A new tool called OpenOversight matches names and badge numbers with photos of police. But some fear it could put officers’ lives in danger.
Last week, the ACLU of California released emails showing that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram provided Geofeedia, a social media monitoring company used by several law enforcement agencies nationwide, specialized access to feeds of bulk public data. Geofeedia used the feeds to spy on Black Lives Matter activists in Ferguson and Baltimore, the ACLU also revealed. Companies like Twitter stipulatethat data should not be used to “investigate, track or surveil” users, and Twitter and Facebook both moved to restrict Geofeedia’s bulk access to user data.But the controversy inspired one group of digital activists to turn the tables on law enforcement. Lucy Parsons Labs, a Chicago collective of web developers—their name and inspiration comes from the Wobbly-era labor organizer who Chicago police once called “more dangerous than a thousand rioters”—has released a new tool that allows the public to collect and share social media data on police officers. The web tool, OpenOversight, is aimed at the Chicago Police Department, one of many agencies across the country that uses Geofeedia to monitor public events.The tool seeks to match the names and badge numbers of officers (obtained by records requests) with photos (drawn from social media) to help people file misconduct complaints.
So far, the app’s gallery of officer photos draws on publicly available data from Chicago Police Department social media accounts and Flickr. Lucy Parsons Labs estimates that they currently have photos of about 1 percent of Chicago Police Department officers. According to Jennifer Helsby, lead developer of the project, the site’s identification capacity will become more robust as members of the public upload photos of officers into the gallery. The team is hoping to eventually spread the tool to cities across the country.
“The initial idea for the project came from looking at how police do social media monitoring,” says Helsby. “We talked to people who had been victims of [police] abuse and had gone to file complaint, but were told, ‘If you don’t know the badge number and name, nothing is going to happen.’”
Chicago police representatives, however, have raised concerns that OpenOversight could endanger police officers’ lives. “You put someone’s name out there, then now he’s driving with his kids or to his school, and now you’ve got him more easily identified and you put him and his family at risk,” says Dean Angelo, president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police union. ”People are doing this haphazardly, without any concern about an officer’s assignment, whether they’re working in a sensitive unit, narcotics, gangs, or undercover. They just don’t seem to care, ‘The public needs to know’—that’s the big banner that everyone is carrying. [But this] transparency [comes] at the risk of the lives of the women and men that perform this dangerous job.”
Chicago Police Department spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi did not respond to CityLab’s questions, but two former cops who are now police-reform advocates did weigh in on OpenOversight. “This is not a simple black-and-white issue, as far as I can tell,” says Norm Stamper, the former chief of the Seattle Police Department and author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing. “I totally get why police are concerned over such an initiative. Anything that would allow somebody to exact revenge, it’s going to be resisted. I would draw a line at releasing an officers personal data—address, phone numbers, license plates. It is really important for police to understand that the work they do is, in fact, very public. So I come down on the side of disclosure.”
So does Michael A. Wood Jr., a former Baltimore police officer and a prominent proponent of civilian-led policing. “An officer’s information is already public record, and in the Facebook digital era, you can find anybody if you want to that bad,” he says. “Let everybody have the pictures. You are a public servant. That’s your job. You are to be identified to the public. You are accountable to them.”
Karen Sheley, the director of the ACLU Illinois’s police-practices project, argues that OpenOversight needs to be understood in the context of the Chicago Police Department’s failure to provide updated images of officers when complainants go to their district stations to file a complaint. “We’ve been asking for photos that you can access for years,” she says. “Not necessarily on the web, but somewhere—so that if someone has an event happen, they can go in, make a complaint, and the investigator could show them who it might be. Sometimes there are 10- year-old to 15-year-old images of officers, so when you bring in someone to file a complaint, the images are too old to identify.”
But police union spokesman Angelo disagrees. “I don’t find a lot of support for the process being either difficult to access or difficult to file a complaint,” he says. “I think it’s wide open the way it is.”
Police accountability has become a major concern in Chicago recently, as a wave of scandals and investigations has hit the department. Last year, reports emerged that police operated a secret interrogation siteand allegedly fabricated details about the officer-involved shooting of Laquan McDonald. Over March 2011 to September 2015, less than 2 percent of the 28,567 complaints filed against the Chicago Police Department resulted in the discipline of officers, according to numbers assembled by the Citizen Police Data Project. That project is under The Invisible Institute, an investigative journalism nonprofit, and the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic of the University of Chicago Law School.Public data collected by the CPD suggests that lack of information may be allowing potentially abusive officers to remain on the force.Over March 2011 to March 2015, nearly a third of officer complaints were immediately dropped in Chicago due to a lack of officer identification.
