The FBI uses drones for domestic surveillance purposes, the head of the agency told Congress early Wednesday.
Robert Mueller, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, confirmed to lawmakers that the FBI owns several unmanned aerial vehicles, but has not adopted any strict policies or guidelines yet to govern the use of the controversial aircraft.
“Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on US soil?” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Mr. Mueller during an oversight hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Yes,” Mueller responded bluntly, adding that the FBI’s operation of drones is “very seldom.”
Asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) to elaborate, Mueller added, “It’s very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident where you need the capability.” Earlier in the morning, however, Mueller said that the agency was only now working to establish set rule for the drone program.
Mueller began answering questions just after 10 a.m. EDT and has also touched briefly on the recently exposed NSA surveillance program that has marred the reputation of the United States intelligence community as of late. Mueller said 22 agents have access to a vast surveillance database, including 20 analysts and two overseers.
When Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) asked Mueller later in the morning if he’d consider being more open about the FBI’s surveillance methods, the director decried being much more transparent that the bureau already is. Mueller said the FBI has and will continue to weigh the possibility of publishing more information about its spy habits, but warned that doing such would be to the advantage of America’s enemies.
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Documents published online for the first time Thursday indicate that the FBI opened an inquiry into New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez on August 1, 2012, focusing on repeated trips he took to the Dominican Republic with longtime campaign contributor and Miami eye doctor Salomon Melgen. TheDC reported in November that Menendez purchased the service of prostitutes in that Caribbean nation at a series of alcohol-fueled sex parties.
The documents, which The Daily Caller had obtained hours earlier from an anonymous source, also indicate that Carrie Levine, research director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), was alerted on April 9, 2012 to Menendez’s habit of paying for sex while outside the United States.
ABC News senior investigative producer Rhonda Schwartz was aware as early as May 2, 2012, the documents show, when Levine wrote a source in the Dominican Republic to say that she had “shared your allegations, but not your identities, with a respected, trusted journalist with whom we have worked on other stories.”
In another email two days later, Levine identified that journalist as one who “works for ABC News.” By May 16, Schwartz was emailing Levine’s original source with questions.
Information made available to Schwartz and Levine at that time included allegations that some of Menendez’s prostitutes were as young as 16. The source also alleged that Sen. Menendez was taking “non-authorized trips” to the Dominican Republic, suggesting that he may have been evading Senate Ethics committee rules covering disclosures when third parties pay for a senator’s travel.
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The FBI records the emails of nearly all US citizens, including members of congress, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney. In an interview with RT, he warned that the government can use this information against anyone.
Binney, one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in the history of the National Security Agency, resigned in 2001. He claimed he no longer wanted to be associated with alleged violations of the Constitution, such as how the FBI engages in widespread and pervasive surveillance through powerful devices called ‘Naris.’
This year, Binney received the Callaway award, an annual prize that recognizes those who champion constitutional rights and American values at great risk to their personal or professional lives.
RT: In light of the Petraeus/Allen scandal while the public is so focused on the details of their family drama, one may argue that the real scandal in this whole story is the power, the reach of the surveillance state. I mean if we take General Allen – thousands of his personal e-mails have been sifted through private correspondence. It’s not like any of those men was planning an attack on America. Does the scandal prove the notion that there is no such thing as privacy in a surveillance state?
William Binney: Yes, that’s what I’ve been basically saying for quite some time, is that the FBI has access to the data collected, which is basically the emails of virtually everybody in the country. And the FBI has access to it. All the congressional members are on the surveillance too, no one is excluded. They are all included. So, yes, this can happen to anyone. If they become a target for whatever reason – they are targeted by the government, the government can go in, or the FBI, or other agencies of the government, they can go into their database, pull all that data collected on them over the years, and we analyze it all. So, we have to actively analyze everything they’ve done for the last 10 years at least.
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Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano told The Daily Caller that, during its investigation of former CIA Director David Petraeus and his biographer, the FBI appears to have wrongfully treated a simple domestic dispute like a national security or criminal matter.
“David Petraeus didn’t betray his country,” Napolitano said in a phone interview. “He betrayed his wife. Big deal.”
Napolitano said the federal investigation was “the use of law enforcement either for a personal vendetta that [Tampa military liaison Jill] Kelley pushed through her FBI agent connection, or a political vendetta – somebody wanting to silence, by embarrassing, humiliating and destroying the credibility of Petraeus.”
“Not only does it not appear there was a crime committed,” Napolitano continued, “[and] not only does it not appear that there was a national security implication, but this is hardly the type of thing that the FBI investigates. This was instigated, apparently, by the Kelley woman, and her friend in the FBI. That is an inappropriate means to commence an investigation by the FBI.”
