Saturday, June 22, 2013

IRS Gives Illegals $100 Million

Click here for related story [CNSNews]

Here's a follow-on story to the recent IRS scandals.
And, it came out in spite of harassment of two whistle-blowers.

Turns out, the IRS was so intent on investigating Tea Party organizations it missed a massive scam in which refunds were issued to tens of thousands of illegals listed at single addresses in different parts of the country. 

Free Welfare, Health Care, and $100 Million in Tax Refunds

The IRS also issued ITINs [Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers] to tens of thousands of illegals [in lieu of Social Security Numbers] in spite of an IRS internal audit that highlighted abuse and questionable applications.

Worse, the audit stated that the IRS work environment was such that it
"... discourages (IRS) employees from detecting fraudulent applications."

Here's a breakout of a few of the scams in which tens of thousands refunds were issued to single addresses:

1) Atlanta: [$52,467,407 to four (4) addresses]
    a) 23,994 tax refunds totaling $46,378,040 to "unauthorized" alien workers at one address
    b) 11,284 tax refunds totaling $  2,164,976 to "unauthorized" alien workers at a second address
    c)   3,608 tax refunds totaling $  2,691,448 to "unauthorized" alien workers at a third address
    d)   2,386 tax refunds totaling $  1,232,943 to "unauthorized" alien workers at a fourth address
2) Oxnard, California:  ................2,507 tax refunds totaling $10,395,874 to illegals at one address

3) Raleigh, NC:  ..........................2,408 tax refunds totaling $7,284,212 to illegals at one address

4) Phoenix, AZ:  ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,2,047 tax refunds totaling $5,558,608 to illegals at one address

5) Palm Beach Gardens, FL:  .........1,972 tax refunds totaling $2,256,302 to illegals at one address

6) San Jose, CA:  .........................1,942 tax refunds totaling $5,091,027 to illegals at one address

7) Arvin, CA: ...............................1,846 tax refunds totaling $3,298,877

So, for these ten (10) locations alone, the IRS dispensed a total of $86,352,307 to illegals in the US.

The scam was originally authorized under the Clinton Administration in spite of a warning from the Inspector General at the Department of the Treasury:

"The IRS issues ITINs to undocumented aliens to 'improve non-resident alien compliance with tax laws. [However] This IRS practice seems counter-productive the INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service (now ICE)] mission to identify undocumented aliens and prevent unlawful entry."

In August 2012, the Treasury IG Audit [TIGTA] noted
"...IRS management has not established adequate internal controls to detect and prevent the assignment of an ITIN to individuals submitting questionable applications.  Even more troubling, TIGTA found an environment which discourages employees from detecting fraudulent applications."

Oddly, only 154 addresses were used to obtain more than 1,000 ITIN applications to the IRS. 
How long would it take to have IRS send investigators to these addresses to determine why thousands of refunds were going to a single address.  Perhaps the IRS could use some of the hundreds of agents hired to enforce ObamaCare.

So, aside from the fact that the IRS apparently has no internal controls to monitor illegals or bogus applications for refunds -- to the tune of nearly $100 Million [that we know of], we have to wonder what's going on here.

I'll arrest those whistle-blowers!                  [Fox News]
On the surface, we are to believe that roughly 50,000 illegals got together to create a scam to defraud the US Government of $100 million. 

Pretty sharp, these illegals, most of whom operate with a grade school education.

This operation seems to sophisticated for a small group of illegals.  So, let's take a look at who could have pulled this off.

1)  IRS supervisors, recognizing weaknesses in the system, could have set up these scams, and, being in senior positions, could [and apparently did] squash any reports by employees alerting the system of this scam.  [A strong maybe, but, there are an awful lot of dedicated, honest IRS employees.]

2)  Contractors who identified systemic weakness, created the scams, and would likely have been in positions to misdirect or quash reports by alert IRS employees. [Most likely]

3)  DNC Party hacks [appointees], with the skill sets obtained in developing programs designed to scam the government in Chicago.  [A possible]

4)  A combination of 1 - 3: Most probable.

