Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Research for June 1st

If you'd like to research a topic related to the course material on your own, please feel free.

If you're interested in the Warrantless Wiretapping Program that was conducted throughout 2001-2005, there are a variety of links below related to this story.

There's an article in The New Yorker from last week about the wiretapping program:
"The Secret Sharer"

Option 1:

Visit the Wikipedia sites listed below

President's Surveillance Program

NSA Call Database

NSA Electronic Surveillance Program

Consider the information in terms of what we've explored previously.
What are some similarities and differences between these activities and those exposed by the Church Committee in the 1970s.

There is A LOT of information here - explore it some, check out some of the links that appear interesting and try to make sense of it to discuss on Friday.

Option 2:

Visit the websites below and consider the story of Brandon Mayfield, an Oregonian who was arrested and held in jail as a material witness in the Madrid train bombings of 2004.

Wikipedia site for Brandon Mayfield

Wikipedia site on National Security Letters

The next two sites are from a website run by Daniel Pipes who is a historian, commentator and associated with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

"If you are Muslim, you are suspect"

"More reasons for Brandon Mayfield's incarceration"

Next is an AP article detailing the dismissal of charges against Mayfield

Court dismisses case against Mayfield

Last is an article from the NYTimes detailing the judges ruling parts of the Patriot Act illegal

Judge Rules Provisions in Patriot Act Illegal

Consider the information in the different pieces of the story above and be prepared on Friday to talk to class about this situation.

Option 3:

Explore the story of the al-Haramain Islamic charity that was accused by the Bush administration of directing their money to terrorist organizations.

From Wired magazine

The story of the misplaced classified document

More from the story and some background on the Bush Justice Department's involvement

After the warrantless surveillance became public, over 50 lawsuits were filed against the phone companies that supplied the government with their customer's raw data.

Info on the FISA Amendments Act of 2008

Information on the Electronic Freedon Frontier's case against the government

Judge's opinion with background information

Information related to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Class work for May 11th

In Mark Pesce's video that we watched on Monday, he talked about the RateMyProfessors web site and the way that it allowed students to share their classroom experiences with other students and helped to create a better educational experience.

He also talked about the growth of online education.

We're going to explore these ideas today and then plan to talk about them in class on Friday.

So, one thing you can do is to choose a college you'd like to attend or you can choose to look at a course here at Clatsop that you haven't taken yet, but would like to.

I'll list some of the 4-year schools in the Pacific Northwest below:

Class schedule for Oregon State University for 2011

Class schedule for University of Oregon for 2011

Class schedule for Portland State University for 2011

Class schedule for Western Oregon University for 2011

Class schedule for Oregon Institute of Technology for 2011

Class schedule for University of Washington for 2011

Class schedule for Washington State University for 2011 (various campuses)

If you don't see a school you're interested in listed, it usually isn't too hard to search out their course listings.

So, find a class you'd like to take and find the name of a professor who teaches that class.

Then, go to and look up the ratings for the professor you chose. Do you still want to take the class? Why or why not?

On-line Education

Mark Pesce also talked about the growth of online education. Specifically, he mentioned

Here is a link to the StraighterLine website.

StraighterLine is not listed at RateMy Professors, but I did find some forum discussions here about the classes offered by StraighterLine.

I also found a few opinion pieces about StrighterLine -

From an English professor at the State University of NewYork - Buffalo

From eCampus News

From techdirt

Here are links for some other web-based educational companies.

Capella University

Some reviews of the educational experience at Capella

Kaplan University - connected with the Kaplan Tutoring company and owned by the Washington Post.

University of Phoenix

Gatlin Education Services

Look at some of the course offerings, pricing and how each different company organizes their system.

Some of these online educational services have been criticized for the level of student loan default that occurs at their schools. An article from (a joint effort between the Phoenix NBC station, the Arizona Republic newspaper and La Voz spanish language newspaper) talks about the University of Phoenix paying recruiters to enroll new students. The idea here is that the recruiters were signing up students who weren't prepared for classes and so the students ended up dropping out and then defaulting on their loans:

Recruiting allegations

For-profit schools have been dogged for years by complaints that they use aggressive recruiting and misleading information to entice students to enroll. Some schools have paid recruiters according to the number of people they sign up. That has led to claims that students are being admitted who are more likely to drop out, never get degrees and default on their loans.

In February, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said it found violations of incentive compensation rules at 32 schools, mostly for-profits, from 1998 to 2009. That included a 2009 case in South Carolina where the school paid bonuses of $52,500 to 17 employees.

Arizona has had its share of allegations of recruiting violations.

In 2004, a federal review of the University of Phoenix depicted a school hungry to enroll new students. The review said the school threatened and intimidated its recruiters in meetings and e-mails, pressuring them to enroll unqualified students. The university strongly disputed the findings. The school's parent company, Apollo Group Inc., later settled the matter for $9.8 million without admitting wrongdoing.

In December, the University of Phoenix settled a whistleblower lawsuit in federal court for $78.5 million over recruiter-pay practices. Two former enrollment counselors sued in 2004, alleging the school defrauded the government of billions of dollars in financial aid and violated federal law by paying recruiters based on enrollment. The company said the pay practices were legal because enrollment was not the sole determinant. The university did not admit any wrongdoing.

