Submitted by robert shetterly on 7 February 2017 - 12:00am
This was not a protest. It was a clarification. A realignment.
It was not an aggrieved victim struggling to have her lonely voice heard as she implores power to hear truth.
It was power speaking to power. Legitimate power speaking to illegitimate power.
It was a global, universal tweet speaking to an arrogant twit.
The phoenix shaking off the ashes.
It was liberation speaking to domination. Diversity speaking to white patriarchy.
The heart of freedom speaking to the heel of oppression. Right to wrong.
When I watched footage of the hundreds of marches in cities and towns all across America and then discovered that there were masses of people in the streets in other countries, it was clear something significant was happening. The deadly gloom of despair was lifted by the joy of millions of colorful, exuberant, powerful people. The point was tipping. This was not like the massive protests against the lies of the Bush administration in 2003 which propelled us into the Iraq invasion. Consciousness wasn’t raised then in enough people. People now realize an arrogant demagogue surrounded by a covey of ego-bloated generals, billionaire bankers and smug CEOs full of fear-mongering and racism, sexism and war-profiteering, science denial and nature destruction is not the way forward. This was a clarification. A re-set. Howard Zinn said our problem is not civil disobedience, it’s civil obedience. This was the exhilarating freedom of disobedience.
Obedience is uniformity; disobedience is a declaration of new identity. This was the people of the world speaking not so much to power as to each other. We’re in charge. We can shape the future we want, not be prey to what they want. Let’s practice respect. Let’s try love. Let’s embrace peace. Let’s insist on justice. Let’s honor the reality of our place in nature. Let’s build an economy of decency rather than disaster. Let’s base diplomacy on the common good.
As Trump was pathetically obsessed with the size of his inauguration crowd, the world passed him by. On his first day in office, the world passed him by! He’s already an anachronism. Dangerous, but an anachronism. The power has shifted.
Trump is the rock in the river from which we can leap to the other side.
Thank you, women.
The FBI's New FOIA Policy Is a Big Step Backward
Dust off your fax machine. The FBI is planning to take a big step backward for government transparency. As of March 1, the Bureau will no longer accept ...
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Historians have looked harshly on the FBI's legacy in dealing with religious groups. ... Communism, on the other hand, was an agent of secularism and atheism.
Local communities fight lethal battle against drugs
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General Assembly reconsiders how Maryland deals with sex crimes
Herald-Mail Media-Feb 25, 2017
The FBI redefined rape about four years ago, he said. "Initially I was against this bill, because I don't like redefining words," he said. "Words have meanings and ...
ANNAPOLIS — For several hours on Tuesday, state legislators in the House Judiciary Committee listened to sometimes excruciating testimony on various pieces of proposed legislation dealing with sexual assault. Then on Thursday, the committee heard more.
In fact, Maryland lawmakers have filed more than 40 bills this year that deal in some way with sexual offenses — ranging from processing evidence in child pornography cases to requiring local governments to audit the number of reportedly unfounded sexual assault cases.
But three bills in particular would fundamentally reshape the way Maryland deals with these crimes, meaning Washington County law enforcement and prosecutors might have to alter their me
Proof of resistance
On Thursday, the Maryland Senate unanimously approved legislation to remove a requirement that prosecutors show evidence that a victim physically resisted a sexual assault in order to prove a crime was committed. A companion bill was one of the 12 heard in the House Judiciary Committee last week.
The House bill's lead sponsor, Del. Kathleen Dumais, D-Montgomery, noted that "one of the things we often talk about when we're talking to young women, particularly at colleges or high school, is that if you are in one of these situations, we actually tell them not to resist if they are concerned about further physical injury or death. We tell them not to resist. … But if it is even a question in a law enforcement officer's mind, that in fact if you didn't resist it's not rape or it's not a sexual assault, we need to make it clear on our statute."
Lisae C. Jordan, executive director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, was blunt.
"Victims of sexual assault should never be required to physically resist the attack," she said.
During a recent review of 124 Baltimore County rape cases that were ruled "unfounded," Jordan said, there was "case after case after case of women saying, 'No, please stop,' crying, saying, 'Don't do that,' saying, 'Stop.' One woman who had vomited and then felt a little bit better, so the perpetrator started to sexually assault her, and she cried and said, 'Stop.' And the officer said to that victim — to all of these victims — 'Did ya hit him? Did ya kick him? What did you do to fight back?'
"And when she said, 'No, I didn't hit him or kick him,' or fight back physically, the officer said, 'Well, ma'am, Maryland's rape law doesn't cover this situation. You were not raped.'
A third of these cases involved this type of scenario, Jordan said.
