James Comey: Retweets Equal Material Support For Terrorism, But Don't Worry, We'll Only Prosecute Real Terrorists

from the our-track-record-on-terrorism-prosecutions-is-immaculate! dept

Better add that "RTs ≠ endorsements" line to your Twitter profile. Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly's coverage of the FBI's efforts against ISIS notes that FBI head James Comey considers retweeting to be material support of terrorism. But that's OK, because the FBI's crew of mind-readers will make sure that anyone who didn't "mean it" avoids prosecution.

"Knowing it was wrong, you provided material support for a terrorist organization or some other offense," Comey said, explaining how the FBI sees these suspects in response to Huffington Post questions during a meeting with reporters last month. "That is the bulwark against prosecuting someone for having an idea or having an interest. You have to manifest a criminal intent to further the aims prohibited by the statute."

Asked if reposting materials alone would cross the line, Comey said the answer would be different based on the individual circumstances.

"It would depend upon what your mental state is in doing it," the FBI director said. "I can imagine an academic sharing something with someone as part of research would have a very different mental intent than someone who is sharing that in order to try and get others to join an organization or engage in an act of violence. So it's hard to answer in the abstract like that."
Yay. "Mental state" and "intent." That shouldn't be any problem to disprove in court. Comey says the burden of proof rests on the prosecution -- which it does -- but this "burden" becomes significantly lighter when "national security" is invoked and the onus suddenly shifts to the defendants, who are put in the position of proving a negative.

Much like Comey's certainty that secure encryption backdoors exist, the FBI head is also a firm believer that he and his agency will know materially-supportive retweets when they see them.
Comey said it was "pretty darn clear" where the line was.
Eye of the beholder and all that. Not exactly reassuring when the "pretty darn clear" line is being determined by an agency that appears to have created more terrorists in the US than any terrorist organization. Comey talks a lot in Reilly's article about "intent" and "mental state" -- two aspects that have been largely ignored in its counter-terrorist sting operations, which have resulted in the arrest of mentally-incompetent dreamers, senior citizens and a handful of easily-flattered bedroom revolutionaries. When the agency has to do everything but perform the terrorist attack itself, it would appear its definition of "intent" is very fluid... and any considerations about "mental states" completely subservient to its War on Terror desires.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 9:51am

    We're going back to the good ol' days of "guilty by association", aren't we?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 10:23am

    "But Don't Worry, We'll Only Prosecute Real Terrorists"

    Knowing the FBI they will probably find a way to prosecute people after entrapping them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2015 @ 2:16pm

      Re:

      Only really dumb, mostly unemployed, preferably homeless people have been used in these fake terror plots.

      If I try to the be the least cynical possible...which is very difficult for me, we could say the FBI practices.

      LMAO, I just said something so dumb, they do so many of these fake terror plots using dumbasses who trade stereo speakers for fake bombs or other BS like that, they're too busy from that to do their real job.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 10:35am

    Tyranny 101 "it's not a crime when we do it"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 10:36am

    I'm not defending the FBI, but you try to gin up nerd rage over tedious but correct explanation of standard law and come across as simply ignorant.

    You have presumably unlimited choices for topics, and chose parsing and innuendo on a known lying bureaucrat? Below-average even for Techdirt fare.

    This has made me see that anomalies are actually the interesting pieces. Sheesh. -- Was lucky you know who used Youtube rather than actual television to watch the debate last night, else he wouldn't have a DMCA piece.


    These topics from The Register would surely be far better:
    "Virtually no one is using Apple Music even though it is utterly free"
    &
    "EFF's Privacy Badger will block snooping ads and invisible trackers"

    But for Techdirt those raise troubling conflicts: "free" just doesn't work, and what mega-corps bombards with ads and tracks us?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 10:52am

      Subject lines are not for writing whole sentences but rather to briefly summarize what your post is going to be about. This is why it is called a subject line.

