Legal Issues

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
fbi, journalists, malware



FBI Internal Report Says FBI's 2007 Impersonation Of An AP Journalist Not Exactly By The Book

from the but-ultimately-ok-because-suspect-was-apprehended dept

US law enforcement agencies engage in some pretty shifty behavior while pursuing criminals. The DEA and ATF love pushing randos into planning fake raids on fake drug houses containing zero weapons, cash, or drugs. (Better yet, made-up quantities of theoretical contraband are used to determine sentence length during prosecution!)

There's more than a coin flip's chance that a teen in a chatroom is actually a law enforcement officer between the age of 25 and 50 -- and quite possibly operating extra-jurisdictionally as one of Florida sheriff Grady Judd's child porn warriors.

Speaking of child porn, the FBI is not above seizing kiddie porn sites and letting them run as honeypots. And that's when it's not doing worse things -- like shoving a mixture of the mentally challenged and the easily-persuaded towards terrorism... or impersonating journalists to serve up malware to investigation targets.

The FBI pretended to be the Associated Press in order to send malware to a 15-year-old bomb threat suspect. The payload was delivered via a "draft" version of an "article" by an "AP writer," sent to the suspect for his "review." The FBI defended its unorthodox investigative technique by saying it was something it "rarely" did and that it only did so in the interest of public safety.

James Comey went further, saying it was all by the (2007) book, while noting that DOJ policies had since changed and the FBI wouldn't be allowed to impersonate journalists in the future. Comey also expressed his displeasure that this apparent abuse of authority had been given a "one-sided" presentation by the press -- completely ignoring the fact that his agency (and the DOJ) issues hundreds of "one-sided" press releases every year.

It appears the FBI's own internal investigation of the incident disagrees with Comey's assertions that its impersonation conformed with DOJ policies. A report obtained by the AP and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (via a FOIA lawsuit) says the FBI's journalistic ruse shows the agents involved skipped a crucial step or two when deploying the malware.

FBI officials say there's no clear evidence the agency violated its own rules when it posed as The Associated Press to unmask a criminal, according to a report obtained through a public records lawsuit.

However, the internal FBI report being made public by the AP and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says "an argument can be made" that field agents bucked protocol by not informing senior brass in Washington of the 2007 operation.

[...]

It notes that undercover operations involving agents who pose as members of the media are typically categorized as "Group 1," the label given to sensitive operations flagged to the agency's Washington headquarters for review and approval. That does not appear to have happened in the Timberline case. The report says it isn't clear whether the Seattle office ever even told headquarters about their impersonation of AP.

The report, however, agrees with one of Comey's defenses of the impersonation: the ends justify the means.

Despite that, the FBI's Cyber Division found in the Seattle office's favor, saying it acted reasonably "under the circumstances."

Those circumstances being the pursuit of a hoaxer who had called in multiple (fake) bomb threats on the same Seattle school. I suppose the FBI found some sort of poetic justice in hoaxing a hoaxer, but it's incredibly bad form to use an institution meant to help hold the government accountable as an unwitting partner in government-led investigations.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jun 2016 @ 2:22pm

    Oh?

    It was by the book, the one they say we can't see because wait for it... "National Security"

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

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 2 Jun 2016 @ 2:41pm

    The FBI should stick to impersonating itself.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jun 2016 @ 3:55pm

    Has AP looked into suing the FBI for trademark and/or copyright infringement? Knowing how weird those court cases go the taxpayer would probably be on the hook for a lot.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jun 2016 @ 5:35pm

      Re:

      The use was noncommercial. And what good would it do, when the taxpayers are paying the bill anyway?

      If the AP had impersonated the FBI, there would be criminal charges. Yet another example of how one-sided everything is when it comes to law enforcement.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jun 2016 @ 5:58pm

    The report, however, agrees with one of Comey's defenses of the impersonation: the ends justify the means.
    Despite that, the FBI's Cyber Division found in the Seattle office's favor, saying it acted reasonably "under the circumstances."
    If they consider this true, does this mean that dishonest cops, dishonest DOJ lawyers, dishonest DEA and dishonest FBI personal and dishonest politicians (both state and federal, including the POTUS) should be killed to justify the improvement in the functioning of these various organisations?

    If so, when will it be open season on such? If not, why do they use such means to do their jobs?

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Jun 2016 @ 6:45pm

    The ends always justify the means....
    pity that it is fueled by lies, falsehoods, & trampling on the law/guidelines...

    Other than a badge the difference between criminals and those chasing them is almost gone.

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

    • icon
      Atkray (profile), 2 Jun 2016 @ 8:12pm

      Re:

      I think that the vectors crossed a while back and we are now in the unfortunate circumstance where you may actually be safer with the ones that don't have badges.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 3 Jun 2016 @ 1:37am

        Re: Re:

        You're legally allowed to defend yourself from the actions of someone without a badge, a 'privilege' that doesn't apply to interactions involving those with badges, so yes, you are very much safer with the criminals without a badge.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 3 Jun 2016 @ 1:33am

      Re:

      Badge, funding, and the 'unofficial' criminals tend to be more honest, but other than that yeah, not any real difference these days.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jun 2016 @ 8:04pm

    also illegal but of course being above the law means no worries there. Until the citizenry start going deathwish style on every dirty government official that decides the laws no longer apply to their crimes.

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

  • identicon
    David, 3 Jun 2016 @ 1:46am

    Don't you worry.

