Secret Patriot Act…It’s Worse Than You Know!

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By Spencer Ackerman

You think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens. Sen. Ron Wyden says it’s worse than you know.

Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. Wyden (D-Oregon) says that powers they grant the government on their face, the government applies a far broader legal interpretation — an interpretation that the government has conveniently classified, so it cannot be publicly assessed or challenged. But one prominent Patriot-watcher asserts that the secret interpretation empowers the government to deploy ”dragnets” for massive amounts of information on private citizens; the government portrays its data-collection efforts much differently.

“We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden told Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.”

What exactly does Wyden mean by that? As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can’t precisely explain without disclosing classified information. But one component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called “business-records provision,” which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any “tangible things” it deems relevant to a security investigation.

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Posted on May 27th 2011 in Government, Legal, Politics

No Arrests For Top Figures Who Caused The Financial Crisis of The Century

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New York Time

It is a question asked repeatedly across America: why, in the aftermath of a financial mess that generated hundreds of billions in losses, have no high-profile participants in the disaster been prosecuted?

Answering such a question – the equivalent of determining why a dog did not bark – is anything but simple. But a private meeting in mid-October 2008 between Timothy F. Geithner, then-president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Andrew M. Cuomo, New York’s attorney general at the time, illustrates the complexities of pursuing legal cases in a time of panic.

At the Fed, which oversees the nation’s largest banks, Mr. Geithner worked with the Treasury Department on a large bailout fund for the banks and led efforts to shore up the American International Group, the giant insurer. His focus: stabilizing world financial markets.

Mr. Cuomo, as a Wall Street enforcer, had been questioning banks and rating agencies aggressively for more than a year about their roles in the growing debacle, and also looking into bonuses at A.I.G.

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Posted on April 15th 2011 in Ethics, Legal, Politics, Scams

FBI Takes Down Top 3 Poker Websites in U.S. but No Prosecutions of Top Figures In Financial Crisis

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By Dashiell Bennett

The U.S. Attorney for New York has indicted the founders the three largest online poker companies in the U.S. and seized their websites in a major crackdown on internet gambling.

The indictment charges eleven defendants — including the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker — with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses.

In addition, the domains for and have been seized by the FBI and replaced by this pleasant reminder that gambling is illegal.

The indictment essentially spells out a scheme by the poker companies to set up phony bank accounts to process illegal gambling transactions, either by lying to the banks about the nature of the transactions or by targeting struggling banks to who need the money to stay afloat.

In addition to the criminal charges, the US Attorney filed a civil suit seeking $3 billion in damages. The FBI froze 75 bank accounts and seized five websites, in addition to the arrests that were made today.

The bank and wire fraud charges carry a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

This will affect a lot of young online poker stars!

Posted on April 15th 2011 in Cyber Law, Gambling, Legal