Is FBI Setting Stage For Increased Surveillance Of Black Activists?

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By Thaddeus Talbot, Hugh Handeyside, and Malkia Cyril for ACLU and Center for Media Justice – A recently leaked FBI “Intelligence Assessment” contains troubling signs that the FBI is scrutinizing and possibly surveilling Black activists in its search for potential “extremists.” The report, which the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division prepared, identifies what it calls “Black Identity Extremists” as security threats. Their “perceptions of police brutality against African Americans … will very likely serve as justification” for violence against law enforcement officers, the report claims. Today, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act requestwith the Center for Media Justice seeking other records regarding the FBI’s surveillance of Black people on the basis of a supposed shared ideology, including records using the term “Black Identity Extremists.” The report is disturbing on several levels, starting with the label “Black Identity Extremist.” Its definition of the term is so confusing as to be unintelligible: “The FBI defines black identity extremists as individuals who seek, wholly or in part, through unlawful acts of force or violence, in response to perceived racism and injustice in American society and some do so in furtherance of establishing a separate black homeland or autonomous black social institutions, communities, or governing organizations within the United States.”

Exposed: Brutal FBI Tactics To Recruit Informants

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By Trevor Aaronson for The Intercept. Florida – A bailiff pushed Jabar Ali Refaie’s wheelchair into a federal courtroom in Tampa, Florida, on September 20. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit and looking weak from not having had the drugs he takes to treat his multiple sclerosis, the 37-year-old Refaie was here for a bond hearing after being indicted on felony charges that allege he sold counterfeit BMW logos and diagnostic software on eBay. Refaie’s case seemed by appearances to be about a lot more than selling shady car parts on the internet. That much was obvious from Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlton C. Gammons’s stiff bond requests — $25,000, a GPS monitoring device, the surrender of his passport, and the removal of all firearms from his residence — as well as the six U.S. Homeland Security agents who packed into the courtroom for Refaie’s hearing.

The FBI Targets Black “Ideology”

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By Glen Ford for Black Agenda Report – The FBI has apparently chosen a new heading under which to lump Black Americans targeted for political persecution: “Black Identity Extremists.” There’s a simple explanation for the new categorization. The FBI is a bureaucracy whose day-to-day work involves drawing up lists of people and organizations to be surveilled, disrupted and prosecuted. The dramatic increase in Black “movement” activity since the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has presented the FBI with a much larger field of targets, including youthful elements loosely grouped under the Black Lives Matter banner. When bureaucracies compile new lists, they typically file them under new names. In a sense, the change in nomenclature is an acknowledgement by the FBI that, after nearly two generations of Black political stagnation and capitulation, there is finally a Black “movement” with the potential to upset the status quo. The leaked FBI counterterrorism division report, scooped by Foreign Policy magazine , also signifies that Black grassroots political activity is under the purview of the national security state’s War on Terror and, therefore, subject to the awesome array of repressive measures authorized to law enforcement and intelligence agencies since 9/11. “The change in nomenclature is an acknowledgement by the FBI that there is finally a Black ‘movement’ with the potential to upset the status quo.”

US Government Declares 'Black Identity Extremists' A Threat

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By Sam Levin for The Guardian – The US government has declared “black identity extremists” a violent threat, according to a leaked report from the FBI’s counter-terrorism division. The assessment, obtained by Foreign Policy, has raised fears about federal authorities racially profiling activists and aggressively prosecuting civil rights protesters. The report, dated August 2017 and compiled by the Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit, said: “The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.” Incidents of “alleged police abuse” have “continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement”. The FBI’s dedicated surveillance of black activists follows a long history of the US government aggressively monitoring protest movements and working to disrupt civil rights groups, but the scrutiny of African Americans by a domestic terrorism unit was particularly alarming to some free speech campaigners. “When we talk about enemies of the state and terrorists, with that comes an automatic stripping of those people’s rights to speak and protest,” said Mohammad Tajsar, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

