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Posts Tagged ‘Department of Justice’

National Park Service To Spy On Picnics, Family Gatherings, Weddings and Much More – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 21, 2021

It is hard to imagine that when Congress created the National Park Service in 1872 they would have envisioned that the White House would turn it into a spy agency.


According to a notice published in the Federal Register, the Department of the Interior (DOI) is turning the National Park Service (NPS) into a mirror image of the NSA, FBI, DHS and every other three-letter spy agency you can think of.

“Pursuant to the provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, the Interior DOI is issuing a public notice of its intent to modify the National Park Service (NPS) Privacy Act system of records, INTERIOR/NPS-1, Special Use Permits.”

This so-called modification of special records permits will allow law enforcement to collect a disturbing amount of personal information on national park visitors.

As Nextgov points out, anyone wishing to get a permit to use one of America’s 423 national parks will have all their personal information sent to the White House.

“The NPS is making it easier to share more data with the White House and other federal agencies on applications and approvals of special use permits for parks spaces.”

America’s absurd War on Terror is now targeting picnics, family gatherings, weddings etc.

“People interested in using a park for a specific purpose at a specific time generally have to obtain a special use permit. NPS issues permits for three types of uses: standard events like weddings, sports, picnics and family gatherings; special events like demonstrations, races, tournaments and the like; and construction, research and utility work.”

When park users apply for such permits, the system collects a wealth of data needed to process the application, including:

  • Name, organization, Social Security number, Tax Identification Number, date of birth, address, telephone number, fax number, email address, person’s position title.
  • Information of proposed activity including park alpha code, permit number, date, location, number of participants and vehicles, type of use, equipment, support personnel for the activity, company, project name and type, fees, liability insurance information.
  • Payment information including amounts paid, credit card number, credit card expiration date, check number, money order number, bank or financial institution, account number, payment reference number and tracking ID number.
  • Information on special activities including number of minors, livestock, aircraft type, special effects, special effect technician’s license and permit number, stunts, unusual or hazardous activities.
  • Information on driver’s license including number, state and expiration date.
  • Vehicle information including year, make, color, weight, plate number and insurance information.

According to the notice in the Federal Register, the purpose in collecting everyone’s personal information is “to provide park superintendents with information to approve or deny requests for activities on NPS managed park lands.”

Does anyone really believe that park rangers or campground hosts need visitors SSN’s, DOBs, bank account numbers etc., so they can approve or deny a persons’ request to use our national park[s]?

Nextgov does a great job of describing the NPS collecting park visitors personal information as being an innocuous “update”; it is not.

Page 7 of the notice reveals that the NPS will routinely send everyone’s personal information to numerous federal agencies.

“In addition to those disclosures generally permitted under 5 U.S.C. 552a(b) of the Privacy Act, all or a portion of the records or information contained in this system may be disclosed outside DOI as a routine use pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(3).”  

Below is an abbreviated description of the federal agencies that will routinely have access to permit application park visitors personal information:

A. The Department of Justice (DOJ), including Offices of the U.S. Attorneys, or other Federal agency. Any other Federal agency appearing before the Office of Hearings and Appeals.

B. A congressional office when requesting information on behalf of, and at the request of, the individual who is the subject of the record.

C. The Executive Office of the President.

D. Any criminal, civil, or regulatory law enforcement authority (whether  Federal, state, territorial, local, tribal or foreign) when a record, either alone or in  conjunction with other information, indicates a violation or potential violation of law –  criminal, civil, or regulatory in nature, and the disclosure is compatible with the purpose  for which the records were compiled.

E. An official of another Federal agency.

F. Federal, state, territorial, local, tribal, or foreign agencies that have requested information relevant or necessary to the hiring, firing or retention of an employee or contractor, or the issuance of a security clearance, license, contract, grant or other benefit, when the disclosure is compatible with the purpose for which the records were compiled.

G. Representatives of the National Archives and Records Administration.

H. State, territorial and local governments and tribal organizations to provide information needed in response to a court order.

