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CIA used pirated, inaccurate software to target drone attacks: lawsuit

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‘They want to kill people with my software that doesn’t work,’ software exec tells court

The CIA used illegally pirated software to direct Predator drone attacks, despite apparently knowing the software was inaccurate, according to documents in an intellectual property lawsuit.

The lawsuit, working its way through a Massachusetts court, alleges that the CIA purchased a pirated and inaccurate version of a location analysis program, which may have incorrectly located targets by as much as 42 feet.

The allegation raises fresh questions about the CIA’s execution of drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are believed to have killed hundreds of civilians in the past four years.

And if the court decides to grant an injunction against users of the software, it could potentially halt the CIA’s drone attacks, at least temporarily, as the agency works to find a replacement.

Massachusetts-based Intelligent Integration Systems Inc., or IISI, has asked a judge to stop clients of IT firm Netezza from using software IISI says is pirated, reports The Register.

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According to IISI, Netezza reverse-engineered a location analysis program called Geospatial and installed it on its own hardware, which it then sold to the CIA. Netezza had contracted IISI to build the software, but decided to create its own unauthorized version after the project suffered delays, the lawsuit alleges.

The CIA accepted the pirated software despite reportedly knowing it “produced locations inaccurate by up to 13 metres (42.6 feet),” reports The Register.

In a sworn deposition, IISI chief technical officer Richard Zimmerman said a Netezza executive pressured him to deliver the product before it was ready and told him it was their “patriotic duty” to build location software for CIA-operated drones.

Another Netezza executive reportedly asserted that the CIA would accept flawed software. “My reaction was one of stun, amazement that they want to kill people with my software that doesn’t work,” Zimmerman said.

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According to court documents, Netezza delivered its reverse-engineered software to the CIA in 2009.

“The potential for a software malfunction to cause serious havoc with an unmanned aerial vehicle, such as a Predator Drone, is no longer a matter of pure theory,” writes Bill Conroy at NarcoNews. “Last month a Navy drone entered the airspace of the nation’s Capitol after being out of control for a half hour due to what the Navy called a ‘software issue.’

“If the CIA is using flawed software re-engineered by Netezza ‘to target predator drones in Afghanistan,’ as IISI’s pleadings in the lawsuit assert, then it is likely only a matter of time before innocent lives are compromised due to a ‘software issue.’ In that sense, IISI’s motion for a preliminary junction, if successful, could be seen as a lifesaver,” Conroy argues.

Last year, the New American Foundation estimated that Predator drones killed 750 to 1,000 people in Pakistan between 2006 and 2009. About one third — an estimated 320 people — were believed to be civilians.

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Hope Hicks told Congress that Trump has cut her out of his life — he virtually never calls her anymore

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Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks was broadly considered to be one of President Donald Trump's favorite staffers.

But when she left the administration in 2018, the president virtually cut off ties to her, and has only spoken with her five times since then, according to the transcript of the closed-door hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday:

In her interview, Hope Hicks says she has only spoken to Trump between five and ten times since she left the White House in February 2018. (He used to call that much in a day.) They last spoke in April, when they had dinner. Our story from yesterday:https://t.co/3gzVY21c3z pic.twitter.com/VMZqhnbgib

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Hope Hicks called Trump’s plan for Jeff Sessions ‘odd’ — but White House lawyers blocked her from elaborating why

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By all accounts, ex-White House Communications Director Hope Hicks was not particularly forthcoming in her interview with the House Judiciary Committee — but according to the 273-page transcript of the closed-door hearing released on Thursday, she did begin to discuss a key point at which President Donald Trump potentially obstructed justice — until White House lawyers sitting with her intervened.

CNN's Manu Raju explained the details to Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room."

"She did answer some questions about her time in the campaign season, and at one point did make one reference to something that later became a dispute," said Raju. "She was asked about the details in the Mueller report in which the president tried to get Jeff Sessions, the then-Attorney General, to un-recuse himself, to go back and oversee the Russia investigation after he had stepped aside from overseeing it."

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Elections regulator warns foreign intrusion into US campaigns is already happening

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In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Federal Elections Commission is warning that there is already foreign intrusion in the U.S. campaigns.

FEC chair Ellen L. Weintraub was forced to issue a statement after President Donald Trump said that he wasn't sure what he would do if a foreign government approached him with "dirt" on his political opponent. He said that he "might" tell the FBI but would likely hear what they had to say. He said that it wasn't illegal, but Weintraub issued a statement reiterating that it is illegal.

"I am particularly concerned about the risk of illicit funds and foreign support influencing our political system. Foreign dark money represents a significant vulnerability for American democracy. We do not know the extent to which our political campaigns receive foreign dark money, but we do know that the political money can be weaponized by well-funded hostile powers," the letter warned.

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