Category Archives: FBI

Don’t Lionize James Comey, The FBI Did Some Terrible Things Under Him

Trevor Aaronson writes for The Intercept:

Image result for James ComeyWhen Donald Trump asked FBI Director James Comey in February to drop the investigation of former National Security Adviser (and then-unregistered foreign agent) Michael Flynn, the president apparently didn’t realize that Comey would behave like one of his more than 13,000 special agents.

As the New York Times reported from a source close to Comey, the FBI director went back to his office and wrote down from memory a summary of his conversation with Trump.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump told Comey, according to a memo the FBI director wrote. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

About three months after Trump allegedly said this, the president fired Comey.

Had this been a normal criminal investigation, and had Comey been a special agent in the field, the memo he would have written would have been known, in the FBI’s parlance, as an FD-302. The FBI does not record conversations with subjects related to criminal investigations. Instead, FBI agents, using their memory and sometimes handwritten notes, draft memos that summarize the conversations and include purportedly verbatim quotes. Federal judges and juries have consistently viewed these memos as indisputable fact. For this reason, Comey’s memo is no normal government memo. It could do lasting damage to Trump’s presidency, if not contribute to costing him the nation’s highest office altogether.

While Comey is now positioned for history to remember him as the cop who took down Trump, or tried to at great professional expense, there should be wariness about lionizing Comey in the way the news media have in recent days. Under Comey, the FBI pushed investigative and surveillance powers to new and controversial limits and employed tactics that were morally and ethically bankrupt.

In short, Comey’s FBI did some terrible things.

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Could Narrow Scope of New Special Counsel Miss Wider Corruption in Trump White House?

Amy Goodman speaks with Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist who covers national security and civil liberties. She runs the website EmptyWheel.net. (Democracy Now!)

Special Counsel Investigating Trump Campaign Has Deep Ties to the Deep State

Paul Jay speaks with former FBI agent and 9/11 whistleblower Colleen Rowley who says former FBI head Robert Mueller, now appointed to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, participated in covering up the pre 9/11 role of the U.S. intelligence agencies and the Bush Administration, helped create the post 9/11 national security/surveillance state, and helped facilitate the pre-Iraq war propaganda machine. (The Real News)

FBI Refuses to Disclose Documents on Trump’s Call to Russia to Hack Clinton

Ed Pilkington reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Trump’s Call to Russia to Hack ClintonThe US justice department is refusing to disclose FBI documents relating to Donald Trump’s highly contentious election year call on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Senior DoJ officials have declined to release the documents on grounds that such disclosure could “interfere with enforcement proceedings”. In a filing to a federal court in Washington DC, the DoJ states that “because of the existence of an active, ongoing investigation, the FBI anticipates that it will … withhold all records”.

The statement suggests that Trump’s provocative comment last July is being seen by the FBI as relevant to its own ongoing investigation.

[…] The then Republican presidential candidate ignited an instant uproar when he made his controversial comment at a press conference in Florida on 27 July. By that time Russia had already been accused by US officials of hacking Democratic National Committee emails in a bid to sway the election.

“I will tell you this, Russia: if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said, referring to a stash of emails that Clinton had deleted from her personal server dating from her time as US secretary of state.

Later that day, the Republican candidate posted a similarly incendiary remark on Twitter: “If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!”

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Comey Affair Sign of a Fractured American State

Paul Jay speaks with historian Gerald Horne about Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and the forces driving great divisions in the elites, the political class and the state apparatus. (The Real News)

Glenn Greenwald on Trump’s ‘Shocking’ Firing of FBI Chief James Comey Amid Russian Probe

Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept, about Donald Trump firing FBI Director James Comey after Comey confirmed the FBI was investigating whether Trump’s campaign collaborated with Russia to sway the 2016 election. (Democracy Now!)

“If You Keep Fucking With Mr. Trump We Know Where You Live”

Jason Leopold reports for BuzzFeed News:

Image result for trump casinosWhen Donald Trump’s casino business went bankrupt in 2009, a lawyer whose clients stood to lose more than a billion dollars told police and the FBI that he got a menacing phone call from a man with a thick New York accent who threatened his family.

“My name is Carmine. I don’t know why you’re fucking with Mr. Trump but if you keep fucking with Mr. Trump, we know where you live and we’re going to your house for your wife and kids,” the caller said, according to the account that the attorney, Kristopher Hansen, gave to the Holmdel police department in New Jersey. Hansen speculated that the caller was Trump’s bodyguard.

According to FBI case notes, the phone call to Hansen was made at 2:05 p.m. on Feb. 18, 2009, from a New York City telephone booth located across the street from the Ed Sullivan Theater, where Trump was a guest that day on The Late Show With David Letterman. Three former employees of the show told BuzzFeed News that guests were asked to arrive in advance of the 4:30 taping, though accounts differ on just how far in advance.

