January 14, 2017 Chelsea Manning Describes Bleak Life in a Men�s Prison

Most mornings at 4:30, half an hour before the �first call� awakens inmates at the Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas, an alarm rings within an 80-square-foot cell. Inmate 89289, slightly built with short hair, rises to apply makeup and don female undergarments and a brown uniform before the still-slumbering men in the adjacent cells stir.

That is the routine for Chelsea Manning, America�s most famous convicted leaker and the prison�s most unusual inmate. She is serving the longest sentence ever imposed for disclosing government secrets � 35 years � and her status as a celebrity of sorts and an incarcerated transgender woman presents continuing difficulties for the military.

During the day, Ms. Manning, who was an Army intelligence analyst known as Bradley Manning when she disclosed archives of secret military and diplomatic files to WikiLeaks in 2010, builds picture frames and furniture in the prison wood shop. In the evenings, before the 10:05 p.m. lockdown, she reads through streams of letters, including from antisecrecy enthusiasts who view her as a whistle-blower.

�I am always busy. I have a backlog of things to do: legal, administrative, press inquiries, and writing � lots of writing,� Ms. Manning wrote in response to questions submitted by The Times because the Army does not permit her to speak directly to journalists. �Being me is a full-time job.�

But Ms. Manning, who is struggling to transition to life as a woman while enduring a bleak existence at a male military prison, has asked President Obama to commute the remainder of her sentence before he leaves office next week. She poses particular challenges as a prisoner, with a volunteer support network that helps bring global attention to her treatment, fragile mental state � she twice tried to commit suicide in 2016 � and need for treatment that the military has no experience providing. Her request comes as the world is again focused on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, whom her leaks made famous. The organization last year published Clinton campaign emails, obtained in a hacking, as part of what American intelligence officials claim was a covert Russian operation aimed at tilting the election to President-elect Donald J. Trump. (Ms. Manning declined to discuss WikiLeaks, saying only that her decision to send documents to it �was neither an endorsement nor an affiliation.�) It also comes at a time of flux in the military�s policies on gender identity. Last June, the Obama administration rescinded a ban on transgender people serving in the military and began overhauling its practices, which eventually would include providing gender reassignment surgery. But Mr. Trump has <a href=“https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/10/03/heres-how-trump-responded-to-a-question-about-women-and-transgender-individuals-in-the-military/derided the lifting of the ban as �politically correct,� raising the possibility that his administration may roll back the changes.

The White House declined to comment on Ms. Manning�s commutation request. The Army declined to comment about her situation at Fort Leavenworth, citing privacy laws.

A military prosecutor had called Ms. Manning a �traitor� at her 2013 court-martial, and officials have said the disclosures disrupted government operations and put people at risk, although prosecutors did not claim anyone was killed because of them.

In a statement accompanying her petition asking Mr. Obama to reduce her sentence to the nearly seven years she already has served, Ms. Manning, now 29, said she never intended to hurt anyone and pleaded for a chance to start her life over. �I need help,� she wrote. �I am living through a cycle of anxiety, anger, hopelessness, loss, and depression. I cannot focus. I cannot sleep. I attempted to take my own life.� On Aug. 22, 2013, the day after her sentencing for sending documents to WikiLeaks, Ms. Manning�s lawyer read a statement on the �Today� show <a href=“http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/23/us/bradley-manning-says-he-is-female.htmlannouncing that she was female, wanted to be called �Chelsea� rather than �Bradley� and would seek cross-sex hormone therapy.

To observers of her court-martial, this was no surprise. Her motivation for leaking hundreds of thousands of files she had copied from a classified computer network while serving in Iraq, as she wrote at the time, was hope that they would spark �worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.� But at her trial, she <a href=“http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/15/us/manning-apologizes-for-leaks-my-actions-hurt-people.htmlapologized and noted that she was �dealing with a lot of issues� when she had made that decision.

