Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Friday, December 19, 2014

21st Century Policing Task Force

The Administration revealed today its Task Force On 21ST Century Policing.  Its mission is stated below.

Sec. 3. Mission.
(a) The Task Force shall, consistent with applicable law, identify best practices and otherwise make recommendations to the President on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust.
(b) The Task Force shall be solely advisory and shall submit a report to the President by March 2, 2015.

Demonstrator at "Justice For All" march in Washington, DC on December 13, 2014.  Photo CD Brown.
On the heals of the latest incidents of cops, cowardly, murdering unarmed young people in Black neighborhoods, The Executive Order was released today just as the president and First Family head to Hawaii for their annual winter vacation.   See entire EO here.

See also
White Middlesex teen brings 600 rounds of ammo to school.  No shots fired by police, teen lives to face charges.   A word of note.  Our search for "teen brings ammo to school" (do your own search) brought up several incidents of this behavior, with no fatalities of the perpetrators by police officers - in white communities - even though these individuals, in fact, had weapons.   

Live In Peace (L.I.P.) organization poses with the father (second from left) of murdered teen, Michael Brown.
Photo/CD Brown for Politics. On Point. (POP).
Also trending.
The president said, during his last press briefing of 2014, that the American people are doing "better than ever".   See the administration's Year In Review, lauding "economic opportunities for all".  While the year saw steady gains in employment figures, there is still significant unemployment in urban areas of major American cities, homelessness, and major crime.  The country has seen, however, more Americans with "affordable" health care than at any other time in history.

No Network Too Secure For Hackers... Sony Included

The Department of Justice and the FBI released its findings in the Sony Pictures Entertainment hacking; says North Korea is to blame.  Ex-hacker, Hector Monsegur, doubts these findings.

"It could be. In my personal opinion, it's not," Monsegur said. "Look at the bandwidth going into North Korea. I mean, the pipelines, the pipes going in, handling data, they only have one major ISP across their entire nation. That kind of information flowing at one time would have shut down North Korean Internet completely."

**Update from the DOJ...**

Today, the FBI would like to provide an update on the status of our investigation into the cyber attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE).  In late November, SPE confirmed that it was the victim of a cyber attack that destroyed systems and stole large quantities of personal and commercial data.  A group calling itself the “Guardians of Peace” claimed responsibility for the attack and subsequently issued threats against SPE, its employees, and theaters that distribute its movies.

The FBI has determined that the intrusion into SPE’s network consisted of the deployment of destructive malware and the theft of proprietary information as well as employees’ personally identifiable information and confidential communications.  The attacks also rendered thousands of SPE’s computers inoperable, forced SPE to take its entire computer network offline, and significantly disrupted the company’s business operations.

More from Monsegur here.

After discovering the intrusion into its network, SPE requested the FBI’s assistance.  Since then, the FBI has been working closely with the company throughout the investigation.  Sony has been a great partner in the investigation, and continues to work closely with the FBI. Sony reported this incident within hours, which is what the FBI hopes all companies will do when facing a cyber attack.  Sony’s quick reporting facilitated the investigators’ ability to do their jobs, and ultimately to identify the source of these attacks.

As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. Government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions.  While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on the following:

·         Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed.  For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.

·         The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. Government has previously linked directly to North Korea.  For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack. 

·         Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.

We are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this attack on a private sector entity and the ordinary citizens who worked there.  Further, North Korea’s attack on SPE reaffirms that cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers to the United States.  Though the FBI has seen a wide variety and increasing number of cyber intrusions, the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart.  North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves.  Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior.  The FBI takes seriously any attempt – whether through cyber-enabled means, threats of violence, or otherwise – to undermine the economic and social prosperity of our citizens.

The FBI stands ready to assist any U.S. company that is the victim of a destructive cyber attack or breach of confidential business information.  Further, the FBI will continue to work closely with multiple departments and agencies as well as with domestic, foreign, and private sector partners who have played a critical role in our ability to trace this and other cyber threats to their source.  Working together, the FBI will identify, pursue, and impose costs and consequences on individuals, groups, or nation states who use cyber means to threaten the United States or U.S. interests.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

White House encourages students to study abroad

When we study together and we learn together’ we work together and we prosper together.”  - President Obama

No fear of Ebola or the unveiling of CIA torture documents could stop the promotion of studying abroad and global citizenship. Yesterday the White House hosted its first Travel Bloggers Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship to promote study abroad opportunity for youth and college students highlighting U.S. Government initiatives and strategies for encouraging American students to study, volunteer, and work abroad. 