"We don’t ask a robbery victim if they they resisted — 'Did you push the gun away? Did you tell him that he couldn't rob you?'" added Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger. "We never ask that of any other victim in the state of Maryland … except in the area of sexual assault."
Feb 16, 2017
– Feb 22, 2017
The bill allows the state commission that certifies law enforcement officers to close records about officers who have been fired or disciplined
HOUSTON — Police in Texas could soon find it easier to report officer-involved shootings to the state — but they also may pay a price for failing to do so.
Texas is one of seven states that require law enforcement agencies to provide information about officer-involved shootings to the state, and it could become the first to mete out punishment to those that don't.
State Rep. Eric Johnson says he's is pushing to "put some teeth" into Texas' statute after learning that up to a dozen fatal shootings hadn't been reported since the law went into effect in 2015. He's also trying to create a web portal that would make it easier for law enforcement to report crime data, including officer-involved shootings.
Texas' law, which was sponsored by Johnson, requires agencies to provide information about the shootings in a one-page report emailed to the state attorney general's office within 30 days, but there are no enforcement or tracking mechanisms.
– Jan 30, 2017
Matthew Luckhurst was originally given an indefinite suspension in October after giving a homeless man a feces sandwich
Senator says FBI paid $900K for iPhone hacking tool
— Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate committee that oversees the FBI, said publicly this week that the government paid $900,000 to break into the locked iPhone of a gunman in the San Bernardino, California, shootings.
The FBI considers the figure to be classified information. It also has protected the identity of the vendor it paid to do the work. Both pieces of information are the subject of a federal lawsuit by The Associated Press and other news organizations that have sued to force the FBI to reveal them.
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment Friday.
Feinstein cited the amount while questioning FBI Director James Comey at a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing Wednesday.
"I was so struck when San Bernardino happened and you made overtures to allow that device to be opened, and then the FBI had to spend $900,000 t
Here’s What’s Disturbing About the FBI Director’s Comments on WikiLeaks
May 04, 2017
react-text: 226 As the Justice Department considers espionage charges against WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange for leaking classified documents, the director of the FBI has made it clear in a Senate hearing that he doesn't believe that what the group does should qualify as "legitimate" journalism. /react-text
react-text: 228 A number of First Amendment activists and media experts have said that charging Assange for his role in distributing leaked documents /react-text react-text: 230 would threaten /react-text react-text: 231 journalism. The fact that WikiLeaks receives classified information from anonymous sources and publishes it is no different than what the /react-text New York Times react-text: 233 does, they argue. /react-text
react-text: 236 FBI director James Comey, however, said in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday /react-text react-text: 238 that he believes /react-text react-text: 239 there are critical differences in what WikiLeaks does and what "legitimate" journalists do in the pursuit of such information. /react-text
Comey: "@WikiLeaks is an important part of our investigation...There's nothing that even smells "journalist" about this kind of conduct."
11:43 AM - 3 May 2017
4 4 Retweets
4 4 likes
react-text: 244 And what are those differences? For one thing, Comey said that American journalists who receive or obtain classified intelligence usually call the government before publishing it, in order to ensure that people named in the documents aren't put in danger. "This activity I'm talking about with WikiLeaks involves no such considerations whatsoever," he said. /react-text
react-text: 246 Julian Assange, however, responded to this charge on Twitter, /react-text react-text: 248 saying the FBI director /react-text react-text: 249 was not telling the truth. "James Comey just mislead the Senate while under oath when he said Wikileaks ‘doesn't call us’," Assange wrote. "We did over #Vault7 and I know he knows it."
Here are preexisting conditions you could be charged more for under Trumpcare
BY CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Updated: Thursday, May 4, 2017, 5:11 PM
NYPD cop gets a year and three months in prison for running multimillion-dollar prostitution ring
Thursday, May 4, 2017, 12:49 PM
It was a happy ending of sorts for an ex-NYPD officer busted by the feds for running an upscale escort service.
Michael Rizzi got a year and three-month sentence in Brooklyn federal court on Thursday — but prosecutors had been pushing for a harsher sentence of of up to four years.
Rizzi told Judge Carol Bagley Amon that his business, Manhattan Stakes and Entertainment, was "the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life."
The Staten Island resident had pleaded guilty in October 2016 to money laundering conspiracy for an operation that raked in more than $2 million in credit card transactions alone between October 2012 and May 2016.
In court papers, Rizzi said he started out in 2012 trying to launch a less-than-steamy, totally legitimate business that offered mere companionship to customers. But business was good, said the filing, and Rizzi "turned a blind eye" to what was going on.
On Thursday, Rizzi admitted his wrongs.
“I want to put what I did in the past,” he said.
Rizzi, who also owns a Staten Island porn shop, said he wanted to put his business skills to good use. He's going from the oldest profession to something a little more cutting edge: Rizzi told the judge he's been working on a mobile food delivery app with his son.
Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Part 1: Rex Tillerson
First part of an excerpt from Horsemen of the Apocalypse: The Men Who are Destroying Life on Earth and What It Means for Our Children (with an Introduction by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.).
Thursday, May 4, 2017
US Medicine is a Racket: 10 Examples by Elisabeth Rosenthal, MD
Former NY Times journalist and non-practicing physician Elisabeth Rosenthal's new book, An American Sickness, lists 10 economic "rules" of US medicine that are guaranteed to make money, but not to improve outcomes:
More treatment is always better. Default to the most expensive option.
A lifetime of treatment is better than a cure.
Amenities and marketing matter more than good care.
As technologies age, prices can rise rather than fall.
There is no free choice. Patients are stuck. And they're stuck buying American.
More competitors vying for business doesn't mean better prices; it can drive prices up, not down.
Economies of scale don't translate to lower prices. With their market power, big providers can simply demand more.
There is no such thing as a fixed price for a procedure or test. And the uninsured pay the highest prices of all.
There are no standards for billing. There's money to be made in billing for anything and everything.
Prices will rise to whatever the market will bear.
Here is a review of her book. I am thrilled this book is getting the attention it deserves: for without understanding what our health care system has become, there is no way to make the changes needed for it to work for the People, and their medical providers.
Posted by Meryl Nass, M.D. at 11:53 PM 0 comments
Activists Rally As Prosecutors Bring More Felony Charges Against J20 Protesters
May 3, 2017 – ““They came here on inauguration day expecting to be able to express their free speech right, and instead, they were kettled, their civil rights were violated, and now, they are facing years, some even decades, in prison.”
This is Not a Drill Oakland!
May 3, 2017 – Oakland is on the verge of passing a strong regulatory framework that will make sure that no unconstitutional or unwarranted surveillance is taking place in Oakland. We need your help to make sure it becomes law.
These Bills Go Exactly the Wrong Way on Criminal Justice Reform
May 1, 2017 – Tell your Representative to oppose three bills that will increase police militarization, invade privacy, and expand the federal death penalty.
The Nature of the Psyche (A Seth Book): Its Human Expression
By Jane Roberts
Protester in iconic Ferguson photo found dead from self-inflicted gunshot wound
Link du jour
State Department under fire for promoting Ivanka Trump’s new book
Miami-Dade cop sentenced for bogus stops of female drivers
A Miami-Dade police officer who stopped women drivers so he could have sexually suggestive conversations — including asking to see the scars on a bartender’s surgically enhanced breasts — was sentenced Thursday to 2-1/2 years in federal prison.
Prabhainjana Dwivedi would let the women go without issuing any citations.
Dwivedi, a seven-year veteran who once worked the overnight shift patrolling an area from Key Biscayne to Jackson Memorial Hospital, was assigned to desk duty after he came under suspicion for questionable traffic stops during May and June of 2011.
In February of this year, Dwivedi, 34, was convicted of six misdemeanor counts of depriving a half-dozen victims of their civil rights. Now fired, he was found not guilty on the seventh count involving a female undercover police officer.
“Our victims were so traumatized that one of them could not come to court [as a witness] because she was physically ill,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gilbert said, before asking U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez to imprison the defendant for three years.
“He abused these women; he took advantage of them.”
Dwivedi’s defense attorney, Douglas Hartman, tried to depict the defendant in a more sympathetic light, saying psychological evaluations showed that the Indian immigrant possessed the reading level of a fourth-grader. Dwivedi, who received a high school diploma a decade ago, also served in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Hartman said his misconduct as a police officer was “aberrant,” and that generally over the course of his career Dwivedi had an “outstanding” record.
The judge said he felt “sorry” for Dwivedi, wondering aloud how he could have qualified to become a Miami-Dade police officer with his limited intellectual ability. “That’s real scary,” Martinez said.
But the judge concluded that he would stack the penalties for Dwivedi’s six misdemeanor offenses because his crime “tears at the very fiber... of our community.”
Both FBI and Miami-Dade Police officials said Dwivedi undermined the public’s trust in law enforcement. “The officer’s actions have tarnished the badges of all sworn to uphold the law,” Police Director J.D. Patterson said in a statement. “We support this conviction and remain resolute in policing our own.”
According to a criminal complaint and other court records, Dwivedi was a rogue patrol officer who detained female drivers for “unreasonable” lengths of time “without probable cause, reasonable suspicion or other lawful authority to conduct a stop.”
Dwivedi stopped a 19-year-old woman at 2:20 a.m. on May 27, 2011, as she was leaving a Miami-Dade nightclub with two friends. The woman, identified in court records as A.R., said the officer stopped her because she did not turn on her headlights. Dwivedi also claimed she was intoxicated, which she disputed.
