Jim Geraghty of the National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America break down the Republican Party’s special election victory in Pennsylvania’s 12th District. They also grumble about the early release of ‘American Taliban’ John Walker Lindh and use the discussion of terrorism to highlight Jim’s brand new book, “Between Two Scorpions.” And they’re not exactly shocked to learn about Michael Avenatti getting indicted on a new series of criminal charges for allegedly defrauding his former client, Stormy Daniels. However, they do use it as yet another example of the media lavishing praise on an obviously disturbed figure just because it helps their political narrative.
The revelation of a massive data breach at credit giant Equifax is a a textbook example of poor protection and even worse public relations, but a leading cyber security expert says it leaves tens of millions of people vulnerable to fraud and identity theft for the rest of their lives.
Equifax is one of the three major institutions by which consumers check their credit scores and have their credit reviewed by third parties. In recent days, it admitted a months-long data breach may have compromised as many as 143 million people. The breach included hugely sensitive information, including consumers’ Social Security numbers.
Cyber Scout Founder and CEO Adam Levin says these breaches usually happen the same way.
“Apparently there was a vulnerability in software that they were using. They created a gap in their web security. As a result, the bad guys got in, crawled around for a few months and had access to a staggering amount of information,” said Levin, who is also author of “Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in A World Full of Scammers, Phishers and Identity Thieves.”
Equifax responded by apologizing for the “disappointing event.”
“This isn’t a disappointing event. This is an outrageous event, It is a completely embarrassing event. It is a dangerous event,” said Levin.
Levin says if the breach only dealt with credit card or bank account information, the damage would be manageable. He says the compromising of Social Security numbers is potentially disastrous.
“When you’re dealing with a Social Security number, this is forever. The Social Security administration will almost never agree to change someone’s Social Security number. So if your Social Security number is on a database that is compromised, you will be looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life,” said Levin.
A bad actor having your Social Security number can make you vulnerable to new account fraud, medical identity theft, tax fraud, child identity theft, and criminal identity theft. He says criminals using your information can make you a criminal in the eyes of the law.
“That’s where someone using your information commits a crime and the trail of bread crumbs leads back to you. And you’re driving down the street. You’re pulled over to the side of the road by law enforcement for a busted tail light. All of a sudden your car is surrounded by guys with guns. You’re thrown on the ground, handcuffed and hauled off, in some cases in front of your wife and kids,” said Levin.
He says someone making money while using your Social Security number could easily lead to a nightmare with the IRS.
“For example, someone gets your Social Security number, gets employment in your name by using your Social Security number. The income from that job is reported to your Social Security number. So all of a sudden, the IRS is on your tail, saying that you woefully under-reported your income,” said Levin.
He says the potential for financial wreckage in the wake of Equifax breach is huge.
“These are just some of the ramifications of something like this, and this impacts our entire society,” said Levin.
So how can companies and individuals stay ahead of the hackers? Levin says it requires a new mindset.
“Technology is not the solution to security. You have to create an environment, a culture of privacy and security within an organization. Everybody’s got to buy into it. Everybody has got to be at the top of their game,” said Levin.
“Every minute of every hour of every day, hackers are doing everything they can to constantly assault every database we have looking for the mother lode. And this time, of all times, they really hit it,” said Levin.
Levin advises everyone to protect their data using what he calls the three M’s: minimizing the risk in the first place, monitoring your data and protection methods constantly, and managing the damage when a breach does occur. He says cyber security leaders must be in a constant state of training to keep up with threats and observe any internal vulnerabilities.
“People need to be monitoring systems. They need to be looking for vulnerabilities. They need to patch those vulnerabilities immediately. They need to be monitoring their vendors. In the world we live in, you are your vendor. If something goes wrong with a vendor that leads back to you or data that you have something to do with, it becomes your liability and your problem,” said Levin.
Levin also advises IT professionals to keep a constant eye out for the outflow of data from their systems.
“You need to have systems that monitor data exfiltration. Is an unusual amount of information leaving your system or can you see someone crawling around your system and what can you do about it?,” said Levin.
“Data needs to be encrypted. Security needs to be layered, so that even if someone gets into one level of a company, they can’t necessarily get into the most sensitive information held by the database of that company,” said Levin.
Levin is also shaking his head over what he calls a “clumsy” response from Equifax. In addition to the massive breach being called a “disappointing event,” he says a website hastily arranged to provide information to consumers was flawed to the point of being flagged as a phishing scam and Equifax offered a free year of credit monitoring only if the consumer agreed not to join any class-action lawsuits.
