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FBI

FBI Denies Playing Any Role in Boston Globe Naming Bulger Tipster

Updated Bulger photo/wbur

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The controversy surrounding the decision by the Boston Globe to publish the name of the woman who tipped off the FBI as to the whereabouts of mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, continued on Wednesday.

The FBI in Boston posted a statement on its website denying it played any role in the publication of the name, Anna Bjornsdottir, a former Miss Iceland, who split her time between Iceland and Santa Monica, Calif., where she lived near Bulger and his companion Catherine Greig.

“Recently, a news outlet chose to publish the alleged identity of one of the tipsters involved in locating FBI Top Ten Fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger and Catherine Grieg. It is important to note, despite numerous media requests to provide the name of one of the tipsters, at no time has the FBI furnished the name, provided comment, or confirmed the accuracy of any reporting about the tipsters.”

“In defending against public criticism about the decision to publish the name of the alleged tipster, reporters and editors from the news outlet attempted to justify it by stating the FBI did not raise any objections in advance.

“That explanation suggested the FBI was culpable for the publishing of this information. To the contrary, the FBI’s silence on these inquiries should not be seen as acquiescence to that editorial decision. Had the FBI responded one way or the other, the effect would have been to confirm or deny the identity of one of the tipsters.”

“The decision by the news outlet to use an individual’s name and photograph was a decision made solely and independently by that news outlet.”

The Globe reported on the FBI statement and provided further explanation for publishing the name.

Jennifer Peter, the Globe’s deputy managing editor for local news, said the newspaper never reported that the FBI had no objections to identifying the tipster, only that it did not raise any concerns about her personal safety.

“A great deal of thought and discussion went into the decision to name the tipster,’’ Peter said. “And in a case such as this, where there have been so many deceptions and lies in the past and where there were so many conspiracy theories circulating as to what actually happened, it seemed imperative to give as accurate and full an accounting as we could.’’

The Globe reported that is decision to publish the name of the tipster drew criticism from its rival, the Boston Herald and Globe readers.

 

Atty. Gen. Holder Holds Up Underwear Bomber Case As a Positive Example of Prosecuting Terrorism in Civilian Courts

Eric Holder Jr./ticklethewire.com file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. took the opportunity  following the guilty plea Wednesday morning of  the “Underwear Bomber” to hold the case up as another example of the success the Justice Department has had prosecuting terrorism cases in civilian courts.

“Contrary to what some have claimed, today’s plea removes any doubt that our courts are one of the most effective tools we have to fight terrorism and keep the American people safe,” Holder said in a statement. “Our priority in this case was to ensure that we arrested a man who tried to do us harm, that we collected actionable intelligence from him and that we prosecuted him in a way that was consistent with the rule of law.”

“We will continue to be aggressive in our fight against terrorism and those who target us, and we will let results, not rhetoric, guide our actions.”

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to all eight counts on Wednesday in the second day of his terrorism trial in downtown Detroit. He was accused of trying to blow up a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.

The statement comes in wake of sharp criticism from Republicans in the past couple years over the Justice Department’s push to prosecute many of the terrorism cases in the civilian courts.

Some Republicans have argued that the cases should be prosecuted in a military court. They’ve also been critical of the FBI reading Miranda warnings to terrorist suspects.

FBI agents read the underwear bomber his rights after questioning him for a while.

 

Florida Man Arrested in Celebrity Hacking Case

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Though he may be a hero to some the world over, a Florida resident was arrested Wednesday for hacking the computers and releasing information from Hollywood celebrities, including the infamous nude photos of actress Scarlett Johansson.

The FBI said Wednesday that it had arrested Christopher Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Fla. without incident in the morning on a host of cyber-related charges.

The investigation, dubbed Hackerazzi, began late in 2010, long before the Johansson shots made news.

“While the case against Mr. Chaney involves celebrities who were targeted because of their fame, this case reminds us that we are all potential victims of computer hackers,” said LA U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. in a statement.

The indictment alleges that Chaney accessed the computers, e-mail accounts and account settings of several victims, beginning November 13, 2010, through February 10, 2011.