Dwivedi asked the driver to get out of her car and sit in the back seat of his marked cruiser, then “instructed A.R. to lower the zipper on the front of her dress down past her breasts to her mid-stomach,” the complaint said. “A.R. stated that, by following Dwivedi’s instructions, she somewhat exposed her breasts.”
She was detained for one hour and 20 minutes before the officer left without issuing a citation. According to Miami-Dade police, Dwivedi did not list the traffic stop on his daily activity report, nor did he advise a dispatcher of the stop. He also did not conduct a driver’s license check of A.R. or her two passengers.
The criminal complaint also showed that on the same date, at 5:30 a.m., Dwivedi stopped a 24-year-old woman bartender traveling from Miami Beach to her home in Broward County. He pulled her over in the area of the Golden Glades interchange, where he accused her of driving under the influence.
The woman, identified as M.F., asked the officer to perform a roadside sobriety test on her, but he refused, the complaint says.
Dwivedi asked her if she was the mother of a young child because she had a child safety seat in the rear passenger area. He told the woman that if he arrested her for DUI, she would lose custody of her child.
Then, he shifted the conversation to the woman’s breast-enhancement surgery, asking her “if she had any photographs of her breasts.”
“M.F. provided Dwivedi with her cellular telephone so that he could view the photographs,” the complaint said. “After viewing the photos, Dwivedi asked M.F. if she had any scars or incisions from the surgery.”
She replied that she did, and he asked to see them.
“M.F. then lifted her shirt and showed Dwivedi the scar,” according to the complaint written by FBI special agent Susan Funk. “M.F. stated that Dwivedi did not touch her breast.”
Afterward, the officer told her that she appeared sober and could drive home. He also said that he would follow her to ensure she arrived safely.
At her residence, Dwivedi said he was thirsty, asking for a drink. The woman said the officer spent more than one hour at her home talking about his personal life.
As in the previous incident, Dwivedi did not list the stop on his daily activity report or inform a dispatcher of the stop. He did not conduct a check of her driver’s license, either.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article1950435.html#storylink=cpy
May 3, 2017
J. Edgar Hoover’s gambit to force his enemies into retirement came close to ending his career
Nixon administration mulled on what to do about mounting pressure to oust the aging Director
Written by Michael Best
Edited by JPat Brown
When J. Edgar Hoover forced William “Bill” Sullivan, the Bureau’s domestic intelligence chief, into retirement he set into motion a chain reaction which nearly forced him into retirement as well. While Hoover was no stranger to attempts to push him into retirement, his handling of Bill Sullivan appears to have been a bridge too far for the Bureau.
Memos, found in CIA’s archive, were passed through the White House, the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) and the offices of General Haig, Henry Kissinger and John Ehrlichman’s office detail concerns about Hoover’s dismissal of Sullivan was going to be handled in the press.
Sullivan’s dismissal by Hoover had hardly been cordial, or even what most would term as professional. Rather than be fired or asked to retire, Sullivan had come into the office seven days before the PFIAB memo was written to find that he was locked out of his office on Hoover’s orders. With the locks changed and his nameplate removed from his office door, Sullivan had no choice but to retire from the Bureau. At the time, Sullivan was the head of FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Division and the third highest ranking person in the Bureau.
The move was controversial at the time, both within and without the Bureau - not only was Sullivan well respected (despite his participation in illegal activities including COINTELPRO and the FBI letter urging Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to commit suicide), but his forced departure was seen as a political move. Sullivan had been increasingly critical of J. Edgar Hoover and some of the FBI’s policies and activities, and had “a reputation as the only liberal Democrat ever to break into the top ranks of the bureau.”
PFIAB saw the coverage of the matter as a partisan issue - “liberal democrats”, the PFIAB warned, might seek to “discredit Mr. Hoover and embarrass the administration.” If so, this would “provoke a reaction” from Hoover’s right wing friends within both political parties. Despite concern that the effort was a result of the pressure from the New York Times editorial board, the outrage went well beyond that and brought “a variety of sources” to the Times, with the result being that they were very well informed. So despite PFIAB’s attempts to frame it as one, it wasn’t a partisan issue or a case of the media trying to undermine the Bureau - merely to report on it accurately.
The net result was a “hot potato” which the President needed to be made aware of. The political ramifications of the problem were such that no action was recommended or taken at the time, though the matter remain of considerable concern to the PFIAB and the National Security Council.
A month later, the matter was still on their mind and the concerns were shared throughout the White House.
