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Suspect in Leak of CIA Hacking Tools Identified by U.S.

The US government has identified a suspect in the 2017 leak of a large portion of the Central Intelligence Agencys computer hacking arsenal, the cyber-tools the agency had used to conduct spying operations overseas, the media reported.

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The US government has identified a suspect in the 2017 leak of a large portion of the Central Intelligence Agencys computer hacking arsenal, the cyber-tools the agency had used to conduct spying operations overseas, the media reported.

But despite months of investigation, prosecutors had been unable to bring charges against the 29-year-old man, who was identified on Tuesday as a former CIA employee being held in a Manhattan jail on unrelated charges, the Washington Post reported.

Joshua Adam Schulte, who worked in the CIA’s Engineering Development Group tasked with designing computer codes to spy on foreign adversaries, was behind the “Vault 7” leaks of top-secret CIA information, the daily said.

He is believed to have provided the confidential data to WikiLeaks.

According to the Post, federal prosecutors obtained a search warrant in 2017 for personal computers and hand-written notes from his apartment, but no evidence linking Schulte to the disclosure was found.

A government prosecutor disagreed with what he called the “characterisation” by Schulte’s attorney that “those search warrants haven’t yielded anything that is consistent with (Schulte’s) involvement in that disclosure”.

According to the Post, federal prosecutors obtained a search warrant in 2017 for personal computers and hand-written notes from his apartment, but no evidence linking Schulte to the disclosure was found.
U.S. Flag. Pixabay

But the prosecutor, Matthew Laroche, an assistant US attorney in New York, said that the government has not brought an indictment, and that the investigation “is ongoing” and Schulte “remains a target of that investigation,” according to a court transcript of the January 8 hearing that escaped public notice at the time.

Part of that investigation, Laroche said, was analysing whether a technology known as Tor, which allows Internet users to hide their location, “was used in transmitting classified information”.

Schulte said in a statement to the Post that he was innocent, arguing that the CIA targeted him because he was the only member of his team to leave the agency after reporting “incompetent management” to its inspector general.

“Due to these unfortunate coincidences the FBI ultimately made the snap judgment that I was guilty of the leaks and targeted me,” Schulte said.

He is currently in custody for “possessing, receiving and transporting child pornography”, according to an indictment lodged in September. He has pleaded not guilty.

Also Read: Black Box: A Chip That Makes Hacking Impossible

According to certain current and former intelligence officials the Vault 7 disclosures could cause more damage than those done by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

During his tenure at NSA, Snowden downloaded tens of thousands of classified top secret US documents. (IANS)

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Why Does Trump Separate Families, A Policy Or A Law?

A video released Monday by Customs and Border Protection

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In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, June 17, 2018.
In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, June 17, 2018. VOA

The Trump administration at least since April has been separating children and parents who enter the United States illegally at the border — that much is supported by the numbers. But much of everything else surrounding the practice has become mired in confusion.

Here is what we know:

In recent weeks, news stories of children in detention centers have circulated more widely, and the numbers of detained children have grown.

Department of Homeland Security officials told reporters Friday that between April 19 and May 31 of this year, nearly 2,000 (1,995) children were separated from their parents or other adults with whom they were traveling.

A video released Monday by Customs and Border Protection shows what appears to be humane conditions at a shelter site for children, but many worry that this video, the only video that has been released from within one of the detention centers, may not accurately depict them.

A policy or a law?

As criticism over the separation of parents and children at the border grows, the Trump administration has struggled to explain the policy.

Trump, himself, said the practice is the result of a law passed by Democrats, which has forced his administration into separating parents and children.

But there is no such law.

Rather in May, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero-tolerance” policy, which means that those detained entering the United States illegally would be criminally charged. This approach generally leads to children being separated from their parents because the law requires it.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about religious liberty at the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center's annual leadership mission in Washington, June 13, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about religious liberty at the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center’s annual leadership mission in Washington, June 13, 2018, VOA

On Sunday, senior policy adviser to the Trump administration Stephen Miller told The New York Times that the crackdown “was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal entry. Period.”

Administration officials, including Miller and Sessions, have defended the separation of families, saying that having children does not exempt anyone from the consequences of breaking the law.

“If you cross the border unlawfully, even a first offense, we’re going to prosecute you. … If you don’t want your child to be separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally,” Sessions told a gathering of the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies.

The administration has said the new practice is directed at combating a “surge” of unlawful border crossings. But the “surge” appears to be numbers marking a return-to-normal after a dip last year.

Not a new idea

Though the practice of treating all people who cross the border unlawfully as subject to criminal prosecution is new under the Trump administration, it is built on existing policies from the Bush and Obama administrations.

Amid a surge of unlawful migration from Central America to the United States in 2014, the Obama administration considered many plans to deter illegal border crossings, including separating parents and children. Ultimately, Obama decided against separations but did expand the detention of immigrant families. New facilities were opened along the border, which held women and children for long periods of time before their cases were processed.

Following widespread criticism after photos of detained women and children, accompanied by testimonies of people being held for extended periods, a federal judge in Washington effectively ruled that asylum-seeking mothers could not be held for longer than 20 days, leading to what has been called a “catch and release” system where adults were released with GPS ankle monitors tracking their movements until their cases could be heard in court.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks at the National Sheriffs' Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2018.
=U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks at the National Sheriffs’ Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2018. VOAU.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks at the National Sheriffs’ Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2018.VOA

But this “catch and release” system has been heavily criticized by Trump and his administration.

Also read: Trump Launched A New Attack On Mueller Probe In Russia

“This get out of jail free card for families and groups who pose as families has spread,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. “The word of this has spread. The smugglers and traffickers know these loopholes better than our members of Congress. I’m sad to say that from October 2017 to this February, we have seen a staggering 315 percent increase in illegal aliens fraudulently using children to pose as family units to gain entry into this country. This must stop,” she said. (VOA)