Extra Extra : Terrorism

Reports reveal safety violations at many bioterror labs

Recent glaring safety lapses involving anthrax, smallpox and a dangerous strain of bird flu are the latest violations at a half-dozen laboratories run by federal health agencies, 11 labs run by universities and eight more operated by state, local or private entities, according to government reports stamped "restricted" obtained by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act.

The reports by the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cited inadequate security procedures, lax inventory records for germs that could be used as bioterror agents and training concerns. Auditors warned in reports issued ...

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Email shows effort to shield bin Laden photos

According to the Associated Press, "A newly-released email shows that 11 days after the killing of terror leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, the U.S. military's top special operations officer ordered subordinates to destroy any photographs of the al-Qaida founder's corpse or turn them over to the CIA."

When the AP initially asked for emails to and from Adm. William McRaven, the document ordering the removal or destruction of the bin Laden photos was not included. The conservative legal group Judicial Watch recently received the email under a Freedom of Information Act request.

Read the full story ...

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The NYPD Division of Un-American Activities

After 9/11, the New York Police Department built in effect its own CIA  and its Demographics Unit delved deeper into the lives of citizens than did the NSA. The appointments of David Cohen, a former senior CIA officer, and Larry Sanchez, a CIA analyst, represented a major shift in mind-set at the NYPD. Cohen and Sanchez’s guiding idea was that if the NYPD had its own eyes and ears in the ethnic communities of the five boroughs, maybe things could be different. To catch the few, the NYPD would spy on the many.

Documents show NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Based on an internal audi and other top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, The Washington Post reports that most infraction involved unauhtorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets, ranging from "significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls." 

Read the documents at The Washington Post.

Extra Extra Monday: Secrecy for sale, a drone deal sealed in blood, bad business loans and ad rates that don't add up

Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze | ICIJ
“A cache of 2.5 million files has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over. The secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists lay bare the names behind covert companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and other offshore hideaways.”

A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood | The New York Times
"The C.I.A.’s covert drone war in Pakistan began ...

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Extra Extra Monday: Teacher absences, prescription painkillers, complaints at for-profit care centers

Welcome to IRE's roundup of the weekend's many enterprise stories -- the last one of 2012 -- from around the country. We'll highlight the document digging, field work and data analysis that made their way into centerpieces in print, broadcast and online from coast to coast. Did we miss something? Email tips to web@ire.org.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Do teachers’ absences affect student learning?
Seventy-three Western Pennsylvania public school districts paid nearly $25 million for substitute teachers to cover classes when full-time educators were not in the classroom during the last school year, according to records for 17 ...

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FBI to agents: “Mainstream” Muslims are “terrorists in waiting”

Spencer Ackerman, of WIRED.com Danger Room, has acquired dozens of FBI training materials on counter terrorism and Islam. The training material argues that it does not matter whether or not American Muslims are law abiding citizens, “the Islamic “insurgency” is all-encompassing and insidious. In addition to outright combat, its “techniques” include “immigration” and “law suits.” So if a Muslim wishes to become an American or sues the FBI for harassment, it’s all just part of the jihad.” The documents claim (using DocumentCloud) that “Islam ‘transforms [a] country’s culture into 7th-century Arabian ways.’”’

When Ackerman pressed the FBI ...

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Food anti-terror plan costing billions, but is it working?

After the attacks on September 11, 2001 President George Bush told the nation that he would make certain that the food we eat would be safe from chemical terrorist threats from the ‘farm to the fork’. However, with no single agency in charge of policing our farms, factories, warehouses, or grocery stores, this multi-headed bureaucracy appears to be a huge money drain. In the past ten years, it has managed to spend nearly 3.5 billion dollars with little to show.

Nevertheless, “top U.S. food defense authorities insist that the initiatives have made the food supply safer and say ...

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Post-9/11 laws blurring the line of terrorism

“The Sept. 11 attacks prompted almost every nation to adopt or toughen anti-terror laws. Until now, no one followed up to see who was impacted. In an unprecedented 9-month investigation, journalists in more than 100 countries found that at least 35,000 people have been convicted on terror charges since 2001, from bombers to bloggers.AP National Writer Martha Mendoza, aided by colleagues on six continents, reported the story beyond the numbers, how the war against terror is shifting to courts, and how some countries misuse their laws to curb dissent.