A white police officer in the United States killed a black person on average of twice per week from 2005 to 2012, according to homicide reports offered to the FBI. But this data is limited, as only about 4 percent of law enforcement agencies contributed.
There was an average of 96 such incidents out of at least 400 police killings each year that local police departments reported to the FBI, according to analysis conducted by USA Today.
The analysis comes in the wake of the fatal police shooting by a white officer of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri that has set off national outrage over US law enforcement’s aggressive use of deadly force, incongruent targeting of minorities, and a militarized posture that treats citizens as the enemy.
The FBI report shows that 18 percent of African-Americans killed during those seven years were under the age of 21. Whites killed that were under the age of 21 came out to 8.7 percent.
As USA Today noted, only around 750 agencies – out of the 17,000 law enforcement entities across the United States – offered such data to the FBI.
On top of the limited participation, the self-reported contents of the database are considered incomplete. The data are not audited after submission to the FBI, and information on “justifiable” homicides has often been at odds with independent statistics gathered on police fatalities.
”There is no national database for this type of information, and that is so crazy,” said Geoff Alpert, a criminologist at the University of South Carolina. “We’ve been trying for years, but nobody wanted to fund it and the (police) departments didn’t want it. They were concerned with their image and liability. They don’t want to bother with it.”
Alpert added that the limited FBI data – the most complete record of people killed by US police – can show that a death had occurred, but it is reliable for little else.
“I’ve looked at records in hundreds of departments, and it is very rare that you find someone saying, ‘Oh, gosh, we used excessive force.’ In 98.9 percent of the cases, they are stamped as justified and sent along,” Alpert told USA Today.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police, on the other hand, said police use of force is blown out of proportion. Based on data from the Bureau of Justices Statistics in 2008, the group said less than 2 percent of 40 million people who had contact with police passed along complaints that officers used or threatened force.
“In large part, the public perception of police use of force is framed and influenced by the media depictions which present unrealistic and often outlandish representations of law enforcement and the policing profession,” the group said in a 2012 report.
Nevertheless, many independent studies of police shootings in major US cities have come to the conclusion that minorities are disproportionately targeted for police violence.
“We need not look for individual racists to say that we have a culture of policing that is really rubbing salt into longstanding racial wounds,” NAACP president Cornell Williams Brooks told Mother Jones.
Brooks added that in the US, many people suspected of minor crimes are confronted with “overwhelmingly major, often lethal, use of force.”
Meanwhile, officers are rarely convicted or sentenced for killing a suspect.
“Unfortunately, the patterns that we’ve been seeing recently are consistent: The police don’t show as much care when they are handling incidents that involve young black men and women, and so they do shoot and kill,” said Delores Jones-Brown, law professor and director of the Center on Race, Crime, and Statistics at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, according to Mother Jones.
“And then for whatever reason, juries and prosecutor’s offices are much less likely to indict or convict.”
The US Justice Department is investigating at least 15 police agencies in the US for systemic abuse, including allegations of excessive force, racial profiling or false arrest.
Nearly every criminal case the FBI and US Justice Department has reviewed during a major investigation that began in 2012 regarding an FBI lab unit has involved flawed forensic testimony, The Washington Post reported.
The review – originally spurred by a Post report in 2012 over flawed forensic testimony by Federal Bureau of Investigation lab technicians that may have led to convictions of hundreds of innocent people – was cut short last August when its findings “troubled the bureau,” according to the Post. The review was ordered by the Justice Department (DOJ) to resume this month, government officials said.
Most of the defendants in cases that involved possibly-botched testimony over microscopic hair matches were never told that their case was part of the review, which includes 2,600 convictions and 45 death-row cases from the 1980s and 1990s. In these cases, the FBI’s hair and fiber unit claimed it found a match to crime-scene samples prior to the age of DNA testing of hair.
The FBI reviewed around 160 cases before halting the investigation 11 months ago, officials said. The probe resumed once the DOJ inspector general lambasted the FBI for the delay in this investigation and another involving the same forensic unit.
A DOJ spokesman said that by last August, reviews were completed and notifications offered for defendants in 23 cases, including 14 death-row cases, that FBI examiners “exceeded the limits of science” when linking hair to crime-scene evidence.
Yet the FBI restarted the review given concerns that forensic errors applied to the “vast majority” of cases. This restart caused major delays in the investigation, leading to objections by the DOJ in January. The FBI and DOJ standoff was finally resolved this month.
“I don’t know whether history is repeating itself, but clearly the [latest] report doesn’t give anyone a sense of confidence that the work of the examiners whose conduct was first publicly questioned in 1997 was reviewed as diligently and promptly as it needed to be,” said Michael R. Bromwich, DOJ inspector general from 1994 to 1999.
“Now we are left 18 years [later] with a very unhappy, unsatisfying and disquieting situation, which is far harder to remedy than if the problems had been addressed promptly,” he added.
The reviews resumed this month under original terms based on an order by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, officials said.
The delay came, in part, “from a vigorous debate that occurred within the FBI and DOJ about the appropriate scientific standards we should apply when reviewing FBI lab examiner testimony — many years after the fact,” the FBI said. “Working closely with DOJ, we have resolved those issues and are moving forward with the transcript review for the remaining cases.”
Emily Pierce, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said: “The Department of Justice never signed off on the FBI’s decision to change the way they reviewed the hair analysis. We are pleased that the review has resumed and that notification letters will be going out in the next few weeks.”
Since 2012, the review has addressed only about 10 percent of the 2,600 convictions under suspicion, and maybe two-thirds of questioned death-row sentences.
The DOJ will notify defendants about misconduct in two more death-row cases and in 134 non-capital cases over the next month. The department will also complete evaluations of 98 other cases by early October, including 14 more death-row cases.
In question is a 10-member FBI unit that testified in cases across the nation that involved murder, rape, and various other violent felonies.
