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Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

Erie Times E-Edition Article-How US surveillance nabs more than spies

Posted by M. C. on March 16, 2020

And tramples your Constitution in the process

Follow the link below to view the article.

http://erietimes.pa.newsmemory.com/?publink=0966ace49

WASHINGTON — The case against Nassif Sami Daher and Kamel Mohammad Rammal, two Michigan men accused of food stamp fraud, hardly seemed exceptional. But the tool that agents used to investigate them was extraordinary: a secretive surveillance process intended to identify potential spies and terrorists.

It meant that the men, unlike most criminal defendants, were never shown the evidence authorities used to begin investigating them or the information that the Justice Department presented to obtain the original warrant.

The case is among recent Justice Department prosecutions that relied on the same surveillance powers, known by the acronym FISA, that law enforcement officials acknowledge were misused in the Russia investigation. Those errors have prompted a reckoning inside the FBI and debate in Congress about new privacy safeguards. The attention given to FISA has also cast a spotlight on cases such as the Michigan one, where surveillance tools used to investigate foreign intelligence threats end up leading to prosecutions for commonplace, domestic crimes.

The department says it can’t turn a blind eye to crimes it uncovers when scrutinizing someone for national security purposes, even if those offenses weren’t the initial basis of the investigation. In recent years, inquiries that began with FISA warrants have yielded charges including child pornography and bank and wire fraud.

Current and former officials say just because a FISA warrant produces charges other than national security ones doesn’t mean the target is no longer considered a national security threat. Sometimes, particularly when disrupting a terrorism plot, prosecutors may charge other crimes they find evidence of for fear of tipping the target’s conspirators to the investigation’s actual purpose.

But critics say building routine cases on evidence derived from FISA warrants undermines constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. And if the original surveillance application is riddled with errors or omissions, they say, any resulting prosecution is tainted. Though some judges have raised concerns, no court has prohibited the practice, and the Supreme Court has never directly confronted the specific issue.

Patrick Toomey, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union national security project, noted that the Fourth Amendment requires the government to describe the type of criminal evidence it’s seeking before conducting a search.

“Our view is that the types of broad searches for foreign intelligence information flips the Fourth Amendment on its head when the government repurposes those searches for domestic criminal prosecutions,” Toomey said .

That’s what happened with Daher and Rammal. They were charged in August 2018 with defrauding the food stamp program in a scheme that investigators say was based at a Detroit service station.

The next month, prosecutors told them that the government intended to use information collected under a warrant approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which authorizes law enforcement to eavesdrop on people it has probable cause to believe are agents of a foreign power.

That meant that while Daher and Rammal could see government evidence about the fraud allegations, they were denied details about the reasons for the national security surveillance.

Though the Justice Department has refused to disclose the application it submitted to the court, its filings make clear the case was part of a broader terrorism-related inquiry. Prosecutors produced a statement from Attorney General William Barr saying the FISA materials held classified information about counterterrorism investigations and that disclosing them would harm national security.

Rammal, who was raised in Lebanon, has since pleaded guilty to fraud. Daher has fought unsuccessfully to see the FISA information and is awaiting trial. His lawyers contend Daher, a Muslim, was targeted in a post-Sept. 11 “mob mentality” Neither men faced terrorist-related charges.

“Sami is a nerd with a big ego and imagination, but, he is not a terrorist or a National Security threat,” Daher’s lawyers wrote.

The Justice Department says the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act explicitly permits law enforcement to use evidence from FISA warrants for domestic criminal prosecutions and that it makes obvious sense to do so.

“Congress intended that you not ignore evidence of another crime while you’re doing foreign intelligence surveillance, and FISA itself reflects this,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the department’s top national security official, said in a statement. “It’s nonsensical to ignore evidence of a crime that we’ve lawfully gathered.”

Nonetheless, defense lawyers see the department as straying beyond FISA’s original intent.

Critics have long complained about the one-sided nature of the process. Targets of the surveillance, for instance, are consistently denied copies of FISA applications, making it hard for them to know the accuracy of the information given to the court, to learn why precisely prosecutors considered them a national security concern and to contest the legitimacy of the search.

In the Russia case, details of the FISA warrant used on ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page became known only because of the highly partisan congressional fight over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Later, the Justice Department inspector general found that the FBI omitted from its applications key information that should have been presented to the court.

The FBI has since announced steps aimed at ensuring that its wiretap applications are more accurate. The House passed legislation Wednesday containing new privacy protections. The Senate left for the week without approving it, allowing certain FISA provision s to temporarily expire.

Most FISA warrants don’t result in criminal prosecution. Page, for instance, has denied wrongdoing and was never charged. Those that do generally involve national security crimes, such as the recent espionage case against a military contractor accused of disclosing classified information.

But other recent FISA warrants have been incorporated into prosecutions with no national security charges.

In California, Abdallah Osseily, a naturalized citizen from Lebanon, was charged by national security prosecutors in 2018 with lying in bank documents and on his naturalization petition.

Prosecutors disclosed surveillance recordings that defense lawyers say did not come from conventional criminal wiretaps, though the government has refused to confirm or deny if it obtained a FISA warrant. The Justice Department says none of the evidence it’s using at trial derived from FISA. Defense lawyers have nonetheless fought to see the original application.

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Democrats and Republicans Agree: It’s Time to Throw White People In Gulags, by Eric Striker – The Unz Review

Posted by M. C. on March 2, 2020

The truth is, as Tucker Carlson has remarked, that “white terrorism” alarmism is nothing more than a politically motivated hoax comparable to the “8 intelligence agencies” claiming Russia stole the 2016 election for Donald Trump.

In it, the FBI admits to playing a prominent role in influencing social media companies in their decisions on who can and cannot use their platforms: 

They assure the public that they are protecting First Amendment speech and privacy, but do not detail how. They expect us to take their word for it.

https://www.unz.com/estriker/democrats-and-republicans-agree-its-time-to-throw-white-people-in-gulags/

Yesterday, the FBI made a big show of arresting multiple alleged members of a “white supremacist” group they have designated as a national security threat equivalent to ISIS.

Federal prosecutors have charged black metal fan Cameron Denton, the Nazi Al-Baghdadi, with telling the police to send SWAT teams after a journalist and a politician as a childish prank.

Four other cohorts in “AtomWaffen,” mostly young Chan trolls, were also taken into custody in the multi-state terror raid over mailing the Israeli lobbyists at the Anti-Defamation League edgy fliers that say “Our Patience Has Its Limits.”

House Representative Karen Bass has complained loudly about the FBI’s lack of transparency regarding arrest statistics related to “white supremacist terrorism.” Her implication is that the career girls, left-wing crusaders and Zionist lickspittles in federaI law enforcement – some who have proudly accepted awards from the Anti-Defamation League for railroading James Fields – are “protecting” these supposed dangerous white supremacists.

