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Tag: FBI

FBI: Iran Behind Website Inciting Violence Against Officials Who Defended Election Integrity

FBI Director Christopher Wray, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI says Iran is responsible for a website that incited violence against the bureau’s Director Chris Wray and other federal and state officials who discredited baseless fraud allegations leveled by President Trump and his allies. 

The website titled “Enemies of the People” listed images, home addresses and other personal information about Wray, ousted Homeland Security official Christopher Krebs, and roughly a dozen other officials, accusing them of engaging in treason because they “aided and abetted the fraudulent election against Trump,” The Washington Post reports.

Their photos were superimposed with crosshairs. 

Iran, which also has been accused of trying to interfere in the 2020 election, denied responsibility. 

The website, which is no longer online, accused governors in swing-states, voting systems executives, Wray and Krebs of “changing votes and working against the President” in a plot to “overthrow our democracy.” The website made the rounds on social media with the hashtags #remembertheirfaces and #NoQuarterForTraitors.

The FBI notified some of the targeted officials with the following statement: “The FBI is in possession of highly credible information indicating Iranian advanced persistent threat actors were almost certainly responsible for the creation of a website, called ‘Enemies of the People’ containing death threats aimed at U.S. election officials in mid-December 2020.”

Ex-Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Pleads Guilty to Stealing FBI Funds

Allen Scott Pillow

By Steve Neavling

A former Green County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant in Arkansas pleaded guilty Monday to stealing more than $30,000 in FBI money that was part of a fake drug operation. 

Allen Scott Pillow, 56, was convicted on one count of theft of government funds and faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced at a later date. 

Acting on a tip that Pillow was abusing his role with the sheriff’s office, FBI agents conducted a ruse narcotic investigation and asked Pillow for help. In November 2019, the FBI staged a glass drug pipe in a vehicle rented by the FBI, along with $76,000 in cash in a red backpack. 

Pillow searched the car and found the glass pipe and backpack full of cash. He told the FBI that he recovered $45,600, which was $30,400 less than was in the car. 

During a search of Pillow’s home, the FBI found all but $280 of the stolen funds.       

“The vast majority of law enforcement officers are honorable men and women who put their lives on the line every day to preserve our liberty and safety,” United States Attorney Cody Hiland said in a statement. “On the very rare occasion that we encounter corruption within law enforcement, we will take every action necessary to root it out. Our office will hold accountable any officer who violates the public trust so that we may uphold the integrity of a profession that deserves our gratitude and respect.”

Diane Upchurch, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Little Rock Field Office, added, “The appalling criminal actions of former Lt. Scott Pillow revealed his lack of integrity and greed. “Quite simply, he betrayed his brothers and sisters in law enforcement. Officers who are sworn to protect and serve are held to a higher standard, and FBI Little Rock will continue to uphold Arkansans’ trust in law enforcement.”

Grand Jury Indicts 6 Men Accused of Plotting to Kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer

Six suspects accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer.

By Steve Neavling

A federal grand jury has indicted six men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

The indictment comes more than two months after the FBI arrested the suspects, who face up to life in prison on one count of kidnapping conspiracy. 

No trial date has been set. 

The indictment sheds new light on the case. One of the suspects, Brandon Caserta, 32, of Canton Township, instructed his co-conspirators in an encrypted video message that “if they encountered police during reconnaissance, they should give the officers one opportunity to leave, and kill them if they did not comply,” according to a court filing. 

The other indicted men are Adam Fox, 37, of Potterville; Ty Garbin, 25, of Hartland Township; Kaleb Franks, 26, of Waterford Township; Daniel Harris, 23, of Lake Orion; and Barry Croft, 44, of Delaware. An additional six suspects in the kidnapping plot were charged in state court. 

According to new filings, investigators raided sites in multiple states, including a firing range in northern Michigan and homes in metro Detroit. 

Federal prosecutors say the men were anti-government extremists who were incensed over Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions. 

White House Lawyers Advise Trump Against Firing Wray

FBI Director Christopher Wray, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

The White House counsel’s office has “strongly” urged President Trump not to fire FBI Director Christopher Wray because of potential legal consequences, according to a new report.

While Trump has mulled for weeks whether to fire Wray, White House lawyers advised him against taking drastic actions because it could appear he is imposing a “loyalty test,” NBC reports.

The lawyers, including White House counsel Pat Cipollone, were worried that firing Wray could lead to the kind of legal issues that dogged Trump after he terminated then-FBI Director James Comey in 2017. 

They expressed concerns that the firing could be seen as retaliation because Wray didn’t launch investigations into the president’s political enemies. 

Although administration officials said Wray’s termination didn’t appear imminent, Trump has a habit of making decisions on a whim, and he’s expected to embark on a firing spree before his term expires next month. 

