Over the years, I have learned a couple of things, some of them very important, some not so much. I’ve learned from both experience and observation. One of the more important things I learned that prosecutors very rarely ask a witness a question they don’t already have the answer. It’s pretty much the same with …
Tag Archive: FBI
In an article by The Guardian‘s national security editor, Spencer Ackermann, reveals just how deep some of the agents within the FBI resent Clinton. It has now grown to fever pitch since FBI Director James Comey refused to recommend Secretary Clinton not be indicted for whatever crimes they believed she might have committed. Their problem …
Up Date: 11/1/2016, 16:30 According to Pro Puclica, an ethics complaint has been filed against Rep. Jason Chafetz (R-UT) for releasing information provided to him by FBI Director Comey. Representative Chaffetz, in an ill-planned partisan attempt, released information that compromised the integrity of the FBI, when he irresponsibly tweeted out that the case investigating Secretary …
President Barack Obama became the first president to address the annual technology and music festival, South by South West (SXSW), in Austin, Texas. Without mentioning the FBI’s battle with Apple over access to an encrypted i-Phone, his attempt at “healing the rift” between the tech industry and the government fell more than flat and he …
After 40 days and several hours of negotiation with the last militant, that could be heard on a YouTube livestream, the illegal occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has peacefully ended. The last four holdouts in the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon surrendered peacefully Thursday morning, 40 days after the …
The armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by a group of white terrorists from other state has entered its second week with no clear end in site. The FBI, who took over operations, has so far done nothing, allowing these heavily armed men freedom to come and go as they please and destroy …
Last night a 59 year old white man with a criminal record and history of mental illness entered a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, killed two people wounded nine others before turning the gun on himself.
In the search for a motive, what police are now being found out about this man are quite disturbing. It put into question gun control and the lack of focus by law enforcement on America’s white supremacists.
Houser has allegedly posted messages to numerous online forums, suggesting that he held extreme right-wing views and sympathized with white supremacists. It cannot be independently confirmed that these online postings were made by Houser himself before the shooting. The postings on politicalforums.com seem to match based on his age and location. There is less to connect Houser to the postings on Twitter and Golden Dawn that are cited below by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
An individual who went by “John Russell Houser” created a profile on politicalforums.com, on which he included the phrases “believe media/gov’t censoring” and “believe US will be MAD MAX < 5 years.” Under the “Family” category, Houser wrote that “no family safe in US environment.” The profile identified the user as a 59-year-old male residing in Phenix City. [..]
An individual who used the username “Rusty Houser” also posted comments on a forum for Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi political party in Greece, as the Southern Poverty Law Center noted.
“Do not mistake yourselves for one minute, the enemy sees all posted on this website. I do not want to discourage the last hope for the best, but you must realize the power of the lone wolf, is the power that can come forth in ALL situations.Look within yourselves,” he wrote in one comment.
He also made racist comments in comments on the Golden Dawn forum. [..]
An individual who went by the name Rusty Houser posted on usmessageboard.com that, “Hitler accomplished far more than any other,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
And a Twitter handle for “john russell houser” published messages about the Westboro Baptist Church and censorship. [..]
Houser also served as the guest host on the “Rise and Shine” show on the Columbus, Ga. television station WLTZ, where he “invited political controversy on every one of them, and loved every minute of it,” according to LinkedIn. A former host for the station confirmed to the Associated Press that Houser appeared on his show, where he allegedly advocated for people to commit violence against those involved in abortion.
Houser has a criminal record — he was arrested for arson and selling alcohol to minors, but he had not had any run-ins with law enforcement in the past few years, according to police.
CNN reported that Houser was denied a conceal carry permit in 2006 and was treated for mental health issues in 2008 and 2009. The suspect’s wife sought a restraining order against Houser in 2008 because he “exhibited extreme erratic behavior and has made ominous as well as disturbing statements,” according to the Associated Press.
So, how and where did he get a gun? Why wasn’t this man targeted by law enforcement as a possible threat? Was it because he wasn’t Muslim?
The news that keep getting ignored by the media, law enforcement and our elected officials is that people are more likely to be killed or injured by angry white man than they are by a Muslim jihadist.
In the 14 years since Al Qaeda carried out attacks on New York and the Pentagon, extremists have regularly executed smaller lethal assaults in the United States, explaining their motives in online manifestoes or social media rants.
But the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.
The slaying of nine African-Americans in a Charleston church last week, with an avowed white supremacist charged with their murders, was a particularly savage case.
But it is only the latest in a string of lethal attacks by people espousing racial hatred, hostility to government and theories such as those of the “sovereign citizen” movement, which denies the legitimacy of most statutory law. The assaults have taken the lives of police officers, members of racial or religious minorities and random civilians.
It’s time this is put in their proper perspectives and start keeping America safe from its homegrown terrorists.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced a 33 count indictment against Dylann Roof on federal hate-crime charges for the June 17 killing of nine African American worshipers in Charleston, South Carolina This leaves a bigger question that was asked by Jenna McLaughlin at “The Intercept,” why wasn’t Roof charged with terrorism?