Attempts to force Hoover into retirement ultimately proved fruitless, and his death a few months later rendered the issue moot. Had Hoover survived, it’s almost certain that he would’ve been forced into retirement soon after by the scandals of his time as FBI Director, his handling of Sullivan and the imminent Watergate scandal which would begin making headlines six weeks after Hoover’s death. A copy of the memo is embedded below.
Proposed Texas bill to fine unregulated masturbation moves ahead
BY TERENCE CULLEN
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Updated: Thursday, April 6, 2017, 1:46 PM
Dissent and Disloyalty: The FBI’s obsessive inquiry into Edward R. Murrow
by Grace Raih
May 03, 2017
In the white heat of the Red Scare, journalists were often at the center of the unceasing national probe over patriotism. Over 700 pages of files on Edward R. Murrow detail the FBI’s intricate special inquiry into the mythical American newsman.
Tony Alamo, former preacher convicted of sexually abusing young girls he considered his wives, dies in prison
Thursday, May 4, 2017, 11:02 AM
. - Tony Alamo, a one-time street preacher whose apocalyptic ministry grew into a multimillion-dollar network of businesses and property before he was convicted in Arkansas of sexually abusing young girls he considered his wives, has died in prison. He was 82.
Once known for designing elaborately decorated jackets for celebrities including Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley, Alamo died on Tuesday at a federal prison hospital in Butner, North Carolina, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
The disgraced preacher was convicted in 2009 on charges that he took underage girls across state lines for sex, including a 9-year-old. The judge who sentenced him to the maximum 175 years in prison told him: "One day you will face a higher and a greater judge than me. May he have mercy on your soul."
"Consent is puberty," Alamo once said.
"Consent is puberty," Alamo once said. (DANNY JOHNSTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Alamo started preaching along the California streets in the 1960s, advocating a mixture of virulent anti-Catholicism and apocalyptic rhetoric. He claimed God authorized polygamy, professed that gays were the tools of Satan, and believed girls were fit for marriage even at a young age.
Jurors convict Ark. evangelist on 10 sex-abuse counts
"Consent is puberty," Alamo told The Associated Press in September 2008, during the same weekend state and federal agents raided the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in the tiny southwest Arkansas town of Fouke to investigate possible child abuse and pornography.
Witnesses in the ensuing trial said Alamo made all key decisions in the compound: who got married, what children were taught in school, who received clothes, who was allowed to eat. They said he began taking multiple wives in the early 1990s, including a 15-year-old girl in 1994, followed by increasingly younger girls.
Alamo was convicted after five women testified they were "married" to him in secret ceremonies at his compound when they were minors — including one when she was only 8 years old — and later taken to places outside Arkansas for sex.
"There's no telling how many little girls' lives he destroyed," Fouke Mayor Terry Purvis told the AP on Wednesday. "I wouldn't want to be in his shoes right now."
FBI: Evangelist Tony Alamo arrested in child sex case
Former followers said Alamo grew increasingly unhinged after his wife, Susan, died from cancer in 1982. Devotees prayed for months for her resurrection, and her body was eventually placed in a crypt on the ministry's 300-acre compound in Dyer. Her body remained there until Alamo ordered his followers to flee in 1991, before federal marshals seized the property to settle a court judgment. Alamo returned his wife's remains to her family seven years later, after being threatened with jail.
Initially, Tony Alamo Christian Ministries attracted hippies and youngsters alienated from their parents when it started in the streets of Los Angeles in the 1960s. The self-proclaimed "Jesus Freaks" preached a wrathful version of Pentecostalism known for spirited worship and a belief in modern-day miracles.
In the 1970s and '80s, the ministry sold elaborately designed denim jackets to celebrities including Presley, Jackson and several country music stars. The iconic black leather jacket on Jackson's "Bad" album was an Alamo original later sold at auction to settle $7.9 million in federal tax claims.
At its height, Alamo's ministry claimed thousands of members nationwide and was perhaps most known for leaving fliers on car windshields with screeds against the Vatican, homosexuality and a perceived one-world government.
John Wesley Hall, a lawyer who had represented Alamo, said Wednesday that the ministry still produces the fliers.
"My staff still gets them in the mail," Hall said, noting that Alamo "denied that he ever did anything (wrong)."
In a 2008 interview with the AP, Alamo claimed to be unique among Christian preachers because he was born a Jew and had a "supernatural experience" through which he became a born-again Christian.
From his initial compound in northwest Arkansas, Alamo presided over several businesses — including gas stations, a hog farm, a grocery store and a restaurant — that funded his ministry. He was convicted of tax evasion and served four years in prison despite claiming he had no tax liability because he received no salary.
Alamo also was accused in 1991 of child abuse after an 11-year-old boy told police he was paddled 140 times by four men on orders from Alamo in 1988 at the church's compound in Saugus, California. Prosecutors eventually dropped the charges, saying too much time had passed. The same year he was charged with threatening to kidnap a federal judge in Arkansas. He was acquitted by a jury.
