J Edgar Hoover was angry that the Boy Scouts didn't thank him effusively enough


Michael from Muckrock writes, "From Boy Scouts to movie stars, no one was safe from J. Edgar Hoover's all-watching surveillance apparatus at the FBI -- or his sharp tongue. MuckRock has put together a collection of his most biting insults to serve up at Thanksgiving, in case you need to put any of the in-laws on notice." Read the rest

J Edgar Hoover loved Efrem Zimbalist's "FBI"


Michael from Muckrock writes, "While J. Edgar Hoover wasn't a big fan of much media in the 60s -- he worked to rewrite one of Hitchcock's scripts and made Walt Disney re-work Tomorrowland -- there was one show that struck a chord: ABC's The FBI." Read the rest

Washington state government censors art by jailed Native American activist Leonard Peltier


Paintings by incarcerated Native activist Leonard Peltier have been removed from the walls of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries in Tumwater following complaints form a group of retired FBI agents.

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How a paid FBI informant created a terror plot that sent an activist to jail for 9 years


Eric McDavid, a 26-year-old, nonviolent anarchist activist, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a paid FBI informant promised to have sex with him if he'd help her bomb some unspecified targets in Northern California. She provided the money, transport, a cabin HQ (filled with hidden CCTVs), and the bomb recipe. Then she helped federal prosecutors illegally withhold 2,500 pages worth of evidence that eventually exonerated McDavid, after nine years in prison. Read the rest

Ol' Dirty Bastard's FBI files

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "Mr. Russell Jones. Maybe the name doesn't ring any bells for you. On February 3, 1999, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation first ran their records on him, there were over a thousand people that made that match. In New York, there were 196. Another 164 of them turned up as living nearby in New Jersey. Perhaps you'd recognize him by another name. After all, there was only one Ol' Dirty Bastard. Today, on the 12th anniversary of his death, MuckRock takes a look at his voluminous files with the FBI. Read the rest

Did the FBI pay Carnegie Mellon $1 million to identify and attack Tor users?


Documents published by Vice News: Motherboard and further reporting by Wired News suggest that a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University who canceled their scheduled 2015 BlackHat talk identified Tor hidden servers and visitors, and turned that data over to the FBI.

No matter who the researchers and which institution, it sounds like a serious ethical breach.

First, from VICE, a report which didn't name CMU but revealed that a U.S. University helped the FBI bust Silk Road 2, and suspects in child pornography cases:

An academic institution has been providing information to the FBI that led to the identification of criminal suspects on the dark web, according to court documents reviewed by Motherboard. Those suspects include a staff member of the now-defunct Silk Road 2.0 drug marketplace, and a man charged with possession of child pornography.

It raises questions about the role that academics are playing in the continued crackdown on dark web crime, as well as the fairness of the trials of each suspect, as crucial discovery evidence has allegedly been withheld from both defendants.

Here's a screenshot of the relevant portion of one of the court Documents that Motherboard/Vice News published:

Later today, a followup from Wired about discussion that points the finger directly at CMU:

The Tor Project on Wednesday afternoon sent WIRED a statement from its director Roger Dingledine directly accusing Carnegie Mellon of providing its Tor-breaking research in secret to the FBI in exchange for a payment of “at least $1 million.” And while Carnegie Mellon’s attack had been rumored to have been used in takedowns of dark web drug markets that used Tor’s “hidden service” features to obscure their servers and administrators, Dingledine writes that the researchers’ dragnet was larger, affecting innocent users, too.

