Disgraced ex-sheriff of LA admits he lied to FBI, will face no more than 6 months in prison

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Lee Baca is a piece of work. The former LA County Sheriff -- tied with Arizona's Joe Arpaio for worse in the nation -- presided over a series of scandals, none so grotesque as the ring of corrupt deputies whose abuse and misconduct in the county jails were capped off by an attempt to intimidate an FBI agent who was investigating them, and a breathtaking act of criminality in which an FBI informant was moved to a new jail under a fake name, surrounded by a round-the-clock detail of 13 deputies who prevented him from speaking with the FBI. Read the rest

FBI's war on encryption is unnecessary because the Internet of Things will spy on us just fine

Reuters

The war on encryption waged by the F.B.I. and other intelligence agencies is unnecessary, because the data trails we voluntarily leak allow “Internet of Things” devices and social media networks to track us in ways the government can access.

That's the short version of what's in “Don’t Panic: Making Progress on the ‘Going Dark’ Debate,” a study published today by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.

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FBI releases video of militiaman shooting

Aerial video released by the FBI January 28, 2016 shows a law enforcement officer (C) pointing a weapon at a man (L) who had just stepped out of the white pickup truck at a police roadblock January 26 near Burns, Oregon.  The FBI released video showing one of the men occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge reach for his jacket pocket before he was shot dead by law enforcement after speeding away from a traffic stop where the group's leader was arrested.  Authorities said 54-year-old Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher from Arizona who acted as a spokesman for the occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, was armed when he was stopped by police and killed on Tuesday afternoon.  REUTERS/FBI/Handout via Reuters   FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - RTX24HO9

The FBI has released footage that shows militiaman LaVoy Finicum's death at the hands of law enforcement officers manning a roadblock.

In the video, Finicum's vehicle tries to evade the block only to plunge into a roadside snowbank after narrowly missing one of the officers manning it. He jumps out the car with his hands up, but keeps moving and reaches into his pocket. Someone shoots him and he falls to the snow.

The 8-minute version is above. The confrontation begins at about 5:30m. They also published a longer tape of the event. The moment when Finicum is shot is embedded below.

One one hand, his movements seem more confused than aggressive. On the other hand, he's an armed man, running around and reaching for his pockets after almost mowing a guy down at a roadblock. He did not have his hands in the air when he was shot (as at least one witness claimed) but he didn't have his piece out, either.

What are the key facts, legally speaking? Read the rest

Truth and Power: New TV series on ordinary people exposing corruption from Brian Knappenberger ('Internet's Own Boy')

Brian Knappenberger's new investigative TV show airs on Pivot, a network from Participant Media.

Today on KCRW's Press Play, a daily news program to which I'm a contributor, host Madeleine Brand spoke to filmmaker Brian Knappenberger about his new documentary TV series Truth and Power.

Audio of the interview is below.

The series is narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaall, and kicks off Friday on Pivot.

Here's a trailer.

An activist marches during the Black Lives Matter episode of 'Truth and Power.'

The new Participant Media investigative series promises to tell “the stories of ordinary people going to extraordinary lengths to uncover breaches of public trust by governments and private institutions.”

Knappenberger was the director of “The Internet's Own Boy,” a stellar documentary film about the late developer, organizer, and tech freedom activist Aaron Swartz. He also directed "We Are Legion,” the hacktivism movie about Anonymous.

“We’re in a weird moment,” says Knappenberger. “There seems to be this wave of anger and frustration in America, and I think there’s good reason for that.”

Truth and Power premieres Friday, January 22nd at 10 p.m. ET / PT on Pivot. Read the rest

Worried about Chinese spies, the FBI freaked out about Epcot Center

EPCOT Center Preview Scenes Postcards 13 (1981)

Muckrock has secured the FBI's files on Epcot Center, revealing the panicked thrash that the prospect of a semi-circle of international pavilions around a toy artificial lake set off in Cold War atmosphere of 1981. Read the rest

Clapper hacked: US Intelligence director’s personal e-mail and phone breached

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The same entity that claims to be behind a recent hack of CIA Director John Brennan's personal email now claims to be behind a breach of the accounts of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed to Motherboard that Clapper had been targeted, and that the case has been forwarded to law enforcement.

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New documents shed light on secret DoJ rules for targeting journalists with National Security Letters

Exterior of U.S. Department of Justice building in DC. Photo: Reuters.

In July 2015, Freedom of the Press Foundation sued the Justice Department (DOJ) over the agency’s secret rules governing how the FBI can target members of the media with due process-free National Security Letters, and we have just received documents back in the ongoing lawsuit. Read the rest

No evidence that San Bernardino shooters posted about jihad on Facebook

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After this month's killings, there was widespread reporting (fueled by comments by FBI director James Comey) that Syed Rizwan Farook and Tafsheen Malik had declared their commitment to jihad on Facebook and that the security services failed to note this. Read the rest

FBI tells tech companies offering encryption to reconsider “their business model”

FBI Director James Comey, 2014.  [REUTERS]

Despite zero indication the people responsible for recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino used encryption, the FBI is launching an all-out PR war on crypto.

Now, FBI director James Comey is making tech firms that offer end-to-end encryption tools an offer they can't refuse: they should reconsider “their business model,” he said today, and instead adopt encryption techniques that let them intercept communications, and hand them over to law enforcement when asked.

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Everybody knows: FBI won't confirm or deny buying cyberweapons from Hacking Team

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Back in July, a hacker dumped the emails and other files from Hacking Team, Italy's notorious cyber-arms dealer. Coincidentally, Vice had recently filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI, asking if they were buying cyberweapons from Hacking Team. Read the rest

When the INS tried to deport John Lennon, the FBI pitched in to help

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "While patiently noting that their anonymous tipsters thought Lennon was not a 'true revolutionist' because he used drugs, the FBI worked with INS over several years to bolster a case to deport the Beatles' musical genius." Read the rest

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

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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"

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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

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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

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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?

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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.

Read the rest

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