The U.S. government is suing Sprint for invoicing excessive reimbursement figures as the company complied with court-ordered wiretapping, according to a story on Cnet.com.
The federal government claims the nation’s third-largest cellular provider overcharged government agencies, including the FBI and DEA, by as much as $21 million.
"Sprint inflated its charges by approximately 58 percent," the complaint reads. "As a result of Sprint's false claims, the United States paid over $21 million in unallowable costs from January 1, 2007 to July 31, 2010.”
Sprint claims it acted within the law. In an email quoted by Bloomberg News, Sprint spokesman John Taylor argued, "‘Under the law, the government is required to reimburse Sprint for its reasonable costs incurred when assisting law enforcement agencies with electronic surveillance.”
’‘The invoices Sprint has submitted to the government fully comply with the law,’’ Taylor wrote.
According to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, telecommunications companies can bill law enforcement agencies for expenses when they provide assistance for surveillance under court orders.
However, according to a story on Cellular-News.com, Sprint was not allowed to charge the government for systems upgrades. That rule came in 2006 when the FCC told telecommunications providers they had to pay for their own upgrades to some infrastructure in order to make it easier for government agencies to surveil suspect lines. Sprint and other cellular providers had been seeking clarification on that matter since the upgrades were ordered in 1994.
The Department of Justice, though, alleges that Sprint continued to bill for the disallowed upgrade charges between 2007 and July of 2010.
"Because Sprint's invoices for intercept charges did not identify the particular expenses for which it sought reimbursement, federal law enforcement agencies were unable to detect that Sprint was requesting reimbursement of these unallowable costs,” the lawsuit says.
The government is suing for three times the overbilled amount — $63 million — and other civil fines. The suit was filed at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Monday.
Taylor has said Sprint plans to defend the matter “vigorously.”
A new report from the Washington Times suggests that an FBI agent had direct contact with Osama bin Laden prior to the events of Sept. 11.
According to the publication, an FBI agent’s testimony in a small, Los Angeles-based case reveals that the federal agency placed a mole with bin Laden in 1993, from whom they learned that bin Laden had intent to attack the United States.
The testifying agent, Edward J. Curran, spoke during the court hearing for his fellow FBI employee, Bassem Youssef. The case took place in 2010, when Youssef filed a discrimination lawsuit against the agency. According to RT, Youssef was passed over for a promotion after 9/11 because the agency thought he was a Muslim and questioned his intent.
In reality, according to Curran’s testimony, Youssef was part of a team working to infiltrate terrorist organizations.
“It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in Al-Qaeda, directly involved,” Curran said during his testimony. "The one source came back, had direct contact with Bin Laden."
Curran claimed that this initial contact with bin Laden helped stop a planned attack on a Masonic lodge in the Los Angeles area.
NBC News discovered that Youssef was ultimately killed by al Qaeda operatives in Bosnia after they began to suspect he was an informant.
Although Curran admitted the FBI’s early, direct relationship with al Qaeda’s leader to the Los Angeles court room, the information was never made public. It was also never reported at the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon The United States, or the 9/11 Commission, which began in the fall of 2002 to create an account of the 9/11 attacks and attempt to find those responsible.
The Times spoke with former Michigan congressman Peter Hoekstra, who explained that the information should have been made public.
“I think it raises a lot of questions about why that information didn’t become public and why the 9/11 Commission or the congressional intelligence committees weren’t told about it,” Hoekstra said. "This is just one more of these examples that will go into the conspiracy theorists’ notebooks, who say the authorities are not telling us everything. That’s bad for the intelligence community. It’s bad for law enforcement and it’s bad for government."
Although the new information does not reveal that the United States had any direct information regarding the Sept. 11 attacks, it does reveal that it was more directly aware of al Qaeda and bin Laden's leadership at an earlier time than was previously believed.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, which includes data collected from 12,723 law enforcement agencies across the country. The entire country saw a 5.4 percent drop in violent crime from last year’s numbers. The area in which crime dropped the most was arson, which is technically a property crime but is tracked separately from that statistic. Larceny saw the smallest decrease, only 4.7 percent, of any of nationally tracked categories.
However, one troubling detail that jumps out (and seems to contradict the percent change numbers) is what seems to be a marked increase in instances of rape. This is not the case, exactly.
In 2013, the FBI included all rape cases instead of only cases classified as “forcible rape.” The specific legal definition of this term is ambiguous but seems to exclude via implication those sexual assaults where the victims are drugged or otherwise mentally incapacitated. Since the percent change only reflects “forcible” cases, it is not wholly accurate. It won’t be until this time next year that a true comparison can be made. Therefore, the report does not necessarily suggest that instances of rape are on the rise but instead speaks to how many rape victims were marginalized in the past by the “forcible” distinction.