Fired? [Actually, he retired!]      [NPR]

Was Steven Miller involved in this scam? 

Let's call him back for more testimony before Congressional committees; don't let this conniving bureaucrat loose until he's answered ALL the questions.

And, let's track the recipients of these "tax refunds."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Immigration Sellout?

Immigrants who took the Naturalization [i.e., legal] path to US Citizenship                      [US Army-Korea photo]
Click here for related article [The Hill]

Somewhere along the line, Senators Rubio and McCain seem to have switched Parties. 

The Gang of Eight "bipartisan" immigration bill, at 1,075 pages, opens a gateway for eight million illegals to become US citizens.  According to the CBO [Congressional Budget Office], the cost of legalizing these illegals would significantly "....increase federal spending in the form of benefits for those gaining legal status" -- but those costs would theoretically be offset if these immigrants joined the labor force and obtained legal jobs. 

-- But would they not then displace workers who had been legal citizens?

The path to citizenship should not include entering our country illegally, refusing to learn English, paying no taxes, spawning children here, drawing health and welfare benefits, demanding our  laws be translated into the illegal's language, committing crimes

-- and then joining large protests to demand the right to vote for our politicians to create more benefits for "formerly" illegal immigrants.

The old way worked well.

Apply for a work/student/temporary visa; get a US sponsor, apply for citizenship, get a job, pay taxes, learn about the USA, its history and laws, and follow the legal procedures.

It might take a while, but there is a great deal of satisfaction for the traditional immigrants who have gone through the legal process, tedious as it is, to go through the citizenship classes, learn English as their primary language, learn about their new country, learn the Pledge of Allegiance, and pay taxes to offset the benefits they receive as US citizens.

Other than Native Americans, the rest of us are descendants of legal immigrants.  For the most part, we love our country, warts and corrupt politicians and all the negatives, because it remains the single country on earth that offers everyone the opportunity to succeed -- or fail -- beyond their wildest dreams.

Learning English would help [@PatDollard]

We're not interested in the hate-filled demonstrations of illegals who have yet to learn English, who wave the flags of their native countries, who thrive in the Underground Economy without paying taxes, who fill our Emergency Rooms to obtain unpaid medical care, who fill our schools, and who now form a substantially large percentage of our prison population.

(c) A.F. Branco

But, least of all, we have no use for politicians who want to legalize these illegal immigrants to get their votes. 

[Photo Credits:
US Army-Korea
Pat Dollard
A.F. Branco

Monday, June 10, 2013

NSA: Our Big Brother?


Click here for related story [USA Today - Donna Leinwand Leger]

A while back, we wrote about the Administration attempting to gain control of the Internet and telecommunications.  So far, that has been blocked, even though the Administration continues to push the issue to "protect us from 'terrorists' ", and/or Anthony Weiner.

Handy Guide to NSA Secrets
We've not jumped into this controversy until more facts came to light.  And, we are beholden to The Guardian, George Stephanopoulis, and USA Today's Donna Leinwand Leger for publishing relevance rather than hyperbole.

First, let's define the National Security Agency's mission, prescribed by the National Security Act of 1947, which later spawned the NSA in 1952. 
In brief, the mission was, and has traditionally been, to
monitor communications outside the United States in order to obtain 
early warning on threats to our national security.

This derived from the success of US and British Intelligence programs called Enigma, JN-25, and Ultra which broke the codes of the Japanese and Nazis.  JN-25 was responsible for breaking the Japanese code prior to World War II, and gave the US early warning of the attack on Pearl Harbor -- which, unfortunately, was ignored.

For many years, the NSA was a highly prized asset and professional organization as it delivered superb raw intelligence information from around the world.  The bulk of this derived from open communications from telephone conversations, to teletype, to more sensitive eavesdropping -- all under the rubric of SIGINT [Signals Intelligence comprised of data derived from communications, and electronic intelligence (ELINT)]. These sets complement MASINT (Measurement and Signature Intelligence) which is the INT which analyzes the products of SIGINT; confused yet? 
[We'll limit our discussion to just this grouping, for simplicity sake]. 

