The FBI has orchestrated "14 out of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks [on U.S. soil] since 9/11" according to the NY Times' counting. As noted previously though, Mother Jones' investigative report found that "all [but three] of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings" and one third of terrorist defendants were actually led by an FBI agent provocateur, often outside contractors. A Rolling Stone blogger has now called out the FBI for "singling out ideological enemies [of the State]", including the FBI's recent Ohio bridge plot, while ignoring much more dangerous right wing groups, including white supremacists. [more inside]
If you're a DVD/BluRay viewer who is already annoyed by delaying, annoying animated menus or previews, get ready for 20 additional seconds of wait time. Yesterday the U.S. government announced an update to the old FBI copyright warning on home video, which will now appear in the form of two different anti-piracy warnings, each ten seconds long and both unskippable.
"At a time when most old films were still protected by copyright and studios were urging the FBI to prosecute individuals owning copyrighted films, movie collecting was a largely underground and somewhat dangerous activity." In 1977, for example, a 20 year old film collector was visited by the FBI. The agents, posing as fellow collectors, entered his home and seized his collection. His case wasn't unique. Even the stars — most famously, Roddy McDowall — were subject to the legal wrath of the very studios they worked for. Still, some collectors got away with it (including one J. D. Salinger). [more inside]
According to an FBI press release and various news sources, five "self-proclaimed anarchists" were arrested in connection with an alleged plot to blow up an Ohio bridge. [more inside]
The 33 year-old search for six-year old Etan Patz, who disappeared walking home from school for the first time, may finally be over. “ After his disappearance, Etan was the first child to appear on a milk carton. [more inside]
Law enforcement agents on two continents swooped in on top members of the infamous computer hacking group LulzSec early this morning [more inside]
"Carried to its logical end, TSA policy would have to require passengers to travel naked or handcuffed."
"The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) ... have made air travel the most difficult means of mass transit in the United States, at the same time failing to make air travel any more secure." Steve Moore has been an FBI Special Agent, head of the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force's Al Qaeda and extra-territorial squads, a SWAT agent trained to interdict airplane hijackings, and a pilot. His father literally wrote the book on airline security. And he has come to the conclusion that "TSA is one of the worst-run, ineffective and most unnecessarily intrusive agencies in the United States government." [more inside]
FBI General Counsel reveals that around 3,000 warrantless GPS trackers were removed after the ruling in U.S v. Jones clarified their illegality (judgement PDF) (previous FPP). The ruling that a mosaic of surveillance technologies may form an issue when considered individually and the FBI's view of likely future judgements on the matter is particularly interesting in the light of the forthcoming cert/standing findings regarding warrantless eavesdropping.
Files have been released showing that the MI5 investigated Charlie Chaplin's origins at the request of the FBI, attempting to check claims that besides being a communist, he might be Jewish, and/or French. His life story by his own account has him born in London, but no birth certificate has been found and last year evidence emerged that he might in fact have been born in a gypsy camp.
Please be advised that the FBI’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) release regarding (STEVEN PAUL JOBS) is now available.
Hacker group Anonymous joined the FBI - Scotland Yard conference call coordinating their strategy against Anonymous. Call recording is now on YouTube with some suspect names bleeped.
"Planning to make a joke on Twitter about bombing something? You might want to reconsider: According to a report from Britain, two tourists were detained and denied entry into the U.S. recently after they joked about destroying America and digging up Marilyn Monroe. That the Homeland Security Dept. and other authorities—including the FBI—are monitoring such social media as Twitter and Facebook isn’t surprising. That these authorities are willing to detain people based on what is clearly a harmless joke, however, raises questions about what the impact of all that monitoring will be."* [more inside]
This past November, news broke of a rather odd domestic terror plot that had been broken up by the FBI. Four senior citizens in northern Georgia who met regularly at a local Waffle House, were allegedly planning to spread ricin and botulinum toxin in Atlanta and Washington, DC, in order to kill millions of people and "save the Constitution." But was there ever really a conspiracy?
Americans Elect is an organization creating a ready-made slot on the 2012 presidential ballot for an unnamed independent ticket, thus removing the biggest barrier to a 3rd party challenge. (Donald Trump suggests himself.) The NYT thinks they'll qualify in all 50 states. They say they want a non-partisan, mixed-party ticket. Some on the left see a cabal of shadowy millionaires with ties to the FBI, CIA and military behind it. Team Obama is concerned.
Giving the F.B.I. What It Wants. "A Bangladeshi-born artist and academic is mistakenly detained at the Detroit airport. He doesn’t get mad. He gets even." [Via] [more inside]
Following a months-long investigation, the Department of Justice has announced the existence of a well-funded plot "conceived, sponsored and directed" by "high-ranking members of the Iranian government" to assassinate Saudi Arabian ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir on U.S. soil in conjunction with informants in Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas. The "Hollywood" plot, revealed in an afternoon press conference and described in a detailed 21-page complaint [PDF], is alleged to have involved an attack on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C. One suspect, naturalized American citizen Arbab Arbabsiar, has been arrested, while co-conspirator and Quds Force member Gholam Shakuri remains at large. Iranian officials were quick to label the charges a "fabrication" intended to distract from America's economic troubles.