Barron's (the financial weekly published by Dow Jones Inc.) also reported on a Department of Education investigation of Kaplan University:

THE WASHINGTON POST COVERS government agencies as closely as any daily newspaper. Yet an investor would have had to scroll through the Washington Post Co.'s (WPO) 10-K filing last week to see news of a Department of Education inquiry into its important education unit.

The Post's education business, anchored by the Kaplan for-profit college and test-prep businesses, contributed 58% of 2009's revenue and all of its $195 million of operating income.

Within that operation, all the growth is from the "higher education" segment, where revenue grew 33% in 2009 and operating income grew almost 60%, to $275 million. Higher education enrollment last year grew 32%, online enrollment 47%.

Outcomes at Kaplan higher-ed, however, don't compare impressively with other for-profit education enterprises. The online Kaplan University segment (about half of the higher-ed unit's revenues) gets 87.5% of its receipts from some $780 million worth of government student aid. That's close to the federal program's 90% limit, and higher than many other for-profits.

Student-loan default rates are one inverse measure of the benefit received by students. Kaplan higher-ed's numbers have been getting worse. In the first two years after graduation, defaults at four of the school's 33 reporting units were above 25%, which is the level at which they are at risk of Department of Education sanctions. At the online Kaplan University, defaults rose from 6% for 2005 grads to 13% for 2007 grads, with preliminary numbers for 2008 worse, around 16%.

Most intriguing in the 10-K is the passing (and first) mention that the Education Department has been conducting a "Program Review" of Kaplan University's main offices in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., since September. The Post business desk seemed not to notice any of this, but Post investors might want to.

I think the point here is not that online education is bad, but that students should be aware of what they're getting into before paying (or borrowing) their money.

Government Spending

Here is a link to the website Maek Pesce was describing in the video. Check out some places where the money is being spent. You can check for the zip code 97103 (or others) and where the money is being spent locally. Is the information helpful? Are there other websites you can find that promote transparency in government?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Work for Monday April 25th

Option I

Go to the website

This is a collection of partially redacted FBI files for various Americans. The video we watched mentioned that the FBI followed Eleanor Roosevelt and maintained a file on her life and activities. This collection includes her file as well as many others.

Each person in the group should choose at least two people on the list and explore their files. Consider each of the following:

How much of the file is redacted?

Does this person appear to be engaged in illegal activity?

If so, what is it?

If not, why do you think the FBI maintained the file?

Option II

The website contains information about surveillance from different periods of American history.

Look through the information. Look in depth at at least one of these eras and familiarize yourself with the events that are described.

Also compare the eras to each other and consider what has or hasn't changed over time.

Look at who was president during each time period and which political party they represented. Is this a partisan issue? - that is, is one party better or worse than the other when it comes to surveillance and domestic intelligence activities?

Option III

Use the website,21428,c_secret_wiretaps,00.shtml

Read through some of the Time magazine articles related to privacy and wiretapping.

1) What are some of the common issues raised over the years?

2) What attitudes about wiretapping and surveillance are expressed by the people quoted in the articles?

3) How do the issues change over the years between 1928 and 1978?

Summary of Info from this past week

In class this week, we talked about some of the history of wiretapping and eavesdropping in the US between the Olmstead decision in 1928 and the FISA law in 1978.

Here is an interesting memo from the US Senate summarizing much of what we talked about.

There is also a good summary at this web-site for a course at University of North Carolina Law School.

I thought that it would be helpful to organize what we talked about in class and link to some websites that provide additional information on these topics.

Olmstead v. US (1928)
This was the case in which Justice Louis Brandeis wrote his dissenting opinion on the "right to be let alone."

Federal Communications Act of 1934
This is the act that made it illegal to intercept and divulge wire communications. There was no consideration of wireless communications or bugging, because the technology for these wasn't available yet.

Nardone v. US (1939)
Determined that wiretaps by federal agents were illegal under the FCA of 1934.

Silverman v. US (1961)
Decided that a listening device that invades the structure of a building is a violation of the 4th amendment.

Katz v. US (1967)
Determined that all wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping violate the 4th amendment.

This last decision resulted in the Congress passing the

Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Act of 1968

This law made it legal for law enforcement agents to eavesdrop and/or wiretap provided that these activities had been ok'd by the court.

Lawrence Plamondon case of 1972
In this case, it was determined that federal agents had used wiretaps without warrants.

Watergate Scandal
A break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. turned out to have been a plan to plant a bug in the office of the Chairman of the DNC. The break-in was directed by the Committee to Re-Elect the President, and consequently, by President Nixon himself. Nixon resigned two years later, in August of 1974.

This led to the
Church Committee
A Senate Committee chaired by Senator Frank Church of Idaho. The final report of the Church Committee is here. (This document is about 45 pages of text with 25 pages of footnotes.)

The Church Committee recommended that Congress pass another statute dealing with wiretapping in relation to national security. This law is known as the

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
This act was established to control and delineate eavesdropping and wiretapping activities by law enforcement in the interests of national security.

We'll pick this history up again in a few weeks and examine the period from 1978-2008.

Video Links

Here are the links for the videos we watched in class today:

J. Edgar Hoover
This is taken from the A&E Biography J. Edgar Hoover: Personal and Confidential

The Church Committee
The full 1.5 hr C-SPAN program is here.