Category Archives: FBI

The FBI’s Secret Rules

The Intercept writes in the introduction to its series on the FBI:

Image result for The FBI’s Secret RulesPresident Trump has inherited a vast domestic intelligence agency with extraordinary secret powers. A cache of documents offers a rare window into the FBI’s quiet expansion since 9/11.

After the famous Church Committee hearings in the 1970s exposed the FBI’s wild overreach, reforms were enacted to protect civil liberties. But in recent years, the bureau has substantially revised those rules with very little public scrutiny. That’s why The Intercept is publishing this special package of articles based on three internal FBI manuals that we exclusively obtained.

These stories illuminate how the FBI views its authority to assess terrorism suspects, recruit informants, spy on university organizations, infiltrate online chat rooms, peer through the walls of private homes, and more. 

In addition to the articles collected here — which include nine new pieces and two that we previously published based on the same source material — we have annotated the manuals to highlight what we found most newsworthy in them.  We redacted the sections that could be used to identify individuals or systems for the purpose of causing harm. We’re presenting the stories alongside the manuals because we believe the public has a right to know how the U.S. government’s leading domestic law enforcement agency understands and wields its enormous power.

READ MORE…

FBI May Have Been Investigating Trump When Comey Announced New Clinton Emails

Jason Leopold reports for Vice News:

Image result for FBI May Have Been Investigating Trump When Comey Announced New Clinton EmailsJust 11 days before the U.S. presidential election, FBI Director James Comey wrote a letter to Congress letting them know that the agency had found additional emails that “appear to be pertinent” to its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

It was extremely unusual for the bureau to be so forthcoming about an investigation, and the move drew harsh criticism from both Democrats and Republicans who accused Comey of deliberately trying to turn the election in Trump’s favor.

Ten days after the election, the FBI responded to a longstanding VICE News Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, revealing that the bureau may very well have been investigating Donald Trump, too.

READ MORE…

If Hillary Wins, She’ll Be Grateful for Comey’s Move

Ryan Lizza reports for The New Yorker:

[…] The statements and actions of Obama, Lynch, and Bill Clinton are necessary to understand the context of Comey’s unusual decision this week to break with long-standing Department of Justice procedures about not taking actions or making public disclosures that could affect an election.

We now know that there was an internal debate at the Justice Department about whether to make any disclosure. Investigators reportedly found the e-mails on a laptop belonging to the former Congressman Anthony Weiner that was shared with his now estranged wife Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide. An F.B.I. investigative team briefed Comey on the findings on Thursday, and he authorized them to take the necessary steps—presumably including seeking court permission—to look at the e-mails. In September, when the F.B.I. issued a subpoena for Weiner’s cell phone, the news immediately leaked. It is almost certain that the agency’s search of Weiner’s laptop for Clinton-related e-mails would also have leaked.

Comey decided that given the near certainty of a leak, and given the fact that he had previously testified that his investigation was completed, it was better to disclose the new development to Congress than not. “Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations,” he wrote in a letter to F.B.I. employees on Friday, “but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.” Obama and Lynch’s previous actions made Comey’s decision more likely.

READ MORE…

Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia

Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers report for The New York Times:

For much of the summer, the F.B.I. pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead — which they ultimately came to doubt — about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.

Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, F.B.I. and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump.

Hillary Clinton’s supporters, angry over what they regard as a lack of scrutiny of Mr. Trump by law enforcement officials, pushed for these investigations. In recent days they have also demanded that James B. Comey, the director of the F.B.I., discuss them publicly, as he did last week when he announced that a new batch of emails possibly connected to Mrs. Clinton had been discovered.

READ MORE…

Forget the FBI Cache, the Podesta Emails Show How America Is Run

Thomas Frank writes for The Guardian:

Image result for Podesta EmailsThe emails currently roiling the US presidential campaign are part of some unknown digital collection amassed by the troublesome Anthony Weiner, but if your purpose is to understand the clique of people who dominate Washington today, the emails that really matter are the ones being slowly released by WikiLeaks from the hacked account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta. They are last week’s scandal in a year running over with scandals, but in truth their significance goes far beyond mere scandal: they are a window into the soul of the Democratic party and into the dreams and thoughts of the class to whom the party answers.