Testimony showed that she had been in a mental and emotional crisis as she came to grips, in the stress of a war zone, with the fact that she was not merely gay, as she had believed while growing up in Oklahoma, but had gender dysphoria � a disconnect between one�s gender identity and sex assigned at birth. In the months before her leaks and May 2010 arrest, she had been behaving erratically and emailed a picture of herself wearing a woman�s wig to her supervisor.

The military sent Ms. Manning to serve out her sentence as a medium-security inmate at the Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks, its main prison for male inmates. Court documents show that Ms. Manning has had counseling sessions with a prison psychologist, Dr. Ellen Galloway, at least once a week, and military authorities have over time allowed her access to some treatments doctors prescribed for her gender dysphoria, in part because of pressure from a lawsuit filed by Chase Strangio, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, in September 2014.

She can now wear female prison undergarments, including a sports bra, and �subdued cosmetics.� In early 2015, she was permitted to get speech therapy to feminize the tone and pitch of her voice and began cross-sex hormone therapy prescribed, Mr. Strangio said, by an endocrinologist brought in from the military�s Walter Reed hospital.

Since then, Ms. Manning wrote, she has developed breasts and curvier hips. �There have been significant changes since I�ve been taking the hormones, and I am happy with them,� she said.

But, citing security risks, the military rejected the recommendation of an outside psychologist who said she should be permitted to further feminize her appearance by growing her hair longer than male military standards. Mr. Strangio is helping her challenge that restriction.

�Plaintiff feels like a freak and a weirdo � not because having short hair makes a person less of a woman � but because for her, it undermines specifically recommended treatment and sends the message to everyone that she is not a �real� woman,� he wrote in a court filing.

�She is getting hormones, but it sounds like the inability to socially transition, or to have surgery, could be contributing to suicidality � especially when she is looking at decades in prison and thus a certain hopelessness about whether that might ever be available for her,� said Dan Karasic, a University of California, San Francisco psychiatrist and the chairman of the American Psychiatric Association�s work group on gender dysphoria; he cautioned that he had not examined her.

The military turned down a request by The New York Times to visit the facility. But an Army spokesman, Wayne Hall, provided written answers from the Army Corrections Command to questions posed by The Times, from which a sketch of her environment emerged.

Ms. Manning�s cell, like others at Fort Leavenworth, contains a bed, toilet, sink, locker, storage bin, chair and desk, according to the Army. She showers in a nearby communal bathroom with individual stalls. She has no access to the internet, but says she receives �at least a couple hundred pieces of mail every week.�

The Army does not permit her to see people who did not know her before her incarceration, so she is not allowed to meet with a handful of volunteers who have formed an informal network of supporters, but she calls one of them daily. A volunteer who relayed questions from The Times to her asked not to be named, citing security concerns.

Ms. Manning said she recently finished reading �Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies,� a book about artificial intelligence by the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom, and �1Q84,� a dystopian novel by Haruki Murakami. She is interested in efforts to develop stronger encryption and has been �going through� the �Princeton Companion to Mathematics.� She also said she reads women�s athletic, fashion and lifestyle magazines like Shape, Vogue, Vanity Fair and Cosmopolitan.

Her cell door has a window looking onto a central �day room� with tables, chairs, pay phones and televisions. For a time, Ms. Manning played Dungeons & Dragons with a few fellow inmates, but she said she had had no time in recent months. She eats meals with other inmates in a dining facility and works on a team at the wood shop. The roughly 424 inmates held at Fort Leavenworth with Ms. Manning include men accused of routine crimes as well as some who drew public attention, including Nidal Hasan, convicted in a 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood and held on the prison�s death row wing, and Robert Bales, who murdered 16 Afghans in Kandahar and was sentenced to life without parole in August 2013.

Ms. Manning declined to say much about the guards or fellow inmates, other than to say that they have never bullied or attacked her.

�It�s best to keep to yourself and try not to get involved in any drama,� she wrote. �It�s a little harder for me to keep to myself, since the staff is constantly watching me and those that interact with me. But I�m used to it by now. I don�t feel threatened by the other prisoners. I have friends.� Her special status at Fort Leavenworth is evident. Nancy Hollander, one of the lawyers working on the appeal of her conviction and sentence, said the Army built a special secure information facility in a windowless basement room so she could meet with them and discuss still-classified documents she leaked.