That condition has since been withdrawn, but Levin still sees a year’s worth of free protection as a paltry offer.
“For the institution that basically exposed your data to come back with a program saying, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it, we’re going to take care of you for a year. Things are good.’ You’re looking at them like, ‘Are you out of your mind?'” said Levin.
For individuals, Levin strongly recommends several steps, including tough passwords, making sure you don’t offer data to anyone who calls you but only when you contact an institution. He also endorses two-factor authentication, meaning you are notified by a bank or other institution and must submit a correct code to allow any transaction to proceed.
He also urges everyone to keep close track of their credit score to notice any sudden changes and to enroll in any monitoring program, whether at your job or anywhere else where your personal data is on file.
“Check with your insurance agent, your financial services rep, and the HR department where you work. Say, ‘Do you have a program to help me through an identity incident? Am I in it? If not, what do I need to do to get in it? Is it free or what’s it going to cost?'” said Levin.
“I guarantee that whatever it costs is incredibly reasonable, compared to the pain that you’ll suffer by becoming a victim of one of these kinds of scams that relate to identity theft,” said Levin.
One of the newest members of the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity says he is impressed that the bipartisan group appears to be on the same page of protecting the rights of eligible voters while putting provisions in place for those who shouldn’t be casting ballots.
He also categorically rejects assertions from the political left that the commission’s actual intent is to disenfranchise vulnerable segments of the population who are unlikely to support President Trump, such as minorities, immigrants and the poor.
On Wednesday, the commission held its first meeting, a public session at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. Vice President Mike Pence is chairman of the commission, while Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach serves as co-chairman.
Hans von Spakovsky is among the most recently appointed members and is excited that the group seems clear on its task.
“This is a bipartisan commission but I was really struck by the unanimity of all of the commissioners on all of the issues we need to look at, the kind of data we need to gather, and the work that needs to be done,” said von Spakovsky, who also serves as the manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation.
He says the goal of the commission is clear.
“This commission is going into this with an open mind, no preset conclusion, and we were directed to do everything we can to take a look at, review, and examine the American election process and make sure, in essence, that every American who’s eligible can vote and no one’s vote is stolen through voter fraud or administrative mistakes,” said von Spakovsky.
President Trump has ordered the commission to report on its findings and offer recommendations by next year. Von Spakovsky says gathering data is the first big step and getting voter information from the states is the key to understanding whether people who shouldn’t be voting are gaining access to ballots anyway.
“That’s obviously important data when it comes to looking at the kind of problems that may be out there,” said von Spakovsky.
However, the request for data is sparking significant controversy, with many Democratic state officials refusing to comply with at least parts of the request. Critics of the president’s decision to create the commission allege that the commission will end up sparking action to disenfranchise poor and minority voters, who are unlikely to back the president or have the means to protect their rights.
Von Spakovsky says that assertion is ridiculous.
“That’s really an absurd claim,” he said. “It’s really just a nutty claim, frankly. Look, this is an advisory commission. It has no power of any kind. It has no ability to tell anyone what to do. It’s only purpose is to research the issues. And all it can do at the end is to make recommendations to the president, to the states,” said von Spakovsky.
When the formal recommendations come next year, von Spakovsky says there could well be calls for Congress or the Justice Department to take action, but he says any meaningful clean-up of the voter rolls will have to happen state by state.
While the data continue to come in, von Spakovsky’s own research shows three major areas of concern when it comes to election integrity: non-citizens voting, citizens voting in multiple jurisdictions, and the names of dead people remaining on the rolls and being vulnerable to abuse.
Von Spakovsky says getting everything right is a major task.
“It is a big job. About five years ago, the Pew Center did a study and they found almost three million people registered in more than one state and almost two million people who were dead still on the voter rolls,” said von Spakovsky.
Massive healthcare fraud and opioid scams are prompting authorities to announce criminal charges for more than 400 people. According to Fox News, Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions say it is “the largest healthcare fraud takedown operation in American history,” totaling over 1.3 billion dollars in false billing. Among those targeted, 120 people are accused of illegally prescribing opioids, a practice which authorities believe is accelerating an epidemic. Opioid overdoses resulted in 52 thousand American deaths in 20-15 alone. Fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid billing was also part of the crackdown. ~ Sarah Schutte
The Trump administration announced the creation of a new commission Thursday that is tasked with studying the scope of voter fraud and voter suppression in the United States, a move that a former Justice Department attorney says is long overdue after eight years of voter fraud that resembled the “wild west” during the Obama years.
