FBI: Man scouted Cleveland locations for July 4 bomb attack
By JOHN SEEWER
Tuesday, July 3
An American-born citizen who federal authorities say recently scouted locations in Cleveland to attack people watching Fourth of July fireworks and talked of carrying out additional bombings has been charged with trying to support terrorism.
Federal authorities said Monday that Demetrius Pitts had expressed his support for al-Qaida for more than a year and talked about setting off bombs at a July 4 parade and later in his hometown, Philadelphia.
Pitts, who lived most recently in Maple Heights, Ohio, was due in federal court on Monday in Cleveland. There were no court documents listing an attorney for him, and he couldn’t be reached for comment.
Pitts was arrested Sunday after meeting an undercover agent and was charged with attempted support of a terrorist organization.
FBI agent Stephen Anthony said it was unclear how close Pitts was to carrying out his threats, but he said authorities couldn’t sit back and wait to find out.
“We don’t have the luxury of hoping an individual decides not to harm someone or get others to act,” he said.
Anthony said that Pitts, 48, had been radicalized in the U.S. but he had no information that Pitts had traveled out of the country.
Authorities first began watching Pitts in 2017, when he lived in the Cincinnati area, after he made Facebook posts threatening violence against the U.S., Anthony said. Pitts moved to Cleveland in May.
Pitts began meeting with an undercover agent and discussed several ways to carry out an attack, according to court documents. Pitts also talked about his hatred for the U.S. military, Anthony said.
An undercover agent in late June gave Pitts a bus pass and a cellphone that he thought were from al-Qaida supporters so that he could go downtown and look for locations to carry out his attacks, according to a complaint filed by authorities.
Pitts shot videos of potential targets such as a federal building and a U.S. Coast Guard station and then turned over the phone last week, believing the photos and videos would be given to al-Qaida members, the document said.
In recent weeks, Pitts also talked about wanting to travel to Philadelphia, and on Sunday he told the undercover agent he wanted to conduct reconnaissance for an attack using a truck packed with explosives, similar to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, authorities said in the complaint.
Pitts told the agent that Philadelphia would be the “big target” and that the attack “will be done” on Labor Day, according to an affidavit. Pitts also pointed to possible targets, including Philadelphia’s City Hall and a federal building, the court document said.
In Washington, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that “President Trump commends the work of the DOJ and the FBI in helping stop this would-be attacker.”
The Buzzard Kings perform July 15 – Sundays at Scioto
Dublin Arts Council
DUBLIN, Ohio— (June 25, 2018) The 35th annual DAC Sundays at Scioto summer concert series continues Sunday, July 15 at 7 p.m. with Heartland rock sounds from The Buzzard Kings. The concert takes place in the outdoor amphitheater at Scioto Park, 7377 Riverside Dr., in Dublin, just north of the Dublin Arts Council facility and south of Hard Rd. The concert is free of charge and donations are graciously accepted.
Drawing inspiration from the heritage music of Kansas City, the tradition of Memphis, the edginess of Chicago and the charm of Nashville, the local veteran rockers of The Buzzard Kings will take the audience on a musical journey through America’s heartland.
“Dublin Arts Council is pleased to bring these free Sunday evening concerts to our community each summer,” says Dublin Arts Council Executive Director David S. Guion. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to lounge on the grass overlooking the river and enjoy a fantastic variety of musical genres, from country and Heartland rock to Celtic and Latin pop.”
Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to the amphitheater. Dinner and dessert will be offered for sale from Fat Cat Food Truck and Rime Time Curiously Crafted Pops on July 15. A portion of sales benefit the free concert series.
The remaining lineup includes:
July 22 – The Gothard Sisters (Celtic folk-pop)
July 29 – The McCartney Project (Paul McCartney tribute)
If weather conditions appear unfavorable, patrons may call the Dublin Arts Council (DAC) voice mail at 614.889.7444, visit DAC’s website (www.dublinarts.org), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/DublinArtsCouncil) or follow Twitter updates (@DublinArts) for information regarding concert delays or cancellations.