James Comey's Rough Reception At Howard University

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By David A. Graham for The Atlantic – The former FBI director has been at the center of controversy for months, but protestors at the historically black university on Friday focused on his history of comments about race and policing. The start of the school year can be tough for anyone, even if you’re the 56-year-old former director of the FBI. While James Comey has found himself at the center of the country’s major political controversy this year, on Friday he was the object of protest for reasons that had nothing to do with Russia, Michael Flynn, or Donald Trump. On Friday, Comey addressed Howard University’s convocation, the ceremony starting the year and welcoming the new freshman class. As a prominent public figure who’s teaching at Howard this year as the Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy, Comey could look like a natural pick. Or maybe not. When Comey came to the lectern at Cramton Auditorium in D.C. on Friday, he was met by cheers, jeers, and singing. For several minutes, as the enormously tall Comey stood quietly and awkwardly, a group of students protested his appearance. They sang civil-rights songs—“We Shall Not Be Moved”—and chants: “I love being black.” Other demonstrators gathered outside. Comey eventually got started, speaking through more disruptions. However much Comey made sense as a convocation speaker, it makes sense that he’d face protests too. Even setting aside Comey’s specific background, Howard is a particularly engaged campus even among historically black colleges.

White House Warned About White Supremacist Violence 3 Months Ago

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By Patrick Martin for World Socialist Web Site. The rampage through Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend by hundreds of neo-Nazis did not come as a surprise to the Trump White House. On the contrary, both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported the mounting threat of violence by white supremacist groups more than three months ago. According to a document obtained and made public by Foreign Policymagazine on its web site Monday, the FBI and DHS issued a joint warning that white supremacists had already carried out more violent attacks than any other US-based groups over the past 16 years and “likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year.”

Judge Intervenes After FBI Stonewalls Documentary Film Maker

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By Britain Eakin for Mint Press News – WASHINGTON – A federal judge hastened completion of a documentary decades in the making about the FBI’s role in the Vietnam anti-war movement Thursday by ordering the agency to churn out nearly 3,000 pages of documents a month. According to an internal policy, the FBI was only releasing requested records in chunks of 500 at a time to Nina Gilden Seavey, a filmmaker and professor at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. At that rate, it would have taken nearly 17 years for the agency to hand over all 102,385 documents it says it found in response to numerous Freedom of Information Act requests she started filing in 2013. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler’s ruling issued Thursday called the FBI’s policy “untenable.” For Seavey, the prospect of waiting nearly two decades for the information needed to complete her film was daunting. “I’m 60 years old,” Seavey said in a phone interview. “I mean, let’s be real,” she added, trailing off with laughter. Seavey had asked the FBI for information on “individuals, organizations, events, publications, and file numbers” relating to the agency’s involvement in the anti-war movement, looking particularly at St. Louis in the 1960s and 1970s.

FBI Arrests NSA Contractor Who Leaked Top Secret “Russian Hacking” Document To The Intercept

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By Tyler Durden for Zero Hedge – Earlier this afternoon, the Intercept reported that according to a “top secret NSA document”, Russian Military Intelligence “executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials days before election.” The NSA document, reportedly dated May 5, analyzes recently acquired intelligence about “a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure.” The document notes that investigation only began in the last few months. The document claims the investigation was spurred by “information that became available in April 2017.” According to the Intercept, the report is “the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light. It is said to reveal that that Russian hacking may have penetrated further into U.S. voting systems than was previously understood” and “states unequivocally in its summary statement that it was Russian military intelligence, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, that conducted the cyber attacks described in the document.”

FBI Used Patriot Act To Obtain 'Large Collections' Of Americans' Data, DoJ Finds

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By Spencer Ackerman for The Guardian – As lawmakers and security agencies braced for a potential loss of the heart of the Patriot Act, a long-delayed Justice Department report showed that the FBI uses the surveillance authorities it provides for “large collections” of Americans’ internet records. Section 215 of the Patriot Act permits the FBI to collect business records, such as medical, educational and tax information or other “tangible things” relevant to an ongoing counter–terrorism or espionage investigation. Since 2006, the NSA had also secretly used it to collect US phone data in bulk. After Edward Snowden’s leaks allowed the Guardian to reveal the phone-records bulk collection in June 2013, deep political opposition coalesced around the bulk program – eclipsing the FBI’s acquisition of other data, which has long been an issue only for civil libertarians. But a Justice Department inspector general’s report finally released on Thursday covering the FBI’s use of Section 215 from 2007 to 2009 found that the bureau is using the business-records authority “to obtain large collections of metadata”, such as “electronic communication transactional information”.