The truth is, as Tucker Carlson has remarked, that “white terrorism” alarmism is nothing more than a politically motivated hoax comparable to the “8 intelligence agencies” claiming Russia stole the 2016 election for Donald Trump.

Warren Buffett once famously said “if a cop follows you for 500 miles, you’re getting a ticket,” and the string of marijuana arrests, coercing teenagers and the mentally ill into bogus pleas, prosecuting people for their answers to confusing questions on federal forms, and various other pedestrian crimes don’t begin to justify the amount of federal resources being flushed down the toilet in surveilling and intimidating those the SPLC and ADL classify as “white nationalists.” The FBI is hiding its statistics because they know what they’re doing is wrong.

Since 2016, no member of a (white) nationalist organization has committed an act of terrorism with the possible exception of James Fields, who was loosely affiliated with Vanguard America and who would’ve beaten his trumped up political charges in any other time period.

Republicans Are No Ally

There is a House Bill on the docket intended to heed the call of the FBI Agents Association for a “domestic terrorism” law.

The Domestic Terrorism Penalties Act of 2019, introduced by Texas Republican Randy K. Weber with the support of 14 other GOP lawmakers and one Democrat, is perhaps the most dangerous piece of legislation drafted in decades.

This bill seeks to take regular crimes and add a “terrorism” enhancement if the suspect has dissident political views or belongs to an organization advocating for them. According to the language of the bill, domestic terrorism is defined as: “Whoever, with respect to a circumstance described in subsection (b), and with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence, affect, or retaliate against the policy or conduct of a government.”

The crime of kidnapping, which the state tried to slap on Augustus Invictus and failed, would potentially get the accused life in prison.

The crime of Assault becomes “domestic terrorist assault,” and gets you 30 years in the big house.

Political vandalism? 25 years. That’s not a typo.

In practice, if this bill were made into law, a member of the Proud Boys – who the FBI would like to classify as a domestic terror group – could get 30 years in prison for punching an anarchist heckler in self-defense at a political rally.

Paint a political slogan on a piece of property? 25 years. For perspective, the average convicted rapist serves 5.4 years. The typical child molester serves 3 years. The median time done by a 1st degree murderer? 17.3 years.

The law also has a “conspiracy” clause. If you “conspire” to commit an assault, which according to ADL SHIELD recipient Thomas T. Cullen’s legal reasoning can be uncharitably defined as members of the Rise Above Movement texting each other “Smash the Reds,” you are punished as harshly as if you had committed the act.

Institutions associated with conservatism, like the Marine Corps, are also implementing draconian rules and regulations. 44% of all military recruits hail from the South, but Commandant General David Berger has recently announced a plan to thoroughly eradicate all symbols of Southern and Confederate heritage from bases.

At CPAC, the convention of the supposed conservative “grassroots,” early supporters of President Trump like Alex Jones and Gavin McInnes have been “canceled” by the conservative movement and forcefully bounced, while left-wing extremists like Jared Holt have been given press credentials.

In “respectable” conservative media, not a single person has made a peep in defense of the Constitution.

The only response to the elite agenda to punish white men for their political beliefs has come from Kyle Shideler, the Director and Senior Analyst for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism at the Center for Security Policy.

In The Federalist, a pseudo right-wing publication famous for hiding its donors, Shideler responds to the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security’s decision to elevate “white supremacy” as a “high-level threat” in response to Black Israelites killing Jews not with civil liberties concerns, but ideological ones.

According to Shideler, the problem is that groups the federal government defers to for classifying groups as terrorist have a bias against “conservatives” and “libertarians.”

Shideler would like catches in any new legislation that would clearly protect the rights of anti-Muslim neo-cons like himself from terrorism prosecutions, by clearly designating “Islamists, Antifa, national socialists, black nationalists, or white supremacist groups” as groups who are not “committed” to the US Constitution, and thus fair game for persecution.

This appears to be inspired by Germany’s law for the “protection of the Constitution,” which gives the BRD’s intelligence services a free hand to censor and arrest critics of the government. The milquetoast conservative challengers to Angela Merkel’s highly unpopular immigration policy, Alternativ Fur Deutschland, have been subjected to extensive surveillance and pressure from the secret police thanks to this law.

Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) Designations

An article in the New York Times criticizes the strategy of using Congress to visibly legislate our rights away due to the potential for public scrutiny and backlash.

Instead, they recommend an idea previously proposed by General John Rutherford Allen, which is to create a list of foreign nationalist groups and then prosecute Americans in contact with them (which is inevitable thanks to the global nature of the internet) as enablers of terrorism. This gives the government extensive powers to suspend your constitutional rights.

To understand the ramifications of a Foreign Terrorist Organization classification, when Trump issued an empty threat to add Mexican drug cartels to the list of FTOs, the media and Mexican government understood it as a warning that he was going to order drone strikes and send troops to kill drug lords.

They have good reason to believe this. A few months after Trump added the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as an FTO, he greenlit the assassination of Iranian state official General Qassem Soleimani, who led the group.

Representative Max Rose has already drafted suggestions for groups to add to the list: Azov Battalion, an anti-Russian militia that receives weapons from the US and Ukrainian governments, National Action, a defunct British based group that was primarily internet based, and the Nordic Resistance Movement, an above ground Scandinavian protest group that is legally permitted in Sweden.

These groups are wildly disparate and, with the exception of Azov, are not waging armed struggle. The choice of adding an organization like NRM appears to be motivated by the fact that they have many American fans and supporters who Rose would like to see droned or tortured in Guantanamo Bay. In the case of National Action, which was founded on the internet forum Iron March, they also had extensive online ties with people from all over the world

State Department designations are completely arbitrary and decided by the president without oversight. The executive office could for example find that the Scandza Forum, a gathering of nationalist intellectuals from around the world, is a terrorist organization without giving a reason, and then subject everyone who sends money or attends the conference as material supporters of terrorism.

The Real Motive

On February 26th, the FBI gave a presentation to the House of Representatives detailing what they are doing to fight “anti-Semitism.”

In it, the FBI admits to playing a prominent role in influencing social media companies in their decisions on who can and cannot use their platforms:

It is also important to highlight our outreach to social media and technology companies. FBI interactions with social media companies center on education and capacity building, in line with our goal to assist companies in developing or enhancing their terms of service to address violent extremist exploitation of their platforms.

They assure the public that they are protecting First Amendment speech and privacy, but do not detail how. They expect us to take their word for it.

It is unknown how significant the role of the government is in the mass censorship of dissidents from social media, but it isn’t relevant. As Mike Enoch has said, the distinction between private and public is irrelevant, it is a “system.”