The class to which I refer is not rising in angry protest; they are by and large pretty satisfied, pretty contented. Nobody takes road trips to exotic West Virginia to see what the members of this class looks like or how they live; on the contrary, they are the ones for whom such stories are written. This bunch doesn’t have to make do with a comb-over TV mountebank for a leader; for this class, the choices are always pretty good, and this year they happen to be excellent.

They are the comfortable and well-educated mainstay of our modern Democratic party. They are also the grandees of our national media; the architects of our software; the designers of our streets; the high officials of our banking system; the authors of just about every plan to fix social security or fine-tune the Middle East with precision droning. They are, they think, not a class at all but rather the enlightened ones, the people who must be answered to but who need never explain themselves.

READ MORE…

FBI Director James Comey Has Been Abusing His Power For Years

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

Image result for FBI Director James ComeyFBI director James Comey set off a torrent of criticism late last week when he directly inserted himself into the presidential campaign with a vague letter to Congress about the reopening of Clinton email case. His conduct has shocked many observers across the political spectrum, but the only thing truly surprising about this episode is that people are only now realizing how power-hungry and dangerous Comey actually is.

During his stints in the Bush and Obama administration Comey has continually taken authoritarian and factually dubious public stances both at odds with responsible public policy and sometimes the law. The Clinton case is not an aberration, it’s part of a clear pattern.

Liberals were once enthralled when Obama appointed the Republican as FBI chief in 2013. They talked about Comey as if he was above reproach because of his role as acting attorney general under George W Bush, when he threatened to resign over an aspect of the president’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program.

READ MORE…

FBI says foreign hackers penetrated U.S. state election systems

Michael Isikoff reports for Yahoo! News:

The FBI has uncovered evidence that foreign hackers penetrated two state election databases in recent weeks, prompting the bureau to warn election officials across the country to take new steps to enhance the security of their computer systems, according to federal and state law enforcement officials.

The FBI warning, contained in a “flash” alert from the FBI’s Cyber Division, a copy of which was obtained by Yahoo News, comes amid heightened concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about the possibility of cyberintrusions, potentially by Russian state-sponsored hackers, aimed at disrupting the November elections.

Those concerns prompted Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to convene a conference call with state election officials on Aug. 15, in which he offered his department’s help to make state voting systems more secure, including providing federal cybersecurity experts to scan for vulnerabilities, according to a “readout” of the call released by the department.

READ MORE…

Hillary Clinton Lies About Emails, Again

Dan Wright reports for Shadow Proof:

In one of her first post-convention interviews, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Fox News Anchor Chris Wallace that “[FBI] Director Comey said my answers [regarding the email scandal] were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.”

This is flatly not true and, more to the point, Hillary Clinton knows it is flatly not true.

Even the Clinton-friendly Washington Post said Clinton lied and gave her “Four Pinocchios,” the worst rating. FBI Director Comey made it crystal clear he did not agree with Clinton’s statements or narrative on how she handled classified emails, both in his press conference and before Congress.

READ MORE…

FBI, Police ‘Visited’ Activists’ Homes Ahead of the Republican National Convention

Peter Van Buren writes:

knockIn another step towards the fascist state Donald Trump has warm dreams envisioning, FBI agents and Cleveland police officers “visited” the homes of local activists in an attempt to gather intelligence on possible planned demonstrations surrounding the Republican National Convention. Such actions step over the line of information gathering into the realm of seeking to chill free speech.

Activists said they viewed the visits as intimidating. A spokeswoman for the local branch of the FBI acknowledged only that “community outreach” took place as law enforcement officials try to ensure the GOP convention is a “safe and secure” event. During their visits, officials asked activists about past addresses, political and social affiliations, and plans for the RNC. The questions appear on their face of dubious constitutionality.

A spokesperson for the National Lawyer’s Guild, a group prepared to defend those arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights outside the convention, first reported the visits by teams of federal and local law enforcement officials.

READ MORE…

The FBI has collected 430,000 iris scans in a so-called ‘pilot program’

Colin Lecher and Russell Brandom report for The Verge:

As a modestly sized department — policing 2 million citizens with just over 1,800 sworn officers — the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department doesn’t seem like it would be on the cutting edge of surveillance technology. But the department has quietly become one of the most productive nodes in a nationwide iris-scanning project, collecting iris data from at least 200,000 arrestees over the last two and a half years, according to documents obtained by The Verge. In the early months of 2016, the department was collecting an average of 189 iris scans each day.