The indictment further alleges Chaney also used the identities of some of the victims to illegally access and control computers, and in other instances, “intercepted and endeavored to intercept wire communications; specifically, e-mails and attachments.”

In most cases, Chaney accessed the administrative settings on the victims’ accounts so that all of their e-mails would automatically be forwarded to a separate e-mail account Chaney controlled, authorities said. This form of wiretapping, authorities said, allowed Chaney to continually receive victims’ e-mails even after a password had been reset.

Investigators determined that Chaney distributed some of the files he obtained illegally, including photos of celebrities, and offered them to various celebrity blog sites. Some of the illegally obtained files, including private photographs, were ultimately posted online.

“As we highlight cyber awareness during the month of October, it’s important to remember that, although these victims appear to have been targeted based on their celebrity, similar methods may be used to illegally access any one of our computers,” said Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Strict computer security should be practiced when using smart phones, laptops, desktops, iPads, or any other device that provides Internet access.”

Paper Defends Naming “Whitey” Bulger’s Tipster

Whitey Bulger/fbi

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The Boston Globe is standing by its decision to publicly name the tipster that led federal agents to nab fugitive gangster James “Whitey” Bulger in June in California.

Editors were confident that revealing the name of Anna Bjornsdottir, an Iceland native and Santa Monica, Calif. neighbor of Bulger’s, did not pose a threat to Anna, and that the public interest was better served by the disclosure, reports Boston.com.

“We were confident Whitey Bulger and Cathy Greig knew exactly who the tipster was,’’ The Globe’s deputy managing editor for local news Jennifer Peter told the site. “We asked people directly involved in the investigation if she would be in danger if we named her. No one told us she would be in danger at all.’’

The paper said that naming Bjornsdottir served the public by quelling speculations that the FBI had made the tipster up, and that the decision was run by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office, neither of which voiced complaints.

The FBI has had a “corrupt history” with Bulger, says Boston.com.

“There have been so many deceptions and lies in the past. In order to provide a definitive story, and tell the story as it actually happened, we had to name her,” said Peter, the local news editor. “If we didn’t, it wouldn’t be a credible retelling of how Bulger was arrested.’’

Bulger, a longtime FBI informant, fled before a 1995 federal racketeering indictment after being warned of looming charges by a corrupt former FBI handler. He is being held without bail on charges of killing 19 people.

To read more click here.

News Report Questions FBI Theory That Anthrax Suspect Tried to Deceive Investigators

A U.S. Army scientist stands near the letters used in the 2001 anthrax attacks (Photo courtesy of FBI and ProPublica)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An investigative report published by ProPublica points to some flaws in the FBI’s conclusion that Ft. Detrick, Md. scientist Bruce Ivins was the culprit who mailed the deadly anthrax in 2001.

The investigation, conducted by ProPublica, PBS and McClatchy Newspapers, attempts to undercut a key theory that Ivins tried to deceive the FBI. The report points to samples Ivins provided from a flask in 2002 to the FBI. The FBI said tests failed to match the anthrax sent through the mail.

Later, the news report said, the FBI  took its own samples from the flask and found matches to the deadly anthrax letters.

Authorities pointed to that as a key piece of evidence against Ivins, saying he was intentionally being deceptive to hide his guilt. Ivins committed suicide in July 2008, just before he was about to be charged.

Rachel Lieber, the lead prosecutor in a case that will never go to trial, thinks that Ivins manipulated his sample to cover his tracks, the news report said.

“If you send something that is supposed to be from the murder weapon, but you send something that doesn’t match, that’s the ultimate act of deception,” the lead prosecutor Rachel Lieber said in the report. “That’s why it’s so important.”

But the news agencies report that they “turned up new evidence that challenges the FBI’s narrative of Ivins as a man with a guilty conscience who was desperately trying to avoid being discovered.”

“Records recently released under the Freedom of Information Act show that Ivins made available a total of four sets of samples from 2002 to 2004, double the number the FBI has disclosed,” the news report said. “And in subsequent FBI tests, three of the four sets ultimately tested positive for the” anthrax.’