While Ms. Manning said she could not say on her monitored phone calls �anything critical of the prison or the current administration or I can get charged for violation of a lawful general order,� her supporters pay close attention to her treatment.

Scrutiny of the military�s struggles to deal with Ms. Manning go back to her confinement at the Quantico, Va., brig after her arrest, when she was held for months in isolation, shackled during exercise and sometimes stripped of clothing and glasses to prevent her from harming herself � even after a prison psychologist said such steps were unnecessary. A military judge ruled that the treatment had been illegal.

At Leavenworth, after a minor disagreement with a guard in 2015, officials punished her, among other things, for �medical misuse� because they found a tube of toothpaste in her cell that was past its expiration date. Her supporters publicized the incident.

In September, her supporters issued a news release saying she was on a hunger strike because of an �overzealous administrative scrutiny� and lack of progress in getting more treatment.

She resumed eating after five days. Mr. Strangio said an official told her she would be eligible for the same medical treatment as non-incarcerated transgender soldiers, suggesting she would eventually be permitted to proceed with surgery. But months have passed, and Ms. Manning wrote that she has not seen a surgeon.

Later in September, a prison board disciplined Ms. Manning for the disruption a July suicide attempt had caused. The punishment: solitary confinement. While in isolation in October, she tried again to kill herself � by choking herself on a piece of clothing, according to a support network member � before guards intervened. About a week further into that stint in solitary, she experienced a bizarre episode in which four people impersonating guards simulated breaking into the prison one night and pretended to kill her regular guards, filling her with fear, according to an account she filed with the army inspector general.

A military official denied her account. Dr. Stuart Grassian, a specialist in the psychological effects of solitary confinement, said her description is consistent with hallucinations often experienced by unstable people placed in isolation.

Now, with 28 years of her sentence to go and uncertainty over whether the Trump administration will deny her sex-reassignment surgery, Ms. Manning is hoping Mr. Obama will take mercy on her and free her from military prison, which goes by the acronym U.S.D.B.

�I am not asking for a pardon of my conviction. I understand that the various collateral consequences of the court-martial conviction will stay on my record forever,� she wrote in her commutation application. �I am merely asking for a first chance to live my life outside the U.S.D.B. as the person I was born to be.”
articles detention prison
January 10, 2017 Twitter�s Jack Dorsey is �thinking a lot about� an edit-tweet button

You�ve probably dreamed of directing Twitter�s product strategy � well, here�s your chance!

CEO Jack Dorsey took to his Twitter account Thursday to ask users what the company can do to �improve or create in 2017� � an idea he borrowed from Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, who tweeted something similar on Christmas day. Dorsey posed the same question about his other company, Square. Following in the footsteps of Brian Chesky: what’s the most important thing you want to see Twitter improve or create in 2017? #Twitter2017” The responses flooded in. The top requests, based on an unscientific scan of @jack�s replies: � An edit button for tweets � A bookmark button � Better safety and reporting options for bullies. We at Recode don�t like to toot our own horn, but we may have suggested something similar to Twitter back in October.

Good news for Twitter users: Dorsey says Twitter is considering all of these things, including the edit-tweet functionality.

�Is it more important to edit for spelling/corrections? 5 minute window to edit mistakes or do you need to be able to edit anytime?� Dorsey asked a few users who suggested it.

�We’re thinking a lot about it,� he added.

Dorsey also said that Twitter is thinking about other suggested ideas, including a bookmarking tool, better threading for conversations, and multiple timelines based on people�s interests.

Twitter has never offered an edit button, in part because the company was concerned that tweets might be changed after a long period of time and after they�d already been embedded or used on other parts of the web. But allowing an edit option for a short time after publishing a tweet seems like a good compromise.
articles socialmedia Twitter
January 10, 2017 Facebook Doesn�t Tell Users Everything It Really Knows About Them

Facebook has long let users see all sorts of things the site knows about them, like whether they enjoy soccer, have recently moved, or like Melania Trump.