Though the FBI has said since the 1970s that hair evidence cannot be used as positive identification, agents still often testified to the near-certainty of matches, according to the Post. Ultimately, there is no accepted research regarding how often hair from different people can appear as the same. Today, the FBI uses visual hair comparison protocols to rule out a potential suspect as a source of hair found at a crime scene before using more accurate DNA testing.
The review highlights a hesitance among courts and law enforcement to address systemic faults of forensic testimony and methods from bygone eras.
“I see this as a tip-of-the-iceberg problem,” said Erin Murphy, an expert on modern scientific evidence who teaches at New York University.
“It’s not as though this is one bad apple or even that this is one bad-apple discipline,” she said. “There is a long list of disciplines that have exhibited problems, where if you opened up cases you’d see the same kinds of overstated claims and unfounded statements.”
As we recently discussed, it’s becoming readily apparent that the FBI’s most vaunted counter-terrorism wins are almost all stings for “crimes” they made up all by themselves and then coerced others to join. Even for those that don’t have a problem with this kind of practice in theory, it has to be jarring to learn just how many of these “terrorists” are either suffering serious mental or social illnesses or have had their confessions beaten out of them. By all appearances, it looks pretty clear that the FBI is bumping up their “win” statistics on the backs of these highly questionable stings.
So of course local law enforcement is getting in on the action as well. Take the police in Washington D.C., for instance, who are featured in a Washington Post story detailing how they invent armed robbery plans whole-cloth and then recruit civilians to join up shortly before arresting these future-criminals. Some of the plots the police devised are quite detailed and terrifying, involving robbing liquor stores and targets that are supposedly drug dealers. After discussing the plans with an undercover cop, everyone is then arrested and charged with a variety of “conspiracy to commit” charges. According to some experts, the government is on firm legal ground with regards to entrapment.
The government is on solid legal ground, experts say, when it comes to fending off allegations that suspects were set up — or entrapped — by the police. Even if the government entices the defendant, the target has to show that he was not predisposed to commit the crime.
Sure, and if you’re a defendant in one of these cases, good luck convincing anyone that you didn’t have a predisposition for the crime you were tricked into thinking you were going to commit. Again, it’s easy to opine that these are bad people, but that doesn’t take into account mental illness and pressure applied by undercover officers eager to bolster their arrest statistics. According to reports, that kind of pressure included giving minors alcohol and/or taking them to strip clubs, because nobody has ever made themselves out to be something they’re not when drunk or in the presence of naked members of the opposite sex. The question becomes whether anything like the made up crime would have ever happened had it not been first invented by the police.
“When you have the government offering guns or the getaway car and making it really attractive, you have to ask: Is this an opportunity that would have really come around in real life? Would this person have been able to put together this type of crime without government assistance?” said Katharine Tinto, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York who has studied undercover policing tactics.
It’s even worse when the police engineer aspects of the made up crimes in the sting in order to manufacture longer sentences for the would-be criminals they ensnare.
Tinto and others also take issue with the government’s ability to essentially engineer tough penalties by controlling the details of the made-up crime. Part of the reason the District cases have been so successful, according to defense lawyers, is that the potential jail time for the federal conspiracy charge is steep enough that many defendants are more inclined to make a deal with prosecutors than risk losing at trial.
The global problem in all of this is the aim: this is all about bolstering crime-fighting statistics rather than responding to any actual crimes or criminals. Will the police likely get some violent criminals off the streets with this tactic? Sure, but so could actual police work and, as I indicated, that isn’t what this is all about. On top of that, the questions raised by the tactic are serious and some of the people caught up in all this probably aren’t benefited most by engineered jail time. Add to all that questions about who the police are generally going to look towards as targets of this kind of sting operation (gasp, minorities), and we should be left wondering why they aren’t fighting the crime that exists rather than making up crime that otherwise wouldn’t.
Nearly 95 per cent of terrorist arrests have been the result of FBI foiling its own entrapment plots as a part of the so-called post-9/11 War on Terror, a new study revealed.
According to the report entitled ‘Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution’, the majority of arrests involved the unjust prosecution of targeted Muslim Americans.
The 175-page study by Muslim advocacy group SALAM analyzes 399 individuals in cases included on the list of the US Department of Justice from 2001 to 2010.
“According to this study’s classification, the number of preemptive prosecution cases is 289 out of 399, or 72.4 percent. The number of elements of preemptive prosecution cases is 87 out of 399, or 21.8 percent. Combining preemptive prosecution cases and elements of preemptive prosecution cases, the total number of such cases on the DOJ list is 376, or 94.2 percent,” the report concluded.
The authors define ‘preemptive prosecution’ as “a law enforcement strategy adopted after 9/11, to target and prosecute individuals or organizations whose beliefs, ideology, or religious affiliations raise security concerns for the government.”
Nearly 25 percent of cases (99 of 399) contained material support charges. Another almost 30 per cent of cases consisted of conspiracy charges. More than 17 per cent of the analyzed cases (71 of 399 cases) involved sting operations. Over 16 percent of cases (65 of 399 cases) included false statement or perjury charges, and around six percent of cases involved immigration-related charges.
According to the report, since 9/11 only 11 cases posed “potentially significant” threat to the United States.
“Only three were successful (the [Tamerlan and Dzhokhar] Tsarnaev brothers and Major Nidal Hasan), accounting for 17 deaths and several hundred injuries,” the paper says.
One of the FBI’s strategies involved “using agents provocateur to actively entrap targets in criminal plots manufactured and controlled by the government.”
“The government uses agents provocateur to target individuals who express dissident ideologies and then provides those provocateurs 25 with fake (harmless) missiles, bombs, guns, money, encouragement, friendship, and the technical and strategic planning necessary to see if the targeted individual can be manipulated into planning violent or criminal action,” the report concluded.
The government could also choose to use “minor ‘technical’ crimes,” such as errors on immigration forms, an alleged false statement to a government official, gun possession, tax or financial issues, etc., to go after someone for their “ideology.”
