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joeb

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Posts: 8,401
Reply with quote  #1 
Material dealing with FBI  Director nominee James Tomey should be posted here.
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/democrats-love-james-comey-obamas-republican-pick-lead/story?id=19289113#.UagErZxyziE

see link for full story


Obama's GOP FBI Pick a Folk Hero for Democrats
PHOTO: Deputy Attorney General James Comey gestures during a news conference in Washington, Jan. 14, 2004.
Deputy Attorney General James Comey gestures during a news conference in Washington, Jan. 14, 2004. (Evan Vucci/AP)
 

May 30, 2013

James Comey, the man President Obama is likely to nominate as the new director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, may be a Republican, but he's near and dear to the hearts of many liberals in Washington.

The former Bush administration official became something of a folk hero for some of the most riveting congressional testimony in history.

"As far as I'm concerned, when the Justice Department lost Jim Comey, it lost a towering figure," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during that congressional hearing in 2007. And when he said that, Schumer wasn't referring to Comey's 6'8 frame.

In that testimony, Comey recounted how he, a deputy attorney general under John Ashcroft, rushed to his boss's hospital bedside to urge him not to sign an authorization for a classified domestic wiretapping program.

At the time, Senate Democrats were investigating the Justice Department's activities, including the firing of Justice Department attorneys, and in the process of that investigation this now historic incident from 2004 was unearthed in cinematic detail.

Here's how it happened:

With Ashcroft in the intensive care unit in 2004, Comey was acting attorney general and he refused to sign the order re-authorizing the surveillance program which was set to expire within a few days. Then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, who later became attorney general, and White House Chief of Staff Andy Card went to Ashcroft's sick bed at George Washington Hospital in an apparent attempt to override Comey's decision.

In his 2007 congressional testimony, years after leaving the Justice Department for the private sector, Comey said that he believed Gonzales and Card were attempting to do "an end-run around the acting attorney general."

"And so I raced to the hospital room, entered. And Mrs. Ashcroft was standing by the hospital bed, Mr. Ashcroft was lying down in the bed, the room was darkened. And I immediately began speaking to him, trying to orient him as to time and place, and try to see if he could focus on what was happening, and it wasn't clear to me that he could. He seemed pretty bad off," Comey told Congress.

"I was very upset. I was angry. I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me," he added.

You can watch the rest here.

That testimony became the lynchpin of the Democratic argument that Gonzales had engaged in "poor judgment and questionable actions," according to Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif. And it precipitated a no-confidence vote against Gonzales in the Senate.

"Comey obviously won a lot of points on the liberal side for the hospital episode," said Michael Tomasky a liberal columnist and editor in chief of Democracy magazine.

But not everyone is ready to give Comey a pass for his involvement in Bush adminsitration counterterrorism policies. The American Civil Liberties Union said that though he deserves "credit" for "courageously" halting the reauthorization of a secret survaillance program, the Senate should still closely scrutinize his nomination.

"As the second-highest ranked Justice Department official under John Ashcroft, Comey approved some of the worst abuses committed by the Bush administration," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. "Specifically, the publicly available evidence indicates Comey signed off on enhanced interrogation techniques that constitute torture, including waterboarding. He also oversaw the indefinite detention without charge or trial of an American citizen picked up in the United States and then held for years in a military brig."

And as a Republican who donated more than $7,500 to Republican Nominee Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in 2011 and 2012, and $2,300 to Arizona Senator John McCain's presidential bid in 2008, Senate Republicans may be hard pressed to put up a big fight against Comey's nomination.
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joeb

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Reply with quote  #2 
From 1988-2002 we held an annual conference looking at crimes committed by FBI  agents.
The first year it was held at Boston University and for the next 11 years it was held at Bates College.
The last year it was held at the University of Maine in Farmington Maine.
During this period close to 30 speakers appeared detailing the taxpayer funded death squad activities
of FBI  agents.

One of the regrets of organizing this conference for 13 years was not enough discussion was created on how to shut
down the FBI.


Frank Wilkinson was a keynote speaker at our conference on at least three different occasions.
He obtained his FBI  files not to long before he died at the age of 91 in 2006. The FBI turned
over 132,000 pages of his files to him. I suspect there were a lot more. The FBI first opened a file on him
when they discovered he was providing integrated public housing in Los Angeles during the 1950's.


Boston crime family head Whitey Bulger murdered over 20 women and men between 1955 and 1999 with
the help of taxpayer funded   Boston FBI  agents. The FBI  recently turned over his files to him for his court
case. They contain 600 pages.


TWO STORIES

1st story
see link for full story
http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/06/next_week_connolly_s_fbi_reports


Next week: Connolly’s FBI reports
Friday, June 21, 2013

The 700-page FBI informant file of James “Whitey” Bulger, never before seen by the public, will dominate the accused murderous mobster’s trial next week, prosecutors revealed yesterday after the jury was sent home.

The tome is a diary of Bulger’s corrupt relationship with convicted Boston FBI Agent John J. Connolly Jr. from 1975 to 1990.
- See more at: http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/06/next_week_connolly_s_fbi_reports#sthash.jcjDO4An.dpuf


2nd story

see link for full story
http://www.nhi.org/online/issues/145/wilkinson.html

Obituaries for Frank Wilkinson, who died January 2 at the age of 91, focused primarily on his role as a leading opponent of McCarthyism and his fervent dedication to the first amendment. We lose a champion just at the time the assault on our civil liberties is increasing. The extension of the Patriot Act and the National Security Administration’s questionable spying activities are the most egregious examples of the present administration’s attempt to undo all that Wilkinson stood for.

It is worth remembering that Wilkinson’s crusade for the first amendment actually began when he was fired from the Los Angeles Housing Authority for his radical politics. The years he spent fighting for our basic freedoms were catalyzed by his own experience as a victim of the 1950s Red Scare when he was a housing activist in Los Angeles.

Wilkinson spent nine months in prison in 1958 after being held in contempt of Congress for asserting his First Amendment right not to disclose his associations and beliefs before the House Un-American Activities Committee. After his release from prison, he organized the National Committee to Abolish HUAC, later renamed the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation. Thanks in part to Wilkinson’s work HUAC was abolished in 1975. Wilkinson also forced the FBI to release 132,000 pages of files they had collected on him from spies and informants, and successfully sued the agency to apologize for these illegal activities. Wilkinson also co-founded the nonprofit First Amendment Foundation and served as its longtime director. Until his death, he dedicated his energy and brilliance to defending our basic rights, including challenging the federal government’s right to spy on private citizens.

Wilkinson came to his activism through his own experience. He grew up in Beverly Hills, went to UCLA where he joined the Republican Party, was active in “Youth for [Herbert] Hoover” and considered becoming a Methodist minister. During a post-college trip around the world, he was radicalized by his exposure to poverty. For his generation of idealists who came of age in the Depression of the 1930s, public housing was part of a broad movement for social reform and economic justice. Wilkinson joined the new Los Angeles Housing Authority in 1942, when it was an independent agency with the mission of ending slum housing in the city. Under then-Mayor Fletcher Bowron, a reform-minded liberal Republican elected in 1938, the L.A. Housing Authority supported the idea of building decent housing for poor and low-income families and believed in racial integration in the city’s developments.

After World War II, Bowron sought to expand the program, especially for the many veterans who faced a desperate housing shortage. He endorsed a plan to raze many homes in the tight-knit Chavez Ravine neighborhood and to replace them with a large public housing development, to be designed by world-class architect Richard Neutra. It was to include two dozen 13-story buildings and more than 160 two-story houses, as well as new playgrounds and schools.

