De Facto Mob Rule in a Republic, Immunity From Prosecution, and a Defeat of Criminal Justice

If you had been an ordinary rank-and-file resident of Chicago in the 1920s, when Al Capone was mob boss of the city and FBI Agent Elliot Ness was attempting to bring him and his underworld organization to justice (arrest, prosecution, trail, and conviction) for bootlegging, murder, extortion, and many other capital crimes, would you have voted for Capone if he had run for the office of Chicago Mayor? What would you have done if mayoral candidate Capone had delivered, through one of his messengers, an envelope to you containing five hundred dollars and a note saying, “I’d appreciate your vote” or “Better vote for me, or else”?

Well, the current and very comparable situation surrounding the criminal conduct of a former U.S. Secretary of State (who is also, strangely enough, the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee), and the ample evidence proving that that person lied and suborned perjury in sworn testimony before Congress, is quite enough to establish a criminal indictment against that former Secretary of State and subsequent prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice. The facts have been clearly established that show incontrovertibly that emails classified top-secret, or for exclusive eyes only, were received by, and conveyed to, improper parties (very possibly subversive foreign nationals) by that political appointee through an illegitimate private email-server during the time of that person’s service as U.S. Secretary of State.

Moreover, that former-Secretary of State’s top-aide, who actually set-up and maintained the private email server in one of the houses owned by that political appointee, has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination even after the Justice Department granted him immunity from prosecution for what he did on behalf of the former-Secretary of State. The 114th Congress has called this former top State Department aide to testify about the actions of the former Secretary of State, but the aide has stated that he will continue to refuse to offer testimony to Congress on the grounds that what he would truthfully say would be self-incriminating, or would constitute criminal grounds for an indictment (it makes him appear as dirty as sin, doesn’t it?) Yet, still, when offered with total immunity from prosecution by the Justice Department for an honest testimony, during a concurrent federal lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch regarding the classified emails sent and received by the former-Secretary of State, the aide has tried to make a deal with the presiding judge that the details of his proffered testimony not made public until after November 30, or until after the Presidential election. Why would the top-aide stipulate this as a condition for simply telling the truth if, in some way, public disclosure of his truthful testimony would not seriously damage the possibility of the Democratic Presidential nominee being elected? This would also make it appear that the top-aide might have received an envelope from a messenger of his former boss containing a monetary incentive for bargaining with the judge; or, perhaps, a note saying “for your own good, beware of what you say.” Another salient factor in the former Secretary of State’s email dilemma is the fact that security experts have testified before Congress that forty-seven (47) of the 55,000 emails that the former Secretary of State turned over to the U.S. State Department from her private server contain the notation “B3 CIA PERS/ORG,” which means that they were classified material that was referred to the CIA regarding the personnel matters of CIA operatives. This means that there was great probability that the lives of covert operatives were placed in jeopardy because of the Secretary of State’s criminal culpability.

So, here we have a former political appointee, presumptive criminal, and Democratic Presidential nominee who has deviously persuaded, through sophistry and lies, a sizable portion of the American Democratic electorate that she is not culpable in any way of the high crimes of which she has been accused; and is currently prancing around the nation conducting herself in a capricious carefree manner showing no remorse for what she did. Do you see any apparent similarity between this former U.S. Secretary of State and the capricious Al Capone, the de facto mob leader of Chicago during the 1920’s, who, they say, had the Chicago City government in the palm of his hand? What I haven’t, yet, mentioned in this essay are the facts that clearly show that, just like Al Capone had his dirty hands in many criminal enterprises, the former Secretary of State was also integrally involved, through criminal negligence, in the deaths of the four Americans shot by terrorists, on September 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya, as adduced through an intense, entirely different, congressional investigation.

Hence, here you are, an ordinary rank-and-file American voter, deciding for whom you will cast your ballot for U.S. President in November 2016. If you surely wouldn’t have voted for Al Capone, as mayor of Chicago, during the 1920s, would you even consider voting for a presumptive criminal, such as the former U.S. Secretary of State and the Democratic Presidential nominee, to be U.S. President? I know you would ultimately decide not to do it!

