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Category Archives: Defense

FinCEN Files Show How Criminals Use Big-Name Banks To Manage Global Financial Corruption

BuzzFeedNews: “A huge trove of secret government documents reveals for the first time how the giants of Western banking move trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions, enriching themselves and their shareholders while facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins. And the US government, despite its vast powers, fails to stop it. Today, the FinCEN Files — thousands of “suspicious activity reports” and other US government documents — offer an unprecedented view of global financial corruption, the banks enabling it, and the government agencies that watch as it flourishes. BuzzFeed News has shared these reports with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 news organizations in 88 countries. These documents, compiled by banks, shared with the government, but kept from public view, expose the hollowness of banking safeguards, and the ease with which criminals have exploited them. Profits from deadly drug wars, fortunes embezzled from developing countries, and hard-earned savings stolen in a Ponzi scheme were all allowed to flow into and out of these financial institutions, despite warnings from the banks’ own employees. Money laundering is a crime that makes other crimes possible. It can accelerate economic inequality, drain public funds, undermine democracy, and destabilize nations — and the banks play a key role. “Some of these people in those crisp white shirts in their sharp suits are feeding off the tragedy of people dying all over the world,” said Martin Woods, a former suspicious transactions investigator for Wachovia. Laws that were meant to stop financial crime have instead allowed it to flourish. So long as a bank files a notice that it may be facilitating criminal activity, it all but immunizes itself and its executives from criminal prosecution. The suspicious activity alert effectively gives them a free pass to keep moving the money and collecting the fees.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, is the agency within the Treasury Department charged with combating money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes. It collects millions of these suspicious activity reports, known as SARs. It makes them available to US law enforcement agencies and other nations’ financial intelligence operations. It even compiles a report called “Kleptocracy Weekly” that summarizes the dealings of foreign leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin. What it does not do is force the banks to shut the money laundering down…”

What’s at Stake in This Election? The American Democratic Experiment

The New York Times / Opinion – Trump’s former director of national intelligence on how to firmly and unambiguously reassure all Americans that their votes will be counted. By Dan Coats. Mr. Coats served as the director of national intelligence from 2017 to 2019. “…Our democracy’s enemies, foreign and domestic, want us to concede in… Continue Reading

Americans’ Views of Government: Low Trust, but Some Positive Performance Ratings

“For years, public trust in the federal government has hovered at near-record lows. That remains the case today, as the United States struggles with a pandemic and economic recession. Just 20% of U.S. adults say they trust the government in Washington to “do the right thing” just about always or most of the time. Yet… Continue Reading

A Low-Yield, Submarine-Launched Nuclear Warhead: Overview of the Expert Debate

CRS – A Low-Yield, Submarine-Launched Nuclear Warhead: Overview of the Expert Debate Updated September 9, 2020 – “The Trump Administration has developed a new low-yield version of the W-76 warhead for existing submarine-launched Trident II (D-5) missiles. Unclassified sources state that the current W76-1 warhead has an explosive yield of around 100 kilotons. The National… Continue Reading

Barr’s removal of career national security official, weeks before election, raises concerns

ABC News: “Current and former national security officials are raising concerns over Attorney General William Barr’s recent decision to remove the head of a Justice Department office that helps ensure federal counterterrorism and counterintelligence activities are legal – and replace him with a political appointee with relatively limited experience. “It’s very alarming,” said Katrina Mulligan,… Continue Reading

The Freedom of Information Act – A Legal Overview Updated

CRS report via LC – The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): A Legal Overview, Updated August 24, 2020: “Originally enacted in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) establishes a three-part system that requires federal agencies to disclose a large swath of government information to the public. First, FOIA directs agencies to publish substantive and… Continue Reading

Resources on Deep Fakes and National Security

Deep Fakes and National Security, August 26, 2020. “Deep fakes”—a term that first emerged in 2017 to describe realistic photo, audio, video, and other forgeries generated with artificial intelligence (AI) technologies—could present a variety of national security challenges in the years to come.As these technologies continue to mature, they could hold significant implications for congressional… Continue Reading

Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan Russia Report Volume 5

“U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the below statement on the release of the fifth and final volume of the Committee’s bipartisan Russia investigation titled, “Volume 5: Counterintelligence Threats and Vulnerabilities”: “After more than three and a half years of work, millions of documents, and… Continue Reading

The Other Way Trump Could Destroy the Next Presidency

The Atlantic [paywall] – via MSN [no paywall]: “…Presidential transitions are the connective tissue of the American political process. Past presidents and members of Congress have recognized the importance of a smooth transition through legislation and norms established in past handovers. Outgoing President George H. W. Bush underlined this point in his valedictory note to… Continue Reading

DOD, FBI, DHS release info on malware used in Chinese government-led hacking campaigns

CyberScoop: ” The U.S. government publicly put forth information Monday that exposed malware used in Chinese government hacking efforts for more than a decade. The Chinese government has been using malware, referred to as Taidoor, to target government agencies, entities in the private sector, and think tanks since 2008, according to a joint announcement from the… Continue Reading

Americans Fault China for Its Role in the Spread of COVID-19

“Americans’ views of China have continued to sour, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Today, 73% of U.S. adults say they have an unfavorable view of the country, up 26 percentage points since 2018. Since March alone, negative views of China have increased 7 points, and there is a widespread sense that China… Continue Reading

Hackers Broke Into Real News Sites to Plant Fake Stories

Wired – A disinfo operation broke into the content management systems of Eastern European media outlets in a campaign to spread misinformation about NATO. “Over the past few years, online disinformation has taken evolutionary leaps forward, with the Internet Research Agency pumping out artificial outrage on social media and hackers leaking documents—both real and fabricated—to… Continue Reading