October 25, 2011
By Jonathan Dienst, Shimon Prokupecz and Joe Valiquette
“Here is another example of New York’s finest at work. This comes just after a NYPD cop plead guilty to planting drugs on people just so he could make arrests. I thought police were supposed to serve and protect, not harass and hurt.” –Chris KTRN
Eight NYPD officers and one New Jersey corrections officer have been arrested on charges that they were running a gun-smuggling ring that trafficked more than $1 million in illegal weapons and stolen goods.
The officers arrested include five active-duty officers assigned to Brooklyn and three retired NYPD officers, although two of the retired officers were active when committing the alleged crimes, prosecutors said. All those arrested were picked up by FBI agents and NYPD Internal Affairs investigators early Tuesday.
According to the criminal complaint, some of those arrested smuggled 20 firearms as recently as Sept. 22. The cache included three M-16 rifles, one shotgun and 16 handguns, most of which had their serial numbers removed.
One officer bragged to an informant in July, as an associate displayed a shotgun for sale, that it was a “sample” and that they could get anything “from A to Z.”
The allegations are no doubt troubling for the NYPD, whose commissioner, Ray Kelly, has joined with Mayor Bloomberg in speaking out on illegal guns as a nationwide scourge that threatens public safety, particularly that of police officers.
Several of those arrested are also accused of illegally transporting other stolen goods. The group is accused of transporting stolen slot machines from Atlantic City, N.J., to Port Chester, N.Y., in March. Two months later, they allegedly stole more than 200 cases of cigarettes from trucks in Virginia and hauled them to New York.
A common tactic, prosecutors said, included breaking into tractor-trailers that were hauling cigarettes.
At one point while transporting stolen slot machines, one of the officers said to an informant, “Listen, when you’re doing stuff like this you gotta be intelligent … you gotta set it up where if I’m a cop on the side of the road, am I gonna stop that Ryder truck there?”
The same officer later said all the policemen participating in the slot machine scheme were “risking a lot for a little,” the complaint said.
“They know what’s going, and how much trouble they could get in, and what they’re risking,” he said. “They’re risking a lot.”
The investigation involved interviews with the informant, undercover work, surveillance, and intercepted phone conversations.
Most of the officers worked out of the 68th Precinct, which serves the Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton neighborhoods.
One officer who allegedly participated in cigarette smuggling expressed concern about trafficking weapons, saying at one point he was fine “as long as there’s no drugs and guns involved.”
Before the details were unsealed, a PBA spokesman declined comment, saying he was unaware of the specific charges as well as which officers were being charged.
In all, 12 people are charged with multiple federal conspiracy counts expected to be announced later Tuesday by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and FBI officials.
The alleged NYPD corruption arrests come as other officers could also be charged this week in a separate ticket-fixing investigation headed by the Bronx District Attorney’s office.
Interestingly, the criminal complaint in the gun-smuggling case indicates that the investigation began in late 2009, when the informant was introduced to one of the officers as a person who could “fix” his traffic tickets. The informant then developed a relationship with that officer.
Officials have said more than a dozen NYPD officers could face charges in the ticket-fixing case, including some police union delegates.
In the gun-smuggling case, the suspects are expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan on the charges.
October 29, 2009
By Thomas R. Eddlem
The National Security Agency is building huge new storage facilities to store the unconstitutionally gained data on the American people’s telephone calls and Internet traffic permanently, including new buildings in suburban Salt Lake City, Utah, and San Antonio, Texas.
The NSA has been keeping permanent records of all American’s telephone call habits and Internet traffic since shortly after September 11, 2001, according to major news reports, without the constitutionally required warrants from a court.
No longer able to store all the intercepted phone calls and e-mail in its Ft. Meade, Maryland, headquarters, the NSA is engaging in its own housing boom. How much data will these giant, multibillion dollar new facilities hold? According to James Bamford of the New York Review of Books, the facility in Utah alone could hold data that will be measured in Yottabytes. Never heard of Yottabytes? You’re not alone. Most computers sold at stores still measure their storage at gigabytes, or billions of bits of data. A few store a terrabyte of information, or one trillion bits of information. That’s 1,000,000,000,000 pieces of information. Yottabytes is the highest number that has yet been named in computer information. The number is septillions of billions of bits of data, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bits of data.
In his review of Matthew M. Aid’s new book on the NSA, The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency, Bamford noted that the NSA assault on the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment has taken place without public opposition or even public debate. “Unlike the British government, which, to its great credit, allowed public debate on the idea of a central data bank,” Bamford wrote, “the NSA obtained the full cooperation of much of the American telecom industry in utmost secrecy after September 11.” And when the British government held that debate, the people rose up against such a “big brother”-style plan:
When the plans were released by the UK government, there was an immediate outcry from both the press and the public, leading to the scrapping of the “big brother database,” as it was called. In its place, however, the government came up with a new plan. Instead of one vast, centralized database, the telecom companies and Internet service providers would be required to maintain records of all details about people’s phone, e-mail, and Web-browsing habits for a year and to permit the government access to them when asked. That has led again to public anger and to a protest by the London Internet Exchange, which represents more than 330 telecommunications firms.
Not so in America, where economically challenged communities are welcoming the multibillion dollar construction work to create the facilities. Freedom can be traded for temporary prosperity, according to local officials in Utah, as reported by a news segment on KSL, Salt Lake City’s NBC affiliate.
“The data center is estimated to be 1 million square feet, sitting on 200-acres, and it couldn’t come at a better time for Utah’s economy,” KSL reported, and will cost taxpayers nearly $2 billion. The report went on to enthuse that “even Congressman Jason Chaffetz is excited. From Washington he told KSL News: ‘It’s a benefit to our economy and our national security.’”
In San Antonio, the NSA is dramatically expanding an existing facility rather than creating a new one. San Antonio Current writer Greg M. Schwartz explained how the expanded facility would be 470,000 square feet, almost the size of the Alamodome. Schwartz revealed that San Antonio officials actually courted the NSA, sending trade delegations to Ft. Meade to win the expansion. “The new facility is a potential boon to the local economy since it’s reportedly going to employ around 1,500 people,” Schwartz noted, “but questions remain about whether there will be adequate oversight to prevent civil-rights violations like Uncle Sam’s recent notorious warrantless wiretapping program.” Actually, there’s no honest question about that. Schwartz is just politely saying in journalistic kant that, like Salt Lake City, San Antonio expects to profit from the destruction of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Temporarily, anyway.