Bowron, Wilkinson and other reformers viewed the housing plan for Chavez Ravine as a way to improve living conditions for poor Angelenos. The first people to oppose the idea were the immigrants who lived in Chavez Ravine. This community, with its small shacks, unpaved roads and no sewer system, was still their home. One of the incentives offered to the residents was the promise that they would be the first ones to move into the new housing.

While Wilkinson and the Housing Authority wanted to rebuild the neighborhood for the people who lived there, Los Angeles business leaders and right-wing politicians wanted to bulldoze it for other reasons. Land so close to the city’s downtown was worth more exploited for profit than for the provision of affordable housing. Using McCarthyite Red Scare tactics, these forces combined to characterize the Chavez Ravine proposal – and public housing in general – as socialist planning. The attack focused on its leading advocate, Frank Wilkinson – portraying him as a dangerous Communist. Brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee, he refused to answer their questions on First Amendment grounds. He was fired from his job, tried and sent to federal prison.

The same business leaders who opposed Wilkinson and public housing also ended Bowron’s political career. They handpicked Congressman Norris Poulson to run against Bowron and orchestrated his mayoral victory in 1953. During his campaign, Poulson vowed to stop the Chavez Ravine plan and other examples of “un-American” spending. Poulson won the election, public housing lost.

City officials allowed Chavez Ravine to languish as an almost abandoned slum until the mid 1950s, when Councilman Kenneth Hahn enticed Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley to bring his team to Los Angeles. The City bulldozed the few remaining homes, forcibly evicting the last residents. No one was relocated into better housing; instead, the deep ravines were filled in to make the flat playing field of Dodger Stadium.

The story of Chavez Ravine, along with that of Frank Wilkinson and the L.A. Housing Authority, lay dormant for a long time. In recent years, however, the “battle of Chavez Ravine” has become a legend of urban planning, inspiring a play by the Culture Clash theater group, a recent album by guitarist Ry Cooder (who spoke at the memorial service for Wilkinson), many books and academic articles. After years of national activism for the First Amendment, Wilkinson became known again, this time for his housing work. A positive history of public housing, and a new housing hero, were returned to us.

To the extent that public housing now bears the stigma of failure, it is due not to the progressive values that inspired Wilkinson and others, but to the political influence of right-wing forces that fought to undermine public housing from the beginning.

Many of the same battles that Wilkinson fought 50 years ago – over land use, government subsidies for the poor, racial integration and “not in my backyard” opposition to low-cost housing – confront the current generation of public officials and housing activists.

Even today, right-wing politicians use stereotypes of public housing to attack the very idea of government activism. During his 1996 campaign, Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole said that public housing was “one of the last bastions of socialism in the world,” calling the authorities “landlords of misery.” Most recently, after Hurricane Katrina, Congressman Richard Baker (R-LA) told lobbyists, “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.”

Like his fight to protect the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, Frank Wilkinson viewed decent, safe, affordable housing as a basic human right. He is an inspiration to tens of thousands of activists in this nation. In his memory, we recommit ourselves to dismantling the Patriot Act, as he fought to dismantle HUAC. And in his memory, we fight for a safe, decent and affordable place for all to call home.


Peter Dreier teaches political science and directs the Urban and Environmental Policy program at Occidental College. Jan Breidenbach is the executive director of the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing and Housing LA. Both are NHI board members.

For more information about Frank Wilkinson’s life, see:

First Amendment Felon: The Story of Frank Wilkinson, His 132,000 Page FBI File and His Epic Fight for Civil Rights and Liberties, by Robert Sherrill. Nation Books, 2005.

Making a Better World: Public Housing, the Red Scare and the Direction of Modern Los Angeles, by Don Parson. University of Minnesota Press, 2005.

Ry Cooder, Chavez Ravine. Nonesuch/Perro Verde Records, 2005.
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joeb

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Reply with quote  #3 
A Network of Snitches

Obama’s Informants

by MELVIN A. GOODMAN

President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address more than 50 years ago is famous for its warning about the military-industrial complex, but he also warned that permanent war and a “permanent arms industry” would do great harm to American rights and liberties.  Over the past decade, we have experienced a Bush administration that deputized the Pentagon to spy on law-abiding citizens, with military officers attending antiwar rallies and staff sergeants engaged in the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping.  And now we have an Obama administration that has encouraged the creation of its own informant network among millions of federal employees and contractors to watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers.

The use of informant networks dates at least as far back as the Roman Empire.  Delatores (informants) were recruited from all classes of society, including slaves, lawyers, and philosophers.  Prior to the death of Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union used pervasive informant networks in the Communist Party’s efforts to eradicate so-called “crimes” against state property.

Massive citizen informant networks were used throughout the Soviet Bloc in Eastern Europe to destroy perceived opposition to dictatorial rule, particularly in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary.  The best example of an informant network in the communist world, of course, was in East Germany where the Ministry of State Security (or Stasi) controlled one informant for every 60 citizens.  These informants were told that they were their country’s first line of defense against threats to national security.

The informant network of the Obama administration is similarly insidious, with federal employees required to keep close tabs on co-workers, and managers facing penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report their suspicions.  According to Marisa Taylor and Jonathan Landay, reporting in McClatchyDC.com on June 20, there are government documents that equate leaks with espionage.  A Defense Department paper issued in 2012 exhorts its employees to “hammer this fact home…leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States.”

The Obama administration’s initiative is called the Insider Threat Program and it is not restricted to the national security bureaucracy.  The Department of Education has informed its employees that co-workers going through “certain life experiences,” such as divorce or “frustrations with co-workers,” could turn a trusted employee into “an insider threat.”  According to Taylor and Landay, the Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have produced online tutorials titled “Treason 101” to teach employees to recognize the psychological profile of spies.  They say that the Peace Corps is implementing such a program.

The Bush administration initiated similar programs to conduct surveillance against American citizens, not merely federal workers.  Vice President Dick Cheney encouraged the Pentagon to create the Counter Intelligence Field Activity (CIFA) in 2003 to conduct surveillance against American citizens near U.S. military facilities, particularly against those Americans who attended antiwar meetings.  In the summer of 2004, CIFA monitored a small protest in Houston, Texas against Halliburton, the giant military contractor once headed by Cheney.  At the same time, Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz created a fact-gathering operation called TALON (Threat and Local Observation Notice) to collect “raw information” about “suspicious incidents.”  The unauthorized spying of CIFA and the computer collection on innocent people and organizations for TALON were illegal; both organizations were eventually shut down.

In addition to instituting the Insider Threat Program, the Obama administration has expanded the domestic reach of the intelligence community, perpetuated the culture of secrecy, and instituted a pervasive lack of transparency.  Although President Obama has stated that American citizens are not the targets of the NSA’s sweeping electronic collection system, it is possible that Britain’s G.C.H.Q., London’s counterpart to NSA, is collecting intelligence on Americans and sharing the information with Washington.  Under a program called Tempora, the British communications intelligence agency has an unequalled capacity to tap high-capacity fiber cables.  Britain, moreover, has a weak oversight regime, and G.C.H.Q. has a unique and storied collaboration with NSA and CIA.