San Bernardino’s activity is part of a larger pilot program organized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, one that began as a simple test of available technology but has quietly grown into something far more ambitious. Since its launch in 2013, the program has stockpiled iris scans from 434,000 arrestees, an FBI spokesperson confirmed.

To create that pool of scans, the FBI has struck information-sharing agreements with other agencies, including US Border Patrol, the Pentagon, and local law enforcement departments. California has been most aggressive about collecting scans, but agencies in Texas and Missouri can also add to and search the system. The result amounts to a new national biometric database that stretches the traditional boundaries of a pilot program, while staying just outside the reach of privacy mandates often required for such data-gathering projects.

READ MORE…

As Quietly As Possible, U.S. Government Renewing Its Assault On Privacy

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

With their dangerous crusade for an anti-encryption bill in Congress all but dead (for now), the FBI and US justice department are now engaged in a multi-pronged attack on all sorts of other privacy rights – this time, with much less public scrutiny.

A report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office harshly criticized the FBI last week for its little discussed but frequently used facial recognition database and called on the bureau to implement myriad privacy and safety protections. It turns out the database has far more photos than anyone thought – 411.9m to be exact – and the vast majority are not mugshots of criminals, but driver’s license photos from over a dozen states and passport photos of millions of completely innocent people. The feds searched it over 36,000 times from 2011 to 2015 (no court order needed) while also apparently having no idea how accurate it is.

Worse, the FBI wants its hundreds of millions of facial recognition photos – along with its entire biometric database that includes fingerprints and DNA profiles – to be exempt from important Privacy Act protections. As the Intercept reported two weeks ago: “Specifically, the FBI’s proposal would exempt the database from the provisions in the Privacy Act that require federal agencies to share with individuals the information they collect about them and that give people the legal right to determine the accuracy and fairness of how their personal information is collected and used.”

READ MORE…

Meet the FBI Informant Who Organized Neo-Nazi Gathering Attended by Jo Cox Murder Suspect in 2000

Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman speak to a former paid FBI informant named Todd Blodgett who has revealed that he met Thomas Mair at a neo-Nazi gathering that the informant set up in London in 2000. Blodgett also once worked with several leaders of the far right, including Willis Carto, who founded the Liberty Lobby, and William Pierce, leader of the neo-Nazi National Alliance. (Democracy Now!)

FBI Running ‘Hundreds’ of ISIS Sting Operations

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

If you’re a fake bomb-maker for the FBI or one of those informants who poses as an ISIS recruiter online, business is definitely booming, as continued pushes for more “terror” arrests have dramatically escalated the problem, with the FBI admitting “hundreds” of such sting operation are now ongoing.

Increasingly, reports of detained “ISIS suspects” involve arrested Americans with literally no ties to ISIS, who were approached by FBI informants as likely to be susceptible, and then ultimately arrested for their involvement in an FBI-manufactured “plot.” The NY Times is reporting about two in three terror prosecutions in the US are such FBI-made fake plots.

The plots have been a bit varied, sometimes involving shipping fake guns to somebody and arresting them for possession of the guns, sometimes offering to pay their way to Syria then arresting them at the airport, or even just buying a panhandler a knife and a few bucks and telling him to go stab people “for ISIS.” Most often, however, the ones making the headlines have seen the FBI giving someone of phony bomb, telling him to go blow something up, then arresting him for attempting to use a “weapon of mass destruction.”

READ MORE…

New Intelligence Bill Gives FBI More Secret Surveillance Power

Jenna McLaughlin reports for The Intercept:

A Senate bill published late Monday night includes a new provision that would give the FBI more power to issue secret demands, known as national security letters, to technology, internet, communications, and banking companies for their customers’ information.

The provision, tucked into the Senate Intelligence Authorization Act, would explicitly authorize the FBI to obtain “electronic communication transactional records” for individuals or entities — though it doesn’t define what that means. The bill was passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.

In the past, the FBI has considered “electronic communication transactional records” to be a broad category of information — including everything from browsing history, email header information, records of online purchases, IP addresses of contacts, and more.

The Justice Department told the FBI in 2008 that it was not authorized to receive this information from companies without a court order, although as The Intercept reported last week, the FBI has continued to demand such data anyway — insisting on a different legal interpretation.

READ MORE…

Secret Text in Senate Bill Would Give FBI Warrantless Access to Email Records

Jenna McLaughlin reports for The Intercept:

A provision stuck into the still-secret text of the Senate’s annual intelligence authorization would give the FBI the ability to demand individuals’ email data and possibly web-surfing history from their service providers without a warrant and in complete secrecy.