It was after he left prison in the 1990s that he started the compound in Fouke in southwestern Arkansas with about 100 followers.
Tony Alamo was born Bernie Lazar Hoffman on Sept. 20, 1934, to a Jewish family in Joplin, Missouri. He arrived in Los Angeles in the 1960s, claiming he was a music promoter with clients including the Beatles. He and his wife legally changed their names to Tony and Susan Alamo after they married in Las Vegas in 1966.
7 Things the Trump Administration Gets Wrong about MS13
| May 2, 2017
One of Latin America’s most violent gangs has become a centerpiece of the Trump administration’s campaign to go after the criminal activities it says are committed by undocumented migrants—but the facts it is relying upon are open to question.
Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to New York to warn members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, known as MS-13, that “we are coming after you” in the aftermath of a series of deaths in Long Island tied to the gang.
But the verbal offensive by both the attorney general and President Trump, which ratcheted up earlier last month, as well as their statements on the origins and evolution of the gang, are for the most part false or misleading.
On April 18, Trump tweeted that the “weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama administration” allowed the MS13 to develop in several US cities. The current president also said that his administration has been expelling gang members at rates never seen before.
In addition, speaking to Fox News, the President stated that the gangs are made up of “illegal immigrants that were here that caused tremendous crime. That have murdered people, raped people — horrible things have happened. They’re getting the hell out or they’re going to prison.”
On the same day that Trump made these comments, Sessions expressed similar thoughts in a separate TV interview and in a speech he gave to an elite group of federal officials, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
Like Trump, Attorney General Sessions also blamed so-called “sanctuary cities,” which forbid local police forces from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, for facilitating the MS13‘s expansion.
As he had promised during his presidential campaign, upon assuming office Trump began threatening to cut federal funds to these cities if they refused to cooperate with ICE. Only a few of the more than 100 sanctuary cities have given up their sanctuary status. Others that are home to large migrant communities, such as San Francisco; Hyattsville, Maryland; Houston; and Los Angeles have defied Trump.
In addition, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly spoke about the MS13 at a public event held by George Washington University, in Washington, DC.
“They are utterly without laws, conscience, or respect for human life. They take the form of drug cartels, or international gangs like MS13, who share their business dealings and violent practices. Their sophisticated networks move anything and everything across our borders, including human beings,” Kelly said.
Each of these comments comes with its flaws, and at the very least distorts the reality and obscurs the strategies that should be followed to tackle the MS13 threat. In an effort to shed more light on this complex issue, InSight Crime has listed seven aspects of these statements in which the Trump administration is plainly mistaken.
1. Barack Obama’s immigration policies allowed the MS13 to expand across the United States
Trump blames former President Obama, but he may have been more correct if he had pointed the finger at Ronald Reagan. The MS13 and Barrio 18 street gangs were established in the 1980s in Los Angeles. At the beginning, they were made up of young undocumented migrants that came to California escaping the civil war in El Salvador. They were tuned in to rock music and took part in small-scale drug dealing. Some of them had received military or guerrilla-style training.
As Salvadoran news outlet El Faro wrote about the origins of the MS13, very soon the gang began to articulate a violent ideology based by and large on opposition to rival gangs, most notably the Barrio 18.
The gangs migrated to the US East Coast towards the end of the 1990s, as part of the migration waves that saw Latino communities looking for jobs elsewhere in the country. By the beginning of the 2000s, the MS13 began to catch the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Even the fact sheet the US Department of Justice (DOJ) released on April 18 to support Sessions’s statements clearly says that the MS13 was born and began to expand before 2009. “The MS13 has been functioning since at least the 1980s,” the report states.
In 2004, under the George W. Bush administration, the FBI created a special unit targeting the MS13, after members of the gang committed some atrocious homicides.
In 2006, Brian Tuchon, then-head of the FBI’s special unit, told Salvadoran news outlet La Prensa Gráfica that the gang had settled in 42 US states, and had begun to participate in drug trafficking, chiefly as local distributors. Since that time, the FBI and the US State Department have maintained that gangs like the MS13 do not play an important role in the international drug trafficking chain.
The MS13‘s expansion is directly related to the evolution and migration of Central American communities into the United States, and also with the large-scale deportation campaigns that began towards the end of the Bill Clinton administration and intensified during George W. Bush’s two terms in office.
2. US law enforcement has done nothing against the MS13
“It is a serious problem and we never did anything about it, and now we’re doing something about it,” President Trump told Fox News during the April 18 interview.
This is false. In addition to several FBI operations, local police forces and attorneys from counties across the states of Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey and California carried out several law enforcement actions against MS13 members during the previous decade.
