By Jim Popkin, NBC News Senior Investigative Producer
Take the house, pictured below, which is located directly across the street from the embassy of one of our former Cold War adversaries. Most of the time, the large skylights in the attic of the house appear opaque, as seen here:
Candid camerasBut in the late afternoon, when the sun sinks low, it shines through those skylights like a movie-theater searchlight. Even a 10-year-old gumshoe can see what’s hiding in the attic:
Behind the three skylights, tucked behind black fabric, are three video cameras. Their lenses are trained on the embassy across the street. Passersby on the sidewalk below can see the lenses sparkling in the sunlight, and so, presumably, can the former Cold Warriors just across the street.
It’s no surprise that there’s close surveillance of foreign embassies inside the U.S. The FBI employs hundreds of counter-intelligence agents and employees, to keep an eye on friends and foes alike. Journalists have reported on the surveillance programs for decades. Back in 1988, for example, author Ronald Kessler described in “Spy vs. Spy” how the FBI “takes photographs of everyone walking down the street in both directions in front of” selected foreign embassies to catch spies and potential traitors on camera. “Anyone walking near the embassy is on film,” Kessler wrote.
Nonetheless, you’d think the Bureau would be a little more careful about safeguarding its own safehouse, and not blowing the cover of its real-life Bobby Bureaus.
Bungled tradecraft?How do I know it’s an FBI facility? A simple web search confirmed it.
From my desk, I plugged the house’s street address into a commercial database that NBC and many media organizations use - legally, of course - to conduct public-records searches. In about 30 seconds, and for just about $2 in fees, I learned the names of three probable residents of the house.
One of the residents had helpfully provided his employer’s name. There it was in black and white: “Company: FBI.”
But that’s not all. Under the job-title section, this same FBI employee is described as “Clerk Really a Spy.” [I edited out his name, below.]
Holy Efrem Zimbalist, Jr!
My curiosity piqued, I called the FBI employee, a.k.a. “really a spy,” to ask about this apparent breach of basic tradecraft. He’s working now out of the FBI’s Memphis Field Office as a surveillance specialist, and didn’t seem thrilled with the call. He didn’t deny having lived at the D.C. house, but quickly passed me to his local FBI media representative. The FBI spokesman in Memphis told me he couldn’t comment, other than to inform me that the employee worked for the Bureau but not as a Special Agent.
In fairness to “really a spy,” he probably never intentionally listed his employer or his job title in the commercial database. Like most public-records databases, it likely just sucked up some application or paperwork the FBI employee had filled out years ago and now has saved it forever. Why he ever apparently joked that his job was “really a spy” is a separate issue.
The ease in identifying an FBI spyhouse and one of the Bureau’s counter-espionage employees is reminiscent of some investigative reporting done by the Chicago Tribune two years ago. Tribune reporter John Crewdson and a researcher revealed in their March 12, 2006, article that they had identified the locations of two dozen CIA safehouses and covert workplaces in the United States, plus the names of 2,600 CIA employees. Their trick? They had done a series of inexpensive, overlapping Internet searches, scooping up supposedly secret addresses from public-record databases.
The FBI would not comment on this story. But out of an abundance of caution, and on the advice of several senior U.S. officials, NBC News has decided not to reveal the address of the FBI house or to name the FBI employee. The officials caution that identifying the hapless employee and his former stakeout location could compromise future investigations. Even though many of the sources said it’s a certainty that officials at the nearby embassy “made” the FBI safehouse years ago, NBC News reasoned that we could tell this story without identifying the address, the employee or even the embassy in question.
I first made the FBI aware of this apparent tradecraft bungle more than a month ago. At last check, the G-Men hadn’t hidden the attic video cameras. And the commercial database still lists the FBI employee as “really a spy.”
Photo: Oran Viriyincy/Flickr
Transit authorities in cities across the country are quietly installing microphone-enabled surveillance systems on public buses that would give them the ability to record and store private conversations, according to documents obtained by a news outlet.
The systems are being installed in San Francisco, Baltimore, and other cities with funding from the Department of Homeland Security in some cases, according to the Daily, which obtained copies of contracts, procurement requests, specs and other documents.
The use of the equipment raises serious questions about eavesdropping without a warrant, particularly since recordings of passengers could be obtained and used by law enforcement agencies.
It also raises questions about security, since the IP audio-video systems can be accessed remotely via a built-in web server (.pdf), and can be combined with GPS data to track the movement of buses and passengers throughout the city.
