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Defying Court Order, Trump Officials Separated Over 900 Migrant Kids From Families

The Trump administration has ripped 911 children from their families in the past year, despite the courts demanded them not to, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

In June 2018, a federal judge ordered the administration to stop separating families except in limited circumstances and the Trump administration claims it only separates families if a child is at risk. However, the ACLU said that evidence of this has been weak and many allegations of safety risks have been dubious.

In one case, a father and his two young children were separated from more than six months because the government claimed he was a gang member, despite providing no evidence. One man’s daughter was taken from him because a U.S. Border Patrol agent claimed the father failed to change her diaper. Another man, with a speech impediment, was separated from his young son when he couldn’t clearly answer questions.

This follows reports that the administration’s claims of “fake families,” or adults traveling with unrelated minors posing in order to smuggle drugs into the U.S., are bogus.

“It is shocking that the Trump administration continues to take babies from their parents,” said Lee Gelernt, lead attorney in the family separation lawsuit and deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The administration must not be allowed to circumvent the court order over infractions like minor traffic violations.”

The ACLU also said that the average age of the children separated was 9 years old and that 185 of the separated children were under 5 years old.

The filing comes as migrants and separated families continue to be detained in poor living conditions near the southern border. Additionally, a congressional report found that some border agents decided to keep families separated to “avoid doing the additional paperwork.”

It seems more and more than the Trump administration’s immigration tactics have very little to do with the facts.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Trump Signs Repeal Of U.S. Broadband Privacy Rules

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday signed a repeal of Obama-era broadband privacy rules, the White House said, a victory for internet service providers and a blow to privacy advocates.

Republicans in Congress last week narrowly passed the repeal of the privacy rules with no Democratic support and over the strong objections of privacy advocates.

The signing, disclosed in White House statement late on Monday, follows strong criticism of the bill, which is a win for AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc.

The bill repeals regulations adopted in October by the Federal Communications Commission under the Obama administration requiring internet service providers to do more to protect customers’ broadband privacy than websites like Alphabet Inc’s Google or Facebook Inc.

The rules had not yet taken effect but would have required internet providers to obtain consumer consent before using precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history for advertising and marketing.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai praised the repeal in a statement late on Monday for having “appropriately invalidated one part of the Obama-era plan for regulating the internet.” Those flawed privacy rules, which never went into effect, were designed to benefit one group of favored companies, not online consumers.”

Pai said the FCC would work with the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees websites, to restore the “FTC’s authority to police internet service providers’ broadband privacy practices.”

Republican FCC commissioners have said the Obama rules would unfairly give websites the ability to harvest more data than internet service providers.

The action is the latest in a string of reversals of Obama administration rules. On Monday, the FCC reversed a requirement that Charter Communications Inc extend broadband service to 1 million homes that already have a high-speed provider.

On Friday, Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T Inc. said they would voluntarily not sell customers’ individual internet browsing information.

Verizon does not sell personal web browsing histories and has no plans to do so but the company said it has two advertising programs that use “de-identified” customer browsing data, including one that uses “aggregate insights that might be useful for advertisers and other businesses.”

The American Civil Liberties Union said last month Congress should have opposed “industry pressure to put profits over privacy” and added “most Americans believe that their sensitive internet information should be closely guarded.”

Trade group USTelecom Chief Executive Jonathan Spalter in a statement praised Trump for “stopping rules that would have created a confusing and conflicting consumer privacy framework.”

Last week, 46 Senate Democrats urged Trump not to sign the bill, arguing most Americans “believe that their private information should be just that.”

Republicans later this year are expected to move to overturn net neutrality provisions that in 2015 reclassified broadband providers and treated them like a public utility – a move that is expected to spark an even bigger fight.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bill Trott)

IMAGE: President Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Student’s Death Raises Questions About Drug Informants On College Campuses

By Matt McKinney, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (TNS)

MINNEAPOLIS — Andrew Sadek, a North Dakota college student who went missing two weeks before his graduation, was found dead in the Red River just over a year ago. He had been shot once in the head. He wore a backpack full of rocks.

Initially there were murmurs that it was suicide. But after his family learned that Sadek had been working as a confidential informant for a drug task force in the months before his death, they have pushed for answers, and for changes in the practice that they believe led to their son’s killing.

Sadek was busted for selling $80 worth of marijuana. He faced the possibility of more than 40 years in prison.

“That would scare the bejesus out of anyone,” said his mother, Tammy Sadek. “They get kids who have no knowledge of the law. They don’t offer up an attorney during this whole thing.”

Tammy Sadek says police should stop using college students accused of nonviolent offenses to carry out undercover drug buys. Her son’s case has been compared to others in which young kids busted for minor drug offenses are told they can reduce their sentence if they help police catch others. The practice has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union and led to reforms in one state after an informant was murdered by those she was trying to help catch.

Authorities in North Dakota said Sadek was an adult who knew what he was doing when he chose informant work. A review of how the task force handled Sadek didn’t find wrongdoing.

