Thursday, October 18, 2012

FBI arrested NY man on terrorism charges.

So no doubt you've seen in the news the 21-year-old Bangladeshi national who was arrested in the United States and accused of trying to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan.

A guy made a bomb and tried to set it off . . . this hardly qualifies as "cyber crime."

No, it does not.  But what is interesting is how the FBI made the arrest, and how even the best criminal defense lawyer would have trouble defending a case where defendant took so many steps to complete the crime that it's impossible to say "he wasn't really going to do it."

According to released information, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanui Ahsan Nafis ("Nafis") traveled to the US with the intent of bombing something - anything - that would disrupt American commerce and cause "terror."

So Nafis met with an FBI informant and told him that he was here to declare "jihad."  The FBI then set up a meeting with Nafis wherein he "wished to launch a terrorist attack against the United States."

Right there the FBI probably does not have enough to make an arrest . . . simply thinking about a plan isn't a crime.  There has to be an actus rea -  or some act in furtherance of the plot.  Eventually Nafis settles on the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

Here is where the FBI was at its finest . . . and curtains for the defense.

Nafis meets with an FBI agent and purchases what he believes to be explosive material.  The actual material was "inert," meaning it was not explosive.

Still, no arrest.

Nafis then gets in a van and begins to assemble the bomb in the back.

Still, no arrest.

Nafis parks the van near the bank and walks away with the agent to a nearby hotel to set the bomb off.

Still, no arrest.

Nafis, while in the hotel, makes a video to the American people that he intended to release after the attack.

Still, no arrest.

Nafis then attempts to detonate the bomb.  Nothing happens.  He tries again, and again.

Finally, he is arrested.

You are the criminal defense lawyer assigned to defend Nafis.  What do you do?  Do you think its a colorable defense to even claim "he wasn't going to go through with it."  Can the defense claim that it wasn't a terrorist attack?

Any decent criminal defense lawyer would examine and re-examine the evidence to make sure the FBI did everything according to law.  I suppose that is a start.  But the act of making the bomb, planting the bomb, and attempting to set-off the bomb, if true, is a tough pill to swallow if you are trying to defend this case.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Child Porn in P2P Share Folder = Distribution

A federal appeals court has ruled that peer-to-peer file sharers can be prosecuted for distributing child pornography by having their illegal files in open share folders.

Here are the facts:  On June 6, 2007, an FBI agent downloaded several child pornography images from an Internet Protocol address registered from Max Budziak.  On June 14, 2007, FBI Special Agent Richard Whisman conducted a search for child pornography on an online filesharing network that led him to download 52 files from an IP address registered to Budziak. Both Lane and Whisman used an FBI computer program called “EP2P” to search for the child pornography files and to download them.

The defendant claimed that the federal judge erred when the court failed to instruct the jury that "distribution" required a jury to find that the defendant took "affirmative steps" to send child pornography to another person. 

The Court also concluded that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding that the defendant distrubuted files containing child porn by maintaining them in a shared folder accessible to other LimeWire users.  The government presented evidence that file-sharing was enabled; that there were multiple child porn files in the shared folder when the FBI seized the computer; that the defendnat initially told the FBI that he had not changed the default settings on his LimeWire program; and that agents actually downloaded shared files containing child porn from an IP address registered to the defendant.  Therefore, the Court ruled "viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, a reasonable jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that Budziak shared — and thus distributed — child pornography through LimeWire."
USA v. Budziak

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How Cool is This?

I am not sure if the US Military releases information on its technology as a way of deterring enemies vis a vis "lookie what I have," or whether the "latest" technology we hear about is, in fact, old technology just being announced. Either way, the X-band RADAR system named THAAD is scary good. 

According to this article on the topic, the THAAD system is the main reason why Iran doesn't bomb Israel:  It is probable the THAAD system can detect and destroy any enemy missle while it is still flying over Iranian soil.