To give a few examples, federal cases brought by attorneys under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) law in Greenbelt, Maryland, and Arlington, Virginia led to blows that decimated the MS13 cells on the US East Coast for a decade.
In 2007, Greenbelt’s federal court sentenced some 20 members of gangs based in Maryland, DC and Virginia to several years in prison as part of an organized crime case that included charges of homicide, drug possession, illegal use of weapons and rape, among others. Among the defendants was Saúl Hernández Turcios, alias “El Trece,” one of the MS13 leaders in El Salvador.
Again, the DOJ report on the MS13 appears to contradict the president’s words. The fact sheet states: “Through the combined efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement, great progress was made diminishing or severely disrupted the gang within certain targeted areas of the US by 2009 and 2010.” That is, during the Obama administration.
3. More gang members are being deported from the United States than ever before
In his tweet, Trump said that “we are removing [gang members] fast.” Yet there is no data to support this claim. The ICE deportation figures available to the public do not show data from the first three months of 2017, when Trump has been in office. Up until the end of 2016, the percentage of gang members compared to the total deported population was minimal: 0.8 percent, that is, 2,057 individuals “with confirmed or suspected connections to gangs” out of a total of 240,255 deported people that year.
Ever since 2011, when the Obama administration announced that it would prioritize deportations for undocumented migrants with criminal records or ties to illegal groups, Washington has been juggling two distinct figures: the number of people accused or convicted of a crime, and the number of people whose only crime has been violating migration laws by illegally entering the United States. This, according to many pro-immigrant organizations, has only further criminalized migrant communities.
There is no data showing that deportations carried out during the Trump administration have targeted more gang members, and Central American police sources have told InSight Crime that this is not the case.
4. The MS13 is recruiting more in the United States in an attempt to revive defunct ‘clicas,’ and to commit more violent acts
Sessions told OCDETF that “Because of an open border and years of lax immigration enforcement, MS13 has been sending both recruiters and members to regenerate gangs that previously had been decimated, and smuggling members across the border as unaccompanied minors.”
This is, in part, correct. As InSight Crime recently reported, between 2014 and 2016 the FBI and local authorities detected an increase in homicides attributable to the MS13 in Virginia; Boston; and Long Island, New York.
Testimony from a RICO case opened in Boston in 2015 against various MS13 “clicas,” or cells, indicates that orders from the gang’s jailed leadership in El Salvador may have been behind some of these homicides. The court documents also mention a meeting between clica leaders in Richmond, Virginia, in which a spokesperson known as “Ricky” relayed the order to expand the MS13‘s East Coast program.
Federal investigations revealed that some of the Boston homicides could be linked to this order. It is also true that the recent homicides were brutally executed, which is characteristic of the MS13 in Central America.
But Sessions’ statement also distorts the truth. Once again, there is no information that allows the attorney general or Trump’s administration to affirm that these murders are attributable to the arrival of undocumented minors, who began coming to the United States in larger numbers in 2014. In fact, there is no study by federal agencies or academic institutions that proves that there is a significant number of gang members among these minors. On the contrary, a large portion of these undocumented youths who come seeking asylum claim that they are fleeing gangs in the Northern Triangle.
Moreover, there is no evidence that the migratory patterns of gang members are different than those of any other group of migrants, or that they are moving in accordance with a grand plan forged by the MS13‘s Salvadoran leadership to revitalize the organization.
It is nonetheless true that in 2007 the MS13 started to resume recruitment activities and indiscriminate use of violence in some US cities, according to FBI officials who have studied the gang for at least two decades. But these efforts are not directly related to Obama’s migration policies. David LeValley, who until last November was chief of the FBI’s criminal investigations unit in Washington, explains that there have been attempts by the MS13 to regain strength following the RICO prosecutions between 2006 and 2010. This has been occurring “since 2007, after real successes and after the leadership had been decimated,” the FBI agent told InSight Crime in an interview last year.
In more recent years, the MS13 has largely been following the organization’s dynamics in Central America. This includes the gang truce between the MS13, Barrio 18 and the Salvadoran government during the presidency of Mauricio Funes (2009-2014), and the subsequent declaration of war by current President Salvador Sánchez Cerén.
5. Sanctuary cities are more hospitable to the MS13, and the gang can operate freely in them
Sessions told OCDETF that sanctuary cities “dangerously undermine [the process of fighting gangs]. Harboring criminal aliens only helps violent gangs like MS13. Sanctuary cities are aiding these cartels to refill their ranks and putting innocent life — including the lives of countless law-abiding immigrants — in danger.”