Amazon, the book vending monopoly, has given Jewish organizations the right to engage in cyber book burnings without much in the way of government pressure. Most of Counter-Currents’ catalogue has been eliminated, as has the written work of various journalists, scholars and historians like Colin Flaherty, Kevin MacDonald, Jared Taylor, and multiple Holocaust revisionists. Even materials of primary historical value, like collections of speeches by Third Reich officials, are in their iron sights. This is not a war on terrorism, it’s a war on ideas.

In a time where government officials across the country are emptying their jail cells and “law and order” Republican Donald Trump has implemented “criminal justice reform,” (which he admitted is highly unpopular) public safety is clearly not why our oligarchs are having this conversation.

A better explanation can be found in the work of University of Connecticut academic Peter Turchin.

According to Turchin, who combines historicism with mathematics to draw forecasts of political stability, the United States and other liberal Western nations are due for “popular mobilizations,” potentially violent, starting in the 2020s. Turchin famously predicted the rise of the 2016 Trump populist movement and Brexit.

The thesis of Turchin’s book, Ages of Discord, states that declining living standards, mass immigration, the corruption of liberal institutions and polarization in general have primed the United States and other liberal plutocracies for collapse.

The fall may be bloody, or it could be a less dramatic Soviet-style downfall, but it’s happening, says Turchin. He has lectured to Jews and members of the managerial elite in Washington and New York, who in turn have debated his work in the publications they read. A handful of billionaires, thanks to the internet, have been exposed as the architects of our nation’s decline. They know they have lost the public’s consent to rule and are preparing for war against their subjects as a list ditch effort to cling to power.

Telling the truth has never been cheap. Dissidents should mentally prepare to withstand the erratic spasms of a monster in its death throes. The coming years are bound to be trying times for those who refuse to submit to the doctrines and dogmas of an immoral and oppressive system.

 

 

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Who killed Thomas Merton? | Catholics Against Militarism

Posted by M. C. on February 25, 2020

The most likely suspect in plotting Merton’s murder, a man who was a much stronger force for peace than most people realize, they identify as the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States government. Thomas Merton was the most important Roman Catholic spiritual and anti-warfare-state writer of the 20th century and the powers-that-be in the corporate world, in the military world, in the world of the CIA, FBI and NSA and in the world of government were as acutely aware of the power he possessed to undermine their bloody profit making schemes as they were of King and Kennedy’s power to do the same.

http://catholicsagainstmilitarism.com/uncategorized/who-killed-thomas-merton/

The following was written by Fr. Emmanuel McCarthy:

Friends,

On February 18: The U.S. State Department announced the highest U.S. casualty toll of the Vietnam War, with 543 Americans killed in action and 2,547 wounded during the previous week.

On March 16: U.S. ground troops murdered more than 500 Vietnamese civilians in the My Lai Massacre in South Vietnam.

On April 4: Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered in Memphis, TN

On June 5: Robert Kennedy was murdered in Los Angeles, CA.

On December 10: Thomas Merton is murdered in Bangkok, Thailand

The Martyrdom of Thomas MertonPaperback – March 7, 2018

 Hugh Turley (Author), David Martin (Author)

Review from Amazon:

“Seldom can one predict that a book will have an effect on history, but this is such a work. Merton’s many biographers and the American press now say unanimously that he died from accidental electrocution. From a careful examination of the official record, including crime scene photographs that the authors have found that the investigating police in Thailand never saw, and from reading the letters of witnesses, they have discovered that the accidental electrocution conclusion is totally false. The widely repeated story that Merton had taken a shower and was therefore wet when he touched a lethal faulty fan was made up several years after the event and is completely contradicted by the evidence. Hugh Turley and David Martin identify four individuals as the primary promoters of the false accidental electrocution narrative. Another person, they show, should have been treated as a murder suspect. The most likely suspect in plotting Merton’s murder, a man who was a much stronger force for peace than most people realize, they identify as the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States government. Thomas Merton was the most important Roman Catholic spiritual and anti-warfare-state writer of the 20th century and the powers-that-be in the corporate world, in the military world, in the world of the CIA, FBI and NSA and in the world of government were as acutely aware of the power he possessed to undermine their bloody profit making schemes as they were of King and Kennedy’s power to do the same. To date, Merton has been the subject of 28 biographies and numerous other books. Remarkably, up to now no one has looked critically at the mysterious circumstances surrounding his sudden death in Thailand. From its publication date on the 50th anniversary of his death, into the foreseeable future, this carefully researched work will be the definitive, authoritative book on how Thomas Merton died.”

I read this book cover to cover and it is a solid presentation of the logically unbridgeable abyss between the physical evidence that is available for anyone to examine and the official story put out by the U.S. Government and the Church regarding Thomas Merton’s death. What concerns me is not that the U.S. government had a hand in Merton’s murder and cover-up of the murder. Clandestinely murdering innocent people is the ordinary modus operandi of all major governments all the time. What concerns me is that the leadership of the institutional Church acquiesced to a narrative regarding the murder of one of its own, which narrative cannot be sustained, indeed is in contradiction to, the evidence. Of course, maybe the leadership of the institutional Church did not see Merton as one of its own but saw him rather as a hair shirt of truth to whom they were glad to say, ever so piously, “Good riddance.”

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Thomas Merton | January 30, 2015 | Religion & Ethics ...

 

 

 

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At Stake – Kunstler

Posted by M. C. on February 19, 2020

I have a theory about the McCabe case: The Attorney General has taken the rinky-dink “lying to the FBI” charge off the table. It has become a liability, virtually the emblem for government misconduct, and Mr. Barr is getting rid of it in these matters. It has already caused too much mischief, insulted Americans’ sense of justice, and damaged the DOJ’s standing.

https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/at-stake/

James Howard Kunstler

A miasma of consternation lay heavy across the Potomac swamp late last week when former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe was let off the hook for lying to his own bureau while, elsewhere across DC, the distinguished Lt. General Flynn was still fighting for his life against exactly the same charge after three years of dilatory maneuvers by the DOJ to conceal their prosecutorial malfeasance in the case… and then the sketchy Roger Stone matter entered a twilight zone of jiggery-pokery that appeared to climax in a staged ruse by his four prosecutors to lure the Attorney General, Mr. Barr, into a trap.

You are forgiven for failing to follow all the twists and turns in this latest installment of what might now be called CoupGate, a summation of the seditious campaign to overthrow the president, which already has gone through so many gates — SpyGate, RussiaGate, MuellerGate, UkraineGate, WhistleblowerGate — that Mr. Trump looks like he’s spent three years training for the giant slalom in the next winter Olympics. A localized Civil War is underway in the Department of Justice now. Mr. Barr is in the middle, getting it from both sides.

