FBI Uncovers Another Of Its Own Plots, Senator Feinstein Responds By Saying We Should Censor The Internet

from the say-what-now? dept

As you may have heard, yesterday the FBI “uncovered” yet another of its own terrorist plots, the latest in a very long line of “terrorist plots” the FBI has “uncovered” — in which the details always show that it was an undercover FBI “informant” (often doing this to get off leniently for some other issue), who more or less goads hapless, naive people, into a “plot” that had no real chance of ever happening. This appears to be the same sort of thing.

Still, politicians never leave an opportunity like this unexploited, and so in jumps Senator Dianne Feinstein, arguing that the only proper way to deal with this is to, of course… censor the internet:

I am particularly struck that the alleged bombers made use of online bombmaking guides like the Anarchist Cookbook and Inspire Magazine. These documents are not, in my view, protected by the First Amendment and should be removed from the Internet.

For what it’s worth, Dianne Feinstein’s “view” is wrong. The Anarchist Cookbook is very much protected by the First Amendment. While the book is banned in other countries, who don’t have the equivalent of the First Amendment, it’s perfectly legal in the US. The FBI/DOJ has extensively investigated the Anarchist’s Cookbook in particular over the years, and as far back as 1997 directly told Senator Feinstein that she could not ban it. This is from the DOJ back in 1997:

Senator Feinstein introduced legislation during the last Congress in an attempt to fill this gap. The Department of Justice agrees that it would be appropriate and beneficial to adopt further legislation to address this problem directly, if that can be accomplished in a manner that does not impermissibly restrict the wholly legitimate publication and teaching of such information, or otherwise violate the First Amendment.

The First Amendment would impose substantial constraints on any attempt to proscribe indiscriminately the dissemination of bombmaking information. The government generally may not, except in rare circumstances, punish persons either for advocating lawless action or for disseminating truthful information — including information that would be dangerous if used — that such persons have obtained lawfully.

And yet, Feinstein’s first response to the FBI uncovering yet another of its own plots is to go back to trying to censoring the internet in direct violation of the First Amendment? Yikes.

Oh, and even worse… in keeping with the fact that this plot was actually created by the FBI itself, guess where the two “terrorist wannabes” got the Anarchist Cookbook? From the undercover FBI agent! From the criminal complaint itself [pdf]:

On or about Novermber 2, 2014, the UC [Undercover Officer] met with VELNTZAS and SIDDIQUI. When VELENTZAS was reading a book called “Chemistry: The Central Science,” the UC asked how this book was going to benefit them. VELENTZAS stated that they could practice at her house, but could not leave any residue. The UC stated that practicing at the house was not a good idea because the people living in the apartment below VELENTZAS might hear loud noises, referring to noises from explosions. VELENTZAS said she could always tell her neighbors that she dropped some bookshelves. The UC and VELENTZAS then discussed the fact that the UC had downloaded The Anarchist Cookbook. VELENTZAS suggested the UC print out the parts of the book that they would need. During the conversation, the UC stated, “We read chemistry books with breakfast. Like, who does that?” VELENTZAS responded, “People who want to make history.”

The complaint also lists many other books and magazines and web pages that the various people read throughout, and later has one of the wannabe terrorists thanking the undercover agent for introducing The Anarchist’s Cookbook to her.

As for the other document that Feinstein wants to censor, Inspire is Al Qaeda’s magazine. And, again, reading through the complaint you see that it was actually the undercover agent who brought the magazine. The wannabe terrorist did ask the undercover agent to get it, and eventually it was the undercover agent who actually got it. Velentzas keeps asking the undercover agent to find a copy of Inspire, over and over again in the complaint until eventually the agent complies:

On or about December 24, 2014, the UC visited VELENTZAS and brought the Spring 2014 issue of Inspire magazine, as previously requested by VELENTZAS.

In other words, in neither case did the would be terrorists get the “bad” material from the internet. In both cases it came from the undercover FBI agent.

