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).
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…
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.
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.
By Jim Naureckas for FAIR. But as the document circulated behind the scenes, a funny thing happened: People in governmental positions seemed to be taking it seriously. Senators Harry Reid (D.–Nevada) and John McCain (R.–Ariz.) both pushed the FBI to investigate the report’s charges of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence—Reid before Trump’s election, McCain afterwards. In October 2016, the FBI obtained a warrant from the secret FISA court authorizing an investigation into charges contained in the report. And in January 2017, Trump, President Obama and congressional leaders were given a summary of the report’s charges, which Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said was done in order to “ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.”
By Omar Scott Antar. We Refuse To Be Enemies is a coalition of Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Connecticut, committed to peace and justice, and particularly focused on the Middle East. The NYPD-CIA, in their highly politicized, discriminatory, and illegal operations, target not only Muslims, but also left-wing activists. Because Ivanka M. Trump, daughter and advisor of President-elect Donald J. Trump, is on board of the NYC Police Foundation (page 124 of 128), the NYPD’s slush fund, which finances the NYPD-CIA’s International Liaison Programs (ILPs), it is little wonder Trump approves of and extols the NYPD-CIA and its abusive former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Donald Trump also calls for explicit profiling of Muslims, approvingly citing the NYPD-CIA programs and less free foreign countries, such as France and Israel.
By Staff for Motherboard Vice. It’s been just over a year since amateur aviation sleuths first revealed the FBI’s secret aerial surveillance of the civil unrest in Baltimore, Maryland. Now, in response to a FOIA request from the ACLU, the Bureau has released more than 18 hours of aerial footage from the Baltimore protests captured by their once-secret spy planes, which regularly fly in circles above major cities and are commonly registered to fake companies. The cache is likely the most comprehensive collection of aerial surveillance footage ever released by a US law enforcement agency. The videos, which the FBI claims are its “complete” recordings of the Baltimore unrest, cover the period of April 29 through May 3, 2015, when protests and riots erupted following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody under suspicious circumstances. Last month, prosecutors dropped all remaining charges in the case, concluding with no convictions for any of the police officers involved in the incident. The footage shows the crowds of protesters captured in a combination of visible light and infrared spectrum video taken by the planes’ wing-mounted FLIR Talon cameras.
By Sarah Lazare for AlterNet – The FBI just released its files on the Holocaust survivor and intrepid human rights activist Hedy Epstein, revealing that the agency was monitoring her activism to support the human rights of Palestinians. The files on Epstein, who died in May at the age of 91, were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the writer and researcher Waqas Mirza. One heavily-redacted document, dated January 15, 2006, reveals that Epstein fell under surveillance due to her participation in a “delegation from St. Louis” that “traveled to Israel with [the International Solidarity movement] in the winter of 2003.”
By JPat Brown for Muckrock – James Baldwin’s unflinching critique of racial unrest in America – and the government’s role in perpetuating it – earned him a spot on several FBI watchlists and Bureau surveillance of his every move. However, Baldwin’s files show that on at least one occasion he was able to turn that scrutiny to his advantage. In July of 1964, the FBI got ahold of a document which contained incontrovertible evidence of a plot against them – the latest issue of Playbill.
By Mara Verheyden-Hilliard for AlterNet – The violent events of the past week have placed the country at a decisive moment. Words matter but deeds matter more. Leadership matters. President Obama spoke about the need for real change and new “practices” following the murders by police officers of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. He followed that by stating last weekend, “One of the great things about America is that individual citizens and groups of citizens can petition their government, can protest, can speak truth to power.
By Glen Ford for Black Agenda Report – Hillary Clinton has escaped indictment – as almost universally expected – for commingling her email communications as secretary of state with her personal business, including the global money laundering, bribery and extortion racket called the Clinton Foundation. The Clintons are capable of infinite corruption. That’s why they’re in politics: to protect the criminal enterprises of the truly rich people they serve, and to become rich, themselves. That is the nature of the system – and the system works; it provides impunity to the powerful.
By Glenn Greenwald for the Intercept. This extreme, unforgiving, unreasonable, excessive posture toward classified information came to an instant halt in Washington today – just in time to save Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations. FBI Director James Comey, an Obama appointee who served in the Bush DOJ, held a press conference earlier this afternoon in which he condemned Clinton on the ground that she and her colleagues were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” including Top Secret material. Comey also detailed that her key public statements defending her conduct –i.e., she never sent classified information over her personal email account and that she had turned over all “work-related” emails to the State Department – were utterly false; insisted “that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position . . . should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation”; and argued that she endangered national security because of the possibility “that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.” Comey also noted that others who have done what Clinton did “are often subject to security or administrative sanctions” . . . .
By Kevin Gosztola for Shadow Proof – A Senate Judiciary Committee report concludes Federal Bureau of Investigation employees, including those in the intelligence community, “enjoy no legal protection for making reports of wrongdoing to supervisors or others in their chain of command.” It supports the passage of legislation to institute and expand whistleblower protections for FBI employees. In 2014, the Justice Department refused to adopt key reforms that would benefit FBI whistleblowers.
By Jennifer Lynch for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Since 2008, the FBI has been assembling a massive database of biometric information on Americans. This database, called Next Generation Identification (NGI), includes fingerprints, face recognition, iris scans and palm prints—collected not just during arrests, but also from millions of Americans for non-criminal reasons like immigration, background checks, and state licensing requirements. NGI contains well over 100-million individual records that include multiple forms of biometric data as well as personal and biographic information. Although many people assume the FBI’s files only include fingerprints and other data associated with criminal activity, much of these records—nearly 50-million individual files—contain data collected for non-criminal purposes. Now the FBI wants to exempt this vast collection of data from basic requirements guaranteed under the federal Privacy Act—and it’s giving you only 21 business days to object. EFF, along with 44 other privacy, civil liberties, and immigrants’ rights organizations, sent a letter to the FBI demanding more time to respond.