“I wouldn’t take anything off the table in coming weeks,” the senior administration official said, adding that he or she expects “some more fairly significant terminations in the national security or intelligence community.”

FBI Investigates Suspected Russian Hacking of Government Networks

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating hackers who breached the Treasury and Commerce departments, along with other government agencies, gaining access to their email systems. 

Russian government hackers appear to be behind the intrusion, The Washington Post reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

The hackers, whose nickname is Cozy Bear or APT29, also were behind the hacking of the State Department and White House email servers during the Obama administration. 

Authorities are still trying to determine the nature and extent of the breach. It’s not yet clear whether classified material was obtained. 

The campaign may have begun as early as spring. 

Federal law enforcement declined to comment on the intrusion over the weekend. 

Timothy Waters Named Special Agent in Charge of Detroit Field Office

Timothy Waters, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office.

By Steve Neavling

Timothy Waters has been tapped to serve as special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, where he began his career with the bureau two decades ago.  

Waters, who most recently served as the deputy assistant director of the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) in Virginia, joined the FBI in 2000, working as a special agent investigating white-collar crime in the Detroit Field Office. 

Following the 9/11 attack, Waters started working counterterrorism and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan to support military and intelligence community operations in 2005 and 2006.

Waters became a supervisory special agent in 2017 and led a section of Detroit’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. One of his investigations included the attempted bombing of an airplane at Metro Airport in Detroit on Christmas 2009. 

In 2010, Waters became the legal attaché in Islamabad. 

He returned to Detroit in 2011, serving as supervisor of a Joint Terrorism Task Force that focused on al Qaeda and al Qaeda-inspired terrorists.

In 2014, Waters became assistant special agent in charge of administrative matters in Detroit and was reassigned in 2016 as the assistant special agent in charge of Detroit’s National Security Branch, making him responsible for all counterterrorism, cyber, counterintelligence, and weapons of mass destruction investigations in Michigan.

In 2019, Waters began serving as the director of the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, an FBI-led, multi-agency squad in charge of coordinating, integrating, and sharing cyber threat information. 

Earlier this year, he was named deputy assistant director of CIRG, where he helped lead the FBI’s response to critical incidents worldwide.

Before joining the FBI, Waters served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army for eight years. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. He later earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Supreme Court Says Muslim Placed on No-Fly List May Sue FBI agents for Damages

U.S. Supreme Court

By Steve Neavling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that three Muslim men may sue individual FBI agents for damages after they were placed or kept on the government’s no-fly list because they refused to become government informants. 

In a unanimous decision, the court wrote that Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah and Naveed Shinwari, who are U.S. residents and were never suspected of illegal activity, may seek damages under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, USA Today reports.

“A person whose exercise of religion has been unlawfully burdened may ‘obtain appropriate relief against a government,'” Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, quoting the federal law and saying the term ‘government’ extends to individual officials.

“A damages remedy is not just ‘appropriate’ relief as viewed through the lens of suits against government employees. It is also the only form of relief that can remedy some (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) violations,” Thomas wrote.

The men were eventually removed from the no-fly list but said they lost income, as well as money spent on airline tickets. 

It’s just the latest case in which the Supreme Court recently defended religious freedom. 

FBI Accused of Sweeping Sexual Misconduct Cases ‘Under the Rug’

Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

At least six high-ranking FBI officials have been accused of sexual misconduct in the past five years, and none was disciplined, according to an Associated Press investigation.

Two of the ranking agents were accused of sexual assault this week. 

In each case, the FBI officials retained their full pensions and benefits, even when the allegations were substantiated. Further, after the investigations were over, FBI officials maintained their anonymity and were able to get jobs in the private sector or remain in federal law enforcement. 

“They’re sweeping it under the rug,” said a former FBI analyst who filed a federal lawsuit, alleging a supervisory special agent licked her face and groped her at a colleague’s farewell party in 2017. 

“As the premier law enforcement organization that the FBI holds itself out to be, it’s very disheartening when they allow people they know are criminals to retire and pursue careers in law enforcement-related fields,” said the woman, who asked to be identified in this story only by her first name, Becky.

Some advocacy groups and members of Congress are calling for an investigation of the FBI’s disciplinary process. 

“They need a #MeToo moment,” U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, said.

“It’s repugnant, and it underscores the fact that the FBI and many of our institutions are still good ol’-boy networks,” Speier said. “It doesn’t surprise me that, in terms of sexual assault and sexual harassment, they are still in the Dark Ages.”

The FBI said in a statement that it “maintains a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment,” adding that high-ranking agents have been forced out of their positions while allegations are under investigation. 

In one case, an assistant FBI director was accused of sexually assaulting a female subordinate in a stairwell. In another case, a high-ranking FBI official was accused of sexually harassing eight employees.