The RoadRecorder 7000 surveillance system being marketed for use on public buses consists of a high-definition IP camera and audio recording system that can be configured remotely via built-in web server.
According to the product pamphlet for the RoadRecorder 7000 system made by SafetyVision (.pdf), “Remote connectivity to the RoadRecorder 7000 NVR can be established via the Gigabit Ethernet port or the built-in 3G modem. A robust software ecosystem including LiveTrax vehicle tracking and video streaming service combined with SafetyNet central management system allows authorized users to check health status, create custom alerts, track vehicles, automate event downloads and much more.”
The systems use cables or WiFi to pair audio conversations with camera images in order to produce synchronous recordings. Audio and video can be monitored in real-time, but are also stored onboard in blackbox-like devices, generally for 30 days, for later retrieval. Four to six cameras with mics are generally installed throughout a bus, including one near the driver and one on the exterior of the bus.
Saturday, December 22 2012
FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) pursuant to the PCJF’s Freedom of Information Act demands reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat even though the agency acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful protest and did “not condone the use of violence” at occupy protests.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund December 22, 2012
The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.
“This production, which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement,” stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF). “These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”
“The documents are heavily redacted, and it is clear from the production that the FBI is withholding far more material. We are filing an appeal challenging this response and demanding full disclosure to the public of the records of this operation,” stated Heather Benno, staff attorney with the PCJF.
Judge says L.A. County sheriff's officials must reveal if they know which deputies have skull tattoos
By MAYA LAU and NICOLE SANTA CRUZ
OCT 25, 2018 | 6:15 PM
South Carolina deputies fired after driving van in Hurricane Florence floodwaters, killing two mental health patients
By JESSICA SCHLADEBECK
| NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |
OCT 25, 2018 | 12:15 PM
Brazil’s military dictatorship leaves a paper trail in the CIA archives
by Lucas Smolcic Larson
October 24, 2018
While Brazilian presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro’s overt embrace of authoritarianism may seem aberrant to many foreign observers, it differs only in degree from decades of United States influence in Latin America. Declassified Central Intelligence Agency and State Department records from the midst of the Brazilian military dictatorship reveal an official US policy of support for the very brutality Bolsonaro intends to revive.
FBI’s own guide to searching for records requested through FOIA confirms why you should always appeal FBI FOIA searches
by JPat Brown
A presentation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Records Management Division uncovered by Paul Galante as part of our Ronald Reagan FBI file crowdsource outline the process used by FOIA officers to search for records.
October 23, 2018
FBI’s file on Accuracy In Media is just a bunch of kvetching
AIM alternated between defending Bureau’s actions during COINTELPRO to trying to get the FBI to admit to a 9/11 cover-up
Written by Emma Best
Edited by JPat Brown
Accuracy In Media isn’t an organization that MuckRock is particularly fond of, but its Federal Bureau of Investigation file is full of some of our favorite things: debates over what an FBI file actually says and complaints about FOIA denials.
Updated October 24
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Cumberland County corrections officer arrested on drug-dealing charge
Davis Glazener of South Portland is charged with cocaine trafficking, but there was no evidence yet suggesting it was connected with his work at the Cumberland County Jail, according to the sheriff's office.
A corrections officer at the Cumberland County Jail has been arrested and charged with dealing cocaine.
Davis Glazener, 22, of South Po
Off-duty cop busted for drunken driving, hitting parked car
By ROCCO PARASCAN and GRAHAM RAYMAN
OCT 25, 2018 | 11:40 AM
The Left Is Warming Up To The FBI. That’s A Mistake.
Terry Albury was a decorated FBI agent with a spotless career and only a few years from being eligible for retirement benefits. Yet as the only African American agent in the Minneapolis field office, he was increasingly unable to overlook systemic racism in the bureau. He was especially disturbed by what he believed was a widespread animus within the bureau against Muslims, particularly the local Somali American community. More chillingly, after serving as an FBI interrogator in Iraq he said he had not only observed anti-Muslim attitudes by U.S. personnel there but also believed the FBI was complicit in torture.
So he did what many public employees who are unable to be complicit in injustice have done: leak information to the media. And for this act of conscience, he was sentenced last week to four years in federal prison for violating the Espionage Act.