The AG has apparently partitioned the DOJ into two separate realms: the now-identified corps of coupsters working desperately to keep their asses covered in an unraveling conspiracy, and Mr. Barr’s group attempting to account fairly for all that has happened, while salvaging what’s left of the outfit’s institutional legitimacy. Too much documented evidence of crime is out there in the public domain to dismiss these activities as a “conspiracy theory.” The trouble is, so many were involved from so many branches and agencies, that fully prosecuting every angle of it could bring down the permanent bureaucracy like the Jenga tower it has become.

The decision to let Mr. McCabe skate on the lying rap infuriated those demanding accountability for government lawyers-gone-wild, since even the DOJ Inspector General, Mr. Horowitz, cited serial instances of his “lacking candor” in more than one report, and “Andy” seems to have been a pivot-man for the FBI in the early-and-middle phases of the coup — along with his DOJ counterpart, former Deputy Attorney General Rod (“I’ll wear a wire”) Rosenstein.

I have a theory about the McCabe case: The Attorney General has taken the rinky-dink “lying to the FBI” charge off the table. It has become a liability, virtually the emblem for government misconduct, and Mr. Barr is getting rid of it in these matters. It has already caused too much mischief, insulted Americans’ sense of justice, and damaged the DOJ’s standing. Note, Andrew McCabe has been let off only on this charge, stemming from only one particular IG referral; he may well yet be liable for more serious charges-to-come. From here on, there will be no more rinky-dink lying charges against any of those implicated in the coup, only the most serious charges, and only those that add up to a solid case.

The coup has been so broad, deep, and thick that I predict cases will have to be brought under the RICO statutes in batches for different groups in separate agencies and branches of government. For instance, there is the Intel Mob, including former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intel (DNI) James Clapper, current Intel IG Michael Atkinson, so-called whistleblower (he that cannot be named, E*** C**********) and International Man of Mystery Joseph Mifsud. There is the gang from the State Department who helped engineer UkraineGate, including former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, former Sec’y of State John Kerry, and others. There is that big herd of rogue lawyers in the DOJ and its stepchild, the FBI, the names widely disseminated by now, Comey, Strzok, Baker, Boente, Carlin, Clinesmith, et al. There’s Robert Mueller and his henchpersons, Andrew Weissmann, Jeannie Rhee, et al. There’s another band of seditionists in Congress that includes Mark Warner of the Senate Intel Committee, the now notorious idiot Adam Schiff over in the House, and staffers who worked for both. There’s a bunch in the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment that paid over a million dollars to Alternate International Man of Mystery (actually, CIA asset) Stefan Halper to run entrapment schemes against people working for Mr. Trump. There’s a swarm from Barack Obama’s White House, including Valarie Jarrett, Susan Rice, Samantha Powers, Alexandra Chalupa, former Vice-President Joe Biden and the former President himself. And finally, there is the 800-pound-gorilla over in the Democratic Party thicket, namely Hillary Clinton, and those connected to her and her charity fraud, the Clinton Foundation, which is the real and actual predicate for the whole sordid affair — a list that includes Viktor Vekselberg of Russia’s Skolkovo project, $25-million donor Russian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, and Dmitri Alperovich of CrowdStrike, (Russian collusion, anyone?) as well as rascally freelancers such as Christopher Steele, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the shadowy Nellie Ohr, lawyer/lobbyist Adam Waldman, and Hillary errand boys Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer. The stories behind those names are all over the web, in case you want to edify yourself.

Now, perhaps, you can see the scope of this big hot mess, and deduce the degree of difficulty that William Barr faces in attempting to set it all straight. He has to carefully select those who will be charged and probably not bother with some of the bit players. The charges are going to have to be serious, and the cases must be strong. It is a gigantic job of work, and rather delicate business considering the explosive potential to a government whose credibility is already pretty shredded. Failure to attend to it may turn a mere bureaucratic civil war into a genuine citizen rebellion featuring some of the 300-million-odd firearms at large in the republic. I believe Mr. Barr is aware of what’s at stake and will behave honorably.

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The Trial of Joshua Schulte – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 8, 2020

Better to destroy their minds, their sanity and their reputations, and lock them away in Supermax.

…and we may wonder at the strangeness of classification and clearance rules that required the FBI, on behalf of the DoJ, to gather its court evidence about the CIA cyber tools at a Starbuck’s, for the reliable wifi among other things. 

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/02/karen-kwiatkowski/the-trial-of-joshua-schulte/

By

The Vault 7 leaks revealed to Americans an ambitious and venal organization that sees enemies all around it. When the CIA found out about the leak, along with the rest of the world, on March 7th, 2017, it was horrified – in part because the leak had occurred a year earlier unbeknownst to the agency, and in part because of the loss of years and billions of US taxpayer dollars invested in the development of secret malware and spytools.

Cyberscoop has some useful articles on the case, just in case no one saw anything in the mainstream media.

Joshua Schulte’s trial started this week, and the transcript of the first day is interesting. We learn that the quality of federal government expert witnesses can be hysterically low, and that defense lawyer Sabrina Schroff has a gold standard sense of humor.

We may marvel at the loose security in the CIA – as recently as 2016 – and its sexist and racist banter behind vault doors, and we may wonder at the strangeness of classification and clearance rules that required the FBI, on behalf of the DoJ, to gather its court evidence about the CIA cyber tools at a Starbuck’s, for the reliable wifi among other things.

We may tentatively conclude that it is way more fun to be tried for crimes against the state – that you probably did not commit – in the US District Court, Southern District of New York, than it is to be tried by the national security state’s wholly-owned subsidiary, the US District Court, Eastern District of Virginia.

Joshua Schulte has been incarcerated since his arrest in August 2017, on child pornography charges – charges that have since been split out from his current trial.

The US reporting on this case is typical: accusatory Fed-speak and respeak, questionable blogs carrying the torch of righteous patriotism, and a generalized focus on the horrid terribleness of the whole thing from the CIA’s point of view, and my goodness, the nasty man is also nuts, trying to sue the government from prison, claiming he’s innocent, he’s been tortured, and he will work to destroy the US government if he ever gets out of jail.

The situation for Schulte is perilous, whether he is innocent or guilty.  He’s behaving kind of like an innocent guy, in the sense that since his arrest he has consistently denied all the charges, and accused his former employer of planting the porn on his computer as a means of justifying his arrest. The feds clearly don’t have the usable evidence they would actually need to convict Schulte on any of the charges.  I’m sure they will convict, through parallel construction or normal fabrication, but the destruction of Schulte’s reputation and tainting any potential jury is typical.  It’s how the CIA and FBI deals with its enemies on any normal day.  Of course, the federal government would never put illegal software or distasteful material on your computer.

