In seven days, Donald J. Trump is due to be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. What happens next? [more inside]
In yet another week of "surely this...", Russia is accused of helping him win the US election to a Senator's dismay and possible retaliation, Mitt loses out to Tillerson, Rick Perry is nominated for can't remember oops, other people are nominated, and librarians and science come under attack, with net neutrality possibly next. The Electoral College is but a few days away, with lobbying, labels, opinions and angry celebrities. However, the chances of a shock are low. Elsewhere, the public vote gives Hillary a large lead with comparisons to previous elections, Louisiana voted, the 2018 midterms are underway, Barack is interviewed, contemporary capitalism, Putin's revenge, un-democracy in North Carolina, latest odds, and piñata. [more inside]
Several days after the 2016 US election, president-elect Donald Trump is holding meetings, interviews and starting to build his administration team. His positions on issues such as mass deportation, tax and foreign policy are the cause of speculation; election positions on the ACA are possibly partially rolled back, but against bleak forecasts environmental positions seem to stay as they were, to the concern of scientists. Elsewhere there is discussion of why Hillary lost to Donald, such as James Comey's involvement, rural voting patterns, swing state perceptions or voter rights and suppression, while the Democratic Party consider who should lead them forwards. Meanwhile, protests occur in several US cities, there is speculation about Trump being impeached, the electoral college is under further scrutiny, and Kate McKinnon and Dave Chappelle on SNL. [more inside]
Eleven days to go. Since last time, Donald announced his first 100 days of actions, but still dislikes Jeb and John, while Hillary considers Texas and (post-birthday) speaks with Michelle (post title from speech) in North Carolina, early voting is happening, and Barack has nice approval ratings (though not everywhere). In the polls, 538 reckons Donald needs a sweep of swing states, GOP "insiders" think there are secret Trump voters, another release shows ties in Georgia and Iowa, and in perhaps less reliable data, Donald has a huge lead. While social media rages and schools have concerns about being polling stations, Wikileaks continues to drip-feed mundane emails, the FBI writes a vague letter about other emails (rebuttal), Colin Powell declares for Hillary, a 'Victory Bus' tours (gallery), Evan and Mindy continue to draw support across Utah, and therapists and patients describe election stress. [more inside]
In the Chicago Police Deparment, if the bosses say it didn't happen, it didn't happen. (Jamie Kalven, for The Intercept_.) [more inside]
Yahoo last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by US intelligence officials, sources have told Reuters. The company complied with a classified US government directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency (NSA) or FBI, said two former employees and a third person who knew about the programme. [more inside]
Are you an app developer? Are you covert as hell? Do you think we should all throw our privacy cautions to the wind? Boy, does the FBI have the job for you: design an app to help the government spy. [more inside]
The FBI has officially given up on trying to figure out what happened to "Dan Cooper" (a.k.a. "D.B. Cooper"), ending the investigation after 16,303 days. [more inside]
Fifty people were killed and at least fifty-three more were injured in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. According to ABC news, "The shooter has been identified by officials as Omar Mateen of St. Lucie County, Florida, an American-born citizen with Afghani parents." Mateen had previously been considered a person of interest by the FBI in 2013 and 2014. Mateen was shot and killed by police. [more inside]
A deep dive into the FBI's bizarre anti-extremism browser game: Don’t Be a Puppet: Pull Back the Curtain on Violent Extremism [more inside]
It’s an experience that may not appeal to everyone—a seven-day cruise at sea, with the aim of “taking back power from corrupt and greedy institutions, attain true self-authority, and realize our genuine Self behind the masks … discovering the truth, taking command of our lives, and attaining genuine inner realization” —with every odd belief you can think of listed as entertainment: GMOs, Monsanto, bee colony collapse, ecology, global warming, climate change, fracking, HIV, autism, Big Pharma, medical suppression, vaccinations, fluoridation,… electoral fraud, identity chips, 2nd amendment, and so much more. Anna Merlan writes charitably yet unflinchingly for Jezebel about her experience joining them [more inside]
Investigations into the San Bernardino attack by the FBI have been potentially impeded by information locked in an iPhone 5c found on one of the perpetrators. A federal court judge has ordered Apple to assist the FBI in defeating any and all security measures built into the device. In a turn similar to Ladar Levison's letter to Lavabit users (previously), Apple has written a letter to end users about the civil rights at stake.