Further analysis of the minutiae of the report shows that even with a drop in violent crime nationally, some regional areas did see an increase in crime. The small lake town of Erie, Pa., saw its violent crime rate rise by 12 percent. While Huntsville, Ala., saw its overall crime rate drop slightly but had 11 more murders in the first half of 2013 than it did in the same period of 2012.
The FBI cautioned people from drawing comparisons between the figures for specific cities. That can “lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities,” it said in a press release. Instead, it suggests that only careful analysis of this data and the extenuating circumstances of each law enforcement district can lead to accurate comparisons.
Sorrento, La. Chief of Police Earl Theriot stepped down from his post after pleading guilty to lying to FBI agents during a civil rights investigation.
Theriot lied to agents while they were investigating him for a sexual offense. Theriot now admits he sexually violated an unconscious woman after finding her passed out at a gas station. Rather than taking the woman to a hospital or to her residence, he transported her to his office at the Sorrento Police Department and “engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with her.”
Theriot’s plea deal in the case required him to step down as Sorrento’s police chief.
It is not known why he faces no criminal charges for his sexual offense. His false statements conviction carries a punishment of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release following his imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.
United States attorney Walt Green commented on the court’s ruling recently.
“This office, along with our federal, state, and local partners, are dedicated to conducting thorough and complete investigations into credible allegations of police corruption and civil rights violations,” he said. “Those who seek to obstruct such efforts by making false statements to federal investigators will face severe consequences.”
A woman was arrested on a Delta Airlines flight from Baltimore-Washington International Airport bound for Salt Lake City on Friday after making sexual advances towards a passenger.
The New York Daily News reported that the woman was intoxicated and became angry when the passenger turned her advances down. She started making expletive-filled threats, and some of it was caught on camera by another passenger.
In one video, the woman can be heard repeatedly threatening to “f***ing kill” the seat mate who rejected her and warning airline staff not to put their hand on her.
"Hey, lady! Over there! I need help, this guy is holding me!" she says to a fellow passenger.
A second video shows the flight crew putting her in handcuffs on board the plane, and then diverting the flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport where she was handed over to airport police.
Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for the airport, told the Salt Lake Tribune that the unidentified woman was “very intoxicated” and was “grabbing passengers” on the plane. She was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center.
The woman could face federal charges for causing a disturbance onboard the flight. The FBI and TSA are now investigating.
The 737 aircraft and its 132 passengers made it to Salt Lake City 90 minutes after she was removed, the Tribune reported.
A woman who was accidentally placed on the no-fly list in 2004 finally won her lawsuit against the government almost a decade later.
Rahinah Ibrahim filed a lawsuit against the government in 2006 after she was put on the no-fly list due to a clerical error. Officials refused to tell her why she was on the list, and after returning home to her native country of Malaysia, she was denied a visa.
The mother of four was, at the time, attending Stanford University for her doctorate degree on a student visa. A judge just said last month that an FBI agent was filling out a form for Ibrahim and accidentally checked the wrong boxes, thus causing her to land on the no-fly list and have her visa revoked.
Today, Ibrahim is still living in Malaysia and is a dean at the Universiti Putra Malaysia. For years, Ibrahim has been fighting the government in court, saying that her rights were infringed upon. With the discovery of the clerical error, a judge finally agreed and said that her due process rights were violated when she was denied an explanation for being on the list.
According to reports, Ibrahim’s case is the oldest of a few different lawsuits against the government’s no-fly list. Zahra Billoo, executive director of the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says that they receive many complaints every year about travel issues that Muslims face.
“Each year our offices hear from hundreds of individuals who are visited by the FBI and face related travel issues,” said Billoo, “Many have lost hope about clearing their names, but this case will renew our collective desire to continue forward with the courts on our side.”
A federal Judge has issued an unprecedented ruling in the case of Adel Daoud, a U.S. citizen arrested in an FBI sting after he attempted to detonate a (fake) car bomb outside of a Chicago club. “This finding is not made lightly,” U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman wrote, according to The Chicago Tribune, in her ruling that requires federal prosecutors to turn over materials presented to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court to Daoud’s defense that normally only the judge sees.
Around the time revelations from Edward Snowden about the extreme surveillance tactics of the NSA, federal prosecutors told the court that Daoud was targeted via traditional methods. According to The Huffington Post, defense attorneys suggest “authorities may have singled out Daoud only after surveillance data indicated he viewed the online Inspire magazine, produced by al-Qaida affiliates.”
Daoud’s defense team suggests that the undercover FBI agent pushed Daoud to carry out the fake attack. As a defense strategy it was flimsy at best. However, if it is revealed that Daoud was targeted because of NSA surveillance, his defense has a better option. Once they review the materials, they can move to have the evidence ruled inadmissible because it was collected in violation of Daoud’s constitutional rights, irony notwithstanding.