“What they were trying to do is to convince the American public that there is this large army of potential terrorists that they should all be very-very scared about. They are very much engaged in world-wide surveillance and this surveillance is very valuable to them. They can learn a lot about all sorts of things and in a sense control issues to their advantage,” Steven Downs, an attorney for Project SALAM, which issued the report, told RT. “And the entire legal justification for that depends on there being a war on terror. Without a war on terror they have no right to do this. So they have to keep this war on terror going, they have to keep finding people and arresting them and locking them up and scarring everybody.”
In the conclusion, authors of the report offered the US government several recommendations that the DOJ “should employ” to change the present unfair terrorism laws. A total of seven recommendations call on the US government to accurately identify people who offer material support for terrorism, strengthen the “entrapment” defense in the courts; abolish “terror-enhanced sentencing” that triples or quadruples jail time in cases linked to terrorist acts; disallow secret court proceedings, and to immediately notify defendants if any evidence in their case is derived from secret surveillance.
Secret Trials: UK Holds A Secret Terror Trial, As US Appeals Court Holds Secret Hearing In Terror Case
To have a functioning judiciary in an open democracy, part of the point is to make sure that court proceedings are open to the public. Yes, there may be certain instances where certain aspects must be kept secret, but the default should be open and public. Unfortunately, in both the US and UK this week, it appears that when it comes to the bogeyman word “terrorism,” courts are willing to go dark. The more serious situation is over in the UK, where it has just come out that a secret terrorism trial is being held — the first one in centuries. Even the names of the two defendants are not known (they’re listed as merely AB and CD). Journalists had even been barred from mentioning the existence of the trial, until a gag order was just overturned. Note that the Guardian’s page linked above had to turn off comments for legal reasons. Journalist Tim Cook has also spoken out eloquently about why this cannot stand.
I cannot say how broken-hearted I am about the prospect of a major criminal trial involving two men charged with serious terrorism offences being held entirely in secret for the first time in modern British legal history. I have spent my entire journalistic life campaigning against courtroom secrecy and this represents a nadir and indication of abject failure.
But the proposal is being contested by the process of law; albeit very limited and garrotted by the lack of a constitutional paradigm for freedom of the media and expression. We have been paying the price for not having a First Amendment for many years. Now we are entering the endgame of something beyond the dissolution of open justice.
Meanwhile, back here in the good, old United States, where we do have a First Amendment, at least we know that Adel Daoud is on trial. But the 7th Circuit Court of appeals kicked everyone out of the courtroom to hold a “secret hearing” with just the DOJ. As we wrote a few months ago, Daoud’s lawyers are asking to actually see the FISA court orders that were used to gather evidence against their client — and the DOJ is flipping out about that. While some of the hearings were held openly, at one point, Judge Richard Posner abruptly kicked everyone but the DOJ out, including Daoud’s lawyers.
As the arguments concluded, Judge Richard Posner announced the public portion of the proceedings had concluded and ordered the stately courtroom cleared so the three-judge panel could hold a “secret hearing.” Daoud’s attorney, Thomas Anthony Durkin, rose to object, but Posner did not acknowledge him. Deputy U.S. marshals then ordered everyone out – including Durkin, his co-counsel and reporters.
Only those with the proper security clearance — including U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon, his first assistant, Gary Shapiro, and about a dozen FBI and U.S. Department of Justice officials – were allowed back in the courtroom before it was locked for the secret session.
Some reporters tried to ask what was going on, but Posner simply told them “No!” and kicked them out. Daoud’s lawyer was similarly perplexed:
“Not only do I not get to be there, but I didn’t even get to object,” Durkin said. “I had to object over the fact that I couldn’t even make an objection.”
As the article notes, this is highly unusual. While in national security cases, certain information may be filed under seal, or certain portions may be held “in camera” without reporters or the public, it’s not at all common to have just one side present. And while you may say that it makes sense in this case, where the three judge panel has to determine whether or not it’s appropriate to share the FISC orders with Daoud’s lawyers, it’s still somewhat troubling to see the ease with which secret court proceedings may occur.
On the heels of a high-profile indictment announced earlier this week by the United States Department of Justice against five Chinese military officers, sources say Russian hackers could be among the next individuals targeted by the DOJ.
The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy magazine and the Chicago Tribune all reported this week that officials close to the US government’s hunt for foreign hackers say Russians are on the radar of the Justice Department, and could be named in the next DOJ indictment.
All three outlets hesitated to name their sources, but the Journal reported that people familiar with the government’s investigations said alleged cybercriminals in Russia are likely to be charged soon.
“For several years, the Obama administration has put Chinese and Russian cyber spies and criminals at the top of its list of worst offenders in what officials describe as a relentless campaign targeting American businesses for the benefit of those countries’ own industries,” Shane Harris wrote for FP. “Estimates on the true cost of cyber-espionage range widely, but are generally believe by experts and officials to be in the tens of billions of dollars annually.”
As Harris reported, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that the FBI was aggressively pursuing further criminal investigations pertaining to foreign hacking cases, but fell short of announcing the filing of new charges. Now with Monday’s indictment out of the way and the US officially charging members of the Chinese military for the first time ever, however, multiple sources said that American authorities are gearing up to throw the book at Russian hackers.
Earlier this week, the Justice Dept. said that five Chinese individuals working within a highly-secretive cyber unit inside the People’s Liberation Army have stolen trade secrets and sensitive communications from six American entities, including major metal companies that compete with Chinese businesses and the US Steel Workers union.
“The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response,” US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement on Monday.
“This administration will not tolerate actions by any nation that seeks to illegally sabotage American companies and undermine the integrity of fair competition in the operation of the free market,” Holder added.