Some media outlets, lawyers, public figures and activists have called for Roof to be charged not just with a hate crime, an illegal act “motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias,” but with the separate label of domestic terrorism. Critics contend that the label of terrorism is too often only applied to Islamic extremists, and not white supremacists or anti-government anarchists. Many were outraged after FBI Director James Comey balked at the term during a June 20 press conference, telling reporters he didn’t see the murders “as a political act,” a requirement he designated as necessary for terrorism.
Roof’s crime certainly seems to fit the federal description of domestic terrorism, which the FBI defines as “activities … [that] involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law … appear intended to (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population, (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.” [..]
It turns out there was one major obstacle in charging Roof with domestic terrorism: The crime does not exist. [..]
Even when the USA Patriot Act, post 9/11, redefined terrorism to include domestic crimes, the provision simply allowed the government to investigate more broadly what it called “terrorism.” Actually charging someone with domestic terrorism remains a separate matter. Even criminals who use bombs or send money to ISIS – or Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – are not charged with the crime of terrorism. [..]
But shootings, regardless of motivation, intention or number of deaths, likely don’t count. “It doesn’t seem like a shooting would fit,” says Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “Or else a lot of crime would get caught up” in the terrorism net, she tells me.
There are, however, “aggravating factors” to be considered during sentencing, which prosecutors usually list on a formal indictment, and which can be used to determine whether the death penalty is justified, and those include “substantial planning and premeditation,” to”cause the death of a person” or “commit an act of terrorism.”
In Roof’s case, the DOJ did not mention terrorism as an aggravating factor, but did reference (pdf) “substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person” for several of his charges.[..]
Lynch did not explain why “terrorism” was not listed as an aggravating factor in Roof’s indictment, though she did emphasize that the DOJ views hate crimes as “the original domestic terrorism.” She noted that Roof’s case, including his “discriminatory views towards African Americans” and his decision to target “parishioners at worship,” made his crime a clear-cut case of a federal hate crime. [..]
Lynch was asked whether or not there should be a federal domestic terrorism penalty to help bridge the gap between crimes like the shooting of five military personnel in Chatanooga, Tennessee – which was immediately branded as terrorism, by law enforcement and media alike – and Roof’s case, which was not. Lynch acknowledged the argument that leaving out the word terrorism may cause people to feel like the government “doesn’t consider those crimes as serious.”
Ms. McLaughlin is incorrect in her statement that “domestic terrorism” does not exist in the law. This FBI’s definition of 18 U.S.C. § 2331 which defines “international terrorism” and “domestic terrorism” for purposes of Chapter 113B of the Code, entitled “Terrorism”:
“International terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:
Involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
Appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
Occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.*
“Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:
Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
18 U.S.C. § 2332b defines the term “federal crime of terrorism” as an offense that:
Is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and
Is a violation of one of several listed statutes, including § 930(c) (relating to killing or attempted killing during an attack on a federal facility with a dangerous weapon); and § 1114 (relating to killing or attempted killing of officers and employees of the U.S.)
And just as a note, to those in this piece who don’t think that guns are not “dangerous weapons,” well, they are
By his own statement and the fact that Rev. Clementa Pinckney was an elected state official, Dylann Roof’s acts, under this definition, is clearly an act of terrorism.
The argument against the charge of terrorism by a young white man who was clearly influenced by the politics of racial hatred is specious. It is clearly indicative of the Obama administration and its Justice Department think that black lives do not matter as much as instilling the fear in US citizens of attacks by those who have been influenced by Islamic extremism. Racism is political and it is an extremist view and it is endemic in this country. it is long past time that the law is brought down to bear on the greater threat that racism is to Americans and our democracy.
Torture authorizer and current FBI director, James Comey trotted out the latest “bogeyman” to justify unlocking encryption of private digital messages: ISIS. Apparently trying to scare people with kidnappers and child abusers failed.
(In) a preview of his appearance Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey is playing the ISIS card, saying that it is becoming impossible for the FBI to stop their recruitment and planned attacks. (He uses an alternate acronym, ISIL, for the Islamic State.)
“The current ISIL threat… involves ISIL operators in Syria recruiting and tasking dozens of troubled Americans to kill people, a process that increasingly takes part through mobile messaging apps that are end-to-end encrypted, communications that may not be intercepted, despite judicial orders under the Fourth Amendment,” Comey wrote on Monday in a blog post on the pro-surveillance website Lawfare.
While providing no specific, independently confirmable examples, Comey has claimed that FBI agents are currently encountering problems because of encrypted communications as they track potential ISIS sympathizers and radicals.
Comey has long argued that sophisticated encryption technology being implemented by tech giants, including Google and Apple, will make it harder and harder for the FBI to track its targets. Encryption scrambles the contents of digital communications, making it impossible for users without the “key” to read messages in plain language.
The major problem with Comey’s argument, giving law enforcement a backdoor key to private encrypted communications, would be an open door for hackers and criminals.