Lots of intelligence collected; but ignored []
Intelligence analysts praised this raw, unevaluated information as it supplemented or confirmed trends or assessments they were developing on real-time threats.

It was rare, though, that NSA was actually able to break codes since encryption techniques have become highly sophisticated -- such that NSA began demanding the keys to those codes produced by US security companies [oddly, foreign companies declined this demand], so, NSA was left with the keys to only US originated encrypted communications.

DNC apologists such as Bob Cesca are aggressively attempting to discredit the Guardian and ABC disclosures to make it appear that these transgressions are merely exposing
"NSA business as usual protecting America from terrorists.
"Move along folks; nothing to see here.  Keep moving; everything's under control."

To clarify the rules of the NSA intelligence surveillance, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Section 702, prohibits
"prohibits 'intentionally' targeting any US citizen or anyone known to be in the US.  
NSA also cannot target a person overseas if the purpose is to get information from a person inside the US.  NSA cannot target even foreign persons overseas without a valid foreign intelligence purpose."
[Notably, from the DNI Fact Sheet presented to Congress by the DNI, James Clapper.]

But, who decides?
"Targeting decisions are reviewed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice."

The "Deciders" would be James Clapper [DNI] and Eric Holder [AG].

Feel better now?

97 Billion raw data files -- of virtually no intelligence value
To muddy the waters, DNI Director Clapper has declassified the data mining electronic surveillance program: Boundless Informant, which he disclosed captures between 3 - 100 billion data pieces, which he dubs "intelligence"; in fact, it is what is known in the Intelligence Community as "raw, unevaluated information of unknown quality and/or reliability" -- pretty much the same as reading the Washington Post
-- but even less reliable [if that's possible]. 

Storage in Yottabytes   [HistoryCommons]

Boundless Informant conducts the information gathering process for which NSA has been recognized for years, and which justifies its yottabytes in data storage in thousands of IT servers.  That's a lot of raw, information, but, it's highly classified raw data and relatively worthless -- requiring enormous resources to scour for dots to connect to eventually create intelligence.
[And now, there will be a contract with Jeff Bezos' to store this data in an AMAZON CLOUD!  That's a treasure trove for a marketing operation in any company; will Jeff market that data?  Oh wait, it's all classified and encrypted; well, sort of, maybe.  But, it would be illegal for Jeff to use this information, right?]

NSA could likely derive as much information by going into the Black Forest and examining the bark on the trees, but it's difficult to classify tree bark as Top Secret.

To clarify, the only reason the data is classified is to protect the means by which is is acquired -- which is now public knowledge.

Decider: James Clapper    [WBUR]
Mr Clapper declassified this program -- from Top Secret [Codeword] to "Unclassified".

If it could be declassified that easily from the highest level of secrecy and compartmentation, why was it classified so highly in the first place?

Other than highly questionable activities, bordering on the illegal, what aspect of national security did this over-classification protect?

But, let's take a look at what the hubbub is actually all about.

First, we need to know what NSA is unable to do.

Unless its capabilities have changed radically, it can't break current encryption systems which function on the basis that only the sender and receiver have the keys to the encryption. 

Of course, in the movies or TV programs, you'll see an analyst clicking away on the keyboard, and presto, in minutes, the encrypted message is translated and the hero saves the day, just in the nick of time.  Realistically, that never happens, even if Jack Bauer threatens to shoot the analyst behind the ear.

HUMINT Penetration       []
The breakthrough comes when a HUMINT [Human Intelligence] asset [aka: spy] buys, finagles, or steals the encryption key from the target, thus allowing NSA to listen in. 

Otherwise, NSA just listens to a bunch of buzzing, clicks, and incomprehensible noise. 

