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I always operate with the evidence that the organizational model of the FBI  is that of a death squad posing as a law enforcement agency.  It has always been crystal clear local law enforcement whether it be state,local or the sheriff's deputies are part of this death squad model. The Dallas police helped the FBI  assassinate President Kennedy; the Los Angeles police helped the FBI  assassinate Robert Kennedy and the Memphis police helped the FBI  assassinate Martin Luther King; the Chicago police helped the FBI  assassinate Black Panther Fred Hampton and the list goes on into the thousands of victims.

I operate under the assumption most of the employees working for these taxpayer funded death squads are former vets. More than 90%. This makes them serial killers having invaded countries like Iraq for the oil in the desert; Vietnam for the oil in the South China Sea, Korea for the oil in the South China City; Africa for the emerging African Oil fields.

I operate under the evidence that voters and taxpayers fund these death squads but have no say in how they want their criminal justice system run.

Over 10 years ago investigative reporter David Burnham created the website trac.syr.edu to expose how FBI  agents spent spent the taxpayer tax dollar. He was amazed after looking at FBI  statistics, that taxpayers were funding FBI  agents for no work.

So how do we become critical criminal justice consumers and take control of the criminal justice system we own?

Today's FBI  word is double billing  and the Palmer Raids 

see  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_billing

In law, double billing refers to charging an hourly rate to two clients for the same time spent working. The American Bar Association prohibits double billing.[3] It is tantamount to overcharging, since the amount of time actually spent working on any one client's work is less than the amount billed to that client.

Associates and partners alike at large law firms face significant pressure to double bill or to "pad" their hours in order to reduce overwork.[4] These attorneys are usually required to bill 1800 to 2000 hours per year. This can ideally work out to a 40 hour work week, but it is usually 60 or more, since most attorneys must spend one hour in the office for every two they can bill to a specific client. In 1998, Cameron Stracher's book Double Billing[5] suggested that double billing is common in law firms, but that implication was misleading.[6] However, several recent studies suggest that at least 1/3 of lawyers admit that they double-bill clients on at least an occasional basis, and that more than half of lawyers do not believe that double billing constitutes an ethical violation.[7]

or cooking the FBI's books.  see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_accounting

The term as generally understood refers to systematic misrepresentation of the true income and assets of corporations or other organizations. "Creative accounting" is at the root of a number of accounting scandals, and many proposals for accounting reform – usually centering on an updated analysis of capital and factors of production that would correctly reflect how value is added.

So that now brings me to what is trending in the FBI.

Taxpayer funded FBI  agents are creating Shooter Task Forces with alarming frequency around the country.
Every time the local task force makes an arrest does the FBI  credit that to their stats even though no FBI  agent was involved?
Can you tell me how many murders were solved by the local New Haven police in 2012?

New Haven Shooting Task Force expands



NEW HAVEN  The Police Department’s Shooting Task Force is expanding the work is does after its members became federally deputized and an FBI agent joined its ranks.


“This allows us to expand our capabilities and effectiveness in investigating violent crime in New Haven,” said Sgt. James Grasso, head of the task force.


The task force was created when Chief Dean Esserman gave the order in December 2011 in response to shootings in 2010. The city had 133 shootings in 2010; only 14 were solved. Since then, the department has tripled its shooting solve rate, Esserman said.


The task force also expanded its ranks to nine members with the addition of a full-time FBI agent. The task force has officers from New Haven, Hamden and state police, as well as two inspectors from the chief state’s attorney’s office and an officer from the Department of Correction Security Division.


The department also is working to get a member of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on the task force, said Lt. Al Vazquez.


It previously had an ATF agent assigned, but he was pulled to work a high-profile case.


Task force members are deputized under federal laws that deal with narcotics, guns, violent crime and organized crime, Grasso said.

see link for Palmer Raids


In June 1919, Attorney General Palmer told the House Appropriations Committee that all evidence promised that radicals would "on a certain day...rise up and destroy the government at one fell swoop." He requested an increase in his budget to $2,000,000 from $1,500,000 to support his investigations of radicals, but Congress gave him only an additional $100,000.[5]

An initial raid in July 1919 against an anarchist group in Buffalo, New York, achieved little when a federal judge tossed out Palmer's case. He found that the three arrested radicals, charged under a law dating from the Civil War, had only proposed transforming the government by using their free speech rights and not by violence.[6] That taught Palmer that he needed to exploit the more powerful immigration statutes that authorized the deportation of alien anarchists, violent or not. To do that, he needed to enlist the cooperation of officials at the Department of Labor. Only the Secretary of Labor could issue warrants for the arrest of alien violators of the Immigrations Acts, and only he could sign deportation orders following a hearing by an immigration inspector.[7]

On August 1, 1919, Palmer put 24-year-old J. Edgar Hoover in charge of a new division of the Justice Department's Bureau of Investigation, the General Intelligence Division. It would investigate the programs of radical groups and identify their members.[8] The Boston Police Strike in early September proved the nation had not emerged united from the war. On October 17, the Senate passed a unanimous resolution demanding Palmer explain what actions he had or had not taken against radical aliens and why.[9]

At 9 pm on November 7, 1919, a date chosen because it was the second anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, agents of the Bureau of Investigation, together with local police, executed a series of well-publicized and violent raids against the Russian Workers in 12 cities. Newspaper accounts reported some were "badly beaten" during the arrests. Many later swore they were threatened and beaten during questioning. Government agents cast a wide net, bringing in some American citizens, passers-by who admitted being Russian, some not members of the Russian Workers. Others were teachers conducting night school classes in space shared with the targeted radical group. Arrests far exceeded the number of warrants. Of 650 arrested in New York City, the government managed to have just 43 deported.[10]

Palmer now replied to the Senate's questions of October 17. He reported that his department had amassed 60,000 names with great effort. Required by the statutes to work through the Department of Labor, they had arrested 250 dangerous radicals in the November 7 raids. He proposed a new Anti-Sedition Law to enhance his authority to prosecute anarchists.[

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Friday, 03 January 2014 17:58
Global poll: U.S. is regarded as greatest threat to peace


Global poll: U.S. is regarded as greatest threat to peace

“In a world opinion poll the U.S. is regarded as the biggest threat to world peace. The poll was conducted by Win/Gallup International. The survey was first started in 1977.

The poll sampled around 1,000 people in each of 65 different countries and a total of 66,805 respondents. In aggregate terms 24 percent of those polled thought that the United States was the greatest threat to world peace today. The runner-up was Pakistan but only eight percent thought it the greatest threat. China came third at 6 percent. North Korea, Israel and Iran all came in at 5 percent.

In Russia 54 percent thought that the U.S. was the greatest threat to world peace and in another rival China the figure was 49 percent. However, even in Turkey and Greece, both NATO partners, 45 percent thought that the U.S. was the greatest threat to world peace and 44 percent in Pakistan. InLatin America, the U.S. topped the list for respondents in Mexico (37 percent), Brazil (26 percent) and Peru (24 percent)…”
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Book Review: 'Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power' by Seth Rosenfeld
Saturday, January 4, 2014

Seth Rosenfeld is a true investigative reporter. He spent 30 years filing multiple lawsuits to obtain the documents that illustrate just how much of a rogue agency the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover was and the part that Ronald Reagan played in helping the agency destroy the careers of many innocent people, condone violence, and ignite protest on a massive scale in the 1960's, beginning in Berkeley and spreading throughout the country.


To tell this story, Rosenfeld filed multiple lawsuits that ultimately forced the FBI to release over 250,000 pages of files. These documents proved what many of us who were alive in the 60's already knew: the FBI was ruthless, often vicious, and above the law. What we probably did not know was the part that Ronald Reagan played and how much it benefited him personally and politically to betray his own union as a mole for the agency.

The main characters through which this story are told are J. Edgar Hoover, Clark Kerr, the president of University of California- Berkeley in the 60's, Mario Savio, the student activist who led the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, and Reagan, whose alliance with the FBI began in the 1940s and lasted at least until 1972, when Hoover died.

The part of this story which was most shocking to this reporter had to do with the FBI's use of political information and power to boost the political career of Ronald Reagan in ways that were clearly immoral as well as illegal. For others, it may be the exposure of prominent characters in protest organizations such as The Black Panthers as moles for the FBI or any of the many instances of extreme misconduct that the FBI got by with as revealed by their own documents.

Even for those of us who already know that our government has often done bad things when they thought they had good enough reason, this book is going to be shocking and eye-opening. Rosenfeld is to be commended for his perseverance in researching this book despite all odds and for bringing the truth about Hoover's FBI, Reagan, and the war against student activism to the public.
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see link for full story

The FBI's Hidden Agenda

An Agent in Every Mailbox


Forty years ago Senator Frank Church of Idaho during Senate committee hearings on investigation of the FBI and CIA and their misuse of power at home and abroad stated “We have seen today the dark side of those activities, where many Americans, who were not even suspected of crime, were not only spied upon, but they were harassed, they were discredited, and, at times, endangered.”  (1)

A few years earlier on March 8, 1971, a group of eight individuals successfully broke into the FBI field office in Media, Pennsylvania where they took numerous files.  These files contained documents implicitly involving the FBI and its director, J. Edgar Hoover in a secret program which came to be known as COINTELPRO, standing for Counterintelligence Program.  Even with the power of the FBI the burglars have successfully remained free and only this week have their identities become known.

In her new book, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, Betty Medsger reveals the narrative stories of the Media break-in and gives insight into the political times of yesteryear and today in light of privacy and national security.  Among the files removed from the Media field office were documents directing personnel to initiate surveillance “in every place where people would gather – churches, classrooms, stores down the street, just everything.”  Illustrative of the impact of the directive to spy on Americans is the statement “make the people think there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox”.  (2)  Although the burglars who identified themselves as the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI delivered documents to several news outlets and key individuals only The Washington Post published documents, refusing to comply with White House demands not publish the documents.

In considering our current concerns with surveillance and the publication of the Snowden documents, should the fear of terrorism be offset with our government’s capability to employ digital surveillance to spy on people without proper due process and equal protection?  Should citizens of the U.S. as well as of other countries fear the “unknown” associated with the long arm of law enforcement?  Moreover, what should we as civilians draw from COINTELPRO compared with today’s NSA, much less the continuing existence of the FBI and CIA?

Perhaps key to the analysis is whether those who have been labeled criminal and whistleblower by the government are truly the beacons of freedom and knowledge that the citizenry requires in order to rein in the government as the servant of the society?  In consideration of these questions is a pivotal observation.  Sometimes government must keep secrets and sometimes it must lie to the citizenry.  Contrary to popular sentiment this is often necessary in order to keep a peaceable society.  Humans after all have a very basic instinct in reacting to fear with anger, hate, and reprisal.  These qualities while sometimes positively driven by need for patriotism contrastingly if allowed to arise as purely behavioral responses may be very destructive to the unity and safety of the nation.