If passed, the change would expand the reach of the FBI’s already highly controversial national security letters. The FBI is currently allowed to get certain types of information with NSLs — most commonly, information about the name, address, and call data associated with a phone number or details about a bank account.

Since a 2008 Justice Department legal opinion, the FBI has not been allowed to use NSLs to demand “electronic communication transactional records,” such as email subject lines and other metadata, or URLs visited.

The spy bill passed the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, with the provision in it. The lone no vote came from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., whowrote in a statement that one of the bill’s provisions “would allow any FBI field office to demand email records without a court order, a major expansion of federal surveillance powers.”

READ MORE…

Why Activists Today Should Still Care About the 40-Year-Old Church Committee Report

Branko Marcetic writes for In These Times:

Today, if you go on Twitter, you can find the NSA tweeting about its commitment to recycling, or the CIA joking about still not knowing the whereabouts of Tupac. Why are these once-sinister and little-known spy agencies so eager to put on a friendly face for us? The answer can be traced back to the Church Committee of 1975-76, which forever changed the way Americans looked at the intelligence agencies meant to serve them.

Last week marked 40 years since the final report of the Church Committee was released to the public. You can read its report here. Set up in January 1975 in the wake of Watergate, and shortly after investigative reporter Seymour Hersh revealed the CIA’s role in not only undermining foreign governments but in spying on U.S. citizens, the Committee spent 16 months trawling through classified and unclassified documents and grilling hundreds of counterintelligence officers, CIA directors, FBI higher-ups and other officials in order to shine a light on the scope of the intelligence community’s abuses over the previous decades.

The result was an unprecedented public spotlight on the shadowy world of American intelligence that forever altered the public’s perception of the United States’ various intelligence agencies. This was particularly so with the NSA, whose role and even existence was little-known among the public prior to the Committee’s revelations.

More important was what the Committee actually revealed. Its final report, released on April 26, 1976, detailed a stunningly broad scope of lawlessness and abuses by the intelligence world, which had, under successive presidents, turned its considerable powers increasingly on the American people themselves. Agencies like the CIA and FBI appeared to be acting as governments in themselves, flouting legal restraints as they ran programs that elected officials, even right up to the president, were kept in the dark about.

READ MORE…

Glenn Greenwald: FBI vs. Apple Fight Tied to U.S. Effort to Access the Communications of Everyone Everywhere

Amy Goodman talked to Glenn Greenwald, journalist and co-founder of The Intercept, prior to the the Justice Department announcement that it has succeeded in unlocking an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters and dropped its case against Apple, ending a high-stakes legal battle but leaving a broader debate over encryption unresolved. (Democracy Now!)

45 Years After COINTELPRO FBI Continues to Monitor Activists: Interview with Chip Gibbons

Former Black Panther Eddie Conway talks to Chip Gibbons who says over 60 national groups have signed onto a letter calling on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to investigate FBI and DHS’s monitoring of activists. (The Real News)

Apple’s Lawyer: If We Lose Fight With FBI, It Will Lead to a ‘Police State’

David Goldman and Laurie Segall report for KRON 4:

Apple’s attorney painted a scary picture if Apple loses its fight with the FBI.

In an interview with CNNMoney’s Laurie Segall on Friday, Ted Olson warned of a government with “limitless” powers that could “listen to your conversations.”

Olson said the demands would mount.

“You can imagine every different law enforcement official telling Apple we want a new product to get into something,” Olson said. “Even a state judge could order Apple to build something.

There’s no stopping point. That would lead to a police state.”

READ MORE…

Apple vs. the FBI: Inside the Battle Snowden Calls “The Most Important Tech Case in a Decade”

Amy Goodman talks to Alex Abdo, staff attorney at the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), about the major debate over privacy and online encryption that has erupted after the computer giant Apple announced it will resist a court order to help the FBI break into an iPhone recovered from one of the San Bernardino shooters. Citing an 18th century law, federal prosecutors requested a court order to compel Apple to assist the investigation in unlocking the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook. In December, Farook and his wife killed 14 and injured 22 others in San Bernardino. On Tuesday night, Apple CEO Tim Cook published an open letter to customers announcing his company’s decision to fight the court order. “Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them,” Cook said. “But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.” (Democracy Now!)

