When the FBI Responds to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act Request
Via the ACLU:
Two key memos outlining the Justice Department’s views about when Americans can be surreptitiously tracked with GPS technology are being kept secret by the department despite a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU to force their release. The FBI’s general counsel discussed the existence of the two memos publicly last year, yet the Justice Department is refusing to release them without huge redactions…
…The Justice Department’s unfortunate decision leaves Americans with no clear understanding of when we will be subjected to tracking—possibly for months at a time—or whether the government will first get a warrant. This is yet another example of secret surveillance policies—like the Justice Department’s secret opinions about the Patriot Act’s Section 215—that simply should not exist in a democratic society. Privacy law needs to keep up with technology, but how can that happen if the government won’t even tell us what its policies are?
More background via Ars Technica:
Back in August 2012, we reported on how the American Civil Liberties Union was compelling the FBI to fully disclose how it interprets the results of the United States v. Jones case—a unanimous Supreme Court decision establishing that law enforcement does not have the authority to put a warrantless GPS tracker on a suspect’s car.
As we reported then, other types of high-tech surveillance and monitoring by law enforcement continue on a nearly daily basis around the country. Cops are using everything from tap and trace, ping data, license plate surveillance, and other techniques as a way to keep tabs on suspects and innocent citizens without going through the threshold of a judicially reviewed probable-cause-driven warrant.
Now, the ACLU has received a response to its query—with nothing. The FBI sent the ACLU back pages (PDF) upon pages (PDF) that are heavily redacted, providing zero insight into what this policy actually is.
Images: First five pages of an FBI memorandum obtained by the ACLU via a FOIA request that outlines the agency’s post United States v Jones Supreme Court decision guidelines. Fifty-four pages of the the 57-page memo are fully redacted. (PDF)
AP to Publish News on Restaurant Receipts
Interesting, no? From now on, whenever you dine at the Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C., your receipt will contain the news you’ve missed over the course of the meal.
From their press release:
The printed updates have several advantages in this venue over the smartphone, providing access to the news without people becoming absorbed in their devices at the same time contributing to table conversation and interaction.
Image: Press Release.
Get Your Journo Ethics On
The Poynter Institute is running a symposium today in New York on journalism ethics in the digital age. The cast of characters they’ve gathered is impressive.
The art of the on air fact check.
“The clip shows these elements in her style: If you interview people on television for a living, you and your team over-prepare. You anticipate points where a Peter King may feel entitled to his own facts. You know your material (and his) cold, so you aren’t worried about the interview spinning out of control. You smile more as the struggle heightens. You interrupt when a dubious claim is first introduced, and each time is it re-asserted. The tone you maintain is a plea for evidence. You have your mark-up of the documents with you. You have your pen. You wave them, which is theatrical. But you also read from them, and send through the lens an evidentiary calm.”
Read the rest at my blog, PressThink: The clash of absolutes and the on-air fact check.
FJP: And that, present and future broadcasters, is your pro tip of the day.
Matthew Ingram, GigaOm. Why can’t we just admit that journalists are human?.
Ingram argues that the more we know of a journalist’s opinions, the better: “We need to encourage more transparency rather than less, because there are so many sources of information now that the old “journalist as impartial oracle” approach, or what Jay Rosen calls the “View From Nowhere,” simply no longer works (and was a fiction in any case).”
Some of the 648 Journalists murdered since 1992
Beats Covered by Victims *
15% Human Rights
(* May add up to more than 100 percent because more than one category applies in some cases.)
For more, on these heroic women and men, see Committee to Protect Journalists’ website.
FJP: In a study of murdered journalists around the world, it’s local journalists covering politics that bare the most risk. You can read about it here.
Featuring such pleasantries as:
- How To Not Be The Biggest Asshole In Media: 4 Lessons I Learned From Meeting Jay Mariotti And Reading His Awful Book
- Hollywood’s Information Man: a profile of Peter Bart, then-editor in chief of Variety
- The Buzz Factory: a profile of Steven T. Florio, then-president and CEO of Condé Nast Publications
- Flathead: a deconstruction of the inanities New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman weaves through his columns and books.
There’s nothing quite like journalists pulling out the knives and going after one another. As Slate notes, “A good takedown is tricky because you’ve got to believe, ultimately, that he/she/it totally deserved it, too.”
Committing Acts of Journalism
Via the Huffington Post:
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien did something which is extremely rare in television news these days: she actually did her job…
…The action took place Tuesday afternoon, as O’Brien was interviewing former New Hampshire governor and George W. Bush Chief of Staff John Sununu. With the actual documents in hand, O’Brien pointed out the striking similarities between the Medicare plans of Mitt Romney and his controversial vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan, who seeks to change the government guaranteed health care program into a voucher system.
“But it’s very different,” Sununu insisted. “For example, when Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it, the Romney plan does not do that. The Ryan plan mimicked part of the Obama package there, the Romney plan does not. That’s a big difference.”
O’Brien essentially accused him of lying:
“I understand that this is a Republican talking point because I’ve heard it repeated over and over again. These numbers have been debunked, as you know, by the Congressional Budget Office. … I can tell you what it says. It (Obama’s Medicare plan) cuts a reduction in the expected rate of growth, which you know, not cutting budgets to the elderly. Benefits will be improved.”
At this point Sununu, clearly agitated, became nasty and indignant, angered by O’Brien’s insistence on fact over fiction:
“Soledad, stop this!” Sununu replied, raising his voice. “All you’re doing is mimicking the stuff that comes out of the White House and gets repeated on the Democratic blog boards out there.”
O’Brien continued reading from the Romney and Obama plans verbatim, and cited Factcheck.org, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and CNN’s own independent analysis in refuting Sununu’s deceptive rhetoric.
Read through for the rest of the exchange. The video’s available as well.
CNN’s Branded News Segments
On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart breaks down CNN’s branded news segments (i.e.: Political Pop, No Talking Points, Rapid Fire, Gut Check, Endpoint) and the lack of editorial judgment that seems to go into them.
CNN appears to believe that the key to revitalizing the network is creating branded news segments within the news. Which brings us to our news segment: Why? Most of your segment titles have no bearing on the content within the segment.
For example, Street Level is supposedly a round-up of what is happening on the street. Stewart takes us through a few sound Street Level stories—a crime story, food safety, puppies—and then, for some reason, a paraplegic woman bungee jumping.
I’m not against news organizations having fun, having more cheeky, playful segments. Knock yourselves out. It’s cute, it’s clever, as long as the Facetime segment title isn’t randomly misapplied.
When you have all these segments you have to apply some editorial discretion when you use them.
Best example: Rock Star of the day. I won’t say more. Watch the video. It illuminates an unfortunate truth, but it’s funny enough to make your day. —Jihii