Remarks by senior White House officials Ben Rhodes (Ass't to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor) Evan Ryan (Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA)), Denis McDonough (Chief of Staff) Penny Pritzker (Sec.of Commerce) joined hosts of the Travel Channel, National Geographic, Yahoo Travel, the Peace Corps and others on the occasion. 

Said Rhodes, recounting his time studying abroad in Europe, "To thrive, we can’t rely on the traditional contacts and exchange programs….  We have to get out of that comfort zone. It’s (studying abroad) a chance everybody should have.  There is value in studying abroad."   

The value in studying abroad creates global relationships, forms alliances and opens the opportunity to learn, and value, other countries yet reports indicate that 90% of US students have not studied abroad.  

With the support of several organizations that include the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) - for youths under 25 years old; the Young SE Asian program, The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad, The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange National Security Language Initiative for Youth+, the Benjamin Franklin Summer Institutes American Youth Leadership Program, and others, the White House announced that they are opening an official Study Abroad office to promote the importance of studying abroad.   

Said McDonough of his 1991 study abroad opportunity to Spain, "I remember being fascinated and confused.   [It's] a wonderful country, it helped me hone my foreign language skills."

The summit also addressed ways for students to pay for their travel abroad experience, expressly through making college and student loans affordable. 

The White House is also instrumental, too, in its 100,000 strong initiative geared towards getting one hundred thousand students to study abroad, and to encourage exchange students to study here in America.   Visit here for more.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Prince William visits the White House

From our trusty White House pooler, we have a few details on the visit of Prince William's visit to the White House to meet with President Obama.

from this morning's pool report by Richard Latendresse, bureau chief.

Prince William and his wife Kate make a 3-day visit to the United States. He and President Obama last met in 2011 at Buckingham Palace during the President’s state visit to Great Britain. The Duchess of Cambridge, who is pregnant (the child is expected in April 2015), will stay in New York, skipping the DC portion of the visit.

Prince William is in town to take part in the 3rd Biennial Meeting of the International Corruption Hunters Alliance (ICHA 2014), hosted by the World Bank.

As President of “United for Wildlife,” the Duke of Cambridge is to join World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at the opening session to address more than 300 corruption experts in anti-corruption.
Prince William is expected to speak about combating illegal animal trade in wildlife parks.
The event can be followed on twitter via #EndingImpunity.

The Prince of Wales, Prince William’s father, met President Obama in the Oval Office in May 2011.


Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced a Correctional Education Guidance Package aimed at helping states and local agencies strengthen the quality of education services provided to America’s estimated 60,000 young people in confinement every day.

This guidance package builds on recommendations in the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force report released in May to “reform the juvenile and criminal justice systems to reduce unnecessary interactions for youth and to enforce the rights of incarcerated youth to a quality education.”  Today’s guidance package is a roadmap that states and local agencies can use to improve the quality of educational services for confined youth.

“In this great country, all children deserve equal access to a high-quality public education - and this is no less true for children in the juvenile justice system,” said Attorney General Holder.  “At the Department of Justice, we are working tirelessly to ensure that every young person who's involved in the system retains access to the quality education they need to rebuild their lives and reclaim their futures.  We hope and expect this guidance will offer a roadmap for enhancing these young people's academic and social skills, and reducing the likelihood of recidivism.”

“Students in juvenile justice facilities need a world-class education and rigorous coursework to help them successfully transition out of facilities and back into the classroom or the workforce becoming productive members of society,” said Secretary Duncan.  “Young people should not fall off track for life just because they come into contact with the justice system.”