Though the posters and trailers promise quality performances, Clint Eastwood's biopic J. Edgar seems intent on skirting certain issues in the former FBI director's personal life. The JEH Foundation is already denying the "rumors" louder than ever, but so far there's little indication that they've got anything to fear beyond a little hand-holding. QUEERTY asks: if Clint Eastwood is cool with homos, why is he freaking out about J. Edgar not being a gay movie? Despite the tame promos, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black insists that the gay subplot makes up "about a third" of the story. Meanwhile, an upcoming memoir by former Hollywood pimpster Scotty Bowers is rumored to contain a firsthand account of a gay weekend getaway with Hoover and company.
The FBI presents: Laser Pointer Leads to Arrest. Laser events logged by the FAA in 2010 nearly doubled from 2009, with 2,836 reports. [more inside]
The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding mechanism for combat.”While the FBI's monitoring of Muslims and infiltration of mosques in the United States is nothing new, this is the first time I've seen any of documents they use to train some of their agents. [more inside]
Straight outta Cleveland. Rapper Machine Gun Kelly headlined the Village Voice's music section last week ahead of a show in New York last weekend and after inking a deal with Bad Boy records earlier this month. [more inside]
And how much better to die in all the happy period of undisillusioned youth, to go out in a blaze of light, than to have your body worn out and old and illusions shattered.
A FOIA request for Ernest Hemingway's FBI file has revealed that J. Edgar Hoover had placed him under surveillance due to his activities in Cuba. His fear that the FBI was spying on him was previously viewed as a consequence of the mental deterioration that eventually lead to his suicide.
The F.B.I raided a data center in Reston, VA yesterday morning, seizing three racks of servers and disrupting service to the Curbed Network, Pinboard.in, Instapaper, altlabs.co.au, and took the physical servers of tens of other clients. Curbed and AltLabs are currently still down. The F.B.I was reported in pursuit of one individual user, and agents took entire server racks, perhaps because they mistakenly thought that “one enclosure is = to one server” according to DigitialOne, the Swiss hosting company.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.
It started with a warehouse in the town of Milford. Now the investigation of Delaware businessman Christopher Tigani has expanded from a shady land deal to $200,000 in illegal campaign contributions to everybody from state legislators to Vice President Joe Biden. [more inside]
Battle Brews Over FBI’s Warrantless GPS Tracking. How to Check Your Car for a GPS Tracker. FBI Vehicle-Tracking Device: The Teardown. Video: The Dissection of an FBI Bumper-Beeper. Previously.
"I didn't realize I was playing a chess game for my life with the FBI. They were playing chess, and I was off finger-painting in the corner." Rick Wilson, an occasional activist who liked to throw after-hours parties in his Capitol Hill apartment, was the target of an intricate and costly 2-year long undercover sting operation led by the Seattle Police Department and the FBI. Their goal; to get Rick to reveal his ties to eco-terrorism groups and two of the more progressive city council members. (Members who have encourage increased oversight of the SPD) The only problem, there were no such ties. [more inside]
Crime Magazine features a rather matter-of-fact account of one of Leslie Ibsen Rogge's (wiki) bank robberies. The article is an excerpt from a new book by Dane Batty, Rogge's nephew, called Wanted: Gentleman bank robber: The True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, One of the FBI’s Most Elusive Criminals. Rogge was once on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, and is apparently the first from that list brought in due to the Internet. He is due to be released in 2047.
Mining the Mother of all Data Dumps We now have a relatively massive haul of digital data from the OBL strike. There are several forensic toolkits in use by the private (commercially available) and public sector as well as open-source. Best practices include inventorying all the sources, cloning the sources so as to not damage pristine data, recovering any partial or damaged content, making the cloned sources read-only, adhering to legally-admissible tools standards, and documenting everything. There is an excellent source titled Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content from the Council on Library and Information Resources [pdf, Resource Shelf]. But what to do next*? [more inside]
As part of making documents available following Freedom of Information Act requests, the FBI has set up The Vault, including documents on unexplained phenomenon. One document in particular, the Guy Hottel memo, had some proclaiming "these are the real life X-Files." Except it's not - the document is real, but the report was based on a hoax that is known by many UFO debunkers.
On June 30, 1999, sheriff’s officers in St. Louis, Missouri discovered the body of 41-year-old Ricky McCormick. He had been murdered and dumped in a field. The only clues regarding the homicide were two encrypted notes found in the victim’s pants pockets. The FBI is now asking the public to help them solve the murder.
Anthrax Redux. Wired's gripping account of the FBI's investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks.