      But I guess when your post isn't actually about the topic of the article and just an ad hominem, you probably don't want to write an honest subject sentence like, "I had to come up with something negative to say here with a large word count or my corporate paymasters won't let me eat lunch today."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 11:08am

      Re: I'm not defending the FBI, but you try to gin up nerd rage over tedious but correct explanation of standard law and come across as simply ignorant.

      You ignore the article on NHL and NBA posted here today which basically explains why free isn't the only way to satisfy a market.
      And marketing is a pretty difficult minefield for several moral and economic reasons. Even though TD has been decent at disclosures, they certainly still haven't mastered it.

      The Register has been pretty vile since most of their pre-MS people left imo. Last I looked at their stories I shook my head at their lackluster approach to neutral journalism and their reality-defying editorials.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2015 @ 2:22pm

      Re: I'm not defending the FBI, but you try to gin up nerd rage over tedious but correct explanation of standard law and come across as simply ignorant.

      I dunno how I feel about the EFF after learning where they get most of their money from.

      I still use HTTPS Everywhere, although that extension will become useless in the near future.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), 9 Aug 2015 @ 9:18pm

        Re: Re: I'm not defending the FBI, but you try to gin up nerd rage over tedious but correct explanation of standard law and come across as simply ignorant.

        I dunno how I feel about the EFF after learning where they get most of their money from.


        I'm curious about this comment. Where do they get most of their money from? Last I looked it was mostly from individual donations, but your comment suggests otherwise.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 10:40am

    This seems like an unfortunate interpretation of his words. In this case he is basically saying that: Yes, a tweet can be material evidence in a crime and no, it is not enough for them to only provide a tweet without further indications of unwanted intent. Thus, as I read it, he is saying that a tweet is enough to cause them to get a warrent on you, but if the further evidence collected, doesn't proove supportive of a malicious intent, it is not going to lead to a case.

    What would be far more interesting would be a discussion of how and how long such fishing for further data should be allowed to prevent a constant increase in suspect-pools and ever increasing 360 analysis. Particularly the internets extreme traceabilities is making behavioural profiling of every inhabitant in country x a posibility and the trading of such data between the secret services is making them very easy to "venue shop" for weak legislation to avoid checks and balances and make it possible for fellow agencies to import data on own inhabitants etc. Basically the secret services world wide has no boundaries in laws if they have enough members cooperating and enough versatility in legal texts and precedence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 10:46am

      Probable Cause [was Re: ]

      … a tweet is enough to cause them to get a warrent on you…
      Amendment IV
      … unreasonable…   …   …and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation…

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 11:04am

    retweet = endorsement

    You've quoted Comey. Obviously, you agree with him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JustShutUpAndObey, 7 Aug 2015 @ 11:04am

    Just Trust Me

    Just trust me to know and prosecute only "true" terrorists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 11:11am

    Other words that we used to think of as being "pretty darn clear": 'torture', 'collect', 'oversight', 'transparent', 'warrant', 'reasonable', 'rights'...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 7 Aug 2015 @ 11:33am

    The fact is that Apple Music may be free as in beer, but it comes with a with a whole bunch of terms and conditions that many people find too objectionable to follow. Privacy and security are too high of a price for critically thinking people to pay.
    [W]hat mega-corps bombards with ads and tracks us?
    Pretty much all of them, and even those Android apps that don't want Device ID and Location permissions, for example (the latter of which I can separately deny, anyways), have their Internet access cut because of the visual disturbance caused to me by the flashing banner crap that tends to pop up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 7 Aug 2015 @ 11:41am

    What if I retweet something posted by someone who only later becomes radicalised, am I 'providing material support to a terrorist' then? I mean, if I retweet something by someone I don't know is a Baptist or a Born Again Christian, and five years down the line they attempt, with a group of like-minded people, to re-enact the Crusades...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2015 @ 2:31pm

      Re:

      Born Agains are Satanists, basically.