The report suggested that the positive samples turned over to the FBI was proof that Ivins was not trying to deceive the FBI.

Paul Kemp, Ivins’ lawyer, said the existence of Ivins’ additional submissions discredits a key aspect of the FBI case, the report said.

“I wish I’d known that at the time,’’ he said.

The Justice Department has repeatedly dismissed any reports challenging its conclusion that Ivins was the culprit. The agency has said that the conclusion was based on multiple factors.

Read full report.

 

FBI Finds More than Veal Cutlets at Brooklyn Butcher

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

FBI agents found more than a good cut of veal and pork chops at the Graham Ave. Meats and Deli in Brooklyn, N.Y. neighborhood of Williamsburg this summer. In their arrest of Michael “Mike The Butcher” Virtuoso on extortion charges this past July, agents found a rolodex of Virtuoso’s with the contact information for many of the city’s top crime bosses and mafioso.

Feds hope the rolodex can be used against Virtuoso in the charges, and are arguing not to offer the butcher a shot at bail due to his associations with organized crime. Virtuoso made no attempt to code the names of his contacts, reports the New York Post.

Agents also found a scrapbook of Vituoso’s containing newspaper reports of mob arrests and convictions. Virtuoso was convicted in 2009 of extortion, the Post reported.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

FBI-DEA Foil Iranian-Linked Plot to Kill Saudi Ambassador to U.S.

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department on Tuesday afternoon announced that FBI and DEA agents had foiled a plot linked to the Iranian government to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.

Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old Iranian-American, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of Iran’s Qods Force– a unit of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) –said to be a sponsor of terrorn -were charged in New York, according to the Justice Department. Arbabsiar was arrested on Sept. 29 at JFK Airport, while Shakuri remains at large.

“As alleged, these defendants were part of a well-funded and pernicious plot that had, as its first priority, the assassination of the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, without care or concern for the mass casualties that would result from their planned attack,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement. “Today’s charges should make crystal clear that we will not let other countries use our soil as their battleground.”

“The criminal complaint unsealed today exposes a deadly plot directed by factions of the Iranian government to assassinate a foreign Ambassador on U.S. soil with explosives,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a Justice Department statement.

ABC News reported that the plot also included plans to bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies in D.C.

Authorities alleged that Arbabsiar agreed to pay $1.5 million a DEA informant, posing as an associate of a violent Mexican drug cartel, to assassinate the ambassador.  The informant told him he would need four men to carry out the murder.

Arbabsiar allegedly told the informant that his cousin in Iran, who was a “big general” in the Iranian military, has asked him to find someone to carry out the assassination.

Authorities said when the informant noted that innocent bystanders could get hurt, “Arbabsiar made it clear that the assassination needed to go forward, despite mass casualties.”

“They want that guy [the Ambassador] done [killed], if the hundred go with him f**k ‘em.,”” Arbabsiar allegedly said.

Arbabsiar also allegedly discussed bombing a restaurant in the U.S. that the ambassador frequented. Arbabsiar allegedly said that killing others during the attack would be “no big deal.”

Authorities, citing the criminal complaint, said “Arbabsiar also admitted to agents that, in connection with this plot, he was recruited, funded, and directed by men he understood to be senior officials in Iran’s Qods Force.”

Spanish Politician Plans to Sue FBI for Using His Face for Obama Mock-Up Photo

FBI used lawmaker's photo for bin Laden

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Being told you look like someone famous might be flattering. Then again, it depends who.

Spanish MP (Member of Parliament) Gaspar Llamazares said he wants to sue the FBI, reports the Guardian, for using  a photo of his face to create most wanted images of top al Qaeda operatives, Osama Bin Laden and Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, who was killed in Pakistan in August,  Llamazares pointed out.

“I’m going to sue the FBI because they have not made things right apart from offering a weak apology through clenched teeth,” he told Spanish radio station Cadina SER.  “I’d like to remind you that the two people whose images were put together using parts of my face have since been assassinated,” he said.

Better to be a look alike for someone like Brad Pitt.

To read more click here.