‘I am a radicalised goat hell-bent on jihad’ – the FBI’s new anti-Isis video game: “As the title suggests, there are more metaphors to unmangle here: a wooden mannequin bound by strings, for example, which you can free by visiting all the site’s sections. These are rendered as rooms of a confusing family home, which appears to contain a dingy, windowless lecture room and a serial-killer basement.” (SLGuardian)
Folk musician Pete Seeger was under investigation by the FBI for decades from his time as a soldier during World War II until the 1970s. David Corn of Mother Jones magazine got over 1700 pages of surveillance reports, which have been released online. Seeger first came to the attention of the FBI because he wrote a letter protesting calls to strip all Japanese-Americans of citizenship and deport them. [via RÚV]
Under the name Attaboy Clarence/The Secret History Of Hollywood, Adam Roche creates very long, very in-depth podcasts about classic Hollywood how it relates to broader sociopolitical trends. Clocking in at 171 minutes, Hunting Witches With Walt Disney goes into the background, motivations, and effects of the Red Scare in Hollywood and the House Of Un-American Activities. The nearly 3 hour long podcast spans a cast of characters including Budd Schulberg, Elia Kazan, John Garfield, Dorothy Comingore, Edward Dymytryk, Dalton Trumbo, Walt Disney, Humphrey Bogart, and of course, Howard Hughes
INSIDE AN FBI HOSTAGE CRISIS from the Wall Street Journal. [Warning: graphic violence, disturbing images and video]
Given that Ray Bradbury's novella The Fireman (which would eventually become Fahrenheit 451) was written in response to the McCarthy HUAC hearings, it might not be a surprise to learn that the FBI kept a file on him. The contents of that file have been released under the FOIA, and shows that the FBI apparently held a dim view of science fiction, since it could "frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would seriously believe could not be won..." [emphasis mine]. (via).
After a failed attempt to overthrow the president of Gambia in December 2014, the US authorities charged two middle-class Americans from Texas and Minnesota. But why did they think they could succeed?
Kenny "The Snake" Stabler died last week. Sports reporter Bob Padecky recalls a memorable interview with the Oakland Raiders quarterback.
Scores of low-flying planes circling American cities are part of a civilian air force operated by the FBI and obscured behind fictitious companies, The Associated Press has learned
“Diamonds are easier to trace than wine,” says Jason Hernandez, a former U.S. attorney who prosecuted one of the largest wine counterfeiting cases in 2013. “Even if you’re looking at something like a 1982 Château Lafite,” he says, referring to what oenophiles consider one of the best wines in the world from one of the best years, “they made 20,000 cases of that wine. How do you tell one bottle from the next?”
"The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000", reports Spencer S. Hsu for The Washington Post.
The government says Matt DeHart is an online child predator. He says that’s a ruse created because he discovered shocking CIA secrets and claims he was tortured by federal agents. The only thing that’s clear is that he’s in deep trouble.
"She dropped the ball when the C.I.A. was given information that might very well have prevented the 9/11 attacks; she gleefully participated in torture sessions afterward; she misinterpreted intelligence in such a way that it sent the C.I.A. on an absurd chase for Al Qaeda sleeper cells in Montana. And then she falsely told congressional overseers that the torture worked." "But instead of being sanctioned, she was promoted."