Helsby and the Lucy Parsons team hope that OpenOversight will help close that information gap. And she insists that it won’t endanger officers on sensitive undercover assignments, or expose
Jonathan Hafetz is a senior staff attorney in the Center for Democracy at the American Civil Liberties Union and a professor of law at Seton Hall Law School.
In his 12 years on the bench, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s
Memos in Roscoe Hillenkoetter’s FBI file reveal the CIA and FBI Directors met and discussed the Agency’s “blundering and corruption”
A recently released copy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation file for Central Intelligence Agency Director Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter reveals that shortly after his retirement, Hillenkoetter admitted to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that elements of the Agency were corrupt.
The relationship between Hillenkoetter and Hoover appears to have long been cordial and forthright, with the CIA Director repeatedly praising the Bureau and Hoover returning the compliment. Following Hillenkoetter’s retirement from the CIA in order to return to the Navy, he kept in contact with the Bureau, acting as both an informant and liaison, and at times using his position to expedite matters for the Bureau. One of the most historically significant moments shared between the FBI and Hillenkoetter came from shortly after his retirement, when he described the “blunder and corruption of OSS and certain elements of CIA” in a private meeting with Hoover, according to memos obtained by MuckRock.
Following Hillenkoetter’s retirement on October 7th, 1950, he contacted the Bureau just two weeks later to inform them he would be leaving for San Francisco to assume his new command, and that he wished to speak with Hoover before he left. According to a memo informing Hoover of the request, Hillenkoetter wanted to thank him for his hard work and cooperation, and to “confidentially advise the Director of various circumstances surrounding CIA’s ‘frequent blundering.’“
At 10:15 am on the 24th, Hillenkoetter had his meeting with Hoover. According to a four sentence memo written by Hoover, Hillenkoetter came to thank Hoover for his cooperation with the Agency, a sentiment which Hoover returned in kind. Without going into detail, Hoover said they also had a “general discussion about the problems” that General Walter Bedell Smith, the incoming Director of Central Intelligence, would have to face at the CIA.
A memo written to the Director the following day reveals more about the meeting. After leaving the Director’s office, Hillenkoetter spoke confidentially with Cartha “Deke” DeLoach, the FBI agent who had escorted him to see Hoover. According to the memo, Hillenkoetter said that he had spoken with Admiral Sidney Souers about William Jackson, the Deputy Director of CIA, who Hillenkoetter considered unfit for the position. Admiral Hillenkoetter was the first CIA Director, Souers had been the first to hold the title of DCI during the earliest days of the Central Intelligence Group, CIA’s direct predecessor. Following his departure from CIG, Souers joined the National Security Council, a post he held until 1950 when he retired from public service. Even after his retirement, however, he remained a confidant and advisor for President Dwight Eisenhower.
Hillenkoetter felt that Souers would use this relationship to “attempt to do something about replacing Jackson,” referring to a feud MuckRock has previously touched upon.
The memo added that the Hillenkoetter expressed relief at discovering that Hoover “fully ‘knew the score’ about the blundering and corruption” of the Office of Strategic Service, the World War II predecessor to CIG and CIA, and of “certain elements of CIA,” using similar language to what the previous memo, written by a different FBI official, had used when quoting Hillenkoetter.
It’s not immediately clear what elements of the Agency Hillenkoetter was referring to, or what he meant by corruption. While provocative, the term is vague and it’s unclear whether it referred to ordinary corruption or corruption caused by Soviet agents, which his successor, Smith, felt with “moral certainty” had compromised the Agency. Requests for additional information about the meeting have been filed with FBI and CIA, along with referenced file numbers.
In the meantime, you can read Hillenkoetter’s comments to Hoover embedded below, and the rest on the request page.
Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2018 @ 10:40 AMUpdated: Wednesday, August 29, 2018 @ 3:22 PMBy: Breaking News Staff, Mark Gokavi - Staff Writer
Maine artist Alan Magee sings and playsguitar prior to Chris Hedges talk in Blue HillMaine
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Alan Magee’s website
The Central Intelligence Agency’s declassified archives include several copies of one of its long-term plans, produced in 1980 and originally classified SECRET. The copies of the Summary Report reveal two things about the Agency: it was, in the immediate lead-up to the Reagan administration, determined to expand its scope of operations and collections, and seemingly to increase its covert activities, and it’s either negligent or incompetent when it comes to figuring out what’s actually classified and deciding what files can be released.
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