Nevertheless, the Chinese government fired back and accused the US of hypocrisy, and its Foreign Ministry demanded a withdrawal of the indictment and called the US “the biggest attacker of China’s cyberspace.” As RT reported earlier this week, leaked National Security Agency documents released by former US government contractor Edward Snowden have revealed that the US does, in fact, conduct economic cyberespionage in order to spy on competitors in Brazil, France, Mexico and, indeed, China. As with China, the Russian government has adamantly denied any involved in cyber spying, and claims to lack the same technical abilities as the NSA.
And although the Justice Dept. declined to name any other targets of investigation while touting their latest cyber indictment on Monday, reports for years have suggested that Russian hackers have targeted US businesses in a similar way to what China’s PLA Unit 61398 are accused of doing.
Most recently, American cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike reported in January that the Russian government spied on hundreds of US, European and Asian companies, which Reuters called the first time ever that Moscow has been linked to conduct economic espionage over the web.
“These attacks appear to have been motivated by the Russian government’s interest in helping its industry maintain competitiveness in key areas of national importance,” Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike’s chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, said to Reuters at the time.
“They are copying the Chinese play book,” he said. “Cyber espionage is very lucrative for economic benefit to a nation.”
In March, researchers in the US also traced a piece of malicious malware known as Turla back to Moscow.
“It is sophisticated malware that’s linked to other Russian exploits, uses encryption and targets western governments,” Jim Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told Reuters then. “It has Russian paw prints all over it.”
Numerous US agents are helping the coup-appointed government in Ukraine to “fight organized crime” in the south east of the country, the German newspaper Bild revealed.
According to the daily, the CIA and FBI are advising the government in Kiev on how to deal with the ‘fight against organized crime’ and stop the violence in the country’s restive eastern regions.
The group also helps to investigate alleged financial crimes and is trying to trace the money, which was reportedly taken abroad during Viktor Yanokovich’s presidency, the newspaper said.
The head of the CIA, John Brennan, visited Kiev in mid-April and met with the acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and first Vice-President Vitaly Yarema to discuss a safer way to transfer US information to Ukraine.
Jen Psaki, spokeswomen for the United States Department of State, said that there was nothing to read into Brennan’s visit to Kiev, and that the head of the CIA did not offer support to the coup-appointed government in the country to help them conduct tactical operations within Ukraine.
However, following the visit the toppled President Viktor Yanukovich linked the CIA chief’s appearance in Kiev to the first stage of the new government’s crackdown in Slavyansk.
Brennan “sanctioned the use of weapons and provoked bloodshed,” Yanukovich said.
Bild’s reports comes as US President Barack Obama rules out that Washington will interfere in the situation in Ukraine.
“You’ve also seen suggestions or implications that somehow Americans are responsible for meddling inside Ukraine. I have to say that our only interest is for Ukraine to be able to make its own decisions. And the last thing we want is disorder and chaos in the center of Europe,” he said speaking in the White House after meeting the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, just two days ago.
FBI Bust Another Handcrafted ‘Terrorist’ For The Crime Of Thinking About Supporting A Terrorist Organization
The FBI’s string of thwarted, self-created terrorist plots continues unabated. Why look for terrorists when you can just craft them yourselves? Digital Fourth has the rundown on the latest “coup” by the agency.
The news this morning is full of the arrest of yet another American on charges of “attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.” Nobody’s suggesting that 20-year-old National Guardsman Nicholas Teausant of Acampo, CA is a terrorist, or that he provided any help whatsoever to terrorists, or that he was in contact, ever, with any actual terrorists. But, the media breathlessly report, he’s still facing charges that can put him in jail through to the 2030s.
The more you dig into the story, the more ridiculous it becomes. And Alex Marthews digs in deeply. The propellant (if you will) for this latest thwarted terrorist plot is little more than a campfire story.
Well, seems that he was on a camping trip sometime last year – or maybe not; investigators couldn’t corroborate that the camping trip ever happened – but anyway, afterwards, Teausant is reported to have said to some guy that he had been on a camping trip and had talked with friends about “blowing up the LA subway,” but that they hadn’t done anything because “they” had been “tipped off”.
Unfortunately for Teausant (but fortunately for America!), the “somebody” he relayed his camping conversation to was an FBI agent. Recognizing that Teausant needed a little more prodding to turn against his own nation, the agent connected him with a terrorist tutor of sorts (another FBI agent). This agent/mentor suggested Teausant travel to Canada to further radicalize and then sent more FBI agents to arrest him at the border. Voila, another terrorist attack thwarted.
Teausant is now facing charges of “attempting to provide material support” to a terrorist organization, a crime that seems to be treated just as severely as actually providing material support. As evidence of Teausant’s terrorist proclivities, agents cited posts to his “online photo account” which said such things as desiring to see America’s downfall and “I would love to join Allah’s Army but I don’t know where to start.”
They also cited the following evidence, which exposes the USA’s contradictory and arbitrary determination of who does and does not qualify as a terrorist.
Also, Teausant was apparently trying to figure out how to go to Syria and fight against Bashar al-Assad. This horrifying offense was committed at the same time that the US government was … trying to figure out how to go to Syria and fight against Bashar al-Assad. Last time I checked, Assad was a brutal dictator. But the winds have changed, and now that some of the people fighting against him are Sunni radicals inspired by, but actually repudiated by, al-Qaeda, I guess that makes Assad now a staunch American ally and defender of secular values?
The complaint said Teausant referred to himself as a convert to Islam but did not give details about when or why he may have done so. He met the informant through a mutual acquaintance, the document said.
Among Teausant’s plans was to appear in videos for the group, without covering his face — to be “the one white devil that leaves their face wide open to the camera,” he was quoted in the complaint as saying…
The complaint also states that Teausant told the informant he has an infant daughter, and had arranged for his mother to get custody of the girl if he disappeared.
At one point, the informant questioned him about whether he was serious about his plans, given that he talked a lot but did not seem to follow through.
