The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) has released its Annual Statistical Transparency Report disclosing the use of national security surveillance laws for the year 2021—and to no one’s surprise it documents the wide-ranging overreach of intelligence agencies and the continued misuse of surveillance authorities to spy on millions of Americans. Specifically, the report chronicles how Section 702, an amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), that authorizes the U.S. government to engage in mass surveillance of foreign targets’ communications, is still being abused by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to spy on Americans without a warrant. Specifically, the report reveals that between December 2020 and November 2021, the FBI queried the data of potentially more than 3,000,000 “U.S. persons” without a warrant.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) reported on Friday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) searched through the electronic data of Americans 3.4 million times in 2021. The searches were revealed in the ODNI’s “Annual Statistical Transparency Report Regarding the Intelligence Community’s Use of National Security Surveillance Authorities” for calendar year 2021. The data shows that there was nearly a tripling of these unconstitutional searches from 1.3 million in 2020. In typical fashion the ODNI report waives away this intensification of the surveillance state by claiming it was a technical matter related to vital national security matters, the details of which are never explained.
Defending Rights & Dissent (DRAD) is a national civil liberties organization founded in 1960 and based in Washington, DC. Our mission is to strengthen our participatory democracy by protecting the right to political expression. The right to free speech faces enumerable threats, but we have long identified FBI counterterrorism authorities as a significant detriment to the First Amendment. In 2019, we published a report, Still Spying: The Enduring Problem of FBI First Amendment Abuse, documenting FBI abuses of First Amendment rights since 2010. The overwhelming majority of abuses documented were carried out pursuant to counterterrorism authorities. More often than not, these were related to domestic terrorism, not international terrorism.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil – Former Brazilian president, and frontrunner in the upcoming October 2022 presidential election, Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva is putting four of his one-time accusers of corruption and money laundering in the dock. The initial charges and inquiries — all 25 of them — were completely dismissed earlier this month. Lula’s legal battles — including his sentence of 12 years and 11 months in prison, a sentence that was later increased to 17 years — are part of the infamous and multifaceted “Car Wash” investigations into corruption at state and private companies, such as Petrobras and Odebrecht, as well as among businessmen and politicians. In fact, it was during Lula’s administration that Brazil’s federal police were provided with the legal tools and mechanisms to initiate the Car Wash operations.
On the Tuesday before Christmas, Dr. Charles Lieber, the former chair of Harvard’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, was convicted by a federal jury of lying to the U.S. about his involvement with China’s government and failing to disclose income from China on his tax returns. He faces up to five years in federal prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Lieber had been prosecuted as part of the Justice Department’s China Initiative, which was established in 2018 to crackdown on Chinese economic and scientific espionage. An investigation by MIT Technology Review found that instead of focusing on economic espionage and national security, the China Initiative appeared to be an umbrella term for cases with almost any connection to China, whether they involve state-sponsored hackers, smugglers, or, increasingly, academics accused of failing to disclose all ties to China on grant-related forms.
On the heels of its defeat in Afghanistan, the United States government has made it clear it is now once again setting its sights on anti-war activists in the United States. Their latest target is Joe Lombardo, a leader of the country's largest anti-imperialist coalition. Joe Lombardo is 73 years old and has been an organizer in the anti-war movement for decades. He is a cofounder and lead organizer for Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, a local anti-war group based near Albany, New York.
I tried to report a crime last week. It was a serious crime, too. Rather, it was a whole bunch of federal crimes. It was impossible to find anybody interested. Let me start at the beginning. Over the past year, I have developed first-hand knowledge of what I believe is a major international fraud. The principal is an American citizen who is defrauding investors in a financial technology bank scam based overseas, and the investors include people in the United States and in at least three foreign countries. I have thousands of pages of evidence, including forged documents, surreptitious recordings of the principal admitting to his crime, and affidavits from his former employees and targets.
