An underreported story today comes amid the resignation of Stacia Hylton, the head of the U.S. Marshals Service. The timing of the resignation could not be more transparently tied to a growing investigation into domestic surveillance programs operated without oversight, and potentially unconstitutional.
For the past several years stories have been quietly surfacing about the USMS using stealth cell phone captures via drone and fixed unit operations known as “Stingray Devices”.
Stingray technology secretly captures cell phone communication, data, voice and text from users without their knowledge.
In addition the USMS has recently been outlined using Automatic License Plate Reading (ALPR) technology to track movements of people driving. Both programs track every American and are not related specifically to investigative foundations.
More alarmingly, neither domestic surveillance program has any oversight, and many people argue such monitoring possesses an even greater threat to liberty than the controversial NSA programs. Congress is now investigating the entire construct of the programs.
Against this backdrop today the head of the U.S.M.S. announces her resignation.
[the USMS] … has come under new pressure from Congress in recent months, on the heels of separate revelations about its secret use of surveillance devices that scoop up information from people’s cellphones and possible misconduct in hiring and spending money.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been one of the most vocal critics of the apparent misuse of money and employment quid pro quos within the agency, which sits under the umbrella of the Department of Justice.
“It’s never good news when the head of an agency needs to step aside in the midst of these kinds of allegations, and it also doesn’t mean the investigations are complete,” he said in a statement on Tuesday, after the announcement from the Marshals Service.
“As the Marshals Service moves forward, the next director must be committed to bringing real, positive change to what appears to be a culture corroded by unethical hiring practices, misuse of funds and retaliation against whistleblowers.”
Grassley’s committee has begun an investigation into the possible abuse which might continue past Hylton’s tenure, he said. (more)