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Archive for September 28th, 2015

Newsweek Columnist: Why Is FBI Violating Rights of Activists?

fbi logo largeBy Patrick Eddington
Newsweek

Five years ago this week, FBI agents raided the homes of six political activists of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) in Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as the office of the nonprofit Anti-War Committee. Those activists are still waiting to learn when, or even if, they will be charged or cleared.

As the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported on the day of the raid, “An FBI spokesman said agents were ‘seeking evidence related to an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism. There is no imminent threat to the community, and we’re not planning any arrests at this time,’ said FBI Special Agent Steve Warfield of the Minneapolis office.”

A series of FBI documents left behind at Mick Kelly’s Minneapolis home shed more light on the FBI’s activities prior to the raid. But what is especially illuminating is the mindset the documents reveal, particularly some of the questions FBI agents were instructed to ask those being served with the search warrants, such as “What did you do with the proceeds from the Revolutionary Lemonade Stand?” and “Did you ever recruit anyone to go to Israel, the West Bank or Gaza?”

Only in February 2014, as a result of further legal action, would the search warrants for the raids be unsealed and the FBI’s use of surveillance and undercover operatives to penetrate the Anti-War Committee and the FRSO come to light.

According to the unsealed search warrants and supporting documents, the FBI began surveilling the FRSO shortly after the protests at the 2008 GOP convention, using a confidential informant. Whether the FBI had employed wiretaps obtained under the material support provision of the Patriot Act (as amended in 2006) is unclear. The FBI’s assertion about the group and the Anti-War Committee is that both acted as fronts for the funneling of money and other forms of support to Colombian and Palestinian groups labeled as foreign terrorist organizations by the State Department.

Kelly and the other political activists targeted by the FBI have long histories in the antiwar movement and related causes on the extreme political left. In 2011, Kelly settled a suit with the local police department over an excessive use of force incident during his protest outside the 2008 Republican National Convention.

Despite the FBI’s collection of over a hundred hours of recordings and its multiyear penetration of the two extreme leftist organizations, to date none of the activists have been charged with any crime.

It’s certainly not the first time the FBI has engaged in the harassment of political dissidents. Indeed, the FBI’s surveillance of antiwar activists dates back to at least World War I, to include surveillance of Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams. The bureau has been an equal opportunity abuser of the rights of antiwar activists, whether on the left (like Addams and the FRSO) or on the libertarian side of the spectrum.

To read more click here. 

4 Men Sentenced to Prison for Trying to Buy Women at ‘Sex Slave Auction’

sex slave via justice department

A sex-slave confinement room, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The men gathered at a warehouse in Phoenix, thinking they were buying sex slaves.

But the auction was set up by the FBI as part of a two-year sting that resulted in the arrest of four American men, The Arizona Republic reports. 

The men outfitted their homes with chains and other confinement devices.

“We are just kind of horrified by the dark nature of this reality,” George Steuer, a supervisory special agent for the FBI in Phoenix, said. “It’s a very sickening reality that you realize some victims have actually had to live through.”

While touring one of the homes, agents were told by a 65-year-old suspect, Charles Bunnell, that the slaves “will never leave. … They are just going to be serving.”

Bunnell is one of the last defendants to be sentenced to federal prison this month. He received 108 months.

The other three men were sentenced to between 60 and 84 months.

FBI, Interpol to Work Closely Together to Crack Down on Terrorism, Cybercrime

interpolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In an effort to crack down on global terrorism and cybercrime, the FBI and Interpol plan to work closer together.

The announcement was made last week after FBI Director James Comey met with Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock in France, Occupational Health and Safety reports.

“International partnerships remain critical as we work to keep our nations safe from crime,” Comey said. “Recent events underscore the pervasive nature of international terrorism and the increased need to share information. Interpol plays a crucial role by ensuring law enforcement agencies have access to real-time intelligence, which assists in identifying and countering common threats in order to protect those we serve.”

Stock applauded the international cooperation.

“As we face an ever-increasing range and scope of crime and terror threats, international cooperation between law enforcement agencies has never been so important,” Stock said. “Interpol plays a unique role in assisting police in each of our 190 member countries to identify and share intelligence leads, bridge information gaps, and disrupt the organized networks behind a range of crimes which are often interlinked. However, this is not possible without the support and input from agencies such as the FBI, and I look forward to our working even more closely in the future to the benefit of the global law enforcement community and citizens worldwide.”

New York Times Editorial: More Accountability Needed for Border Patrol

border patrol 3By Editorial Board
New York Times

José Antonio Elena Rodríguez was 16 when he was gunned down on a street in Nogales, Mexico, in October 2012. He was shot several times in the back by a United States Border Patrol agent, firing through the fence from Nogales, Ariz. The boy was unarmed; his family said he had been walking home from a basketball game.

The Border Patrol has insisted that the agent was defending himself from rock-throwers on the Mexican side. But a federal grand jury on Wednesday charged the agent with second-degree murder. The indictment lends credence to what José Antonio’s family and activists on both sides of the border have long insisted: that this was another senseless killing by a member of an agency notorious for the reckless use of deadly force.

The agent’s union has asked the public to withhold judgment, a fair request. But it is fair, too, for others to demand openness and accountability from the Border Patrol in this and other cross-border shootings of unarmed civilians, in which basic information and answers have been sorely lacking.

In José Antonio’s case, the agent’s claim of self-defense would seem implausible to anyone who visits the spot in hilly Nogales where the teenager fell. It is hard to imagine him throwing anything across the road, up a 25-foot embankment and then over the fence and hitting, much less hurting, anybody. A major leaguer might be able to hurl a baseball that far, but a 16-year-old boy with a dangerous rock? No.

There are a number of other cases where border agents were said to have taken dubious and lethal action. A critical 2013 report by the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement policy group, seriously questioned the Border Patrol’s policies on deadly force — it found that agents would deliberately stand in the way of fleeing cars, to justify shooting at them.

DEA Rarely Fires Agents Who Commit Serious Misconduct

dea-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

DEA agents who have lied to authorities, falsified records, dealt drugs and committed other serious misconduct have been allowed to stay on the job, USA Today reports.

The discovery comes after lawmakers expressed frustration that agents were never fired for attending “sex parties” in Columbia.

Records from the DEA’s disciplinary files show that was hardly the only instance in which the DEA opted not to fire employees despite apparently serious misconduct, The USA Today writes.

The newspaper found that only 13 of the 50 employees recommended to be fired by the DEA’s Board of Professional Conduct were actually terminated.

“If we conducted an investigation, and an employee actually got terminated, I was surprised,” said Carl Pike, a former DEA internal affairs investigator. “I was truly, truly surprised. Like, wow, the system actually got this guy.”

Some members of Congress are calling for more action.

“There is a culture of protection internally that has to change. If there’s a bad apple, they need to be fired, if not prosecuted, and that’s just not happening,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Federal law enforcement should be held to the highest standard.”

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