The commission will be led by Vice President Mike Pence and co-chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a strong supporter of clamping down on voter fraud through measures like mandating all voters produce photo identification before casting a ballot.
Public Interest Legal Foundation President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams worked in the civil rights division of the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration and the beginning of Obama’s first term. He says this focus is long overdue.
“We know of election crimes that have gone on in the last seven years, one after another after another, that the federal government never prosecuted and never investigated, never did anything about and creating this wild west atmosphere with voter fraudsters,” said Adams.
For examples, Adams cites Wendy Rosen, the 2012 congressional candidate in Maryland, who also voted in Florida. He says there have been over 1,000 non-citizens discovered voting in Virginia since 2011 and more than 800 others in Ohio. He says North Carolina found 41 ballots cast by non-citizens last year and Nevada found three.
Not only is the fraud not being investigated, in some cases it is celebrated.
“You have Melowese Richardson, a woman in Cincinnati, who said on camera that she voted six times for President Obama. She was actually celebrated at an event that Al Sharpton was at. They treated her like a hero,” said Adams.
The new commission is not without it’s critics however. A group called the Citizen’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law immediately issued a statement referring to the commission’s work as “blocking the black vote.”
While the argument that voting reforms disenfranchise minorities and the poor is rather common, Adams says it is baseless.
“That narrative is a lie. More often than not, the people losing the right to vote because of election crimes are people in minority communities,” said Adams, who says his work at the Justice Department bears out his position.
“When I was at the Justice Department, I brought a case that was afflicting the minority community in a small town in Mississippi where political operatives exploited the weak and the vulnerable. They voted for them. They stole their votes. So often it is the minority communities who are being harmed by voter fraud,” said Adams.
But he didn’t stop there.
“The dirty little secret is these groups that send out these press releases like it that way, because they benefit from controlling the process. They benefit by telling people how to vote, by voting for them, by running an organization that covers up crimes, just to get certain people elected,” said Adams.
That’s why Adams suspects criticism of the commission’s work will not focus on the facts.
“The critics of the commission are essentially want to hide the facts. They don’t want us to know the truth about the extent of voter fraud. They’re accessories to the crime. If they want to cover up and obstruct the investigation into voter fraud, then those people deserve our criticism,” said Adams.
A more bipartisan criticism of the effort suggests that while voter fraud ought to be prosecuted, the problem is being blown out of proportion, After all, three votes usually don’t decide statewide elections in Nevada, 141 didn’t tilt any big races in North Carolina and even 1,000 votes would be unlikely to change results in Virginia.
Adams quickly offered two responses to that argument, starting with the crime itself.
“Changing the outcome of the election is not an element to the federal crime. That is not in the law. That is something people have invented to give people a pass and to shut down enforcement of the law,” said Adams.
But he also says voter fraud certainly can alter the outcome of elections.
“The fact that it effects elections is real. We have found at the Public Interest Legal Foundation that over 4,000 aliens have been caught on the voter rolls, many of them voting, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. These are the ones who have self-reported essentially. So there’s tens of thousands more most likely,” said Adams.
Adams has long favored requiring voters to display photo identification at the polls and for state and local officials to regularly update voter rolls to clean out names of people who are dead or no longer live there.
He says another effective step would take very little effort.
“The easiest thing to do is to compare the voter rolls of the country to the list of aliens in federal databases. Nobody has ever done that. It’s a simple operation. It would not take very much to simply see how many people in the alien database are also registered to vote, and those who have voted should be prosecuted,” said Adams.
“It doesn’t take many prosecutions to chill criminal activity,” he added.
However, for Adams, the most important aspect of the commission may be to punch a hole in the movement of those trying to stop voting reforms.
“Those loud voices on the left have done all they can over the years to silence any examination of the vulnerabilities in our system. They have intimidated and yelled and done everything they could to hide the facts of election crimes. What they’re most upset about it that that’s ending. So I’m optimistic this is going to be a good process,” said Adams.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are very encouraged by the final two names President Trump is reportedly considering for the Supreme Court vacancy. They also cringe as Trump once again insists he lost the popular vote only through rampant voter fraud by illegal aliens. And they slam Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for claiming a lack of federal assistance is to blame for the huge number of murders in his city.
Democrats are engaged in damage control in the wake of undercover videos from Project Veritas showing party operatives admitting to stoking violence at Trump rallies and being open to engaging in mass voter fraud, and the group says these videos are just the tip of the iceberg.
