US Attorney General Sessions fires former FBI no. 2 McCabe

In this file photo taken on July 12, 2017, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (L) and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe (R) listen during a news conference to announce significant law enforcement actions at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. (AFP / ALEX WONG)
Updated 17 March 2018
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US Attorney General Sessions fires former FBI no. 2 McCabe

WASHINGTON: US Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday fired Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s former No. 2 official who was deeply involved in the agency’s investigations of Hillary Clinton and Russia’s role in the 2016 US election and was repeatedly criticized by President Donald Trump.
McCabe said in a lengthy statement that he believes he is being politically targeted because he corroborated former FBI Director James Comey’s claims that Trump tried to pressure him into killing the Russia probe.
Trump ousted Comey last year and later acknowledged in a televised interview that he fired Comey over “this Russia thing.”
“Based on the report of the Inspector General, the findings of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility, and the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official, I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately,” Sessions said in a statement.
McCabe’s dismissal came two days before his 50th birthday, when he would have been eligible to retire from the Federal Bureau of Investigation with his full pension. The firing — which comes nine months after Trump fired Comey — puts McCabe’s pension in jeopardy.
It also is likely to raise questions about whether McCabe received an overly harsh punishment due to political pressure by the Republican president, who has blasted McCabe on Twitter and called for his ouster.
Comey’s firing paved the way for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to tap Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is now leading the investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Trump has denied there was any collusion.
“I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey,” McCabe said in his statement.
“This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort ... to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally.”
McCabe had stepped down from his position as FBI deputy director in January but remained on leave pending retirement.
His departure was triggered by a critical report from the Justice Department’s inspector general that eventually led to a recommendation that he be fired.
The report said McCabe misled investigators about his communications with a former Wall Street Journal reporter who was writing about McCabe’s role in probes tied to Clinton, including an investigation of the Clinton family’s charitable foundation.
In his statement, McCabe denied ever misleading investigators.
He added that the release of the inspector general’s report was “accelerated” after he testified behind closed doors before the US House Intelligence Committee where he revealed he could back up Comey’s claims. Comey’s firing has become central to questions about whether Trump unlawfully sought to obstruct the Russia investigation.
McCabe could potentially be a crucial witness in Mueller’s investigation.


Bug may have exposed photos from 7M Facebook users

Updated 11 min ago
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Bug may have exposed photos from 7M Facebook users

  • Facebook disclosed a photo glitch, saying it allowed some 1,500 software apps to access private photos for 12 days ending Sept. 25.
  • An Irish regulator said it was investigating Facebook following the company's disclosure that a bug may has exposed millions of private photos, the latest in a series of privacy glitches

NEW YORK: Facebook’s privacy controls have broken down yet again, this time through a software flaw affecting nearly 7 million users who had photos exposed to a much wider audience than intended.
The bug disclosed Friday gave hundreds of apps unauthorized access to photos that could in theory include images that would embarrass some of the affected users. They also included photos people may have uploaded but hadn’t yet posted, perhaps because they had changed their mind.
It’s not yet known whether anyone actually saw the photos, but the revelation of the now-fixed problem served as another reminder of just how much data Facebook has on its 2.27 billion users, as well has how frequently these slip-ups are recurring.
The bug is the latest in a series of privacy lapses that continue to crop up, despite Facebook’s repeated pledges to batten down its hatches and do a better job preventing unauthorized access to the pictures, thoughts and other personal information its users intend so share only with friends and family.
In general, when people grant permission for a third-party app to access their photos, they are sharing all the photos on their Facebook page, regardless of privacy settings meant to limit a photo to small circles such as family. The bug potentially gave developers access to even more photos, such as those shared on separate Marketplace and Facebook Stories features, as well as photos that weren’t actually posted.
Facebook said the users’ photos may have been exposed for 12 days in September. The company said the bug has been fixed.
The company declined to say how many of the affected users are from Europe, where stricter privacy laws took effect in May and could subject companies to fines. Facebook said it has notified the Irish Data Protection Commission of the breach.
The problem comes in a year fraught with privacy scandals and other problems for the world’s biggest social network.
Revelations that the data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data from as many as 87 million users led to congressional hearings and changes in what sorts of data Facebook lets outside developers access. In June, a bug affecting privacy settings led some users to post publicly by default regardless of their previous settings. This bug affected as many as 14 million users over several days in May.
With each breakdown, Facebook risks losing credibility with both its audience and the advertisers whose spending generates most of the company’s revenue.
“It’s like they keep getting these chinks in the armor that is causing this trust deficit,” said Michael Priem, CEO of Modern Impact, which places ads for a variety of major brands.
Although Facebook doesn’t appear to be losing a lot of users, Priem said some advertisers have been seeing data indicating that people are spending less time on the social network. That’s raising concerns about whether the privacy breakdowns and problems with misinformation being spread on the services are taking a toll.
But it’s difficult to know how much Facebook’s recent wave of headaches has been affecting the service because its growth, particularly among younger people, had been slowing even before the problems began to crop up, said Nate Elliott, an analyst with the research firm Nineteen Insights.
Advertisers are unlikely to curtail their spending significantly as long as Facebook is able to maintain the current size of its audience, Elliott said. So far there has been little evidence a significant percentage of the users are worried enough about privacy to get off the service.
“Even if people don’t trust Facebook, as long as the value that the service provides is worth more than the cost of the privacy violations, then that may be a trade-off most people are willing to make,” Elliott said.
On Thursday, to counter the bad rap it’s gotten around privacy, Facebook hosted a one-day “pop-up” to talk to users about their settings and whatever else may be on their mind. Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan gave Facebook’s work on privacy a “B” when asked by a reporter for a grade. By 2019, she said she hopes the improvements will result in an “A.”
Privacy experts might call it grade inflation. In any case, the company has its work cut out before it makes the top grade. The company has had to increase how much it spends on privacy and security, which put a dent in its bottom line and in August contributed to a stock price plunge.