So, while there are indications that Teausant could have wandered down the path into Islamic radicalism, at the point he was arrested he had done little more than talk smack around the campfire with some other young men (Teausant is only 20) and talk further smack with undercover agents. But as usual, it looks as though the FBI had to do most of the legwork to convert this person into a potential terrorist. It was the FBI, not Teausant, that arranged to get him an “application” to join a violent Al-Qaeda-linked group. It was the FBI that pushed him towards Canada to further his terrorist education. And it was the FBI that convinced itself that Teausant was enough of threat to lock up for a potential 15 years, even though he had never actually “provided material support” to a terrorist organization.
The FBI now gets to chalk up another win in the “terrorist captured” column despite having done little more than arrest a guy who talked a lot, but wasn’t big on following through. Sure, there’s always a chance Teausant would have done all of this on his own, but rather than sit back and keep an eye on him, the FBI proactively made his moves for him… and arrested him for following the undercover agents’ bidding.
Marthews points out how completely bizarre this is in a land where free speech is considered a right.
In a more sensible legal environment, Teausant would walk free because, let me think now, because we have a First Amendment and he is entitled to say whatever dumb thing he wants to so long as he doesn’t actually harm anyone, and the FBI informant and agent would be being charged with entrapment.
That’s the way it should work, but that’s not the way it does work. The counterterrorism money train comes off the rails if government agencies fail to capture terrorists. So, rather than restrict themselves to investigating terrorist organizations and sniffing out plots, the FBI has chosen to pad the books with ringers. Teausant may have made some poor decisions and said some unwise things, but even the FBI’s preponderance of evidence fails to portray him as much more than a dumb kid with stupider dreams. And rather than allow the events to play out, and possibly expose the FBI’s alleged terrorist sympathizer as an ineffectual pretender, it set him up for a date with the penal system. All the while, the accolades and money keep rolling in, ensuring the FBI’s terrorist manufacturing apparatus will keep humming smoothly.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has treated mortgage fraud cases as a low priority, even though President Barack Obama promised to crack down on such crimes in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
DOJ also greatly exaggerated its success in prosecuting mortgage fraud, according to an investigation by the department’s Office of the Inspector General (IG).
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. declared four years ago that mortgage fraud crimes had “reached crisis proportions,” and promised his agency would be “fighting back” in response.
But the IG’s report (pdf) shows the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) put mortgage fraud at the bottom of its criminal priority list—after receiving extra funding ($196 million from the 2009 to 2011) to address this problem. In some major cities, mortgage fraud wasn’t even on the FBI’s radar as any kind of a priority.
“Despite receiving significant additional funding from Congress to pursue mortgage fraud cases, the FBI in adding new staff did not always use these new positions to exclusively investigate mortgage fraud,” the report states.
A “significant backlog of unaddressed and pending mortgage fraud investigations” was disclosed by supervisors interviewed by IG investigators. In fact, important fraud cases were completely shut down by the FBI, not due to a lack of resources, but because the Bureau’s resources were diverted to other operations that were given higher priority, according to the report.
Just as disturbing was the fact that Justice inflated its numbers to make it appear prosecutors were doing more than they actually were.
In 2012, Holder announced his lawyers had charged 530 people during the previous year with mortgage fraud that had cost homeowners more than $1 billion.
In truth, the numbers were more like 107 people charged in cases totaling only $95 million, the IG found. Even after the figures were proven to be incorrect, the DOJ continued to cite the false statistics for nearly a year.
“The inspector general’s report sheds light on what looks like an attempt by the Justice Department to pull the wool over the public’s eyes with respect to its efforts to go after the wrongdoers involved in mortgage fraud,” Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “According to the inspector general, the department wasted time cooking the numbers about the cases it pursued, when it should have been prosecuting cases.”
The IG offered numerous recommendations to the department, most of which involved fixes to DOJ’s recordkeeping system that had produced such inaccurate figures.
The Justice Department objected to the IG’s conclusions, citing prosecutors doubling the number of mortgage fraud indictments from 2009 to 2011.
“The facts regarding the department’s work on mortgage fraud tell a much different story than this report,” Ellen Canale, a department spokeswoman, told The New York Times. “As the report itself notes, even at a time of constrained budget resources, the department has dedicated significant manpower and funding to combating mortgage fraud.”
Mortgage fraud—through falsification of documents by lenders and brokers—was one of the catalysts of the 2008 financial collapse. Fraud involving mortgage-backed securities, said to be larger in scope and also a contributing factor to the collapse, is considered by the FBI to be securities fraud and was not addressed by the IG report.
To Learn More:
U.S. Criticized for Lack of Action on Mortgage Fraud (by Matt Apuzzo, New York Times)
Mortgage Fraud Efforts Fell Short, Justice Department Inspector General Concludes (by Jeffrey Benzing, Main Justice)
Audit of the Department of Justice’s Efforts to Address Mortgage Fraud (U.S. Department of Justice, Inspector General) (pdf)
Justice Dept. Sues Bank of America over Prime Mortgage Fraud (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Big Banks Slither out of Mortgage Fraud Review with Minor Costs (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
In late September 2001, a couple of weeks after 9/11, the United States was struck with what the Bush regime dubbed a “second wave” of terrorism. Letters laced with deadly anthrax spores arrived in the mailboxes of prominent media figures and two American senators. Five people were killed and 17 others were infected.
A concerted effort was made by the Bush regime and the mainstream US media to present the anthrax attacks as the work of the same people who perpetrated 9/11. They were, in a sense, correct, but the people behind 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax fiasco were not members of al-Qaeda or adherents of the Islamic faith.
A very clear and discernible pattern of propaganda was foisted upon the American public following 9/11. Zionists from Israel and the US took a leading role in assigning responsibility for the biggest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbour. Unsurprisingly, the Zionists immediately pointed fingers at all of their Middle Eastern rivals and adversaries, from resistance groups like Hamas and Hezbollah to countries such as Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Israel’s enemies were being portrayed as America’s enemies too. Together, said the Zionists, Israel and America can defeat “the forces of darkness.” Israel’s crude campaign of innuendo and Orwellian projection manifested within a few hours of the 9/11 attacks. Israeli politicians Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres all made public statements calling on the US and other Western powers to initiate a global “war on terrorism,” a term coined by Likudniks in the 1980s.