Julian Assange has been at UK’s Belmarsh Prison since last spring, where he has been physically, mentally and chemically tortured by US contractors on US orders. The CIA and its contractors conducted these euphemistically described “interviews” for months, seeking passwords, codes, names and encryption keys that would allow the US DoJ and CIA to track down the donors of material to Wikileaks, and arrest or extradite them.  This work was largely complete by the end of the summer, and a number of arrests have been made throughout European countries. Information tortured out of a stubborn Australian by Americans in Britain – cloaked, ironed, laundered, and dyed – is already being used in a variety of ongoing and upcoming cases. These are kangaroo courts, trials conducted by mad submarine captains obsessed with shirttails and strawberries, proposing an Alice in Wonderland world of evidence, like Lewis Carroll’s unicorn, “…if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?”

We know that we are cannot know the identities of the five CIA lawyers who repeated advised the magistrate during court proceedings in Assange’s brief public appearance last November.  We know that all ongoing and upcoming trials of suspected Wikileaks’s contributors are being prosecuted using information gained through the chemical and physical interrogation of the famous inmate the Belmarsh staff nicknamed “Prisoner Bootsy,” a play on the UK’s ubiquitous drugstore chain.

We know that the CIA and FBI have to tread carefully in any trials relating to Wikileaks, in part because of what might be revealed of the US Government’s compromise of the tools and methods of potential whistleblowers, like Tor, the maturation of the US surveillance state, and the sophistication of US information warfare against and manipulation of its own citizens. The Democratic wing of the US uniparty is not interested in the Seth Rich leaks to Wikileaks, nor is it interested in discovering if their problematic caucus app is bugged, malwared, and accessible in real-time to certain US government agencies.  The GOP wing of the uniparty is likewise uninterested in bringing its celebrated and massive security and surveillance state to heel, as if that devil dog is even on a leash they hold.

Better to destroy their minds, their sanity and their reputations, and lock them away in Supermax.

While the dystopian plain enjoys the soothing release of a national championship, complete with impossibly fit middle-aged pole dancers, and applaud the Blue and Grey Theater of Impeachment, there is another very different world, where puppetmasters meet to drink and dine, discuss and plot.

Our country is not openly wracked with war, violence and disaster yet.  But like those who live in war zones, hot zones, and dead zones, Americans must tread carefully, trust sparingly, and keep our eyes wide open.

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FIB

 

 

 

 

 

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Obama administration used classification for censorship before Bolton

Posted by M. C. on February 5, 2020

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/02/04/obama-administration-has-weaponized-classification-and-censorship-before-bolton-column/4622713002/

James Bovard
Opinion columnist

Ever since the 9/11 attacks, Republicans and Democrats have conspired to keep Americans increasingly ignorant of what the federal government does. The number of secret federal documents skyrocketed, and any information classified was treated like a political holy relic that could not be exposed without dooming the nation. Ironically, the fate of the Trump presidency may hinge on perpetuating the unjustifiable secrecy now pervading Washington.

John Bolton wrote a book about his experiences as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser that could provide key information regarding Trump’s dealing with the Ukrainian government, and Democratic members of Congress are calling for the manuscript to be made public. Former government officials are obliged to submit their publications for review to ensure that no classified information is revealedBolton’s lawyer denies that the book contains classified information, but previous manuscript reviews of other would-be authors have dragged out for months or years.

 

Obama weaponized classification

Since the 1990s, the number of classified documents annually by federal agencies has increased more than 15 times.

In 2004, then-Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., derided the federal classification system as “incomprehensibly complex” and “so bloated it often does not distinguish between the critically important and the comically irrelevant.”

The New York Times reported in 2005 that federal agencies were “classifying documents at the rate of 125 a minute as they create new categories of semi-secrets bearing vague labels like ‘sensitive security information.’ “

Each classified document is tacitly backed by a federal iron fist ready to squash anyone who discloses it without permission. Regardless of whether the Trump White House is conniving to stifle Bolton’s disclosures, it was the Obama White House that weaponized classification. J. William Leonard, former chief of the federal Information Security Oversight Office, complained in 2011 that the Obama administration had “criminally prosecuted more leakers of purportedly classified information than all previous administrations combined.”

For the Obama administration, leaking classified information to the news media was worse than spying for a hostile government. Its Justice Department declared in 2011 that government officials who “elected to disclose the classified information publicly through the mass media” were “posing an even greater threat to society” than do foreign spies.

The Obama administration believed that its classification decrees were so sacrosanct, no federal judge could overturn them. “We don’t think there is a First Amendment right to classified documents,” Justice Department lawyer Catherine Dorsey told a federal judge in 2015.

Dorsey agreed that the government’s position was tantamount to claiming that the court “has absolutely no authority” to unseal evidence even if it’s clear the government’s bid to keep it secret is based on “irrationality” or that it’s “hiding something,” as The Intercept reported.

National security adviser John Bolton.

Classification is also a literary scourge. Hundreds of thousands of former officials and military personnel with security clearances must allow pre-publication reviews of their books and other writings. Former Justice Department lawyer Jesselyn Radack observed that pre-publication review “has always been a filter to promote fawning memoirs by senior government officials while censoring whistleblowers and critics.”

2019 lawsuit claimed that the pre-publication censorship vested excessive power in government officials who, according to The New York Times, “can delay or discriminate against lower-ranking people who criticize government actions, while speedily clearing favorable memoirs and other writings by retired senior officials.”

Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, declared, “This far-reaching censorship system simply can’t be squared with the Constitution.”

Classification: A convenience for politicians to dominate media

Torturers have benefited mightily from censorship. Mark Fallon, a veteran counterintelligence officer and counterterrorism expert, wrote a book entitled  “Unjustifiable Means: The Inside Story of How the CIA, Pentagon and U.S. Government Conspired to Torture.” But his account of the torture regime was badly delayed and heavily censored. Fallon charges that books by the architects and apologists for CIA torture — including former CIA Director George Tenet, former acting general counsel John Rizzo and former Counterterrorism Center chief Jose Rodriguez — were treated better in the pre-publication process.

Similarly, when former FBI counterterrorism agent Ali Soufan wrote a book on CIA torture abuses, the CIA demanded that Soufan — who was on-site for brutal interrogations — remove the pronouns “I” and “me” from his narrative. The CIA also deleted quotes in his book that had appeared in congressional hearing transcripts.

Trump will be back:If impeachment-tainted Trump loses in 2020, he’ll be back

Classification is often a political flag of convenience that politicians exploit to dominate the media. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd observed in 2006, “The entire Iraq War was paved by (Bush administration) leaks. Cheney & Co. were so busy trying to prove a mushroom cloud was emanating from (Saddam Hussein’s) direction, they could not leak their cherry-picked stories fast enough.”