The FBI announced today that they will open an investigation into the death of 17 year old Lennon Lacy. [more inside]
Since September 11, 2001, according to the START terrorism database, there have been twenty lethal terrorist attacks in the United States, resulting in the deaths of forty-six people. There have been, at most, a handful of assassinations. According to the FBI, from 2001 to 2011, there have been nearly 250 mass shootings, defined as the death of four or more people. According to USA Today, whose data on mass shootings is considered at least as reliable as the FBI's, there have been 191 mass shootings since 2006, with 34 described as "public" shootings—seemingly random events, stranger to stranger. Nearly a thousand people have died; many more have been wounded. What America feared after the 9/11 attacks—that it would be perpetually attacked by outsiders calling themselves Americans—finally has transpired, only with an awful twist: It is perpetually attacked by Americans who call themselves outsiders.[more inside]
Among other common myths and misconceptions regarding serial murder in America, one curious myth bears closer examination: the idea, propagated heavily in the media, that serial killers are almost always white men. This fascinating (though weirdly formatted) essay discusses this phenomenon, and suggests possible reasons for the anonymity of African-American serial killers, including historical racial bias, stereotypical media portrayals of African-Americans, and the FBI’s promotion of static ethnocentric criminal profiling. [more inside]
An international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) is a unique number, usually fifteen digits, associated with Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network mobile phone users. An IMSI catcher is a device, used by the NSA drone program, the police, criminals, Chinese spammers and spies all around Washington DC and the world to spoof the identity of a GSM cell tower and intercept cellular voice and data communication. They come in all sizes and flavors, from tiny or body-worn professional surveillance devices, to easy to order off the shelf solutions, to Chinese DIY (links in Chinese) and have spawned efforts to retaliate with an IMSI-catcher-catcher. IMSI-catcher technology has become increasingly widespread, with far-reaching constitutional and technical implications.
The FBI has recently released details on how the Silk Road black market was taken down. [more inside]
Edward Snowden - The Untold Story, from Wired's Threat Level.
In one of the most damning Snowden leaks yet revealed, Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain show that the NSA targets prominent Muslim-Americans under the FISA secret court program. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has in response issued a denial that any Americans were targeted for exercising their constitutional rights via its tumblr.
The FBI will continue to get to refer to Juggalos as a gang. "A federal judge has dismissed Insane Clown Posse's lawsuit against the FBI and the Justice Department, allowing the agencies to continue classifying the group's fans, called Juggalos, as a "gang." According to the Associated Press's Tuesday report, U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland ruled last week that because a 2011 FBI report on gangs is "descriptive," and not " prescriptive," it doesn't break any laws." Violent J plans to appeal. [more inside]
I was sitting NIFOC and TLOL when I ran across this list of Internet slang [PDF] developed for FBI agents trying to navigate Twitter's ARE. [more inside]
Purportedly anti-terrorism Fusion Centers allowed police, military and "private sector partners" to share material about surveilling the nationwide Occupy protests [more inside]
Malcolm Gladwell writes a compelling take on the history of the Branch Davidians and how their millennial Christian beliefs led to their ultimate confrontation with the FBI. "I came out the little driveway on the side of the building and got onto the main driveway that ran along the front of the building. As I turned the corner . . . one of the agents outside a tank started screaming at me to come over to him. My left ankle was all blistered, the skin was rolling off my hands, and my face was burned down the right side of my neck where the mask had been. I guess I took the mask off after I got out. It was kind of melting onto my face. . . . He was cussing me out, telling me if I made a false move he was going to blow my so-and-so head off. But he said: you’re gonna remember this day for the rest of your life. I thought: at least that is a true statement." [more inside]
Stephen Colbert, as "Stephen Colbert" gave the closing keynote speech at the 2014 RSA Conference in San Francisco. While this speech has not been made officially available, it has been posted in its entirety to YouTube. Part 1, Part 2 [total length <20m] [warning - audience video of conference hall video screens -- content overcomes video shortcomings]
Ibragim was a womanizer. He was kind to children. He had a sweet tooth, and a temper. Who killed three men in Waltham, Massachusetts, on September 11 2011? And could solving that case have prevented the Boston Bombings? The answers may never be clear, because the chief surviving suspect, Ibragim Todashev, was shot by the FBI while allegedly on the brink of confessing. Journalist Susan Zalkind's investigation turned up many more questions about the Bureau's handling of the case than it answered. It's also been featured on This American Life. Warning: the first link contains photos of Todashev's dead body.