Meanwhile, it seems like the only real result of this ridiculous statement will be for Feinstein to drive ever more awareness to the old Anarchist’s Cookbook, so yet another generation of teenagers can discover it and think they’ve found something totally cool online.

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Comments on “FBI Uncovers Another Of Its Own Plots, Senator Feinstein Responds By Saying We Should Censor The Internet”

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100 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I wouldn't rely on the Anarchist's Cookbook's recipes.

That made me smile so much, me and a friend actually tried the other thing, smoking peanut scales, we didn’t even have rolling paper, so we used school line paper. Of course it didn’t work.

Although that cough syrup thing did…

qu1nn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I wouldn't rely on the Anarchist's Cookbook's recipes.

if it was hydrocodone or promethazine (or even Nyquil which at least at one point was something like 20 proof) i imagine the cough syrup thing did work.

(another one to skip: supposedly you can get high off smoking the spice variety of mace. based on my personal experience, that’s a lie.)

Qyiet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I wouldn't rely on the Anarchist's Cookbook's recipes.

I wouldn’t rely on the Anarchist’s Cookbook’s recipes

I second that. I got hold of what was supposed to be a copy as a teenager, and compared what it said about making nitroglycerine to what my chemistry textbooks said. There were a couple of VERY important points missing that would probably get an amateur bomb maker covered in a mixture of strong acids and broken glass. That alone convinced me to never trust anything it said. I did find it a fun read though.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I wouldn't rely on the Anarchist's Cookbook's recipes.

Which brings up another excellent point: all of the information in the Anarchist’s Cookbook is available from standard, actually reliable sources. Such as chemistry texts. True, they aren’t in a form that allows you to just follow a recipe and get a result — but in terms of safety, that’s a good thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Another make work project

It’s actually more like taking advantage of the mentally ill. It’s pretty sad that our government has been reduced to a mentally ill bully. Almost as bad as picking on someone with a wheelchair. What, is picking on vulnerable people supposed to be good for their ego or something? Perhaps organizations that stand up for mentally ill people could stand up against this sorta government abuse.

qu1nn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Another make work project

As a mentally ill person who’s on Medicare and SSDI, I can assure you that yes, the government picks on mentally ill people.

Cases in point that I’ve been through personally:
1) LPC’s (my current talk therapist is one) cannot be Medicare providers,but MSW’s can be. The educational requirements for both degrees are similar enough that I have no idea why.

2) Because the compensation for Medicare patients is not great and the paperwork’s a pain, a LOT of psychiatrists/neurologists/etc. won’t accept Medicare, and that frequently leaves patients having to make multiple calls to find one who will if their prior provider quits taking it/moves/retires. I got lucky with my current (two “state’s best doctors” list certificates, deserves them) but he was a straight-up cold call and I’m already dreading his retirement.

Jack says:

Re: Re:

The Anarchist Cookbook is hilariously bad at nearly everything it explains. There are a few things in there that are fairly dangerous and the book is mostly accurate in describing, but it is probably the worst place for a terrorist to look. Scratch that, terrorists please read the Anarchist Cookbook, I hear that the “tennis ball bomb” will bring down a building.

Anyone with a highschool level understanding of chemistry and electronics will have a good laugh reading through the Anarchist Cookbook.

This is sarcasm – it is literally a tennis ball filled with strike-anywhere matcheads… yes, the book is that bad.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The Anarchist Cookbook is hilariously bad at nearly everything it explains.

A long time ago, when the controversy about the book was still new, someone published an article detailing many of the things that were wrong in it.

The author of that article actually thought that the book was so bad, it might have been written by an “agent provocateur” so that potential bomb-makers would blow themselves up. (Obviously, the author was no stranger to conspiracy theories.)

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I had a hard copy (probably in my attic somewhere, actually).

