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March 2019


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for March 22nd, 2019

Weekend Series on Crime: The Philly Mob

Let the Fun Begin: Mueller Report Handed to Attorney General William Barr

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Allan Lengel

Finally it’s complete — the most anticipated report in Washington in many many years.

Multiple news outlets report that the long-anticipated Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 campaign is complete and has been handed off to Attorney General William Barr.

What comes next is anyone’s guess.

James Comey: I’m Not Rooting for Mueller to Show Trump is A Criminal

Former FBI Director James Comey on ABC’s 20/20.

By Allan Lengel

Even before he was fired, it was clear to those in the know at the FBI that Director James Comey didn’t care for President Donald Trump. It became even more apparent after he was fired.

But with that being said, Comey writes in an Op-ed piece in the New York Times that he’s not rooting for Robert Mueller to show that President Donald Trump is a criminal.

He writes:

The country is eagerly awaiting the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Many people know what they want it to say — what they feel it simply must say — namely, that Donald Trump is a criminal who should be removed from office. Or that he is completely innocent of all wrongdoing.

But not everyone knows what it “must” say. Even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be president of the United States, I’m not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal. I’m also not rooting for Mr. Mueller to “clear” the president. I’m not rooting for anything at all, except that the special counsel be permitted to finish his work, charge whatever cases warrant charging and report on his work.

President Trump’s constant attacks on the special counsel, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department over the past two years raised the prospect that he would interfere to stop the special counsel’s work. It is deeply concerning that the president of the United States would try to protect himself by torching the institutions of justice. But he hasn’t used his authority to end Mr. Mueller’s work. (That would have been a crisis of a different order — shutting down the investigation, rather than just trying to undermine its credibility.) So we are in a position to wonder and hope about the report’s content.

Alan Dershowitz: I Want to Be Investigated by the FBI

Alan Dershowitz (Photo by Evan Wiener)

By Allan Lengel

While most people would not prefer this, Attorney Alan Dershowitz says he wants to be investigated by the FBI.

In a column in the Wall Street Journal, he professes his innocence in wake of allegations that he sexually assaulted two females, including one who claims she was underage at the time.  He writes that he never met either one:

If you are accused of a crime, you are entitled to the presumption of innocence. But in the age of #MeToo, people accused of sexual misconduct are subjected, at least in the court of public opinion, to a presumption of guilt. Worse, a claim of innocence—even a provable one—is itself treated as an offense, an assault on the accuser and on “survivors” in general.

All three of us have filed sworn affidavits in federal court. These affidavits are in irreconcilable conflict: I have sworn that I never met either of them; they have both sworn that I engaged in sexual acts with them. Either I have committed perjury or they have…

There are some in the #MeToo movement for whom there is no such thing as innocence. Despite having proved I never even met my accuser, my appearances on college campuses have been greeted with protests accusing me of being part of a ‘rape culture.’ . . . Someone has committed a serious felony, a crime against America’s justice system.

ACLU Suing FBI to Obtain Surveillance Records on ‘Black Identity Extremists’

By Allan Lengel

The ACLU is locked in a battle with the FBI. It wants information about the bureau’s “Black Identity Extremists” program. It says the bureau is resisting, so it’s suing.

On the ACLU blog, Nusrat Choudhury, deputy Director  of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program and Malkia Cyril, executive director for the Center for Media Justice,  write:

At a time when violence by white supremacists is on the rise, the FBI appears to be targeting Black people in a secret intelligence program concerning so-called “Black Identity Extremists”— an inflammatory term for a group that doesn’t even exist. The bureau’s practice echoes earlier, shameful government surveillance programs that sought to discredit civil rights and Black power activists who were critical to advancing racial equality — and it echoes modern-day spying that impacts immigrants and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities.

That’s probably why the government doesn’t want us to get information about this program.  It is also why the ACLU and the Center for Media Justice are taking the FBI to court.

In August 2017, the FBI issued an intelligence assessment that designated “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers” a new domestic terror threat. Disseminated to more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies, the intelligence assessment claims, without evidence, that Black people involved in unrelated police killings shared an ideology that motivated their actions. It also focuses on Black people who, in the bureau’s own words, “perceive[] racism and injustice in American society.”

The intelligence assessment is built on anti-Black racial stereotypes. It is so deeply flawed and of such “poor analytic quality” that even some law enforcement acknowledge that no group of so-called “Black Identity Extremists” even exists.

The intelligence assessment sparked an avalanche of concern from elected officials, Black activists, and Black-led organizations, including the Center for Media Justice and Color of Change. The dissemination of a racialized threat label to law enforcement nationwide holds the potential to spark baseless police harassment of Black activists who protest police and state violence. And we know that programs that diminish already weakened mechanisms for police accountability can lead to harm and death for Black people stopped by police. There are too many stories of Black men, women, and transgender people that underscore this truth.

In 2018, the Center for Media Justice and ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records to inform the public about how the “Black Identity Extremist” label is being used. Still, the FBI continues to keep critical information secret without any valid justification, and it has even refused to search for entire categories of records.