Having said this and no doubt distanced several readers let me comment that only in dire circumstances should government directly and purposefully lie in response to public inquiry about its activities involving the citizens of the nation.  Citizens of this nation are to be protected by the government, but the government is always accountable to the people and must respond to inquiry.  This does not obviate the government’s decision to decline to answer in order to protect the nation, but this is not carte Blanc sanction establishing a bill of secrecy.

Our constitution provides fundamental protections.  Two of these protections have been interpreted as privacy and free movement.  The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments listed in the Bill of Rights charge the government with a duty to assure not only Due Process but also Equal Protection to each citizen.

In instances where government is a party to a citizen’s potential loss of life or liberty in movement citizens must be afforded fair opportunity to protect themselves.  When government shrugs its shoulders and neglects to intercede to protect the citizen or purposefully involves itself in denial of Due Process and/ or Equal Protection of the citizen then citizens must take unusual steps to correct the deficiency of government.

Where capable of implementing legal process should be employed, but where that fails or is barred, the citizen has the right to challenge government extra-legally.  The cases of the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI and Edward Snowden are examples of citizens forcing government to acknowledge its hidden agendas.

Malcolm L. Rigsby J.D., Ph.D. is assistant professor of Sociology and Coordinator of Criminal Justice at Henderson State University, Arkansas.  His recent study involves religious conversion in prison comparing Islamic and Christian converts and transforming sociality.


(1)   AARC.  2014.  AARC the Assassination Archives and Research Center. Volume 6: Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Silver Spring, MD.  Retrieved January 8, 2014 (http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/contents/church/contents_church_reports_vol6.htm).

(2)   Democracy Now.  2014.  ”It Was Time to Do More Than Protest”: Activists Admit to 1971FBI Burglary That Exposed COINTELPRO”.  Democracy Now.  Retrieved (http://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/8/it_was_time_to_do_more).

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Local, State, Federal Authorities Increasingly Using Drones to Spy on Americans

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are increasingly using drones to spy domestically, the Washington Post reports, citing newly released documents.

The agencies are borrowing drones from Border Patrol in what could become more commonplace in the future, the Post wrote.
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Guy asks for photos of naked teens gets 15 years in prison.
FBI  agent rapes half a dozen 6 year old children gets 12 years in prison.

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1st read

FBI Agent Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse


Tuesday February 17, 2004 11:46 PM


Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The former chief internal watchdog at the FBI has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl and has admitted he had a history of molesting other children before he joined the bureau for what became a two-decade career.

John H. Conditt Jr., 53, who retired in 2001, was sentenced last week to 12 years in prison in Tarrant County court in Fort Worth, Texas, after he admitted he molested the daughter of two FBI agents after he retired. He acknowledged molesting at least two other girls before he began his law enforcement career, his lawyer said.

2nd read

see link for full story

Man guilty of asking teens for sexually explicit photos gets prison

6:08 PM, Jan 16, 2014 


A man who pled guilty to attempting to sexually propositioning minors online was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison Thursday.

James Anthony Demotto, 31, of Citrus Heights, popped up on the FBI's radar when he started talking to an undercover officer in Massachusetts who was posing as a 13-year-old girl in May 2012, said Lauren Horwood, spokesperson for U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California. Minutes into the online chat, Demotto asked the "girl" to take sexually explicit photos of herself and send them to him, Horwood said.

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Probationer says he was pressured to be FBI informant
CorrectionsOne-5 hours ago
Smith said the FBI agent gave him a cellphone and paid him hundreds of dollars in cash for gun cases. Smith and the agent typically met in a car down the street ...

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me > Local News > Breaking News
American Front leader turns down plea deal
Osceola man accused of training for race war in court for domestic-terrorism case
By Henry Pierson Curtis, Staff Writer

10:18 p.m. EDT, September 9, 2014

KISSIMMEE – More than two years after the feds arrested the leader of a white-supremacy group in Central Florida's largest domestic-terrorism case, the trial for American Front leader Marcus Faella started Tuesday.

Faella, 41, is charged with conspiring to shoot into a building, two counts of teaching paramilitary training and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to court records. Conviction on each of the first two charges carries up 15 years in prison and the gun charge routinely carries three years.

The charge against Faella with a potential life sentence – leading a racist gang – was dropped in July, according to Faella's attorney Ronald L. Ecker II.

And before jury selection even began Tuesday morning, the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office offered Faella a deal to plead guilty to a single count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Faella rejected the plea deal.

The arrests in May 2012 by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force drew international attention to Holopaw, a small community where American Front members conducted firearms training on a fortified plot of land owned by Faella. The American Front is one of the oldest continually active U.S. skinhead groups, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

A search of Faella's land and buildings confiscated about 20 firearms, including AK-47s and a sniper rifle with a night-vision telescopic sight, records show.

During his appearance in court Tuesday, Faella donned a dark sport coat, slacks, white shirt and a black tie which covered most of his neck tattoos. But the fringe of a "Blood and Honor" tattoo associated with the white supremacy movement still showed above the high collar.

Testimony in the trial is expected to begin Wednesday afternoon before Circuit Judge Jon Morgan after a jury is selected in the Osceola County Courthouse.

Witnesses expected to take the stand include FBI agents; Jason Hall, an informant with a long criminal history paid $40,000 to infiltrate the group; American Front members arrested with Faella. The defense listed six witnesses, all of whom were arrested and later had their charges dropped by the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office.

During jury selection, Faella's attorney repeatedly questioned potential jurors if they truly believed in "innocent until proven guilty" as the basis of American law. Some answered by saying anyone arrested must have done something wrong.

So far, only three of the 13 other American Front members in the case have been convicted. Christopher Brooks was sentenced to three years in prison for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; Luke Leger and Kent McLellan were both sentenced to four years of probation after pleading no contest to participating in paramilitary training.

Shortly after the arrests, death threats appeared on several websites demanding the immediate release of the jailed American Front members. Those threats named Lawson Lamar, then Orange-Osceola State Attorney, Circuit Judge Walter Komanski and JTTF Agent Kelly Boaz and provided their unlisted home addresses.

This week, white-supremacist William A. White, 37, of Virginia, is on trial in federal court in Orlando on charges of posting the threats before fleeing to Mexico in 2012.

The prosecution of Faella will rely on testimony by a paid informant.

Jason Hall received $40,000 from the FBI to infiltrate, secretly photograph and report on the American Front's activities. A one-time cocaine dealer, Hall had collected information as well on outlaw motorcycle clubs in Bithlo, Christmas and other small Central Florida towns. He also worked for the Orange County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
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Top cop from 'Britain's FBI' embarrassed after thief raids unlocked car at M6 service station

14 September 2014 06:09 PM
By John Siddle

Peter Mark McHugh stole phones, police radio kit, the officer’s ID card, personal documents and training notes from the officers
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Petraeus' Pal Cleared to Sue the FBI

WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge refused to dismiss privacy claims against the FBI filed by Tampa socialite Jill Kelley and her husband, whose connections to top military officials and concerns over threatening emails exposed Gen. David Petraeus' extramarital affair and railroaded his career.
Gilberte Jill Kelley and her husband Scott, a doctor, claimed last year that they had gone to the FBI for help in May 2012 after receiving threatening emails from an anonymous source. The messages disparaged Jill Kelley and referred to planned events involving the Kelleys and senior intelligence and defense officials, including Gen. John Allen.
The couple turned the over emails to the FBI, and asked the bureau to respect their privacy, but according to their complaint, government officials snooped through their email accounts, launching "an unprofessional, frivolous and scurrilous investigation into Mrs. Kelley's private relationships and affiliations that had no bearing on any pending criminal investigation or other legitimate concern to the FBI."
The FBI traced the emails to Paula Broadwell, Petraeus' biographer and mistress, then leaked Kelley's name to the press, the couple said, leading to Petraeus' resignation and "Saturday Night Live" skits pinning Kelley as his mistress.
U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson dismissed most of the Kelleys' claims against the FBI, but allowed their Privacy Act violations claim to proceed.
"The amended complaint is a long, overwrought, and argumentative document, and its 225 paragraphs are full of indignation while being thin on facts," U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote. "But the Court finds that plaintiffs have set forth sufficient factual allegations to withstand the motion to dismiss Count 1 to the extent that it asserts unlawful disclosure of information to the media because there are sufficient facts presented in the amended complaint to satisfy plaintiffs' burden to state a plausible Privacy Act claim."
According to the Kelleys, the FBI discovered that Broadwell was the anonymous stalker, but kept the information to itself, and instead investigated the Kelleys, leaking false information to the press that accused Jill Kelly of having an affair with Gen. Allen.
"Eventually, plaintiffs will need to come forward with specific information linking the alleged disclosures to defendants FBI and DOD [Department of Defense], as opposed to 'unnamed' government sources, but they have met their burden at this time to allege sufficient facts to support a plausible inference that the disclosures came from defendants and were intentional and willful, as well as sufficient facts to support an inference that whoever disclosed the information actually retrieved it from a protected Privacy Act system of records," the judge wrote.
Jackson spent the bulk of her 76-page ruling dismissing the Kelleys' other 11 claims, for failure to state a claim, dismissing other Privacy Act claims regarding the bureau's methods of storing records, as well as counts for defamation and false light.
Jackson also dismissed their claims under the Stored Communications Act, and the Fourth and Fifth Amendment for lack of jurisdiction.
The Kelleys claimed they discovered that the FBI knew Broadwell to be the source of the threatening emails on Nov. 9, 2012, the same day Petraeus resigned from the CIA amid reports of his affair.
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FBI employee accused of assaulting wife.

Sep 18 2014

An employee with the Louisville FBI is charged with assaulting his wife.

According to arrest records, Michael Jones became physically violent during an argument at the couple's home and tried to keep her from leaving the home.

He's charged with fourth-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment.
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Legal Issues

by Tim Cushing

Thu, Sep 25th 2014 12:24pm

Filed Under:
brad cooper, doj, evidence, fbi, google maps, murder, national security, search

Murder Case Prosecutors Claim 'National Security' To Stop Questions About FBI Examination Of Google Maps Search
from the coverups.govdept

A Google Map search is seemingly the only piece of evidence tying former Cisco engineer Brad Cooper to the the murder of his wife, Nancy. According to his testimony, Cooper was at home with the couple's two daughters at the time his wife was strangled in a nearby park.

Nancy Cooper disappeared on July 12, 2008. That same day, Brad Cooper was questioned by local law enforcement. During the next couple of days, he consented to a search of his house and vehicle and turned over a pair of his wife's running shoes for dogs to track her scent. On July 14th, a body was discovered. This was confirmed to be Nancy Cooper the next day. Brad Cooper turned over the house to investigators that same day, moving out to "preserve" the house itself as evidence. He left behind his computer, which was still connected to the internet. This stayed on for 27 hours before investigators removed it.