It is beyond any doubt that it can help you cook up some dangerous things that could be used to harm other people. That process is most certainly dangerous to oneself. However, it actually taught me some interesting things about chemistry, what household cleaners to avoid mixing, and some survival skills that will be useful when zombies come knocking (do they knock?).

The book contains knowledge. It is a very slippery slope when you start locking up knowledge because of what people may do with it.

Crimes Against the People says:

Re: Re: Re: Zombies

From my extensive research on zombies and zombieism, I can state definitively that no, they do not knock.

The bumping repeatedly into the door and scratching could be interpreted as a knocking sound?

This is absurd in every aspect. I had a copy back in the early 90s (thank you Newsgroups) and as many have stated it is at best a means to kill yourself.

Regardless, “removing” something from the internet is about as comical as one can get. America doesn’t own the internet anyhow and as most likely the majority of the digital copies are on foreign servers & p2p… good luck with that!

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

But this kind of thing was happening a few years ago.

The problem is the FBI only seem to be able to find incompetent people who would never be able to do things on their own. Seriously, this person couldn’t find a copy of a magazine in this day and age? A magazine I’m sure the writers want spread around as much as possible.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re:

erhm, how about we count the number of active federal terrorism sting operations that were taking place at the time of the Boston event and then sit and continue to wonder how previously flagged individuals did not merit active observations and investigations?

Oh, and an investigation is not really a sting, is it? where the latter is a much more comfortable and controllable situation for those involved.. i.e. a setup, thus making your seemingly fear based comment somewhat irrelevant and fuddy in my eyes.

I would rather see the feds slip anonymous tips to these “vulnerable” folks tipping them off to the fact that they’re being “watched” thereby helping to filter the fuckers from the idiots – but I like daydreaming too. I always think we’re too hell-bent on catching a perp than protecting people, potential perp or not, fabricated or not, but I’m aware the entire structure is formed around “the crime” so it is what it is. Besides, a life free from risk sounds a lot like death so fuck any natsec that successfully drives a stake through the middle of why we have a nation in the first place.

And Feinstein..? just. wow. – time’s well past up for that resident rep I’d have to say

ernie says:

Re: Yes, yes I do

I would be 100% ok with the government investing events after the fact instead of trying to prevent them if it means I get to keep my liberties. People are going to kill people, people are crazy and deranged, that is just the human condition. The government is to protect us but NOT at the cause of our freedoms. I would rather have my loved ones die from a terrorist than everyone live under a tyrannical governemt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Yes, yes I do

The thing is, for all their hyperbole our government hasn’t successfully stopped, prevented, or deterred a single terrorist attack – by REAL terrorists.

Although, they have perfected terrorizing citizens of the world. At this point, I doubt anybody with the most basic of comprehension skills actually believes the bullshit that US agencies are actually trying to stop terrorists, criminals, or “bad guys”.

Besides, it’s in their best interests to allow the bad guys to succeed so that they can turn around and claim more powers at the expense of liberties.

In the US your family is more likely to die at the hands of “Law Enforcement” than an ACTUAL terrorist plot.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What if this had transpired a couple of years ago and involved a couple of brothers in Boston interested in pressure cookers?

Doesn’t that kind of invalidate your point? They are very successful at catching plots that never would have had a chance at going anywhere, but completely failed to detect one that succeeded. If their operations were regularly catching actual terrorists who would actually be blowing stuff up even if the FBI were not involved, that would be great. But that isn’t happening.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Would you rather that federal authorities conduct investigations after the fact?

What happened here was not so much an investigation as an instigation. Would the person they are charging have gone any further than talking terrorism if the FBI had not stepped in and created the plot?

Also, it is the nature of law enforcement that they investigate after the fact, unless you want though crime to be an offense.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

in what way? did he claim it was his own work, or try to profit from it.