But a year later, the case remains unsolved — with no official determination of suicide or homicide.

The gun that killed Sadek has not been found, but a pistol that shoots the same sized bullets disappeared from one of the Sadeks’ farm vehicles at their ranch near Rogers, N.D. Tammy Sadek said she doesn’t know if it’s connected because it’s not clear when the pistol was taken.

Sadek’s roommate, Drew Kugel, said Sadek didn’t appear depressed in the days before his disappearance. Kugel didn’t know about the undercover work his roommate was doing. He only knew Sadek as a quiet person who liked to ride his skateboard around campus and got good grades.

“Something went bad,” he said. “He was just a college student and I think they maybe sent him out to do something way over his head.”

His family said Sadek was a thoughtful kid who loved the outdoors and planned to take over the family farm.

He spent two years on the Wahpeton, N.D., campus of the State College of Science (NDSCS), a two-year community college in the center of the town of 7,800 people.

“Andrew was a quiet, gentle soul,” his mom said. “He would do anything for anyone.”

What no one close to him knew was that he had become entangled in legal trouble and spent the last few months of his life working to clear his name.

Sadek was busted after he sold 3.35 grams of marijuana worth $80 in April 2013 to an informant in two separate sales in a campus parking lot.

State law in North Dakota doesn’t differentiate between a small amount of marijuana or a kilo of cocaine: the sale of either one is considered a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

In November of 2013, agents with the Southeast Multi-County Agency Drug Task Force searched Sadek’s dorm room, finding a marijuana grinder in his desk. Sadek admitted that the grinder was his. A misdemeanor was added to his charges; he faced a maximum possible sentence of 41 years in prison. He signed papers to become an informant the next day.

Over the next three months, Sadek bought drugs three times wearing a police wire. All three buys were on college property. He was supposed to make two more buys when he stopped contacting the task force. He was last seen May 1, 2014, at 2 a.m. walking out of his residence hall alone.

A warrant for his arrest on two counts of drug dealing was issued May 5. At the time, campus police Sgt. Steve Helgeson suggested to local media that Sadek had fled. Sadek’s body was found June 27 in the Red River about a mile north of Breckenridge, Minn.

His wallet was not on him. He was wearing different clothes than the ones he wore when he was last seen leaving his dorm. He had been shot with a bullet from a .22-caliber weapon. An autopsy ruled that he died from the gunshot wound. No drugs or alcohol were found in his body.

The college didn’t know anything about Sadek’s criminal problems or his work with the drug task force until after he went missing, said Harvey Link, the school’s vice president for academic and student affairs.

A school policy to notify parents when students violate drug or alcohol rules never came into play as a result, he said.

Informants are helpful in small towns because police officers are already well known and suspects would likely recognize them, said the head of the drug task force that used Sadek as an informant.

“We’ve never really had any problems with anything,” said Jason Weber, a deputy in the Richland County Sheriff’s Office. Officers watch confidential informants during drug buys. Informants wear a wire that transmits and records conversations.

“Basically, if you have a student in college that gets caught with selling marijuana, meth, whatever it may be, now they’re giving themselves an opportunity to help themselves out,” said Weber. Citing the investigation, the sheriff’s office declined to answer specific questions about Sadek.

Drawing confidential informants from the pool of students on a college campus has come under fire after several high-profile failures of the practice in Massachusetts and Mississippi. A Florida law known as Rachel’s Law that beefs up protections for confidential informants was passed after the murder of Rachel Hoffman, a 23-year-old student killed while working as a confidential informant for police.

The practice is generally avoided by campus police at the University of Minnesota, said UMPD Lt. Troy Buhta. “I think anything like that could go bad,” said Buhta.

A school spokeswoman said NDSCS would have no comment on the use of confidential informants on campus, but the practice appears to have continued. A 21-year-old man was charged in May with selling six prescription pills to a confidential informant in a school parking lot. He faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison.

Those maximum penalties give law enforcement broad leverage to find more confidential informants, but they’re unlikely to be used, said North Dakota defense attorney Mark A. Friese.

It’s ultimately up to a judge, but the reality is that “most first-time marijuana deliveries do not lead to imprisonment,” he said.

A confidential informant offer typically comes before the offender goes to court, before they even have an attorney. Sadek, despite spending months working with the police to lessen his potential sentence, never had a day in court.

“He never even made an appearance,” said Richland County Assistant State’s Attorney Megan Kummer.

Initially, the NDSCS campus police investigated Sadek’s death, and the tone of the investigation suggested police were working from the theory that he had taken his life, said Tammy Sadek.

The campus police eventually turned to outside agencies, pulling in the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and, because Sadek’s body was found in Minnesota, the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

“At least they’re not treating it like a suicide anymore,” said Tammy Sadek, who said she and her husband, John, met with investigators in April. Some of Sadek’s college friends have also been interviewed. Carrying on her own investigation, Tammy Sadek learned the name of one of the suspects who bought drugs from Andrew when he was working as an informant. That person talked to her at first but has since broken off contact.