Bush administration disclosures of sensitive information were often handed on a silver platter to pliant journalists. Newsweek’s Richard Wolffe explained the Bush White House method: “They declassify when they feel like it. I’ve been with senior administration officials who have just decided to declassify something in front of me because it’s bolstering their argument.”

When federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced former Trump aide Rick Gates last month, she declared, “If people don’t have the facts, democracy doesn’t work.”

But Republicans and Democrats in Washington have long since approved denying Americans the facts millions of times a year. Unfortunately, secrecy and lying are often two sides of the same political coin.

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The FBI Has Been Lying About Seth Rich – Craig Murray

Posted by M. C. on January 31, 2020

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/01/the-fbi-has-been-lying-about-seth-rich/

by

A persistent American lawyer has uncovered the undeniable fact that the FBI has been continuously lying, including giving false testimony in court, in response to Freedom of Information requests for its records on Seth Rich. The FBI has previously given affidavits that it has no records regarding Seth Rich.

A Freedom of Information request to the FBI which did not mention Seth Rich, but asked for all email correspondence between FBI Head of Counterterrorism Peter Strzok, who headed the investigation into the DNC leaks and Wikileaks, and FBI attorney Lisa Page, has revealed two pages of emails which do not merely mention Seth Rich but have “Seth Rich” as their heading. The emails were provided in, to say the least, heavily redacted form.

Before I analyse these particular emails, I should make plain that they are not the major point. The major point is that the FBI claimed it had no records mentioning Seth Rich, and these have come to light in response to a different FOIA request that was not about him. What other falsely denied documents does the FBI hold about Rich, that were not fortuitously picked up by a search for correspondence between two named individuals?

To look at the documents themselves, they have to be read from the bottom up, and they consist of a series of emails between members of the Washington Field Office of the FBI (WF in the telegrams) into which Strzok was copied in, and which he ultimately forwarded on to the lawyer Lisa Page.

The opening email, at the bottom, dated 10 August 2016 at 10.32am, precisely just one month after the murder of Seth Rich, is from the media handling department of the Washington Field Office. It references Wikileaks’ offer of a reward for information on the murder of Seth Rich, and that Assange seemed to imply Rich was the source of the DNC leaks. The media handlers are asking the operations side of the FBI field office for any information on the case. The unredacted part of the reply fits with the official narrative. The redacted individual officer is “not aware of any specific involvement” by the FBI in the Seth Rich case. But his next sentence is completely redacted. Why?

It appears that “adding” references a new person added in to the list. This appears to have not worked, and probably the same person (precisely same length of deleted name) then tries again, with “adding … for real” and blames the technology – “stupid Samsung”. The interesting point here is that the person added appears not to be in the FBI – a new redacted addressee does indeed appear, and unlike all the others does not have an FBI suffix after their deleted email address. So who are they?

(This section on “adding” was updated after commenters offered a better explanation than my original one. See first comments below).

The fourth email, at 1pm on Wednesday August 10, 2016, is much the most interesting. It is ostensibly also from the Washington Field Office, but it is from somebody using a different classified email system with a very different time and date format than the others. It is apparently from somebody more senior, as the reply to it is “will do”. And every single word of this instruction has been blanked. The final email, saying that “I squashed this with …..”, is from a new person again, with the shortest name. That phrase may only have meant I denied this to a journalist, or it may have been reporting an operational command given.

As the final act in this drama, Strzok then sent the whole thread on to the lawyer, which is why we now have it. Why?

It is perfectly possible to fill in the blanks with a conversation that completely fits the official narrative. The deletions could say this was a waste of time and the FBI was not looking at the Rich case. But in that case, the FBI would have been delighted to publish it unredacted. (The small numbers in the right hand margins supposedly detail the exception to the FOIA under which deletion was made. In almost every case they are one or other category of invasion of privacy).

And if it just all said “Assange is talking nonsense. Seth Rich is nothing to do with the FBI” then why would that have to be sent on by Strzok to the FBI lawyer?

It is of course fortunate that Strzok did forward this one email thread on to the lawyer, because that is the only reason we have seen it, as a result of an FOI(A) request for the correspondence between those two.

Finally, and perhaps this is the most important point, the FBI was at this time supposed to be in the early stages of an investigation into how the DNC emails were leaked to Wikileaks. The FBI here believed Wikileaks to be indicating the material had been leaked by Seth Rich who had then been murdered. Surely in any legitimate investigation, the investigators would have been absolutely compelled to check out the truth of this possibility, rather than treat it as a media issue?

We are asked to believe that not one of these emails says “well if the publisher of the emails says Seth Rich was the source, we had better check that out, especially as he was murdered with no sign of a suspect”. If the FBI really did not look at that, why on earth not? If the FBI genuinely, as they claim, did not even look at the murder of Seth Rich, that would surely be the most damning fact of all and reveal their “investigation” was entirely agenda driven from the start.

In June 2016 a vast cache of the DNC emails were leaked to Wikileaks. On 10 July 2016 an employee from the location of the leak was murdered without obvious motive, in an alleged street robbery in which nothing at all was stolen. Not to investigate the possibility of a link between the two incidents would be grossly negligent. It is worth adding that, contrary to a propaganda barrage, Bloomingdale where Rich was murdered is a very pleasant area of Washington DC and by no means a murder hotspot. It is also worth noting that not only is there no suspect in Seth Rich’s murder, there has never been any semblance of a serious effort to find the killer. Washington police appear perfectly happy simply to write this case off.

I anticipate two responses to this article in terms of irrelevant and illogical whataboutery:

Firstly, it is very often the case that family members are extremely resistant to the notion that the murder of a relative may have wider political implications. This is perfectly natural. The appalling grief of losing a loved one to murder is extraordinary; to reject the cognitive dissonance of having your political worldview shattered at the same time is very natural. In the case of David Kelly, of Seth Rich, and of Wille Macrae, we see families reacting with emotional hostility to the notion that the death raises wider questions. Occasionally the motive may be still more mixed, with the prior relationship between the family and the deceased subject to other strains (I am not referencing the Rich case here).

You do occasionally get particularly stout hearted family who take the opposite tack and are prepared to take on the authorities in the search for justice, of which Commander Robert Green, son of Hilda Murrell, is a worthy example.

(As an interesting aside, I just checked his name in the Wikipedia article on Hilda, which I discovered describes Tam Dalyell “hounding” Margaret Thatcher over the Belgrano and the fact that ship was steaming away from the Falklands when destroyed with massive loss of life as a “second conspiracy theory”, the first of course being the murder of Hilda Murrell. Wikipedia really has become a cesspool.)

We have powerful cultural taboos that reinforce the notion that if the family do not want the question of the death of their loved one disturbed, nobody else should bring it up. Seth Rich’s parents, David Kelly’s wife, Willie Macrae’s brother have all been deployed by the media and the powers behind them to this effect, among many other examples. This is an emotionally powerful but logically weak method of restricting enquiry.