Neither of those are necessary to commit copyright infringement. If he bought a copy and gave it someone, no problem. If the copyright holder allows anyone to download, copy, and distribute freely, no problem. If he downloaded a copy without authorization, that’s infringement.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re:

I doubt that they will succeed in banning the Necronomicon, seeing as how it is so freely available, and how Congress isn’t recognizing extended copyright terms for demons… just their minions in the MPAA and RIAA.

But if even if they don’t ban it, I’m sure the FBI will still try to use it to set someone up, and it will go down just like this.

Anonymous Coward says:

FBI remembers the Reichstag

“The building caught fire on 27 February 1933, under circumstances still not entirely known (see Reichstag fire). This gave a pretext for the Nazis to suspend most rights provided for by the 1919 Weimar Constitution in the Reichstag Fire Decree in an effort to weed out communists and increase state security throughout Germany.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichstag_fire

Anonymous Coward says:

You go too far taking people’s rights in ways that they don’t realize.
Sitting atop your federal thrones from which you govern this:
Classified, Land of the Liars
Where only the truth seems to come under fire.

You’re committing crimes in secrecy,
Then justify them by telling people:
“Because of National Security”
You’re unnecessary Evil raping constitutionality.
Then sell the population your pre-approved realities.

All over the world remains the evidence of a Government
Hell-bent on controlling Everyone and Everything.
Protecting us from enemies that YOU created.
Using methods to ensure that list will grow to become endless.

Uncle Sam’s future be damned!
Only money talks is the new Law of the Land.
Who’s protecting us from you?
Wasn’t that supposed to be you?
Tell us, what had you expected us to do when finally we knew?
Be proud of you?!

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Censorship

What is it about censorship in particular that makes people think they’re against it when they’re actually in favor of it? I don’t recall hearing people say such things about other questions. Except maybe privacy.

I’m totally in favor of gun rights, but we should confiscate and destroy all the handguns.

I’m against all abortion restrictions. But women should not be allowed to have abortions in the third trimester.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: not a shocker

“just know that your actions indicated that you hate your own country.”

One finds this statement in many locations these days, I’m not quite sure what to make if it. Is it a cry for help? Is it an indication of sociological instability? Most likely it is just hyperbole repeated so many times that it seems the thing to say.

Padpaw (profile) says:

Creating terrorism to justify taking away people’s rights to fight terrorism.

Sometimes I wonder how those founding fathers would have reacted if they had discovered the British government doing this to British citizens.

Americans might as well have stayed British if their descendants are ignoring pretty much the same excesses that caused them to revolt and create a new country in the first place

nasch (profile) says:

Re: what are the chances?

What are the chances that the Tsarnev brothers were working with the FBI at some point and something happened and the plot was not stopped and now the FBI doesn’t want us to know the details because it makes them look like idiots?

I would think the younger brother would have brought that up in his trial if that were the case. He has nothing to lose.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: what are the chances?

“I would think the younger brother would have brought that up in his trial if that were the case.”

Only if the judge allowed it. There have been many things that judges have prohibited from being disclosed in court.

In this case, even if that were the case there is a good chance that the FBI could get the judge to ban any mention of it on the grounds that it could “expose sensitive law enforcement techniques”. That’s the problem with a legal system that allows secrets: you never know how much of the truth comes out of it.

Padpaw (profile) says:

Re: what are the chances?

same odds as there being a bomb drill that same day about an hour prior the marathon.

Or the craft mercenaries all carrying backpacks similar to the ones claimed to be used in the bombing. The before and after photos are interesting. Before the mercs have the backpacks and afterwards they don’t. Along with bomb sniffing dogs, police snipers on nearby roofs, and a controlled bomb set off at the local library by the police bomb squad.

Ronald L. Vaught says:

Making booms is that protecting society its everyones freedom to live in peace.

