Tag Archives: feds

Top Secret! Feds Bury Agency’s Computer Failure, Lost Data

By Ethan Barton – Data was permanently lost after a computer network failed at the agency that protects federal employees against wrongful discipline, but officials there refuse to make public any documents related to the failure.

The Merit Systems Protection Board lost data when its online appeals system collapsed last July, which effected all 219 agency employees, FCW reported. The lost data concerned employee appeals, which could result in lost promotions or other career setbacks for thousands of workers.

The refusal to make public information about the failure comes as more federal employees are filing appeals against disciplinary action than ever before.

“Due to the unprecedented number of appeals being processed through e-Appeal Online, you may experience occasional slowness when using the system,” MSPB’s website says. “Thank you for your patience during this extraordinary time, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

MSPB officials drafted a report concerning July’s computer network failure but claimed they aren’t required to make it public, thanks to Exemption Five of the Freedom of Information Act. Exemption Five allows federal officials to withhold “pre-decisional” documents and is the most frequently abused of the law’s nine exemptions.

The documents related to the system failure “consider issues, present options and make policy recommendations for consideration by agency management,” according to an email obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

In other words, the report contains information that helps the agency make decisions and form policies. Agencies, however, typically release such reports while redacting only particular passages that are pre-decisional in nature.

“Any agency can only withhold the portions of the records that are covered by exemption,” Reporters Committee For Freedom of The Press attorney Adam Marshall told TheDCNF. “They have a duty to segregate all portions that aren’t covered by an exemption. If this is the final agency report … it’s not clear what’s pre-decisional about it.”

Marshall said “factual information cannot be withheld under Exemption Five and agencies are supposed to adopt a presumption of openness,” per former Attorney General Eric Holder’s 2009 guidance. President Barack Obama has often claimed during his tenure in the Oval Office that his is “the most transparent administration in history.”

Regardless, Exemption 5 under FOIA has plagued government transparency.

“Exemption 5 is also one of the most overused exemptions,” Marshall said. “It’s commonly referred to as the ‘withheld-because-we-want-to’ exemption. It can be used to withhold facts that should be released to the public” such as “a final report on an incident that affected the federal government.”

MSPB did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

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Feds Give Billions To Research Based On ‘Falsified Or Fabricated Data’

By Ethan Barton – National Science Foundation officials award $7 billion in grants annually based on funding proposals the agency’s watchdog estimates have hundreds of examples of plagiarism and “falsified or fabricated data.”

The federal science research agency awards 11,000 grants to 2,000 research institutions annually, but Allison Lerner, the agency’s inspector general, only oversees about 1 percent of those recipients.

Researcher misconduct has drastically increased over the past decade, meaning millions of tax dollars go to fraudsters, according to Lerner.

The watchdog estimated that around 1,200 proposals for funding could contain plagiarism and another 800 proposals or results include “falsified or fabricated data,” according the IG’s semiannual report.

Additionally, NSF has faced widespread criticism from the public and Congress for funding projects like two experiments that ran shrimp on a treadmill at a cost to taxpayers of $1.3 million. The agency refused to divulge information about the grants’ budgets, The Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported.

Meanwhile, NSF’s $7 billion in awards is enough to fund more than 122,000 students for a year at Harvard University at the fabled school’s current tuition rate of $57,200 per year.

NSF accounts “for about one-fourth of federal support to academic institutions for basic research,” agency spokeswoman Jessica Arriens told TheDCNF.

“All NSF awardees are required to submit interim and final progress reports, various program staff make site visits (and reverse site visits, when the PIs come to NSF and meet with staff here) to see funded projects, and NSF grants and agreements officers monitor awardee compliance with award terms and conditions and award administration,” Arriens said.

But NSF’s oversight excludes a key tool.

“With limited exceptions, NSF does not require recipients to provide supporting documentation to receive payments,” NSF Inspector General Chief of Staff Susan Carnohan told TheDCNF. Those documents include records like receipts and invoices.