Israel’s army intelligence service Aman and the former Mossad chief Rafi Eitan trumpeted brazen disinformation shortly following 9/11, alleging Iraqi involvement in the attacks. In August of 2001 the Mossad delivered a propagandistic “warning” to the CIA alleging al-Qaeda and Iraq were working together and were plotting terror attacks on major US landmarks. The neoconservatives, who are for all intents and purposes emissaries of the Israeli regime in the US, went straight to work in the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, the New York Times and other Zionist-controlled media outlets, attempting to portray Arabs and Muslims generally as the sponsors of 9/11 and the source of all terrorism in the world.
The same pattern of Zionist deception is apparent with the anthrax attacks. Israel’s partisans immediately mobilized a propaganda initiative to link Iraq and al-Qaeda to the anthrax mailings.
On various occasions [former US] president George W. Bush and vice president Dick Cheney told reporters that al-Qaeda was likely involved in the lethal mailings. The docile mainstream media unquestioningly repeated this unfounded assertion. A stunning piece of disinformation appeared in an Oct. 27, 2001, report in the London Times, alleging that an Iraqi official met with 9/11 patsy Mohamed Atta in the Czech Republic in April 2001. The report went on to suggest that during the rendezvous the Iraqi official gave Atta a flask of anthrax. The origin of this dubious claim was noted in the article: Israeli security sources. The chief of Czech foreign intelligence, Frantisek Bublan, later revealed that this supposed meeting never took place and was nothing more than a propaganda invention of interested parties. “Promoting a so-called ‘Prague connection’ between Atta and [the Iraqi official] al-Ani might have been a ploy by U.S. policymakers seeking justifications for a new military action against…Saddam Hussein,” Bublan told the Prague Post.
When the Iraq/al-Qaeda propaganda narrative fell apart, the FBI targeted two… within the US bio-weapons establishment: scientists Steven Hatfill and Bruce Ivins. The FBI began harassing Hatfill and publicly called him a “person of interest” in the anthrax investigation.
Hatfill vehemently denied the charges and was eventually exonerated. He later sued the FBI and other US government agencies, winning a settlement of more than $5 million in damages. Like Hatfill, Ivins was an unlikely suspect for the anthrax attacks as well.
There was no evidence tying Ivins to the anthrax letters and he had no conceivable motive. The FBI launched an intense campaign of innuendo against Ivins in an effort to convict him in the court of public opinion. Ivins allegedly committed suicide while in a Maryland hospital just before he was set to be indicted and stand trial. How convenient.
Ivins worked at a US bio-weapons facility called USAMRIID in Fort Detrick, Maryland. This is where the FBI claims the anthrax used in the attacks originated. Since there is no evidence that Ivins was involved in the anthrax mailings, there is likewise no reason to believe the FBI’s claim that the anthrax spores used in the letters originated from that facility.
Another curious event took place during the anthrax affair that garnered little attention from the mainstream press for obvious reasons. An Arab-American scientist who worked at the same Fort Detrick facility as Ivins was the victim of an attempted frame-up. Shortly before the first known victim of the anthrax attacks was confirmed, an anonymous letter was mailed to the FBI that attempted to implicate Dr. Ayaad Assaad as a “potential biological terrorist.” The author of the letter claimed to have worked with Assaad previously and alleged that Assaad had a vendetta against the US government, urging the FBI to stop him. The letter prompted the FBI to investigate Assaad. The FBI questioned him in early October 2001 and quickly cleared him of any involvement with the anthrax attacks.
Strangely, the FBI seemed uninterested in finding out who sent the anonymous letter implicating Assaad, even though the contents and timing of the letter were amazingly conspicuous, coming just prior to a real bio-terrorist attack. Assaad suspected the letter-writer was involved in the anthrax mailings and opined that his Arab background made him the “perfect scapegoat.”
One possible source of the frame-up letter was a man named Dr. Philip Zack, a microbiologist and Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army. Zack worked at USAMRIID alongside Assaad in the early 1990s. Zack and other employees at the lab formed a clique called the “camel club” to bully Arab co-workers, particularly Assaad. One day in April 1991 Assaad found a poem in his mailbox written by Zack and other members of the “camel club” which mocked his Arabic heritage. Zack and several of his fellow anti-Arab racists voluntarily left the facility when Assaad informed his superiors of the harassment campaign.
In 1992, anthrax spores, Ebola virus and other deadly pathogens went missing from the Fort Detrick facility. An internal investigation discovered that someone was entering the lab late at night to conduct unauthorized research involving anthrax. The inquiry also revealed that Dr. Philip Zack made an unauthorized visit to the lab on Jan. 23, 1992, at a time when he was no longer working at the facility. Despite Zack’s suspicious past behaviour and harassment of Assaad, the FBI made no effort to pursue him as a suspect in the 2001 anthrax investigation.
A very revealing aspect of the whole affair was the fact that the anthrax-tainted letters were made to look like a Muslim who was angry at Israel and the United States authored them. “Death to Israel, Death to America, Allah is Great,” the letters read. Whoever was actually behind the anthrax mailings was evidently attempting to lead authorities to believe a Muslim or group of Muslims was responsible.
So where did the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks come from? Researcher Robert Pate posited a plausible theory in an essay entitled, “The Anthrax Mystery: Solved” In the paper, Pate suggests Israel is the most likely culprit. According to Pate’s research, Israel had the means, motive and opportunity to secure anthrax spores and deliver them to her targets without being detected. Pate demonstrates that Israel has had a sophisticated chemical and biological weapons program since its inception in 1948. Israel has produced biological agents including anthrax at the Israel Institute of Biological Research (IIBR) in Ness Ziona, located a few miles southeast of Tel Aviv.