    Good faith, sunshine. Good faith, sunshine. Good faith, sunshine!

    I break the law, the sun is shining down, lines my pockets as they touch the ground. I feel good, in a special way: I'm in government and it's a sunny day.

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

  • identicon
    Tiglath Philizar, 4 Jun 2016 @ 5:49am

    ultimate indictment

    "Child pornography (CP) is the ultimate indictment where constitutional rights are eliminated and NO defense is allowed; it is being used for everything and every purpose", Amy Adler professor of Law NYU. Only a small percentage of CP arrests have anything to do with an actual child victim so locking someone up and taking away their freedom when there is no victim other than the victim/'s the child charities and lawyers fabricate when they creating a client by saying the person in the image is re-victimized without any research other than what, "everybody knows" each time it is viewed is wrong on so many levels. The whole issue of SEX is so easily manipulated by those with an agenda.

    One of the most fascinating and insidious aspects of CP is the public antipathy and fanfare concerning it. The media has relied on topics under the guise of CP every time news has gotten slow to try and spark up a scare, so we no longer really think about what the availability of this material really means, or what these things are like outside an abstract concept danced around with euphemisms. Even though CP story commentators have never seen the images in question they act as if they have; commenter's then project their cognitive dissonance into what they write. People are led to believe the media stories are posited as fact even though the media has never seen the images either, and this is a major problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what CP is and what CP law states when the public doesn’t know what CP is nor can we see what the government considers CP to be and since CP can be any image of someone under 18 that's a lot of ground to cover. Remember Traci Lords she first became known for her underage appearances in pornographic films. Traci initially landed a job as a nude model at the age of 15 and then ventured into adult films so to say individuals such as these are in need of protection is beyond pale.

    Scientists really don’t know if there is a correlation between viewing CP and offending against children. (http://www.truthmovement.us/2015/02/i-david-finkelhor-declare.html). In 2006 Federal law enforcement stats state there were 2,526 Child pornography arrests, but 50% of those 2526 arrested for CP never were prosecuted. That means, ONE THOUSAND SIXTY-THREE (1263) individuals in the year 2006 had their lives destroyed, jobs lost, experienced massive financial losses, homes lost, cars gone, credit wiped out for lack of payment, friendships lost, relatives keeping their distance, vigintiles threatening them, and all before going to trial but because of the objective correlative of the Gothic Melodrama news report; all without a reporter seeing the evidence. Reporters report what they are told to satisfy the vicarious pleasure people get from reading stories such as this one.

    Since they were not properly investigated or should not have been investigated at all 1263 of those accused will bear the brand of “pervert” forever. "There is no crueler tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of law, and with the colors of justice ..." - U.S. v. Jannotti, 673 F.2d 578, 614 (3d Cir. 1982). People are comfortable with this ??

    The vast majority of CP arrests involve FREE peer to peer(P2P) software. When someone searches on FREE P2P file sharing software it typically works as follows: Initially, the user downloads a software program onto their own computer or Internet-enabled device that permits the individual to share and download files from the P2P network. Upon installation, the software typically creates two folders on the user’s computer by default: an “incomplete” folder, which contains pending downloads, and a “shared” folder, which contains fully downloaded files which are not readily available to the user unless they KNOW how to search for them; until then the file remains HIDDEN to the user in the "AppData file". Any files downloaded too, or other files placed in, the shared folder are immediately made available for sharing with all other users on the P2P network. When someone searches on P2P software for let's say the word "TEEN" they are flooded with FREE images to download: however they don't know if the images are what they asked for, and they don't know until they open the file; However once they open the file it too late. Law enforcement software has already spotted that downloaded "TEEN" file in the HIDDEN file on the victims(persons) computer. Remember downloading teen videos or images can be of anyone 13 to 19 that how easy it is to download these images accidentally.

    Once Law enforcement software finds a know CP file they downloaded it on their system where it is TAGGED and re-uploaded to the targets computer for retrieval after a search warrant is issued. Law enforcement then uses the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court(FISA) to obtain search warrants for child porn because a regular court would have never authorized such abuse of power based on such little evidence to obtain a search warrant for the physical IP address that is why they use a FISA court. Law enforcement has asked the FISA court for search warrants 35 thousand times the FISA court denied only 11.

    We are a nation of VICTIMS brought to you by our GOVERNMENT legislators who are unable to do anything productive in Congress but find bipartisanship in child bills. Those who profiting from child abuse is the multi-BILLION dollar Child Abuse Industry that consists of THOUSANDS of ORGANIZATIONS with high paid CEO's and staff full of nefarious individuals that must convince both us and their victims that everything is abuse. News media, therapists, prosecutors, judges, lawyers and sex police. David Finkelhor, is a sociologist who directs the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. He says he sees the moral weight of CP law, but not the empirical proof stating, “The evidence doesn’t yet tell us to what extent the experience of being a pornography victim aggravates the experience of the sexual abuse itself. How do you separate it out?”. What the law says is equivalent to saying voodoo is real. No one has to actually commit a crime they just have a look at an image or have a thought and they are guilty of the crime. A person that observes a digital image that has no form or life is then through osmosis gives those images or objects a legal force, a power, is practicing voo-doo. Before long, the people are ensnared by the compulsion to give power to a thing of their own definition. http://www.truthmovement.us/2016/04/statistics-laundering-false

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


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