The concert series and the location are of historical significance to Dublin Arts Council. DAC was formed after an ad hoc committee brought the Columbus Symphony Orchestra to the dedication of Scioto Park in 1983. The park is also home to Leatherlips, the first public artwork of DAC’s Dublin Art in Public Places program. The 12-foot high native limestone sculpture of the Wyandot Indian Chief has overlooked the park’s amphitheater since 1990.
The 35th annual DAC Sundays at Scioto summer concert series is provided as a free gift to the community by Dublin Arts Council, which is supported by City of Dublin, Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Corporate sponsors are Cardinal Health; Fifth Third Bank; Hidaka USA, Inc.; Honda; IGS Energy; Meijer; Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur, LLP; Sonesta ES Suites Dublin; and State Bank. The series is also supported by an Irish Experience grant from the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Media partners are ABC6/Fox 28, CityScene Media Group (CityScene and DublinLife magazines) and WCBE Radio. The event is further supported by in-kind contributions of services from City of Dublin.
Dublin Arts Council (DAC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supported in part by the City of Dublin’s hotel/motel tax and by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally and economically. Dublin Arts Council is also supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, fundraising events, classes, gallery sales and in-kind contributions. DAC engages the community, cultivates creativity and fosters life-long learning through the arts.
For more information about any of Dublin Arts Council’s programs, exhibitions and events call 614.889.7444 or visit www.dublinarts.org. Dublin Arts Council (DAC), is located at 7125 Riverside Dr. in Dublin, Ohio. Hours are Tuesday 10 a.m. -7 p.m.; Wednesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; and Saturday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sarah Sanders says she was kicked out of restaurant because she works for Trump
White House to Propose Merging Education, Labor Departments
Trump rescinded an Obama-era rule meant to protect the Great Lakes and oceans bordering the U.S. The order encourages more drilling and other industrial uses of the oceans and Great Lakes. (The Hill)
Genetic Profile Manhunts Pose Risk for Individuals’ Rights
June 04, 2018 by Jesse Hathaway
A new investigatory technique being used by police could help crack unsolved cases and bring long-overdue justice to countless victims and their families. However, law enforcement’s growing use of consumer genetic-information testing services in criminal investigations could also present a significant threat to individuals’ liberty and privacy.
On April 25, Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced Joseph DeAngelo had been taken into custody by Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department agents. Police allege DeAngelo is the “Golden State Killer,” the individual behind a series of burglaries, homicides and rapes that occurred across 10 California counties during the 1970s and 1980s.
Since DeAngelo’s arrest, the Snohomish County (Washington) Sheriff’s Department arrested William Talbott II as a suspect in a decades-old double homicide, using the same genetic-profiling technique.
The watershed moment in the DeAngelo case, according to lead investigator Paul Holes, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News, was when police found the genetic profile of a distant relative to DeAngelo on a website collecting unprocessed genetic profiling information voluntarily donated by users.
The individual’s DNA profile, originally uploaded to the website in the name of providing datasets for amateur genealogists or genetic researchers, was then matched with traces of DNA collected from items DeAngelo discarded in public.
It remains to be seen whether DeAngelo is indeed the Golden State Killer, but investigators’ false starts along the way to finding a suspect illustrate the risks of employing consumer-grade genetic profiles to help expedite justice. According to Associated Press reports, the government’s search for the Golden State Killer was, at times, indiscriminate.
In 2017, Holes worked with Clackamas County, Oregon, police and a local judge, to compel an elderly man to undergo examination, because a DNA-matching website had fingered him as a match for biological material connected to the Golden State Killer cases.
Other than having the bad luck to share some genetic markers with the suspect, there was no reason for law enforcement agents to consider the elderly man a criminal suspect. Holes’ team ultimately found their error and used a different user-generated genetic database to make another list of possible suspects and related individuals.
Although the unnamed Oregon man whose biodata was mistaken for that of DeAngelo’s was ultimately “allowed” to go on his way by authorities, what would have happened had Holes’ mistake not been realized?
