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FBI

James Comey Defends US Surveillance Practices at FBI Confirmation Hearing

 

James Comey testifies Tuesday.

By Spencer Ackerman
The Gaurdian

President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the FBI forcefully argued to the Senate that the oversight mechanisms on the government’s widespread surveillance of phone records and online habits sufficiently protect Americans’ privacy.

James Comey, the former US deputy attorney general, said Tuesday that the secret surveillance court that approves wiretapping requests is “anything but a rubber stamp”, even though the so-called Fisa court approves nearly every surveillance request by the government.

“I think folks don’t understand that the FBI operates under a wide variety of constraints,” Comey testified during his confirmation hearing to succeed Robert Mueller as the second director of the bureau since 9/11. The combination of the Fisa court, investigative guidelines from the US attorney general, congressional scrutiny and internal inspectors general are “very effective” at checking FBI abuse, Comey argued.

To read more click here.

 

Listen Live to Senate Judiciary Hearing at 10 Today for Nomination of James Comey as FBI Director


Senate Judiciary hearing begins

 

James Comey testifies Tuesday.

Listen to live broadcast of Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for nomination of James Comey for FBI director.

CLICK HERE

 

High-Ranking Mobster Asks to Be Released for Helping FBI Arrest Mafia Members

Joseph Massino/gov photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Bonanno crime boss and FBI informant wants to be freed from jail in exchange for damaging testimony against the mafia, the New York Post reportsBon.

Joseph Massino, who will be re-sentenced toady, provided key testimony against former colleagues, including Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano.

“It is fair to say that not only is Mr. Massino the most prominent La Cosa Nostra leader ever to cooperate but also that seldom in the history of the war against organized crime has anyone contributed as much to the government,” Massino attorney Edward McDonald wrote to the court.

The 70-year-old career criminal is in poor health, his attorney said.

Surrogate Son of Accused Mobster ‘Whitey’ Bulger Testifies in Murder, Racketeering Trial

Whitey Bulger/fbi

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A man who was considered to be the surrogate son of James “Whitey” Bulger testified Monday against the accused Boston mobster, describing a cold killer who stopped at nothing to protect himself.

“I was with him for 20 years,” Kevin Weeks, who was a critical witness, told the court during Bulger’s murder and racketeering trial, ABC News reports.

Weeks is accused of helping Bulger murder Brian “Balloonhead” Halloran for going to the FBI with information about Bulger, ABC News reported.

Obama’s FBI Nominee, James B. Comey, Faces Tough Questions about Domestic Surveillance

James Comey

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to grill James B. Comey about his views on enemy interrogations and government surveillance during a hearing today, The New York Times reports.

President Obama’s choice to be FBI director has faced a tough confirmation process in the midst of revelations that the U.S. is conducting widespread surveillance against its citizens and others across the world.

Among the concerns was Comey’s time as deputy attorney general in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, who supported government surveillance programs.

“While Comey deserves credit for stopping an illegal spying program in dramatic fashion, he also approved or defended some of the worst abuses of the Bush administration during his time as deputy attorney general. Those included torture, warrantless wiretapping and indefinite detention,” said Laura W. Murphy, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s legislative office in Washington.

Russia: NSA Leaker Snowden May Be Down to ‘Last Chance’ As Venezuela Gets Involved

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Venezuela appears to be NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s last hope of gaining asylum, an influential member of Parliament said, USA Today reports.

Alexei Pushkov, head of the Parliament’s international affairs committee, wrote on Twitter: “Venezuela is waiting for an answer from Snowden. This, perhaps, is his last chance to receive political asylum.”

Still, Venezuelan officials haven’t been in touch with Snowden, who is believed to be stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Those officials plan to speak with Russian officials today about the situation, according to the USA Today.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

NYPD Cop Accused of Abusing Federal Database to Snoop on Co-Workers

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Another New York City cop is accused of abusing a federal database operated by the FBI.

The Associated Press reports that Edwin Vargas looked up names of two fellow officers without their knowledge.

Vargas is just the latest NYPC officer accused of abusing the National Crime Information Center database. Others have used the database to tip off drug dealers and stage robberies.

The NCIC database has a lot of information and helps track down cars, stolen guns, fugitives, sex offenders and others, the AP wrote.

ACLU lists 10 Most ‘Disturbing’ Things About FBI Since 9/11

By Matthew Harwood
ACLU Media Relations Associate

Next Tuesday, James Comey will have his first job interview for succeeding Robert Mueller as director of the FBI.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will not only have the chance to determine whether Comey is qualified for the job—and we have our concerns—but an opportunity to examine what the FBI has become since 9/11 and whether it needs to change course over the next decade.

Over the past 12 years, the FBI has become a domestic intelligence agency with unprecedented power to peer into the lives of ordinary Americans and secretly amass data about people not suspected of any wrongdoing. The recent revelation about the FBI using the Patriot Act’s “business records provision” to track all U.S. telephone calls is only the latest in a long line of abuse stemming from the expanded powers granted to the bureau since September 2001.

To read more click here.