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Submission + - Docs: Responding to Katrina, FBI made cell phone surveillance its priority->

v3rgEz writes: There's a lot of lessons that the federal government should have learned in the aftermath of Katrina. Increased domestic surveillance, however, appears to be the one the FBI took to heart, using the natural disaster as a justification for ramping up its use of Stingray cell phone tracking throughout Louisiana after the storm, according to documents released under FOIA to MuckRock.
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Submission + - "Sensationalized cruelty": FCC complaints regarding Game of Thrones-> 1

v3rgEz writes: As a cable channel, the FCC has little to no jurisdiction over HBO's content. That doesn't stop people from complaining to them about them, however, and after a FOIA request, the FCC released numerous complaints regarding the network's Game of Thrones. While there were the usual and expected lamentations about "open homosexual sex acts," other users saw Game of Thrones as a flashpoint in the war of Net Neutrality.
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Submission + - FBI informant: Ray Bradbury's sci-fi written to induce communistic mass hysteria->

v3rgEz writes: The FBI followed Ray Bradbury's career very closely, in part because an informant warned them that his writing was not enjoyable fantasy, but rather tantamount to psychological warfare. "The general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria," the informant warned. "Which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would believe could not be won since their morale had seriously been destroyed."
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Submission + - After jokes about Hoover, George Carlin earn himself an FBI file->

v3rgEz writes: After George Carlin satirized FBI and J. Edgar Hoover in a bit "considered to be in very poor taste" (but which was incredibly tame by Carlin standards), the Bureau took a special interest in the famed comedian, starting a file and sending out queries across the country as to Carlin's loyalties and background. Read Carlin's full file on MuckRock.
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Submission + - EFF and MuckRock need your help tracking biometric surveillance->

v3rgEz writes: Police departments are increasingly tracking your face, your fingerprints, your tattoos — and even your DNA. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and MuckRock are working to uncover how local agencies are tracking you and bring some much-needed transparency to the murky world of biometric surveillance through a free public records audit: Just put in some basic information about an agency near you, and they'll publicly file a request to see what vendors your city is using, how they protect your privacy, and more.
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Submission + - Check whether Hacking Team demoed cyberweapons for your local cops->

v3rgEz writes: Turns out death squads aren't the only agencies buying Hacking Squad's controversial spyware. Town from Miami Shores, FL to Eugene, OR appeared on a list of US agencies that received demonstrations from the hacked surveillance vendor. MuckRock has mapped out who was on the lists, and is working to FOIA what these towns actually bought, if anything. Check and see if your city is on the map.
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Submission + - FBI releases Erdos files after MuckRock FOIA request->

v3rgEz writes: A Hungarian born in the early 20th century, Paul (Pal) Erdos, mathematician, was well-known and well-liked, the sort of eccentric scientist from the Soviet sphere that made Feds’ ears perk up in mid-century America. His lifetime generated over five hundred scholarly papers and a cult of collaborators. The Erdos number has become a mathy merit badge, and for those that don’t hold a coveted Erdos number of 1, there are resources to determine just how many degrees of celebrity separation exist between the man himself and other technical paper bylines.

And like almost all smart individuals of his era, Erdos had a lengthy FBI file — which ultimately concluded no nefarious intent, but rather "nothing to indicate the subject had any interest in any matter than Mathematics." Read on for highlights, or read Erdos' full FBI file.

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Submission + - J. Edgar Hoover trusted Ben Bradlee "as much as I would a rattlesnake."->

v3rgEz writes: Former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee's role in covering some of the biggest stories of the 20th century — most notably Watergate — has made him a legend in the industry. But after initially close government ties â" including Bradlee bring considered to head up Voice of America â" the legendary Washington Post editor was completely blackballed by the FBI after running a piece critical of J. Edgar Hoover, who took the piece personally, calling Bradlee "a colossal liar" and forbidding bureau employees from speaking with him. Read the full history of editor vs. FBI at MuckRock.
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Submission + - Police call logs from the Sun City llama drama->

v3rgEz writes: Wonder what it is like to be an officer charged with apprehending two llamas on the loose? Wonder no more: Sun City, AZ, has released the call logs from the tense, hours-long standoff between man and adorable beast. "They're heading into Thunderbird. It's gonna get ugly," the dispatcher warned, right before stifling a laugh. Listen to the full call logs over at MuckRock.
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Submission + - MuckRock FOIA request releases Christopher Hitchens' FBI files->

v3rgEz writes: Outspoken atheist firebrand Christopher Hitchens was never one for understatement, and apparently the FBI took notice. A Freedom of Information request from investigative news site MuckRock has resulted in the release of his 19-page FBI file, including details such as how his interest in socialism in college sparked heightened monitoring when given a scholarship to come to the United States.

Some of the pages had actually been previously released, but were then removed from the FBI's own website a few years ago. Despite the monitoring, Hitchens files have nothing on the hundreds of pages the FBI had on Richard Feynman.

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Submission + - Inside Scientology-affiliated Narconon Arrowhead facility->

v3rgEz writes: Scientology-linked Narcanon (not to be confused with Narcotics Anonymous) has a murky history of putting vitamins and exercise over science and medical detox practices.

That prioritization might have lead to deaths of patients in Narcanon's care. At the group's Arrowhead location, in Oklahoma, when a body was found, rather than administering emergency care, "staff members would gather around the body and chant for the spirit to get back in the body."

The files on these incidents were the result of a FOIA request filed on MuckRock.

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Submission + - Watch your 'Likes': Police emails show few restrictions on who & why they wa->

v3rgEz writes: Love to show off your love of guns on Facebook? So do millions of other people ... but it's enough to spark monitoring of your account page by local police, even if you're two hundred miles from their city. That's what newly released emails from Austin's Regional Intelligence Center show, as details of how one man's feed was monitored came to life — and how little of a policy covered potential privacy concerns.
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Submission + - What the ATF could have learned from Bob's Burgers about drones->

v3rgEz writes: ATF spent over $600,000 on a set of six Unmanned Aerial Vehicles that, according to the agency's Inspector General, it never even used — or bothered to return. If only the ATF was fan's of Bob's Burgers, maybe things could have ended up a lot better, as the agency's problems uncannily mirror Bob Belcher's own love for faulty technology.
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Submission + - ICE tells reporter its secretive drone program isn't newsworthy->

v3rgEz writes: Wondering how Immigration and Customs Enforcement uses drones along the border? ICE says you shouldn't be, declaring the topic "isn't news" anymore. The agency rejected a FOIA request fee waiver regarding Operation Safeguard because the program, started in secret 12 years ago, is no longer new.

A March 3 letter signed by an ICE lawyer defined “news” as “information that is about current events or that would be of current interest to the public.” Hard to see how the government's drone program, even if it is over a decade old, doesn't hold current interest, but maybe a useful example of what happens when you let agencies dictate what is — and isn't — news.

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