are trying to be as prepared as we can possibly be with our existing partners,” Merrill said. “We want to keep every option open that we have.”

MORE TOP STORIES | More than 35,000 pounds of ground beef sold at Kroger stores in Indiana recalled for contamination | Dozens of Indianapolis area concerts discounted to just $20 for National Concert Week | Body found on Indy’s southeast side identified as missing 35-year-old man | Mother wants answers after daycare claims another child beat up her 1-year-old son | State closes Indianapolis day care after 1-year-old seriously hurt[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Top Trending Videos

[embedded content]

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Military Strikes Target ISIS Terrorists in Syria, Iraq


SOUTHWEST ASIA —

Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve and its partners continued to strike Islamic State of Iraq and Syria targets in designated parts of Syria and Iraq between April 27-May 3, conducting 27 strikes consisting of 35 engagements, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.  [1]

Strikes in Syria

Yesterday, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of one engagement against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal.

On May 2, coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of four engagements against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal. The strikes destroyed an ISIS storage facility.

On May 1, coalition military forces conducted five strikes consisting of five engagements against ISIS targets:

— Near Abu Kamal, four strikes damaged an ISIS-held building.

— Near Shadaddi, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed two headquarters buildings.

On April 30, coalition military forces conducted 10 strikes consisting of 12 engagements against ISIS targets:

— Near Abu Kamal, six strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an ISIS staging area, a tunnel and a headquarters.

— Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit.

— Near Shadaddi, three strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an ISIS vehicle, two headquarters buildings and damaged three ISIS-held buildings.

On April 29, coalition military forces conducted two strikes consisting of two engagements against ISIS targets:

— A strike took place near Dayr Az Zawr.

— Near Shadaddi, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an ISIS vehicle.

Strikes in Iraq

There were no reported strikes in Iraq May 2-3.

On May 1, coalition military forces conducted three strikes consisting of eight engagements against ISIS targets:

— Near Huwijah, two strikes destroyed 31 ISIS tunnel systems and six caves.

— Near Rutbah, a strike destroyed an ISIS bunker.

On April 30, coalition military forces conducted two strikes consisting of three engagements against ISIS targets:

— Near Mosul, a strike destroyed an ISIS tunnel system.

–Near Rutbah, a strike destroyed an ISIS fighting position.

There were no reported strikes in Iraq on April 29.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group’s ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said. [2]

The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and ground-based tactical artillery, officials noted.

A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect.

For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.

The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

References

  1. ^ Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (www.inherentresolve.mil)
  2. ^ Operation Inherent Resolve (www.defense.gov)
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Myanmar military assures UN of 'harsh' action on sexual assault

MAUNGDAW, Myanmar (Reuters) – Myanmar’s military has assured the United Nations of “harsh” action against perpetrators of sexual violence, state media reported on Tuesday, as U.N. envoys traveled to Rakhine State where the military conducted a widely criticized crackdown.

Rohingya refugees are reflected in rain water along an embankment next to paddy fields after fleeing from Myanmar into Palang Khali, near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

U.N. and rights groups say nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh after a military crackdown launched in Rakhine State in August that the United Nations denounced as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Many of the arriving refugees recounted incidents of killings, arson and rape but Myanmar largely rejected those reports as well as the accusation of ethnic cleansing.

The government said its forces were engaged in a legitimate security campaign in response to a string of Rohingya insurgent attacks on the security forces.

“Sexual violence (is) considered as despicable acts,” the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper cited military Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing as telling the envoys.

The military was “taking harsh and stronger actions against such offenders”, he said.

The U.N. Security Council envoys traveled by Myanmar military helicopters to northern Rakhine on Tuesday, the final day of their four-day visit to the region, flying over burned and bulldozed villages visible from the air.

The envoys arrived in Myanmar on Monday after visiting refugee camps on the Bangladesh side of the border and government leaders in Dhaka.

In Myanmar, they met separately with government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Min Aung Hlaing.

British U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce told Reuters that during Monday’s meeting Min Aung Hlaing was “very forthcoming” on the issue of sexual assaults in Rakhine, adding that the military chief said such offences were “not tolerated”.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi, in her nearly hour-long meeting with the envoys, pledged to investigate any credible accusations of abuse, said diplomats who attended.

Suu Kyi noted Myanmar’s difficulties in transitioning to rule of law after decades of military dictatorship, said the diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“She said what had happened or what was alleged to have happened to some of the Rohingya villagers was not acceptable and that if evidence were available it should be reported to the Burmese authorities and they would investigate,” said Pierce.