To give you an idea of how sensitive this RADAR system really is:  It can track a game of catch from 2,900 miles away.  According to Gizmodo, "missiles fired from North Korea can be intercepted over the Sea of Japan, not Northern Japan, and rockets leaving Tehran can be dealt with 'potentially' before they even exit Iranian airspace."

Of course, the US Military doesn't give this technology away, or share it, even with allies.  Although the THAAD system is based in Israel, and is intended for Israel protection, it can only be viewed and monitored by American soldiers.

And back to my original point:  Why does the US Military even release this information?  Isn't it supposed to be all "top secret" and all? 

Well, to be honest, do we even know if this is the "latest" RADAR?  Maybe this THAAD system is 5 years old?  I remember when the NAVY released this video clip of a laser it developed to deter small boats from closing in on larger warships.  The small boat was 2 miles away and in rough seas.  How do we know this footage isn't 7 years old?  Maybe this is just the beta system and the real system, long since developed, is 10x more accurate and powerful.  I'm not preaching conspiracy theory here, I just don't think the public is really kept in the loop on these types of things.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Combatting Terrorism? Use the State Department App.

So my family and I are all set to take this European vacation. Small vacation - one week - in Europe. The planning was going swimingly until the State Department released a "Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens" traveling abroad. This warning, of course, is the direct result of the civil uprest in Muslim world thanks to a tasteless, small, unimportant movie made about the Prophet Mohammed.
Well, "emergency message" from the government was all my mother - your typical northeastern mother of european decent - needed to hear.

"Joey, there are terrorists out there. What if something happens?"

"I don't know, Ma. I'll tell them I have central Massachusetts roots and they'll leave us alone."

"Joey, this is serious. This is serious!"

I could see that I wasn't going to convince her that everything will be okay. I needed an ace-in-the-hole. Something to say "I am prepared to meet the challenge of terrorism and defeat it!" I needed a rallying cry.

So I told her that I downloaded the newest State Department app for iPhone.

Wait, you think I'm kidding. Quite the contrary, I'm dead serious here. Such a thing does exist. And its totally badass - even better than dogs that shoot bees at you. The app gives you travel alerts (sh*t is going down), travel warnings (don't go here), maps, and U.S. Embassy locations (cool).

So that seemed to calm her down.

In all honestly, I don't want to make fun of the State Department app. It's a dangerous world out there. Americans need to realize that there are large groups of people in the world that hate everything America stands for and want to kill it. These people hate us. But I rest easy knowing that our government - for better or for worse - is doing what it can to protect us. And what if you were traveling and needed to get to a embassy like asap? Would you even know where to find one? So while the State Department app might not "do" anything, it will at least point you in the right direction.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Classic Ringer

This is interesting.  Guy in jewelry store.  Guy swallows diamond.  Owner calls police.  Police arrest the guy.  Doctors X-ray him and indeed, there is a diamond in his stomach.  Doctors & police give the guy laxative and behold! he passes the diamond.  Expert examines the diamond and behold! diamond is a fake.  Owner insists he lost a $13,000.00 diamond and so it has to be somewhere.  So where is it?  Owner in on the scam?  Insurance fraud?  Classic ringer.

GoDaddy gets GoHacked

So if, host to millions of small-business websites, is not able to maintain its hosting, do the owners of those websites have any recourse? 

Yesterday a web-hosting and domain-registration company, confirmed that websites and email addresses it hosts for small businesses were out, triggering concerns that the company fell victim to a hacker attack.

With small businesses so dependent on websites for so many things, this could really hurt  Let's not forget that the owner of GoDaddy recently shot an elephant, which promptly brought down the wrath of the pro-animal groups.  That kind of negative press is precisely what attracts hackers in the first place. 
One option for small business owners is to simply move your domain hosting to a different server.
But if there are damages; if the business suffers economic loss due to GoDaddy's inability to maintain its websites, do those small business owners have any cause of action in the courts?