Our congressional intelligence committees have failed in their primary task–providing oversight over this pervasive and secret surveillance system. Oversight and accountability must be part of government, particularly the secret agencies within government, and congressional oversight is needed to correct the collective harm that has been done to the United States and its reputation at home and abroad because of the zealous actions of the past decade.

Vice President Cheney defended the Iraq War in 2003 on the basis of the infamous “one percent doctrine,” which justified the invasion on the grounds that if there was a one percent chance that something is a threat, it requires that the United States responds as if the threat was 100 percent certain.  This logic has been applied in many ways to the problem of terrorism with the Department of Homeland Security and the 16 agencies of the intelligence community assuming that “Today’s terrorists can strike at any place, at any time, and with virtually any weapon.”  As a result, the War on Terror has become a permanent fixture in our national security architecture, and an economic cornucopia for private contractors.

Last month, President Obama told a high-ranking military audience at the National Defense University that our torture and detention policies “ran counter to the rule of law;” that our use of drones will “define the type of nation that we leave to our children;” that even legal military tactics are not necessarily “wise or moral in every instance;” and that we must repeal the mandate of the Authorization to Use Military Force to fight terrorism.  Referring to Guantanamo, he argued that holding “people who have been charged with no crime on a piece of land that is not part of our country” is not “who we are.”  And that “leak investigations [that] may chill investigative journalism that holds government accountable” is not “who we are.”

If so, then massive surveillance programs at home and abroad as well as massive informant networks within the entire federal bureaucracy should also not be who we are.  It is long past time for President Obama to address these issues with operational policies and not mere rhetoric.  The audacity of hope requires that he do so.

Melvin A. Goodman, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy.  He is the author of the recently published National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism (City Lights Publishers)and the forthcoming “The Path to Dissent: The Story of a CIA Whistleblower” (City Lights Publisher). Goodman is a former CIA analyst and a professor of international relations at the National War College.

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joeb

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Reply with quote  #4 
see link for full story
http://rt.com/usa/disclose-facial-program-recognition-387/


FBI sued over secretive facial recognition program
 June 28, 2013 17:13

Soon the FBI will be done building a database containing the photographs, fingerprints and other biometric data for millions of Americans, but the agency has been far from forthcoming with the details. A new lawsuit filed this week aims to change that.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit digital rights group based out of California, sued the United States Department of Justice this week for failing to comply with multiple Freedom of Information Act requests filed last year by the EFF.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation received no fewer than three FOIA requests from the EFF last year for details about its state-of-the-art Next Generation Identification program, or NGI, a system that will store personally-identifiable data for millions of Americans and foreign nationals to act as what the FBI has called a "bigger, faster and better" version of what law enforcement already uses. But while the bureau has indeed already been using fingerprint information to track down potential terrorists and troublemakers for years, the EFF’s main concern revolves around what sort of space-age face recognition abilities NGI will be able to employ.

The FBI previously acknowledged that NGI will “house multimodal biometrics records like palm prints and iris scans” in one master system, as well as facial imaging information and intelligence about scars, marks and tattoos. Eventually, the agency said, it hopes to incorporate technology to track down people using only their voice. For now, though, the EFF is interested in what the facial recognition infrastructure will be able to do, and is demanding the FBI fesses up.

“NGI will change almost everything about how the FBI treats photograph submissions,” the complaint filed this week reads. Citing government documents, the EFF says that the system will allow “the increased capacity to retain photographic images, additional opportunities for agencies to submit photographic images and additional search capabilities, including automated searches.”

“The proposed new system would also allow law enforcement ‘to collect and retain other images (such as those obtained from crime scene security cameras’ and from family and friends) and would allow submission of ‘civil photographs along with civil fingerprint submissions that were collected for noncriminal purposes,’” the EFF continues.

When all is said and done, the FBI will be able to use NGI to scan millions of entries in a single database to find someone based off of a single photograph, and the EFF fears that could send things down a slippery slope.

“Governmental use of face recognition — and the potential for misuse — raises many privacy concerns,” the EFF says in the lawsuit.
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joeb

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Reply with quote  #5 
see link for full story
http://rt.com/usa/kiriakou-snowden-letter-leak-618/


CIA whistleblower to Snowden: ‘Do not cooperate with the FBI’
 July 03, 2013 16:39


NSA leaker Edward Snowden is the subject of an open letter of support just published from behind bars by John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent currently serving time for sharing state secrets.

In a letter dated June 13 and published Tuesday by Firedoglake, the imprisoned CIA vet salutes Snowden for his recent disclosures of classified documents detailing some of the vast surveillance programs operated by the United States’ National Security Agency.

“Thank you for your revelations of government wrongdoing over the past week,” Kiriakou writes. “You have done the country a great public service.”

“I know that it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders right now, but as Americans begin to realize that we are devolving into a police state, with the loss of civil liberties that entails, they will see your actions for what they are: heroic.”

Beginning with the June 6 publication of a dragnet court order demanding the phone data of millions of Americans, The Guardian newspaper has released a collection of leaked documents attributed to Snowden for which the US government has charged him with espionage. He is reportedly now hiding in a Moscow airport and has sought asylum from no fewer than 20 countries to avoid prosecution in the US. Should he be sent home and forced to stand trial, however, Snowden will likely find himself in a peculiar position that the former Central Intelligence Agency analyst can most certainly relate to: Kiriakou is currently serving a 36-month sentence at the Loretto, Pennsylvania federal prison for revealing the identity of a covert CIA agent to reporters.

Before Kiriakou pleaded guilty to one count of passing classified information to the media last year, the government charged him under the Espionage Act of 1917. He has equated the prosecution as retaliation for his own past actions, saying the charge wasn’t the result of outing a secret agent but over exposing truths about the George W. Bush administration’s use of waterboarding as an interrogation tool in the post-9/11 war on terror. As in the case of Snowden, Kiriakou’s supporters have hailed him as a whistleblower. As the government sings a very different song, though, the CIA analyst offers advice to Snowden in what is the second of his “Letters from Loretto” published by Firedoglake since Kiriakou’s two-and-a-half-year sentence began earlier this spring.

“First, find the best national security attorneys money can buy,” writes Kiriakou. “I was blessed to be represented by legal titans and, although I was forced to take a plea in the end, the shortness of my sentence is a testament to their expertise.”

“Second, establish a website that your supporters can follow your case, get your side of the story and, most importantly, make donations to support your defense.”
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joeb

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Reply with quote  #6 
2 stories




http://www.aclu.org/blog/human-rights-national-security/obamas-pick-lead-fbi-approved-waterboarding-under-bush-time

07/05/2013

James Comey: A Closer Look
Obama’s Pick to Lead FBI Approved Waterboarding Under Bush: Time to Speak Out
By Chris Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 7:52pm

While most of us are enjoying an extra-long July 4th weekend, James Comey, a top Bush lawyer who approved waterboarding and torture, is getting ready for one of his last hurdles before becoming FBI director. I'm sure that torture supporters are hoping that we spend more time at the beach and pool, and don't dig into Comey’s record.

Behind this nomination is a strange and ironic story. Beginning on Tuesday, President Obama might end up getting done what President Bush failed to do during nearly all of his last four years in office. All President Obama needs is for the Senate—and all of us—to look the other way while rubber-stamping his choice to head the FBI for the next 10 years.

As you may remember, after getting Alberto Gonzales confirmed as attorney general at the start of his second term, President Bush spent the next four years trying—and failing—to get the Senate to confirm any other members of his torture policy team. The Senate, under both Republican control and Democratic control, stood up to President Bush and turned away nominee after nominee with a record of approving water boarding or other torture. It was a principled and bipartisan rejection of rewarding the Bush administration’s torture policies.