I. An expert, consultant, grantee, or contractor (including employees of the contractor) of DOI that performs services requiring access to these records on DOI’s behalf to carry out the purposes of the system.

J. Appropriate agencies, entities of the Federal Government.

K. To another Federal agency or Federal entity, when DOI determines that information from this system of records is reasonably necessary to assist the recipient agency.

L. The Office of Management and Budget.

N. The news media and the public, with the approval of the Public Affairs Officer in consultation with counsel and the Senior Agency Official for Privacy.

According to the memo, the NPS and will keep everyone’s personal information for 15 years at which time they promise to delete or shred it.

“Retention of records with short-term operational value and not considered essential for the ongoing management of land and cultural and natural resources are destroyed 15 years after closure. Paper records are disposed of by shredding or pulping, and records contained on electronic media are degaussed or erased in accordance with 384 Departmental Manual 1.”

Does anyone really think that picnics, family gatherings and weddings pose a threat to our Homeland?

There is one bit of good news to come out of turning the NPS into a spy agency: national park visitors can request a copy of what records the Feds have on them if they include the specific bureau or office that keeps those records in an information request.

“An individual requesting records on himself or herself should send a signed, written inquiry to the applicable System Manager identified above. The request must include the specific bureau or office that maintains the record to facilitate location of the applicable records. The request envelope and letter should both be clearly marked “PRIVACY ACT REQUEST FOR ACCESS.”  

And as you can see from the list above, it is going to be a crapshoot to guess which specific federal agency or which branch of law enforcement was spying on your picnic, family gathering or wedding.

It is hard to imagine that when Congress created the National Park Service in 1872 they would have envisioned that the White House would turn it into a spy agency.

As Americans everywhere rush to visit our national parks how many of them will care that the Feds are collecting vast amounts of personal information about them and storing it for 15 years?

Do Americans care enough to stop DHS from turning formerly benign government institutions like the U.S. Postal Service and the National Park Service into federal spying agencies? Only time will tell.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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The Only Privacy the Feds Protect is Their Own – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on June 17, 2021

Can the DOJ engage in a fishing expedition looking for leaks? Can it obtain personal records of members of Congress? Can it silence those who know about this? In a word: No, no and no.

The feds who did this violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution. But lack of fidelity in government to the Constitution is nothing new.

By Andrew P. Napolitano

Last week, The New York Times revealed that in late 2017 and early 2018, prosecutors in the Department of Justice persuaded a federal grand jury to subpoena the telephone, email and texting records of about 20 people, including two members of Congress and their families, staffs and investigators, and one of the minor children of a staff member. Also subpoenaed were the records of Donald F. McGahn II, then the White House chief counsel, and his wife.

In all, the government sought data on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses. The subpoenas identified the targets only by telephone number and computer identification number.

The subpoenas were served on Apple, the custodian of these records. Also served upon Apple was a gag order signed by a federal judge instructing Apple not to tell anyone it had received the subpoenas. The government sought and obtained three annual extensions of the gag order. Such an order should have been challenged, as it is unconstitutional on its face.

The records sought and obtained were “metadata.” Metadata is not content; yet it is everything but. Thus, the records that Apple surrendered showed who spoke to whom and when, who emailed whom and when, and who texted whom and when, but it did not show what was actually communicated.

Can the DOJ engage in a fishing expedition looking for leaks? Can it obtain personal records of members of Congress? Can it silence those who know about this? In a word: No, no and no.

Here is the backstory.

Governments have been seeking records in criminal cases since the beginning of the American republic. Until 1986, if the government served a subpoena for your records on your telephone provider, financial institution, physician or lawyer, the custodian would normally tell you of the subpoena, thereby giving you an opportunity to challenge it. Some sophisticated custodians — like Apple, though not in this case — have filed the challenge in behalf of their clients.

In the litigation over such a challenge, the owner of the records would become aware of the government’s wish to seize them and would find out why it sought them. There is no threat to the records themselves, as they are in the hands of the custodian, not the target. This was a fair system that worked well for 200 years.