Here's where it gets interesting. (An admittedly callous way to look at a situation where one person is dead, one is headed to jail and two kids are effectively parentless…)

The most damning evidence gathered by investigators (working with the FBI) was a Google search showing the exact spot where Nancy Cooper's body was discovered, supposedly performed by Brad Cooper the day before she was killed. This being the only evidence is a fact, rather than conjecture. It's acknowledged in the appeals court's decision which granted Cooper a new trial. [pdf link]

Prosecutors pressed hard with this discovery, coupling it with the fact that Cooper and his wife were observed arguing at a party the night before she vanished. The real story about this supposed search may never come out. Cooper pled guilty to reduced charges earlier this week, after being granted a new trial on appeal. Perhaps Cooper actually did murder his wife, but the key evidence being used against him was severely questionable, enough so that he was awarded another chance to fight the charge.

The 56-page opinion granting him a new trial details the previous court's unconstitutional "abuses," which led to a guilty verdict.

Cooper's defense attacked the supposedly damning search, alleging that it had been planted on the computer by investigators. Their first witness could likely have offered testimony indicating the search had been planted but the State called into question his expertise as a forensic expert and his testimony was prohibited by the court from covering this topic.

Cooper's defense tried to bring in another witness, one more specifically-trained to testify on the specifics the court was demanding. This last-minute replacement, who had reached the same conclusion as the previous expert (that the search had "been placed on the hard drive [and] could not have been the result of normal internet activity"), but was prevented from doing so when the State objected to this "violation" of discovery rules (i.e., witness and testimony were not presented to the prosecution before the trial began).

The appeals court disagreed with the previous court's dismissal of the first expert witness. It argued that this witness was specifically trained to discover computer tampering, something a planted search result would fall under.

The Google Map files recovered from Defendant's laptop were perhaps the most important pieces of evidence admitted in this trial. We hold that the trial court abused its discretion in excluding Ward from testifying, relying on the State's own evidence, to his opinion that the Google Map files recovered from Defendant's laptop had been tampered with.


We hold, whether the error was constitutional or not, that erroneously preventing Defendant from presenting expert testimony, challenging arguably the strongest piece of the State's evidence, constituted reversible error and requires a new trial…

The appeals court also found that excluding the second witness because of discovery violations was also unconstitutional, noting that using procedural issues to deny the defendant a chance to defend against the single, most important piece of evidence is a deprivation of due process.

In light of the lack of willful misconduct on the part of Defendant, the rational reason presented for failing to inform the State before trial that Defendant would be calling [the new witness], the role of the State in having this situation arise after the trial had commenced, the fundamental nature of the rights involved, the importance to the defense of the testimony excluded, and the mini ...
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Thursday, October 02, 2014Last Update: 5:49 PM PT
FBI Agent Not Defamed by Book 'Kings of Tort"

- An FBI agent was not defamed by the description of an undercover investigation in the 2009 book "Kings of Tort," the Mississippi Court of Appeals ruled.
The book details the investigation and prosecution of attorney Richard Scruggs and others on judicial corruption charges. At the time of the book's events, Tom Dawson, its co-author, was the First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Missouri.
In the book Dawson recounts how he, assistant John Hailman and supervisor Jim Greenlee launched the undercover investigation of Scruggs attempted bribery of a local judge. According to Dawson, the three had "lost confidence" in Philip Halbert Neilson, who oversaw FBI agents in the district, and had to broach the subject with the new Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the state.
"They had to gain the confidence of a brand-new SAC, whom they had never met, by convincing him that his supervisor in north Mississippi could not be trusted and that a new case agent and supervisor should be assigned to this investigation," the book stated.
Neilson filed a defamation lawsuit against Dawson, co-author Alan Lange and Pediment Publishing. The trial ruled in the defendants' favor. Neilson then took the case to the Mississippi Court of Appeals, which also ruled for the defendants in an opinion written by Chief Justice L. Joseph Lee.
"Dawson supported his motion for summary judgment with affidavits from himself, Greenlee and Hailman. In these separate affidavits, each man states the reason he thought Neilson was untrustworthy. These affidavits go into detail about Neilson's past conduct and how that conduct resulted in Dawson, Greenlee and Hailman's lack of confidence in Neilson," Lee wrote.
Scruggs, who was involved in the big-money tobacco litigation in the 1990s, was released from prison earlier this year after serving time for judicial corruption charges, according to GulfLive.com.
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Technology Center of DuPage instructor accidentally fires gun during class


Oct 04, 2014 11:12 AM

A gun was accidentally discharged by a criminal justice instructor at Technology Center of DuPage during a class, striking a file cabinet and wall.

School director Jim Thorne said the instructor, a retired FBI agent he didn't identify, wasn't authorized to have the gun on the school's property in Addison.

The Daily Herald in Arlington Heights reports three students were watching the instructor's demonstration Friday when the incident occurred. No one was injured.

School officials say the instructor was escorted from the building after the incident and placed on administrative leave. Thorne said the instructor's future status won't be determined until after an investigation is complete.

Addison Police Department Director Tim Hayden says the instructor has been questioned, but a decision on whether he'll be charged hasn't been made.
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FBI accused of withholding information in Stearns probe

see link for full story


Saturday, October 11, 2014
The congressional candidate who accused former Congressman Cliff Stearns of attempting to bribe him to bail on an election now accuses the FBI of taking a dive in revealing the truth about his allegation.

In court records filed last week, Jimmy Jett, who challenged Stearns in the 2012 Republican primary for Florida’s redrawn 3rd Congressional District, maintains that the FBI was “highly generalized and overly broad” in its rationale for withholding information its agents compiled during the investigation.

Accordingly, the former Clay County court clerk wants a judge to review many of the 66 pages the FBI did disclose to him and determine whether the government acted within the scope of federal public records laws.

Jett’s filing answered an earlier plea by the FBI for U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington to toss out the case.

The FBI argues in court documents that the records search it conducted on Jett’s behalf was complete; that information was appropriately sealed to protect personal privacy, reputations and sensitive investigative techniques; and that the public would gain little from its release.

Yet documents contained in the FBI’s plea to dismiss the case bolster Jett’s point.

Those records, which presumably would be part of Sullivan’s review, if granted, suggest not only that bribes were on the table but that FBI investigators were called off for political, and not legal, reasons — a decision made at the highest levels of the Justice Department.
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Another FBI investigation of international solidarity activists
By Scott Williams |
October 18, 2014
Read more articles in Political Repression

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following Oct. 17 statement from Scott Williams. We remind all progressive activists to not speak with the FBI.

The FBI came looking for me today at my family’s house

Hello everyone,

I am writing to let everyone know that the FBI visited my father today with the intention of questioning me about my trip to Syria as an international election observer for the 2014 Syrian Presidential Elections.

In June 2014, I visited Syria with the objective of learning the truth about the situation there. This trip was entirely legal and well documented. I visited along with observers representing 32 countries, many of which were members of Parliament and representatives of local governments in countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, Uganda, and beyond. Since then, I have reported on my trip in public meetings at the United Nations, as well as in Buffalo, NY, Rochester, NY, Syracuse, NY, Albany, NY, and where I live in Philadelphia, PA. Since 2007, I have been a committed anti-war activist with many organizations, including Students for a Democratic Society, the International Action Center and several others. The FBI mentioned me as an activist with FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together), of which I am one of the national coordinators.

Why is the FBI coming after me? The FBI’s attempt to question me is not only an attack on me, it is an attack on anyone who chooses to travel the world and seek a perspective that is not represented by the corporate media. The US depends on misinformation and huge lies to perpetrate their crimes abroad. Yet the FBI has picked the wrong person, since I have strong friends and allies across the US who will stand with me in the fight against unjust government repression.

This visit is a continuation of the FBI’s attack on anti-war and international solidarity activists. The FBI has been attempting to charge 24 anti-war and international solidarity activists with “material support of terrorism.” These activist are targeted because have been targeted and face potential long term jail sentences. Please take a moment to look at the StopFBI.net (link http://www.stopfbi.net/) site for the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the organization that has fought to defend these 24, as well as Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh. This is a strong example of the political fightback that is needed to defend activists from Government repression.

These activists are not alone in their treatment. Since 2001, hundreds of Muslim men in the USA have been victims of entrapment, harassment, and false imprisonment simply for their religion.

I strongly encourage all of my friends, co-workers, and family members take a look at the Center for Constitutional Rights’ booklet, entitled “If an Agent Knocks,” for resources on what to do if the FBI comes to your door. Most importantly, you SHOULD NEVER AGREE TO SPEAK TO THE FBI WITHOUT A LAWYER present and really you should never speak with the FBI. You can simply say, “I do not wish to speak with you. I will have my lawyer contact you,’ and then immediately close the door.

Most of us do not have a lawyer, but if you or a family member is contacted by the FBI, you should contact the National Lawyers Guild immediately as well as other activists who have been dealt with this government intimidation before.

As soon as this happened, I called Sara Flounders, the co-director of the International Action Center, to discuss our strategy to stop this FBI intimidation. We decided to make a clear statement as public as possible, we will not be silent as you attempt to attack those who choose to speak out against unjust US foreign policy. In fact, we will use any attack on my freedom to continue to build a movement against government repression. It is in this spirit that I am writing you all today.

As Reverend Martin Luther King Jr said, “The bombs in Vietnam explode at home.” With the US wars escalating in Syria, Iraq and beyond, we see that US war has only caused massive devastation for the people of the world, while bringing in huge profits to few. Meanwhile, billions of dollars are taken away from public education and jobs and the government has trampled our basic civil liberties. As the activists in the Committee to Stop FBI Repression have done, I will continue to fight unjust US wars on people across the world, as well as demanding full funding for human needs and an end to the aggressive destruction of our basic civil liberties.

I am not certain what will happen next. While I do have legal help, I hope you all will also stand with me in case of any further attempt at government repression by the FBI.
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Surveillance Reform Theater
by William A. Blunden / October 19th, 2014


Recently 60 Minutes aired a segment where FBI Director James Comey described how he threatened to quit as acting Attorney General back in 2004 rather than reauthorize warrantless wiretapping programs. He also described an old Hoover-era memo that he keeps on his desk as a reminder of what not to do. The memo is a request by J. Edgar Hoover to conduct “technical surveillance” on Martin Luther King Jr. The basic impression that 60 Minutes viewers come away with is that James Comey is a man who is “deeply skeptical of government power.”

This 20-minute biopic was likely timed in such a way as to prepare the public for Comey’s speech this past week at the Brookings Institution. Comey explained that in order to safeguard the public against terrorism he wanted U.S. companies to modify their encryption technology to offer a special backdoor for law enforcement. Strictly speaking Comey referred to this backdoor as a “front door,” but either way what he’s describing is a mechanism for the authorities to bypass encryption.

The concept of a secret golden key for authorities is a zombie idea from the 1990s. I’m talking about what’s known in cryptographic circles as “key escrow.” Under key escrow vendors create a built-in decryption password (also known as a decryption key) that’s held in escrow. When law enforcement agents supply a court order they can acquire the corresponding decryption key.

