David Kirkpatrick

May 15, 2009

The “war on drugs” rebranded

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:39 pm

The Obama administration has rebranded the “war on drugs.” The key being taking the loaded word, “war,” out of the equation. The moniker was stupid to begin with and as has been noted around the blogosphere gave rise to a martial us-versus-them in law enforcement circles.

It’s not much, but it is a baby step so Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske deserves some kudos.

Now let’s take a look at that “czar” thing …

From the Cato Insitute’s weekly dispatch:

White House Official Says Government Will Stop Using Term ‘War on Drugs’

The Wall Street Journal reports that White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske is calling for a new strategy on federal drug policy and is putting a stop to the term “War on Drugs.” “The Obama administration’s new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting ‘a war on drugs,’ a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use…. The Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment’s role growing relative to incarceration, Mr. Kerlikowske said.”

Will Kerlikowske’s words actually translate to an actual shift in policy? Cato scholar Ted Galen Carpenter calls it a step in the right direction, but remains skeptical about a true change in direction. “A change in terminology won’t mean much if the authorities still routinely throw people in jail for violating drug laws,” he says.

Cato scholar Tim Lynch channels Nike and says when it comes to ending the drug war, “Let’s just do it.”

Cato scholars have long argued that our current drug policies have failed, and that Congress should deal with drug prohibition the way it dealt with alcohol prohibition. With the door seemingly open for change, Cato research shows the best way to proceed.

In a recent Cato study, Glenn Greenwald examined Portugal’s successful implementation of a drug decriminalization program, in which drug users are offered treatment instead of jail time. Drug use has actually dropped since the program began in 2001.

In the 2009 Cato Handbook for Policymakers, David Boaz and Tim Lynch outline a clear plan for ending the drug war once and for all in the United States.

Advertisements

May 1, 2009

Rogue narcs in Philly

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:59 pm

IF you haven’t been following this story — Reason has been doing a bang-up job on that front — it’s worth the time to hit the link and get all the sordid details. Dirty cops and one more black mark against the war on drugs.

The real question is there will always be bad cops and even entire bad law enforcement units, but where was the oversight? That’s the question Radley Balko asks in this post.

From the link:

Previously (here and here), I blogged about a rogue narcotics unit in Philadelphia that was raiding bodegas on the flimsy excuse that the stores were selling resealable zip-lock bags that could potentially be used by drug dealers. Bodega owners say the cops were cutting the lines to surveillance cameras, then stealing cash, alcohol, cigarettes, and snack food from the stores. The Philadelphia Daily News was able to obtain footage of the cops cutting off one of the cameras during a raid, then inquiring to the store owner about whether the camera feeds went to a computer that was on or off-site.

The lingering question, here, is how this unit was able to operate like this for so long without any oversight. Why wasn’t anyone questioning the use of such aggressive tactics in searches not for drugs, but for no more than an otherwise legal product? Why did no one in the department ask why an “elite” narcotics unit was wasting its time busting immigrant shop owners with no criminal record for selling plastic bags instead of pursuing actual drug distributors?

It’s one thing to have a few rogue cops that, once caught, are fired and—hopefully—criminally charged. It’s a more wide-ranging and serious problem if there are institutional failures in the Philadelphia police department that allowed Officer Jeffrey Cujdic’s scam of terrorizing immigrant shop owners to flourish.

Now, the Daily News has published the results of its review of the search warrants obtained by Cujdik’s unit over the last several years, and the results are troubling. They find a wholesale lack of supervision of Cujdik and his men, even as complaints against them mounted.

XBox forensics

Yep, I’m totally using this release’s title because it’s too perfect to change. Interesting insight into digital forensics and law enforcement.

From the link:

XBox forensics

Toolkit reveals criminal activity on gaming consoles

A forensics toolkit for the Xbox gaming console is described by US researchers in the latest issue of the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics. The toolkit could allow law enforcement agencies to scour the inbuilt hard disk of such devices and find illicit hidden materials easily.

