Democrats seek suspension of Jared Kushner s security clearance, pending Russia


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Democrats seek suspension of Jared Kushner’s security clearance, pending Russia probe

WATCH Jared Kushner meets with Netanyahu on first day of Middle East trip

House Democrats are raising concerns about the security clearance held by President Trump ’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. saying suspicions about his contacts with Russian officials should be enough to suspend his access to sensitive information.

“When there are credible allegations that employees may be unfit to continue accessing classified information, security clearances are supposed to be suspended while the allegations are investigated,” wrote Rep. Elijah Cummings. the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, in a letter to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. “Mr. Kushner reportedly failed to disclose contacts with dozens of foreign officials on his security clearance application.”

Aides to Kushner did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the letter from Cummings and the other Democrats on the Oversight Committee, which was accompanied by a demand for Kushner’s security clearance application and for “all documents and communications referring or relating to Mr. Kushner’s contacts or communications with Russian government officials or business representatives.” Cummings’ letter is the latest in a drumbeat of efforts by Democrats in Congress. More than 40 members wrote with similar concerns in May.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment.

As a senior adviser to Trump and as someone tasked with helping orchestrate Middle East peace talks, Kushner likely has access to highly sensitive intelligence. According to the letter, his top-secret clearance is temporary, pending a routine screening by the FBI.

The FBI has not identified Kushner as a target of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, recently taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller. Sources familiar with a parallel probe by the Senate Intelligence Committee, however, have confirmed to ABC News that Kushner’s previously undisclosed meetings with Russian officials have drawn the attention of its investigators. Senate investigators have requested documents from Kushner and are negotiating with him to arrange an interview. Through his attorney, Kushner has indicated his desire to cooperate with that probe.

The challenge to Kushner’s security clearance comes as the White House is facing questions about its decision to continue to allow retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to access to the nation’s most carefully guarded secrets when he served as Trump’s national security adviser, even after Department of Justice officials warned that Flynn may have been susceptible to blackmail by Russian diplomats. The New York Times reported Wednesday that, for three weeks before he was fired, Flynn sat in on the most sensitive intelligence briefings in the White House.

He has denied anything improper occurred during his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and sources close to Flynn have told ABC News they consider it ludicrous that anyone could have concluded he was vulnerable to blackmail.

Cummings, however, takes issue with the administration’s decision to continue allowing Flynn access to sensitive information after Justice Department lawyers notified the White House of their concerns.

“Concerns about Gen. Flynn’s false statements — as well as his concealment of communications with the Russian ambassador — raised obvious security concerns that should have resulted in an immediate suspension of his clearance while an investigation of the allegations proceeded,” Cummings wrote.

Kushner’s lawyer Jamie Gorelick. a deputy attorney general under Bill Clinton, said that on Jan. 18, Kushner filed an extensive security questionnaire known as the SF86, with an offer the next day to the FBI to provide omitted details of his Russian contacts during his background check interview by agents in person, The New York Times reported.

The SF86 requires applicants for security clearances to disclose — under criminal penalty for significant omissions — minute details of their life, including specific dates and purposes of foreign travel and any “close and/or continuing contact” with foreign nationals or receipt of foreign payments in the previous seven years.

The fact that Kushner received an interim security clearance despite failing to disclose all his contacts with the Russian ambassador and a Kremlin-owned bank is very unusual, according to one legal expert.

“It’s highly out of the ordinary for how it’s supposed to be done,” said Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer who handles cases involving intelligence community workers’ clearance problems.

Investigators conducting government background checks for those applying for top-secret clearances understand that people make mistakes on their SF86 disclosures and sometimes have to submit supplemental information, but Moss said he has never heard of an interim clearance being given to anyone who failed to disclose contacts with a foreign government.

“If Kushner’s clearance is still being adjudicated and there is this red flag of his failure to properly report numerous contacts with foreign government officials on his SF86, that would be major matter of concern, in terms of him being in charge of this mission to the Middle East,” Moss said.

Cummings and other House Democrats have no power to force the administration to rescind Kushner’s clearance. Trump has final word on who gets a security clearance when it comes to his staff, as the chief executive, by law, is the ultimate authority.


