Showing posts with label FBI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FBI. Show all posts

March 6, 2017

FBI Director Comey Rejects Trump’s Phone Tap Allegations

FBI director James Comey has rejected President Donald Trump's claim on Saturday that his predecessor, Barack Obama, tapped his phone, US media say.
Mr Comey reportedly asked the US justice department to reject the allegation Mr Obama ordered a wiretap during last year's election campaign.
He is said to have asked for the correction because it falsely insinuates that the FBI broke the law.
The development was reported by the New York Times and confirmed by NBC.
The justice department did not issue any immediate statement in response to Mr Comey's reported request. 
US media quoted officials as saying that Mr Comey believed there was no evidence to support Mr Trump's allegation.
The Republican president, who faces intense scrutiny over alleged Russian interference in support of his presidential bid, has offered no evidence to support his allegation that phones at Trump Tower were tapped last year.
  • Did Obama really wiretap Trump Tower?
  • Russia: The scandal Trump can't shake

Multiple inquiries 

The New York Times and NBC reports came as the White House called on Congress to investigate whether the Obama administration had abused its powers.
Both Congress and the FBI are currently investigating contacts between the Trump election campaign and Russian officials, after US intelligence agencies assessed that Russia had interfered with the election to help Mr Trump win against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there had been "very troubling" reports "concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election". 
Representative Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that his committee would "make inquiries into whether the government was conducting surveillance activities on any political party's campaign officials or surrogates". 
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, also a Republican, said in a statement that it would "follow the evidence where it leads, and we will continue to be guided by the intelligence and facts as we compile our findings".

'Simply false'

FBI Director James Comey, 27 September 2016Mr Comey has had a bumpy relationship with Mr Trump.
In July last year, after he announced he would not recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton following his agency’s investigation into the handling of classified information on her private email server, he was roundly denounced by Mr Trump. 
FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security," Mr Trump tweeted at the time. "No charges. Wow! #RiggedSystem."
Mr Trump, who spent the weekend at his Florida resort, had called the alleged tapping "Nixon/Watergate", referring to the notorious political scandal of 1972, which led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon.
He asked on Twitter whether it was legal for a "sitting president to be wire-tapping" and referred to the allegation as "a new low". 

Trump tweet

Earlier Ben Rhodes, who was Mr Obama's foreign policy adviser and speechwriter, wrote in a tweet: "No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you."
A spokesman for Mr Obama said Mr Trump's allegation charge was "simply false".
The director of national intelligence at the time of the US election, James Clapper, has also denied there was any wire-tap on Mr Trump or his election campaign team.
Mr Clapper told NBC that he knew of no court order to allow monitoring of Trump Tower in New York.


January 12, 2017

Trump said Dir. Comey Comments Took Guts, AG will Investigates His Guts Now


The Justice Department Inspector General says he will review how the FBI and Justice Department handled certain aspects of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. 
The probe by Michael E. Horowitz will include a review of FBI Director James Comey's news conference in July and his two letters to lawmakers in late October and early November. 
"In response to requests from numerous Chairmen and Ranking Members of Congressional oversight committees, various organizations, and members of the public, the Office of the Inspector General will initiate a review of allegations regarding certain actions by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in advance of the 2016 election," the Justice Department said. 

Image: FBI Director James Comey testifies to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on ?EURoeRussia?EUR(TM)s intelligence activities" on Capitol Hill in Washington

FBI Director James Comey (file photo) JOSHUA ROBERTS / Reuters

Just 11 days before the 2016 general election, Comey notified Congress that the FBI was reviewing a new batch of emails that appeared to be pertinent to their investigation. The emails, discovered during a probe, were found on a laptop that former New York congressman Anthony Weiner allegedly used to send lewd text messages and pictures to an underage girl. 
Investigators also discovered Weiner's estranged wife, Huma Abedin, had used the same laptop to send emails to Clinton. 
Ultimately, those emails were deemed unrelated to the Clinton email probe. 
But Clinton and her surrogates felt the timing of Comey's announcement hurt her presidential bid. 
President-elect Donald Trump lauded Comey's actions at the time and said they "took guts." 
Horowitz will also examine: 
  • Allegations that the FBI Deputy Director should have been recused from participating in certain investigative matters;
  • Allegations that the Department's Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs improperly disclosed non-public information to the Clinton campaign and/or should have been recused from participating in certain matters;
  • Allegations that Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information; and
  • Allegations that decisions regarding the timing of the FBI's release of certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents on October 30 and November 1, 2016, and the use of a Twitter account to publicize same, were influenced by improper considerations.

January 10, 2017

Trump Told Russia Had Salacious Stories About Him by Intelligence

If all these reports are true and I believe that they are, then the Trump’s game of disparaging the Intelligence services makes kinda “Trump sense.” Why would he disparaging what’s going to be his services? Because he is nervous about what he has been told. He maybe he imagines that may be there are more stories (He would know) that went untold or maybe the information was going to leak out and he could just blame it on made up stories by the intelligence community whom he would say don’t like him. 
Another thing to learn from this  story is if all this is true, how nicely, with golden gloves Trump has been treated. Not Clinton, not Bush was told ahead of times what was going to come out about them; Particularly Clinton. 

People refer to the intelligence agencies belonging to the executive branch or the President elect. It is true even though he doesn’t pay for them. The american tax payer pays for them and is the least and the last to be told the truth from the agencies or Their so called government.