But the tech giant gives users little indication that it buys far more sensitive data about them, including their income, the types of restaurants they frequent and even how many credit cards are in their wallets.

Since September, ProPublica has been encouraging Facebook users to share the categories of interest that the site has assigned to them. Users showed us everything from �Pretending to Text in Awkward Situations� to �Breastfeeding in Public.� In total, we collected more than 52,000 unique attributes that Facebook has used to classify users.

Facebook�s page explaining �what influences the ads you see� says the company gets the information about its users �from a few different sources.�

What the page doesn�t say is that those sources include detailed dossiers obtained from commercial data brokers about users� offline lives. Nor does Facebook show users any of the often remarkably detailed information it gets from those brokers.

�They are not being honest,� said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. �Facebook is bundling a dozen different data companies to target an individual customer, and an individual should have access to that bundle as well.�

When asked this week about the lack of disclosure, Facebook responded that users can discern the use of third-party data if they know where to look. Each time an ad appears using such data, Facebook says, users can click a button on the ad revealing that fact. Users can still not see what specific information about their lives is being used.

The company said it does not disclose the use of third-party data on its general page about ad targeting because the data is widely available and was not collected by Facebook.

�Our approach to controls for third-party categories is somewhat different than our approach for Facebook-specific categories,� said Steve Satterfield, a Facebook manager of privacy and public policy. �This is because the data providers we work with generally make their categories available across many different ad platforms, not just on Facebook.�

Satterfield said users who don�t want that information to be available to Facebook should contact the data brokers directly. He said users can visit a page in Facebook�s help center, which provides links to the opt-outs for six data brokers that sell personal data to Facebook.

Limiting commercial data brokers� distribution of your personal information is no simple matter. For instance, opting out of Oracle�s Datalogix, which provides about 350 types of data to Facebook according to our analysis, requires �sending a written request, along with a copy of government-issued identification� in postal mail to Oracle�s chief privacy officer.

Users can ask data brokers to show them the information stored about them. But that can also be complicated. One Facebook broker, Acxiom, requires people to send the last four digits of their social security number to obtain their data. Facebook changes its providers from time to time so members would have to regularly visit the help center page to protect their privacy.

One of us actually tried to do what Facebook suggests. While writing a book about privacy in 2013, reporter Julia Angwin tried to opt out from as many data brokers as she could. Of the 92 brokers she identified that accepted opt-outs, 65 of them required her to submit a form of identification such as a driver�s license. In the end, she could not remove her data from the majority of providers.

ProPublica�s experiment to gather Facebook�s ad categories from readers was part of our Black Box series, which explores the power of algorithms in our lives. Facebook uses algorithms not only to determine the news and advertisements that it displays to users, but also to categorize its users in tens of thousands of micro-targetable groups.

Our crowd-sourced data showed us that Facebook�s categories range from innocuous groupings of people who like southern food to sensitive categories such as �Ethnic Affinity� which categorizes people based on their affinity for African-Americans, Hispanics and other ethnic groups. Advertisers can target ads toward a group � or exclude ads from being shown to a particular group.

Last month, after ProPublica bought a Facebook ad in its housing categories that excluded African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, the company said it would build an automated system to help it spot ads that illegally discriminate.

Facebook has been working with data brokers since 2012 when it signed a deal with Datalogix. This prompted Chester, the privacy advocate at the Center for Digital Democracy, to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Facebook had violated a consent decree with the agency on privacy issues. The FTC has never publicly responded to that complaint and Facebook subsequently signed deals with five other data brokers.

To find out exactly what type of data Facebook buys from brokers, we downloaded a list of 29,000 categories that the site provides to ad buyers. Nearly 600 of the categories were described as being provided by third-party data brokers. (Most categories were described as being generated by clicking pages or ads on Facebook.)