Why Email Matters – The Science Behind the US Attorney Scandal

Email is more and more in the news these days, is near the center of the current US Attorney firing scandal, and for good reason. A substantial amount of communication flows via email, which can be an efficient form of communicating memos and other intercourse. Email is nearly instantaneous, costs almost nothing, and has in large part replaced the paper memo. Email provides for a path of inquiry that previously was unavailable to investigators for a paper document can be shredded or burned while email leaves a trail even when deleted. Furthermore, unlike a piece of paper, the email itself reveals who sent it and who received it, when and where. As Senator Patrick Leahy says (quoted by Michael Abramowitz on April 14, 2007 in 4 years of Rove e-mails are missing, GOP admits) “You can’t erase e-mails, not today…They’ve gone through too many servers. Those e-mails are there -” There are primarily three kinds of email in common use. One is the email client program, a genre that includes Microsoft Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird, Macintosh Mail, and Netscape Mail. The second type is the prevalent Microsoft Outlook, a very different program from the same company’s Outlook Express. The third is commonly known as web mail or Internet mail.

Email client programs store data mostly in text form – words people understand, as distinct from cryptic computer language. In general, all of the individual emails in a single mailbox (such as the “In’ or “Sent” mailboxes) are stored together as a single file.

When mail is deleted, it is truncated from the mailbox file, but its data is not actually removed from the computer at this point. Each file has an entry in an index that is something like a table of contents. When an entire mailbox is deleted, part of its entry the file index is removed, but the actual body of the file does not disappear from the computer. The area on the computer’s hard disk that holds the file gets marked as available to be reused, but the file’s contents may not get overwritten, and hence may be recoverable for some time, if at all.

The computer forensics specialist may then search the ostensibly unused portion of the computer for text that may have been part of an email. The expert can look for names, phrases, places, or actions that might have been mentioned in an email. The email contains internal data that tells where it has been and who it has been to.

For instance, I just sent my wife a 17-word message entitled, “Where’s this email from?” She replied, “Darling, Surely you must mean, “From where is this email?” Love, Your grammatically correct wife.” – 15 word reply. Yet when I look underneath what is displayed on the screen, I see the email actually contained 246 words. Where did it all come from?

The extra information included a return path with my beloved’s America Online (AOL) email address, her computer’s IP address (“IP” stands for Internet Protocol” – every computer that is hooked up to a network has an IP address), the IP addresses of three other computers, both email addresses repeated another three times each, the names of three or four mail servers, and four date / time stamps. Oh, and lest I forget, there’s an ad for AOL at the end.

If I forwarded or copied the email, it would have more information, most notably the email addresses of the other people to whom I copied or forwarded the message.

By looking at the IP addresses and doing a little more investigation, I could tell the approximate physical location of the computer with the given IP addresses. I could see who else was involved in the string of communication, and approximately where they were.

In an investigation, if a judge saw the multiple email addresses indicating that these other people might be involved, and that the original party was not forthcoming with all of the information requested, the judge might then allow all of the other computers accessible to all of the other email addresses to be inspected. Then the great fishing expedition could begin in officially sanctioned earnest.

Thus we read such headlines as this one seen on the ThinkProgress website on April 12, 2007: White House Originally Claimed RNC Emails Were Archived, Only ‘Handful’ Of Staffers Had Accounts. In a press conference, White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said that just a handful of White House staffers had RNC (Republican National Committee) email addresses. It may have been in the face of the inevitable discovery, that the White House was forced to admit that more than 50 top officials (from Officials’ e-mails may be missing, White House says – Los Angeles Times April 12, 2007) had such RNC email addresses – that’s 10 handfuls by most counts.

In his article Follow the e-mails on Salon.com Sidney Blumenthal says, “The offshoring of White House records via RNC e-mails became apparent when an RNC domain, gwb43.com (referring to George W. Bush, 43rd president), turned up in a batch of e-mails the White House gave to House and Senate committees earlier this month. Rove’s deputy, Scott Jennings, former Bush legal counsel Harriet Miers and her deputies strangely had used gwb43.com as an e-mail domain. The production of these e-mails to Congress was a kind of slip.” Indeed. This is exactly the kind of information that computer forensics experts like to have to assist in their process of electronic discovery. In my own e-discovery work, I have found more than a half million unexpected references on a single computer.

Investigators may now be able to search the computers at the RNC, in the White House, and at the locations that host computers for both, as well as those laptops and Blackberries used by staffers of these organizations. The search will be on for any occurrence of “gwb43” – a search that is likely to turn up more email addresses and more email, whether deleted or not.

I have mentioned three types of email at the beginning of this article but only talked about the one that has the most promise for turning up deleted data. The second type is

represented by Microsoft Outlook. Outlook stores data all in one encrypted file on a user’s computer, on a mail server or on both, depending upon the configuration of the mail server. All mailboxes are in the same encrypted file. Computer forensics specialists have tools to allow the decoding of this file in a fashion that can often bring back many or all of the deleted emails. The email server may also have backups of the users’ mail.