The incident, which has never before been made public, came at a time when Trump’s signature mix of celebrity glamor and ruthless business tactics was on stark display. The implosion of his flagship casino company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, left many investors and contractors empty-handed. But Trump walked away from the wreckage, gilding his public image and largely denying responsibility. “I wasn’t involved at all in management,” Trump told Letterman. Trump had been chairman of the board until five days earlier, and his daughter Ivanka had also been on the board.

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The Hottest Story About Trump and Russia You Never Heard

David Talbot, author of The Devil’s Chessboard, writes for the San Francisco Chronicle:

In this March 31, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with the National Association of Manufacturers in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Slim majorities of Americans favor independent investigations into Trump’s relationship with the Russian government and possible attempts by Russia to influence last year’s election according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Photo: Evan Vucci, Associated Press[…] The media has a short attention span. In November, Newsweek called for Comey to be not just fired, but run out of Washington on a rail as “unfit for public service.” But last week, the magazine ran an article praising his honesty and “transparency” and claiming that he had tried to blow the whistle on Russia’s interference in the U.S. election back in July — only to be blocked by the timid Obama administration. Comey’s PR offensive is clearly producing impressive results — from Washington scoundrel to hero in just months!

But not all the media has jumped on the Comey bandwagon. If you want to read the most fascinating new angle about the Trump-Russia-FBI drama, you should check out WhoWhatWhy.org. Last week, the spunky investigative publication broke a major story about the Russia shadow play, reporting that Comey chose not to tell all about the Trump-Moscow connection during the U.S. presidential race “because doing so would jeopardize a long-running, ultra-sensitive operation targeting mobsters tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin — and to Trump.”

But if the FBI can’t reveal the sordid details, WhoWhatWhy does, with a reporting team that included publication founder Russ Baker, a respected investigative journalist, and former Village Voice Executive Editor Jonathan Z. Larsen. The article reveals a fascinating world where mobsters and financial hustlers conducted business out of Trump Tower suites, brokering deals that often led back to Semion Mogilevich, a Russian crime kingpin closely connected to Putin whom one FBI official described as “the boss of bosses.” Some of these deals, reports the WhoWhatWhy team, clearly benefited Trump, whose shaky empire was rescued by a pipeline of Russian credit and investment in the early 2000s.

The shady activity at Trump Tower was closely monitored by the FBI’s New York office, according to Baker and Larsen. But the bureau doesn’t emerge as exactly heroic in the reporters’ article. Two of the FBI agents who investigated the corrupt business operations centered in Trump Tower later went to work as private security contractors for the Trump presidential campaign.

And then there’s the million-dollar question of why Comey chose to sit on this explosive investigation into Trump’s financial dependence on Russian mobsters and oligarchs. Once again, the FBI director — an official who is supposed to be scrupulously above partisan politics — chose to play his shadowy Washington game rather than informing the American people.

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Louise Mensch Op-Ed Sparks Feud At The New York Times

Steven Perlberg reports for BuzzFeed:

A civil war between news and opinion has broken out at the New York Times.

In a Times op-ed posted online Friday, Louise Mensch, a writer and former member of the UK Parliament, gives her suggestion for what questions the House Intelligence Committee should ask as it holds hearings on Russia’s influence in the US election. Mensch offers Times readers reason to trust her expertise: “In November, I broke the story that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court had issued a warrant that enabled the F.B.I. to examine communications between ‘U.S. persons’ in the Trump campaign relating to Russia-linked banks,” she writes.

On Twitter, Times reporters lashed out.

“Please note that the NYT newsroom disagrees,” national security reporter Charlie Savage tweeted. Savage highlighted from his report this month knocking down the FISA claim: “To date, reporters for The New York Times with demonstrated sources in that world have been unable to corroborate that the court issued any such order.”

The core of the dispute is whether the FISA court granted a warrant, which the Times and Washington Post have not reported, though the BBC and McClatchy have. The Guardian reported about a June FISA request but stopped short at confirming the supposed October one was granted.

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FBI Undercover Stings Foil Terrorist Plots – But How Many Are Agency-Created?

Ian Cummings reports for McClatchy:

Image result for fbi terror plotsAnnouncements of foiled terrorist plots make for lurid reading.

Schemes to carry out a Presidents Day jihadist attack on a train station in Kansas City. Bomb a Sept. 11 memorial event. Blow up a 1,000-pound bomb at Fort Riley. Detonate a weapon of mass destruction at a Wichita airport — the failed plans all show imagination.

But how much of it was real?

Often not much, according to a review of several recent terrorism cases investigated by the FBI in Kansas and Missouri. The most sensational plots invoking the name of the Islamic State or al-Qaida here were largely the invention of FBI agents carrying out elaborate sting operations on individuals identified through social media as being potentially dangerous.

In fact, in terrorism investigations in Wichita, at Fort Riley and last week in Kansas City, the alleged terrorists reportedly were unknowingly following the directions of undercover FBI agents who supplied fake bombs and came up with key elements of the plans.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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!)