But in a bizarre twist, James Comey—who served as deputy attorney general under both John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, and who twice gave a thumbs-up to torture—has been nominated to be the FBI director for the next decade. As FBI director, Comey would oversee nearly all of the country's most important interrogations and criminal investigations of government officials who torture or abuse prisoners at home or abroad.”

Will the fox be put in charge of the henhouse? Will someone who at least twice gave a thumbs-up to waterboarding and torture be put in charge of the FBI?  Will torture be treated as a serious crime if there is an FBI director who ordered a Justice Department legal memo written that was designed to keep torturers from ever being prosecuted for their crimes?

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a one-day hearing on whether it will confirm Comey as the next FBI director.  Will he glide through based on his backing by President Obama, or will senators stand up and ask the same tough questions that they asked of a parade of Bush nominees with torture-approving records?

Two senior senators on the Judiciary Committee—Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)—courageously stepped forward this week and wrote a letter to Comey asking him to explain his torture record and making clear their deep concern. They are asking the very same questions that they asked of many nominees with torture records during the Bush administration.

(Read a coalition letter from the ACLU and six other human rights to the Senate Judiciary Committee, raising concerns over Comey’s record on torture.)

But it is now up to all of us too. Ask your senators to ask the same tough questions and apply the same rigorous test to Comey that they applied to everyone else who was part of the inner circle of Bush lawyers who schemed to try to keep torturers from ever being prosecuted for their crimes.

Comey had a big job as deputy attorney general under Attorneys General Ashcroft and Gonzales. And he is now up for a huge job as FBI director. Every senator—and every one of us—should be demanding to know exactly what role he had in the waterboarding and torture program.

Ask your senators not to let this one slide through unnoticed—and let your senators know that you will be following the hearing on Tuesday (which will be webcast here).

There is no more patriotic way to spend the July 4 weekend than to say NO to waterboarding and torture.

For a deeper look into James Comey’s record as the second-highest-ranking official in the Bush Department of Justice, please see "James Comey: A Closer Look."


3rd story

see link for full story
http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/2013/07/05/fbi-agents-urge-senate-judiciary-committee-to-question-comey-on-torture-indefinite-detention/


FBI Agents Urge Senate Judiciary Committee to Question Comey on Torture, Indefinite Detention

For Immediate Release: July 5, 2013

Washington, DC –Five former agents who have worked in or with the FBI are urging members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to fully vet James Comey’s views on detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects as the committee holds Comey’s July 9 confirmation hearing and considers his nomination to be Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The agents made their request in a letter to the committee that was signed by Jack Cloonan, Mike Marks, Jim Clemente, Joe Navarro, and Luis Busquets.

The group’s letter noted, “The next Director of the FBI will lead the nation’s premier federal law enforcement agency, which plays a primary role in debriefing, interrogating, and prosecuting terrorism suspects.  Any candidate should have a record that reflects the capability and willingness to carry out these functions in a lawful and effective manner.”

The agents credited Comey for his well-documented opposition to reauthorizing a controversial warrantless wiretapping program while serving as Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice.  However, they raised concerns about his support for a legal memorandum justifying torture and his defense of holding an American citizen indefinitely without charge. They note that Comey concurred with a May 10, 2005, Office of Legal Counsel opinion that authorized torture. While the agents credited Comey for opposing torture tactics in combination and on policy grounds, they note that Comey still approved the legal basis for use of specific torture tactics.

“These techniques include cramped confinement, wall-standing, water dousing, extended sleep deprivation, and waterboarding, all of which constitute torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment in contravention of domestic and international law,” the letter states.

Those signing the letter to the committee also objected to Comey’s defense of detaining Americans without charge or trial and observed, “Further, Mr. Comey vigorously defended the Bush administration’s decision to hold Jose Padilla, a United States citizen apprehended on U.S. soil, indefinitely without charge or trial for years in a military brig in Charleston, South Carolina.”

The agents urged Senate Judiciary Committee members to ask Comey to reject the May, 10, 2005 Office of Legal Counsel opinion with which he concurred, and all other Office of Legal Counsel opinions authorizing “enhanced interrogation techniques.” They note that Comey should also support a process by which the Senate Intelligence Committee can make public its 6,000 plus page report on the post-9/11 CIA interrogation program, which was in substantial part authorized by the Office of Legal Counsel while Mr. Comey served as Deputy Attorney General.  Finally, committee members should provide Comey the opportunity to make clear that it is not lawful or appropriate to hold individuals picked up within the United States indefinitely without charge or trial.

“President Obama has banned torture—including waterboarding—and overturned the Office of Legal Counsel opinions authorizing it.  The Obama Administration has also stated that it is never appropriate to hold individuals picked up within the United States in indefinite detention without charge or trial.  Senators should ask Mr. Comey to explain and clarify these aspects of his record, which appear to be contrary not only to established law, but also the policies put forth by the current administration,” the agents wrote.

The letter sent by these five agents echoes concerns raised by Human Rights First. In a statement last month, Elisa Massimino, Human Rights First’s President and CEO, observed, “If James Comey is confirmed to take the helm at the FBI, he will be responsible for making sure our nation’s federal law enforcement work is both effective and legal. Comey has been deservedly praised for objecting to some of the worst abuses of the Bush Administration, but his role in justifying unlawful practices relating to the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspect raises questions about his commitment to the FBI’s adherence to humane interrogation standards. At his confirmation hearing, Senators should ask him hard questions about his record.”

For more information about this letter, to speak with one of its signers or for information ahead of Tuesday’s confirmation hearing, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323.




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joeb

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Reply with quote  #7 
Yesterday the Maine House of Representatives passed our drone bill 115-33. (The Maine Senate had previously passed the bill as well.) It was a mixed victory.

On the positive side, the long sought police warrant requirement was in the bill which would allow law suits against the police if they violate the warrant provisions. The bill also has a two-year moratorium on police use of drones in Maine.

On the negative side, the bill carried an amendment that allows testing of weaponized drones in Maine. The bill language reads something like this: An unmanned aerial vehicle may not employ the use of facial recognition technology or be equipped with a weapon except ..... for the purposes of research, testing, training or manufacturer of such vehicles.

I was told that the office of Gov. LePage (Republican) wrote the weaponized drone language. He is likely to sign the bill because of the inclusion of that language. Many Tea Party activists across the state strongly supported the bill's warrant requirements which ensured many Republicans in the legislature would support it.

I must say that the ACLU in Maine was instrumental in getting this bill passed. They pushed very hard for the police warrant requirement and from my understanding Maine is now the first state legislature in the country to pass such a bill. I worked directly with Shenna Bellows from the ACLU for months on this and our role was to help build the grassroots support for the bill. All indications are that the continual grassroots pressure was a key to building deep and wide support in the legislature for the warrant requrement.

But we did not always agree on the bill language. The ACLU really wanted the warrant requirements and in the end they had to settle for the drone weapons testing in order to get what they wanted. The weapons testing was not an issue the ACLU would draw the line for. Just yesterday we in the peace community were asked by state House leadership to agree to the drone weaponization language and I said that it was not possible. I told Rep. Seth Berry (Democrat) that "I appreciate your position but you must know that I represent a constituency as well. I'd be hung from the nearest light pole if I endorsed lingo to allow the weaponization of drones. I can't morally or ethically do it."