Secondly, I do not know and I deliberately have not inquired what are the views on other subjects of either Mr Ty Clevenger, who brought his evidence and blog to my attention, or Judicial Watch, who made the FOIA request that revealed these documents. I am interested in the evidence presented both that the FBI lied, and in the documents themselves. Those who obtained the documents may, for all I know, be dedicated otter baiters or believe in stealing ice cream from children. I am referencing the evidence they have obtained in this particular case, not endorsing – or condemning – anything else in their lives or work. I really have had enough of illogical detraction by association as a way of avoiding logical argument by an absurd extension of ad hominem argument to third parties.

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On MLK Day 2020: The Mythmaking Continued…on Steroids – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on January 24, 2020

Of all the men in America, Hoover was the one least likely to be tolerant of Reverend King’s sexual content. In addition to being anti-Negro, Hoover considered himself to be a devout Christian. Apparently he was a celibate and he may have been a latent homosexual. So a black reverend troublemaker receiving the Nobel Peace Prize while practicing adultry . . . this was enough to drive Hoover up the wall!

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/01/phillip-f-nelson/mlk-day-2020-the-mythmaking-continues-on-steroids-2/

By

LBJ: Master of Deceit

Civil Rights Leaders Memorialize Martin Luther King’s Birthday Last Year

Given the known fact that many current-day leaders of the civil rights campaign harbor doubts (while some have no doubts as to the proven fallacies) about the “official” story, they must have conflicted thoughts as to their participation in the twice-annual memorials to his life and legendary accomplishments. Does the desire to honor his legacy at the site where he was killed connote an implicit acceptance of the mythology about how he became a martyr? Other newspapers from across the country and around the world will also deal with this “disconnect” one way or another.

Deconstructing the Official Mythology: Starting With the Original Sources

It is safe to say that the vast majority will choose the easy course: to repeat the “same old” story originally concocted by the novelist William Bradford Huie in his three articles published in Look magazine in 1968-69 and his 1970 book He Slew the Dreamer (though originally “He” was supposed to be “They”, a canard he used to solicit the cooperation of the subject of his book: the accused assassin James Earl Ray).

But Huie’s story was clearly commissioned by the FBI, in advance, as a means to convince an entire nation that Ray was the assassin, in the process casting him just as the assassin’s profile described him: “An uneducated, poor, southern White man, who hated Blacks and Martin Luther King especially; who stalked Dr. King for weeks before murdering him in Memphis.” Huie, following Hoover’s directive, succeeded in creating this meme despite the fact that, according to many credible people including Dr. King’s own family and several associates, Ray was not a racist, nor did he hate or stalk King. Even the HSCA found that Ray was not a racist, one of the only accomplishments of that corrupted “investigation.”

In my book Who Really Killed Martin Luther King Jr. — The Case Against Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover, I have proven that Huie’s book (used by the FBI, DOJ and the HSCA to support their faux “investigations”) is filled with brazen lies, half-truths and concocted “events” that never happened. It is the sum total of this irrefutable evidence that proves Huie’s mission was defined for him by the men (Hoover, Tolson, DeLoach and Sullivan) and entity (FBI) from whom he obviously got his orders.

There is no other realistic and plausible explanation for why Huie did what he did: What else could possibly explain why he went out of his way to concoct a story that was built on a foundation of now-provable lies? (thanks to the internet, which makes once extremely difficult access to old newspapers and previously-classified FBI and HSCA documents now readily accessible).

And after Huie’s story was published in book form in 1970, he still wasn’t done. In 1977, after the Church Committee’s report came out in 1975-76 chronicling the FBI’s outrageous harassment of Dr. King for decades before his assassination — when many people, especially Blacks, began suspecting a continuing FBI role in his final “neutralization” — Huie republished the book under a new title: Did the FBI Kill Martin Luther King? The chapters were not changed, but he added a new introduction and epilogue.

Between the original and later editions of Huie’s book, two other FBI-commissioned books, recycling and adding to his lies, were published (Gerold Frank’s An American Death . . ., and George McMillan’s The Making of an Assassin . . . ), all of which became the foundation for — and the “bibles” quoted by the HSCA and the national media — the official version of what has been exposed as another “great” American Myth.

Since then, in practically every decade, new offerings have joined those fictional accounts, including those by Gerald Posner, Hamilton Sides, Pate McMichael, Larry Hancock and Stuart Wexler, (and numerous others of lesser note). Each of them add more fodder to the now-severely addled official story that almost no one believes, but many accept merely because it is so often repeated — and relentlessly pushed by the MSM — as per the aphorism by Joseph Goebbels about lies eventually becoming “truths.”


MLK to his “Friend” (From the Grave): Et tu, Bradford? Read the rest of this entry »

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Shame: We Stood By While Saudis Helped Criminals Flee U.S. | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on January 21, 2020

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/state-of-the-union/shame-we-stood-by-while-saudis-helped-criminals-flee-u-s/

Thanks to a law quietly passed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and signed by President Trump in December, we now know that the Saudi government has helped an untold number of its citizens committing crimes here in the U.S. flee back to the Kingdom before facing justice.

This includes Saudis accused of assault, rape and manslaughter, including the 2013 hit-and-run of a 15-year-old girl. It is done, press reports indicate, right under the noses of the FBI, Homeland Security, and “other agencies,” who have not intervened, ostensively because of the special security relationship between the two countries.

In a stunning report yesterday, Shane Dixon Kavanaugh of the Oregonian/OregonLive said his paper obtained a declassified memo under the new directive. In it, the FBI reveals what it knows about Saudi criminals fleeing ahead of court dates, often in the middle of the night, and even after their passports were surrendered to judges. According to Dixon Kavanaugh:

The surreptitious action is done, in part, to spare the wealthy Persian Gulf kingdom embarrassment, the FBI said. Intelligence officials believe the flights from justice will continue without intervention by the American authorities.

Saudi officials “are unlikely to alter this practice in the near term unless the US Government directly addresses this issue with (Saudi Arabia) and ties US cooperation on (Saudi) priorities to ceasing this activity,” according to the FBI.

Wyden, who initiated the bill that would declassify FBI records about these myriad questions, was stunned when the paper first reported the news on Friday.

“I am shocked and appalled at what this memo describes,” he tweeted. “The Trump administration is out of excuses for sitting on its hands while the Saudi government helps these fugitives evade justice.”

But as the report relates, these cases go back some 30 years and several presidential administrations. The newspaper has been working on this story since April when it reported several recent cases in Oregon alone:

They include two accused rapists, a pair of suspected hit-and-run drivers and one man with child porn on his computer.