On Monday, Project Veritas released a video depicting the recently-fired Scott Foval of the Democrat-linked Americans United for Change admitting to inciting violence at Trump events, including a riot in Chicago that injured police officers and another that shut down a road near a Trump rally in Arizona. Foval was quickly fired.
Tuesday, a follow-up video depicted Foval bragging about Democrats busing in voters from other precincts to influence elections and at least entertaining other forms of voter fraud this year. Longtime Democratic operative Robert Creamer resigned as head of Democracy Partners that same day. Creamer, who is married to Chicago-area Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., also served time years ago on a felony fraud conviction.
“In the first video, we see that they’re actually doing the things that are despicable. In the second video, we have them talking prospectively about what they’re going to do on Election Day. We have to be vigilant, go out and see if we can catch them on Election Day doing those things,” said Project Veritas Executive Director Russ Verney.
“But since they’ve already delivered on their violence at rallies, we have no reason to believe that they don’t intend to bus people around and commit other voter fraud,” added Verney.
In addition to dismissing Foval and Creamer, Democrats have pointed the finger of blame at Project Veritas and founder James O’Keefe. Media, such as the New York Times, usually refer to Project Veritas as “a conservative group led by the activist James O’Keefe that has been heavily criticized as using deceptive editing.”
Verney rejects the left’s effort to dismiss the videos by attacking Project Veritas and O’Keefe.
“Nobody has pointed to anything in either of the videos that’s untrue or that they challenge the veracity of. We’ve got them in their own words admitting to their own underhanded acts to subvert the Trump campaign and to commit voter fraud,” said Verney.
As for the suggestion that “deceptive editing” created this controversy, Verney says that is patently false.
“They attack the messenger instead of the message. You say that it’s heavily edited and imply that we’ve done something nefarious with the editing, but they can’t point to anything within the videos that are nefarious. They are the actual words of the targets in their own context. We allow the people to fully hang themselves in these videos,” said Verney.
Verney especially gets a kick out of broadcast media promoting the “deceptive editing” defense.
“Every video you watch on ABC, Fox, whatever, is edited. We would have to post hundreds of hours of video if you want it unedited,” he said.
But while Democrats try to wash their hands of the controversy by kicking Creamer and Foval to the curb this cycle, Verney doesn’t necessarily buy that they’re really off the stage.
“As they say in the video, ‘We don’t talk about things that we talk about.’ All this is a wink and a nod. So whether or not they’re actually fired or just moved to another company is yet to be seen,” said Verney.
Even if the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton campaign and private groups really did cut ties with Creamer and Foval, Verney is confident the tactics aren’t changing.
“Regardless of whether or not those individuals are still in their positions, the organizations that they’re with are still in position and still carrying on, still committing the same kind of tactics as when Bob Creamer was the head of the operation or Scott Foval. They’ve still got plenty of other replacements out there doing the same things,” said Verney.
However, Verney warns Democrats that there damage control efforts are not over yet.
“They’ve fired two of the top people so far. The only thing that the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary campaign can do is try to attack the messenger. They can’t deal with the message. And believe me, this is going to get worse,” said Verney, referring to more Project Veritas videos that are on the way.
He didn’t say exactly what the forthcoming videos would show, but he did mention that as many as eight undercover reporters infiltrated various parts of the Democratic Party apparatus and discovered more evidence of illegal communicating and collaborating between organizations that are forbidden by law from working together.
“They gained the confidence of the highest level of Democratic operatives in multiple organizations: Americans United for Change, the Foval Group, Democracy Partners. They sat in and listened to conference calls where the campaign, the White House, the Democratic National Committee and the Super PAC were all on the conference call with these operatives making their plans,” said Verney.
He says that’s proof of the Democrats flagrantly violating the law.
“The Hillary Super PAC is involved in this coordination, which makes the whole thing totally illegal. This is a dark money conspiracy, where these organizations are prohibited from prior coordination with each other if they’re spending money to promote the Hillary election or the Trump defeat. They cannot coordinate. We’ve exposed exactly how they coordinate with each other in violation of the law,” said Verney.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of National Review enjoy Marco Rubio’s demolition of Patrick Murphy in the Florida U.S. Senate debate. They also discuss the real threat of voter fraud and the extent we know it’s happening as Donald Trump warns of a rigged election. And they have fun as Politico’s Glenn Thrush is caught by Wikileaks referring to himself as a hack to John Podesta and asking Podesta not to tell anyone Thrush allowed him to look over his story and make changes.