This posting appeared Tuesday night on The New York Times by 


 The chiefs of America’s intelligence agencies last week presented President Obama and President-elect Donald J. Trump with a summary of unsubstantiated reports that Russia had collected compromising and salacious personal information about Mr. Trump, two officials with knowledge of the briefing said.

The summary is based on memos generated by political operatives seeking to derail Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Details of the reports began circulating in the fall and were widely known among journalists and politicians in Washington.

The two-page summary, first reported by CNN, was presented as an appendix to the intelligence agencies’ report on Russian hacking efforts during the election, the officials said. The material was not corroborated, and The New York Times has not been able to confirm the claims. But intelligence agencies considered it so potentially explosive that they decided Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump and congressional leaders needed to be told about it and informed that the agencies were actively investigating it.

Intelligence officials were concerned that the information would leak before they informed Mr. Trump of its existence, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the summary is classified and talking about it would be a felony.

On Tuesday night, Mr. Trump responded on Twitter: “FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”

In an appearance recorded for NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” Mr. Trump’s spokeswoman, Kellyanne Conway, said of the claims in the opposition research memos, “He has said he is not aware of that.”
 Mr. Trump must not be allowed to ascend to the presidency until this is completely investigated.I always knew there had to be a sex tape and...
Since the intelligence agencies’ report on Friday that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had ordered the hacking and leaks of Democratic emails in order to hurt Mrs. Clinton and help Mr. Trump, the president-elect and his aides have said that Democrats are trying to mar his election victory.

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The decision of top intelligence officials to give the president, the president-elect and the so-called Gang of Eight — Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress and the intelligence committees — what they know to be unverified, defamatory material was extremely unusual.

The appendix summarized opposition research memos prepared mainly by a retired British intelligence operative for a Washington political and corporate research firm. The firm was paid for its work first by Mr. Trump’s Republican rivals and later by supporters of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. The Times has checked on a number of the details included in the memos but has been unable to substantiate them.

The memos suggest that for many years, the Russian government of Mr. Putin has looked for ways to influence Mr. Trump, who has traveled repeatedly to Moscow to investigate real estate deals or to oversee the Miss Universe competition, which he owned for several years. Mr. Trump never completed any major deals in Russia, though he discussed them for years.

The former British intelligence officer who gathered the material about Mr. Trump is considered a competent and reliable operative with extensive experience in Russia, American officials said. But he passed on what he heard from Russian informants and others, and what they told him has not yet been vetted by American intelligence.

The memos describe sex videos involving prostitutes with Mr. Trump in a 2013 visit to a Moscow hotel. The videos were supposedly prepared as “kompromat,” or compromising material, with the possible goal of blackmailing Mr. Trump in the future.

The memos also suggest that Russian officials proposed various lucrative deals, essentially as disguised bribes in order to win influence over Mr. Trump.

The memos describe several purported meetings during the 2016 presidential campaign between Trump representatives and Russian officials to discuss matters of mutual interest, including the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta.
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The first hint of the F.B.I. investigation came in a Senate hearing on Tuesday in a series of questions from Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, to the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey.

Mr. Wyden, trying to draw Mr. Comey out on information he may have heard during a classified briefing, asked whether the F.B.I. had investigated the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. Mr. Comey demurred, saying he could not discuss any investigations that might or might not be underway. Mr. Wyden kept pressing, asking Mr. Comey to provide a written answer to the question before Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, because he feared there would be no declassification of the information once Mr. Trump took office.

After the hearing, Mr. Wyden posted on Twitter: “Director Comey refused to answer my question about whether the FBI has investigated Trump campaign contacts with Russia.”

The F.B.I. obtained the material long before the election, and some of the memos in the opposition research dossier are dated as early as June. But agents have struggled to confirm it, according to federal officials familiar with the investigation.

Allies of Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader from Nevada who retired at the end of the year, said the disclosures validated his call last summer for an investigation by the F.B.I. into Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia.

“The evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount,” Mr. Reid wrote in a letter to Mr. Comey on Aug. 27.

Democrats on Tuesday night pressed for a thorough investigation of the claims in the memos. Representative Eric Swalwell of California, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, called for law enforcement to find out whether the Russian government had had any contact with Mr. Trump or his campaign.

“The president-elect has spoken a number of times, including after being presented with this evidence, in flattering ways about Russia and its dictator,” Mr. Swalwell said. “Considering the evidence of Russia hacking our democracy to his benefit, the president-elect would do a service to his presidency and our country by releasing his personal and business income taxes, as well as information on any global financial holdings.”

Repost: FBI Pays Geek Squad for Stories on Searches by Customers

The first posting of this story was pulled out of my blog. The only ones that could do that would be Google or I guess the FBI. May be the Best Buy Geeks but I doubt that one. This is not a story made up by me but has been published by more than one media blogger. Let’s see if Google would pulled all of them, as for me Im reposting the story from another blogger.     adamfoxie blog

                  Best Buy GEEK SQUAD

This story posted by . The writer is  

Best Buy has quite a support service in Geek Squad. It's the only national tech service center, and it makes house calls. I had a tech come to calibrate my HDTV set, and the difference was night and day. 
In 2014, Geek Squad brought in $1.8 billion in revenue, which was a drop from the previous year, but still accounted for 5 percent of Best Buy revenue. So, it's not insignificant. 
And it seems the geeks are making a few extra bucks. The Orange County Weekly reports that the company's repair technicians routinely search devices brought in for repair for files that could earn them $500 reward as FBI informants. 
That, ladies and gentlemen, is about as blatant a case of unconstitutional search and seizure as it gets. 