The anarchrist cook book is not helpful to the nation its violating everyones liberty to live in a peaceful safe enviroment.
Unless the Justice systems is unrepairable, cloaked excutive privledge and top secrecy available for abuseing citizens like NSA scandles and CIA scandles thats why anarchrists and others want that book and why NRA what their right to defend a corupt government. Frankly Id choose the peaceful route, but I AM tempted at times due to the slowness of justice in America, their have been millions who were murdered;Women, alterntive religious beleif systems other than christian, Native Americans, African Americans, and those Blanc who supported them.

Ronald L. Vaught says:

The most powerful are knowing self.

Its not money, even old money families have had their troubles over time I AM speaking generations. It takes a real value of your own life to see that in others. This facilatates a strong disposition to want to preserve and transform life to its fullest poteintial. Boom making is not a real long term solution in this day and age. The technology prevents it. Seeing from space, wireless survaliance. Come on lets be real the boom makers are seen. Best to organize, rally and never give up, study law, make alliances.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well we don’t have any terrorists to go after, even though we have the NSA, and our own questionable surveillance techniques, so let us make some up. Seems we also need to censor some of our members of congress. Why they keep getting re-elected I’ll never know. Guess we need to get the U.N in to monitor our election process. Good luck Amerika, you are going to need it.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

In the meantime the Nth country experiment proved we can't contain secret knowledge.

The notion is that in the 60s there’s enough declassified or leaked data as to the processes of making fissile material and designing a bomb that we can’t expect to stop given nations who want to become nuclear powers from doing so.

Hence we created the nuclear proliferation policies that we have today (e.g. you own a nuke and your ambitions of expansionism cease.)

Also, as in the case of North Korea, we mock them when their first nuclear tests indicate a shoddy effort.

But they can’t stop people from finding out how to make bombs or other weapons by trying to censor the internet, or even the libraries. If we want to develop the instruments of terror or sabotage or revolution, we will.

This is why our representatives need to really try to prevent or resolve legitimate grievances among the constituency. A grievance is the inextinguishable fuel that supplies every successful revolution and proof against counter-insurrection.

Kaboom.

Padpaw (profile) says:

Re: Re:

so following that strain of logic we should ban the catholic bible because of the IRA being terrorists that took inspiration from their faith.

Why not ban all forms of religion while we are at it as I am certain we can link any terrorist group to some form of organized religion. or maybe you could think about how using stereotypes makes you look like a lesser person.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

so following that strain of logic we should ban the catholic bible because of the IRA being terrorists that took inspiration from their faith.

Why not ban all forms of religion while we are at it as I am certain we can link any terrorist group to some form of organized religion. or maybe you could think about how using stereotypes makes you look like a lesser person.

You’ve got my vote. Religion has been responsible for more misery and death in the world than practically any other cause.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You say don't want a revolution??

No, we don’t deserve a second chance. We’ve allowed things to get this fucked might as well lay in the beds we’ve made and ride out the inevitable collapse from our own weight.

Hopefully, we can be the lesson to future empires – that we chose to ignore from our predecessors.

In the South there’s a tradition of partying on the beach in the face of an inescapable hurricane.. Might as well make however many years we have left one helluva hurricane party.

Was a good run, we had some great moments, just a shame we lacked the pebto bismol to rid ourselves of the explosive diarrhoea that exists in the USG.

pod says:

Laws laws and more laws

…is Feinstein’s mantra. She can’t cope with the real world so her solution is to legislate it out of existence. Dianne, here’s some real talk. People have guns. People have access to unrestricted information on the internet. Try restricting both, people will figure out a way around it, and they have. Give it up already. Just relax and enjoy your twilight years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hah! I remember the Anarchists Cookbook.

I heard about it as a teenager. Learned lockpicking from it. Which helped… because I was the sort of person that ALWAYS lost my keys. Plus, it gave me some neat ideas for short stories! Reading about tone phone hacking and some of the more amazing-rediculous things gave me ideas for fiction. I also remember thinking ‘Wow.. these explosives recipies look kinda… uhm… volatile. Like, lose your hand making it volatile. No thanks.’

…. I should get that thing again actually…

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