Of course, armed with a FISA Warrant, NSA can demand the encryption keys from US companies -- for "national security" to break through that noise and listen to your cell phone conversations.

Which leads us to the bad stuff.  

If NSA were the whiz-bang agency most people think it is, it wouldn't need to order the Telecom companies to let it eavesdrop.  It could simply decipher the secure systems these companies use to protect your financial transactions and no one would be the wiser.  If it can't spy on US citizens without the decryption keys, is it worth its salt in monitoring our foreign enemies?

Since we're guessing NSA does not have a real deciphering capability, it has to order [via FISA warrant] the telecoms to give up their encryption keys.

Among others, Verizon appears to be the first to be outed as granting access, and we have to wonder if the persuasion process there came through the unique positioning of Bill Barr, a former CIA analyst, and later, acting US Attorney General under George for his energetic litigation to achieve telecom competition by "scuttling a series of FCC rules" which gave us a choice of carriers other than Ma Bell [even if most of the carriers today are "Baby Bells"].

So, where are we now?

Essentially, NSA established a semi-legal framework under which it operates, and creates secret warrants, delivered to a secret court [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court], adjudicated by an anonymous judge, to monitor and search all data records of all the telecom companies in the US -- to search for "terrorists"; the DNI Director admits to only nine companies [the rest are feeders from these nine, so, tap the nine, and you have all data].

But, since even FISA judges were outraged at the feeble rationales offered as justification for these warrants, NSA bypasses the system entirely.

Those served with these secret warrants are warned that they are prohibited from representation by an attorney, or to even mention that they have been served.  All in the name of "national security".

This was justified by NSA and our stalwart Director of National Intelligence, Mr Clapper during his brief to the HPSCI [House Permanent SubCommittee on Intelligence] and the SSCI [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence],

Some Background: 

This invasive program was formally introduced by Ted Kennedy and signed into law by Jimmy Carter; warrantless searches were introduced under Bill Clinton in 2000.  

However, Project Minaret, in which NSA supported US law enforcement operations, was initiated under LBJ way back in 1967.
(This would have been in clear violation of Posse Comitatus which forbids the use of the US Military in a law enforcement role - NSA was a component of DOD until recently.). 

Accompanying Minaret was Project Shamrock, which monitored all telegraphic communication entering or exiting the US -- which was technically legal under NSA's original charter since it was not directly monitoring US citizens -- well, sort of, if you stretch credibility a bit. 

Believe it or not [just kidding], it turns out NSA has been operating illegally for a number of years.  Another whistle-blower, Mark Klein from ATT, was interviewed in 2008 when he outed an illegal NSA intercept operation in San Francisco dating back at least to 2003, and likely long before. 

NSA installed a fiber optic splitter on ATT's "backbone" Internet hub which would feed NSA computers all Internet traffic passing through the hub.  The splitter, which could process 10 gigabits of data [e.g., the equivalent of the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica] per second, was a creation of the Narus, an Israeli company [you may ask why a foreign company is integrated into our intelligence system; good question, but there is no legitimate explanation -- although Boeing did buy it to keep it "legal".]. 

Compliments of the Daily Mail
Klein noted that such NSA operations were conducted at a number of [all?] other Telecom hubs throughout the US.  A lawsuit filed was eventually dismissed in 2011 based on a retroactive grant of immunity based on the companies' cooperation with the US government.

Such programs, along with abusive programs of the FBI, the CIA, and Army Intelligence led to the Church Committee hearings which resulted in subsequent Congressional close oversight over, and restrictions on all US Intelligence organizations.

Little did we imagine that Congress itself would be complicit.

Official Logo      [(c) NSA]
So now, let's take a look at Project Prism, which extends NSA's reach into the Internet, enabling NSA to conduct surveillance on both live communications as well as stored information of telecom clients of companies outside the US, or, American citizens whose communications include web content of people/companies outside the US; since most telecoms tie to cloud storage maintained outside the US, that means any and all communications and personal information of ALL US citizens is open to NSA surveillance and monitoring.