+ Also on Network World: Yahoo's secret email scans helped the FBI probe terrorists +

This revelation came out in a court case, United States of America v. Mark A. Rettenmaier. Rettenmaier is a prominent Orange County physician and surgeon who took his laptop to the Mission Viejo Best Buy in November 2011 after he was unable to start it. 
According to court records, Geek Squad technician John "Trey" Westphal found an image of "a fully nude, white prepubescent female on her hands and knees on a bed, with a brown choker-type collar around her neck." Westphal notified his boss, who was also an FBI informant, who alerted another FBI informant—as well as the FBI itself. 

Searches without warrants

The FBI has pretty much guaranteed the case will be thrown out by its behavior, this illegal search aside. According to Rettenmaier's defense attorney, agents conducted two additional searches of the computer without obtaining necessary warrants, lied to trick a federal magistrate judge into authorizing a search warrant for his home, then tried to cover up their misdeeds by initially hiding records. 
Plus, the file was found in the unallocated "trash" space, meaning it could only be retrieved by "carving" with sophisticated forensics tools. Carving (or file carving) is defined as searching for files or other kinds of objects based on content, rather than on metadata. It's used to recover old files that have been deleted or damaged. 

To prove child pornography, you have to prove the possessor knew what he had was indeed child porn. There has been a court case where files found on unallocated space did not constitute knowing possession because it's impossible to determine who put the file there and how, since it's not accessible to the user under normal circumstances. 

+ What do you think? Share your opinion about Geek Squad techs acting as FBI informants on our Facebook page +

But the real question is why in the world was a Geek Squad staffer running a carver on the laptop? His job was to get the thing running, and I doubt recovering deleted files would make much difference. The answer is $500. 
Until Best Buy ends this practice of being an FBI informant, a blatantly unconstitutional act, you should avoid Geek Squad completely. Ask your kid or grandkid or neighbor's kid if you have a problematic laptop. But stay out of Geek Squad.

November 30, 2016

When Comey Pulled Out Thumb for the Election, Trump Might Have Been a Target

Just 11 days before the U.S. presidential election, FBI Director James Comey wrote a letter to Congress letting them know that the agency had found additional emails that “appear to be pertinent” to its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

It was extremely unusual for the bureau to be so forthcoming about an investigation, and the move drew harsh criticism from both Democrats and Republicans who accused Comey of deliberately trying to turn the election in Trump’s favor.
Ten days after the election, the FBI responded to a longstanding VICE News Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, revealing that the bureau may very well have been investigating Donald Trump, too.

In September, VICE News and Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at MIT and research affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, filed the FOIA lawsuit against the FBI demanding documents connected to a pair of incendiary comments Trump made on the campaign trail over the summer. In July, he called upon Russia to track down “30,000 emails [from Hillary Clinton’s private email server] that are missing.” And at an August campaign rally in North Carolina, he made a statement that was widely interpreted as calling for the assassination of Clinton.

We sought this information from the FBI after receiving a tip that the bureau, in addition to the Secret Service, was probing the incidents. We asked the FBI to grant us expedited processing because there was an urgent need to inform the public before they went to the polls on November 8.

But the FBI refused to respond to our request before the election, instead dating it Nov. 18; we received it in the mail Nov. 28.

“The nature of your request implicates investigative records the FBI may or may not compile pursuant to its broad criminal and national security investigative missions and functions,” said the bureau’s response, which is embedded at the end of this story. “Accordingly, the FBI cannot confirm or deny the existence of any such records about your subject as the mere acknowledgment of such records existence or nonexistence would in and of itself trigger foreseeable harm to agency interests.”

This is what’s known as a Glomar response, a term that came into use after the CIA denied a reporter’s request in the 1970s for information about a CIA ship, the Glomar Explorer, designed to recover a sunken Russian submarine. The agency refused to either confirm or deny the ship’s existence.

The FBI’s response states that any records the FBI has must be withheld because disclosure would interfere with enforcement proceedings and disclose information vital for effective investigations. This response is highly suspicious.

‘If the FBI is going to break from precedent, it cannot do so for one presidential candidate and not the other.’
For one, it is extremely rare for the FBI to issue a Glomar. I’ve filed thousands of requests with the bureau and I cannot recall ever receiving a Glomar. Typically, when a FOIA requester seeks information from the FBI on anything the bureau might be investigating, the FBI has explicit authority to deny the request, citing a pending investigation. However, because using that exemption would itself confirm to a requester that there’s an ongoing probe, the FBI has the authority under the FOIA to essentially lie and say it doesn’t have any documents — even when it does.

But the bureau did neither of those things. Instead, it said it could not confirm or deny that it has any documents concerning an investigation into Trump and/or his comments about Clinton.

Had the FBI released this letter to us prior to the election, our subsequent story would have noted that Trump may be under investigation over his comments — and that no doubt would have attracted widespread media attention. The FBI may have been aware of this and chosen to delay disclosure until after Election Day.

The fact that Comey revealed to the heads of eight congressional committees that FBI investigators located emails potentially pertinent to its probe of Clinton before Election Day is a potential double standard not lost on Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“It is extremely difficult to understand the FBI’s position,” he told VICE News. “On one hand, they are refusing to provide any information whatsoever in response to these FOIA requests relating to Donald Trump, yet at the height of the presidential campaign, the FBI director personally disclosed details about the investigative steps the FBI was taking with respect to Secretary Clinton — even though there was no finding of criminal activity. I have said repeatedly that if the FBI is going to break from longstanding precedent, it cannot do so for only one presidential candidate and not the other. I believe this approach has done great harm to the public’s trust in the FBI.”