The categories from commercial data brokers were largely financial, such as �total liquid investible assets $1-$24,999,� �People in households that have an estimated household income of between $100K and $125K,� or even �Individuals that are frequent transactor at lower cost department or dollar stores.�

We compared the data broker categories with the crowd-sourced list of what Facebook tells users about themselves. We found none of the data broker information on any of the tens of the thousands of �interests� that Facebook showed users.

Our tool also allowed users to react to the categories they were placed in as being �wrong,� �creepy� or �spot on.� The category that received the most votes for �wrong� was �Farmville slots.� The category that got the most votes for �creepy� was �Away from family.� And the category that was rated most �spot on� was �NPR.�

Clarification, Jan. 4, 2017: We�ve added details about what Facebook tells users regarding third-party data. Specifically, each time an ad appears using such information, Facebook says, users can click a button on the ad revealing the use of third-party data.
articles Facebook privacy
January 10, 2017 Why @Twitter has failed us�

Twitter is a dangerous place for the faint of heart. Gang thuggery can devastate a delicate sensibility and even damage professional reputations beyond repair. Sarcastic allegations of misbehavior border on defamation and baseless charges of criminal behavior can be defamation per se. Whether such acts can be disputed, ignored or litigated depends on their severity and degree of malicious intent. The civil courts of late are demonstrating their impatience with irresponsible behavior of the most egregious kind. I personally have been victorious in this arena, while others less inclined, or for various reasons unable or unwilling to fight back, have fared less favorably. Anonymity, �the foundation Twitter�s business model and appeal, supports the more venal in our midst, as it has supported those cowards who would snipe from dark corners since the advent of the written word. Before the the written word, malicious whisperers claimed their victims in a different but equally poisonous fashion.�

Yet as difficult as it was in the early days of my � �experience with the gang assaults, I now find Twitter�s latest jihad against those who don�t tow the political line more dangerous by far. I took my case to court, I won the SLAPP judgment (admittedly against lawyers who lose on such a regular basis, losing might as well be a mantra), and justice was served. How would one fight the good fight, however, against Twitter�s latest gambit? Deciding that thousands of their clients� opinions are not to Twitter�s political taste, they banged their corporate noggins together and virtually silenced those voices by terminating the �offending� accounts permanently.�

No explanation. No appeal. No discussion.� Big Brother has spoken. Eat it and goodbye.�

One teensy weensy problem implicit in this decision, however, may metastasize into a cancer that will eat Twitter alive. You see, Twitter and other huge corporate social media �portals� basically enjoy immunity from litigation for republishing defamatory comments made by their users. The argument is quite simple. In order to preserve the hallowed American right of free speech, having to �vet� every sentiment expressed by every user, from the POTUS down to the �pajama boy� hurling grenades from his mommy�s rumpus room, would place an undue burden on these �outlets of free expression.� Twitter, FaceBook, etc. in turn are then obligated by law to remain objective providers of free speech and not purveyors of news. News providers are explicitly NOT protected in this way. News organizations are expected to be objective and apolitical in their news reportage, yet ironically granted the luxury of editorial opinion, where expressly identified as such (editorial pages, commentary pieces). Now the Rachel Maddows of this arena, for example, �while good for a chuckle, clearly disappoint by these standards to an alarming degree. They are actually bitter entertainers masquerading as journalists, and are recognized as such by all but their most ardent and slavish acolytes. Germane to this discussion are actual purveyors of journalistic �fact,� as responsible as they can reasonably be. If they mess up or fail in their due diligence, they often end their careers in disgrace (Dan Rather comes to mind as a biased embarrassment even Hollywood couldn�t resuscitate).

So here is where Twitter�s recent digital �Kristallnacht� against thousands of its users becomes alarming to those of us who still believe in free speech and crippling to Twitter as a portal impervious to actionable litigation. If they are using algorithms to ferret out those with whom their corporate goons disagree politically, are they now still an objective portal, not involved in the news and issues and OPINIONS of the current political zeitgeist? Indeed are those algorithms, in this case against conservative political thinkers labeled as�alt right,� (the easier to round them up into political boxcars) not the same effective mechanisms as editorial pages in objective media outlets (guffaw) such as the New York Times?

