Oct 312009
 
 October 31, 2009  Court, Featured News, Govt

“The Department of Justice asserted the state secrets privilege in a case today to protect against a disclosure of highly sensitive, classified information that would irrevocably harm the national security of this country. I authorized this significant step following a careful and thorough review process, and I did so only because I believe there is no way for this case to move forward without jeopardizing ongoing intelligence activities that we rely upon to protect the safety of the American people.

“Last month, I outlined new policies and procedures containing a system of internal and external checks and balances that the Department will follow each time it invokes the state secrets privilege in litigation. We designed those procedures to provide greater accountability for the use of the privilege and to ensure that the Department invokes the privilege only to the extent that it is absolutely necessary to protect national security. The procedures require a thorough, multi-stage review and rely upon robust judicial and congressional oversight.

“The present case was reviewed under this new process. The Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the National Security Agency certified to the Department that disclosing information at issue in the case would jeopardize national security and provided classified information to support that conclusion. A review committee of senior Department officials, the Associate Attorney General, and the Deputy Attorney General all reviewed that information. Based on the recommendations from this review process, as well as my own personal review of the information provided, I concluded that we had no alternative but to assert the privilege to prevent the exposure of intelligence sources and methods.

“As part of our internal Department review, we specifically looked for a way to allow this case to proceed while carving out classified information, and ultimately concluded there was no way to do so. Much like previous litigation in which the government asserted the privilege, the core claims in this case involve questions about ongoing intelligence operations, and allowing it to proceed would disclose critical activities of high value to the national security of this country.

“We are not invoking this privilege to conceal government misconduct or avoid embarrassment, nor are we invoking it to preserve executive power. Moreover, we have given the court the information it needs to conduct its own independent assessment of our claim by filing a classified submission outlining the underlying facts and providing a detailed record upon which it can rely.

“The assertion of the state secrets privilege presents one of the most difficult challenges in balancing the American people’s right to information about actions their government takes and the government’s need to protect vital information that would compromise national security. Making the government more transparent and accountable is one of this administration’s top priorities, which is why my Department has issued reformed guidelines to govern Freedom of Information Act practices, released previously undisclosed Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memoranda, publishes on an ongoing basis this Department’s OLC memoranda whenever possible, and, indeed, adopted our more restrictive state secrets policy.

“The state secrets privilege also presents challenging questions of executive power. We have attempted to resolve those questions in a manner that ensures robust deliberation and allows for appropriate oversight by the courts and Congress. We believe the action we have taken in this case is the only responsible choice. Ultimately, the judicial system will determine whether we have drawn the line at the appropriate place, as is lawful and appropriate under our system of checks and balances. As always, we will respect the outcome of that process.”

Source: U.S. DOJ

Oct 312009
 
 October 31, 2009  Breaches, Featured News, U.S.

From the why-am-I-not-surprised dept:

At the request of Members of Congress, the Federal Trade Commission is delaying enforcement of the “Red Flags” Rule until June 1, 2010, for financial institutions and creditors subject to enforcement by the FTC.

The Rule was promulgated under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, in which Congress directed the Commission and other agencies to develop regulations requiring “creditors” and “financial institutions” to address the risk of identity theft. The resulting Red Flags Rule requires all such entities that have “covered accounts” to develop and implement written identity theft prevention programs to help identify, detect, and respond to patterns, practices, or specific activities – known as “red flags” – that could indicate identity theft.

The Commission previously delayed the enforcement of the Rule for entities under its jurisdiction until November 1, 2009. The Commission staff has continued to provide guidance to entities within its jurisdiction, both through materials posted on the dedicated Red Flags Rule Web site (www.ftc.gov/redflagsrule), and in speeches and participation in seminars, conferences and other training events to numerous groups. The Commission also published a compliance guide for business, and created a template that enables low risk entities to create an identity theft program with an easy-to-use online form. FTC staff has published numerous general and industry-specific articles, released a video explaining the Rule, and continues to respond to inquiries from the public. To assist further with compliance, FTC staff has worked with a number of trade associations that have chosen to develop model policies or specialized guidance for their members.

On October 30, 2009, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the FTC may not apply the Red Flags Rule to attorneys. Today’s announcement that the Commission will delay enforcement of the Rule until June 1, 2010, does not affect the separate timeline of that proceeding and any possible appeals. Nor does it affect other federal agencies’ ongoing enforcement for financial institutions and creditors subject to their oversight.

Source: FTC

Oct 312009
 
 October 31, 2009  Court, Online, U.S., Youth & Schools

Tim Hull reports:

Two high school students filed a constitutional class action against their school district and the principal who banned them from extracurricular activities after seeing MySpace pictures of the girls kissing and licking a phallus-shaped lollipop and wearing lingerie decorated with dollar bills.

The federal lawsuit seeks to reverse the sports ban and get the unfair policy that gives the principal unfettered power and violates students’ constitutional rights.

Sophomore plaintiffs T.V. and M.K. say the pictures were taken at a slumber party over the summer, off school grounds. They say they posted them on their MySpace pages because they are “humorous.”

An unknown person printed the pictures and gave them to Churubusco High School Principal Austin Couch, who suspended the girls from sports for the fall season based on the school’s “code of conduct” for extracurricular activities.

Read more on Courthouse News.

Related: Complaint (pdf)

Oct 312009
 
 October 31, 2009  Business, Court, U.S.

Ryan McCarthy reports:

Researching and listing assets belonging to members of a citizens group smacks of Chicago-style politics and tries to intimidate residents challenging a major commercial project, Citizens to Preserve Marysville’s Parks members say.

“We’re talking Russia,” Beverly Hayes said Friday. “We’re talking Chicago politics.”

Hayes called the effort snooping, said it’s unprecedented and termed it appalling.

Dale Whitmore, a member of the citizens group that was established in 1998, agreed.

“I didn’t think people did this,” he said.

Assets of Hayes and other members were listed as part of court documents filed Wednesday by the law firm representing the developer seeking to build the Washington Square Commercial Development in Marysville.

Read more in the Appeal-Democrat.