In September of 2012, Daoud allegedly posted messages about killing Americans and that was how the FBI found him. On September 14, 2012, Daoud and the undercover agent parked the car containing the fake bomb outside of two popular Chicago nightclubs. On the way there, Daoud even led the agent in a prayer, according to CNN, hoping they would “succeed in their attack, kill many people, and cause destruction.”
Federal prosecutors still have time to appeal the ruling before Daoud’s trial begins on April 7, but offered no comment on the ruling.
When people with smartphones try to update their Facebook app, they are asked by the app if they want it to "read your text messages (SMS or MMS)."
This question has brought some alarm to Facebook users, but the social media site says not to worry (as usual), notes Fast Company.
Facebook states on its website, "If you add a phone number to your account, this allows us to confirm your phone number automatically by finding the confirmation code that we send via text message."
Apparently, this feature is for smartphone users who may not be smart enough to find a confirmation number sent via text by Facebook.
The Angry Birds app asked the same invasive question in 2011, reports Fast Company.
Recently disclosed NSA documents by whistleblower Edward Snowden state that the NSA has been spying on people via the Angry Birds app.
In more government hacking news, Wired reports that the FBI has seized the entire e-mail database of TorMail.
That news recently came to light in court papers when prosecutors indicted a man for allegedly selling counterfeit credit cards on the web. Apparently, orders for forged credit cards were being sent to his TorMail address.
Unlike the NSA, the FBI did have a search warrant for TorMail, but they copied the entire TorMail database.
One FBI agent and businessman in South Dakota is raising a lot of eyebrows this morning after announcing his intention to open a combined indoor shooting range and saloon as part of a multi-business complex called “The Deadwood Guns.”
The complex, explains mastermind Greg Vecchi, would be home to several different businesses, including a gun shop, a pawn shop, the indoor shooting range, and the saloon, which will be called, “Bullets and Beer Saloon.”
"It's all the things I like: alcohol, tobacco and firearms," said Vecchi. “I want this to be a place where mom, dad and the kids can have fun. A place where the whole family can enjoy the shooting sports.”
Deadwood, South Dakota Mayor Chuck Turbiville is expressing concern over many issues this idea will face.
"I mean, 'Bullets and Beer,'" said Mayor Turbiville. "The association between the two... how will you control people who may or may not be drinking?”
"To be honest, if it was me, I probably would have come up with a different name," continued the mayor.
Vecchi, however, is sure that there will be tight regulations with these businesses and promises that safety will be of the upmost importance.
"Sequence is important," said Vecchi. "Bullets first, beer second.”
Vecchi adds that if someone has been drinking prior to shooting at the range, the will follow a strict policy. "No one shoots or handles a real gun unless they can blow a 0.00 on a Breathalyzer.”
Vecchi is an army veteran and plans to retire from the FBI next month. He will work part time at the Deadwood Police Department as well as pursue his business ventures.
"I'm not going to put any of my licenses on the line," Vecchi said. "I'm not going to risk my reputation or my licenses. We have to run a tight ship here."
A San Diego Police detective shot and killed a Pit Bull that attacked him and an FBI agent during a probation compliance check at a Mount Hope-area home on Wednesday.
The officers had instructed the occupant of the house to secure her two dogs but one of the Pit Bulls got loose and went after the two law-enforcement officers outside the house in the 700 block of 40th Street, near F Street, about 9 a.m., according to San Diego police.
Elaine Magana, the dog’s owner, said she had both Pit Bulls locked in her room, but that one of the officers, an FBI agent, wanted the dogs out of the room.
She took the dogs out, but let go of the leash and the Pit Bull attacked a detective in the backyard.
"There wasn't supposed to be anyone back there," Magana said.
The officers reported they were standing in a side yard when the Pit Bull charged them and bit the detective on the left leg. When he tried to push it away, it bit him on the right hand, San Diego Police Lt. Eric Hays told reporters.
The federal agent attempted to subdue the animal by striking it with a baton but the dog turned and bit his hand. At that point the detective drew his service pistol and shot the animal three times, Hays said.
"He was a big dog … I'm not going to lie to you. For a puppy, he was a big dog," Gloria Verdugo, a renter in the home, told 10News.
The Pit Bull’s owner, Elaine Magana, said, "They shot him in the neck three or four times."
The 17-month-old male Pit Bull died at the scene with the FBI agent’s glove still in its mouth, the lieutenant said. The detective's pants were badly ripped from the attack.
Emergency medical responders took the victims to a hospital for treatment of their wounds.
There were warning signs to “Beware of Dogs” hand painted across the fence surrounding the home because the Pit Bull had reportedly previously bitten someone else.
(Mont Hope is a hilly neighborhood in the southeastern portion of the City of San Diego, California.)