This is false. There is no evidence that the “sanctuary” status of certain cities — those that refuse to allow local police to assist ICE in locating and deporting undocumented migrants — has any effect on their crime rates. Evidence indicates that, as in much of the United States, crime rates in sanctuary cities have been decreasing for years. In fact, some studies suggest that crime indicators are actually lower in migrant communities.
Congress’ secret police
by Caitlin Russell
After the arrest and conviction of a woman for laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing, one might be curious to see the incident report filed by the police. Unfortunately, the arresting agency, the United States Capitol Police, is a “legislative branch entity,” and therefore not subject to FOIA.
Late night comedian Stephen Colbert had harsh words for FBI Director James Comey following controversial testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Colbert played clips of Wednesday’s committee hearing in which Comey defended his decision to notify Congress that the Hillary Clinton investigation had reopened.
Colbert also ribbed Comey for saying he was “mildly nauseous” for potentially upending the election.
“Maybe it’s morning sickness — after all, you did screw the whole country,” Colbert said.
Documents detail FBI investigation of Scientology that never resulted in charges
Thomas C. TobinThomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 3, 2017 5:26pm
Guccifer 2.0 - DCLeaks - APT 28
By Adam Carter --- April 17th, 2017
The DCLeaks - APT 28 Attribution
DCLeaks was a site established last year, at the beginning of June (with the domain initially registered on April 19th). Initially, it began publishing leaks covering emails from members of the US government and military.
APT28 (also known as: Fancy Bear, Pawn Storm, Sofacy, Sednit and STRONTIUM) is a name given to an "Active Persistent Threat" group discovered in October of 2014 and thought to have been operational for anything up to a decade prior to this. - The "APT28" designation is effectively a collective term for the group and all of the Internet infrastructure they make use of. APT28 is considered by various cyber-security firms to be linked to the Russian military intelligence agency GRU.
In the first quarter of 2016, a breach at the DNC was reported by CrowdStrike (a cyber-security firm hired by the DNC). In that report, CrowdStrike essentially blamed APT28 for the hack.
In August of 2016, ThreatConnect reported that, following their own investigations, It appeared that the DCLeaks.com domain was initially handled by a nameserver that only had 14 other domain names resolving to it and was a nameserver for a domain suspected as being a part of APT28 (service-yandex.ru), as well as phishing/scam domains set up by others not deemed part of APT28).
Other examples cited included things like DCLeaks using a free webmail service to initially register their domain (via the "@europe.com" domain, operated by 1&1) and it is noted that "@europe.com" was the same free webmail provider that was used by whoever registered a dodgy 'misdepartment' domain (which was attributed to a phishing attack considered to originate from APT28).
So it seemed there was at least some overlap on service providers and name servers historically (if the assumptions/suspicions of various domains being part of APT28 are correct).
Certainly the overlaps are noteworthy, it does seem to hint that there could easily be an association between them, but... even if domains suspected of being a part of APT28 have used the same service providers or name servers that DCLeaks started using at a later date - it's not proof of a direct link between them and relies to a degree on guilt-by-assocation.
However, whether you are or aren't convinced by the DCLeaks-APT28 attributions, there is another association in the chain that needs scrutiny.
The DCLeaks 'Leadership' - Guccifer 2.0 Attribution
On 27 June, 12 days after its initial appearance, Guccifer2.0 shared a password with the press that gave access to an area on DCLeaks listing leaks (mundane emails from Sarah Hamilton, apparently from a phishing attack she fell victim to).
As The Smoking Gun (TSG) concedes in their reporting, it's clear the password given them by Guccifer 2.0 gave limited access to the site. However, when TSG later inquired about leaks in a different (and 'protected' section of the site). DCLeaks, independently, seemed quite happy to release a password to TSG on the condition they'd write a story about the leaks.
Examples of links to the leadership given by ThreatConnect follow:
Guccifer 2.0 has not publicly mentioned or promoted DCLeaks. Only in private communications with TSG does Guccifer 2.0 reveal prior knowledge of DCLeaks.
If you're communicating apparent controversy with a well known publisher AND know that you're going to be revealed as a "Russian hacker" due to fabricated evidence you've planted there is no reason to expect it to remain a "private communication" for long. Instead, it becomes an attribution that would be expected to become public knowledge sooner or later.
Guccifer 2.0 is the first known entity to have prior knowledge of and privileged access to exclusive content (Sarah Hamilton Emails) on the DCLeaks webpage before it was publicly available.
BadWolf/Badvolf, DCLeaks & Guccifer 2.0
If you haven't heard of BadWolf/BadVolf you won't know that BadWolf was someone linked to a site critical of Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office under Ric Bradshaw on the domain "PBSOTalk.com" (a site originally founded by Mark Dougan, Ric Bradshaw's former deputy).
Following a raid on Mark Dougan and covering BadWolf's involvement, Gawker, reported the following in March 2016:
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