Sometimes even progressive groups don't agree on everything and you have to work together as best you can. Shenna tried hard to have our voice included in the middle of the negotiations but in the end the ACLU decided to set a precedent by getting a bill passed somewhere in the country with the warrant requirement in it.

So in the end the Maine police can't spy on you without a warrant but the drone industry and the military can freely practice killing you with Hellfire missiles. Such is the sausage making business.

Our next steps will be to organize an anti-drone presence in the Bath July 4 parade and then do a Maine drone peace walk from Limestone to Augusta on October 10-19. We will stay on the drone issue in Maine. It's not over by a long shot.



Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502
globalnet@mindspring.com
http://www.space4peace.org
http://space4peace.blogspot.com/ (blog)




Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. ~Henry David Thoreau
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LINK DE JOUR

http://www.infowars.com/army-conducts-nighttime-exercises-in-downtown-chicago/


see link for full story
http://www.mainjustice.com/2013/07/24/doj-waives-procedural-bars-in-fbi-review-of-hair-analysis-convictions/


DOJ Waives Procedural Bars in FBI Review of Hair Analysis Convictions
July 24, 2013 9:20 am
 
The Department of Justice has made the unusual decision to waive procedural bars to re-open more than 2,000 criminal investigations so that the FBI can perform microscopic hair analysis of crime scene evidence.
“Many stakeholders in the system are beginning to accept the reality that we need to make it possible for inmates to raise their claims so that they can be decided on the merits,” said Peter Neufield, co-founder and co-director of the Innocence Project, an organization focused on exonerating individuals who have been wrongfully convicted.
In 1996, the FBI began to rely on DNA evidence in addition to microscopic hair comparison analysis. The hair analysis had previously been used alone to determine a positive association between known hair samples and crime scene evidence.

 

“There are standards for science [that have] to do with the ability to recreate the results you get,” said Sean D. O’Brien, a law professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
“Microscopic hair analysis often involved faulty conclusions,” he said.

see link for full story
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alissa-escarce/comey-fbi-profiling_b_3645114.html

An Uncomfortable Silence: James Comey, the FBI and Racial Profiling

  07/24/2013
 
 
 

On Thursday, July 18th, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to approve the nomination of James Comey as FBI director. The nomination will now be voted on by the entire Senate. Unlike other confirmations in recent memory Comey's has advanced smoothly, and he is almost certain to be confirmed in the coming week.

Comey's confirmation will come amid a vigorous national debate around racism and racial profiling in law enforcement. Unfortunately, though Comey has made public comments that suggest a tacit endorsement of racial profiling, neither the media nor the Senate has asked him to address these issues. Those who believe in civil liberties and racial justice should find this troubling.

With dual credentials as a seasoned prosecutor and supposed civil liberties hero, Comey has inspired confidence on both sides of the aisle. Still, many Judiciary Committee senators used his confirmation hearing two weeks ago to probe questionable aspects of his background and push for reforms within a secretive federal agency. As a result, Comey has now said on record that he considers waterboarding an illegal form of torture, that his private-sector background will not discourage him from fighting white-collar crime, that he will work for greater transparency around Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court decisions, and that he is committed to protecting government whistleblowers. These discussions will set the tone of Comey's tenure as FBI director following his (likely) confirmation, and his answers will be crucial tools for future civil liberties advocacy.

And so it was disconcerting to hear the complete silence in the confirmation hearing around issues of racial profiling by the FBI, and by agencies Comey has led in the past. It was especially uncomfortable at several moments in the hearing when Comey and the senators started talking about racial profiling -- without acknowledging or perhaps even realizing it. Let's read between the lines of a few of those conversations:

Senator Cruz: "I have been concerned about the current administration's balance of the rights of law-abiding citizens on the one hand, and the willingness to pursue serious terrorist threats on the other... Do we have your commitment that you would not let political correctness impede efforts to connect the dots and prevent terrorism?"

Mr. Comey: "Certainly."

From the context of his comments, it's clear that Cruz was really asking: will Comey maintain, and even scale up, the profiling of Muslims? The FBI is hardly known for paralyzing political correctness; on the contrary, reports about FBI profiling of Muslims abound. Using informants and ethnic mapping, the FBI has performed broad, warrantless surveillance of communities and institutions, including mosques and student organizations. It has also engaged in what many view as entrapment of vulnerable Muslim individuals, providing them with ideas and weapons for terrorist acts with the aim of arresting them for those acts. These tactics threaten Muslim Americans' first amendment rights, and have caused a broad mistrust of law enforcement in Muslim communities.

Comey's straightforward "certainly" is especially troubling in an era when the Department of Justice's 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies, which directs the behavior of FBI agents, contains large loopholes that fail to protect Muslims and other groups commonly perceived as potential "terrorists." The FBI needs a leader who acknowledges the pervasiveness of religious and ethnic profiling, and who reins in this destructive practice instead of condoning it.

Senator Klobuchar: "I know one of the things that hasn't come out is the work that you did in Richmond when you started Project Exile, a successful program that involved federal, state, and local partnership... Can you talk about that work and how that will inform your work as head of the FBI?"

Comey: "Richmond, Virginia, had a horrific violent crime problem, isolated especially in the minority community. And the idea behind Project Exile was, what if we used the federal penalties that came with gun possession offenses -- possession by a felon, possession by a drug user, drug dealer, stiff penalties -- what if we use those to try and change criminal behavior and make the gun a liability in the eye of a criminal? ... As we talked about earlier in response to other questions, the FBI has a vital role to play in criminal enforcement."




http://thetrialofwhiteybulger.com/a-short-post-the-onion-has-a-report-on-the-case-10337/

