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With Upcoming Election, FBI Unit Plans to Alert U.S. Companies About Foreign Disinformation and Social Media Manipulation

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

With a new election approaching, the FBI is concerned.

The FBI’s “foreign influence” task force plans to alert U.S. companies and the public about efforts by Russia or other nations to use disinformation and social media manipulation to interfere in upcoming elections, Bloomberg News reports.

At the same time, the feds are being careful not to upset free speech and constitutional rights, a top law enforcement official said.

Bloomberg reports:

The direction that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “foreign influence” task force is heading could dramatically reshape the relationship between government and social media companies in order to address vulnerabilities that enabled Russia to meddle in the 2016 election.

“We’ve been reluctant in some instances to share the amount of information of what we know about what’s happening,” said Jeffrey Tricoli, a top FBI official heading the task force. “You can’t stay with the same strategy if you think there needs to be changes. So going forward there’s going to be opportunities for us to share information in better ways.”

 

GOP Lawmakers Push for Comey to Testify in Clinton Probe

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

GOP lawmakers are trying to beat the drum louder on the probe into the FBI Hillary Clinton investigation.

House Republicans are preparing to ask former FBI Director James Comey to testify as part of the Republican-led probe into the FBI and Justice Department handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, CNN reports, noting:

Comey’s testimony, if he appeared, would raise the stakes of the joint Judiciary and Oversight Committee investigation into the decision not to charge the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee over classified emails on her private server — and the rare step for Comey to publicly announce Clinton would not be charged — as the probe has become a proxy battle on Capitol Hill between Democrats and Republicans over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

 “I think that would be essential,” says Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican.  We’re going to have to find out from James Comey why the normal procedures were ignored in this case.”

Fox News: Former DEA Official: Holder Was ‘Very Alarmed’ About Hezbollah Probe’s Findings, But There Was No Follow-Up

Raleigh News & Observer Editorial: ATF Can’t Do Its Job on Guns Due to Lack of Resources

File photo of guns, via ATF

BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Raleigh News & Obsserver

Every time, yes every time there is a catastrophic episode of gun violence, the first rhetorical defense of the National Rifle Association and other gun rights advocates goes something like this: We have plenty of laws about guns. The problem is the government won’t enforce them.

But Kate Irby of the McClatchy Newspapers Washington bureau, in an extensive report, shows that federal officials, primarily because of a shortage of staffing to do inspections in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), are unable to keep up with their own minimum goals to inspect all firearms dealers.

The goal used to be every three years. Now it’s every three to five years. But a 2013 report from the Office of the Inspector General found just 58 percent of firearms dealers were inspected within five years. That’s an astonishing figure. People who deal in deadly weapons aren’t inspected in a timely fashion by federal officials. Automobile inspection rules are more strict.

To read the complete editorial click here.

 

FBI Director Wray Once Again Talks About His Grave Concerns About Encryption

FBI Director Christopher Wray (File photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Back in October, FBI Director Christopher Wray spoke at the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia and talked about his grave concern he had about getting access to thousands of cell phones in criminal cases due to encryption and privacy issues.

“In the first 11 months of this fiscal year alone, we were unable to access the content of more than 6,900, that six-thousand-nine-hundred, mobile devices using appropriate and available technical tools even though we had the legal authority to do so,” he told the law enforcement group.

“Each one of those 6,900 mobile devices is tied to a specific subject, a specific defendant, a specific victim, a specific investigation. That’s more than half …..of all the mobile devices that we attempted to access in that time frame. And that’s just the FBI.”

On Tuesday, he once again emphasized his concern at New York at Fordham University’s International Conference on Cyber Security, according to a report in the Washington Post by Ellen Nakashima.

“Being unable to access nearly 7,800 devices in a single year is a major public safety issue,” he said, echoing concerns of  his predecessor, James B. Comey.

“We’re not interested in the millions of devices of everyday citizens,” he said. “We’re interested in those devices that have been used to plan or execute terrorist or criminal activities.”

GPS Fusion Founder Glenn Simpson: FBI Had Source Inside Trump Organization

Glenn Simpson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Chatter surrounding the Trump-Russia probe escalated  Tuesday when a massive transcript was released of Congressional testimony in August from Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS and author of the infamous dossier.

In his testimony, Simpson says the FBI had a source within the Trump organization who verified some of his allegations in the dossier, reports Slate.

The key portion from the testimony comes on pages 174 and 175. Simpson testified that Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier that has become a principal target of Trump’s defenders, met with the FBI in September, 2016. According to Simpson, during that meeting the FBI told Steele that they had a human source inside the Trump organization, which was why they were investigating the claims in his own report and taking them seriously, Slate wrote.


Ex-Secret Service Officer Pens Book That Tells of President Clinton Sneaking Off to Be With Mistresses

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

This story may not come as much of a shocker.

A book by Gary J. Byrne, a former Secret Service officer in the uniform division, claims President Bill Clinton often snuck away from his wife at the White House to cozy up with “well-known and lesser-known mistresses,” and that a Secret Service officer in the motorcade was nearly killed in a crash during one secret escape, writes Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner.

Byrne, in a book,  Secrets of the Secret Service: The History and Uncertain Future of the U.S. Secret Service, writes that Clinton demanded a tiny motorcade to secretly dash around Washington unnoticed, ordering that the cars try to obey laws like stopped lights.

ProPublica: DEA Operation Played Hidden Role in the Disappearance of Five Innocent Mexicans

The agency knew why the victims were kidnapped in 2010 by the Zetas drug cartel from a Holiday Inn in Mexico, but it did nothing to investigate or help. The victims’ friends and relatives now wonder why

By Ginger Thompson
ProPublica

At about 2 a.m. on April 21, 2010, a convoy of gunmen working for the Zetas drug cartel, one of the most violent drug trafficking organizations in the world, rolled into Monterrey, Mexico, a wealthy, bustling city considered that country’s commercial capital. With brazen efficiency, they set up roadblocks at all major thoroughfares, then sent a convoy of sport utility vehicles downtown, encircling a Holiday Inn.

The heavily armed men, some wearing ski masks, swarmed into the hotel’s lobby and rushed directly to the fifth floor, bursting into every room and rousting the guests from their beds. The gunmen questioned the guests, then separated four of them from the rest: a marketing executive at an eyewear company, a chemical engineer for a cosmetics manufacturer, a shoe salesman expecting his first child, and a college professor who was the mother of two.

Then the four were loaded, along with the hotel’s receptionist, into the gunmen’s vehicles and driven away. None of the hostages has been seen since. All are presumed dead.

For years, their relatives and friends begged for answers. Why were their loved ones — ordinary middle-class Mexicans with no known criminal ties—targeted in this spasm of drug violence? The marketing executive’s family futilely negotiated and paid a ransom before the Zetas cut off contact.

“We could never figure out why they were taken. What made them so important?” said David Anabitarte, the marketing executive’s supervisor and one of his best friends. “It was hard to accept what had happened because it never made any sense.”

Mexican authorities initially insinuated that the victims had brought on their own demise, adding insult to grief. The college professor, they alleged, may have been involved in a romantic relationship with one of the Zetas’ rivals. And they speculated that the marketing executive, who had managed to lift his family into the upper middle class, might have had some connection to the drug trade. Without any credible explanations for why the Zetas would move military-style through a major metropolitan city to kidnap random guests at a budget hotel, some of the people close to the victims began to believe that too.

Read more »