A spokesperson for Clinton has not responded to a request for comment

It’s unlikely the FBI launched a full-blown investigation into Trump’s comments. Instead, an agent likely raised it as an issue and opened a file that probably contains a few sheets of paper. But that itself would be newsworthy.

Nate Jones, the director of the FOIA project at George Washington University’s National Security Archive, told VICE News the FBI’s response to our requests is troubling on a number of other fronts as well.

“It appears clear that the FBI is placing its interest on not performing a FOIA review of the documents — or even stating if they exist — above the very large public interest in this case,” he said. “It’s another important example as to why agencies should not be given the ability to issue blanket ‘non-denial’ denials in response to FOIA requests…. Hopefully, in this case a judge will compel the FBI to do just this.”

Jeffrey Light, the FOIA attorney handling our case, said VICE News will challenge the FBI’s response in court. But before we proceed, we need the Secret Service to respond to an identical FOIA request. The Secret Service had already stated publicly that it was looking into Trump’s comments about “Second Amendment people” and Clinton. But they’re now in an awkward position: It is their job to protect President-elect Trump.

A word from the publisher:

“Just Like in the days of JEdgar Hoover except he did it quietly: Having friendly candidates to the FBI elected.  You are free to speculate about the FBI after a Presidential election was tilted. The polls were not wrong, they just did not have the time to recover in three days after Hillary was let off the hook by the same guy that put her out to dry 11 days before the election.”

November 8, 2016

The Way Comey Handled Emails Brings Hard Questioning to the Agency

 Where the scales tipped on Email letter to congress just before the election?
Most people think so
The FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation has created more turmoil for the bureau than any other matter in recent history, exposing internal tensions with the Justice Department and stirring concerns the famously apolitical organization unnecessarily injected itself into the campaign.

The FBI for decades has prided itself on being both independent and silent about its work. It has survived other painful moments in its century-long existence. But rarely have its core duties become so awkwardly entangled with politics, thanks to an election-year criminal investigation involving Clinton's email practices — and whiplash-producing public statements in the final two weeks of the campaign.

Though FBI Director James Comey signaled a conclusion to the Clinton email matter with a letter to Congress on Sunday, the public isn't done discussing it: Lawmakers demand answers to questions left unresolved by two vague and ambiguous letters. Clinton and her aides feel wronged by a curiously timed disclosure. And ex-prosecutors of both parties are concerned the bureau's actions strayed from its mandate to remain above politics.

The controversy, coupled with a series of leaks laying bare internal squabbling, suggests a tough road ahead for FBI leadership regardless of who wins Sunday. "This has been a very difficult election process. Unfortunately, the FBI has been drawn into it," said Leo Taddeo, a retired FBI supervisor. He said he was concerned that candidates seemed more eager than before to politicize national security issues and seek investigations into opponents.
"This is a new and developing trend in U.S. political discourse, so I think the FBI has to resist being drawn into it," he added.

That's easier said than done.

The FBI last year began investigating Clinton for the potential mishandling of classified information as secretary of state after a referral from the intelligence community inspector general. Comey has said the investigation was done without regard to politics, but he also never lost sight of its political sensitivities, receiving regular briefings from investigators and repeatedly refusing to discuss it in public.
When the FBI decided it wouldn't recommend charges, he broke from protocol and delivered an unusual public statement chastising Clinton and her aides as "extremely careless."

But the pushback to that announcement was nothing compared to what Comey has faced the last two weeks, starting with his Oct. 28 notification to Congress that the FBI would review newly discovered emails potentially connected to the Clinton email investigation.

The statement provoked outrage from Clinton and other Democrats who said it needlessly placed her under suspicion when the FBI didn't even know if the emails were important. The Justice Department opposed the idea, too.
Then came Sunday's statement, in which Comey effectively cleared the Democratic presidential nominee by saying the new review had done nothing to change the FBI's July recommendation that she not face charges. Though a relief to Democrats and Clinton, the news also infuriated some who wondered why the new emails — if apparently insignificant — were ever made public in the first place.

"Today's letter makes Director Comey's actions nine days ago even more troubling," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee.

Comey says he felt obligated to alert Congress after having previously testified that the investigation had been closed. Supporters say had he kept silent until after the election, he would have faced partisan allegations of stifling a bombshell announcement and perhaps given fuel to allegations of a "rigged" election. He also would have risked the chance of the news leaking out anyway.

"Do I sit quietly and do nothing for 10 days and let the election quietly go by, pregnant with the knowledge that we have thousands of new emails?" said Ron Hosko, a retired FBI assistant director. "Or do I tell the same Congress that I've been committed to being transparent with?"

The bureau has been further roiled by leaks that hint at disagreement over the handling of a separate inquiry involving the Clinton Foundation. The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that FBI agents seeking an investigation met earlier this year with public corruption prosecutors to present allegations they wanted to pursue, but that the lawyers did not see a basis for moving forward.

Hosko said there's no doubt former agents in particular were distressed by the FBI's decision not to recommend charges against Clinton. But he said there was no "revolution" inside the storied Hoover Building.

"There's a lot of fiction-writing going on," Hosko said. "It's being fanned up by people and repeated by people who pretend they know something when they know nothing."

