Spying and Laundering Money

As reported by the Associated Press, ten people were charged with “conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. attorney general.”

The typical word for this is acting as a spy.

Most people probably understand that many, if not all, governments utilize spies in an attempt to gather various pieces of what they consider valuable information that might allow them to have an upper hand.

As a sidenote, corporate America also participates in industrial espionage, again in an attempt to be on top.

The AP article goes on to say that the maximum sentence, if convicted of said conspiracy, is five years in prison.

A message to two of the accused spies, allegedly from the Russion government, states their marching orders are to collect information in a variety of potentially damaging areas, “including nuclear weapons, U.S. arms control positions, Iran, White House rumors, CIA leadership turnover, the last presidential election, Congress and the political parties.”

The accused people have evidently been acting covertly for years, as some of the evidence presented against them at arraignment goes back to at least the year 2000.

It does seem odd that if proven true that these people were spies and had been doing so for a decade that they would spend less time in prison than they did gathering information.

Further, nine of the ten were also “charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.”

That sentence carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Excuse this citizen for asking, but how is it that a spy who, hypothetically, gathered intel such as information on Amercia’s nuclear weapons and arms control positions that could possibly allow a foreign power access to highly classified secrets and potentially cause damage to U.S. national security be less of a threat and carry less of a penalty than laundering money?

Over For Now.

Main Street One

And What Else Don’t We Know? Unknown Webcams At Home

This taxpayer is not particularly a subscriber to the conspiracy theories that abound.

However, when one reads a news article such as the below from the Associated Press, it really makes one pause.

“PHILADELPHIA – A federal lawsuit accuses a suburban Philadelphia school district of spying on students at home through school-issued laptop webcams.

“The suit says Lower Merion School District officials can activate the webcams remotely without students’ knowledge. The lawsuit alleges the cameras captured images of Harriton High School students and their families as they undressed and in other compromising situations.

“Families learned of the alleged webcam images when an assistant principal spoke to a student about inappropriate behavior at home.

“The school district says it has deactivated a security feature intended to track lost or stolen laptops.

“The district says the tracking feature would not be reactivated without ‘written notification to all students and families’.”

Wait one minute. No, two minutes.
 
Supposedly there was a security feature in the laptop designed to track it.
 
How is it that this “security feature” was a webcam? It would seem as if a device, more like LoJack (which is made for laptops), would “track” a lost or stolen laptop to a location.
 
Perhaps it was someone’s bright idea that installing the webcam would then also provide the identity of the thief.
 More importantly, why would an assistant principal even be involved with what he/she considered inappropriate behavior by a student – in the student’s home?
 
That certainly oversteps any and all authority that school district personnel have with students. (What does the U.S. Department of Education have to say about this district’s antics?)
 
This action tramples all over our Bill of Rights.
 
Thankfully, for all the families in Lower Merion, the assistant principal acted inappropriately and confronted the student and that the student had the presence of mind to report such a gross invasion of privacy. 
 
Just as astonishing, the school district says that the tracking feature “would not be reactivated without ‘written notification to all students and families’.”
 
Written notification?
 
What gives the school district the right to have a webcam in a taxpayer’s home? There is no issue with something like LoJack, but this citizen has grave concerns about a school district even having the idea that it is okay to place a webcam in someone’s home.
 
From there, the leap begins.
 
Are the urban legends true that the webcam in my laptop is monitored by someone, somewhere without my knowledge, let alone consent? That the reason cable/FIOS boxes are bigger (when almost all electronic equipment has become smaller) is that they are hiding cameras that capture my every move? 
 
When something as atrocious as this story is real, it does make one wonder.
 
Over For Now.
 
Main Street One