The five cases share many similarities:

– All were young men studying at a public college or university in Oregon with assistance from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the time of their arrest.

– In four of the cases, the Saudi government stepped in to help, posting large sums of money for bail and possibly underwriting legal fees.

– Three surrendered their passports.

– All disappeared while facing charges or jail time.

But we know that the problem goes way beyond Oregon and all the way to the top. According to a ProPublica report in April by Dixon Kavanaugh, Sebastian Rotella, and Tim Golden, the U.S. government has long put its security relationship ahead of its human rights and justice concerns.

“It’s not that the issue of Saudi fugitives from the U.S. wasn’t important,” said retired FBI agent Jeffrey Danik, who served as the agency’s assistant legal attache in Riyadh from 2010 to 2012. “It’s that the security relationship was so much more important. On counterterrorism, on protecting the U.S. and its partners, on opposing Iran, the Saudis were invaluable allies.”

While the federal officials interviewed by the reporters seemed to deflect the problem (“it never came to my desk,” “there was little communication from local agencies”) it becomes clear that there was no incentive to make it an issue. And because of the heavy redactions in the memo, and what we are going to assume is scattershot reporting on this across the board, it is difficult to get a handle on how widespread this is.

Within the federal government, information about the Saudi cases has been scattered across several agencies, none of which have had much incentive to address the problem. FBI and CIA officials in Saudi Arabia have concentrated on preserving Saudi cooperation in the fight against Islamist terrorism; matters that might jeopardize that goal have often been avoided, officials said.

Obviously this raises even more questions about our foreign military trainees, 21 of which are being expelled from the U.S. this week because extremist material and child porn were found on their computers and/or personal devices (apparently not enough to prosecute). According to federal officials the men were not tied to the Saudi trainee at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola who killed three airmen and injured eight others, while his compatriots captured it on video on Dec. 6.

Wyden and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, have introduced additional legislation that would get to the bottom of how fugitives are allowed to slip through the system. They appear to be the only members of Congress who give a damn.

“The Saudis are supposed to be our allies,” Wyden told The Oregonian. “If these are our friends, who needs enemies?”

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Why in the world would Wyden (and Trump) think the Saudis are our allies? The Wahabists support the worst of the worst Islamic jihadi terrorists, gave us Osama bin Laden and 17 of the 9/11 hijackers, support extremist Islamic madrassas world wide and bomb Yemeni schools and hospitals. And for some reason the US is fixated on Iran? How about the Trump administration turn at least some of their attention to holding the Saudis accountable for all the Wahabist atrocities inflicted on the world.

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Judge slams FBI for improper cellphone search, stingray use | Ars Technica

Posted by M. C. on January 19, 2020

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/07/judge-slams-fbi-for-improper-cellphone-search-stingray-use/

 

A federal judge in San Francisco recently excoriated the government over its improper methods in searching one suspect’s cell phone and in the use of a stingray to find an alleged co-conspirator.

Prosecutors say the two men, Donnell Artis and Chanta Hopkins, were engaged in credit card fraud and also illegally possessed firearms, among other pending charges that also involve four other people.

The crux of the issue is that, in April 2016, an FBI agent sought and obtained two warrants from an Alameda County Superior Court judge: one to search Artis’ phone and another to deploy a stingray to locate Hopkins.

As Ars has reported for years, stingrays are in use by both local and federal law enforcement agencies nationwide. The devices determine a target phone’s location by spoofing or simulating a cell tower. Mobile phones in range of the stingray then connect to it and exchange data with the device as they would with a real cell tower.

Once deployed, stingrays intercept data from the target phone along with information from other phones within the vicinity—up to and including full calls and text messages. At times, police have falsely claimed that information gathered from a stingray has instead come from a confidential informant.

Good faith

However, California law does not allow state judges to sign off on warrants for federal agents, something that this particular FBI agent, Stonie Carlson, apparently did not know.

“But the two warrants were plagued by numerous errors, reflecting a pattern of systematic recklessness by law enforcement that militates in favor of suppressing the evidence (and against applying the ‘good-faith exception’ to the exclusionary rule),” US District Judge Vince Chhabria wrote in a July 3 order. “This ruling is published separately to put the relevant actors in the criminal justice system on notice that California law prevents state judges from issuing search warrants to federal law enforcement officers, which means that federal law enforcement officers are not permitted to execute such warrants.”

In a hearing before Judge Chhabria on Tuesday, July 17, prosecutors reiterated that they would seek to appeal his separate order that suppressed evidence obtained as a result of those illegal searches. This process will take months to be heard before the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. If this ruling is upheld, it would throw a major wrench into the prosecutions of Artis and Hopkins.

“The good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule does not apply in this case,” Judge Chhabria wrote in the second July 3 order. “Perhaps any one of the above-referenced errors, viewed in isolation, could be excused under the good-faith exception. But the whole string of errors embodied in these warrant applications militates against applying the good-faith exception. Indeed, although the above-described errors are the most egregious ones, they are not the only instances of sloppy, inappropriate law enforcement work.”

In his orders, Judge Chhabria referred multiple times to a recent stingray case out of Oakland, United States v. Ellis, in which another federal judge definitively found that using a stingray requires a valid warrant.

During a December 2017 hearing, Judge Chhabria also had this incredible exchange with Randall Leonard, an Assistant United States Attorney who argued that because Agent Carlson was part of a sheriff-federal task force, he should be considered a sheriff, with all the rights of a state “peace officer.”

Judge Chhabria didn’t buy it.

THE COURT: Federal law makes him a sheriff under California law?

MR. LEONARD: Well, I mean—

THE COURT: So if federal law said that all French poodles are sheriffs under California law, would that be OK?

MR. LEONARD: Of course not, Your Honor.

THE COURT: There would have to be California law saying, “Yes, we agree that French poodles are sheriffs;” right?

MR. LEONARD: Certainly.

THE COURT: Otherwise French poodles would not be a sheriff under California law, right?

MR. LEONARD: That’s right.

In short, because Carlson had the wrong type of warrant, that was effectively the same as having no warrant at all—therefore, it was an unconstitutional search. Ultimately, Judge Chhabria found this argument convincing.

“The judge’s order suppressing the FBI agent’s illegal use of the cell-site simulator to locate Mr. Hopkins is in line with the understanding that we all have a legally recognized privacy expectation in our location,” Gruel emailed Ars.

“Whether the FBI uses a GPS or a stingray device to locate someone, the courts are clear that there must be a search warrant supported by probable cause.”

Plus, he added: “We had to dig up what the FBI agent hid. There was an obvious effort to hide the truth about using the stingray device to locate and arrest my client.”

The United States Attorney’s Office in San Francisco did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.

Both sides are due back in court on September 4.

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