Napolitano, who is a former New Jersey Superior Court judge, said federal agents, like members of the judiciary, are typically prohibited from working on cases that present a conflict of interest. (RELATED: CIA denies claim it held hostages at Libya annex)
“In fact, the FBI has an internal rule that if an FBI agent knows the complainant, the victim or the target, that FBI agent cannot have anything to do with the case, because that often clouds an individual’s judgment,” Napolitano continued. “It’s like a judge trying a case in which he knows one of the parties. It’s prohibited, and the judge has to reveal that, and get off the case. The principle is the same for the FBI. For that reason, I don’t believe the government’s version of these events.”
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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) says he was told in late October about allegations that then-CIA Director David Petraeus was having an extramarital affair.
The GOP lawmaker said his office was notified about the charges from an FBI employee, who raised questions about a possible security breach, according to a report from the New York Times published Saturday.
“I was contacted by an F.B.I. employee concerned that sensitive, classified information may have been compromised and made certain [FBI] Director [Robert] Mueller was aware of these serious allegations and the potential risk to our national security,” said Cantor in a statement to the Times.
The report says Cantor spoke to the FBI employee after being told by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) that someone at the agency had concerns about national security and wanted to speak to a congressional leader about the allegations.
Cantor says his office notified the FBI about the conversation with the agency employee.
Cantor’s disclosures is likely to raise further questions about the FBI’s role investigating Petraeus, who stepped down from atop the CIA on Friday, and when members of the administration and other lawmakers first learned about the affair.
Reports said the FBI first learned about the extramarital affair while investigating a complaint form a woman close to Petraeus who said she had received harassing emails from the director’s alleged mistress.
Those emails were traced, by the FBI, to Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’s biographer. FBI officers learned about the affair from the email exchanges between Petraeus and Broadwell.
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Birthmarks, be damned: the FBI has officially started rolling out a state-of-the-art face recognition project that will assist in their effort to accumulate and archive information about each and every American at a cost of a billion dollars.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reached a milestone in the development of their Next Generation Identification (NGI) program and is now implementing the intelligence database in unidentified locales across the country, New Scientist reports in an article this week. The FBI first outlined the project back in 2005, explaining to the Justice Department in an August 2006 document (.pdf) that their new system will eventually serve as an upgrade to the current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) that keeps track of citizens with criminal records across America .
“The NGI Program is a compilation of initiatives that will either improve or expand existing biometric identification services,” its administrator explained to the Department of Justice at the time, adding that the project, “will accommodate increased information processing and sharing demands in support of anti-terrorism.”
“The NGI Program Office mission is to reduce terrorist and criminal activities by improving and expanding biometric identification and criminal history information services through research, evaluation and implementation of advanced technology within the IAFIS environment.”
The agency insists, “As a result of the NGI initiatives, the FBI will be able to provide services to enhance interoperability between stakeholders at all levels of government, including local, state, federal, and international partners.” In doing as such, though, the government is now going ahead with linking a database of images and personally identifiable information of anyone in their records with departments around the world thanks to technology that makes fingerprint tracking seem like kids’ stuff.
According to their 2006 report, the NGI program utilizes “specialized requirements in the Latent Services, Facial Recognition and Multi-modal Biometrics areas” that “will allow the FnewBI to establish a terrorist fingerprint identification system that is compatible with other systems; increase the accessibility and number of the IAFIS terrorist fingerprint records; and provide latent palm print search capabilities.”
Is that just all, though? During a 2010 presentation (.pdf) made by the FBI’s Biometric Center of Intelligence, the agency identified why facial recognition technology needs to be embraced. Specifically, the FBI said that the technology could be used for “Identifying subjects in public datasets,” as well as “conducting automated surveillance at lookout locations” and “tracking subject movements,” meaning NGI is more than just a database of mug shots mixed up with fingerprints — the FBI has admitted that this their intent with the technology surpasses just searching for criminals but includes spectacular surveillance capabilities. Together, it’s a system unheard of outside of science fiction.
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According to Homeland Security News Wire, the federal government considers “extremist domestic organizations” as dangerous, if not more so, than foreign terrorist organizations. The FBI and federal law enforcement are stymied in detecting these groups by the First Amendment and political opposition “suspicious of the government’s motives,” the website reports.
The portrayal of military veteran and suspected Sikh temple shooter Wade Michael Page as a white supremacist has given new credence to the Department of Homeland Security’s debunked report on “rightwing extremism.” The 2009 report, initiated during the Bush regime, characterizes returning veterans as fodder for hate groups supposedly below the government’s radar.
“What is clear from the FBI surveillance and analysis of extremist groups in the United States, surveillance which intensified after 9/11, is that the U.S. government has considered neo-Nazi and white supremacists as genuine threats for many years,” the Homeland Security News Wire reports. Declassified FBI documents released through FOIA requests show that the government considers “these groups as threats for decades — so long in fact, that it has been lost on many that white supremacists, in the form of the Ku Klux Klan, pioneered modern homegrown terrorism.”