During their Freedom Hosting investigation and malware attack last year, the FBI unintentionally obtained the entire e-mail database of popular anonymous webmail service Tor Mail. And now, they've used it in an unrelated investigation to bust a Florida man accused of stealing credit card numbers. [more inside]
About fifty years ago, the governor of Indiana received a letter complaining about obscenity in the lyrics of a rock'n'roll song, and passed that letter on to the FBI. For the following two years, FBI agents examined potential lyrics of the song (which were incomprehensible on the recording, partly due to the singer's braces) to find grounds for an obscenity prosecution. They ultimately failed, but produced a 140-page report, listing numerous possible obscene readings of what the lyrics could be, and in doing so, turned Louie Louie by The Kingsmen from a footnote into a bona fide rock'n'roll rebel anthem. [more inside]
The FBI could have stopped 9/11. There was no need for a metadata-collection program. What was needed was cooperation with other federal agencies.
One night in 1971, files were stolen from an F.B.I. office near Philadelphia. They proved that the bureau was spying on thousands of Americans. The case was unsolved, until now. (article + video interview) The perfect crime is far easier to pull off when nobody is watching. So on a night nearly 43 years ago, while Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier bludgeoned each other over 15 rounds in a televised title bout viewed by millions around the world, burglars took a lock pick and a crowbar and broke into a Federal Bureau of Investigation office in a suburb of Philadelphia, making off with nearly every document inside. They were never caught, and the stolen documents that they mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters were the first trickle of what would become a flood of revelations about extensive spying and dirty-tricks operations by the F.B.I. against dissident groups. The case was unsolved, until now.
The FBI files on being and nothingness. "From 1945 onwards, J Edgar Hoover’s FBI spied on Camus and Sartre. The investigation soon turned into a philosophical inquiry…" [Via]
"Saddam had his spider hole. Manson had Barker Ranch. For James “Whitey” Bulger, the anonymity of advanced age provided ample cover for him to hide out 16 years in Santa Monica, a stash of blood money stuffed in the walls and guns at the ready." The last days of America’s most wanted mobster.
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation has seized the domain of the popular online black market site Silk Road (previously), and indicted the site's owner, Ross Ulbricht, better known as Dread Pirate Roberts (previously).
The FBI yesterday acknowledged that it secretly took control of Freedom Hosting last July, days before the servers of the largest provider of ultra-anonymous hosting were found to be serving custom malware designed to identify visitors. [more inside]
"Maria Ridulph was 7 when she was kidnapped from a street corner in Sycamore, Illinois, on December 3, 1957. Her kidnapping and murder is the nation's oldest cold case to go to trial. It required family members to turn against one of their own and haunted a small town for 55 years. Even now, the case may not be over." CNN: Taken: The Coldest Case Ever Solved [more inside]
Thanks to the FBI, he has a vast — and accurate — archive of the time. "If I have a fuzzy memory or hazy memory, I look at it, and there's a verbatim transcript of the conversations. Clarence Jones, Dr Martin Luther King's legal advisor, talks to NPR about working with Dr King, the metaphor he supplied to the "I have a dream" speech and the extent of the surveillance of King and his associates by the US security establishment. [more inside]
The X-Files 20th anniversary reunion panel at San Diego Comic-Con (Youtube) (Podcast version here) (Summary and slideshow), featuring Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan, Jim Wong, John Shiban, Howard Gordon and James Amann. sex scenes, a third movie and Home are discussed. The Lone Gunmen will return in Season 10. The Guardian picks 13 best X-Files episodes but somehow misses Jose Chung's From Outer Space.