Web mail, where the mail is stored on a remote server (such as on AOL’s large farm of mail servers) may leave little or nothing stored on the user’s own computer. Here the user is essentially looking at a web page that is displaying mail. Such mail servers are so dynamic that any deleted email is likely to have been overwritten in a matter of minutes. Blumenthal references the advantages that such systems may have for those who wish to hide information in Follow the e-mails thus: “As a result, many aides have shifted to Internet E-mail instead of the White House system. ‘It’s Yahoo!, baby,’ says a Bushie.””

On the other hand, while such email content may be hard to find once deleted, logs of access to the email accounts are likely to be retained for quite a long time and may be of some use in an investigation.

The upshot is that, unlike paper documents, email may be widely broadcast, even by accident. Also unlike paper, when shredded, it is likely that copies exist elsewhere; to paraphrase Senator Leahy, electronic data can be near immortal. A further difference is that email contains data that tells who drafted it, when, and where it went. The current US Attorney scandal has shown us once again that email is not only a valuable tool for communication, but has the benefit (or detriment, depending on your perspective) of providing some additional transparency to the otherwise closed rooms of our leaders.

My Favorite Gripes About Forwarding

I don’t know about you. But I’m getting sick of people that don’t clean forwarded email before they send them.

I get all kind of forwarded email from friends and family that has been forwarded. Everybody’s email is prone to spam because it’s right there in the to: line. Then when you open the email in the body of the message there is other people’s email from the previous person and so on.

So Congress enacted the Can-spam act. It says that the senders address and a way to contact them to remove you from the list somewhere in the email. It’s absurd when they enacted something like this when people email’s are open to be spamed.

Here are some ways to curb Spam or at lease be able to complain about spam. Otherwise don’t complain and have congress enact absurd law like the can spam act.

When you forward email go into the email body and copy the email and paste it in a new email minus the people’s email’s Instead of just hitting the forward button on your email program.

Go into your address book and make a new contact as Undisclosed recipient and then associated your email address with that contact name. Save that entry to your address book.

So next time you want to send one email to numerous people in your address book. Do this

Go into your address book. Select Undisclosed recipient from the list. Put that in your To: field. With that done, go back into your address book and select people from your list and put them in the Bcc: field of your email.
When people receive email it will show this.

To: Undisclosed recipient or your email address depending again on your email program.

Subject: whatever you want

Bcc: Nothing It won’t show up. Even when the full header is viewed

It serves two purposes. One people’s email address are out in the open and two. The recipient doesn’t know who you sent the email nor should it be their business.

The Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act

The HIPAA or Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act was passed by Congress in 1996. It is intended to protect patients medical records and any other information pertaining to their health and well being.

For the purposes of the HIPAA, the records are referred to as “Protected Health Information” and there are a raft of policies and rules regarding how they are stored, used and transmitted. The information can be anything from doctors notes, test results, lab results, billing information or health insurance documents, and also any email transmission of such documents.

Despite this law being in place for almost 15 years, there is still much confusion about what it means, who it covers and what to do about it. This has led to an almost paranoid attitude towards patient records, with providers fearing that they would be sued for letting any of it get loose. This has managed to slow down and stifle the transfer of medical information between organizations, which isn’t ideal in any situation.

HIPAA email rules form part of the overall legislation and specifically cover electronic mail transmission and storage of HIPAA information. It’s also part of the confidentiality scheme that includes transmission and storage of emails, as well as paper records. Emails must be sent encrypted, stored securely and be readily retrievable if necessary.

Patients are also surprised when they realize who can see their records. In fact, anyone who has any dealings with medical bills, insurance and healthcare can access the records including employers, insurance companies and the government if Medicare or Medicaid is involved.

Patients know if their doctor complies with HIPAA as they will be given a copy of the doctor’s notice of privacy policy. This policy should outline what information your doctor retains, shares and with whom. It will also list how your private health information might be disclosed without your permission and how other disclosures can only be made with your consent. Patients are asked to sign this policy, but it doesn’t mean the patient is signing away any rights, just that they acknowledge they have been shown the policy.

In some aspects the HIPAA works quite well. It protects patient information quite effectively, yet stays out the way during practical problems, like if a patient needs a relative to collect a prescription, or when a school needs to access a child’s vaccination records. It does create quite an overhead for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies though as there is a lot more to administrate.

Using email, keeping records, storing information and how it’s shared is now completely different, and takes a lot more looking after. Email has to be encrypted, protected on computers, stored securely and be able to be retrieved quickly. This not only means new systems to facilitate this, but also the people and training for them to use it.

Overall the HIPAA is good news for patients. It goes a long way to protecting confidentiality. As always, the legislation isn’t perfect and causes as many problems as it solves. It takes a considerable amount of effort to comply with and is overly complicated.