Bernard NotHaus has been convicted of possessing and selling coins that resemble United States coins, violating U.S.C. 18 § 486 and other US statutes. This follows three years after a raid on the Liberty Dollar offices. The trial took four days, the deliberation all of two hours. The US government is now pursuing a forfeiture case against Liberty Services for approximately $7 Million. (previously) [more inside]
Fuhgedddaboutit! This morning, FBI agents conducted a multi-city raid across the Northeast, busting over 120 suspected mobsters in one of the largest raids in FBI history. The Village Voice blog helpfully provides this list of the 20 best nicknames of the suspects, including such immortals as Junior Lollipops, Tony Bagels, Jimmy Gooch, and Vinnie Carwash. They should have known something was up when the feds came looking for Joey Cupcakes.
Theo de Raadt: I have received a mail regarding the early development of the OpenBSD IPSEC stack. It is alleged that some ex-developers (and the company they worked for) accepted US government money to put backdoors into our network stack, in particular the IPSEC stack. [more inside]
A worshiper at a California mosque called frequently for violent jihad against the West. This freaked out his fellow attendees so much that they took out a restraining order on him... and learned he was an informant planted by the FBI.
The FBI has a long history of targeting peace and social justice activists. Now activists across the country are sounding the alarm. It's happening again.
Civil Rights Photographer Unmasked as Informer. This week, The Commercial Appeal in Memphis published the results of a two year investigation that revealed that iconic Civil Rights photographer Ernest Withers was also a paid FBI informant. The timing of the report is awkward.
The Smoking Gun has come into possession of an unusual RFP from the DEA: they want 'Ebonics experts' to help decipher wiretaps.
Did you forget about what the TSA allows in carry on bags? Need to know if that guy behind you in line is on the FBI's most wanted list? Need to look up a zip code? Calculate your BMI on the road? The US Government has an app for that. [more inside]
ACLU launches "Spyfiles" to track domestic surveillance. "The American Civil Liberties Union launched a new website Tuesday to track incidents of domestic political surveillance by the government along with a report (PDF) claiming such incidents have increased steadily since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. According to the report there have been 111 incidents of illegal domestic political surveillance since 9/11 in 33 states and the District of Columbia. The website, Spyfiles, will serve as the ACLU's online home for all news and reports of domestic spying."
The FBI has released their extensive files on US Senator Edward M. Kennedy to the public, covering their relationship with him between 1961 and 1985. The seven files, totaling more than 2,200 pages of documents reveal (among other things,) the perhaps unsurprising news that the late Senator received "scores" of death threats from radical groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, “Minutemen” organizations, and the National Socialist White People’s Party. The release was initiated by a Freedom of Information Act Request from Judicial Watch on May 3, 2010, (Complaint pdf) but the FBI gave the Senator's family the "rare opportunity" to raise objections before releasing the file.
DNA’s Dirty Little Secret: A forensic tool renowned for exonerating the innocent may actually be putting them in prison.
About 8 years ago, U.S. Representative James Traficant (D-Ohio) was sentenced to 8 years in jail for kickbacks, fraud, bribery, and racketeering. He was tightly connected with the Youngstown Ohio Mafia. At the time, he was only the second Congressman since the Civil War to be expelled by his peers from the institution in a vote of 420:1. The fascinating story of the Youngstown Mafia - and Traficant's rise and fall - is told by David Grann (of Lost City of Z and The New Yorker) in a 2000 article called "Crimetown, U.S.A.". Traficant was released from prison on September 2, 2009 to a hometown hero welcome. On February 23, 2010, Traficant announced he will running for Congress as an Independent.
The investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks (dubbed "Amerithrax" by the FBI) is now closed. Yesterday, the Department of Justice released a 92-page summary [pdf] of their investigation. Their conclusion -- that USAMRIID scientist Bruce Ivins was the culprit -- was backed by an impressive amount of evidence, including microbiological detective work (p. 23 ff). But some of the investigation was downright bizarre.... [more inside]
The FBI has arrested James O'Keefe, one of the filmmakers behind the ACORN "pimp" video, and three others over an alleged plot to tap the phones in the office of Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., according to a report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. (Previously: 1,2,3)
The FBI illegally collected more than 2,000 U.S. telephone call records between 2002 and 2006 by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or simply persuading phone companies to provide records, according to internal bureau memos and interviews. FBI officials issued approvals after the fact to justify their actions. E-mails obtained by The Washington Post detail how counterterrorism officials inside FBI headquarters did not follow their own procedures that were put in place to protect civil liberties. The stream of urgent requests for phone records also overwhelmed the FBI communications analysis unit with work that ultimately was not connected to imminent threats. A Justice Department inspector general's report due out this month is expected to conclude that the FBI frequently violated the law with its emergency requests, bureau officials confirmed. Among those whose phone records were searched improperly were journalists for The Washington Post and the New York Times, according to interviews with government officials. [more inside]