I�m not a lawyer, but a lawyer I respect has agreed it is probably a matter of time before a class action is filed against Twitter for its decision to abdicate objectivity regarding its clients� right to free speech. Clearly the corporate honchos at Twittter don�t care much for Voltaire�s famous dictum about defending to the death another�s right to say that with which one may disagree. So be it.

Arrogance runs rampant at these liberal corporate websites. They think they can do whatever they want and no one will ever stand up to them. After all they have all the power, don�t they?�

Sure they do. Just ask Gawker�

Yeah, I definitely agree that Twitter has failed when it comes to censoring and/or banning accounts. This is why I mostly use Gab.ai now. Facebook has also failed in this way.

articles socialmedia Twitter freespeech
January 9, 2017 Best Buy Geek Squad Informant Use Has FBI on Defense in Child-Porn Case

FBI agents and prosecutors usually strut inside Santa Ana’s Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, knowing they’ve focused the wrath of the criminal-justice system on a particular criminal. But an unusual child-pornography-possession case has placed officials on the defensive for nearly 26 months. Questions linger about law-enforcement honesty, unconstitutional searches, underhanded use of informants and twisted logic. Given that a judge recently ruled against government demands to derail a defense lawyer’s dogged inquiry into the mess, United States of America v. Mark A. Rettenmaier is likely to produce additional courthouse embarrassments in 2017. Rettenmaier is a prominent Orange County physician and surgeon who had no idea that a Nov. 1, 2011, trip to a Mission Viejo Best Buy would jeopardize his freedom and eventually raise concerns about, at a minimum, FBI competency or, at worst, corruption. Unable to boot his HP Pavilion desktop computer, he sought the assistance of the store’s Geek Squad. At the time, nobody knew the company’s repair technicians routinely searched customers’ devices for files that could earn them $500 windfalls as FBI informants. This case produced that national revelation.

According to court records, Geek Squad technician John Trey” Westphal, an FBI informant, reported he accidentally located on Rettenmaier’s computer an image of a fully nude, white prepubescent female on her hands and knees on a bed, with a brown choker-type collar around her neck.” Westphal notified his boss, Justin Meade, also an FBI informant, who alerted colleague Randall Ratliff, another FBI informant at Best Buy, as well as the FBI. Claiming the image met the definition of child pornography and was tied to a series of illicit pictures known as the Jenny” shots, agent Tracey Riley seized the hard drive.

Setting aside the issue of whether the search of Rettenmaier’s computer constituted an illegal search by private individuals acting as government agents, the FBI undertook a series of dishonest measures in hopes of building a case, according to James D. Riddet, Rettenmaier’s San Clemente-based defense attorney. Riddet says agents conducted two additional searches of the computer without obtaining necessary warrants, lied to trick a federal magistrate judge into authorizing a search warrant, then tried to cover up their misdeeds by initially hiding records.

To convict someone of child-pornography charges, the government must prove the suspect knowingly possessed the image. But in Rettenmaier’s case, the alleged Jenny” image was found on unallocated trash” space, meaning it could only be retrieved by carving” with costly, highly sophisticated forensics tools. In other words, it’s arguable a computer’s owner wouldn’t know of its existence. (For example, malware can secretly implant files.) Worse for the FBI, a federal appellate court unequivocally declared in February 2011 (USA v. Andrew Flyer) that pictures found on unallocated space did not constitute knowing possession because it is impossible to determine when, why or who downloaded them. The government concedes it presented no evidence that Flyer knew of the presence of the files on the unallocated space of his Gateway computer’s hard drive,” declared judges at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit before overturning that conviction. The government also concedes it presented no evidence that Flyer had the forensic software required to see or access the files. . . . Deletion of an image alone does not support a conviction for knowing possession of child pornography on or about a certain date within the meaning of [federal law]. No evidence indicated that Flyer could recover or view any of the charged images in unallocated space or that he even knew of their presence there.” That ruling, made a year before the launch of the Rettenmaier case, left the FBI in a quandary. Agents noted among themselves in an email thread that our [assistant United States attorney] won’t charge on carved images.” In hopes of overcoming this obstacle, they performed a sleight-of-hand maneuver, according to Riddet. The agents simply didn’t alert Judge Marc Goldman that the image in question had been buried in unallocated space and, thus, secured deceitful authorization for a February 2012 raid on Rettenmaier’s Laguna Niguel residence. The omission was critical because the mere presence of child pornography in a computer’s unallocated space is insufficient to establish knowing possession as a matter of law,” Riddet wrote in a November 2016 brief. And the unwitting possession of child porn will not support probable cause [for either a raid or charges].”

But Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Anthony Brown, who specializes in sex-crime cases and is handling prosecution duties, claims the omission was not legally important or malicious. Brown believes the Jenny” image shouldn’t be suppressed because it’s only wild speculation” that the Geek Squad performed searches at FBI instigation. To him, the defense is pushing a flawed” theory slyly shifting focus to innocent FBI agents; he maintains that Rettenmaier�who is smart enough to have taught medicine at USC and UCLA�was dumb enough to seek Best Buy recovery of all of his computer files after knowingly storing child porn there. The case is presently so tenuous that Riddet, who has 47 years of court experience, believes the Geek Squad search was extracurricular to required repairs and�suggests that federal officials sloppily pushed for an unnecessary arrest. He has demanded to know if agents showed the photo evidence to Assistant United States Attorney Anne Gannon before she initiated charges. The defense lawyer is suspicious because FBI records reviewed by OC Weekly contain discrepancies about the picture and offer conflicting narratives about the agency’s actions against his client. He also wants additional records, which he believes have been hidden.

On Dec. 19, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney highlighted the discrepancies, noted odd memory losses among agents, and called Brown’s arguments for blocking Riddet’s inquiries unavailing” and perplexing.” Carney ordered government officials to conduct a new, diligent” search for evidence and compelled Gannon’s future testimony about whether she saw the Jenny” image before approving the search warrant.

But the biggest issue remains whether Geek Squad technicians acted as secret law-enforcement agents and, thus, violated Fourth Amendment prohibitions against warrantless government searches. Riddet claims records show FBI and Best Buy made sure that during the period from 2007 to the present, there was always at least one supervisor who was an active informant.” He also said, The FBI appears to be able to access data at [Best Buy’s main repair facility in Brooks, Kentucky] whenever they want.” Calling the relationship between the agency and the Geek Squad relevant to pretrial motions, Carney approved Riddet’s request to question agents under oath.

The defense lawyer believes the case was built on a false premise that should frighten all Americans. While it may be that Jenny’ appears in other photos which are child pornography, none of those photos, if indeed they do exist, were observed on [Rettenmaier’s] hard drive,” Riddet observed. The critical point here is that the image which was viewed and described in the search warrant is not an image of child pornography.”

That assertion will be debated at future hearings. [UPDATE, Jan. 4, 5:20 p.m.: Jeff Haydock, a Best Buy vice president for communications, provided the Weekly a reaction. Best Buy is required by law to report the discovery of certain illegal material to law enforcement, but being paid by authorities to do so would violate company policy,” Haydock said. If these reports are true, it is purely poor individual judgement. If we discover child pornography in the normal course of servicing a computer, phone or tablet, we have an obligation to contact law enforcement. We believe this is the right thing to do, and we inform our customers before beginning any work that this is our policy.“]�
articles FBI legal
January 9, 2017 Self-Proclaimed Inventor of Email Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Techdirt’s Mike Masnick

Techdirt founder Mike�Masnick will be going toe-to-toe in court with Charles Harder, the Hollywood attorney who famously represented Hulk Hogan in the sex tape lawsuit that brought down Gawker.