Key escrow died long ago and with good reason. This is because it’s impossible to create a backdoor that only the police can access. Once the escrow key finds its way out into the wild it can be utilized by crooks, spies, and oppressive governments for their own purposes. Key escrow puts everyone at risk.

In short, Comey suggests undermining digital security and privacy across an industry while concurrently asserting that he’s “looking for security that enhances liberty.”

This begs a question: why would the Director of the FBI knowingly advocate a strategy which is patently flawed? Does he assume collective amnesia? That thousands of security professionals have somehow forgotten the lessons of the past?

Good Cop/Bad Cop

Hi-tech companies need to keep quarterly profits strong and in order to do that they’ve got to manufacture the impression that they’re standing up for our civil liberties. As James Comey acknowledges encryption is a “marketing pitch.” A way to attract customers by distinguishing certain products from the rest. Government officials, many of them who end up working in the private sector after they leave office, are keenly aware of this.

By proposing to revive key escrow the FBI is essentially lending credibility to hi-tech companies, which come across as resisting the big bad government. Comey’s gambit makes it appear as though Silicon Valley is siding with users against intrusive government surveillance. Even though, despite marketing campaigns that plug encryption, the sad reality is that most hi-tech service providers don’t care one jot about user privacy. If anything hi-tech companies want to be able to collect as much data as possible because they can turn around and sell it. Government spies and online service providers have a lot in common.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the whole discussion of key escrow keeps the focus on overt back doors, allowing the ensuing public debate to sidestep conversations about existing covert back doors. Rest assured that the FBI has plenty of tools in their arsenal to foil encryption. It’s been this way for well over a decade. For example, do some homework on the Bureau’s Magic Lantern program. Or read up on how they snagged a Federal Cybersecurity Director on child pornography charges. The NSA, for instance, has a whole catalogue of “implants” that can be wielded to thwart encryption.

The Whole Snowden Spectacle

In addition to the mystifying resurrection of key escrow there are other signs that something is amiss. Specifically, in an early interview with the Guardian Ed Snowden declared:

I don’t want to be a celebrity, I don’t want to go somewhere and have people pay attention to me, just as I don’t want to do that in the media. There are much more important issues in the world than me and what’s going on in my life and we should be focusing on those.

And yet here we see Ed Snowden in a forlorn embrace with an American flag compliments of the techno-libertarians at Wired magazine. Then the Intercept covers how Ed is shacking up with his own pole dancing Miss Moneypenny as he stars in feature film and generally does his best to look like Tom Cruise. Avoiding the spotlight are we, Ed? Ahem.

Did you know that Julian Assange is coming out with his own line of apparel? There’s a discernable commercial aroma that’s begun to accompany all this noble whistleblowing. In the case of the Ed Snowden affair I smell a billionaire. These days the plutocrats are following the mandates of the Powell memorandum and entrenching themselves in American policymaking apparatus, forming their own news outlets and political movements.

There are reasons why President Truman regretted turning the CIA “into peacetime cloak and dagger operations.” Clandestine programs of subversion are antithetical to democracy. By spotlighting the messenger, witness Ed Snowden’s descent to celebrity status, elements in the media create a parade that leads society away from the unsettling repercussions of mass surveillance (i.e. the specter of state capture).

Denouement – Selling Snake Oil

As NSA documents trickled into the public arena a cry arose that “something must be done.” And so both politicians and executives are engaged in obligatory gestures of sham opposition and faux public debate, a choreographed mind-numbing performance aimed to placate Main Street rabble without threatening the intelligence agencies or their corporate overlords in the defense sector. The DNI’s recent report on Presidential Policy Directive 28 illustrates this.
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http://factually.gizmodo.com/1-in-3-ame ... +ericlimer

1 in 3 Americans are on file in the organization that assassinated President Kennedy criminal database.

Go figure,eh?

1 in 3 Americans are on file in the FBI's criminal database

The FBI has over 77.7 million Americans in its master database of criminals. And according to the Wall Street Journal, they're adding between 10,000 and 12,000 new names per day. That means that roughly one out of every three American adults has a file with the FBI.

From a new article in the Wall Street Journal about the rise of arrests in America's schools:

Over the past 20 years, prompted by changing police tactics and a zero-tolerance attitude toward small crimes, authorities have made more than a quarter of a billion arrests, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates. Nearly one out of every three American adults are on file in the FBI's master criminal database.

The WSJ uses this statistic within the context of the police presence in our nation's schools and tells the story of one young woman in Florida who was arrested for conducting an explosive science experiment on school property.

A science experiment that went awry turned into a 17-month battle for Kiera Wilmot and her mother as they tried to clear the honor student's arrest record. According to the police report, she was on school grounds outside the classroom trying out an experiment that hadn't been authorized by her teacher. Ms. Wilmot, now 18, said she put a piece of aluminum inside a bottle with two ounces of toilet cleaner to see what would happen. The teen's mother said she was trying to simulate a volcanic eruption.

"It popped," blowing the top off the bottle, she said. She was handcuffed by the school-resource office, escorted out of the Bartow, Fla., school and taken to a juvenile facility where she was charged with possessing or discharging firearms or weapons at school and making, throwing, possessing, projecting, placing or discharging a destructive device.

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NEWS / MEDIA / TECH Seattle Times Furious With FBI Over Allegations That the Agency Impersonated the Newspaper

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http://www.thestranger.com/slog/archive ... -newspaper

Seven years ago, the FBI used a kind of spyware known as a CIPAV to track down and arrest a 15-year-old hacker who was sending bomb threats to a high school near Olympia. Old news for privacy watchdogs. But today, ACLU analyst Christopher Soghoian trawled through an arcane set of the bureau's records and came across something startling: in order to get the suspect's computer infected with the spyware, the documents suggest that the FBI sent a message to him that masqueraded as an e-mail from The Seattle Times.

"Here is the email link in the style of the Seattle Times," wrote one FBI agent, whose name is redacted. "Below is the news article we would like to send containing the CIPAV," wrote another. The e-mail includes a message, headline, link, and subscription information all purporting to represent an Associated Press article carried online by The Seattle Times. According to WIRED editor Kevin Poulsen, the message acted as a phishing attack and was sent to the young man's MySpace account, "luring him to read an article about himself at a custom url."

The HTML behind the link would presumably redirect the viewer to an FBI server, which would infect the computer with spyware (CIPAV stands for Computer & Internet Protocol Address Verifier) allowing the government to track the computer's "IP address, MAC address, list of running programs, operating system, Internet browser used, language used, the registered computer name, the currently logged-in username, and more," according to Ars Technica.

"I remember reading about it at the time and wondering, 'How do they get people to click on their stupid links?'" says Soghoian, the ACLU's Principal Technologist.

The suspect, identified only as Josh in court records because he was a juvenile, was arrested following the apparently successful use of the CIPAV. But, Soghoian says, "The ends don't justify the means. I'm not saying that the FBI shouldn't be investigating people who threaten to bomb schools. But impersonating the media is a really dangerous line to cross."

The editor of The Seattle Times, Kathy Best, says they just learned about this and are seeking answers from the FBI and the US Attorney's Office. "We are outraged that the FBI misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect," Best says in an e-mailed statement. "Not only does that cross the line, it erases it... We hope that this mistake in judgment by the FBI was a one-time aberration and not a symptom of a deeper lack of respect for the role of a free press in society."

Soghoian likened the FBI's apparent ploy to the CIA's 2011 fake vaccine campaign in Pakistan, which was in reality a front for intelligence gathering. The CIA pledged not to engage in any future deceptive public health campaigns last year.

Frank Montoya, Jr., the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Seattle office, said in a statement: “Every effort we made in this investigation had the goal of preventing a tragic event like what happened at Marysville and Seattle Pacific University. We identified a specific subject of an investigation and used a technique that we deemed would be effective in preventing a possible act of violence in a school setting. Use of that type of technique happens in very rare circumstances and only when there is sufficient reason to believe it could be successful in resolving a threat. We were fortunate that information provided by the public gave us the opportunity to step in to a potentially dangerous situation before it was too late.”

And agency spokesperson Ayn Dietrich-Williams declined, for now, to disclose further details about how the fake e-mail was designed, writing: "I’m sure you’ll understand that in order to safeguard the FBI’s ability to effectively detect, disrupt, and dismantle threats to the public, we must be judicious in how we discuss investigative techniques."

Here's the Times' full statement:

We, like you, just learned of this and are seeking answers ourselves from the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office.
But we are outraged that the FBI misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect. Not only does that cross the line, it erases it.
Our reputation—and our ability to do our job as a government watchdog—is based on trust
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FBI cut hotel Internet access, sent agents to “fix” it without warrants
Alleged online gambling ring broken up after agents posed as the cable guy.
- Oct 29 2014, 10:10am EDT
When the FBI applied for warrants this summer to raid three $25,000-per-night villas at Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino, it omitted some key investigatory details that eventually resulted in the arrest of eight individuals, including an alleged leader of a well-known Chinese crime syndicate, defense lawyers maintained in Las Vegas federal court documents late Tuesday.

The authorities built, in part, a case for a search warrant (PDF) by turning off Internet access in three villas shared by the eight individuals arrested. At various points, an agent of the FBI and a Nevada gaming official posed as the cable guy, secretly filming while gathering evidence of what they allege was a bookmaking ring where "hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal bets" on World Cup soccer were taking place.

"If this Court authorizes this duplicity, the government will be free to employ similar schemes in virtually every context to enter the homes of perfectly innocent people. Agents will frequently have no incentive to follow the warrant procedure required by the Constitution," defense lawyers wrote the Las Vegas federal magistrate presiding over the prosecution.

A hearing is set for December, and the defense will argue for a dismissal of the charges.

One of the accused defendants is Paul Phua, charged under the name Wei Seng Phua. The government alleges that the 50-year-old Malaysian man is a "high-ranking member" (PDF) of the 14K Triad specializing in loan sharking, illegal gambling, prostitution, and drug trafficking.

The investigation began this summer when the defendants started requesting a substantial amount of electronic equipment and Internet connections from Caesars Palace staff, the government said. A technician was suspicious and alerted casino security that a bookmaking operation might be underway, the government said in court papers. Nowhere in the search warrant request, however, did the authorities mention that they saw supposed wagering on computers after posing as technicians who in reality briefly disconnected the Internet.

The search warrant that led to the arrests would not have been issued had the judge been told the truth, the defense said in court papers. Evidence of what the defense called an unlawful "scheme" against its clients was produced (PDF) by the government in the pre-trial discovery process, the defense lawyers wrote (PDF):

The notion that an individual “consents” to such searches—so that the government is free to ignore the Fourth Amendment’s explicit warrant requirement—is, in a word, absurd. Our lives cannot be private—and our personal relationships intimate—if each physical connection that links our homes to the outside world doubles as a ready-made excuse for the government to conduct a secret, suspicionless, warrantless search. Only a few remote log cabins lack any Internet, electric, gas, water, cable, or telephone service
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Probe of FBI agent leads to release of convicted drug dealers from prison

October 31 at 5:36 PM

An investigation into possible misconduct by an FBI agent has forced authorities to quietly release at least a dozen convicts serving prison sentences for distributing drugs in the District and its suburbs, according to law enforcement officials, court documents and defense attorneys.