The Sadeks have launched a Facebook page, “Justice for Andrew Sadek,” and continue to push for answers.

This week, the couple mark a grim anniversary: On July 22, 2005, their 18-year-old son Nicholas was killed along with his girlfriend when their car was struck by a train at an unmarked train crossing.

Nicholas and Andrew were the Sadeks’ only children.

Photo: Andrew Sadek, who died while working as a drug informant. His parents believe he was murdered, although an investigation has not concluded. Andrew Sadek” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Death of Andrew Sadek“>Fair use via Wikipedia.” target=”_blank”>Wikipedia

Congress Curbs NSA Access To Phone Records While Resurrecting Spying Powers

By Sean Cockerham and William Douglas, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Congress approved a sweeping overhaul of the government’s access to Americans’ phone records on Tuesday, two days after Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s opposition to the bill forced National Security Agency surveillance powers to go dark.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed the USA Freedom Act, which would renew Patriot Act provisions that expired on Sunday night but start a six-month process of taking phone records from the government and leaving them with the phone companies. The NSA could access the data on a case-by-case basis with a secret court order.

“It’s extremely significant, that for the first time since 9/11, Congress is enacting legislation that would actually limit intelligence authorities rather than dramatically expanding them, which has been the trend,” said Elizabeth Goitein, a national security expert at New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice.

The 67-32 vote comes two years after whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the existence of the government’s phone data collection program. Several senators called him a traitor on Tuesday, but the changes to the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records wouldn’t have happened without him.

Jameel Jaffer, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy legal director, called the bill “a testament to the significance of the Snowden disclosures” but said it’s just a start.

“The bill leaves many of the government’s most intrusive and overbroad surveillance powers untouched, and it makes only very modest adjustments to disclosure and transparency requirements,” he said.

The bill already passed the House of Representatives and now goes to the president to be signed into law. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president would quickly sign the bill “and give our law enforcement professionals, once again, tools that they say are critical to their efforts to keep the country safe.”

Paul, who is running for the Republican nomination for president, and other privacy advocates argued the bill didn’t go far enough to keep the NSA from accessing Americans’ phone records, including the numbers, time, and duration of calls.

Paul released a fundraising television ad on Tuesday in which a voice declares that “when government illegally collected our phone records, Rand Paul took a stand, defended our rights, and stopped them.”

His delaying tactics angered other Republican senators, though, and only succeeded in making the NSA surveillance program lapse for a couple of days.

Earnest took a swipe at Paul, saying there are “members of the United States Senate who look for an opportunity to build a political advantage, to gain a political advantage, and they apparently concluded that the risk was worth it.” The bill was sold as a compromise, with President Barack Obama and Republican House leaders telling the Senate to pass it without any changes.

But hawks in the Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made a final attempt Tuesday to change the bill, pushing to delay the transition to the new phone record collection system and remove a requirement that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court make some surveillance orders public.

The Senate voted down each of McConnell’s amendments, another major defeat for the powerful majority leader, who was first outmaneuvered by Paul into letting the NSA spy powers lapse and then forced to accept a bill he didn’t like.

“It does not enhance the privacy protections of American citizens. And it surely undermines American security by taking one more tool from our war fighters at exactly the wrong time,” McConnell said.

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) disagreed, saying in a statement that “this legislation is critical to keeping Americans safe from terrorism and protecting their civil liberties.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a written statement that the bill was necessary to pass.

“The vote I cast today wasn’t on the basis that this bill was perfect, but that this bill was the best opportunity to quickly get these programs back up and running,” she said. “I believe we can make further changes to the program, but also think the Senate was right in preserving this program.”

Denise Zheng, deputy director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a Washington think tank, predicted this week’s congressional action and said the debate is only the beginning when it comes to national security and surveillance issues.

“I think it’s going to lead to more reform,” Zheng said. “There’s still a lot of surveillance issues, both domestic and foreign, that still need to be addressed.”

One is so-called end-to-end encryption. Major technology companies and civil liberties groups are pressing the White House to back end-to-end encryption — a system of communication in which only the sender and receiver can read messages — on electronic devices.

“A lot of companies are deploying end-to-end encryption,” Zheng said. “There’s no prohibition on end-to-end encryption.”
But FBI Director James Comey has been a critic of stronger encryption, saying it makes it more difficult to track potential terrorists and other lawbreakers.

And Congress will have to deal with FISA again. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — which allows the NSA to collect information on non-U.S. citizens located abroad — is set to expire in June 2017.

“I think that the current debate Congress has engaged in has been healthy,” Zheng said. “Do I think that some of the tactics by a couple of people on the Hill make sense? I wouldn’t say that.”

(Anita Kumar contributed to this report.)

(c)2015 McClatchy Washington Bureau. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Rand Paul for U.S. Senate, via Flickr