An answer to this counterfactual question might be found in the story of Dontia Patterson, who is finally receiving the justice he deserves. Found guilty of slaying his friend in 2007, it later came to light that prosecutors knew multiple witnesses, present at the scene of the crime, said he did not kill Antwine Jackson in 2007. Despite the wealth of evidence pointing in a different direction, Patterson was found guilty because the prosecution withheld evidence to notch a courtroom victory.
As this story shows, the possibility of misidentification by police investigators and subsequent miscarriages of justice by the government are very real, even when engaging in traditional gumshoe detective work. How much more common will such missteps be when these questionable DNA investigatory techniques become commonplace, and how would one defend himself against an allegation relying on biodata gleaned from samples provided by other people?
These are serious questions that need to be addressed, and the focus must remain fixated on preserving liberty, not doing what’s most expedient for the government.
As John Adams said in the defense of British soldiers on trial for their role in the Boston Massacre, “It is more important that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt be punished; for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world, that all of them cannot be punished.”
This remains as true today as it was in the period leading to our country’s birth. Lawmakers ought to keep this vital standard in place to prevent technology from running roughshod over the integrity of the legal system and the principle of equal justice under the law.
About the Author
Jesse Hathaway (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Research Fellow with the Heartland Institute.
Consider Your Privacy Risks Before Taking DNA Test
June 04, 2018 by Michelle De Mooy
Much of modern technology is geared toward using data to hyper-personalize products and services, and direct-to-consumer genetic testing is a prime example.
Individuals can use at-home kits to provide their DNA to private companies that offer services such as ancestry-mapping, identification of potential medical risks, meal-planning and customized skincare. As the market for these services soars and the technology improves, at-home genetic tests are getting cheaper, but the costs to individual privacy are arguably climbing.
While the ostensible purpose of most personal genomics companies is help the consumer understand their genetic profile, many companies use customer genetic information for internal research and product development. They also may make it available to external researchers, with a customer’s explicit informed consent, or be compelled by law enforcement to turn over consumer data.
Genetic information can also be used to determine premiums for life, disability and long-term care insurance, and California officials were recently able to use this method to identify a suspect in the Golden State Killer case. Even a small amount of saliva can reveal a deep well of intimate and sensitive information about a person and their relatives, with potential consequences including implication in criminal proceedings.
While these genetic services undoubtedly provide value for consumers, companies and the scientific community, they mostly exist in an unregulated world. It’s not clear how much ownership consumers really have over their genetic data, which is governed mostly by broad privacy policies that allow companies to share and sell it in anonymized and aggregate form.
The data provided via the tests is only restricted by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act if it is used or accessed by a covered entity such as a doctor, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act only protects genetic information in an employment or job applicant context.
In the absence of regulation, it falls to the consumer to read about and understand their rights, as well as the company’s internal data policies and practices, before purchasing a direct-to-consumer genetic testing product. Important questions include: Does the company retain genetic information after processing a sample, or do they delete it immediately thereafter? If not, can you request that it be deleted later? With whom is the company sharing aggregate genetic data and how can it ensure it remains de-identified? What is the company’s policy on law enforcement access to customer data?
Data security should also be a serious consideration for any current or would-be customers of genetic testing companies. After enormous data breaches of companies like Equifax and Yahoo!, the narrative that a company is breach-proof should carry little weight in 2018. Genetic data is a jackpot for hackers.
The use and application of biometric identifiers in commercial products and services is still in its early days, so a hacker armed with an individual’s immutable genetic profile may find a lifetime of opportunities for fraud. On top of this, anonymizing highly individual genetic data is somewhere between difficult and impossible. While a company may take extensive steps to protect customer’s data, complete anonymity is still largely unattainable.
Direct-to-consumer genetic testing exists in a space so novel that consumer protections and regulations are struggling to keep pace with technological advancements. While signing up for one of these services may be appealing, consumers should carefully consider the privacy risks related to sharing their genetic information.