The Trial of Whitey Bulger

Whitey Bulger, the FBI and the Justice System





see link for full story

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/07/24/59628.htm


Wednesday, July 24,
   
Bickering and Infighting at the FBI
 An FBI agent sued the Department of Justice, claiming superiors sabotaged his career with false accusations - including publishing false profiles of him and his wife on adult websites - as revenge for a complaint he made against a fellow agent.
     Sean E. Edwards sued Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department in Federal Court.
     Edwards claims the DPJ demoted him and discriminated against him because he is a man, to appease a female agent, whom he calls Agent X.
     Edwards says in the lawsuit that the problems began around October 2010, when his wife anonymously made a complaint against Agent X, claiming X was violating FBI rules by driving with her children in an FBI vehicle.
     Edwards claims Agent X immediately blamed him for the complaint.
     "Thereafter, she would regularly complain to her superior, the same 'SSA' (Supervisory Special Agent) as plaintiff's and also up the local chain of command including the Special Agent In Charge of the Kansas City Office ('SAC') about plaintiff," the complaint states. "She accused the plaintiff of inappropriate conduct directed at her. She attributed false, damaging and misleading conduct to him, made unfounded, false and unverifiable claims against plaintiff. She also claimed to be the victim of these allegations and acts which she attributed to the plaintiff; all to his further damage and detriment.
     "Agent 'X' succeeded in persuading her superiors that she was the actual victim of
     plaintiff's alleged conduct when she falsely and frequently claimed that plaintiff was personally responsible for her OPR [Office of Professional Responsibility], that he had and was following her; that he had and was stalking her; that he refused to leave her alone and had displayed violent propensities while in her presence. She even claimed that acts that plaintiff took to advance his career were hostile conduct and part of plaintiff's plan to harm her. She advised management of her fears which influenced plaintiff's superior's negative and adverse conduct towards him, while providing preferential treatment to Agent 'X'."
     (The phrase "that plaintiff was personally responsible for her OPR" apparently means: for the complaint to the OPR.)
     Edwards claims that Agent X was relentless with her unfounded complaints.
     "These false and unsubstantiated claims continued almost on a weekly basis; and each time a false allegation was made, SSA accused plaintiff of having committed the act," the complaint states. "In each instance the allegations were factually unsupported and only based on 'feelings.' Yet, each time they were made, SSA seem to accept as truthful Agent 'X' claim asserted and always confronted and challenged the veracity of the plaintiff who always denied the false allegations of wrongdoing. During each episode, plaintiff would first deny the claim, then indicate that these were acts of harassment and insist that SSA or upper management investigation [sic] the basis of the claims against him. Each of these denials and request for investigation by plaintiff were separate protected acts and based on information and belief, were never acted on by the defendant. These accusations and the failure to investigate the same, as plaintiff had requested, discriminate against the plaintiff based on his gender when compared with hers and denied plaintiff the equal treatment that he had a right to expect."
     Edwards says he applied for a promotion in January 2011, then was told the position was being reposted because he was the only applicant. He claims he was told not to resubmit his application.
     "The SSA made it clear that he preferred someone other than plaintiff for the positions [sic] and stated that '... the timing would not be good' if plaintiff would be selected," the complaint states. "Plaintiff agreed not to resubmit his application during the reposting so as not to further antagonize SSA or Agent 'X' and as an aide to having the issue behind him. The reposting of the position and the discouraging of plaintiff from submitting an application was done to specifically appease and serve the interests of Agent 'X' and to discriminate against the plaintiff based on his gender when compared with hers and denied plaintiff the equal treatment that he had a right to expect." (Ellipsis in complaint.)
     Edwards claims the situation escalated in June 2010 after Agent X's former husband discussed with FBI co-workers his concerns about Agent X's new boyfriend, as the ex's children would be in the boyfriend's company.
     Edwards says his own wife was also friends with Agent X's former husband.
     Unknown to Edwards, he says, his wife sent the former husband a text saying he had a right to be concerned about the boyfriend.
     Edwards says Agent X immediately demanded that he be transferred off the squad.
     "Based on information and belief, Agent 'X' retaliated against plaintiff and his wife by posting or causing the posting on adult website 3 false profiles of plaintiff and his wife," the complaint states. "When plaintiff learned of these derisive profiles he reported them to the security officer of the FBI local office as well as his SSA and ASAC. Plaintiff also reported that he suspected that Agent 'X' was responsible for these postings on an adult website. SSA promptly notified Agent 'X' of plaintiff's allegations and while she denied any knowledge of the same the false profile postings were taken down shortly thereafter. Whatever inquiry or investigation defendant performed was not disclosed to the plaintiff but to the best of plaintiff's knowledge nothing came of the efforts of the defendant."
     On June 30, 2011, Edwards claims, he was transferred and grounded as a pilot and leader of the aviation department in Kansas City. He claims the FBI used his wife's text as the final basis for the demotion.
     Edwards claims the harassment continued after his transfer. He says his department was subjected to a surprise inspection, which it passed, in order to appease Agent X.
     "After being transferred to the downtown headquarters of the defendant, executive management and other personnel deliberately subjected plaintiff to retaliation and reprisal when they committed wrongful acts designed to undermined [sic] plaintiff's career in addition to permitting false and demeaning rumors to be spread throughout the workplace. Management even authored and published several false and erroneous electronic communications ('EC') that attributed emotional issues to the plaintiff which claimed he was hostile and combative and implied that plaintiff may not be fit for duty as an FBI agent. They actively sought to oust plaintiff from his position with the FBI by submitting these false EC's to other branches of the FBI. First, they sent a copy of a libelous EC to Employee Health Care Program Unit ('HCPU') where plaintiff's fitness for duty would be evaluated and a permanent file would exist on plaintiff. Executive management's schemed for HCPU to make a determination that plaintiff was not fit to be a Special Agent of the FBI and thereby justify the termination of plaintiff. In addition, these EC's were also submitted to the Analysis and Investigation Unit ('AIU'), the unit which investigates, among other things, traitors and spies. The referral to AIU had the ability of being a career ender but had the immediate effect of preventing plaintiff from having unsupervised access to the secure work area ('SCIF') where plaintiff had been reassigned to work at his new duty assignment. This caused plaintiff to be held in a lower esteem by his new coworkers. Of a more lasting consequence, the referral to AIU would in the future serve as a barrier to subsequent advancement in the FBI, and also taint employment opportunities in the law enforcement field when plaintiff was to leave the FBI."
     Edwards claims he was ordered to undergo a routine counterintelligence polygraph exam at 2 p.m. on July 7, 2011. Three hours before the polygraph test, he says, he found out his mother was having emergency heart surgery in St. Louis. Despite asking for the test to be postponed or rescheduled so he could get to his mother, Edwards says he was forced to wait until 3:30 to take the test.
     When he returned to work on July 13, 2011, his SAC discussed the polygraph that Edwards had taken and passed, but it showed he was under a great deal of stress. Edwards said he told the SAC about his mother's circumstances and that the delay of the test increased his stress. He claims the SAC told him that because of the stress, the FBI's Health Services unit was asked to determine if Edwards was fit to carry a weapon.
     "On July 18, 2011, while reviewing his local personnel file, plaintiff found an electronic communication ('EC'), a document referred to as serial #44, prepared by ASAC 3 and approved by the SAC, dated July 11, 2011 but containing information from both July 12 and July 13, 2011. (This verified that the SAC and ASAC 3 were plotting the Fit for Duty evaluation prior to the meeting of July 13, 2011)," the complaint states.
     "This document was a request to have plaintiff evaluated and determine if he were Fit for Duty. It was also filled with false and untrue assertions designed to damage plaintiff. Many of these allegations were attributed to the EAP counselor who had no legal authority to even disclose any of the information attributed to her. When the EAP counselor was asked about the allegations, she vociferously denied staying what was attributed to her and also claimed that they were 'made up' by ASAC 3. Upon finding this false and misleading EC in his local personnel file, plaintiff made a request under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a complete copy of his personnel file."
     EAP is not defined in the lawsuit.
     Edwards claims the Justice Department deliberately misled him about why he wasn't allowed access to the secure work area. He claims he was told that his access problem was due to a paperwork issue, though it actually stemmed from the open investigation caused by the false document known as serial #44.
     He claims that a second Fit for Duty evaluation request containing the same false allegations as serial #44 was submitted on Sept. 27, 2011.
     "Even though plaintiff successfully passed the polygraph examination, by denying him access to the SCIF defendant intentionally brought plaintiff's plight to the attention of all of his new coworkers in his new unit, many of whom, based on information and belief, were told of the Agent 'X' rumors as to why plaintiff was no longer a pilot with the offsite unit, why he had been transferred and why he did not have a security clearance to enter the SCIF," the complaint states. "Plaintiff was also not assigned any work responsibilities and had to create work for himself so that his periodic evaluation would at least meet expected levels of performance. In October, 2011, HCPU determined plaintiff did not require a Fit for Duty evaluation, and in November, 2011 plaintiff was finally cleared by AIU to have access to the SCIF without supervision, a full 4 months after having been pretextually transferred to his new duty assignment."