In addition, several suspects awaiting trial on drug charges and a man convicted but not yet sentenced have also been freed. Officials said more cases­ that could involve the agent are under scrutiny, including one involving 21 defendants.

None of the suspects or felons have had their charges dropped or convictions overturned. Most are on home detention in what many of their attorneys describe as a holding pattern, awaiting the outcome of the investigation into the agent, who was assigned to a D.C. police task force.

The scope and type of alleged misconduct by the agent have not been revealed, but defense lawyers involved in the cases­ described the mass freeing of felons as virtually unprecedented — and an indication that convictions could be in jeopardy. Prosecutors are periodically faced with having to drop cases over police misconduct, but it is unusual to free those who have been found guilty.

A law enforcement official speaking on the condition of anonymity said the agent has been suspended indefinitely. The agent has not been criminally charged.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the District said in a statement Friday that it is “conducting a case-by-case review of matters in which the FBI agent at issue played some role.”

“We have already begun taking steps to address this issue and are committed to doing everything that is necessary to preserve the integrity of the criminal justice process,” the statement said.

The decision to release the defendants and convicts was made with little or vague public notice. In one case, eight convicts and one defendant who pleaded not guilty were released to home detention Monday, with no indication publicly filed in court. One man who had served nine months of a 10-year sentence was sent back to the District from a federal prison in North Carolina. In another case, a cryptic court document ordered the “immediate release from incarceration” on Oct. 17 of four convicts and others with pending trials for the “duration of a current investigation.”

“I’ve never, ever seen something like this before,” said Robert Lee Jenkins Jr., a lawyer from Alexandria who is representing Anthony McDuffie, 50, who pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge and has been released pending sentencing. “It suggests to me that whatever is going on is very significant.”

Said another defense lawyer, Gregory English, whose client was released as he awaits trial: “This is stunning.”

Among the cases was one that the head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office highlighted in a news release last year as the culmination of a year-long investigation that police said traced heroin and cocaine from suppliers in California to street dealers in the District, Maryland and Virginia. In all, 11 pounds of the drugs were seized in the searches of 26 homes and storage facilities, along with five guns. Affidavits filed in the case show that police listened in on cellphone calls during money and drug drops at a Metro station in Northeast and a barbecue restaurant in Northwest and that the dealers frequently exchanged bundles of cash totaling as much as $85,000.

Police also alleged that the group was involved in identity theft involving hundreds of credit cards, Social Security cards and driver’s licenses. U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. hailed the indictments last year and said police were “able to remove guns, drugs and dangerous people from the streets and take another step toward making our community safer.”

Now, all 13 people indicted — including five who pleaded guilty — are free from jail or prison. One is the alleged ringleader, Lester Pryor Jr., 63, who is awaiting trial.

English, who is representing Brandon Beale, 58, in the Pryor case, said he was planning to fight the charges­ before the revelations. He said Beale, who has been freed pending trial, was an addict, not a distributor, and he plans to argue that authorities targeted “what they thought was a group of major dealers who turned out to be a very small one,” and that the others indicted were mostly users.

“It cost the FBI a lot of money to run a wiretap, and they didn’t get what they wanted,” said English, a former federal prosecutor. He said his case is “in a holding pattern” but added: “I’d be surprised if the prosecutor proceeds with the case. If they do, our case has become infinitely stronger.”

In a statement, the spokesman for the FBI’s Washington Field Office said allegations regarding the agent first surfaced the week of Sept. 29 and involved “possible misconduct.” The statement said authorities “took immediate steps to address the incident” that included notifying prosecutors who had cases­ involving the agent.

The Justice Department’s inspector general’s office is leading the investigation into the agent. FBI officials declined further comment, and D.C. police declined to comment.

Some earlier cases­ of police misconduct in the District have had sweeping implications. In 1987, authorities dropped 300 pending criminal cases­ amid an investigation into D.C. police officers skimming drugs and money seized during raids. In that same case, convictions were dismissed against 12 who had already been sentenced.

Authorities said they were looking into virtually every case in which the agent, who has not been publicly identified, was involved. It was unclear what role the agent has had in the cases thus far.

One of those cases involves alleged drug kingpin Angel Costello and 11 others indicted with him on drug charges, according to officials familiar with the investigation. Although there was no notice publicly filed in U.S. District Court indicating a change of status for the defendants, the Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate locator shows eight people convicted in the case were freed Monday — months and years before completing their sentences. Costello has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

In the Pryor case, a three-page order in the public court file calls for the release of five defendants who pleaded guilty, four of whom had already been sentenced. U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton describes the “court’s authorization to order the [defendants’] immediate release from incarceration for the duration of a current investigation being conducted by the government that resulted from its acquisition of new evidence.” He added that the release was in the “interest of justice.”

Several defense lawyers interviewed said they are in a difficult position because they know little of the allegations involving the agent. Many of the defendants have what are called “status” hearings in the next few weeks during which lawyers said they hope to learn additional details.

Prosecutors could still move forward with some or all of the cases but would face an additional hurdle of proving that any misconduct on the part of the agent did not have any impact on the charges. Officials said decisions will be made on the merits of the case against each suspect.

Defense lawyer Ron Earnest, who is representing James “Sweet Baby James” Burkley, 59, said he readily recommended that his client accept a seven-year prison sentence for his alleged role in the Pryor drug case. Burkley pleaded guilty Sept. 23, a week before the FBI said the alleged misconduct became known.

Earnest, who has an office in Riverdale, Md., said that in late October his client called him from the D.C. jail, where he was awaiting placement in a federal prison in North Carolina. He said Burkley told him that co-defendants in the case were being released, including the alleged kingpin.

Earnest said he called prosecutors and was soon summoned to court. He said the judge told him and other defense lawyers that “something was wrong with the investigation” and “everybody would be released, including the people who pleaded guilty.”
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Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014
Security contractor breach not detected for months

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WASHINGTON — A cyberattack similar to previous hacker intrusions from China penetrated computer networks for months at USIS, the government’s leading security clearance contractor, before the company noticed, officials and others familiar with an FBI investigation and related official inquiries told The Associated Press.
The breach, first revealed by the company and government agencies in August, compromised the private records of at least 25,000 employees at the Homeland Security Department and cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars in lost government contracts.
In addition to trying to identify the perpetrators and evaluate the scale of the stolen material, the government inquiries have prompted concerns about why computer detection alarms inside the company failed to quickly notice the hackers and whether federal agencies that hired the company should have monitored its practices more closely.
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A Seattle child pornography collector with ties to the FBI won’t go to prison and may be able to return to his home across from a Ballard-area elementary school.
Cybersecurity consultant Brian Haller was spared prison Friday after he was caught with 600 photos and videos picturing the sexual exploitation of children as young as 9. Haller, 40, asked that he be allowed to return to his home across the street from West Woodland Elementary School in the Ballard area of Seattle.
U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan ruled against a request from prosecutors that Haller be barred from living within sight of an elementary school
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NY City Council passes police reform bills that will change how NYPD cops conduct searches

Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 8:07 PM

A pair of fiercely fought police reform bills that will slap new restrictions on how cops do stops and searches passed the City Council on Tuesday.

After bottling it up for more than three years, pols approved the Right to Know Act in a close vote at their last meeting before a new Council takes over in January.

A last-minute deal to change the legislation got the support of the NYPD and Mayor de Blasio — but it alienated advocates, who urged Council members to vote down one bill.

One measure requires cops to tell people they have a right to refuse to be searched when there’s no legal basis to force a search, and to get proof of their consent. The other forces officers to identify themselves with a business card when they do many kinds of stops, and to state the reason.

The Right to Know Act will improve police-community relations
“I grew up in the projects. I grew up in the Bronx. I’m not from an ivory tower. And I’m convinced ... from my own lived experience that this bill will have a real impact in improving the day-to-day interactions between police and civilians,” said Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), the sponsor of the identification bill, who gave an impassioned defense of his deal after being hit with a torrent of criticism.

“I believe what I’m doing is right. And I will defend what I’m doing, even if it means I stand alone,” he said.

The identification bill passed 27-20, with three abstentions. The consent-to-search mandate passed 37-13.

In the deal with the NYPD, low-level stops were excluded from Torres’ bill, which will now apply only to stops based on the suspicion of criminal activity, as well as searches. Traffic stops were excluded

City Council committee passes controversial police reform bills
“That means if an officer stops me, asks me for my ID, asks me why I’m here, asks me a bunch of questions, that officer does not have to give me a card. That doesn’t make sense,” said Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), who voted against the revised bill.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito had blocked votes on the two bills — previously making a deal with the NYPD to instead make internal policy changes — but moved them forward after last week’s compromise.

The votes came amid a marathon session, the last in Mark-Viverito’s term as speaker, where the body voted on 38 bills.

Both the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and police reform advocates ended up lobbying pols to vote against the identification bill. The union slammed the whole package as an unneeded burden on cops.

One measure requires cops to tell people they have a right to refuse to be searched when there’s no legal basis to force a search, and to get proof of their consent. The other forces officers to identify themselves with a business card when they do many kinds of stops, and to state the reason.
One measure requires cops to tell people they have a right to refuse to be searched when there’s no legal basis to force a search, and to get proof of their consent. The other forces officers to identify themselves with a business card when they do many kinds of stops, and to state the reason. (NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
“Today the City Council chose politics over public safety by passing two pieces of harmful legislation. As we’ve said from the beginning, the 'Right to Know’ bills will discourage police officers from proactively addressing the threat of crime and terrorism — a threat that is no doubt growing based on recent events,” said PBA president Pat Lynch.

He charged the Council has “continuously piled on new burdens and second-guessing for our police officers, presenting a dangerous distraction that will place New Yorkers in harm’s way.”

A police reform coalition that had pushed the Right to Know Act backed only the consent to search measure, rejecting the ID requirement it said was too watered down.

“We have the right to know who the officers are that are stopping us,” said L. Joy Williams, head of the Brooklyn chapter of the NAACP. “We’re not accepting a piece of the pie. I want the whole damn thing.”

But Torres, who is running for Council speaker, rejected the criticisms, saying advocates had “no business asserting veto power” and denying he was motivated by politics.

“There is no political calculation under which I’m making a remotely rational decision. The bill I’m advancing has no organized support. It faces hysterical opposition,” he said.