On Tuesday, the group – 13 of the world’s pre-eminent cryptographers, computer scientists and security specialists – released the paper (pdf), which concludes there is no viable technical solution that would allow the American and British governments to gain “exceptional access” to encrypted communications without putting the world’s most confidential data and critical infrastructure in danger. [..]
The authors of the report said such fears did not justify putting the world’s digital communications at risk. Given the inherent vulnerabilities of the Internet, they argued, reducing encryption is not an option. Handing governments a key to encrypted communications would also require an extraordinary degree of trust. With government agency breaches now the norm – most recently at the United States Office of Personnel Management, the State Department and the White House – the security specialists said authorities cannot be trusted to keep such keys safe from hackers and criminals. They added that if the United States and Britain mandated backdoor keys to communications, it would spur China and other governments in foreign markets to do the same.
Twenty years ago, law enforcement organizations lobbied to require data and communication services to engineer their products to guarantee law enforcement access to all data. After lengthy debate and vigorous predictions of enforcement channels going dark, these attempts to regulate the emerging Internet were abandoned. In the intervening years, innovation on the Internet flourished, and law enforcement agencies found new and more effective means of accessing vastly larger quantities of data. Today we are again hearing calls for regulation to mandate the provision of exceptional access mechanisms. In this report, a group of computer scientists and security experts, many of whom participated in a 1997 study of these same topics, has convened to explore the likely effects of imposing extraordinary access mandates. We have found that the damage that could be caused by law enforcement exceptional access requirements would be even greater today than it would have been 20 years ago. In the wake of the growing economic and social cost of the fundamental insecurity of today’s Internet environment, any proposals that alter the security dynamics online should be approached with caution. Exceptional access would force Internet system developers to reverse forward secrecy design practices that seek to minimize the impact on user privacy when systems are breached. The complexity of today’s Internet environment, with millions of apps and globally connected services, means that new law enforcement requirements are likely to introduce unanticipated, hard to detect security flaws. Beyond these and other technical vulnerabilities, the prospect of globally deployed exceptional access systems raises difficult problems about how such an environment would be governed and how to ensure that such systems would respect human rights and the rule of law.
This was a bad idea in 1997 and still a bad idea today.
The Federal Bureaus of Investigation has been in the news lately for a couple of reasons and none of it very good. The FBI sting operations, which on a whole dubious since it most often involves entrapment, have not actually infiltrated criminal enterprises or terrorist plots. In other words, the vast majority of the victims of FBI stings are the vulnerable who are disenfranchised or mentally unstable who have neither the means or mental capability to even hatch a plot or be a real threat.
The FBI Informant Who Mounted a Sting Operation Against the FBI
By Trevor Aaronson, The Intercept
When you’re introduced to Saeed Torres in the new documentary (T)ERROR, you hear him bickering with the filmmaker, Lyric Cabral. The screen is black. [..]
The blackness lifts. Torres is dressed in a chef’s apron and a white headscarf, making hot dogs at an amateur basketball game, as if he were an all-American guy. [..]
Torres isn’t an all-American guy. He’s an FBI informant, one of more than 15,000 domestic spies who make up the largest surveillance network ever created in the United States. During J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO operations, the bureau had just 1,500 informants. The drug war brought that number up to about 6,000. After 9/11, the bureau recruited so many new informants – many of them crooks and convicts, desperate for money or leniency on previous crimes – that the government had to develop software to help agents track their spies. [..]
Informants represent the manpower behind the FBI’s controversial stings, which are intended to find would-be terrorists before they attack. In the decade after 9/11, 158 defendants were prosecuted following these undercover operations, which are usually led by an informant and provide the means and opportunity for someone to attempt to commit an act of terrorism. A Human Rights Watch report in 2014 criticized the FBI for targeting “particularly vulnerable people, including those with intellectual and mental disabilities and the indigent.” Late last week, for example, the FBI arrested a mentally troubled 20-year-old in Topeka, Kansas, after he allegedly attempted to bomb Fort Riley with the help of two undercover FBI informants.
While there are more than 15,000 FBI informants, most are low-level operatives who provide scraps of information or tips about people in their community. Only a few of them at any time are high-level operators like Torres – professional liars who travel the country as agents provocateur in elaborate stings. [..]
There’s no shortage of embarrassing moments for the FBI in its dozens of counterterrorism stings since 9/11. In Boston, an FBI informant who was working a counterterrorism case was caught on an FBI camera purchasing heroin, which wasn’t part of his assignment. In case after case, the FBI experiences so-called “recorder malfunctions” – usually at the most unfortunate time for the defendant, such as at the very beginning of the sting or, as in an operation involving a Baltimore teenager, when the target was attempting to back out of the plot. More recently, FBI agents accidentally recorded themselves calling the subject of their undercover investigation a “retarded fool” whose terrorist ambitions were “wishy-washy.”
Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman interviews the independent documentary filmmakers, Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe, who co-directed the documentary film (T)Error. Along with Steve Downs, executive director of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, Khalifah al-Akili, a Muslim-American victim of an FBI sting from Pittsburgh, and Marlene, mother of Tarik Shah, who was arrested in 2005 after a joint FBI-NYPD sting operation, they discuss these oprations.
Transcript can be read here.