NSA monitors you to protect you
[Slide posted on Wikipedia via The Guardian]
Are you being monitored?

Well, according to this NSA slide, you probably are if you use products or services from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, or Apple.  But, according to Mr Clapper, your communications and/or personal files would only be looked at if you might be connected to "terrorists" -- and he and Mr Holder will decide what the definition of "terrorist" is.

Why the high classification?
Perhaps because NSA has been violating the law?

And, what is it that NSA and its government clients hope to retrieve from this monitoring?

One step at a time, gathering your information
A handy selection from your email, video conferencing, login information, passwords to your bank accounts, and let's not forget, all your social networking contacts and information - just in case you have an al Qaeda cell at home.

Note the Special Requests
Ex-spouses, annoying neighbors, or a police suspect you want dirt on? NSA can target individuals  the Attorney General deems a "threat", and all those records are exploitable.

The bottom line is that these revelations are merely the tip of the iceberg, so-to-speak.  We have foxes guarding the hen-house, and foreign companies involved in monitoring all our US communications.  When we catch these agencies breaking the law,

Congress grants them retroactive immunity.

And, it's ALL in the name of National Security!

Will we find out that one of NSA's clients is the IRS, and that NSA has been data mining on political parties and candidates -- as they did in the 1960s and 1970s?

How many more whistle-blowers will step forward to reveal more intelligence evil-doers?

We do want to congratulate NSA on its sterling performance on monitoring, identifying, and protecting us from the terrorists who bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the World Trade Center [twice], and of course, most recently, the Boston Marathon bombers.  

Oh, sorry, NSA missed those events since they were busy siphoning through your phone, email, and cable TV records.

Do you feel safe and secure with James Clapper and Eric Holder deciding if you are a threat to America. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Manning Intelligence Leaks - On Trial

PFC Manning on trial                                []

Click here for related story [Fox News]

Current news is focused on PFC Manning's trial for "treason" and leaking national security data which in turn, tied to Julian Assange's revealing those leaks to the world via WikiLeaks. They want Manning executed, and Assange burned at the stake.

Glenn Greenwald: FOIA Guy
Pseudo-patriotic popinjays now abound, demanding that Manning be tried, convicted, and executed for these gross breaches of security.

We don't doubt there were actual documents of intelligence value in this breach of 700,000+ files, and we should expect that such intelligence information should be protected. Then again, much of what was released consisted of reports of questionable military operations, while others were diplomatic cables commenting on corrupt local politicians and/or calling them blithering idiots or horses' asses.

All damning information; well, at least, embarrassing. 

But, we won't go into the issue of whether most of those documents, which were State Department dispatches, should have been classified at all, or have carried notices beyond "FOUO/LIMDIS'
[For Official Use Only/Limited Distribution]. 


We're still waiting for investigations into the Oval Office leaks which released sensitive intelligence information on methods and sources used in covert operations in Yemen, or the numerous other White House leaks on intelligence operations.

There is also that little matter of former CIA Director [and SecDef] Panetta's disclosure of TSC operational details to Hollywood reps during the creation/filming of the film
"Zero Dark Thirty". It seems the DOD Inspector General's report was suppressed.

We do wonder how it was that Manning's unit had access to State Department communications;
that being the case, would such units have been privy to all the correspondence between Benghazi and Foggy Bottom?

We also note that, given this revelation that the security of the US Intelligence Community communications amounted to being slightly more secure than a sieve, the US Intelligence security crowd demanded that WikiLeaks owner, Adrian Assange, be remanded to the US for high treason
-- awkward, since that charge could be levied only against a US citizen, which Assange is not [he's an Aussie living in Ecuador's embassy in London. 