The FBI has survived frayed relations between its leaders and the president before — Bill Clinton and his FBI director, Louis Freeh, were known to have strongly disliked each other. In the modern era, it's gone through major structural reorganizations, such as after the Sept. 11 attacks, and faced second-guessing after operations that haven't gone as planned.

But the latest turmoil poses a unique challenge for a revered law enforcement organization and for a director who talks often about his desire to be accountable to the American people — and transparent.

Depending on who wins Tuesday, Comey will have to co-exist with either a Republican president who has repeatedly challenged his agency's integrity or a Democrat whose email practices were the subject of a criminal investigation. He'll also probably have to explain his decision-making to Congress.

"Rest assured, Jim Comey's not afraid of creating controversy," Taddeo said. "He is determined to do the right thing."

Associated Press

November 6, 2016

FBI Clear Clinton One More Time-Can The Damage be Fixed?

FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers Sunday the agency hasn't changed its opinion that Hillary Clinton should not face criminal charges after a review of new emails.

“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July," Comey wrote in the new letter to congressional committee chairmen.

Comey dropped a bombshell on the presidential race last month when he sent a letter to Congress saying the FBI had discovered emails in a separate investigation that could be connected to the now-closed probe of whether Clinton mishandled classified information. The move infuriated Democrats and emboldened Republican nominee Donald Trump.

It's impossible to know before results are tallied what impact Comey's actions -- first raising a vaguely worded red flag 11 days out, and then lowering it two days from the election -- will have on the contest. But the news could help Clinton put to rest a controversy that has dogged her in the 2016 race's closing days, helping Trump narrow a polling gap nationally and in key battleground states.
Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, blasted Comey’s handling of the review.

"Today's letter makes Director Comey's actions nine days ago even more troubling," Feinstein said in a statement. “There's no doubt that it created a false impression about the nature of the agency's inquiry."

She added: "The Justice Department needs to take a look at its procedures to prevent similar actions that could influence future elections."
Emotions run high in final days of the campaign
Election 2016: Emotions run high in final days of the campaign
‘As fast as we could'

Comey’s letter was the culmination of a fast-paced review of the newly discovered email, law enforcement sources said Sunday.

"We went through this as fast as we could," a senior law enforcement official told CNN.
The FBI found the new emails as part of its separate investigation into a sexting incident by Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

The thousands of new emails were mostly personal and duplicates of what had already been seen, law enforcement officials said in explaining how the conclusion was reached so quickly. The laptop which was found was about a decade old with lots of personal content on it not relevant to the investigation, according to one source.

Comey sent the letter as soon as possible, the senior law enforcement official said. He was "very careful" about how the letter was crafted given the sensitivities.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch was informed ahead of time that the FBI director was sending the updated letter to Congress informing them of that there would be no change in the FBI stance on Hillary Clinton, a Justice official told CNN on Sunday.

Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates disagreed with Comey's earlier decision to notify Congress. The attorney general backed Comey's move Sunday.
“Everyone is on the same page," the source said.

Since there is no change to the original findings, the Justice Department has no need to weigh in further, the official said.
"The Department of Justice and the FBI dedicated all necessary resources to conduct this review expeditiously," the Justice Department said in a brief statement released Sunday afternoon.
Campaigns weigh in
Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said her campaign is validated in its belief that nothing would change.

"We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be revisited. Now Director Comey has confirmed it,” he tweeted.

The Trump campaign quickly slammed Comey.

“We thought that Director Comey and the FBI were wrong when they made their initial recommendation in July, and we think that they're wrong now," Trump spokesman Jason Miller told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room."

GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence sought to keep the pressure on Clinton.
"Mishandling classified information is a crime," he said at a rally in an airport hanger in Hickory, North Carolina. “Hillary Clinton said that she never sent or received any classified information and the director of the FBI told the Congress classified information was sent."

Trump himself did not directly address the FBI's latest announcement as he took the stage at a rally in Minneapolis more than 20 minutes after news of Comey's letter to Congress surfaced. He continued to argue that Clinton “will be under investigation for a long, long time."

But the Republican nominee, who has expressed hope in the last week that the FBI’s review of new emails might yield an indictment, emphasized to his supporters Sunday that Clinton is "protected" by powerful forces.

“Well, you have to understand it's a rigged system and she's protected," Trump said, though he offered no evidence to back up his theory.

‘It opened a wound'

A senior Democrat close to Clinton’s campaign told CNN that "it's impossible to fully undo the damage of the last nine days."

Internal campaign polling, the source said, found that some independents and Republican women fled Clinton after the original Comey announcement, robbing her of a constituency that she’d hoped would turn her contest with Trump into a blowout.

"It opened a wound that cannot be quickly healed," the Democrat said.
However, the Democrat called it a relief that the “matter is resolved" and said Clinton's campaign plans to "make everyone know about" Comey's Sunday letter.

Comey's last-minute announcement gives Clinton an opportunity for an I-told-you-so moment.
"We have seen Director Comey's latest letter to the Hill," said Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton's communications director, speaking with reporters after the news broke. "We are glad to see that he has found, as we were confident that he would, that he had confirmed the conclusions he reached in July and we are glad that this matter is resolved."
 Trump and his allies have seized on that announcement, using it claim Clinton is likely to face criminal charges.