Millions of people in the United States believe the justice system—from the cops in the street right on up to the judges in the courthouse—is fair and unbiased. Millions of people also believe systemic racial and class biases are relics of a bygone era washed away by progressivism, the election of the First Black President, and the great healer called Time. But those millions of people need to wake up and watch Jason Pollock’s documentary, “Finding Kendrick Johnson” (2021), for a healthy and horrifying dose of reality. The film begins with Kendrick Johnson, a 17-year-old Black student, who was found dead in 2013 inside a rolled-up mat that was propped up against a little-used wall in the gymnasium of Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia.
The 2016 report was released late Saturday night under an executive order from President Joe Biden, who promised to make it public no later than the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks that killed 2,977 people and injured more than 6,000 others. The 16-page document was a final inventory of circumstantial evidence and leads from the FBI’s investigation of Saudi ties to the plot; it was heavily redacted. Nonetheless, lawyers for families of the 9/11 victims, who are suing the Saudi kingdom in federal court, said the document provided important support to their theory that a handful of Saudis connected to their government worked in concert to assist the first two Qaida hijackers sent to the United States in January 2000. “This validates what we have been saying,” said James Kreindler, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs.
Many Americans were shocked last year when the FBI released a statement saying that a group of 13 Michigan men had plotted to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer from her vacation home. The group, which called itself the Michigan Wolverines, allegedly planned to storm the state capitol and Whitmer’s vacation home as part of an effort to instigate a civil war. Several of them made Molotov cocktails, which they allegedly intended to throw at responding police officers, and several others had weapons. They had spent months conducting surveillance training and practicing with their weapons. As many as 200 people were involved in the planning, either in meetings or in conversations over Facebook.
A careful read of this stunning investigative piece in Iceland’s Stundin newspaper reveals that in June 2011 Eric Holder (no doubt with Obama’s enthusiastic approval) initiated a disgraceful FBI frame-up of Julian Assange. Displaying their usual incompetence, the FBI thoroughly screwed up the Holder framing assignment by coming up with a child-molesting embezzler and sociopath as their spy and agent provocateur within the Icelandic branch of Wikileaks, thereby creating such a mess that the Minister of the Interior had our federal gumshoes thrown out of Iceland. Undeterred by the 2011 mess, in May of 2019 William Barr (probably with equally enthusiastic approval from his boss) stepped into Holder’s shoes by reigniting the disgusting Assange frame-up plot.
Once again, Black activists and organizers are demanding our society transform itself and land on the right side of history. However, the state has chosen to greet this opportunity with increased violence and surveillance, doubling down on its commitment to undermine and disrupt Black-led movements for justice by criminalizing & attacking them. When the FBI was exposed for labeling participants of the Ferguson & nationwide uprisings “Black Identity Extremists,” we recognized the spirit of J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO was alive and well. Is this the legacy that the U. S. government wants to uphold? 60+year-old patterns of social change and state repression are yet again active.
“George and Mary Oppen were branded enemies of the state,” writes Joel Whitney in a recent essay for The Poetry Foundation titled “The Violent Years.” “Their FBI files document just how deep their activism went, and the price they paid for it.” The author of “Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers” has long been interested in the links between the world of literature and the U.S. surveillance apparatus that grows more unwieldy by the day. As he finished his most recent book tour for “Finks” just as Donald Trump and neo-fascism were on the rise, he tells Robert Scheer on this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” Whitney kept hearing a few lyrical lines ringing through his mind.
“You are done. There is only one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.” That’s the shocking ending to the infamous letter Civil Rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. received in 1964 essentially urging him to commit suicide. The letter and accompanying package containing blackmail were sent by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as King quickly caught on. While the full, unredacted letter was finally published by the New York Times in 2014, the audio recordings of an extensive FBI wiretapping operation targeting King have been sealed until 2027.
On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that President Biden ordered three US intelligence agencies to review the threat of “domestic violent extremism.” Since pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the US Capitol building on January 6th, calls to combat “domestic terrorism” have been growing. Before January 6th, Biden’s transition team had said they were planning to pass laws against domestic terrorism, and the Capitol incident has made it a top priority. “The January 6th assault on the Capitol and the tragic deaths and destruction that occurred underscored what we have long known. The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat,” Psaki said.