The Only Reason Julian Assange Is Not ‘Apprehended Yet’ Is He’s Out Of Reach

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By Jon Queally for Truth Dig – In his remarks Wednesday, Comey argued that WikiLeaks—“an important focus of [the FBI’s] attention”—does not practice journalism like other “responsible” outlets, but instead acts as a “known outlet of foreign propaganda” that has harmed U.S. interests. Last month, Common Dreams reported on rumblings within President Donald Trump’s Justice Department that criminal charges were being prepared. Despite the fact that major news outlets from around the world have consistently relied on the information provided by WikiLeaks over the years, Comey on Wednesday repeatedly described WikiLeaks as “intelligence porn” that serves no journalistic purpose. “A huge portion of WikiLeaks has nothing to do with legitimate news-gathering and is simply about releasing classified information to damage the United States,” Comey said. “American journalists do not do that.” Journalist Glenn Greenwald was among those immediately pushing back against such arguments…

FBI Has Already Gathered Millions Of 'Faceprints' for Facial Recognition

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By Derrick Broze for Activist Post. A House Committee questioned Kimberly Del Greco, Deputy Assistant Director at the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, about why the bureau broke the law by failing to file a privacy impact statement acknowledging the collection of millions of Americans’ faces for the agency’s new biometric identification system. The FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) system is made up of fingerprints, iris scans, faceprints, and other facial recognition data. The NGI organizes Americans’ biometric data into a single file that includes personal and biographic data like name, home address, ID number, immigration status, age, race, etc. The Committee reports that nearly half of all adult Americans’ photographs are in the database. The 2013 U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there are over 242 million adults living in the U.S. If the Committee’s numbers are correct, over 121 million adults are in the FBI’s database. Other revelations include that 18 states have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the FBI to share photos with the federal government, including from state departments of motor vehicles (DMV).

FBI And NSA Chiefs Forced To Fact-Check Boss As Trump Live-Tweets Hearing

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By Jon Queally for Common Dreams – ‘Either the White House is spreading falsehoods about this hearing on its Twitter account or the FBI director just perjured himself on TV,’ remarks one journalist. President Donald Trump (or possibly an authorized staff member) took the unusual step on Monday of commenting in real-time during a congressional hearing as he dishonestly spun and mischaracterized the testimony of top level officials in his own administration as they answered questions under oath from members of the House Intelligence Committee. Whereas international attention was drawn to the high-profile testimony of FBI director James Comey and NSA director Michael Rogers on alleged Russian interference in last year’s election…

Trump Cites Fake FBI Terror Plots To Justify Muslim Ban

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by Chip Gibbons for BORDC – On Monday March 6, 2017, the Trump Administration announced its second attempt at a Muslim Ban. While it is impossible to justify a ban that is fundamentally rooted in animus towards Muslims, Trump tried to rectify his previous executive order’s most glaring problems. For example, the new ban will not apply to legal permanent residents or people who currently hold valid visas. The constitutional issues are much deeper than that. Ruling against the first ban, federal courts failed to find a rational relationship between barring the entry of individuals from the countries listed and a national security purpose.

Revealed: FBI Terrorism Taskforce Investigating Standing Rock Activists

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By Sam Levin for The Guardian – The FBI is investigating political activists campaigning against the Dakota Access pipeline, diverting agents charged with preventing terrorist attacks to instead focus their attention on indigenous activists and environmentalists. The Guardian has established that multiple officers within the FBI’s joint terrorism taskforce have attempted to contact at least three people tied to the Standing Rock “water protector” movement in North Dakota. The purpose of the officers’ inquiries into Standing Rock, and scope of the task force’s work, remains unknown. Agency officials declined to comment.

Newsletter: The Immense Power We Must Confront

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. Fifty-six years ago on January 17, 1961 President Eisenhower warned “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.” JFK with Jackie Kennedy and Governor Connolly just before he was assassinatedThis was followed by the assassination of JFK, which now has been exposed as involving members of the military and intelligence agencies; the massive Vietnam War, constant regime change operations, the growth of the US military and intelligence budgets and never-ending wars since 9/11. The military and intelligence agencies have grown tremendously.