“What we’ve got to do on the council is think how best to turn that into something operational so that the evidence gets collected and given either to the Burmese authorities or to some sort of international mechanism,” she said.

Suu Kyi’s civilian government has no control over the military. Government spokesman Zaw Htay did not respond to requests for comment.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar has for years denied the Rohingya citizenship, freedom of movement and access to basic services such as healthcare. Many in Myanmar regard the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from mostly Muslim Bangladesh.

When asked if the council could help ensure evidence of crimes such as rape is collected, Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said: “I don’t think this is a council matter, frankly speaking. There are a lot of agencies apart from the Security Council.”

‘COOPERATION NEEDED’

In northern Rakhine, the council envoys were shown a reception center Myanmar has built for repatriating Rohingya, aiming to accept a total of 150 people a day, and a transit camp that can house 30,000 returnees.

The envoys passed two bulldozed villages near the camp. They were also shown a rebuilt village.

The Security Council asked Myanmar in November to ensure no “further excessive use of military force” and to allow “freedom of movement, equal access to basic services, and equal access to full citizenship for all”.

On Monday, the council envoys met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who asked them to press Myanmar to take back “their citizens”.

Hasina said the refugees should return “under U.N. supervision where security and safety should be ensured”.

Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed in January to complete the voluntary repatriation of the refugees within two years but differences between the two sides remain and implementation of the plan has been slow.

Suu Kyi’s office also said in a statement that cooperation was needed from Bangladesh on the repatriation of refugees.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Yimou Lee in YANGON; Editing by Robert Birsel and Darren Schuettler

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Civil Rights Groups Are Fighting to Read Homeland Security's Mysterious 'Race Paper'

Image: Ted S. Warren (AP)

Two civil rights groups, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Color of Change (COR), have filed a motion[1] asking a judge to force the Department of Homeland Security to un-redact a mysterious document known as the “Race Paper.” Following FOIA requests, the DHS turned over hundreds of pages to CCR and COR, but has fought releasing the so-called “Race Paper,” as its referred to in internal DHS emails. Little is known about the document, including its actual title, though COR and CCR believe it is potentially related to data-driven surveillance of protestors.

In 2016, CCR and COR, assisted by the Kramer Law Center, filed FOIA requests for documents relating to FBI and DHS surveillance of Black Lives Matter protestors. The DHS responded with hundreds of documents, including emails from the early months of the Trump administration in which DHS agents talked about composing and editing the “Race Paper.”

However, when the DHS handed the mysterious “race paper” over to the civil rights groups, it was redacted into oblivion, with nine full pages of completely obscured text.
[2]

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Little is known about this document, but lawyers believe it may be related to surveillance of Black Lives Matter protestors. All references to its actual name have been redacted.

“There’s not too much wiggle room when something is called ‘The Race Papers,’” Stephanie Llanes, one of the CCR lawyers filing the motion, told Gizmodo.

Here’s what we know for sure: the paper is a nine-page document put out by members of the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis. The DHS worked on its creation for months, producing multiple draft versions, all of which have been redacted. The Office of Intelligence and Analysis specializes in “information sharing and delivering predictive intelligence and analysis.” The office operates a network of Fusion Centers[3], which specialize in intelligence collection, analysis, and sharing between “state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners.” It follows, then, the paper may relate to predictive technology or surveillance.

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“One of the emails says that the person included a section on ‘drivers and indications,’” Llanes said. “Given what [the Office of Intelligence and Analysis] does, which is predictive intelligence, it just raises serious concerns of the relationship between racial identity and drivers of future behavior.”

It’s speculative, but police have used data analysis to surveil[4] minority protestors in the past. From Massachusetts to Missouri, officers have used complex data-mining software[5] that could provide the locations of social media users to monitor protestors using the #BlackLivesMatter or #MuslimLivesMatter hashtags.

Being asked to produce the “Race Paper” and then handing over nine all-black pages might seem like a cheeky response, but, incredibly, the DHS argued that the documents, redactions intact, satisfy the FOIA request. The DHS insisted it is exempt from releasing all preliminary versions of the document because, as they were draft versions, they “wouldn’t be an accurate assessment of what the agency thinks,” Llanes explains.

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However, the DHS redacted all versions of the document, including the final version, which seemingly would accurately represent the agency’s stance. DHS argued that even partially redacting the final version would threaten national security by revealing sensitive information about how the agency operates.

“They haven’t explained at all how that would be the case. A government agency cant just make this broad, sweeping argument… without explaining how so,” Llanes said. “They still have to un-redact parts of the document that are purely factual, based on publicly available information, [or] would not reveal the pre-deliberative [assessment].”