Computer scientist David Collins has probably spent more time messing around with the Microsoft XBox, other gaming consoles, and PDAs in the name of forensic science than anyone else. He is a digital forensics expert at Sam Houston State University, and is working hard to replicate “mods” – both hardware and software for the Xbox and other devices.

Criminals often hide illicit data on the XBox in the hope that a gaming console will not be seen as a likely evidence target especially when conventional personal computers are present in the same premises, for instance. The toolkit developed by Collins will allow police and other investigators the chance to lay bare the contents of XBox hard disks.

Cell phones, smart phones, PDAs, game consoles and other devices provide a convenient means to store data of all kinds, including images, video, audio and text files. But they also provide a simple way for criminals to possess and hide illegal material too.

Collins’ XFT utility can mount an image of the FATX file system used by the XBox, allowing the user to explore in detail the directory structure. Collins points out that unlike the standard FAT32, NTFS, and similar systems used by the hard disks in personal computers, there is little documentation on the proprietary FATX system. However, it is possible nevertheless to acquire an image of a FATX hard disk and to mount it on another device.

“Once the Xbox file system is mounted, the analyst can use shell commands to browse the directory tree, open files, view files in hex editor mode, list the contents of the current directory in short or long mode and expand the current directory to list all associated subdirectories and files,” explains Collins.

Importantly, from the legal perspective, XFT can also record such investigative sessions for playback in a court of law, which protects the defendant from falsified as well as providing more solid evidence for the prosecution.

Collins explains how future work on XFT will involve making the toolkit into a fully functional forensic operating system (OS). This OS will be packaged as both a bootable operating system from a hard disk and a “live” bootable compact disk. “This implementation will be open source, verbosely commented and designed from the ground up as a forensic OS,” says Collins, “This will remove any and all proprietary operating system dependencies, making the forensic process as transparent as possible.”

 

###

 

“XFT: a forensic toolkit for the original Xbox game Console” in Int. J. Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, 2009, 2, 199-205

March 21, 2009

Law enforcement and Twitter

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:23 pm

Are now one.

March 12, 2009

Wireless tasers

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:52 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net — I’m not this latest in Taser tech is all that great an idea given the problems law enforcment already has with Taser usage and the occasional fatal outcome from tazings.

Wireless Tasers extend the long arm of the law
New Scientist Tech, Mar. 11, 2009

The new Taser XREP is an electrically charged dart that can be fired from up to 20 meters away with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Upon impact, its barbed electrodes penetrate a victim’s skin, discharging a 20-second burst of electricity to “distract, disorient and entice the subject to grab the projectile,” which routes the shock through the hand, making it difficult to let go and spreading the pain further.

U.S. police departments and the US military expected to be using the weapons by the end of 2009.

 
Read Original Article>>

December 11, 2008

A note on police brutality

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:39 pm

I’ve been enjoying the new blog, The Unreligious Right, quite a bit since it started last month. All this diversity in thought on the right is cool to see after what seemed like years of top-down hegemony by dictat. And anything that serves to marginalize the theocratic wing of the GOP warms my heart.

This post today really caught my eye.

Here’s the set up:

Vicious Case of Police Brutality

The New York Times reports that three NYC police officers have been charged in conjunction with a case in which one officer:

took his retractable baton and “shoved it” up Mr. Mineo’s anus, Mr. Hynes said, and that “resulted in an anal rectal tear.”

And here’s the kicker:

The officer who actually carried out the assault faces up to twenty-five years in jail.  If convicted he should get the maximum.  The police are given greater power & responsibility than other citizens; if they abuse it they should also receive greater punishment.

I couldn’t agree more, and couldn’t put it any better either. Police are given a great trust to accompany that power and when that trust is breached the consequences ought to be dire.

This comes from a great supporter of our law enforcement. I have a close relative who died on duty several years ago and a great uncle who served as chief-of-police for a west Texas town many years ago. I appreciate the sacrifices made by our law enforcement, but at the same time I hope everyone (both civilian and cop) remembers the concept of  protecting and serving, rather than seeing a cold line between pigs and scrots