“Today's announcement directly responds to the call to action made by President Obama's My Brother's Keeper Initiative,” said Broderick Johnson, White House Cabinet Secretary and Chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force.  “It is imperative that we ensure that incarcerated youth are receiving a quality education and provide them with the necessary tools for a second chance.  I applaud Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary Arne Duncan for highlighting this critical issue.”

The guidance package includes four components:

·         A set of Guiding Principles for Providing High-Quality Education in Juvenile Justice Secure Care Settings, outlines five principles and supporting core activities to improve education practices, or implement new ones.  Authored jointly by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, the guide is meant to help agencies and facilities serving youth in correctional education provide education services comparable to those available to students in community schools.

·         A Dear Colleague Letter on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for Students with Disabilities in Correctional Facilities from Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services to clarify state and public agency obligations to ensure the provision of a free appropriate public education to eligible students with disabilities in correctional facilities.

·         A Dear Colleague Letter on the Civil Rights of Students in Juvenile Justice Residential Facilities clarifying how the Federal civil rights laws that prohibit race, color, national origin, sex, religion and disability discrimination against students in traditional public schools also apply to educational services and supports provided to youth in juvenile justice residential facilities.

·         A Dear Colleague Letter on Access to Federal Pell Grants for Students in Juvenile Justice Facilities explains the extent to which confined youth may be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant Program, and is accompanied by a fact sheet for students and a detailed set of questions and answers for institutions of higher education

“High-quality correctional education is thus one of the most effective crime-prevention tools we have,” Attorney General Holder and Secretary Duncan wrote in a dear colleague letter to chief state school officers and state attorneys general.  “High-quality Correctional education – including postsecondary correctional education, which can be supported by Federal Pell Grants – has been shown to measurably reduce re-incarceration rates. Less crime means not only lower prison costs – it also means safer communities.”

The President has set a goal that, by 2020, our nation will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world and that all Americans complete at least one year or more of college or career training.  The Administration believes that even youth in correctional facilities can play their part in helping us achieve that vision. 

Providing young people in confinement with access to the education they need is one of the most powerful and cost-effectives strategies for ensuring they become productive members of their communities.  The average cost to confine a juvenile is $88,000 per year – and a recent study showed that about 55 percent of youth were rearrested within 12 months of release.  Inmates of all ages are half as likely to go back to jail if they participate in higher education – even compared to inmates with similar histories.

This joint effort by the Departments of Education and Justice is one of a number of notable actions that they have taken to ensure that education programming in juvenile justice residential facilities is comparable to services provided in any school.  The departments have been working together to help communities reduce the number of youth entering the justice system and to ensure that those in the system return to their communities with dignity, skills and viable education and employment opportunities including the following efforts this year:

·         Justice and Education jointly released a School Climate and Discipline Guidance Package to provide schools with a roadmap to reduce the usage of exclusionary discipline practice and clarify schools’ civil rights obligation to not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin in the administration of school discipline.

·         Education released the results of the 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection, which includes school discipline data from most every school in the country and certain juvenile justice facilities.

·         Justice and Education filed a joint Statement of Interest in the G.F. v. Contra Costa County lawsuit in support of confined youth with disabilities who alleged that they were placed in solitary confinement for 22 hours or more per day, discriminated against on the basis of their disability, and denied their right to a free, appropriate public education.

·         Attorney General Holder and Secretary Duncan met with leaders from 22 agencies for a Federal Interagency Reentry Council meeting to discuss actions to reduce reentry barriers to employment, health, housing and education for individuals who are transitioning from incarceration to community.

·         Justice and Education engaged with various philanthropies to commission a School Discipline Consensus Project, led by the Council of State Governments, to bring together practitioners from the fields of education, juvenile justice, behavioral health and law enforcement to develop recommendations to address the school-to-prison pipeline, including recommendations for strengthening services to youth in confinement.

·         Justice and Education coordinated and supported the National Leadership Summit on School Climate and Discipline in Washington, D.C.  The summit focused on deepening partnerships between local and state education and justice officials, and community stakeholders.

All youth are deserving of an appropriate, high-quality education.  This guidance package clarifies that obligation for confined youth, as well as advocating that they have a real chance at a second chance in their lives.  A solid education that unleashes and expands their potential to contribute to their communities is a step in the right direction.