      I'm an atheist/agnostic could care less what happens when I die, but that's the truth about these crazies. Just see how they love to impose things that are both incredibly annoying and senseless on themselves while in public and what they're often caught doing while not doing speeches or fake spiritual healing (although this has been discredited so much they kind of have stopped doing it or at least give it publicity). By born again it means to them they are born again as free from care for others which I guess reduces anxiety in those who aren't born psychopaths.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 11:53am

    Asked if reposting materials alone would cross the line, Comey said the answer would be different based on the individual circumstances.

    Given how the definition of terrorist has been twisted, this means we will use it against people we take a dislike to, because for instance that repost stories and videos about bad cops.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 12:08pm

      Enemies List [was Re: ]

      Asked if reposting materials alone would cross the line, Comey said the answer would be different based on the individual circumstances.
      … this means we will use it against people we take a dislike to…

      COINTELPRO
      FBI records show that COINTELPRO resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed "subversive", including
      • communist and socialist organizations;
      • organizations and individuals associated with the Civil Rights Movement, including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Congress of Racial Equality, and other civil rights organizations;
      • black nationalist groups;
      • the Young Lords;
      • the American Indian Movement;
      • the white supremacist groups;
      • the Ku Klux Klan;
      • the National States' Rights Party;
      • a broad range of organizations labeled "New Left", including Students for a Democratic Society and the Weathermen;
      • almost all groups protesting the Vietnam War, as well as individual student demonstrators with no group affiliation;
      • the National Lawyers Guild;
      • organizations and individuals associated with the women's rights movement;
      • nationalist groups such as those seeking independence for Puerto Rico, United Ireland, and Cuban exile movements including Orlando Bosch's Cuban Power and the Cuban Nationalist Movement;
      • and additional notable Americans.
      FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issued directives governing COINTELPRO, ordering FBI agents to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, neutralize or otherwise eliminate" the activities of these movements and their leaders.
      (Citations omitted.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 12:00pm

    Tweet and Re-Tweet were on a boat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 12:12pm

    "Prosecuting the terrorists"

    I'll believe that when I see it. Thus far the vast majority of successful "prosecutions" have been by military forces which means the terrorists won't ever see the inside of a courtroom (if you know what I mean).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Sheogorath (profile), 7 Aug 2015 @ 12:35pm

      Re: "Prosecuting the terrorists"

      Yes, I know what you mean and I think it's wrong. If someone stands accused of threatening the people of a nation or state, then they should face true justice in a judicial court, not at a military court martial.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 12:32pm

    Of course the line is 'pretty darn clear'

    White 'Christian' = clearly not supporting.

    Black/brown/olive Muslim = ZOMG we caught the next Bin Laden!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 12:40pm

    Who is the terrorist here?

    ter·ror·ism
    ˈterəˌrizəm/Submit
    noun
    the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.


    So, Comey's statements indicate that he is a terrorist by threatening people exercising their First Amendment rights?

    Oops, now he will be after me!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 7 Aug 2015 @ 2:09pm

    What does FBI stand for?

    Doesn't FBI mean Federal Bumblers and Incompetents? If Comey is any indication, exactly that!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Potential Juror, 8 Aug 2015 @ 4:31am

    "foxtrot uniform charlie kilo" the oath breaker

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Sheogorath (profile), 8 Aug 2015 @ 8:51pm

      Re:

      Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo the US Government and all who (strike)bribe(/strike) lobby it, and God Bravo Lima Echo Sierra Sierra NATO for creating this fantastic way of spelling Sierra Hotel India Tango. ;D

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    relghuar, 8 Aug 2015 @ 10:38am

    "pretty darn clear"

    Yeah, I'd say it's "pretty darn clear" that Snowden is a whistleblower.
    Wonder if Comey would agree with me?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2015 @ 7:58am

    out_of_the_blue just can't stand it when due process is enforced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Brock Phillimore (profile), 10 Aug 2015 @ 9:56am

    “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions”
    Stephen R. Covey

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.