CCR lawyers are arguing that, under FOIA law, the DHS has a duty to un-redact passages that are based on unclassified facts or public knowledge. By completely redacting every single word, including even the title of the document, the DHS is essentially claiming that every single detail of the “race paper” is, to some degree, sensitive, classified, or private.

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The next step in the case is for the DHS to reply to the motion. If they deny the lawyers’ claims, the case would move onto oral arguments.

[The Intercept[6]]

References

  1. ^ have filed a motion (ccrjustice.org)
  2. ^ race paper (ccrjustice.org)
  3. ^ Fusion Centers (www.dhs.gov)
  4. ^ used data analysis to surveil (gizmodo.com)
  5. ^ complex data-mining software (www.usatoday.com)
  6. ^ The Intercept (theintercept.com)
0

Civil Rights Groups Are Fighting to Read Homeland Security's …

Image: Ted S. Warren (AP)

Two civil rights groups, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Color of Change (COR), have filed a motion[1] asking a judge to force the Department of Homeland Security to un-redact a mysterious document known as the “Race Paper.” Following FOIA requests, the DHS turned over hundreds of pages to CCR and COR, but has fought releasing the so-called “Race Paper,” as its referred to in internal DHS emails. Little is known about the document, including its actual title, though COR and CCR believe it is potentially related to data-driven surveillance of protestors.

In 2016, CCR and COR, assisted by the Kramer Law Center, filed FOIA requests for documents relating to FBI and DHS surveillance of Black Lives Matter protestors. The DHS responded with hundreds of documents, including emails from the early months of the Trump administration in which DHS agents talked about composing and editing the “Race Paper.”

However, when the DHS handed the mysterious “race paper” over to the civil rights groups, it was redacted into oblivion, with nine full pages of completely obscured text.
[2]

Advertisement

Little is known about this document, but lawyers believe it may be related to surveillance of Black Lives Matter protestors. All references to its actual name have been redacted.

“There’s not too much wiggle room when something is called ‘The Race Papers,’” Stephanie Llanes, one of the CCR lawyers filing the motion, told Gizmodo.

Here’s what we know for sure: the paper is a nine-page document put out by members of the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis. The DHS worked on its creation for months, producing multiple draft versions, all of which have been redacted. The Office of Intelligence and Analysis specializes in “information sharing and delivering predictive intelligence and analysis.” The office operates a network of Fusion Centers[3], which specialize in intelligence collection, analysis, and sharing between “state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners.” It follows, then, the paper may relate to predictive technology or surveillance.

Advertisement

“One of the emails says that the person included a section on ‘drivers and indications,’” Llanes said. “Given what [the Office of Intelligence and Analysis] does, which is predictive intelligence, it just raises serious concerns of the relationship between racial identity and drivers of future behavior.”

It’s speculative, but police have used data analysis to surveil[4] minority protestors in the past. From Massachusetts to Missouri, officers have used complex data-mining software[5] that could provide the locations of social media users to monitor protestors using the #BlackLivesMatter or #MuslimLivesMatter hashtags.

Being asked to produce the “Race Paper” and then handing over nine all-black pages might seem like a cheeky response, but, incredibly, the DHS argued that the documents, redactions intact, satisfy the FOIA request. The DHS insisted it is exempt from releasing all preliminary versions of the document because, as they were draft versions, they “wouldn’t be an accurate assessment of what the agency thinks,” Llanes explains.

Advertisement

However, the DHS redacted all versions of the document, including the final version, which seemingly would accurately represent the agency’s stance. DHS argued that even partially redacting the final version would threaten national security by revealing sensitive information about how the agency operates.

“They haven’t explained at all how that would be the case. A government agency cant just make this broad, sweeping argument… without explaining how so,” Llanes said. “They still have to un-redact parts of the document that are purely factual, based on publicly available information, [or] would not reveal the pre-deliberative [assessment].”

CCR lawyers are arguing that, under FOIA law, the DHS has a duty to un-redact passages that are based on unclassified facts or public knowledge. By completely redacting every single word, including even the title of the document, the DHS is essentially claiming that every single detail of the “race paper” is, to some degree, sensitive, classified, or private.

Advertisement

The next step in the case is for the DHS to reply to the motion. If they deny the lawyers’ claims, the case would move onto oral arguments.

[The Intercept[6]]

References

  1. ^ have filed a motion (ccrjustice.org)
  2. ^ race paper (ccrjustice.org)
  3. ^ Fusion Centers (www.dhs.gov)
  4. ^ used data analysis to surveil (gizmodo.com)
  5. ^ complex data-mining software (www.usatoday.com)
  6. ^ The Intercept (theintercept.com)