“With the help of Jewish scientists from the former Soviet Union,” Pate opines, “Israel’s bio-weapons research has probably surpassed that of all other nations. The Soviet Union’s bio-weapons program had 32,000 scientists and staff working in 40 different research and production facilities. Two thousand of these scientists worked exclusively on the Soviet anthrax program. A significant number of these scientists may have immigrated to Israel and become employed in her bio-weapons programs.”
Pate cites a research paper by Dr. Avner Cohen titled “Israel and Chemical/Biological Weapons: History, Deterrence, and Arms Control” which outlines Israel’s biological and chemical weapons capabilities. Anthrax is certainly in Israel’s biological arsenal. In the paper, Cohen also describes how Zionist militants poisoned Palestinian water supplies with deadly pathogens during the 1948 ‘Nakba,’ wherein Zionist gangs completely destroyed and depopulated more than 500 Arab villages in order to birth… [Israel entity] . Historical examples of Zionist biological warfare noted by Pate, in addition to Israel’s penchant for false flag terrorism against its “allies” such as the Lavon Affair and USS Liberty attack, lead him to believe that Israel was willing and able to commit a biological attack in the US – a classic false flag operation to frame her enemies for political gain.
“A motive for the anthrax attacks would be to blame Arab terrorists or a ‘rogue nation’ for this atrocity and to help launch the United States into war against Israel’s enemies,” writes Pate. “[Israel’s motive] in launching the anthrax attacks would be to bring America into war against Iraq and to remove that country as a potential threat to…[Israel].” As noted earlier, Israeli intelligence contrived a false story to implicate Muslims where they claimed to have observed a meeting between an Iraqi official and alleged al-Qaeda ringleader Mohamed Atta in the Czech Republic in which an exchange of anthrax is said to have occurred. If Israel had nothing to do with the anthrax attacks, then why did they propagate lies with the intent to implicate Iraq and al-Qaeda? American authorities admit that no Muslim or Arab was involved in the anthrax mailings, so who else but Israel and corrupted Americans in the Bush administration could have been behind this obvious false flag?
It can be said without doubt that some members of the Bush administration had foreknowledge of the anthrax attacks. Press reports revealed that White House officials including Bush and Cheney went on a steady regimen of the drug known as Cipro, a powerful antibiotic effective against anthrax infection, weeks before the anthrax-trained letters were first discovered.
The theory that Israel and its accomplices in the Bush administration launched a biological false flag operation as a “second phase” of the overarching 9/11 deception is well within the realm of possibilities regarding 2001’s anthrax attacks in the US. It is certainly far more plausible than the FBI’s flimsy and still-unproven case against Bruce Ivins who conveniently died before any evidence could be aired in the courts.
But it would be foolish to place any hope on President Obama — a committed servant of the Israeli-American empire — to launch a new, independent investigation into any of these troubling matters.
A recently released 9/11 Commission memo highlights the role of government “minders” who accompanied witnesses interviewed by the commission. It was added to the National Archives’ files at the start of the year and discovered there by History Commons contributor paxvector.
The memo, entitled “Executive Branch Minders’ Intimidation of Witnesses,” complains that:
- Minders “answer[ed] questions directed at witnesses;”
- Minders acted as “monitors, reporting to their respective agencies on Commission staffs lines of inquiry and witnesses’ verbatim responses.” The staff thought this “conveys to witnesses that their superiors will review their statements and may engage in retribution;” and
- Minders “positioned themselves physically and have conducted themselves in a manner that we believe intimidates witnesses from giving full and candid responses to our questions.”
The memo was drafted by three staffers on the commission’s Team 2, which reviewed the overall structure of the US intelligence community. One of the drafters was Kevin Scheid, a senior staffer who led the team. His co-writers were Lorry Fenner, an air force intelligence officer, and lawyer Gordon Lederman. The complaint was sent to the commission’s counsels, Daniel Marcus and Steve Dunne, in October 2003, about halfway through the commission’s 19-month life.
According to the memo, some minders merely policed prior agreements between the commission and their parent agency about what the commission could ask witnesses, and others were simply there to make a list of documents the commission might want based on a witness’ testimony. However, some minders saw their role differently.
Intimidation through Physical Positioning
The three staffers argued minders should not answer questions for witnesses because they needed to understand not how the intelligence community was supposed to function, but “how the Intelligence Community functions in actuality.” However: “When we have asked witnesses about certain roles and responsibilities within the Intelligence Community, minders have preempted witnesses’ responses by referencing formal polices and procedures. As a result, witnesses have not responded to our questions and have deprived us from understanding the Intelligence Community’s actual functioning and witnesses’ view of their roles and responsibilities.”
The memo also describes the minders’ conduct in detail: “… [M]inders have positioned themselves physically and have conducted themselves in a manner that we believe intimidates witnesses from giving full and candid responses to our questions. Minders generally have sat next to witnesses at the table and across from Commission staff, conveying to witnesses that minders are participants in interviews and are of equal status to witnesses.”
The staffers also worried about minders taking “verbatim notes of witnesses’ statements,” as they thought this “conveys to witnesses that their superiors will review their statements and may engage in retribution.” They believed that “the net effect of minders’ conduct, whether intentionally or not, is to intimidate witnesses and to interfere with witnesses providing full and candid responses.”
Another problem with the verbatim notetaking was that it “facilitates agencies in alerting future witnesses to the Commission’s lines of inquiry and permits agencies to prepare future witnesses either explicitly or implicitly.”
In response to this, the three staffers proposed not that minders be banned from interviews, but a set of rules governing minders’ conduct. For example, minders were to keep a “low profile,” sit out of witnesses’ sight, not take verbatim notes and not answer any questions directed at the witnesses.
Perhaps the most remarkable proposal is that the number of minders be limited to one per witness. The memo indicates that where an interviewee had served in multiple agencies, more than one minder would accompany the witness. The memo therefore requests, “Only one minder may attend an interview even if the witness served in multiple agencies,” meaning a witness would at least not be outnumbered by his minders.