FBI names Vincent Lisi as special agent for the Boston office


  • July 24, 2013 -

  

 
 
 
http://www.dailyjournal.net/view/story/4cebfd78cf644d04b2a5fd9e9df8154f/MA--FBI-Boston-Chief/



BOSTON — The FBI's Boston office has a new leader.
Vincent Lisi (LEE'-see) will succeed Richard DesLauriers as special agent in charge of the Boston office. DesLauriers announced last month he was retiring after more than 26 years with the FBI. The appointment was announced Wednesday by FBI director Robert Mueller.
Lisi has been with the FBI since 1989, serving most recently as deputy assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division in Washington, D.C.
In 2001, Lisi helped lead the investigation of the 2001 Anthrax letter attacks.
He also served as a legal attache in Yemen



Subject:
The City of Dallas' Anti-Conspiracy Conspiracy - Page 1 - News - Dallas - Dallas Observer


 
 see link for full story

http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2013/07/24/columbus-new-fbi-chief.html
     

New Central Ohio FBI Chief Says Cyber Threats Will Eventually Surpass Terrorism Dangers

Wednesday July 24, 2013  Terrorism currently is the No. 1 threat here in central Ohio, but cyber crimes are a close second.

That's the opinion of the new head of the FBI in central Ohio, Kevin Cornelius who has been named the Special Agent in Charge.

Cornelius used to run the Southern Ohio Joint Terrorism Task Force ten years ago. He said cyber threats will no doubt surpass terrorism dangers someday.

"We're losing data. We're losing money. We're losing innovative ideas, and that's something that we see across America. The intrusions outstrip what we have seen in the past, and it's time for us to take a look at it as a community, as a network, to prevent intrusions," Cornelius said.

Cornelius spoke to the group InfraGard - security specialists in the public and private sector who share cyber threat information with the FBI.




http://www.dallasobserver.com/2013-07-25/news/the-anti-conspiracy-conspiracy/
or
http://tinyurl.com/kckmnfw
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It has been over 15 years since David Burnham published his book ABOVE THE LAW
which looks at FBI agents fixing cases for corporations. Down here in the whisper
stream FBI  director Robert Mueller was know for covering up the largest banking scandal in US History.
The BCCI banking scandal was covered up by Robert Mueller when he was an assistant US Attorney General.
The current  US Attrney General Eric Holder is know for his coverup of the Martin Luther King assassination investigation when Holder was an US Assistant Attorney General in 1999.

As a criminal justice consumer your first duty is to follow your tax dollar trail
to see if your tax dimes is used to help or hurt you.
You do know what to do?
see link for full story

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-k-black/eric-holder-mortgage-fraud_b_3756852.html



The FBI's 2010 Mortgage Fraud Report Reveals Why the Banksters Love Holder
Posted: 08/14/2013 2:30 pm


The Obama administration's continuation of the Bush administration's refusal to prosecute the elite banksters (or even the vastly lower status CEOs of the fraudulent mortgage bank) that drove the crisis has made it clear that the rule of law no longer applies to wide ranges of life and that crony capitalism will continue to reign.

One of the difficulties we have is that because the last two administrations have fanatical devotees of the cult of the Virgin Crisis - the myth that the ongoing crisis was the first in modern times conceived without sin (control fraud) - that it is exceptionally difficult to know what their creed is. DOJ has refused to prosecute any elite banker for mortgage loan origination fraud. The rare prosecutions it has brought against senior officials of fraudulent loan originator (a large, but obscure regional mortgage bank: Taylor Bean) did not prosecute the officials for their fraudulent origination (or sale) of loans. They Taylor Bean officials were only prosecuted for their fraud against the TARP program - and only because Neil Barofsky (SIGTARP) made the criminal referral about that fraud and pushed relentlessly to force the Department of Justice to prosecute. With zero prosecutions of the massively fraudulent home lenders that drove the crisis to we are left with no information on why committing hundreds of thousands of frauds via the twin epidemics of loan origination fraud (inflating appraisals and making endemically fraudulent "liar's" loans) is no longer a crime that the FBI investigates and DOJ prosecutes. No senior DOJ or FBI official, of course, is stupid enough to state openly why we no longer prosecute even the CEOs of long-bankrupt mortgage banks that led these accounting control frauds. The U.S. Attorney for Sacramento, one of the epicenters of accounting control fraud, was foolish enough to attempt to explain why he did not investigated or prosecute the banksters:

Benjamin Wagner, a U.S. Attorney who is actively prosecuting mortgage fraud cases in Sacramento, Calif., points out that banks lose money when a loan turns out to be fraudulent. "It doesn't make any sense to me that they would be deliberately defrauding themselves," Wagner said.

Wagner's inability to keep his pronouns straight even when they were in the same sentence - "they" refers to the CEO, "themselves" refers to the bank the CEO is looting - was so embarrassing that he did not even try to respond to his critics. With no indictments of the bank CEOs for loan origination fraud and no statements by senior DOJ leaders about why they refuse to prosecute the leaders of the accounting control frauds that drove our last three major crises we are forced to guess at what went wrong at the FBI and DOJ.

This is the first in a series of columns that use the FBI's 2010 Mortgage Fraud Report to make intelligent inferences about why the prosecutors have ceased prosecuting control frauds directed by senior financial leaders. To find that report on the FBI web site, one searches for "mortgage fraud" and reads the following:

    Mortgage Fraud

    These scams hit us right where we live.

    From foreclosure frauds to subprime shenanigans, mortgage fraud is a growing crime threat that is hurting homeowners, businesses, and the national economy. We have developed new ways to detect and combat mortgage fraud, including collecting and analyzing data to spot emerging trends and patterns. And we are using the full array of investigative techniques to find and stop criminals before the fact, rather than after the damage has been done.

The first clause is schizophrenic. "Foreclosure fraud" is a massive anti-purchaser control fraud directed by the senior leadership of fraudulent banks. "Subprime" refers to one of the primary forms of "ammunition" used by the accounting control frauds whose fraudulent mortgage loan originations drove the financial crisis. But the FBI calls this form of fraud, which caused catastrophic losses mere "shenanigans."

Definition of SHENANIGAN

1

: a devious trick used especially for an underhand purpose

2

a: tricky or questionable practices or conduct --usually used in plural

b: high-spirited or mischievous activity --usually used in plural

Examples of SHENANIGAN

1. <students engaging in youthful shenanigans on the last day of school>

2. <an act of vandalism that went way beyond the usual shenanigans at summer camp>

The trivialization of even elite white-collar crime is a problem that Henry Pontell and I have warned against.

White-Collar Criminology and the Occupy Wall Street Movement in The Criminologist, Vol. 37 #1. Henry N. Pontell and William K. Black. American Society of Criminology (January/February 2012)

As this series of columns will demonstrate, one of the consistent facts that emerges from the FBI's 2010 Mortgage Fraud Report; albeit through consistent omission, is that the FBI implicitly assumes that this is our first Virgin financial crisis of the modern era. Even the concept of control fraud at financial institutions no longer exists at the FBI.

A related key truth also arises through consistent omission in the same FBI report - the banking regulatory agencies continue to play no role the FBI considers worthy of mention in identifying, reporting, and fighting mortgage fraud. Both omissions begin to become clear in the 2010 FBI report's introduction.