He said he opted not “to go to political war with the NYPD and risk a revolt,” like the one that happened among rank and file cops in 2014


What is Police Misconduct?
Police misconduct encompasses illegal or unethical actions or the violation of individuals’ constitutional rights by police officers in the conduct of their duties. Examples of police misconduct include police brutality, dishonesty, fraud, coercion, torture to force confessions, abuse of authority, and sexual assault, including the demand for sexual favors in exchange for leniency. Any of these actions can increase the likelihood of a wrongful conviction.
Police misconduct statistics gathered by the Cato Institute’s National Police Misconduct Reporting Project confirm that around 1% of all police officers commit misconduct in a given year and that the consequences of such misconduct are grim. Keith Findley from the Wisconsin Innocence Project conducted a study and found that police misconduct was a factor in as many as 50% of wrongful convictions involving DNA evidence.
At times, police misconduct is systematic. In one such case, Former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge was arrested on federal obstruction of justice and perjury charges for allegedly lying about whether he and other officers under his command participated in torture and physical abuse of suspects in police custody dating back to the 1980s. On more than one occasion, Burge participated in the torture and physical abuse of persons in police custody in order to obtain confessions and Burge was aware that detectives he supervised engaged in torture and physical abuse of people in police custody. On one specific occasion, in order to coerce a confession, the police officers placed a plastic bag over the suspect’s head until he lost consciousness. He was fired from the police department in 1993 and was later convicted in federal court for perjury connected to a civil lawsuit flied against the city.
Four of Burge’s victims of torture, who were on death row because of their coerced confessions, were granted innocence pardons by the governor after Burge’s police misconduct was brought to light. In all, there were 14 documented cases where death sentences were based on confessions involving allegations of torture.
In most misconduct cases, the misconduct is more subtle than torture. Often times police simply push the envelope in order to obtain a witness statement. In the case of Timothy Atkins, Atkins was convicted after a witness, Denise Powell, testified that Atkins had confessed to the crime. After Atkins was incarcerated for more than two decades, the California Innocence Project presented evidence that Powell was pressured by police to testify. When reversing Atkins’ conviction, the judge held that the officers who interviewed Powell threatened her with jail if she did not provide information about the case.
Like prosecutors, police officers are tasked with making our society safe. Sometimes their zeal leads them to cross the line and use the power of their badges to make a case that otherwise would not be triable. Especially when a brutal and senseless crime occurs, the zeal to see justice done can actually lead to great injustice. Other officers are often reluctant to report misconduct because of the loyalty they feel for their fellow officers. The proliferation of cell phone cameras have allowed citizens to record and report police misconduct. Although, in the past, most misconduct stories were assumed to be false, now, a quick search on Youtube.com results in hundreds of videos exposing incidents of police misconduct. One example of a compilation of news and amateur video about the problems inherent in this system is BrasscheckTV’s Youtube page.
Even now, however, actually making a report of police misconduct can be a challenge for the average citizen, largely because when reporting police misconduct a person has to make the report to the agency being complained about. In many cities, a citizen’s review board will review complaints against police officers. Reforms and close monitoring are required to ensure that police misconduct is discovered quickly and that innocent persons are not falsely accused.
police misconduct


The Richmond Police Department is accepting applications for Class #25 of the Richmond Citizen's Police Academy (RCPA).
The purpose of the Citizen's Police Academy is to provide residents with a better understanding of the operations of the Richmond Police Department.
The classes will begin on Thursday, Feb. 1, at the Richmond Police Department, 600 Preston St. in Richmond. Class hours are from 6:30 until 9:30 p.m. Classes will be held every Thursday for 10 sessions. The only cost for this opportunity is a resident's time and dedication.
During the academy, citizens will be exposed to many areas of law enforcement including but not limited to:
Meeting the staff and officers of the Richmond Police Department.
Touring the Richmond Police Department and Fort Bend County Jail.
Riding along with Richmond Police Officers during their shifts, if citizens choose.
Participating in the "TASER training." (Full participation optional)
Participating in the "Shoot, Don't Shoot" Firearms Training Scenarios
Join the more than 600 involved citizens who have graduated from the Richmond Citizen's Police Academy by completing an online application at the Richmond Police Department website. Visit http://www.richmondtx.gov/departments/police-department/citizens-police-academy. Completed applications may be mailed, emailed or faxed to the Richmond Police Department, Attn: Lt. Lowell D. Neinast, 600 Preston St., Richmond, Texas 77469; Fax 281- 232-0004; call 281-342-2849 or email LNeinast@richmondtx.gov for more information.




Judge rules San Diego deadly shooting was justified


A federal judge has ruled that a San Diego police officer acted reasonably when he killed an unarmed man he thought was holding a knife.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that a judge ruled Monday in a civil rights lawsuit brought by the family of 42-year-old Fridoon Nehad.

Police were called in 2015 after reports that Nehad was threatening people with a knife. Officer Neal Browder said he found the man in an alley and shot him as Nehad walked toward him with something in his hand. It turned out to be a pen.


Lawsuit filed over man’s death in struggle with Phoenix cops


A lawsuit alleging excessive force has been filed against the city of Phoenix in the death of a homeless man during a struggle with police officers nearly a year ago outside a community center.

Muhammad Abdul Muhaymin, 43, died shortly after officers took him into custody for having an outstanding criminal warrant. Police were called to the Maryvale Community Center after a dispute arose there over whether Muhaymin, who suffered from mental disabilities, could bring his service dog into a public bathroom with him.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month by Muhaymin’s sister, seeks $10 million from the city. It alleges excessive force and wrongful death, saying officers caused the death by using unjustified force in restraining Muhaymin, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and acute claustrophobia.

The Phoenix Police Department on Tuesday declined to comment on the lawsuit. The agency also declined to specify the charge that Muhaymin faced in the outstanding warrant or say whether any officers were disciplined as a result of the encounter.


Texas officer found guilty in shooting death of teenager


A jury in Dallas has found a former police officer guilty of murder in the shooting death of a 16-year-old teenager who had burglarized the cop 's SUV.

Former Farmers Branch officer Ken Johnson was found guilty Tuesday of murder and also of aggravated assault.

His sentencing was postponed until next month.

Prosecutors previously told jurors that Johnson was off-duty in March 2016 when he chased Jose Cruz and another teen.

Surveillance video shows that Johnson chased the teens with his SUV, rammed their car and then repeatedly fired into their stopped vehicle.

Cruz died in the shooting in the Dallas suburb of Addison and the other teen was seriously injured.


Settlement allows Rockford officer to retire in good standing

A settlement agreement has been reached that will allow a Rockford police officer who was involved in the 2009 police shooting death of an unarmed black man to retire in good standing.


Congress secretly settled sexual harassment, discrimination claims with over $342G in taxpayer funds
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Updated: Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 5:30 PM



A lawyer for two men whose federal convictions were recently overturned is raising fresh questions about an April 2010 incident that led to their convictions on bogus drug charges and involved a Baltimore detective fatally gunned down last month just as he was set to testify before a grand jury investigating indicted police colleagues.

Attorney Steven Silverman represents a pair whose federal convictions were vacated Monday by a U.S. judge after they spent years in prison based on 2010 police work done by a group of allegedly corrupt officers.

He asserts that Detective Sean Suiter, then an officer, was driving an unmarked vehicle that intentionally rear-ended a car of one of his client’s. Suiter was among a group of officers dressed in black, wearing face masks, and showing no visible badges during the April 2010 incident, Silverman alleged.

A high-speed chase ensued, ending with the fatality of an 87-year-old man when client Umar Burley’s car slammed into another vehicle. A state court convicted him of manslaughter in the death.

Burley said he thought the masked figures were criminals trying to rob him. “I felt like I was in imminent danger and I took off,” he said in a Tuesday phone call.

Link du jour





U.S. lifts ban on funding risky virus research
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 4:24 PM

The National Institutes of Health announced Tuesday that it would allow the federal government to resume funding controversial research that makes viruses more contagious and deadly—despite scientists’ concern that the risks of such experiments outweigh potential advantages.

The federal government will lift a three-year pause, instituted in October, 2014, on funding the research projects.

The so-called “gain-of-function” experiments involve genetically altering viruses including bird flu, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) to make them more transmissible and pathogenic, in order to study the kinds of genetic changes that can make a disease more transmissible from person to person.

But scientists are leery of the testing — suggesting that there might be less risky ways to draw conclusions.

The moratorium was imposed after government employees mishandled anthrax and avian flu, suggesting that labs’ biosafety and security standards were inadequate.


Electric power to the people: Volkswagen plans 2,800 new EV charging stations in 17 U.S. cities
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 12:44 PM


Mother sues San Francisco police for fatally shooting son


A Northern California mother filed a civil rights lawsuit Tuesday alleging a San Francisco police rookie wrongfully shot and killed her unarmed son as he fled from a stolen van he was driving earlier this month.

The lawsuit alleges that poor police training led to O’Neil’s death. The officer who shot O’Neil graduated from the police academy four days earlier and was a passenger in a patrol car driven by a training officer.

Body-worn cameras captured officer Christopher Samayoa firing through the closed passenger-side window of the police car he was riding in, the bullet shattering glass before it hit O’Neil in the head.

“At the time of the fatal shot, Mr. O’Neil was unarmed and did not present an immediate threat to the officers or anyone else,”

San Francisco police did not immediately return phone and email inquiries Tuesday. The San Francisco Police Officers Association Union also did not return a telephone message seeking comment.

Police have not released the name of the training officer. Samayoa was placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting while it was investigated.


A knife-wielding man shot by Minneapolis police during a tense confrontation in an interview room clung to life Tuesday, while union officials said officers followed proper procedures when handling an armed suspect believed to be a danger to himself or others.

Officers fired several shots at the teen on Monday afternoon after the 18-year-old, identified as Marcus Terrell Fischer of Minneapolis, produced a knife and began repeatedly stabbing himself in the chest and neck, ignoring repeated commands to throw the weapon down, according to multiple sources.

Fischer was later hospitalized with critical injuries; department sources said it was uncertain whether he would survive.

He had been brought in for questioning about a Dec. 13 robbery in northeast Minneapolis, in which a 21-year-old man was shot during a gun deal gone awry, police records showed.

Fischer was arrested about 2:25 Monday afternoon by members of the department's Violent Criminal Apprehension Team and turned over to the detective handling the shooting case. Fischer also has an open weapons possession case.

He was brought to police headquarters downtown and taken into an interview room in Room 108, which houses specialized units like Homicide and Robbery.

Suspects are seldom handcuffed during interviews, sources say, and that it isn't unusual for detectives to leave the room periodically.

At some point, investigators left the room, leaving Fischer unattended. When they returned, he was holding a knife and had stabbed himself at least 11 times in the neck and the chest and was trying to slash his own throat. By then, more officers came running over to the room, drawn by the commotion, according to a source familiar with the case.