The Real Reason Apple Is Fighting the FBI

Julian Sanchez writes for Time:

The first thing to understand about Apple’s latest fight with the FBI—over a court order to help unlock the deceased San Bernardino shooter’s phone—is that it has very little to do with the San Bernardino shooter’s phone.

It’s not even, really, the latest round of the Crypto Wars—the long running debate about how law enforcement and intelligence agencies can adapt to the growing ubiquity of uncrackable encryption tools.

Rather, it’s a fight over the future of high-tech surveillance, the trust infrastructure undergirding the global software ecosystem, and how far technology companies and software developers can be conscripted as unwilling suppliers of hacking tools for governments. It’s also the public face of a conflict that will undoubtedly be continued in secret—and is likely already well underway.

READ MORE…

The FBI’s Terror Factory: Interview with Trevor Aaronson

Sean Stone talks to Trevor Aaronson, author of The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism. Aaronson discusses the case of Emanuel Lutchman in Rochester, NY and how the FBI regularly frames individuals for supposed “connections” to terrorist plots. (Watching the Hawks)

‘ISIS New Years Eve Terror Plot’ Story Is Totally Bogus

Adam Johnson reports for AlterNet:

Another major holiday, another sensational ISIS terror plot the FBI takes credit for preventing. This time, the case splashed across the news is that of Emanuel Lutchman, a 25-year-old panhandler in Rochester, New York who allegedly plotted to attack a restaurant on New Years Eve. All major network broadcasts lead with the story and it was breathlessly featured everywhere from The New York Times to CNN. There’s only one problem: the way the story is being presented is wildly inaccurate and in many ways factually false.

Like almost all 11th hour FBI terror busts, the only thing the media has to go off is a DOJ criminal complaint that’s released to the press. Statements from the accused or their lawyer very rarely reach the public. And the criminal complaint and FBI press release are framed to deliberately deceive the media.

Let’s run down some of the key claims made by the media and why they’re either factually incorrect or misleading.

READ MORE…

Fake ISIS nuke plot about creating homeland insecurity to sell homeland security: Interview with Greg Palast

Investigative journalist Greg Palast joins Simone Del Rosario to discuss a recent report by the Associated Press which claimed that the FBI foiled plans by Moldovan gangs in Russia to sell nuclear material to Islamic State insurgents. Despite the report not adding up, the U.S. media ran with it. Palast explains why. (RT America)

Media Reports ISIS Nuclear Plot That Never Actually Involved ISIS

Adam Johnson writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

CBS on Moldavian radiation stingThe AP published this week (10/5/15) a thrilling account of how the FBI, in concert with Moldovan authorities, “disrupted” a smuggling ring that was supposedly trying to sell “nuclear material” to ISIS and other terror organizations over a five-year span. The primary developments in the story are almost a year old, but the resurfaced tale made news across the English-speaking world:

‘Annihilate America’: Inside a Secret, Frightening Scheme to Sell Nuclear Material to ISIS — Salon (10/7/15)

AP: Smugglers Busted Trying to Sell Nuclear Material to ISIS — CBS News (10/7/15)

FBI Foils Smugglers’ Plot to Sell Nuclear Material to ISIS — The Independent (10/7/15)

There was only one problem: At no point do the multiple iterations of the AP‘s reporting show that anyone involved in the FBI sting were members of or have any connection to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (aka ISIL or Daesh). While one of several smuggling attempts discussed in AP‘s reporting involved an actual potential buyer–an otherwise unknown Sudanese doctor who four years ago “suggested that he was interested” in obtaining uranium–the “terrorists” otherwise involved in the cases were FBI and other law enforcement agents posing as such.

READ MORE…

The Rise of the New Crypto War

Eric Geller reports for The Daily Dot:

James B. Comey, Jr., the seventh director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is afraid of the dark.

“The law hasn’t kept pace with technology, and this disconnect has created a significant public safety problem,” Comey said in an Oct. 16, 2014, speech at the Brookings Institution, an influential Washington, D.C., think tank. He called the problem “going dark.”

As more and more criminals presumably “go dark” by encrypting their phones and email accounts, federal agents are finding it increasingly difficult to intercept their communications. The spread of easy-to-use encryption software and the eagerness with which tech companies promote it have deeply troubled the FBI. But on that unusually warm October day, Comey also wanted to vent about another frustration: He felt that the bureau’s proposed solution was being distorted.