One might think Albury would be a hero among progressives. Yet his sentencing comes at an odd time when some in the anti-Trump “resistance” have begun to embrace the security state. The FBI, once the bête noire of progressives who saw it as a threat to civil liberties, now boasts more support among Democrats than Republicans.
A cocaine sting nets Miami police officers alleged to have worked for drug dealers and hitmen
NYPD underwear sergeant 'laughs off' reports of her attack on colleague — source
By ROCCO PARASCANDOLA and THOMAS TRACY
OCT 23, 2018 | 10:30 AM
Ron DeSantis blames FBI for Parkland shooting during Florida gubernatorial debate
SARAH K. BURRIS
FBI Agent Who Outed Bureau’s Racial Profiling Sentenced to 4 Years for Leaking Classified Documents
By Tia Berger -
October 21, 2018
The prosecution claimed Albury stole more than 50 classified documents and shared national defense information to a reporter from the online news outlet Intercept. One of the documents classified as “secret” included information on how to the FBI assesses confidential informants and a document “relating to threats posed by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country.”
Albury told the court he leaked the documents because he felt the FBI policies were an act of racial profiling which he regarded as “suspicion” and “disrespect.” His attorneys said Albury acted out of “conscience” and was troubled by the racism within the bureau.
USA Gymnastics president had ‘troubling’ contact with FBI during Larry Nassar investigation
By Matt Bonesteel
Steve Penny, the former president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, discussed
FBI ACKNOWLEDGES USING MULTIPLE INFORMANTS IN INVESTIGATION OF TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE
11:57 AM 10/20/2018 | US
Chuck Ross | Reporter
FBI interview of convicted marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev released
On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 3:24 PM, Ed <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
That sensational New York Times story about LBJ saving ...
On Saturday, Oct. 6, presidential historian Michael Beschloss was on Twitter early and often, tweeting and retweeting a front-page New York Times story about his new book, Presidents of War.
On Thursday, October 25, 2018, 12:04 PM, Defending Rights & Dissent <email@example.com> wrote:
We Must Stop Helping Saudi Arabia in Yemen
Bernie Sanders, The New York Times
Libel law is having a moment
Jonathan Peters, Columbia Journalism Review
Army Parrots Racist Right’s Talking Points on Antifa
Kelly Weill, Spencer Ackerman, Daily Beast
Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media “Just the Beginning,” Says Top Neocon Insider
Max Blumenthal, Jeb Sprague, The Grey Zone
How the courts perpetuate broken-windows policy.
Clio Chang, The Nation
Tech Companies Are Profiting Off ICE Deportations, Report Shows
Erin Corbett, Fortune
Arrest Over Police-Trap Warning Spurs Federal Suit
Christine Stuart, Courthouse News Service
The Little Rock Drug Raid Story Is A Fourth Amendment Story. But It's Also A First Amendment One.
Cathy Gellis, TechDirt
House members demand answers about Khashoggi from top spy chief
Karoun Demirjian, Washington Post
Written by DRAD Staff: The left is warming up to the FBI. That’s a mistake.
Chip Gibbons, Washington Post
Amazon Pushes ICE to Buy Its Face Recognition Surveillance Tech
Jake Laperruque, Andrea Peterson, The Daily Beast
Facebook Erases Hundreds of Alternative Media Pages in Mass Purge
Staff, The Real News Network
When Will Obama Aides Come Clean About U.S.-Saudi War Crimes?
Sarah Lazare, In These Times
Leaked Memo Advises Silence on Fish & Wildlife Info Requests
Martin Macias Jr., Courthouse News Service
National Park Service Considers Charging Protesters Occupying National Mall
Lauren Gilger, Steve Goldstein, NPR
Whistleblower Who Challenged FBI’s Profiling And Informant Recruitment Practices Is Sentenced To Four Years In Prison
Kevin Gosztola, Shadowproof
Professor Was Improperly Punished for Israel Boycott Actions, Says Academic Group Cited in Punishment
Zaid Jilani, The Intercept
Khashoggi’s Murder and Saudi War Crimes in Yemen Were Facilitated by US
Marjorie Cohn, Truthout
‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration
Erica L. Green, Katie Benner and Robert Pear, New York Times
First Criminal Case Filed Over Russian Interference in 2018 Midterms
Brandi Buchman, Courthouse News Service
Defending Rights & Dissent 1325 G St. NW Suite 557 Washington, District of Columbia 20005 202.522.7408 firstname.lastname@example.org
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