Assange: Too gay to rape women
So, the US persuaded the Swedes to charge Assange with rape [later reduced to "sex allegations"], which was odd, since he is gay; and, we do recognized Sweden is noted for its rather bizarre sexual boundaries -- as portrayed in the popular movie series:  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Gracious!  Weird Sex! in Sweden?  Heaven help us!
The Swedes are still atwitter that their monarch has been the subject of "sex allegations"; could Mr Assange and King Gustaf have been co-conspirators, or more?

But, those are minor details when it comes to chest-thumping and covering up a massive security breach caused by an incompetent IT security system in our Intelligence and Military communities

But, we digress.

Did you see him download those files?
We are told PFC Manning is a product of today's digital Intelligence world.  His security clearance was supposedly based on a background investigation, perhaps even an SBI [Special Background Investigation] for special access to compartmented intelligence.

His accusers allege he was issued a laptop, complete with DVD tray and USB ports, with "Open Source" access to the Internet, in addition to secure intelligence links, and all he needed to do was to enter "keywords" to access the most sensitive data available within the Intelligence Community. 


Supposedly, these transfer mechanisms were authorized for the convenience of sharing information between analysts so that all levels would be equally knowledgeable of critical intelligence.  And, even though he downloaded "only" Secret information, the data he accessed and released to the public threatened national security.

Hmm.  That COULD be why the data was classified Secret -- or not.

One critic suggested that all troops in these secure facilities be searched as they departed their operations centers, which of course, would be difficult in a war zone; but, theoretically, that would prevent them from exiting while secreting thumb drives.

Alternately, someone could/should have been monitoring the internet for big downloads of classified data. 

But, of course, that is one function of the National Security Agency [lots and lots of employees - but, the exact number is classified], and of the Department of Homeland Security [240,000 strong], and thousands of counter-intelligence agents of each component of the Intelligence and Military Communities; apparently, one of those hundreds of thousands of employees noticed that files classified SECRET were floating around on the Internet.

The flaws in these arguments:

1)  Manning likely had no more than a Secret clearance, and it would seem that may have been granted at the local level.  He would probably not have had a Top Secret [TS] clearance The SBI [Special Background Investigation] since investigating/granting a TS/SCI clearance/access generally takes longer than PFC Manning's time in service. It involves in-depth personal interviews with friends, family, teachers, employers, etc., to gauge the individual's maturity and responsibility, with the ultimate question being

How often did he sell you secrets?              []

"Would you trust this person with a position of trust and responsibility?"

....a) Based on press reporting, more than a few of those who should have been interviewed in the SBI process noted that candidate Manning had questionable character issues which would not have been favorably adjudicated in his clearance review.

....b) But, perhaps those clearance procedures were conducted hastily and electronically, by-passing standard procedures.

....c) We suspect that PFC Manning's clearance adjudication process [normally extensive] may have been circumvented for the "convenience" of his unit, since he was apparently granted access to "only" Secret data. Nonetheless, he gained access to diplomatic correspondence which would/should have required separate access, and a separate review by those granting a "need to know" level of access.

2) Computer Security:

......a) In the early days of desktop and "portable" computers, the security standard was established at the Pentagon as part of DODIIS [DOD Intelligence Information Systems] that the CD/DVD and floppy disk equipment and USB connectors would be removed from computers operating in secure environments
-- specifically to prevent the unauthorized removal of classified data.

......b) We don't recall those standards having been changed.

......c) Analyst exchanges of classified data would thus not take place via CD/DVD/Thumb Drive, but rather, would take place on a tiered access process within a closed network
-- not via "shoe-leather interface" as some would presume.

The Intelligence Net                     []
We're familiar with those IT security requirements since we were part of the team that wrote them based on security studies we developed as far back as 1981 as part of an on-going Intelligence Community IT security program -- which, as far as we know, continues to this day.

The question, of course, is whether those requirements were employed in PFC Manning's work environment. If they were not, the chain of command was negligent. That would include supervisors at his local unit, and adjudicators all the way up the chain of the Intelligence & Security Command.

Which brings us back to our original comment:

"Why have none in PFC Manning's chain of command been investigated and charged."