"If she were to win, it would create an unprecedented constitutional crisis," Trump claimed Saturday night in Reno, Nevada. "In that situation we could very well have a sitting president under felony indictment and ultimately a criminal trial. It would grind government to a halt."
Political benefit

The political benefit for Trump has been that Republicans who’d been skeptical of their party's nominee have largely followed vice presidential nominee Mike Pence's calls to "come home" to the party -- finding Trump less objectionable than Clinton.

It's not just Trump's campaign that seized on Comey's actions. Down-ballot Republicans -- particularly Senate candidates who had been forced to answer for Trump's statements for months -- used the moment to change the topic, shifting to the more comfortable ground of attacking Clinton.

The last-minute Sunday move from Comey could also provide new fuel for Trump’s claims of a "rigged" system -- allowing him to cast the FBI director's intervention in the presidential election in a new light.
Al Franken: FBI's James Comey should face Senate hearings
Comey and the FBI went from Trump's scapegoat to the Republican nominee's hero, with Trump claiming Comey had redeemed himself just in time.
Newt Gingrich, a top Trump ally, tweeted “Comey must be under enormous political pressure to cave like this."

November 3, 2016

Pres.Obama Smacks Down FBI Chief Without Naming Him

 President Obama sharply criticized the decision by his F.B.I. director to alert Congress on Friday about the discovery of new emails related to the Hillary Clinton server case, implying that it violated investigative guidelines and trafficked in innuendo.

“We don’t operate on incomplete information,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with NowThis News, broadcast Wednesday. “We don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”

“When this was investigated thoroughly the last time, the conclusion of the F.B.I., the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable,” Mr. Obama said.

The president did not mention the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, but it was clear Mr. Obama was referring to him.

Declaring that he had “made a very deliberate effort to make sure that I don’t look like I’m meddling in what are supposed to be independent processes for making these assessments,” Mr. Obama nonetheless expressed confidence in Mrs. Clinton.

“I trust her,’’ he said. “I know her. And I wouldn’t be supporting her if I didn’t have absolute confidence in her integrity and her interest in making sure that young people have a better future.’’

White House officials later downplayed Mr. Obama’s remarks about the F.B.I. and insisted he had not meant to criticize Mr. Comey.

“The president went out of his way to say he wouldn’t comment on any particular investigations,” Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman, told reporters on Air Force One while Mr. Obama was en route to North Carolina to campaign for Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Schultz characterized Mr. Obama’s remarks as mirroring those made in recent days by the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, who had said that while the White House would not criticize Mr. Comey’s decision to update Congress on the status of an ongoing investigation, Mr. Obama believed that rules intended to keep such investigations confidential were good ones and should be followed.

For the last several days, the F.B.I. has been analyzing emails belonging to Huma Abedin, a top adviser to Mrs. Clinton. Agents discovered the emails last month in an unrelated investigation into Ms. Abedin’s estranged husband, the disgraced former congressman Anthony D. Weiner.

*New York Times

*Now This Now

November 1, 2016

Comey Wont Divulge Russian Trump Nor for Hacking “It Might Interfere with Elections”


FBI Director James Comey argued against publicly disclosing the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia was behind hacks into U.S. political institutions, highly placed sources told NBC News on Monday.

A former senior law enforcement official with detailed knowledge of the matter said on condition of anonymity that Comey argued that disclosing that operatives based in Russia were behind the widespread hacking not only might interfere with the U.S. election but also could violate Justice Department guidelines.

Comey's opposition to the Russia report was first disclosed Monday by CNBC, which said Comey was concerned about being seen as interfering with next week's general election.

A senior FBI official, however, disputed that account, telling NBC News that Comey did raise concerns about publicly naming Russia but that those concerns were based on the potential impact on any related investigation, not the U.S. elections.

Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and supporters in Congress have objected that Comey also shouldn't have disclosed last week that investigators had uncovered more emails that could be related to the investigation of Clinton's private email server.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook on Monday called Comey's actions irresponsible.

"It's impossible to view this as anything less than a blatant double standard," Mook said in a calls with reporters. " That Director Comey would show more discretion in a matter concerning a foreign state actor than one involving the Democratic nominee for president is nothing short of jaw dropping."

Law enforcement officials told NBC News over the weekend that the Justice Department strongly advised against disclosing the Clinton email developments because of the election, and the former senior law enforcement source said Monday that he was surprised by Comey's decision in the Clinton investigation.

As for the hacking, a senior U.S. intelligence official told NBC News that there was no disagreement over Russia's culpability. The concern, that official said, was about “naming and shaming” the Russians.

The FBI wasn't specifically mentioned in the statement that the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued Oct. 7, which said: "The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations.

"These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process," it said.

Officials noted that while the FBI was initially opposed to publicly naming Russia, the Bureau did ultimately sign on.

Official sources have told NBC News that the Russian cyber espionage campaign began more than a year ago and has been far more extensive than has been publicly disclosed, overwhelmingly targeting Democrats.


A Top Cop and Prosecutor Too

Beyond the precedent that the Justice Department, particularly the FBI, bends over backward not to interfere in a presidential election, there is yet another precedent, this one established during the Monica Lewinsky investigation: A holder of high office, under pressure from both Congress and the press, can lose his mind. The mind in question belonged to Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel, who back in the winter of 1997 signaled he had had more than enough of Bill Clinton, sex that wasn’t sex, a dress no longer suitable for a casual date, and other such matters and was quitting. He would repair to Pepperdine University, about as far from Washington as is continentally possible, and become dean of its law school. Then all hell broke loose.