2010 Mortgage Fraud Report: Year in Review


    Scope Note

    The purpose of this study is to provide insight into the breadth and depth of mortgage fraud crimes perpetrated against the United States and its citizens during 2010. This report updates the 2009 Mortgage Fraud Report and addresses current mortgage fraud projections, issues, and the identification of mortgage fraud "hot spots." The objective of this study is to provide FBI program managers and the general public with relevant data to better understand the threat posed by mortgage fraud. The report was requested by the Financial Crimes Section, Criminal Investigative Division (CID), and prepared by the Financial Crimes Intelligence Unit (FCIU), Directorate of Intelligence (DI).

    This report is based on FBI; federal, state, and local law enforcement; mortgage industry; and open-source reporting. Information was also provided by other government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), and the U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Industry reporting was obtained from LexisNexis, Mortgage Asset Research Institute (MARI), RealtyTrac, Inc., Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Interthinx, and CoreLogic. Some industry reporting was acquired through open sources.

    Mortgage fraud perpetrators include licensed/registered and non-licensed/registered mortgage brokers, lenders, appraisers, underwriters, accountants, real estate agents, settlement attorneys, land developers, investors, builders, bank account representatives, and trust account representatives.

Note ten omissions and one dangerous inclusion in the introduction to FBI Mortgage Fraud Report for 2010. First, this is the most recent FBI Mortgage Fraud report. While the FBI felt the need to get updated analysis of mortgage fraud in 2009 and 2010 it has not updated the report since that time even as the statute of limitations is running out for many of the frauds.

Second, the long list of federal entities that provided "information" about "mortgage fraud" did not include the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, the OCC, and OTS - the four banking regulatory agencies that should have been the leading source of information on mortgage fraud. They had the duty to regulate the control frauds that drove the crisis. The Fed had the unique statutory authority under HOEPA (1994) to ban all "liar's loans" - one of the twin epidemics of accounting control fraud by loan originators that drove the crisis. We know that the Fed collected data on these endemically fraudulent liar's loans because they cited the data in 2008 when they finally, under Congressional pressure, used HOEPA to ban liar's loans. We also know from the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) report that the Fed's staff collected data on enormous number of liar's loans being made by affiliates of the Nation's largest banks. The Fed's supervisors used the data to warn the Fed's senior leadership years before the crisis about the need to use HOEPA to stop a growing disaster. Alan Greenspan and his successor Ben Bernanke refused to stop the endemically fraudulent loans and Greenspan attacked the staff for daring to criticize the largest banks (which reprised his shameful performance when his supervisors criticized the large banks for aiding and abetting Enron's accounting control fraud and anti-public (tax) fraud) (FCIC 2011: 20). The next page of the report explains that the OCC examiners raised similar flags about liar's loans based on their examination findings. The OTS examined three of the most notorious "liar's" loan lenders (Countrywide, Washington Mutual (WaMu), and IndyMac). Countrywide and WaMu were also infamous for their widespread appraisal fraud. The OTS had copious data on mortgage fraud origination by many of the largest lenders that it had a duty to regulate.

Third, the FBI does not mention the SEC though it was the supervisor and examiner of the Nation's largest investment banks. Those investment banks were among the largest originators and purchasers of fraudulent liar's loans. The SEC should have had reams of data and expertise on liar's loans, appraisal fraud, and many other control frauds that generated vast amounts of mortgage fraud. Like the banking regulatory agencies, the SEC should have been an invaluable source of expertise on mortgage fraud in addition to being among the most important data providers.

Fourth, the banking regulatory agencies and the SEC must not have made any criminal referrals the FBI considered worthy of note. Criminal referrals are the "road map" that the experts in banking fraud schemes (the banking regulators and the SEC) provide to the FBI to make it possible for them to mount an effective investigation. The FBI mortgage fraud report does not indicate that it received any criminal referrals from the federal banking and securities regulators. The OTS, during the vastly smaller and far less fraudulent S&L debacle made over 30,000 criminal referrals. How did OTS go from over 30,000 criminal referrals in a far smaller crisis/fraud scheme to zero criminal referrals in this crisis? That question should have been of paramount importance to the FBI. The 2010 FBI report on mortgage fraud, however, does not mention the death of criminal prosecutions by the regulatory agencies. The FBI report does not explain why criminal referrals from the regulators are essential to the FBI's success because a bank will rarely make a criminal referral against its CEO. The destruction of the criminal referral process, which denied the FBI its vital expertise about the industry, was critical to the FBI's inability to recognize widespread accounting control fraud.

Fifth, the FBI does not list the honest appraisers as a source of information on mortgage fraud. That represents an extraordinary failure, and one that was as inexcusable as it was disastrous. I have written a great deal recently about the honest appraisers' efforts to warn the Nation about the epidemic of appraisal fraud driven by the leaders of the accounting control frauds.

    From 2000 to 2007, a coalition of appraisal organizations ... delivered to Washington officials a public petition; signed by 11,000 appraisers.... [I]t charged that lenders were pressuring appraisers to place artificially high prices on properties [and] "blacklisting honest appraisers" and instead assigning business only to appraisers who would hit the desired price targets (FCIC 2010:18).

The appraisers began warning the FBI in 2000 - before the Enron-era accounting control fraud crisis blew up. The appraisers' petition was the perfect information the FBI needed - it demonstrated that the leaders of the lenders and their agents were running control frauds. Only the lender and its agents can cause widespread appraisal fraud. No honest lender would ever inflate an appraisal, but an accounting control fraud would find such a strategy optimal. My prior articles have explained that several years before the FBI wrote its 2010 report on mortgage fraud the appraisers had also provided data demonstrating the endemic nature of appraisal fraud and an investigation by New York Attorney General Cuomo had confirmed the accuracy of the appraisers' warning about the fraudulent lenders blacklisting honest appraisers.

Sixth, the FBI sought no input from white-collar criminologists - the specialists in this field with the most relevant expertise. One hopes that when the FBI investigates the theft of nuclear materials they consult physicists.

Seventh, the FBI sought no input from the professional association of mortgage brokers founded to try to restore integrity to that profession. My prior columns have quoted at length from the honest loan brokers' testimony before the Fed warning of the endemically fraudulent nature of liar's loans and explaining the destructive interaction of that form of fraud and appraisal fraud.

Eighth, the FBI specifically notes that it received information from MARI because of its anti-fraud expertise. The FBI neglects to note, however, that MARI had warned the entire mortgage industry (and the FBI) that the incidence of fraud in liar's loans was 90 percent. By 2006, roughly 40% of all loans originated that year were liar's loans and the number of liar's loans grew by over 500% from 2003-2006. After MARI's warning to the industry in early 2006 about liar's loans the industry massively increased the number of liar's loans it made. The only way for lenders to sell endemically fraudulent liar's loans was through fraud, so the FBI knew that liar's loans had to propagate fraud throughout the secondary market and mortgage derivatives. Despite all this, the FBI report on mortgage fraud ignores appraisal and mortgage origination fraud directed by the lenders' controlling officers.

Ninth, the FBI ignores the OTS's successful crackdown on liar's loans in 1990-1991 that was based on the inherently fraudulent nature of liar's loans. No honest mortgage lender would make wide-scale liar's loans. The FBI ignored the criminal referrals that OTS had made two decades earlier that explained why liar's loans optimized accounting control fraud.

Tenth, the FBI's list of "mortgage fraud perpetrators" gives a free pass to the real frauds and fingers the little people for prosecution. The FBI's list excludes all the officials who actually led the endemic appraisal and "liar's" loan frauds. The list only covers the minnows.
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