30/09/2017

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Google investigation dropped by US regulators – BBC News #google #investigation


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Google investigation dropped by US regulators

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The FTC probe ended with Google changing the way it handled some search parameters

Google narrowly escaped being prosecuted by the US government in 2012, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Regulators at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had been investigating complaints from Google’s rivals about its dominance of the internet search industry.

An internal report obtained by the paper showed that some FTC officials had wanted to prosecute.

Instead, the regulator persuaded Google to change the way its software worked.

Google said the “exhaustive” review showed there was no harm to competitors or consumers.

The FTC began its probe of the search market in 2011 following complaints from Google’s competitors.

During the investigation the regulator’s officials gathered nine million documents and obtained evidence from firms such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and Amazon, who had accused Google of taking content from their web pages.

The information Google gleaned was allegedly used by the firm to improve its own search ranking system.

The evidence gathered was enough to convince some FTC investigators that legal action should be taken, said the paper.

However when the regulator’s investigation ended, the agency concluded that the company had not abused its market position to hurt rivals.

Even so, the FTC arranged a deal with the company to end some of the practices that its rivals had complained about.

The report was inadvertently sent to the Wall Street Journal when it asked for details of a separate FTC investigation.

The agency has not commented on the accidental release of the report.

In a statement Google said: “After an exhaustive 19-month review, covering nine million pages of documents and many hours of testimony, the FTC staff and all five commissioners agreed that there was no need to take action on how we rank and display search results.”

It added: “Speculation about potential consumer and competitor harm turned out to be entirely wrong.”

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11/08/2017

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Evaluating – Cleaning-Up School Sites #investigation #schools


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Evaluating Cleaning-Up School Sites

Overview

DTSC’s Brownfields Restoration and School Evaluation Branch is responsible for assessing, investigating and cleaning up proposed school sites. The Branch ensures that selected properties are free of contamination or, if the properties were previously contaminated, that they have been cleaned up to a level that protects the students and staff who will occupy the new school. All proposed school sites that will receive State funding for acquisition or construction are required to go through a rigorous environmental review and cleanup process under DTSC’s oversight.

School districts conduct environmental assessments to provide basic information for determining if there has been a release of hazardous material at the sites, or if a naturally occurring hazardous material that presents a risk to human health or the environment may be present. Outreach activities integrated into the process allow a more active role for stakeholders in the selection process for school sites. Through the environmental review process, DTSC ensures protection of children, staff and the environment from the potential effects of exposure to hazardous materials. As the only comprehensive school environmental evaluation program in the United States, the DTSC Brownfields Restoration and School Evaluation Branch continues to set the national standard.

Mission

“To assist school districts in the assessment of school properties by ensuring that environmental conditions are expeditiously investigated, evaluated, and if necessary, remediated in order to protect public health and the environment.”

Values

The things that matter most in our organization are:

  • Ensuring sites are safe for schools
  • Providing high quality services
  • Information and responding to stakeholders
  • Making decisions that reflect competence, practicality and consistency
  • Striving for cost- and time-efficient operations
  • Developing innovative approaches and guidance to address environmental issues

Principles

We recognize that all our actions must be guided by a set of principles:

  • Protection: Our responsibility is to promote and protect public health and the environment.
  • Service: We serve the public as a whole, our customers who seek a product or service from us, and future generations whose interests are affected by today’s actions.
  • Teamwork: Our decisions are jointly made by trained multidisciplinary staff so as to ensure balance, competence and professionalism.
  • Integrity: We must continually earn the trust of those we serve, making an active commitment to truth, accuracy and fairness.
  • Excellence: We are committed to career development and professional growth for our valued staff; we strive to provide high-quality services, and to achieve a standard of excellence in job performance.
  • Ownership: We accept responsibility for ensuring an effective investigation and cleanup, and are accountable for project outcomes.

School Projects or Environmental Review Process

DTSC is available to address any questions or problems that may arise during the environmental review process. Please contact the DTSC project manager with your concerns. If you do not know the assigned project manager or the project manager is unable to satisfactorily answer your questions, please contact:


13/07/2017

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