Newburyport woman receives jail time for placing branch across driveway of FBI neighbor
By Dave Rogers Staff Writer Dec 19, 2017 Updated


Mayor: East Haven PD has rebuilt public trust and restored accountability after exhibiting racist behaviour
By Clare Dignan Published 10:07 pm, Monday, December 18, 2017

The consent decree between the town and DOJ came after a two-year investigation that concluded in 2011 found the EHPD engaged in patterns of biased policing against Latinos, intentionally targeting them. It was sparked by incidents in 2009 that brought to light that East Haven officers were targeting Latinos. The DOJ found that the EHPD engaged in “systematically discriminating against Latinos,” according to the investigation’s report.



Anyone who has worked at a television network has loads of stories about pieces that were spiked or totally suppressed because the corporation went into damage-control mode. One recent example: 60 Minutes.

On December 3, during a congenial retrospective presentation — “Fifty Years of 60 Minutes” — the iconic news program re-lived some of the show’s biggest moments: trophy interviews, scoops and revelations, and, commendably, a few jumbo mistakes.

But in the course of serving up confessions, such as Mike Wallace’s spiked interview with a tobacco company whistleblower, to which they devoted only a few seconds, they also mentioned how they were led astray on a key incident in the career of George W. Bush. And they blamed it on the sloppy reporting of Dan Rather and his producers.

By doing so, the network perpetuated a serious fiction about the 2004 election, in a way that only underlined its cowardice in dealing with an embarrassing scandal.

The real problem with Rather was not — as CBS would have us believe — that he failed to properly vet a fake document during an investigation into whether George W. Bush pulled strings to avoid combat duty in Vietnam.

In fact, the documentation for Bush’s self-serving actions is clear and compelling.

The core issue is what CBS left unsaid. Rather’s producers were poking into an authentic story that powerful political forces had long been trying to suppress: how the then-President of the United States, who had taken the country into war in Iraq under false pretenses, resulting in untold unnecessary deaths, himself had gone AWOL from military service years earlier — and covered it up.

That’s a big deal. And a news organization worth its salt doesn’t run from the truth.

Another mainstream outlet, the Los Angeles Times, mocked Rather by putting the word “Truth” in quotation marks in the title of a story published in 2015 — “Dan Rather is sticking to the ‘Truth’ of his story about George W. Bush.” But at least that newspaper gave him a chance to defend himself. In his response, Rather made clear that he regrets the use of documentation that was not properly vetted. But he went on to strongly refute any inference that this invalidates the thrust of the original report:

“It’s not a matter of opinion whether the central facts of the story were true or not; it’s true,” he says of the 2004 report. “One: That through the influence of his politically powerful father, George W. Bush got into a so-called champagne unit of the Air National Guard as a way of assuring he wouldn’t have to go to Vietnam. And two: After he got in… he disappeared for more than a year.”

We agree. To find out why, and for all the sordid details, have a look at this story, previously published by WhoWhatWhy.

(Original publishing date October 15, 2015)

George W. Bush sent thousands of Americans to their deaths in wars that could have been avoided — while he himself dodged the draft as a young man. Dan Rather’s reporting on how Bush allegedly got away with it led to the famed television news anchorman’s spectacular downfall.

A new film, Truth, starring Robert Redford as Rather, and Cate Blanchett as his producer Mary Mapes, claims to show what really happened. The film is about to open, and we haven’t seen it yet. But we thought you’d be interested in WhoWhatWhy editor Russ Baker’s own discoveries on the tricks behind the scenes to rewrite history — including indications that a trap was laid for Rather and Mapes, with the goal of scaring all media off the investigative trail. Here, from his best-seller Family of Secrets, are related excerpts. (This is the first of a two-part series.)


The Skeleton in W.’s Closet
Even before George W. Bush attained his first public office, his handlers were aware of a skeleton rattling noisily in his closet. It was one that undercut the legend of principle and duty — the story of a man’s man and patriot. It would have to be disposed of.

At a televised debate in 1994 between incumbent Texas governor Ann Richards and challenger George W., Austin television reporter Jim Moore asked Bush to explain how he had gotten so quickly and easily into National Guard pilot training as an alternative to serving in Vietnam.

Candidate Bush simply asserted that favoritism had played no role and that he had honorably served. End of discussion. There were no follow-up questions.

But the moment the debate was over, Bush’s communications director, Karen Hughes, came at the journalist. “Karen just makes a beeline for me and gets in my face and tries to separate me from the crowd,” Moore said. “Then she starts a rant.

‘What kind of question is that? Why did you ask that question? Who do you think you are? That’s just not relevant to being governor of Texas. He’s not trying to run the federal government. He’s going to run the state of Texas. What does his service in the National Guard have to do with anything? He doesn’t have an army to run here in Texas. Why would you ask such a question, Jim?’”

Karen Hughes Photo credit: Bill Rice / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Karen Hughes Photo credit: Bill Rice / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

In response to Hughes, Moore said, “It’s about character, Karen. It’s about his generation and mine coming of age, and how we dealt with what we all viewed as a bad war.”

As the reporter was turning to go file his story, Bush’s chief strategist, Karl Rove, came at him next. “‘What was that question, Moore?’ And I said, ‘Well, you know what it was, Karl.’ I said it’s a fair question. And he said, ‘It wasn’t fair. It doesn’t have anything to do with anything.’”

Bush’s handlers thought they could get reporters off a story by intimidating them. Often they turned out to be right. It sometimes seems that the entire story of George W. Bush’s life has been rewritten by hired hands.

Allbaugh told James that Karen Hughes and Bartlett would be coming out to Camp Mabry, which was on the outskirts of Austin, to comb through the records in preparation for a book on Bush, and he instructed the general to have the records prescreened. According to Burkett, Allbaugh said, “Just get rid of the embarrassments.”
Just one of hundreds of such examples: During his unsuccessful Midland congressional bid in 1978, W.’s campaign literature described his wartime service as “Air Force” — a claim also made for him in Poppy’s autobiography. Presumably both men knew the difference between the National Guard and the Air Force. Nevertheless, that claim remained in W.’s official biography until the 2000 presidential campaign, at which point the correction was quietly made.

After Bush’s election as governor in 1994, his political team worked to inoculate their man against further inquiries into his Guard service. Dan Bartlett, an eager staff aide then in his twenties, and with no military service of his own, was named as liaison between the governor and the National Guard. And Bush replaced Texas’s adjutant general Sam Turk, the administrative head of the Guard, who had been appointed by Governor Richards, with General Daniel James.

Lt. Gen. Daniel James III, Director, Air National Guard Photo credit: Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi / US Air Force

Cleaning up the Texas Guard records became a lot easier once W. was the titular commander in chief of the state’s National Guard units. The effort got under way just months after Bush’s inauguration. On May 16, 1995, Joe Allbaugh, by then Bush’s chief of staff, met with Guard officials and asked to see Bush’s personnel records. Three days later, they were sent over to the governor’s office from the office of the outgoing adjutant general. “I am enclosing copies of the Texas Air National Guard personnel records for Mr. Daniel O. Shelley and Governor George W. Bush,” wrote Turk.

It is not clear why Shelley’s records were also requested, except that he was about to be named Bush’s legislative director. In any case, asking for two records rather than one likely was a form of cover — comparable to what happened in 1972 when George W. Bush failed to take his mandatory National Guard physical and was joined in this violation by his friend Jim Bath. In each instance, the special treatment accorded W. was made to seem more “routine” by the fact that at least one other person was included.

That the people around the governor were concerned was evident when Dan Bartlett traveled to Denver to personally review the microfiche copy of Bush’s records on file at the Air Reserve Personnel Center.

Enter Bill Burkett
In 1996, the new adjutant general, Daniel James, hired Lieutenant Colonel Bill Burkett, a former Guardsman and tough cattle rancher who doubled as a private management consultant, to lead a task force assessing the state of the organization. Burkett returned several months later with a devastating report, documenting how outmoded, inefficient, unprepared, and even corrupt the service was.

What Burkett and his team discovered went way beyond unjustified promotions of politically connected officers. They also uncovered that the Texas Guard rolls were full of “ghost soldiers,” military personnel kept on the books after they had left the unit to justify the continued flow of money allocated for their pay. Equally important, the ghost numbers made units appear to be at authorized troop levels when reviewed by state and federal authorities.

Burkett and his team believed their findings were so important and so sensitive that they had to take them straight to the top. Not knowing who was responsible for the fraud, “we decided we had to go to the boss,” Burkett recalled. But James, the man governor Bush had handpicked to run the Guard, seemed far more upset about the breach of military procedure in reporting the news of corruption and malfeasance than in the news itself. According to Burkett, James responded: “Now guys, I want to know what I’m supposed to tell the chief of staff, Colonel Goodwin, when he wants to have your heads ’cause you violated the chain of command and came in here over his head.”

When Burkett asked for — and received — a promise of funding from the Clinton-Gore administration to begin repairing holes in the Guard, Governor Bush angrily declined the help. According to Burkett, Bush’s chief of staff, Joe Allbaugh, informed General James that henceforth his primary function was to ensure that Bill Burkett be kept as far as possible from the media.

“Just get rid of the embarrassments.”
Meanwhile, according to Burkett, there was discussion of Bush’s impending presidential bid and how it would become a priority for state officials. One day in 1997, Burkett said, he was in the vicinity of General James’s office when a call came in. James took it on the speakerphone. It was Joe Allbaugh, with Bush’s Guard liaison Dan Bartlett on the line. According to Burkett, Allbaugh told James that Karen Hughes and Bartlett would be coming out to Camp Mabry, which was on the outskirts of Austin, to comb through the records in preparation for a book on Bush, and he instructed the general to have the records prescreened. According to Burkett, Allbaugh said, “Just get rid of the embarrassments.”

About ten days after Allbaugh’s call, Burkett claims, he came upon Guard officials going through Bush’s records and observed a trash can nearby that included between twenty and forty pages of Bush’s military documents. Burkett had a few moments to see what they contained.

Another Guard officer and friend of Burkett’s, George Conn, would later corroborate much of this story, but then withdraw confirmation while steadfastly maintaining that Burkett was an honorable and truthful man. Clearly, Conn was in a difficult position, working for the military on a civilian contract, while his wife served as head of the secretarial pool for a large law firm that was a leading bundler of campaign contributions to the Bush campaigns.

“I was there. I know what I saw in the trash. I know what actions I saw taking place,” Burkett told me during one of several lengthy conversations. One of the documents that has been missing from the released files, Burkett claims, is a “counseling statement” from a senior officer to Bush, explaining why he was grounded and the changes to his assignment, slot, and pay rate. Burkett told me he glimpsed Bush’s counseling statement at the top of the discard stack, but did not have time to read it through.

“In a perfect world, I guess I should have just stepped up and grabbed the files and made a federal case of it all right there,” he said. “Looking back, I probably would have. It would have been simpler to have confronted the whole mess right then and there.”

Burkett, whose claims would surface publicly on a Web site for a Texas veterans’s group in 2000 and were subsequently detailed in Jim Moore’s 2004 book, Bush’s War for Reelection, first made his allegations within Guard circles in 1997. The next year he laid them out in letters to state legislators and in eight missives to Bush himself, addressing broad problems with the Guard, as well as in sworn public testimony.

