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College Friend of Suspected Boston Marathon Bomber Convicted of Lying to FBI Task Force in Boston Marathon Probe

Robel Phillipos

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

After an eight-day trial, a Boston federal jury Tuesday convicted a college friend of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, of making false statements to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Robel Phillipos, 21, of Cambridge, Mass., was found guilty of making false statements on April 20 and April 25 in 2013. Sentencing is set for next Jan. 29.

“In the wake of one of the most significant events in this City’s modern history – an event which left two young women and a child dead, and many more injured – thousands of ordinary citizens assisted law enforcement in identifying and locating the perpetrators,” Boston U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement. “Today, a federal jury concluded that Robel Phillipos did just the opposite. He lied to agents when he could have helped. He concealed when he could have assisted. It is a crime to lie to law enforcement agents, and that is why Robel Phillipos was charged and why the jury found him guilty today. But this case also reminds us that our public safety network relies on every citizen in the Commonwealth.

A Justice Department press release stated the following:

In August 2014, Dias Kadyrbayev pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges related to the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. Kadyrbayev admitted to removing evidence from Tsarnaev’s dormitory room at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and discarding Tsarnaev’s backpack with fireworks, some of which appeared to have been emptied of their explosive powder, in a garbage dumpster. In July 2014, Azamat Tazhayakov was found guilty by a federal jury in Boston of obstruction of justice charges for his role in impeding the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. His conduct was related to the same conduct as charged against Kadyrbayev that occurred in Tsarnaev’s dormitory room on the evening of April 18, 2013.

At the Phillipos trial, the government proved that Phillipos lied about his knowledge and activities on the evening of April 18, 2013. Specifically, Phillipos repeatedly lied to investigators when he denied that, on the evening of April 18, 2013, he entered Tsarnaev’s dormitory room and saw Kadyrbayev remove a backpack containing fireworks.

According to evidence presented at trial, at 7:00 p.m. on April 18, 2013, Phillipos saw the images released by the FBI of the two suspected bombers and immediately recognized one of them as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. At 10:00 p.m., Phillipos went with Tazhayakov to Tsarnaev’s dormitory room where he and Tazhayakov watched, as Kadyrbayev searched through Tsarnaev’s belongings and found a backpack containing fireworks. When Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos left Tsarnaev’s room at 10:30 p.m., Kadyrbayev removed Tsarnaev’s backpack containing fireworks, a jar of Vaseline, and Tsarnaev’s laptop computer. Later that night while Tazhayakov and Phillipos were monitoring the manhunt for the Tsarnaevs on television, Kadyrbayev discussed getting rid of the backpack containing the fireworks with them. Tazhayakov agreed with Kadyrbayev that they should get rid of it. After this conversation, Kadrybayev placed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s backpack in a garbage bag and placed it in a dumpster outside their New Bedford apartment. The FBI recovered the backpack a week later, after 30 agents spent two days searching a landfill in New Bedford.

Between April 19, 2013 and April 26, 2013, Phillipos was interviewed five times by investigators conducting the Boston Marathon bombing investigation and during each of those interviews Phillipos lied. At the conclusion of the fifth interview, Phillipos finally admitted that he did go into Tsarnaev’s dormitory room on the evening of April 18, 2013 and that he saw Kadyrbayev remove evidence from Tsarnaev’s room. After he confessed, Phillipos indicated he regretted his decisions. In his signed statement, Phillipos stated: “In retrospect, I should have notified the Police once I knew Jahar was the bomber. Further, I should have turned over the backpack to the authorities.”

 

Attorney General Eric Holder Tells Thousands of Cops That Many Departments Need to Address Community Tension and Trust

Attorney General Eric Holder in Orlando

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ORLANDO, Fla. — Eric Holder delivered his last speech as Attorney General on Monday before the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Orlando. He’s stepping down from the job.

During his speech before thousands of law enforcement folks, Holder mentioned Ferguson, Mo., and the need for police to address the issues of tension and mistrust between the community and the police departments.

“As our nation’s Attorney General, I have always been proud – and steadfast – in my support for law enforcement personnel and their families, who make tremendous and often unheralded sacrifices every single day to keep us safe.

“These sacrifices are too often overlooked. And I believe we do ourselves, our communities, and our nation a grave disservice if we ignore these difficulties – just as we do ourselves a disservice if we dismiss, or fail to address, the conditions and lingering tensions that exist just beneath the surface in so many places across the country – and that were brought to the surface, and raised to the urgent attention of this group and others, by this summer’s events in Ferguson, Missouri. ”

“As law enforcement leaders, it is incumbent upon each of us to take constructive, inclusive steps to rebuild trust and instill respect for the rule of law in all of the communities where these tensions are uncovered.”

Holder was touching on a sensitive subject. While cops understand the tensions in the community, they often feel misunderstood, and  that the challenges they face in policing are glossed over when it comes to addressing such issues.

Holder, who didn’t deliver the speech with a lot of passion, is also seen as a surrogate for President Obama. And frankly, a fair amount of folks in law enforcement aren’t in love with the president.  I had a former federal agent tell me that the following day.

In fact, a video message from President Obama was played Monday before thousands of law enforcement officers. Obama said he was grateful for the jobs they do and the sacrifices they make.

When the video ended, there was polite applause, but it was clear the clapping was not done with a lot of love.

It’s an important issue Holder talked about. And addressing that issue can help the community and police departments.

Hopefully, some of the cops can appreciate the message and not worry about who delivered it.

 

New York Times’ Retro Report: Ruby Ridge: American Standoff

Seattle Times Outraged After Discovering FBI Created Bogus News Site to Capture Suspect

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI created a bogus Seattle Times web page and posted a fake news story in an attempt to plant software on the computer of a juvenile suspected of making bomb threats at a high school in 2007, the Seattle Times reports.