All this changed in 1986 with the congressional enactment of the highly misnamed Electronic Communications Privacy Act. This law permits the feds to obtain metadata — but not content — and to obtain a court order prohibiting the custodian from telling its client.

Stated differently, under the common law, and long-standing, 200-year-old federal practice, the target could challenge the subpoena. But since 1986, that has not been the case. This so-called Privacy Act, in reality, is a pathway to invade privacy. The only privacy this statute protects is the government’s.

Notwithstanding the 1986 law, federal grand juries can only issue subpoenas when they are investigating crimes. And subpoenas can only be issued when federal prosecutors persuade the grand jury both that a crime has been committed and that the subpoenaed materials more likely than not — this is “probable cause” — contain evidence of the crime being investigated.

We know these subpoenas were served at the height of the Robert Mueller investigation of then-President Donald Trump. And we know that much was leaked during that investigation that was politically harmful to the president. We also know that no charges were ever filed against Trump, and he survived the Mueller investigation legally unscathed.

What crime could the feds have been looking for, and what did they tell a federal judge in order to get the gag order, and why didn’t they just ask the judge for an order to seize the content of these communications?

There is no judge present during grand jury proceedings, nor are the target or his lawyers there. Prosecutors can say almost whatever they want to persuade the grand jury to issue a subpoena, but what they say is recorded. Might a review of what they said show that there was no evidence of a crime?

Leaks are not criminal unless the leaker has a legal duty to keep silent. Federal law only imposes that duty on grand jurors and on others if the materials that could be leaked are classified. Short of that, there was no crime for a grand jury to investigate, and no federal judge would have issued a search warrant.

Moreover, the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution insulates members of Congress from any governmental acts against them — including surveillance — due to their use of words in furtherance of their congressional work. This is bolstered by the separation of powers — baked into the Constitution — which makes the legislative branch and the executive branch equals.

The First and Fourth Amendments are intentional obstacles to the government. The Supreme Court has ruled that the First lets you say whatever you wish about the government, come what may.

The Fourth provides that all persons shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects. If the government pierced this protection without a demonstrable showing to a grand jury of crime, plus probable cause on each person whose records it sought, then it engaged in the very fishing expeditions that the amendment was written to prevent, and the government itself committed the crime of computer hacking.

It is unlikely that this mass surveillance found evidence of a crime in 2018, as no one has been indicted. My guess? Trump was furious over the leaks and ordered federal prosecutors to shake the trees and see who falls out. This is the tip of an unconstitutional, privacy-invading iceberg.

The feds who did this violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution. But lack of fidelity in government to the Constitution is nothing new.

Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written nine books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Lethal Threat to American Liberty. To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit

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GPS Tracking Continues, Despite the Supreme Court’s Ruling

Posted by M. C. on November 18, 2018

The Department of Justice has issued a ruling that the Supreme Court’s ruling doesn’t apply to the Department of Justice.

The government doesn’t need no stinking warrants.

Gary North

Maybe you read that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in January that the Department of Justice does not have the authority to plant a GPS tracking device in your car unless it has a warrant.

The Department of Justice has issued a ruling that the Supreme Court’s ruling doesn’t apply to the Department of Justice.

“What’s that?” you say. “You mean the Supreme Court’s word is not final?” That’s correct.

You see, the Supreme Court said that the GPS tracking devices were unconstitutional. But that didn’t mean that all GPS devices are unconstitutional. Only the ones that the FBI does not want to install. Those are clearly unconstitutional, but not the ones that it does want to install.

You may not understand the law, as interpreted by the Department of Justice.

A lawyer for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on May 31 defended the use of GPS tracking bugs in cases where no warrant has been issued. This negates the January Supreme Court ruling. In oral arguments in the Ninth Court of Appeals, the Department of Justice made it clear to the Court the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Jones did not require warrants for all GPS tracking situations, because the search could still be reasonable in certain situations.

The Supreme Court said that warrantless searches are a violation of the Fourth Amendment; therefore, so is warrantless tracking. This seemed like a comprehensive ruling, but not according to the Department of Justice. Read the rest of this entry »

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