False Statement by Chairman Kean
Commission Chairman Tom Kean, a Republican, first raised the issue of minders in a press briefing in early July 2003 . He said, “I think the commission feels unanimously that it’s some intimidation to have somebody sitting behind you all the time who you either work for or works for your agency. You might get less testimony than you would.”
He was asked about the minders again on September 23 at another press briefing. Instead of saying the minders represented “intimidation,” he commented: “Talking to staff, what they have told me is that as they’ve done these interviews, that the interviewees are encouragingly frank; that they by and large have not seemed to be intimidated in any way in their answers. … I’m glad to hear that it’s — from the staff that they don’t feel it’s inhibiting the process of the interviews.”
The commission’s Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton, a Democrat, commented, “it is our feeling that thus far, the minders have not been an impediment, in almost all cases.” He added that there were “one or two instances where the question has arisen,” but, “neither are we aware at this point that the presence of a minder has substantially impeded our inquiry. And nor have we run into a situation where we think a witness has refrained from speaking their minds.”
However, the Team 2 memo, sent a mere nine days after Kean and Hamilton’s remarks, shows Kean’s statements to have been untrue. The memo even referenced “Minders’ Intimidation of Witnesses” in the title, contained unusually strong language and was co-drafted by a leader of one of the commission’s teams.
Nevertheless, it is unclear whether Kean and Hamilton made the false statements knowingly. One of the criticisms at the commission was that the ten commissioners were cut off from the body of the staff, and all information that flowed from the staff to the commissioners went through the commission’s executive director, Philip Zelikow.
Author Philip Shenon, who wrote a history of the commission, found that at the start of the commission’s work Zelikow drafted a welcome memo containing ground rules for staffers, such as not talking to journalists. One of the rules was that the staff should not talk freely to the commissioners. If a staffer were contacted by a commissioner, he should not deal with the commissioner himself, but contact Zelikow or his deputy, who would then “be sure that the appropriate members of the commission’s staff are responsive.”
This rule was rescinded after complaints from some of the commissioners, including former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. Nevertheless, Zelikow’s control of information continued. When the commission’s counterterrorism team found a draft of the final report to be overly deferential to the FBI, they did not launch a formal objection to the draft’s language through the commission’s bureaucracy, but a female staffer cornered Gorelick “where Zelikow would not see it”–in the ladies room.
The “most transparent administration” received another win for continued secrecy, thanks to an appeals court decision that allowed it to continue to withhold a DOJ memo that created an exploitable loophole in consumer data privacy protections.
The document at issue is a classified memo issued by the Office of Legal Counsel on Jan. 8, 2010. A report later that year by the Justice Department’s inspector general at the time, Glenn A. Fine, disclosed the memo’s existence and its broad conclusion that telephone companies may voluntarily provide records to the government “without legal process or a qualifying emergency,” notwithstanding the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
The EFF has been engaged with the government over the release of this document since 2011, when a district court judge ruled the document was exempt from FOIA requests because it was part of executive branch “internal deliberations.” In other words, despite the fact that the OLC memos can be considered legally binding (and exempt those following the memos’ advice or instructions from legal repercussions), the memo is not considered “working law.” The EFF has argued that these memos are not “deliberative,” but are rather secret laws deployed in such a fashion as to avoid being exposed by FOIA requests.
The presiding judge explained his decision with this reasoning.
“Even if the O.L.C. opinion describes the legal parameters of what the F.B.I. is permitted to do, it does not state or determine the F.B.I.’s policy,” Judge Harry T. Edwards wrote in the decision on Friday. “The F.B.I. was free to decline to adopt the investigative tactics deemed legally permissible in the O.L.C. opinion.”
According to the FBI, it did decline to follow the memo’s parameters.
The bureau, which has abandoned exigent letters, said that it did not employ the legal theory outlined in the memo when using the letters, and that it had no plans to use it in the future.
But the DOJ’s arguments for keeping the memo secret calls the FBI’s assertion into question.
During the litigation, the Justice Department also told the court that parts of the memo contained classified information, “highly specific in nature and known to very few individuals,” about a secret intelligence-gathering technique that the F.B.I. is using against “hostile entities.”
Either the FBI is utilizing the memo’s legal theories or the memo covers so much ground that the FBI is using something entirely unrelated, making the first statement truthful as far as it extends to exigent letters only.
Judge Edwards’ rationale gives the government every reason to utilize the Office of Legal Counsel to provide it with the legal justification it needs to deploy questionable tactics and programs. (Previous OLC memos were used to justify warrantless wiretaps and “brutal questioning of detainees.”) The ruling makes it easier for any OLC memo to be exempted from FOIA requests, providing for even more government secrecy.
David Sobel, a lawyer for the EFF, called the ruling “troubling,” describing the office’s memos as a body of “secret law” that the public has a right to know about. He said he hoped the ruling would reinvigorate efforts among some lawmakers to enact a law opening such memos to greater scrutiny outside the executive branch.
“It’s kind of hard to imagine how a different case in the D.C. Circuit is likely to have a different outcome in light of this opinion,” he said.
Because the document remains a secret, its true significance remains a source of speculation. The New York Times says the memo is most likely the legal basis for the CIA’s voluntary agreement with AT&T, which allows the agency to search its massive database of international calls (and tip local numbers to the FBI for further investigation). And it’s not as if this secret memo is the only tool the government has for demanding data. The FBI may have abandoned “exigent letters” but it’s still using National Security Letters to obtain data without a court order. (No mention is made of the FBI’s exigent Post-It notes or over-the-shoulder database searches.)
The DOJ is understandably pleased with this decision as it plays to its obfuscatory tendencies. This is also a dubious win for this administration — and those that follow. Having an in-house agency on tap that can create new laws and interpretations of existing statutes without having to risk having its legally-binding memos scrutinized by the public will be a tool too powerful for many to ignore.