The discovery by the ACLU was revealed on Twitter and comes less than a month after the FBI revealed it created a fake Facebook account using a real person and photos.

Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the ACLU, said the creation of bogus news site could result in “significant collateral damage to the public trust” if the FBI continues the practice.

Documents show that the FBI attributed the story about bomb threats to the Associated Press.

Once the juvenile clicked on the link, the software sent his location and Internet Protocol information to investigators.

The Seattle Times expressed outrage.

“We are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect,” said Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best.

“Not only does that cross a line, it erases it,” she said.

“Our reputation and our ability to do our job as a government watchdog are based on trust. Nothing is more fundamental to that trust than our independence — from law enforcement, from government, from corporations and from all other special interests,” Best said. “The FBI’s actions, taken without our knowledge, traded on our reputation and put it at peril.”

Could Loretta Lynch Become First Black Woman to Become Attorney General? She’s a Top Candidate

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The leading candidate to replace Attorney General Eric Holder appears to be Loretta Lynch, the head prosecutor in Brooklyn, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The news comes after another top candidate withdrew her name.

Others being considered are General Donald Verrilli and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, according to the sources.

Lynch, 55, may not be as difficult to gain confirmation because Reuters says she has caused little controversy during her two tenures as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

If she’s confirmed, she would become the first black woman to head the Justice Department.

The White House declined to comment.

“We don’t have any personnel updates, and are certainly not going to speculate on any decisions before the president makes them,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

 

 

Forget Edward Snowden; FBI Investigating Second Leaker Accused of Providing Security Info to Media

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Edward Snowden has become a household name after leaking eye-opening information to the media.

Now the FBI is investigating a second suspected leaker who also was government contractor, Yahoo News reports.

Agents have searched the Northern Virginia home of Michael Isikoff, who is accused of disclosing details of the government’s terrorist watch list.

The leak went to the Intercept, which reported in August that about half of the 680,000 people on the terrorist database kept by the U.S. “are not connected to any known terrorist group.”

The source was “in the intelligence community,” Intercept reported.

“Without commenting on any purported sources: Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux’s reporting for The Intercept on the federal watchlisting program brought crucial information about this preposterously overbroad and inefficient system to light, and has been repeatedly cited by civil liberties groups and civil rights attorneys who are seeking the intervention of federal courts to reign in its excesses,” Intercept editor-in-chief John Cook said in a statement.

Latest White House Jumper Deemed Incompetent to Stand Trial in Federal Court

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com
 
The latest person to jump the fence of the White House was found incompetent for trial following a psychiatric screening, MSNBC reports.

The 23-year-old suspect’s behavior was odd in a U.S. district courtroom where he shouted “help me” and claimed he was a “targeted individual.”

Dominic Adesanya was arrested last week after he was tackled by Secret Service K-9s.

Adesanya is due back in court on Dec. 22.

Other Stories of Interest


FBI Director James Comey Warns of The Prospect of a Terrorist Diaspora out Of Syria or Iraq Haunting U.S.

Director James B. Comey speaking in Orlando.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ORLANDO, Fla. — FBI Director James B. Comey delivered the key note address Monday at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Orlando, warning of  the potential dangers of the  “travelers” from around the world who are joining ISIS in battle. He also raised concerns domestically about the challenges of getting information from devices like smartphones for investigations, despite court-authorization.

“We as a country, with our allies around the world, have done a great job over the last 13 years of taking the fight to core al Qaeda in the Afghanistan, Pakistan region,” Comey told thousands of local, state, federal and foreign law enforcement agents and officers and chiefs gathered in a cavernous auditorium at the Orange County Convention Center.

“In the course of that we have shrunk that tumor. I think of terrorism as a cancer. We have shrunk that tumor significantly. At the same time, the lightly governed or ungoverned spaces that have popped in a lot of different parts of the world, especially in wake of the Arab Spring,  in Northern Africa, around the Gulf and around the Mediterranean, have allowed a metastasis of that tumor. So we’ve seen popping virulent strains that are the progeny of al Qaeda…And most recently the Islamic state, or ISIL.”

“What’s happened is that those lightly governed spaces have allowed these secondary tumors to root and to offer safe havens and to attract to those…people from around the world, seeking meaning in their lives in some incredibly misguided way, looking to wage jihad.”

He said the travelers who come from the U.S. and around the world to fight in Syria and Iraq pose a great danger.

“Them going there is very worrisome. Because they get the worst kind of relationships, they get the worst kind of training. It’s actually their coming out at some point that worries me even more. There will come a terrorist diaspora out of places like like Syria and Iraq. Those of us who are old enough to remember can remember the terrorist diaspora out of Afghanistan after the war with the Soviets. And we can draw a line from that diaspora to 9/11.”

“All of us in this business are determined, I know to ensure that a future diaspora does not lead to a future tragedy. So we’re focused together on the traveler phenomena.”

Comey also touched on the issue of “going dark,” the inability of investigators to tap into communication devices like tablets and smartphones, even with a judge’s order.

He said it has been a problem ever since the 1990s, but it has only gotten worse as the number of devices has increased.

He’s been hammering away at the issue of late. In a speech in D.C. earlier this month, he brought up the issue, saying that some companies have not developed products so that communications can be intercepted, or in other instances, companies have resisted court orders to turn over information. He said it’s hindered investigation at times.

On Monday, he said:

“Before we get to the place where good folks, victims of crimes come to us and say, ‘What do you mean, you can’t, I thought a judge said you, with a search warrant, could warrant could get this information.  What do you mean you can’t find the information that may help you locate a missing child, find the information that will help you break up a terrorist cell, find the information that will identify and root our pedophiles.’ Before we get to a place where our answer is, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t,’ we need to have a conversation.”