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Appeals court holds the FBI is allowed to kidnap and torture Americans outside US borders


The DC Appeals Court has just ruled against Amir Meshal, a US citizen who was arrested in Kenya by a joint US-Kenyan-Ethiopian law enforcement operation, held for months, tortured with FBI agents present and threatened with his secret murder, then released without any charges. Read the rest

1980: the Director of the FBI mixes up KISS & The Who, confusing the hell out of FBI agents


Michael from Muckrock writes, "Before rock legends KISS embarked on their 1980 'Unmasked' Tour of Europe, then FBI Director William H. Webster put out a request to field offices for information regarding instances of 'civil unrest' associated with the band's concerts, particularly an incident in Texas which escalated to open attacks on police. The field officers' response was unanimous - they had no idea what the Director was talking about. That and more details await in the FBI's files on KISS." Read the rest

The FBI has no trouble spying on encrypted communications


Every time the Bureau wants to spy on someone whose communications are encrypted, they just hack them. Read the rest

Walt Disney's plan for the FBI of tomorrow


Michael from Muckrock: "Union-busting Walt Disney became cozy with J. Edgar Hoover, the iconic animator's FBI files show, helping shut down dissident workers while infusing Disney programming with fond portrayals of federal enforcement. Disney even wanted to dedicate a special section of Tomorrowland to highlighting the Bureau of tomorrow -- which ended up being a step too far for America's head investigative agency." Read the rest

FBI agent faces discipline for alleged polygraph countermeasures


The unnamed career FBI agent could lose their job for allegedly gaming the widely discredited, unscientific polygraph tests that are the US government's equivalent to witch-ducking stools. Read the rest

For the first time ever, a judge has invalidated a secret Patriot Act warrant


Calyx is a privacy-oriented ISP. In 2004, the FBI brought its owner, Nicholas Merrill, a National Security Letter -- one of the USA Patriot Act's secret search warrants, which comes with a gag order prohibiting the recipient from ever disclosing its existence.

Merrill has fought the gag order for 11 years, refusing to give up despite government attempts to get the case booted and to run up the court costs beyond Merrill's ability to pay.

He had a partial victory in 2010, when he and the ACLU won a court victory that allowed him to disclose some elements of the NSL, but left important details -- including the categories of information the FBI believes it can request under an NSL -- still secret. This latest victory overturns that restriction.

The judge in this case, Judge Victor Marrero, also presided over a 2007 case that overturned part of the Patriot Act, requiring investigators to go through the courts in order to get NSLs. In his Calyx decision, he condemned the government's secrecy as "extreme and overly broad."

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero’s decision invalidated the gag order in full, finding no “good reason” to prevent Merrill from speaking about any aspect of the NSL, particularly an attachment to the NSL that lists the specific types of “electronic communication transactional records” (“ECTR”) that the FBI believed it was authorized to demand. The FBI has long refused to clarify what kinds of information it sweeps up under the rubric of ECTR, a phrase that appears in the NSL statute but is not publicly defined anywhere.

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FBI used Burning Man to field-test new surveillance equipment

The FBI's 2012 file on its Burning Man surveillance, obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests, reveals that America's domestic spy agency for at least five years, and has been using the event as an opportunity to try out its latest toys, with help from Pershing County sheriff's deputies. Read the rest

After Katrina, FBI prioritized cellphone surveillance

Michael from Muckrock sez, "There's a lot of lessons that the federal government should have learned in the aftermath of Katrina. Increased domestic surveillance, however, appears to be the one the FBI took to heart, using the natural disaster as a justification for ramping up its use of Stingray cell phone tracking throughout Louisiana after the storm." Read the rest

The FBI kept files on author Ray Bradbury: "Definitely slanted against the United States"

Michael from Muckrock writes, "The FBI followed Ray Bradbury's career very closely, in part because an informant warned them that his writing was not enjoyable fantasy, but rather tantamount to psychological warfare." Read the rest

FBI seeking better automatic tattoo recognition tech

Police photograph and manually tag suspects' tattoos as part of the booking process, but the FBI says computers could classify them much better, leading to more "hits" when trying to identify criminals and also corpses. Read the rest

FBI opened a file on George Carlin for telling "bad taste" Hoover jokes

Michael from Muckrock writes, "After George Carlin satirized FBI and J. Edgar Hoover in a bit "considered to be in very poor taste" (but which was incredibly tame by Carlin standards), the Bureau took a special interest in the famed comedian, starting a file and sending out queries across the country as to Carlin's loyalties and background." Read the rest

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