Left unmentioned is the well documented fact the FBI has established and run many of these racist organizations. On August 6, we posted a story detailing the connections between the FBI (and the Southern Poverty Law Center) and a number of white supremacist groups. During the trial of Hal Turner, supposedly a noted racist, it was revealed he worked for the government and was regarded as a “National Security Intelligence” asset.
The FBI has controlled racist and white supremacist groups since the 1960s. Under COINTELPRO, the FBI “subsidized, armed, directed and protected the Ku Klux Klan and other right-wing groups,” Brian Glick writes. Racist groups were used to create a strategy of tension by attacking groups on the so-called left, including anti-war, Chicano and Puerto Rican activists and nationalists.
Read more here.
Why Speaking Out Is Necessary
My experiences of working undercover with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force have been well-documented by the media, as has my conversion from a prominent left-of-center activist to a tea party activist who advocates for law enforcement and for our nation.
I was an operational human source, commonly referred to by the public as a type of informant, for the FBI. The FBI has had special agents testify under oath that I was trustworthy and reliable and that my information was always accurate and never deceptive. They also testified under oath that my motivations were deemed to be moral and ideological, not financial. These factors categorized me as a “trusted source,” meaning my words were capable of initiating the FBI to assign resources to request warrants be issued. I have refrained from speaking on issues surrounding my experiences with the FBI, except in matters they have chosen to make public or otherwise ensured me would not have an effect on an ongoing investigation. I have also refrained from discussing any involvement with the FBI since the much-publicized 2009 trial of far Left would-be bombers in which I was the star witness for the FBI and the United States Attorneys’ Office.
It’s no secret that I have retained relationships within the FBI and that I have utilized these relationships for the purposes of helping citizens report crimes or terroristic activity. I have not discussed the fact that I was reactivated as an operational human source for the purpose of aiding the FBI’s efforts to stop human trafficking. In other words, I went back undercover. I am now speaking out without the approval or consent of the FBI due to the gross lack of concern or action from the Justice Department overall to stop known cases of children being trafficked by criminals for the purposes of sex and profits. Another former FBI human source, Dottie Laster, joins me in an effort to hold the DOJ accountable for neglecting the children we know to be sex slaves. Defending the men and women who serve in the FBI and other agencies under the United States Department of Justice has been a central effort in my life since my identity was revealed in connection with the aforementioned trial. I have, however, refrained from defending the politically appointed leadership and their executive managers within the organizations. It is unfortunate that my conscience now mandates I speak out about the leadership’s decisions and priorities. It is unfortunate that I must break from keeping with the culture of silence so prevalent in federal law enforcement agencies under the DOJ.
Untangling the Knots
Laster, a longtime advocate for the victims of human trafficking, contacted me seeking understanding as to why the Justice Department seemingly had little interest in pursuing investigations where slavery was involved. She initially asked me why I would defend such entities when they were refusing to help the victims she worked with. I explained to her that there was surely something we could do as citizens, and I began to research the matter. I discussed the issue with various federal agents and others employed by or otherwise under the umbrella of the DOJ. I learned that the majority of law enforcement agencies did not take on human trafficking investigations due to complications arising from interacting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Agencies that received federal funding were required by federal law to inform ICE of any such investigations and cooperate with them. Unfortunately, ICE would frequently act unilaterally and raid the facility that was being investigated. This made any substantial long-term investigation impossible. ICE has a very thin charter, and removing possible illegal aliens took priority over prosecutable cases. If ICE engaged in a raid too soon, the local agency investigating the possible human trafficking was left with little evidence for prosecutions and therefore wasted much needed dollars and work hours. The end result of this dynamic was human traffickers walking away with little consequence, free to continue their enterprise, and law enforcement agencies that shied away from launching such investigations.
Read more here.
Brandon Darby has delivered serious allegations today at Townhall.com. Darby has revealed that he has been working undercover for the past eight months with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on human trafficking cases. To his dismay, Darby watched as the cases and evidence presented to the FBI were not investigated. Many of these cases involved the sex trafficking of minors.
Crimes involving minors are meant to trigger an immediate and swift response by the FBI. Instead, these cases were not pursued by the Bureau–and Darby began a quest to find out why such serious crimes were being overlooked by the trusted law enforcement agency.
The conclusions of his own investigation have led Darby, along with another trusted FBI informant, to come forward with disturbing and serious allegations against the FBI and Department of Justice leadership.
Darby alleges that the politically appointed leaders and their executive managers within the FBI neglected their duty to human trafficking victims, particularly sex trafficked minors. Darby concludes further that someone within the FBI changed internal reports to remove one or more victims’ designation as a minor, so that the FBI and DOJ would not be obligated to act immediately.
In addition, Darby contends that abuses of power amounting to retribution on the part of FBI leadership against federal agents have resulted in the mistreatment of one or more federal agents, and have affected the integrity of investigations and the well-being of the public at large.
Read more here.