Republican members of Congress denounced Starr for cutting and running. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), a member of the all-important Judiciary Committee, asked Starr to reconsider. William Safire, then the biggest gun on the New York Times’s op-ed page, was less judicious. His column was titled “The Big Flinch.” He called Starr a wimp who had brought “shame on the legal profession” — as if such a thing were possible. It seemed it was, and Starr retracted his resignation, stayed in Washington, hounded Clinton into impeachment and, in general, soiled a promising legal career that once had him on some shortlists for the Supreme Court.

I tell you this sad tale of opportunity missed just to illustrate how political pressure and the braying of the media can addle the minds of otherwise smart people. This is what happened to Ken Starr, and it seems to have happened to James B. Comey, the director of the FBI, although maybe not for much longer. Twice now, he has lost his bearings, stepped out of his role as top cop and decided he was prosecutor instead. In July, he announced that the FBI had concluded its investigation into the Hillary Clinton email server and found nothing worth prosecuting. He did find that her handling of her emails had been “extremely careless,” which was true, but was the sort of judgment that pundits like me get to make, not lofty FBI directors whose personal — even professional — opinions should be saved for their memoirs.

For recommending against indictment, Comey was vilified by the right, particularly by Donald Trump. Others had a different criticism: Comey should have said nothing at all. The decision to prosecute is made by the Justice Department, not the FBI, and it was not his place to chastise Clinton, who, if I may be permitted an observation, certainly deserved it. Now Comey has announced that the investigation that seemed closed remains open. He announced this less than two weeks before Election Day, virtually reviving a dormant Trump campaign. “Bigger than Watergate,” Trump observed.

What’s going on? We don’t know. An astounding 650,000 emails were found by the FBI on the laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner, the now-estranged (and always strange) husband of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s No. 1 aide. This could be a device that Weiner allegedly used to send filthy pictures of himself to women both young and old, one purportedly a mere 15. It’s possible the emails are duplicates of what the FBI has already seen on Clinton’s private server or — G-men beware — maybe half a million Weiner selfies. (You cannot out-weird this story.)

From the very start, I’ve felt that this whole business of Clinton’s email server has been ridiculously hyped. She shouldn’t have done it. Granted. She’s hiding something. Granted. She’s even hiding that she’s hiding something. But she didn’t commit treason, and the nation’s security has not been endangered as far as we know, and all this mucking around in the personal emails of public figures has gone too far. If there’s no crime, let’s move on. The threat is not Clinton and her BlackBerry, but the Russians and their military-industrial-hacking complex.

But Comey, buffeted from both sides and possessed of a fiery moralism, has now possibly thrown the election into doubt. What’s this all about, Jim? We — the voters — need to know. (Actually, I can’t imagine learning anything that would get me to vote for Trump.) Still, some voters are undecided. Both candidates have the negative ratings of bill collectors. Now that Comey has broken established practice and intruded into the elections, he needs to say why — what did his agents glimpse in that laptop that made him throw both judgment and precedent to the wind? It better be good or else he should do what Starr in the end didn’t: quit.

August 30, 2016

FBI Alert on Cyber Attack! States Worry About Attacks on Voting Systems

The FBI’s decision to issue a nationwide alert about the possible hacking of state election offices after breaches in Illinois and Arizona is raising concerns that a nationwide attack could be afoot, with the potential for creating havoc on Election Day.
It’s possible that the motivation behind the two state hacks was less about the political system and more about cash. Voter registration data sets include valuable information — such as names, birth dates, phone numbers and physical and email addresses — that criminal hackers can bundle and flip on the black-market “dark web” for thousands of dollars.
Story Continued Below

But some cyber experts said the FBI’s alert, first revealed by Yahoo News on Monday, could be a sign that investigators are worried that foreign actors are attempting a wide-scale digital onslaught.
A former lead agent in the FBI’s Cyber Division said the hackers’ use of a particular attack tool and the level of the FBI’s alert “more than likely means nation-state attackers.” The alert was coded “Amber,” designating messages with sensitive information that “should not be widely distributed and should not be made public,” the ex-official said.

One person who works with state election officials called the FBI’s memo “completely unprecedented.”
“There’s never been an alert like that before that we know of,” said the person, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive intergovernmental conversations.
Multiple former officials and security researchers said the cyberattacks on Arizona’s and Illinois’ voter databases could be part of a suspected Russian attempt to meddle in the U.S. election, a campaign that has already included successful intrusions at major Democratic Party organizations and the selective leaking of documents embarrassing to Democrats. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has alleged that the digital attacks on her party are an effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime to sway the election to GOP nominee Donald Trump. Moscow has denied any involvement.
Hacking state election offices could offer new tools for affecting the outcome of the vote.
Having access to voter rolls, for example, could allow hackers to digitally alter or delete registration information, potentially denying people a chance to vote on Election Day. Or news of the attack could simply fuel further distrust in the U.S. election system, which Trump has repeatedly alleged is “rigged.”

“I think he’s just unleashed the hounds,” said Tom Kellermann, head of Strategic Cyber Ventures, referring to Putin. Kellermann said the intrusions fit the “modus operandi and the ultimate goal” of a long-standing Russian digital intelligence campaign targeting foreign government officials in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere that Kellermann has been tracking for years, which researchers believe has turned its sights on the American electoral process.