“This practice makes it impossible to tell whether or not NSF awardees are properly spending their research funds,” Carnohan said. “As a result, it is extremely important for NSF to have a system in place to ensure that improper payments are detected and misuse of funds is identified.”

The IG recovered $5 million from fraudulent payments and questioned how another $1.9 million was spent in 2015’s second half, according to its semiannual report.

Yet, the IG can only audit about one out of every 100 grant recipients.

“Given our resources, we can usually conduct no more than 20 audits of NSF recipients in a year,” Carnohan told TheDCNF. “We focus our resources on areas of highest risk, but are not able to audit every recipient each year so there are periods of time between audits of institutions. As a result, there will often be periods when institutions are not audited by OIG.”

Yet, NSF may not cut a recipient’s funding, even after the IG catches misused money. The watchdog reported that 18 findings for nine awardees were “repeated for three or more consecutive years, calling into question the awardees’ ability adequately to manage their NSF awards.”

But oversight of NSF grants isn’t just about money. Researcher misconduct has drastically increased.

“In 2004, two research misconduct findings were made, while in 2014 there were 20 research misconduct findings,” according to the agency’s semiannual report. That may not seem like many, but just one investigation led to a total of 28 years in prison for two scientists who fraudulently obtained $10.6 million in awards from NSF and six other agencies.

“OIG does suspect that a significant amount of research misconduct goes undetected,” Carnohan said. “However, we have no reliable statistics to support our suspicions. There have been surveys of researchers asking about questionable research practices and research misconduct and a significant number of respondents replied that either they or someone they knew engaged in such practices.”

Misconduct also may have been affected by increased reporting, Carnohan said.

“Therefore, we believe that more needs to be done to address this problem, and NSF should exert its influence with institutions regarding this important issue,” the semiannual report said.

But NSF’s proposal review process is internationally “considered the gold standard” and provides “a powerful return on investment,” according to an agency video.

Still, verifying that process is beyond the IG’s purview.

“The OIG has an oversight role and does not determine policy or engage in management activities involving the Foundation or program operations,” Carnohan said. “Thus, OIG is not responsible for managing any NSF programs, nor do we attempt to assess the scientific merit of research funded by the Foundation.”

These problems aren’t new. Three years ago, Lerner told a congressional committee that “extrapolating across the 45,000 proposals NSF receives annually suggests 1,300 proposals could contain plagiarism and 450 to 900 could contain problematic data.”

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

In Court, Ron Paul Accuses Feds Of Targeting Rand’s Campaign

DES MOINES, Iowa (October 15, 2015)—On Wednesday, retired Congressman and presidential contender Ron Paul came to a Des Moines’ federal courthouse to testify for the prosecution against two of his former top campaign staffers, Jesse Benton, who is married to Paul’s granddaughter, and Dimitri Kesari. With force, Paul told jurors that the timing of the indictments against Benton and Kesari were carefully planned in order to pose a threat against his son, United States Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is currently running for president on the Republican ticket.

Prosecutors announced the indictments against Benton and Kesari just one day before the first Republican debate where Rand was set to take stage. At the time, Benton was heading up a Super PAC (political action committee) working on behalf of Rand Paul’s presidential race. The indictments made headlines across the country.

“I don’t consider that a coincidence,” Paul said. “I consider that more than seeking justice.”

In an opening statement Tuesday, U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor Richard Pilger portrayed Paul as a victim of Benton and Kesari’s plot to keep him in the dark about hidden campaign payments. However, Paul didn’t seem happy about being called on behalf of the prosecution against the two staffers.

“I’m not testifying for the defense,” he said at one point during cross-examination from Kesari’s lawyer. “I’m testifying for the prosecution. And that’s been a heavy burden for my family.”

Last week, almost all charges against Benton were dropped. An additional staffer, John Tate, was also indicted. All charges were dropped against Tate.