“Dan Bartlett knew about it,” Burkett said.

“I called Dan in May or June 1998. I told him it’s gotten to the point where you need a new [National Guard] adjutant general.”

Getting Even
Burkett was pulled away to other projects, and then in 1998 abruptly and unexpectedly dispatched on federal orders to Panama. On his trip home, he fell seriously ill. It was when he had trouble receiving proper medical care under his benefits package that he tried to use his knowledge of the destruction of Bush’s military record as leverage.

Even efforts by Texas congressman Charles Stenholm and the surgeon general to arrange hospital care for Burkett were rebuffed by Guard headquarters. Two close friends of Burkett’s within the Guard who tried to get him help for emergency medical bills — George Conn and Harvey Gough — would themselves be fired from the Guard.

To this day, it remains unclear whether the treatment of Burkett was retribution for embarrassing the Guard with claims of corruption and of the destruction of documents concerning George W. Bush’s service.

The undeniable fact is that essential paperwork one would expect to find in W.’s file somehow was missing. This included records of how the military handled Bush’s transfer to Alabama, documentation of additional service after May 1972 or an explanation of why no such evidence existed, and a report from the panel that typically convened when a pilot stopped flying prematurely. However it happened, it certainly would appear that someone purged parts of the governor’s National Guard file.

“Accident” at National Records Center
Circa 1997, the same year as the trash-can incident, microfilm containing military pay records for hundreds of Guardsmen, including Bush, was irreversibly damaged at a national records center. When the government finally acknowledged the incident seven years later, it was described as an accident during a routine “restoration” effort.

Until May 23, 2000, the efforts of Bush’s team to keep their man’s military record from public view seemed to be succeeding. Then, with Bush closing in on the GOP presidential nomination, The Boston Globe ran a story headlined, 1-YEAR GAP IN BUSH’S GUARD DUTY: NO RECORD OF AIRMAN AT DRILLS IN 1972 — Reporter Walter Robinson had obtained and reviewed 160 pages of military documents. It was Robinson who first interviewed Bush’s former commanders, only to discover that none could recall Bush performing service during that period.

The Globe’s revelations gave rise to a veritable cottage industry of bloggers, with citizen journalists launching their own inquiries, complete with their own Freedom of Information requests. Together they provided sophisticated, rigorous analysis of the fine points of military procedure and record keeping.

Evidence of Service: a Torn Scrap of Paper?
The Bush camp swung into damage-control mode. Bartlett called in the retired Guard personnel director, General Albert Lloyd, and asked him to review W.’s record to look for any proof of his service. Armed with a request letter from Bush for access to his files, and, as he confirmed to me, left alone in the records room at Camp Mabry, Lloyd found a torn piece of paper with Bush’s social security number and a series of numbers. Though no one explained why the paper had come to be torn, or established the authenticity or validity of the document, it would be turned over to news organizations and the visible partial-date information extrapolated upon as evidence of service.

Texas Air National Guard 1st Lt. George W. Bush with the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Ellington Air Force Base, TX. Photo credit: US Air Force / Wikimedia (Public Domain)

Bush carried into the White House with him an official biography that by now reflected an already thoroughly discredited scenario:

“George W. Bush was commissioned as second lieutenant and spent two years on active duty, flying F-102 fighter interceptors. For almost four years after that, he was on a part- time status, flying occasional missions to help the Air National Guard keep two of its F-102s on round-the-clock service.”

Yet, in actuality, after he went on part-time status, Bush did not fly for four more years, but rather just one year and nine months.

Since that time, the White House has, without acknowledging or explaining the changes, repeatedly revised the script. Ultimately, the latter period of Bush’s Guard service would be presented this way: after April 1972 the high-flying and highly visible pilot suddenly becomes a ground-hugging reservist reading manuals in back offices both in Alabama and in Texas, unobserved by his former flight mates, and therefore unremembered.

The personable Bush, once nicknamed “the Lip” and “the Bombastic Bushkin,” had disappeared into a cubbyhole. In spite of this, when he became governor, his F-102 was symbolically refurbished like new, and a ceremony honoring his service was held, featuring Bush-supplied promotional materials containing the misleading biographical information.

Meanwhile, the original justification for Bush’s staff to review his Guard records — that they were seeking information to include in his “autobiography” — proved suspect. When the book, A Charge to Keep, finally appeared, all mentions of his Guard duty were couched in the vaguest possible language.

“It was exciting the first time I flew and it was exciting the last time … I continued flying with my unit for the next several years … My fellow pilots were interesting people … We were different, but we worked well together …”

From the moment journalists started to look into Bush’s military records, it was clear that some essential documents were missing. But after initial Freedom of Information requests had elicited the “complete record,” other documents — such as laudatory press releases — were mysteriously supplied in response to later rounds of FOIA requests. There was no adequate explanation of where these new documents came from.

Bush Accused: The Lottery Gambit


The National Security Threat that Inflicted 400 Billion in Damages This Year
Back in the 1990s, the U.S. Navy asked Congress to address the issue of rising sea levels at the Norfolk Naval Base. The Navy wanted to raise the piers, which were becoming vulnerable to flooding due to rising waters. For various reasons, including climate change denial, Congress has delayed funding for elevating the base’s 12 piers beyond the present and near term projected reach of ongoing sea level rise. Only four so far have been lifted.

According to former Norfolk Naval Base Commander Joe Bouchard, “Washington went bonkers” when it failed to recognize and address an obvious problem — sea level rise.

Up and down the U.S. coastline, the story is much the same. But it’s not just a case of Navy Base piers. It’s a case that every coastal city in the U.S. now faces rising seas threatening homes, real estate, infrastructure. And at the same time that seas are rising, the strongest storms are growing stronger and fire seasons that once ran through a few months of the year in places like California are now a year-round affair.

(A ribbon-thin rise of land separates the Norfolk Naval Base from flooding due to climate change driven sea level rise. Flooded bases not a national security threat? See related article by Vox. Image source: Wikipedia.)

This is the very definition of climate change as a threat to the security, not just to the world’s largest naval base, but to most if not all of the United States.

So how bonkers is Donald Trump and the climate change denying GOP now? How nuts is it that Trump yesterday made the anti-factual determination, in bald defiance of a plethora of U.S. military leaders, that “climate change is not a national security threat?”

Increasingly Destructive Hurricanes are Putting a Growing Number of People and Structures at Risk

This year, the U.S. has experienced not one, not two, not three, not four, but at least five major weather disasters that were made much worse by human-caused climate change. Three of them — hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey all roared out of a warming ocean. They all formed in a hotter atmosphere loaded up with a higher level of moisture. These factors gave them more fuel to feed on. They unarguably increased their peak potential intensity. Scientific studies have found that Harvey alone was three times more likely to form due to human-caused climate change. That its rainfall was considerably enhanced in a warmer atmosphere.

The storms ran in to land on a higher ramp. Seas, like those at the Naval Base and in so many other places, have risen by a foot or more from the Gulf Coast to New England and on into the Caribbean because the Earth has, indeed, warmed. And this made storm surge impacts worse.

You could go on and on with the list of climate change related factors that compounded this year’s disasters. About the climate zones moving north. About hot blobs in the ocean and bigger blocks in the atmosphere. About enhanced convection and ice cliff instability. About ridiculously resilient ridges and persistent troughs. But it’s just a simple fact that the storms were worse than they would have been. That climate change made them more likely (in some cases far more likely) to occur in the first place. In total, and in large part due to the nefarious influence of fossil fuel burning on the world’s weather, these three storms alone have inflicted 368 billion dollars in damages.

That’s billion with a capital B. A level of harm often attributed to warfare but one that can instead be put at the feet of weather indiscriminately weaponized by fossil fuel burning. For the Atlantic Hurricane season this year, at a time when global temperatures are 1.1 to 1.2 C hotter than 1880s averages, was the most destructive ever recorded. These climate change enhanced storms left whole island nations and entire regions in ruins. In many cases it will take months, years, or even a decade or more to fully recover.

Wildfires are Increasing and Wildfire Season is Getting Longer in the Western U.S.

But in the grim tally of climate change related damages during 2017, we don’t stop at just hurricanes. For California, during 2017 experienced its worst fire season on record. One in which 11,306 structures have so far been damaged or destroyed. We say so far because what is likely to become the largest fire in California history — the Thomas Fire — is still burning.

11,306 structures would be enough to make a decent sized city. All gone due to a fire season that is now year round. Due to western heating, drying and temperature extremes that are increasingly forced to well outside the normal range. Total damages this year for California are presently estimated at more than 13 billion dollars. That’s nothing to shake a stick at. But this damage total is likely to continue to climb as the tally of losses is counted.

(Abnormally above average temperatures and below average precipitation contributed to fire danger in California during December. This odd heat and drought was driven, in no small part, by climate change. Image source: NOAA.)

As with hurricanes, the presently more intense fires are linked in numerous ways to a warming climate. Warmer temperatures increase the rate of evaporation and the intensity of precipitation in the most extreme events. Such variance increases the rate at which vegetation grows during wet season and the rate at which it dries during times when the rains depart. This adds more ready fuels for fires. In addition, northward movement of the Arctic sea ice contributes to an overall warmer and drier pattern for the U.S. West. This pattern, helps to produce stronger high pressure systems that, in turn, strengthen the fire-fanning Santa Ana winds.

This year, December, which is typically a wet month for the U.S. West, especially during La Nina (which we are presently experiencing) has been incredibly dry. This dryness helped to fuel the Thomas Fire. But the dryness didn’t happen in a vacuum. It was associated with a major climate change related influx of heat into the Arctic linked to climate change driven polar amplification.

Failure to Recognize Climate Change Leaves U.S. Citizens Vulnerable to Harm

Anyone following the increasingly clear evidence of how Trump campaign officials coordinated with Russia to disrupt the 2016 elections and how ardently Trump is attempting to cover the whole thing up could draw the reasonable conclusion that Trump cares more about his own personal advancement than the safety and security of the American people. Trump’s, and by extension, the GOP’s climate change denial, can be seen through the same morally relativistic lens. Wealthy fossil fuel donors have for a long time now held an unreasonable influence over persons in higher office. The denial of climate change for both the Republican Congress and the Presidency is, in other words, well-funded.

(GOP funding by fossil fuel donors just keeps going up and up in lockstep with GOP climate change denial and anti-environmental policy. Image source: InsideClimate News.)

Such denial may line the pocketbooks of republican politicians and wealthy oil, gas, and ailing coal companies. But it places the American people, their homes, their livelihoods, beneath the blade of a falling ax. So when Trump says climate change is a hoax, forces government websites to shut down, scrubs words related to climate change from government communications, opposes alternative clean energy, and tells the Department of Defense not to treat climate change as a national security threat, he is culpable and a contributor to a very clear, present, and growing danger.
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