The FBI’s investigations of the Arizona and Illinois attacks have been public knowledge since July, when both states took their voter registration databases offline following detection of the intrusions. But the bureau’s Cyber Division broadened its sweep in an Aug. 18 “flash” alert that warned top election officials in every state about potential foreign intrusions of their election systems. The alert advised officials to look for a series of specific hallmarks of cyberattacks.

In Illinois, officials told Yahoo News that hackers pilfered personal data on up to 200,000 voters. The Arizona digital intruders did not make off with any information, said the news service.
Some cyber experts are skeptical that the attacks on the elections offices had any political motive, noting that hackers often rifle through government databases looking for personal information they can sell.

“It’s got the hallmark signs of any criminal actors, whether it be Russia or Eastern Europe,” said Milan Patel, a former chief technology officer of the FBI’s Cyber Division who is now at the security firm K2 Intelligence. However, he added, “the question of getting into these databases and what it means is certainly not outside the purview of state-sponsored activity.”

Still, little public digital forensic evidence has come to light so far that would link the Illinois and Arizona hackers to a Russian-backed group that researchers say broke into the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“No robust evidence as of yet,” respected cybersecurity consultant Matt Tait said on Twitter.
The FBI’s alert asked state officials to check whether their networks had seen any activity coming from eight specific Internet Protocol addresses, at least one of which was tied to a Russian cyber gang, according to Yahoo News.

The FBI sent the alert to the Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency that offers help to states in improving the management of their elections. The commission then sent it to state officials, spokesman Bryan Whitener told POLITICO.
The FBI declined to comment on the alert but said in a statement that it “routinely advises private industry of various cyberthreat indicators observed during the course of our investigations.”
Leo Taddeo, a former head of the cyber division in the FBI’s New York office, said such a widespread alert “indicates that this could be a systematic attack, rather than an isolated targeting of a particular database.”
Sending out the memo is the only way for officials to do a complete review of all state election systems and determine whether a “dedicated attack” is taking place on multiple networks, Taddeo added. Elections have always been run at the state and local level, and few if any federal laws govern how local officials manage and secure voter data.

At most, several federal agencies provide voluntary guidelines for local officials. In some states, voter registration information is a public record, meaning data security rules governing the handling of personal information — such as names and home addresses — don’t apply.
The FBI’s alert reflects growing government awareness of the cyberthreat to election systems.
The Department of Homeland Security had held no conversations with states about election cybersecurity until a conference call that Secretary Jeh Johnson held with state officials on Aug. 15, a person involved in state election work said.

That call came together after Johnson publicly floated the idea of classifying elections as “critical infrastructure,” a designation that grants special security assistance to vital facilities such as banks and the power grid. “We hastily reached out to DHS to try to organize a call that would at least give state officials some information on what was going on with DHS,” the person said.

On the call, DHS officials urged states to coordinate with their local FBI offices if they weren’t already doing so. The department also agreed to provide resources to states, including vulnerability-detection software. But the DHS has not provided those resources yet, and some states, such as Georgia, have balked at the offers of assistance, fearful of federal meddling.
DHS plans to announce an election cybersecurity awareness campaign soon, the person said.
A DHS spokesman declined to comment on the FBI alert.

In the meantime, digital voter registration systems appear to be functioning — mostly. Of 42 state databases that POLITICO accessed on Monday, 41 were available, although the entire website of California’s secretary of state was down.
"It is down right now," said Sam Maood, spokesman for the California secretary of state. "There’s no evidence that it’s due to hacking or any kind of data breach."
All but one of the other states either required more extensive measures to check registration or had no evident online system. The one exception, North Dakota, is the only state that doesn’t require voters to register, according to its secretary of state.

But devastating consequences could ensue if these databases fell into the hands of motivated digital attackers, election security specialists said.
“An attacker could potentially remove registered voters from the registration list in areas that are expected to vote against the attacker’s preferred candidate, creating challenges and delays when the voters show up and the polls to vote,” said Jason Straight, chief privacy officer for UnitedLex, which advises corporations on cybersecurity practices.

Straight called such manipulation a “much greater threat” than the possibility of hackers tampering with electronic voting machines, which election watchdog groups and researchers say are insecure and often lack proper auditing mechanisms.
Tilting elections through voting machines hacks “would require extensive use of on-the-ground operatives with social engineering and technical skills to pull off,” Straight said.
In recent years, voter rolls have become an increasingly attractive target for both cyber gangs, as well as government-backed digital spies, appearing for sale on underground web forums, or simply being found sitting unprotected online.

Hundreds of millions of voters in the U.S., the Philippines, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Mexico have been affected.
The big windfall came last October, when hackers — “probably based in Russia” — started selling a set of Americans' voter data “containing personal information on approximately 190 million persons,” said Christopher Porter, manager of FireEye iSIGHT Intelligence, a leading cybersecurity firm that examined the leak. The information exposed included full names, genders, dates of birth, physical addresses, email address and phone numbers.
The presence of the Russian cyber gang-linked IP address in the FBI alert is a possible indication that these digital thieves were at it again in Illinois and Arizona, said several researchers and a former FBI official.

While such thefts could be the work of ordinary criminals, these same experts explained that Russian cyber gangs often act at the behest of the Kremlin, either directly or indirectly. In exchange, these groups receive immunity from prosecution and “maintain their untouchable status,” said Kellermann, of Cybersecurity Strategic Ventures.
If this is indeed the case with the recent intrusions of state voter registration databases, Kellermann believes the suspected campaign to undermine the U.S. election process is “reaching a tipping point.”
“It’s high time that the U.S. government took off its own gloves,” he said.

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