“There is a misconception that building a lawful intercept solution into a system requires a so-called ‘backdoor,’ one that foreign adversaries and hackers may try to exploit,” Comey said. “But that isn’t true. We aren’t seeking a backdoor approach. We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law.”

He only used the word twice, but by strenuously denying that he wanted one, Comey had set off a fierce debate about the secret law-enforcement data-access portals known as backdoors. In the months that followed, Comey, his deputies at the FBI, and his counterparts at other agencies would face relentless questioning and criticism from skeptical members of Congress, exasperated security researchers, and outraged privacy groups. Despite Comey’s protestations, many feared that the agency once known for its disturbing reach and systemic abuses of power in the era of J. Edgar Hoover was seeking a return to that fearsome omniscience in the digital age.

The debate over backdoors has pitted Comey and other national-security officials against America’s biggest tech companies, which have fired off letter after letter warning the government not to undermine encryption and the increasingly powerful security tools built into their products. It has strained relations between an obscure but important government technical body and the security industry that used to consider it a trusted partner. And it has infuriated the cryptography experts and civil-liberties activists who have spent decades beating back government efforts to weaken the encryption that is now vital to all aspects of online life.’

READ MORE..

Got to Be Thwarting Something: FBI Claims It Stopped Unspecified Mayhem, Possibly on July 4

Adam Johnson writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Screen capture of CNN newscast inviting all Americans to be very, very afraid for no good reason at allLast week, in the wake of another vague terror warning issued by the government, FAIR reported how FBI terror warnings have a long history of always being wrong. Others also noted the FBI’s habit of issuing pointless terror warnings, including The Intercept’s Glenn GreenwaldThe Guardian’s Trevor Timm and FireDogLake‘s Kevin Gosztola. There was a general sense among many that the July 4 “warning” was just another empty terror warning meant to scare, provide CYA for the FBI and ultimately fizzle out like so many before.

And, in fact, the holiday weekend came and went, with the FBI “terror warning” hyped by the media foreshadowing nothing more than for two false alarms and a handful of canceled Fourth of July plans.

So it was curious, to say the least, when on Thursday the FBI asserted to CNN’s Jim Sciutto that “a number” of  “ISIS-inspired” terror plots had been “thwarted” from “coast to coast” over the Fourth of July weekend.’

READ MORE…

Trevor Aaronson: How this FBI strategy is actually creating US-based terrorists

Editor’s Note: I would highly recommend reading Trevor Aaronson’s book, The Terror Factory: Inside The FBI’s Manufactured War On Terrorism.

‘There’s an organization responsible for more terrorism plots in the United States than al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and ISIS combined: The FBI. How? Why? In an eye-opening talk, investigative journalist Trevor Aaronson reveals a disturbing FBI practice that breeds terrorist plots by exploiting Muslim-Americans with mental health problems.’ (TED)

No Evidence of Threat, But U.S. On “High Alert” for July 4th

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

An NBC News report on the latest round of security alerts, which have put the United States at a high alert level despite officials conceding there is zero evidence of any actual plot as the Fourth of July holiday begins.

Terrorists have not used July 4 as a particular date of significance to carry out attacks, but indeed haven’t used a lot of the other dates that officials seemingly arbitrarily declare heightened security for either, and a lot of the bulked up security is seemingly hysteria for its own sake.

It also appears to be canceling some events, with a US Air Force planned celebration at British airbase RAF Feltwell cancelled because of “local threat assessments” which, like the ones in the US, don’t include any intelligence on actual threats.’

READ MORE…

Florida Man, Accused of Terrorism Based on Book Collection, Set Free

Murtaza Hussain reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Florida Man, Accused of Terrorism Based on Book Collection, Set Free[…] Robertson’s case attracted national attention after prosecutors attempted to argue earlier this year that the contents of his book collection constituted evidence of his connection to terrorism. Prosecutors singled out roughly 20 titles from the more than 10,000 e-books Robertson owned, highlighted a selection of controversial passages, and used that to argue that he should be sentenced as though he were a terrorist.

None of Robertson’s charges — conspiracy to file a false tax return and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon — were terrorism offenses.

In a memorandum issued along with his decision yesterday, Judge Gregory A. Presnell strongly repudiated the government’s argument that Robertson’s book collection proved a connection to terrorism. “[T]here was no evidence produced that Robertson ever accessed these particular documents, much less that he took their extremism to heart,” Presnell wrote, noting that even had Robertson read the books in question, it would not have constituted evidence of terrorism.’

READ MORE…