On Wednesday, Harder’s client Shiva Ayyadurai filed a $15 million libel lawsuit in Massachusetts against Masnick, Leigh Beadon and Techdirt parent company Floor64 Inc. over articles that doubted�Ayyadurai’s claim to have invented email.

Ayyadurai previously sued Gawker in a lawsuit that many suspected was funded by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. Ayyadurai recently settled the claim for $750,000. He and Harder now have a new legal target.

For Techdirt, Masnick writes a wonky tech policy blog that has earned a loyal following for taking strong stances on issues like copyright, net neutrality, security issues and other topics. His name provokes eye-rolling among many studio lawyers thanks to his frequently hostile attitude toward aggressive intellectual property actions. He was one of the noisiest antagonists toward the Stop Online Piracy Act a few years ago. He’s also credited with coining the term, The Streisand Effect,” to describe the phenomenon of how attempts to censor information often lead to more awareness of the very information someone is trying to hide. The phrase came after entertainer Barbara Streisand aimed more than a decade ago to suppress photographic images of her Malibu, Calif., residence.

Masnick�has been on the receiving end of many cease-and-desist demands through the years � he isn’t shy about writing about them � but mostly has escaped lawsuits. Until now.

Ayyadurai first takes issue with an article posted Sept. 2, 2014, headlined, Why is Huffington Post Running a Multi-Part Series to Promote the Lies of a Guy Who Pretended to Invent Email?”

The article in question accused Ayyadurai of perpetuating a fake story” of what he supposedly invented at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1978.

By all accounts, it was a perfectly decent email system that allowed the UMDNJ staff to send electronic messages,” wrote Masnick at the time. Further, no one doubts that, in 1981, Ayyadurai registered the copyright on his program, which was called EMAIL. The problems are that (1) email was invented long before 1978, (2) the copyright is merely on the specific software code, not the idea of email, and (3) while Ayyadurai may have independently recreated the basics of email (and even added a nice feature), none of his work was even remotely related to what later became the standards of email. What’s most sickening about this is that as part of this new PR campaign, Ayyadurai is ridiculously arguing that the reason no one believes him isn’t because he’s simply wrong, but because they can’t stand to believe that a dark-skinned immigrant kid, 14 years old,’ invented email, and that it was done in one of the poorest cities in the US rather than at a famous university.

Masnick wrote more stories on the topic, including several more in September 2014, saying the Huffington Post was sticking by�Ayyadurai’s completely bogus” email claims and that fact checking is dead,” and the mainstream media goes nuts repeating debunked claims by the fake inventor of email.”

In 2016, the controversy resurfaced, especially when Ayyadurai sued Gawker right around the time Hulk Hogan was going to trial. The May 11, 2016 headline? Guy Who Didn’t Invent Email Sues Gawker�for Pointing Out He Didn’t Invent Email.”

Later, when Univision acquired Gawker’s�assets in bankruptcy and pulled stories including the Ayyadurai one, Masnick again went on the attack. In November, he headlined a piece, Ridiculous: Nick Denton Settles Remaining Charles Harder Lawsuits, Agrees To Delete Perfectly True Stories,” reprising the statements that Ayyadurai has staked his entire identity” on inventing email, is obsessed with the claim, and is blatantly misrepresenting history.”

A follow-up post laid out the case once again that Ayyadurai hadn’t invented email.

Since truth is a defense to allegations of defamation, the history of the invention of email obviously will be explored in the litigation. Masnick�also will get to square off against Harder, who currently is representing Melania Trump in a defamation suit against the parent company of Daily Mail�and has

a notable view of the First Amendment and the supposed advantages enjoyed by media in court. Masnick has been critical of Thiel’s involvement in Harder-led lawsuits, although it’s not clear whether Thiel plays any role in this one.

Masnick�didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, though it won’t be surprising if he soon writes about the lawsuit on Techdirt. Besides defamation, Ayyadurai is claiming intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Here’s the full complaint.
I also believe Ayyadurai didn't invent email, I suppose it will be up to a jury now, if they don't settle.
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