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Exclusive: Called “domestic terrorists” by the feds, Oath Keepers help stop Ferguson from burning

By Joshua Cook | Tsu | Facebook | Twitter 

You might have seen them on the news. The people protecting Ferguson businesses from the arsonists and looters ransacking Ferguson, Mo. But here is the real story about the organization protecting those businesses. They’re called Oath Keepers, and they have ex-police and ex-military keeping guard of four Ferguson businesses since late Monday night, Nov. 24, at the permission of the business owners.

They’ve been shown in the media before, but the report was incorrect, according to Stewart Rhodes, national founder of president of the Oath Keepers, who stressed that the group is not just business owners.

“We are not.  We are military and police veterans who are volunteer security for local businesses.  We have Iraq and Afghanistan combat vets in the rooftops, along with retired cops, guarding the shops,” he said.

The four businesses include Natalie’s Cakes and More, a bakery that was featured on Fox News, a beauty supply store, a dentist’s office and a Chinese restaurant.

In addition to their work keeping businesses safe, and the people living there, the group has also seen some totally bizarre interactions by the federal government and the state highway patrol.

According to Rhodes, “We had an alarming incident that happened last night with our team spotting what looked like a fed three-man sniper team moving into a nearby house on higher ground, and then pointing their rifles at our team of American combat veterans, while our team was guarding the buildings against looters.”

Rhodes said the team even observed the state highway patrol snipers deploy onto the roof of a nearby fire hall and point rifles at them.

“Our team leader called Unified Command to find out what was going on and then local police responded,” he explained.

He said that the local police were unaware of what the federal government were doing and that there was no coordination. “The local police are on our side and expressed gratitude for us being there, but the Feds are trying to run us out.”

The federal government is trying to badmouth this organization of ex-police and ex-military, even called them a “domestic terrorist” group.

“The local cops told the Feds it was crazy to label us terrorists, when all we are doing is guarding against arsonists,” said Rhodes.

Sam, a team leader in Ferguson,  told BenSwann.com’s Joshua Cook in an exclusive interview that they aren’t there to protect property. They are protecting the people living in the buildings from firebombs. They are willing to use lethal force to protect lives allowed by state law.

Rhodes told Cook that law enforcement wants to remove their group from the rooftops by citing an obscure state law regarding paid security firms. Rhodes plans to organize a protest if local officials try to remove them.

Sam told Cook, “Buildings to the north are burning every night, buildings to the south are burning every night. Since we have been here no one has thrown a molotov cocktail through the windows or caught the building on fire.”

Listen to the full interview below:


Ben Swann will be anchoring  on RT on Monday at 4pm and 5pm eastern from Ferguson.

FEDS Raid Home for $60K Land Rover SUV for EPA Violation



A North Carolina woman is lawyering up after the Department of Homeland Security came to her house and seized her 1985 Land Rover Defender SUV.

“I haven’t done anything wrong,” she told WBTV.

Brinkley bought the Land Rover Defender last year via the internet. She had invested more than $60,000 into the car.

“They popped up the hood and looked at the Vehicle Identification Number and compared it with a piece of paper and then took the car with them,” she said.

According to WBTV, in recent years some importers have been changing VIN numbers in order to comply with import regulations. All vehicles imported into the United States have to meet strict safety and emissions standards, which Land Rover Defenders do not. The only way around these standards is by importing vehicles  25-years-old or older, which is why in recent years importers have changed VINs to make a vehicle appear older.

Defenders, which are considered rare in the U.S., sell at a premium — even 25-year-old ones.

Brinkley said she has been trying to reach the seller with no success.

She told Fox News that she had a title for the vehicle and did enough work on it that it would have passed inspection. Brinkley said the warrant presented to her had the name of a previous owner on it.

“There were 40 seized that day all over the United States,” Brinkley said, adding that she’s in “disbelief” that her property could just be taken.

“I want my car back,” she said.

She has 35 days to appeal the seizure, but has no idea where her SUV is.

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